Sunday, May 31, 2020

Creative Genius: Andreas Gursky

Wikipedia – "Andreas Gursky"
Wikipedia – "List of most expensive photos"

Creative Genius: Katherine Bernhardt

Wikipedia – Katherine Bernhardt
GQ – "Paint it Loud"
GQ – "Creativity in the Time of Quarantine"

"The New York City painter has been in Antigua, Guatemala, making murals and mingling with exotic birds by the pool.

What kind of work have you been making? 
 I have been working on painting items from popular culture in Guatemala and things found around Antigua. Coffee Mate is popular at the breakfast table here, so I’ve been painting it. It’s hard to find, though, since birds here swoop onto the table and fly off with it in their beaks. They prefer it to any of the other types of sugars and sweeteners available. I also found a Little Caesars pizza box in the street the other day while on a walk. I’m painting that too.

Where are you making work, and is that typical or unique to this situation? 
I love working outside and working at different spots around the hotel grounds. The vibe feels kind of like scenes when Penélope Cruz is painting from the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, one of my favorite movies!

To what degree would you say the work that you’re making is at all “about” the crisis? 
Some of it is about the crisis (the mural), and some works on paper focus on it. And all of it is about Guatemala, where I am unexpectedly located, thanks to the borders being closed.

What have you been reading, watching, and/or listening to? 
I read the local daily newspaper, Prensa Libre. To put this crisis in perspective, I have recently reviewed the introduction in Boccaccio’s The Decameron and am about to read El amor en los tiempos del cólera, by Gabriel García Márquez. And I have just finished bingeing Tiger King. And I am listening to my usual music: Bad Bunny."

GQ – "Desus & Mero Know the Ultimate Quarantine Flex"

"What would you say is the soundtrack of your quarantine? 

Mero: Bad Bunny. When I'm not in my house I'm uptown, Washington Heights. That's the soundtrack to that 'hood. I was so hyped to be out drinking in the street, listening to this music. Now I guess it's gonna be headphones for me.

Desus: Little Dragon’s new album, New Me, Same Us dropped right when this was starting, and now it feels like I'm in some weird independent movie and that's the soundtrack. One of those weird things where you didn't mean to link two things together. "

Legend of the Wild West

New York Times – "Guns, Gunfights and the Legends of the Wild West"

"The revolver is as iconic for Americans as the samurai sword is for the Japanese or the longbow for the English and Welsh. The difference is that we know who invented it. The fact of its invention matters almost as much to our self-image as the gun itself. We remember its creator, Samuel Colt, as the definitive Connecticut Yankee, ingenious and acquisitive. But his missteps are as fascinating as his accomplishments…

It’s startling to realize that Colt was born in 1814, just before British troops carrying flintlock muskets burned the White House. America was a nation of farmers, artisans, merchants and the enslaved; it still was when he died in 1862. But he helped to create an industrial, technological future by multiplying the productivity of personal violence.

The rise of the Colt revolver’s multishot technology coincided with the disintegration of political order, as the United States descended into the Civil War. But the weapon achieved its greatest fame in the postwar West. There, enhanced individual lethality met minimal legal and social constraints, or so myth would have it. As with Colt, the truth is not the opposite of legend, but more complicated and interesting."

Exercise Risk in a Quarantine

New York Times – "Do Runners Need to Wear Masks?"

"Even in Hong Kong, a city so committed to face coverings in public that it has been widely praised as a model, there is little expectation that runners will wear masks, said Brian Woo, a founder of a running group there. “I assume it’s just understood that running is not a time for wearing masks,” he said.

Still, there’s evidence that runners and bikers should wear masks, right?

There is no scientific consensus around the importance of wearing a mask while exercising, primarily because so little relevant research has been completed.

Researchers do agree that masks slow the spread of the virus. They also agree that it’s best to avoid exercising within six feet of anyone beyond your immediate household and that working out is less risky outside than inside.

Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who has studied masks’ ability to block respiratory droplets, suggests their value depends on location. “Outdoors is relatively safe, and masks would only be important if you are exercising in crowded areas or indoors in space shared with other people,” he said."

NPR – "From Camping To Dining Out: Here's How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities"

"Spending the day at a popular beach or pool: low risk

As long as you can stay socially distanced, this could be a pretty safe activity, our experts say.

The water itself is not a risk. "The sheer volume of water will dilute out the virus, making the water a highly unlikely source of infection," says Janowski.

What alters risk? The key question is, how close are you to others? "Can you ensure that you can stay 6 feet [or more] from anyone outside of your designated family?" asks Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center."

Remake of Perry Mason

June 21 on HBO.

New York Times – "In ‘Perry Mason,’ Matthew Rhys Plays Defense"

"HBO needed an actor to portray pulp fiction’s most successful criminal defense attorney. Rhys, an Emmy-winner for “The Americans,” took the case."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Alison Roman, Bon Appetit YouTube and the Global Pantry

Eater – "Stewed Awakening"

"Roman, after all, is arguably the most fashionable avatar of a broader shift. We are living in the age of the global pantry, when a succession of food media-approved, often white figures have made an array of international ingredients approachable and even desirable to the North American mainstream — the same mainstream that, a decade ago, would have labeled these foods as obscure at best and off-putting at worst. This phenomenon is why you now see dukkah on avocado toast, kimchi in grain bowls, and sambal served with fried Brussels sprouts. It’s a kind of polyglot internationalism presented under the New American umbrella, with the techniques and raw materials of non-Western cuisines used to wake up the staid, predictable flavors of familiar Americana.

Not long ago, you could see this playing out on the menus of hip restaurants across the country. At AL’s Place in San Francisco, squash tahini was served with burrata, sumac-galangal dressing, pickles, and dukkah; in LA, there was preserved Meyer lemon and lacto-fermented hot sauce in Sqirl’s sorrel pesto rice bowl, and a “Turkish-ish” breakfast of vegetables, a sumac- and Aleppo pepper-dusted egg, and three-day-fermented labneh at Kismet. Over in Nashville, Cafe Roze put a turmeric egg in its hard-boiled BLT and miso ranch in its barley salad. Up in New York, Dimes served a veggie burger with harissa tofu and a dish called huevos Kathmandu that paired green chutney and spiced chickpeas with fried eggs.

But now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to stay home and make the most of our kitchen skills, the global pantry is most visible on the pages and websites of establishment food media. It’s Bon Appétit’s gluten-free coconut-turmeric pie and kimchi-cream cheese toast; Food & Wine’s tofu masala and rosy harissa chicken; the New York Times’s brothy chicken soup with hominy and poblano; and Every Day With Rachael Ray’s minty matcha smoothie and Korean barbecue burgers. You can see it all over social media and particularly Instagram, where its most viral example is #thestew, Roman’s 2018 recipe for a chickpea-coconut milk stew whose broth is made golden with turmeric. And you can see it on Bon Appétit’s extremely popular YouTube channel, where its test kitchen stars make everything from saffron brittle to “dahi toast” to slow-roast gochujang chicken to spicy chicken katsu sandwiches (though it bears noting that the first two of those recipes were created by people of color).

As the culinary has become a marker of contemporary culture, occupying much of the space once monopolized by music or fashion, food media and social media have fused to create a supercharged form of aspirational desire. Within this mode of desire, however, the idea of using new, hitherto “exotic” ingredients only seems to become aspirational when those ingredients appear on the pages of prominent tastemaking magazines (or, perhaps more relevantly, on Instagram) — or are espoused by white tastemakers. Remember that time in 2018 when the author Stephanie Danler told T Magazine about her “kitchari cleanse,” explaining how the Indian dish of lentils and rice (actually called khichrhi) allowed her to “reset [her] system”? Or the time that haldi doodh took over coffee shop menus, the food media, and Instagram after being rebranded as the turmeric latte? "

Top Stubborn Design Trends

New York Times – "9 Top (and Stubborn) Design Trends"

Subway Tile

"White tile was a fixture in middle-class Victorian homes long before the New York City subway opened in 1904, covered in the stuff. Unlike fancier, colorful tiles applied to fireplace surrounds and hearths, glazed white tile appeared in high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms, offering durable surfaces that made dirt conspicuous and were easy to clean.

Transferring the same hygienic principles underground, the subway station designers Christopher Grant La Farge and George L. Heins created a huge, elaborate canvas for white field tile installed in a running bond pattern edged in coves and other trims. The three-by-six-inch rectangles had a distinctive look, with beveled surfaces and narrow grout lines.

Though the color and material palettes (and even size range) have expanded, this is the hugely popular wall treatment (214,000 Instagram hashtags) we now call subway tile.

When did that term appear? Nobody seems to know.

Keith Bieneman is the owner and managing director of Heritage Tile, a company that does restoration work on New York’s subway stations, using tile manufactured to the original standards.

“There was a resurgence in artisan tile making throughout the U.S.” in the 1990s, he said. “People started focusing on the kitchen and started putting in high-end appliances and looking at backsplashes as art pieces as opposed to utilitarian surfaces.” Subway tile fulfilled aspirations for the authentic remodeling of many 20th-century homes (it had exploded in the 1920s when its manufacture and installation were standardized) and yet it looked timeless.

Another powerful influencer was Schiller’s Liquor Bar, the retro-styled restaurant Keith McNally opened on the Lower East Side in 2003. For 14 years, it dished out steak frites in a space with a pressed tin ceiling, tarnished mirrors, a black-and-white checkerboard floor and square yards of vintage subway tiles.

Schiller’s has plenty of imitators, including a minutely detailed copy called Café La Favorite on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.

“This Jazz Age New York style, that’s something that’s admired tremendously around the world,” said Mr. Bieneman, whose company manufactured tile for La Favorite, and for Schiller’s copycats in Dublin, Stockholm and Guangzhou, China."

Bar Carts

"The bar cart, a midcentury artifact, made its return about a decade ago, a few years after “Mad Men” showed us what an asset it could be. In you took the AMC series as your model, you parked the bar cart in your living room (or better yet, office) and visited it as frequently as a diabetic zebra at a watering hole. You learned that anything small and on wheels feels friendly and informal, even when it is a vehicle for bad behavior.

Well, five years have passed since “Mad Men” ended, and the bar cart is still with us (150,000 Instagram posts). It turns out to be useful in so many un-louche ways.

Bar carts can be plant stands and end tables. Magazine holders and unused corner fillers. You can even pull them up to your open-plan kitchen for emergency counter space when you have no other place to put the roast.

“To me, bar carts signify swagger. I think that’s le mot juste,” said Jonathan Adler, who began designing them 15 years ago, before Don Draper lurched onto the scene. “If you see someone with a bar cart, you think they’re fun. They make young people seem sophisticated and old people seem young.”

He said his personal love affair began when he bought a vintage bar cart by an under-sung midcentury Italian designer named Aldo Tura, who worked in lacquered goatskin. Since then, Mr. Adler said he’s done a “bazillion” ones with different degrees of functionality and had just gotten out of a Zoom meeting discussing the development of his next.

“I’m going to do a round one,” he said. “One of the things I love about them is an opportunity to get quite sculptural.”"

Also mentioned:
Fiddle-leaf Figs
String Lights
Kitchen Islands
Hairpin Legs
Beni Ouarain Carpets

Sort-of related:
1960's Conversation Pits
The Millennial Aesthetic … “People are tired of the sameness and already craving something new”