Monthly Archives: September 2018

Kusama – Infinity — Official Trailer

Kusama – Infinity is out in limited release.

My Kusama Story

More years ago than I care to count, when I was very young, a friend invited me to visit Yayoi Kusama’s studio/workspace in New York. I’ve forgotten most of the details—who I was with, why we were there—but I do remember a few things.

There was The Couch.

It was just a regular livingroom couch, except that it was entirely covered with white, beanbag-like phalluses. I found this picture of it on the Web:

I think there were 20 or 30 people present that night. It wasn’t exactly a performance,  or an installation, or a party, but it had elements of all three.

Strange mix of people. Art scene types, guys in suits, street kids—a classic Bohemian amalgam. There was one older man who sat on the floor, sketching the crowd. He wore glasses, which held the sheet of paper that he was using to hide his face in place, so he couldn’t be identified.

While someone filmed the scene, Kusama kept urging the younger crowd to get naked and dance around the artwork. Several did, but I, alas, was not among them. Looking back, I sort of regret that now, although not very much. While it would be nice to have a souvenir of the days when I was young and pretty, staying dressed that night doesn’t rank on my personal list of Top Ten Regretable Decisions.

Some of Kusama’s Recent Installations

Look Closer

No, it’s not a shoddy Photoshop job. It’s intentional, and you’ve got to admire its effectiveness.

Variations of this ad have shown up in DC Metro stations over the past month or so. I suspect that no more than one person in a hundred really looks at subway advertisements, let alone remembers them five minutes later. This one, though, gets noted and reposted.

The image, combined with the emphasized and unsubtle “DTF” text* make it memorable.

*If you don’t know what  “DTF” means, look it up in the Urban Dictionary.

Lunch at Bindaas — 20 August 2018



Bindaas is part of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, which includes some of my favourite DC venues: Bibiana, 701, and The Oval Room. The jewel in the Knightsbridge’s crown is Rasika, which is widely considered to be the best Indian restaurant in the United States. While Rasika offers what I think of as High Indian meals, Bindaas focuses on Indian street food.

This was my first visit to the restaurant, but being here brought back old memories. The building was the long-time home of Tower Records—remember records?—where a friend and I spent many happy Saturday afternoons checking out the eye candy from the adjacent George Washington University campus thumbing through CDs in search of obscure indie imports. Good times!

Shrimp Bezule

Shrimp Bezule

But back to the present.

Lunch started with a bowl of spicy Shrimp Bezule, battered with Ginger Garlic Paste and Kashmiri Chili Paste, and seasoned with brown mustard, Thai green chilies, lemon juice, and fresh curry leaves. (I guess I could have omitted the unnecessary “spicy” adjective from my description.)

Dakshini Pepper Chicken

Dakshini Pepper Chicken

“Dakshini” indicates that it’s a South Indian standard. It was fine, but my palate isn’t well enough developed for me to differentiate it from any other Indian chicken dish.

Saffron Kheer

Saffron Kheer

Saffron Kheer is a rice pudding.

A few days ago, I mentioned that I wasn’t fond of Spanish desserts. The same goes for Asian desserts in general. I invariably find them bland and uninteresting. There have been long periods when I virtually lived on Vietnamese and, later, Thai food, but I’ve never had any trouble in skipping desserts.

I remember reading somewhere that France and China are the homes of the two great world-class cuisines, with France taking the win, because Chinese cooking doesn’t use chocolate. That’s too much of a sacrifice.

Colette — Official Trailer

This could be very, very good. Keira Knightley is getting raves for her performance as Gabrielle Colette.

Colette was many things: Actress, journalist, and nominee for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Katherine Anne Porter wrote that Colette “is the greatest living French writer of fiction; and that she was while Gide and Proust still lived.”

While she’s generally regarded as one of the preeminent novelists of the 20th century, she’s probably best known in the US for her 1944 novella, Gigi, which Lerner and Loewe turned into a stage production and Vincente Minnelli adapted as a film.

The Real Colette, in 1906.

And her life!  Her first husband, Willy, published her early works under his name instead of hers, taking the credit and keeping the royalties for himself.  When she was less prolific than he wanted, he kept her locked in a room until she’d produced what he thought was a sufficient number of new pages.

Even before the inevitable divorce, she had begun to live exactly as she pleased, taking both male and female lovers, often considerably older or younger than herself. (One of her two later marriages broke up after she seduced her 16-year-old stepson.)

When she died at 81, the Catholic Church refused to give her a religious burial. France, on the other hand, honoured Colette by making her the first female French writer to be given a state funeral.

She’s buried at Père-Lachaise cemetery, along with Oscar Wilde, Guillaume Apollinaire, Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Marceau, Honoré de Balzac, Gertrude Stein, Rosa Bonheur, Frédéric Chopin, Marcel Proust, Isadora Duncan, and, of course, Jim Morrison.

Colette opened in New York and Los Angeles last weekend. The current Tomatometer reading is 92%.

Lunch at Taberna del Alabardero — 17 August 2018

Taberna del Alabardero

Taberna del Alabardero

Traditional Spanish, this time. The original Taberna Del Alabardero opened in front of the Royal Palace of Madrid in 1974, and still flourishes. This Washington offshoot will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

Taberna del Alabardero is near Farragut Square and the White House. The colourful and eclectic interior, heavy on the reds, gives it a look unlike any other restaurant in town.

Butifarra Encebollada con Patata

Butifarra Encebollada con Patata

One of the more pleasing features of life in the 21st century is how easy it is to find answers to even the most esoteric questions. Before I go to a new-to-me restaurant, I routinely check out its menu on the Web, using a search engine to look up any words I don’t understand. What on earth, fr’instance is “Butifarra”?

Botifarra, Wikipedia tells me, is “a type of sausage and one of the most important dishes of the Catalan cuisine…based on ancient recipes… made of raw pork and spices”.

What Wikipedia doesn’t mention is how sensational this Butifarra Encebollada con Patata tasted. The sautéed butifarra were served with carmelized onion atop a potato purée.

Parrillada de Cerdo con Verduras y Salsa de Maracuyá

Parrillada de Cerdo con Verduras y Salsa de Maracuyá

The main, a grilled pork platter with vegetables and passion fruit sauce, was even more impressive. It featured variations on a theme, the theme being the savouriness of pork. It was a sampler of pork loin, pork rib, pork sausage, and pork on the bone, all perfectly cooked.

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana

I’m just not a fan of Spanish desserts. I opted for this caramelized custard cream by default, because nothing else on the menu was more appealing. It was fine, but my heart belongs to cheesecake or dark chocolate treats.

Another superb meal!

Another Tiffany Masterpiece

Damn, that’s beautiful. It captures autumn, doesn’t it?

It’s a Tiffany Studios drop head Dragonfly lamp, c. 1910, with a verdigris patinated leaded glass shade.

It was sold in the Andrew Jones Auctions gallery in Los Angeles last week, for $200,000 (€170,100). I hold Tiffany in the v highest regard, but the real thing is so far outside my budget—which barely covers my semi-annual haircut and the occasional purchase of a fresh turnip—that I make do with modern imitations.

I wish I lived in a Tiffany world.

Here’s the full auction catalog

The Bayeux Westeros Tapestry

Many of the scenes from Game of Thrones are shot in Northern Ireland, where rabid fans try to anticipate the show’s upcoming storylines by charting the arrival of cast members in Belfast. (“Saw Kit Harington at St. George’s Market. That means Jon Snow is still alive!”) That has not gone unnoticed by Tourism Ireland, which has made a major effort to attract tourists in search of a taste of Westeros.

Tourism Ireland, in collaboration with HBO, has commissioned the Game of Thrones Tapestry, inspired, of course, by the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest. In the new, Irish version, each panel of the tapestry captures one scene from one episode of Game of Thrones. The tapestry is already 66 meters (217 feet) long. When it’s finished in 2019, after panels have been added for the episodes of GoT‘s final season, it will be longer than its prototype, at 77 meters (253 feet).

Until recently, the tapestry was on exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. It has been temporarily removed, but will be back on view when the most popular series in the world returns to HBO in April 2019.

Meanwhile, you can view the entire (so far) tapestry at this beautifully designed website.

A Sample from The Game of Thrones Tapestry

On the left, the scene in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (S02E05) in which Catelyn and Brienne of Tarth witness Renly Baratheon’s murder at the hands of his brother Stannis’s shadowy assassin.

On the right, from “The Old Gods and the New” (S02E06), King Joffrey incites a riot at King’s Landing, in which he and Sansa are nearly killed.

A Sample from That Other Tapestry

Museum Day Is Saturday

Smithsonian Magazine’s annual Museum Day is Saturday, 22 September 2018. More than 1,600 museums, galleries, and historic sites across the country will celebrate it by offering free admission with a downloaded voucher, which you can get here. The website includes an easy-to-use search engine that lets you to quickly discover the participating museums in your area.