Thursday, December 21, 2006

back in ny

my first day in new york was spent with my father, who's recovery from his surgery has been nothing less than remarkable. he's still not 100% but I can't believe how far he's come since I was here last month.

heading towards manhattan soon to meet some friends for lunch - for my beloved xiao long bao - soup dumplings. my friends understand me so well. the "clean" flavors at din tai fung in arcadia just don't do it for me - I like my broth heavy and flavorful. its been months since I've had one of those little dumplings - my excitement is maybe a little out of proportion to my lunch plans.

the rest of the week will again revolve mostly around food. eileen and I were going to try una pizza napoletana, until we realized its not open for lunch. a fellow diner at mozza in LA recommended we try it, so it will have to wait for another day. christmas is of course all about movies and chinese food. and while I would love to experience l'atelier de Joel Robuchon, I'm afraid my most likely hotel dining experience this week will likely be at burger joint (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - how did I live 4 blocks from here for 7 years and just discover it now?)

the rest of the week - family, friends and museums. my sister and I now have a tradition of spending an afternoon at the cooper hewitt - which is currently exhibiting its design triennial. and I feel compelled to go to MOMA because they have a koolhaas exhibit, and he was the subject of my thesis. plus there are picasso exhibits everywhere in ny this season, but I think I want to visit the whitney's because they also have a kiki smith exhibit and one on bauhaus. so many museums, so little time.

off to slurp soup dumplings for now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

yup, I think I still have ADD

I received two of the books I ordered from Amazon on thurs. I have about 10 more pages to go in Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems. I do love all of the This American Life contributors books, but I've come to realize they're more or less just Bobo mind candy. Funny and wry and smartly satirical but ultimately slightly vacuous. Tasty and easy to digest and they generally preach to the liberal, elite, politically progressive, gay-loving, god-hating heathens of the two coasts. Basically, me. I don't mean to disparage Rakoff and his ilk, but I'm starting to feel a little worn out. Although I still have a deep and abiding love of Sarah Vowell, who I truly feel is a level or two above her compatriots, Rakoff and Sedaris, perhaps because she's such a self-deprecating civics nerd and maybe because she managed to humanize history in Assassination Vacation. In any case, I tore through Don't Get Too Comfortable in 2 or 3 days in what was a fairly busy weekend. I dont think that's a reflection of my prodigious reading talents. I think the book is just a little, um, fluffy. (but what was I expecting with a subtitle that references low thread count sheets?).

The true test of my literary ADD is next. I'm going to start vidal's Lincoln - and we'll see if I can get through fiction again (dipping my toes with historical fiction). I also leave for new york tomorrow, so with a 6 hour flight and occasional train trips between long island and manhattan, this is the perfect testing ground. I usually buy every single shelter and food mag I don't subscribe to for my flight (punctuated by an US Weekly and Vogue here and there). will try to curtail my mag consumption in favor of something a little more...weighty but it will be difficult. wish me luck.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

its alive: livinghomes

yesterday josh and I got a tour of the first livinghome built in santa monica, and currently occupied by the developer steve glenn. will try to write more on it tomorrow, or just let josh write it up for curbed, but price aside (which is very, very high for a prefab home but zero emissions, zero energy, zero water COSTS $$$, people!), the house was impressive - the design (by ray kappe), the LEED platinum certification, the craftsmenship. so instead of writing it up, a couple of photos:

the solar photovoltaic panels on the roof.

deck 1
the second floor.

living room
the living room

all the appliances are built into the wall - including the coffeemaker. if I drank coffee, I would love this.

the kitchen

fireplace 1
the fireplace. its the centerpiece of the house and anchors the living areas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

fire up the tivo

did a quick interview this am with cnbc on the yahoo/abc dealio announced today. should be on around 4:40 PST today - I think they got one or two good quotes pulled from it. if I find the online video after it airs, will post a link to it. thanks to cnbc* for putting my mug over the airwaves.

*but jim cramer is still a tool.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A reader divided against herself cannot stand

for months now, Middlesex has sat on my nightstand taunting me. Everyone tells me I will love it. I've read a couple of chapters, but its just not grabbing me. I had the same problem with the plot against america. I never used to have a problem getting into books - when I was in college I use to challenge myself to read a book a week on my summer vacations, since I never felt like I had enough time during the school year to read for fun. and I've read both eugenides and roth before and have loved them both. so I don't think its the author or the quality. I think its me. for some reason, I'm struggling with fiction these days. the last few books I tore through were all non-fiction: the tender bar, slouching towards bethlehem, the sarah vowell books. these days I only have the patience for essays and memoirs apparently.

so I'm giving up and giving in - at least for now. I put middlesex back on the bookcase for another day and just ordered two vidal books: lincoln: a novel (but its a work of historical fiction - does that count? sarah vowell whetted my lincoln appetite and I feel the compelled to find a political figure I can actually admire), and palimpsest: a memoir. see? - back to the memoirs. and I can't get away from NPR contributors either. for a little levity and a lot of snark I also ordered Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by daniel rakoff. he had me at artisanal olive oil. with a long trip to ny in a couple of weeks I should be able to get through at least one or two of them pretty quickly.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

more gore, por favor

so john and I made it to the skirball last night, after a lovely drive along mulholland to avoid rush hour traffic, and were first on the wait list. of course we got into the lecture. and it was worth it - vidal didn't disappoint. he's using a wheelchair these days but he's just as sharp as he ever was. and funny. and patrician. the conversation ran the gamut from contemporary writers to abraham lincoln to jackie kennedy to newt gingrich to media consolidation to american imperialism. and his career(s) as a novelist, pundit, screenwriter, playwright, would-be politician, and actor. and he does a couple of mean impressions: bush, john kennedy and aaron burr (although we'll have to take his word on that one).

I didn't take notes but I'll try to quote (possibly misquote) some of his one-liners:
  • "today we have many more good writers than good readers."
  • "it takes a certain kind of genius to make history boring to children."
  • "jackie had a thirst for revenge towards anyone she thought had wronged her family."
  • in response to the question "is it enough if bush is just hamstrung for the next two years by congress?": "isn't it enough? we all just want him to go back to texas."
  • after relating the story of aaron burr's duel with alexander hamilton and burr's belief that the world wasn't big enough for both burr and hamilton, upon reflecting towards the end of his life: "Aaron Burr said 'If I had read more voltaire, and less rousseau, I would have realized the world was big enough for both aaron burr and alexander hamilton.'"
how's that for meta? I'm quoting vidal quoting burr. I wish I could remember more.

in any case, I was grateful to get the opportunity to see him speak when I had the opportunity. I keep trying to think of someone who can be considered the next gore vidal, a prolific writer and thinker, a man or woman with a huge set of cojones willing to say what they truly believe, on camera and off, regardless of how (un)popular that opinion might be. someone willing to call people, the media, and goverments on their bullshit. someone who can be considered a true polymath. I'm coming up short.

am I getting really old, that I'm beginning to wax nostalgic for the gore vidals, bella abzugs, and norman mailers of yore? perhaps I am. and I was right about one thing before we went: john and I averaged a good 30 years younger than the overwhelming majority of the crowd. which is a terrible shame, because the kids today - they need to hear what he has to say.

and as jessica said recently, youtube is truly god's work. I present to you the infamous vidal/buckely debate in 1968, wherein vidal calls buckley a nazi, and buckley calls vidal a queer. brilliant.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

gore no more?

so it looks like gore vidal is sold out at the skirball. john and I are still going to try to go and see if there are standing room tickets available, because gore's, like, old and shit and there probably won't be too many other opportunities to see him speak. is it crazy to battle rush hour traffic to drive all the way across town to most probably get the tara-reid-treatment-at-hyde just on the off chance we can see the old kook speak one last time before he kicks it? I guess so. but what else are we going to do with our time?

totally unrelated but my parents have bought me the greatest chanukah gift ever - its especially indulgent this year because they feel grateful for some of the post-surgery help. I should mention that in my family, chanukah is a minor, minor holiday. we buy gifts for the kids and the adults take a name out of the hat. one gift for one person. its a relief, quite frankly. so I didn't expect anything more than a $50 gift certificate to sephora. instead, they splurged and I am so grateful: the le creuset dutch oven I've been lusting for in my favorite color - flame. now I am obligated to cook more for friends. soon I will be braising like a pro.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

one angry old man

john and I are heading west to the skirball tonight tomorrow to see the esteemed man of letters, gore vidal. with his controversial views on George Bush, 9/11, the Iraq war, William F. Buckley and even world war II, it should be a fun couple of hours. (please call someone a "pro- crypto Nazi" - if the evening doesn't end in potential litigation, I will have to ask for my money back). with our current administration, its like shooting fish in a barrel. and I have a feeling this will do nothing for my current problem of spending all of my time with retirees. does gore vidal have a big tatted-up, nose-ringed, hardcore youth audience? I hope so.

Why I love the beginning of the month

because there's a new eyesore of the month awaiting me, with james howard kunstler's inimitable brand of vitriol and sarcasm. even if I dont always agree with his kneejerk reactions to contemporary architecture, its always enjoyable reading. case in point: the last two months he's gone after memorialist-extraordinaire Daniel Libeskind (or as he refers to him "architect/savant"). Pictured above is his new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, or as Kunstler call it - "the 'Elephant Man' of museums, " comparing it to a tumor. is major problem with it:
Now, you may ask yourself: why is this sort of thing acceptable to the Guardians of Culture? The answer may be that it sends a truthful but subliminal message (which, alas, we are misinterpreting) that the mis-use of technology has become the fatal disease of civilization.
Have truer words ever been blogged?