Amoeblog

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.

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Apollinaire

Posted by Whitmore, August 26, 2008 10:48am | Post a Comment


Today marks the anniversary of the birth of a personal hero of mine, the poet Guillaume Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, better known as Apollinaire, who was born on this date in 1880. His greatest contribution to the 20th century, other than coining the term ‘surrealism’ and helping to publicize and define the Cubist movement, was probably his poetry, influencing many of the avant-garde, dada and surrealist writers in post-Great War France, such as André Breton and Tristan Tzara.

Early in the century Guillaume Apollinaire’s began to devise his Calligrammes, a term he used to explain his shaped poems.












It’s Raining

It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvelous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below




Tristan Tzara

Posted by Whitmore, April 19, 2008 08:16pm | Post a Comment
I often seem to be a bit late in writing about historical events on the anniversary of said occurrence; I blame time itself for not allowing me a few minutes to catch my breath, so here I am, several days late, again, celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite characters of the 20th century.

On April 16th, 1896 Samuel Rosenstock (a.k.a. the once and future Tristan Tzara) was born in Moinesti, Bacau Province in Romania. Most famous as the author of the Dada Manifesto and co-founder in 1916 of the original anti-art and literary movement, Dadaism, along with Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Hans Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck, Tzara is often credited with discovering the name Dada. One version of the story has him hanging out at the acting Dada headquarters, the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich,Switzerland, and randomly selecting a name by stabbing a French-German dictionary with a knife, picking the word impaled by the blade’s point. Dada is a French child's colloquialism for hobby-horse. If it isn’t true, at least it’s good myth. Besides the knife play and original manifesto, Tzara, as leading agitator, also wrote many of the earliest Dada documents including La Première Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine (The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine, 1916) and Vingt-cinq poemes (Twenty-Five Poems, 1918). Some of his later works include his masterpiece L’Homme Approximatif (The Approximate Man, 1931), Parler Seul (Speaking Alone, 1950), and La Face Intérieure (The Inner Face, 1953).

[Last year for Tristan Tzara’s 111th birthday I decided to place 111 pink post-its, each numbered sequentially, on randomly chosen objects- buildings, cars, envelopes, people - anything and everything that got in my way as I carved out my day; I believed it to be a perfectly useless and wanky endeavor to pursue. This year for his 112th birthday I thought I’d celebrate by lying about what I actually did last year. Next year I plan on observing his 113th birthday (and prime number) in Zurich by partying at the remnants of the Cabaret Voltaire, and re-live what I did there 20 years ago; relieve myself on the wall outside, just around the corner from the front entrance, on the side street under the Commemorative Memorial plaque. Of course, I suspect, I’ll re-invent, once again, events in Zurich.]

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