Amoeblog

The Bat Cave In Paris

Posted by Whitmore, January 4, 2009 01:13am | Post a Comment

Perhaps it is due to the holidays, possibly because we’re in Paris, but we seem to be constantly raising our wine goblets high, toasting to a helluva lot of people, places and things. Needless to say, we’ve also been drinking a lot of wine, very good wine. Inevitably during the course of a meal, especially a holiday meal, several choice bottles are opened, glasses refilled and then refilled again.
 
Three of the four residences of our French extended-faux-step-mock-families we’ve had the pleasure of dining with have a wine cellar of some sort. These people take their wine seriously; I’m not looking forward to going home to LA, opening my kitchen cupboard above the refrigerator and yanking down a bottle of Two Buck Chuck after all this. Sadly that’s all we’ll be able to afford after spending these few weeks living semi-large in France. These photos are from my quasi-once-removed-half brother-in-law’s newly built ‘bat cave,’ finished in April of 2007. His initial wine collection consisted of about 200 bottles; today he suspects that there are close to a 1000 bottles of wine and champagne stored down yonder under lock and key. That’s gold in that cave!
 
Anyway, here are, as far as I can figure, the top three toasts we’ve heard this Holiday season.
 
#3- Bonne Année (to the New Year)
#2- A la Santé (to health)
#1- Barack Obama
 
By the way, we have yet to toast Nicolas Sarkozy.
Chin! Chin!” 

Godzilla in Paris

Posted by Whitmore, January 2, 2009 11:13am | Post a Comment

The conversation at dinner last night bounced between French and English and began with the announcement that we were having rabbit for dinner, much to the shock of my six year old son. But then it was quickly re-announced that there was a mistake in translation, we were in fact eating chicken. My son was relieved, he likes chicken. He’ll eat chicken. Our host then served the rabbit with a Roquefort cheese sauce. From there the conversation went on to my son’s great love for animals and how at the age of two he learned the truth about chicken. To his absolute horror he discovered that the thing we ate called chicken was the exact same thing that clucked, flew badly, laid eggs and hatched cute baby chicks. (It was a dark day for the boy. Since then he’s adjusted well; chicken nuggets were a huge influence on his decision to eat meat.) Our dinner conversation then went on to vegetarians, veterinarians, ostrich meat, wine, medieval life in Burgundy, torture, science and reason, Kansas, the lack of reason, and we talked about how my French quasi-mock-faux-step father-in-law was a research scientist who studied magnetism (and something else about solids and mass, but I didn’t quite get the gist of the French conversation there -- just another spot where I got lost). The subject briefly switched to piano lessons, downloading music, and how the internet, phone and cable television works here in France. Also mentioned was the odd fact that everyone we have stayed with on this vacation has the ability to call the good ol’ U.S. of A. for free. Again the nuance of the French explanation was lost to me. The subject briefly stepped into American sci-fi films, I tried to shove the chat in the direction of 1950’s red scare style sci-fi but nobody took the bait. Instead the tête-à-tête went east to Japan and 1950’s Godzilla movies. And then the moment! One of our friends mentioned Bambi Meets Godzilla, and how while tooling around on YouTube one cold Parisian night, he found the classic, primitively animated film from 1969. I hadn’t seen it in decades! So here it is. A little walk down memory lane, my New Years gift from France.

My Ostrich in Paris

Posted by Whitmore, January 1, 2009 11:48am | Post a Comment
 
The travails of travel … I’m in Paris, the city of lights, and I’ve been here just over a week suffering from the worst jet lag of my entire chaotically wayward life. On top of the jet lag and the most mind-tweaking insomnia I’ve ever experienced, my knees are killing me, my back is killing me, I know -- pity the poor son of a bitch who is spending Christmas and the New Year in France. Did I mention my knees? By the way, it’s snowing right now. Which is about time. It’s been colder than shit here. The other day it got to a high of only 23 degrees. My freezer isn’t even that frosty. At least with a bit of snow on the ground, the cold becomes a little more bearable. Remember, I’m a third generation Angelino. Snow is as exotic to me as eating ostrich--I’ll get to that in a minute.
 
Then again, I’m not wandering much outside. I’m traveling, but my days of sightseeing are pretty much behind me. I know that sounds asinine, but what I need is more than a building or monument. So why then am I here? Who knows? I had room left on a credit card? Actually there is an answer. I need sustenance. Yeah I could use some spiritual, emotional, intellectual readjustment, but first and foremost I desire something astonishing to fill my gut. It’s called an insatiable appetite. Inevitably, whatever I do, wherever I go, food plays a staggeringly major role. I should have been a food critic. I should also weigh in the neighborhood of about 400 pounds about now. I don’t yet, but as a kid I used to aspire to be the next mythic Hollywood-concocted character like an Orson Welles. I may attain it one day, but only in girth alone.
 
So here I am in France, the land of incredible wine, cheese, bread and sauces, and my French step-semi-half-removed-extended-faux-in-laws are both excellent chefs. And what suits me and my appetite even better is the fact that they are divorced. In the demise of their marriage, I won the settlement. The family may have lost stability, but I inherit twice the dinner choices in half the time. And on top of that, because it is the holidays, out comes the competition and the big guns of exotic meats, expensive vintage wines and cheeses that redefine the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
 
Here’s an example. For years now I have heard about a certain cheese from the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. I’ve been told you might not want to check out this cheese too closely under a bright light right after spreading it on some fresh bread and right before popping it into your mouth. You may notice that the innocent looking white dusty coating is moving ever so slightly, and it’s not because there’s a breeze in the room. Alive or not, the flavor is an incredible near-religious experience; it has a bit of a punch to it, almost pungent but not overwhelming, with slightly smoky and nutty overtones, and to maintain its character, this cheese cannot be pasteurized. Maybe because my gourmet meal was served and devoured on Christmas Eve within shouting distance of a 700 year old church … I found myself closer to somebody’s god.
 
My perfectly delicious Christmas Eve dinner also included my first experience with ostrich, the other, other white meat. Actually ostrich is a red meat that is low in fat and can be used in any traditional red meat recipe. Its flavor and texture is similar to a lean beef, but tastes slightly sweeter and richer than most other meats. Some people say they are reminded of veal, I just say it just kicked my ass. For all of you health-conscious people with a fresh New Year’s resolution, ostrich is low in fat and cholesterol, as well as high in calcium, protein and iron. And here is some advice about cooking ostrich: it cooks faster than other meats because of its low fat content; you’ll notice there is considerably less marbling than any chunk of beef. Ostrich steaks should be cooked medium rare to medium, and according to my French quasi-faux-semi-half-removed father-in-law, cooking ostrich till well done is not recommended. Another thing, for all you trying to live a little greener out there, ostrich, according to the International Ostrich Gazette, has the best feed to weight gain ratio of any land animal in the world -- 3.5:1, whereas cattle is more like 6:1. Then add the additional methane all that bull shoots into the atmosphere … well hell, ostrich sounds like the thinking man’s choice.
 
That’s all for now, I have to catch the Metro and head off to another dinner … bon appetit!

Joyeux Noël!

Posted by Whitmore, December 25, 2008 08:06am | Post a Comment

Guy Peellaert 1934 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 22, 2008 10:02am | Post a Comment


Belgian artist Guy Peellaert, most famous for his album cover illustrations of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and The Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock 'n' Roll and his ground breaking art book Rock Dreams, died this past Monday of kidney cancer in Paris. He was 74.

Born in Brussels in 1934 into an aristocratic family, Peellaert broke with his family as a teenager, first by entering the military, then by choosing an art career over his father’s demands to pursue a career in medicine. Peellaert first major success was the comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, published in 1966 in the French magazine Hara-Kiri. The central character, Jodelle, was modeled after Ye-Ye singer Sylvie Vartan. Peellart's second comic strip, Pravda, again modeled the heroine after a French singer, the iconic Françoise Hardy. In the 1970’s Peellaert went on to design movie posters for such films as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver; Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire and Robert Altman's Short Cuts.

But Peellaert is best known for his rock album covers -- especially his controversial Diamond Dogs design from 1974. The gate-fold cover features Bowie as a half-man, half-dog grotesque. Peellaert painted in a photo-realistic style and the controversy stems from how well he flaunted the hybrid genitalia. I guess that was something of a no-no in the early 1970’s. A few copies of the original cover inexplicably survived, today they fetch upwards of a few thousand dollars each. The initial RCA release had the genitalia airbrushed out, but the recent reissue on Rykodisc/EMI revives the original artwork.

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  >>  NEXT