Thursday, August 27, 2009

a taste of tennis, 2009: the jo-willy tsonga edition

and because he was lookin' so good, rockin' that white pinstriped suit, jo-wilfried tsonga merits his own post.

"impossible" not to root for him...

a taste of tennis, 2009

my friend, kevin, called me this afternoon to see if i could help him out at the taste of tennis event at the w hotel--he had to try to get "red carpet interviews" with some of the players and chefs, and he needed someone to help to identify them (especially the "international" tennis players).

i knew there existed a universe where all of my dining out and tennis-watching and blog-reading would be of use.

i really enjoyed the event last year (mob scene that it was), but hadn't planned to go this time 'round. i had an idea this little gig would be fun--and a decent opportunity to re-test my g-10.

here's who we saw and spoke with (I think the interviews will go live in a week)...

andy roddick.

andy was kind enough to stop and chat with brandeis...

nicholas kiefer wasn't up for a tv interview...

neither was gonzo.

pretty ms. sabine lisicki.

sabine stopped for our team, too.

david ferrer made his way quickly down the press line, hardly stopping to smile.

brad farmerie, fresh off his iron chef victory over cat cora (that little tidbit, courtesy of my mom, came in very handy for the interview)...

is as handsome...

and charming as i remember him...

also returning this year...alfred portale...

vera zvonareva--our "first interview" of the evening--looking lovely...

and sweet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"stop being a baby"

i am not really going to sit here before you and start bleating about work because a) it is work (and "work is good") and b) there's really nothing SO bad about it that would be worth going into with you tonight (i.e. "no one will die" except maybe me, a little bit, inside, every day until this project ends).

but let's just say, of late, what has transpired between the hours between 9:30 and 6:30...and then 7:30 to midnight has left me dumbstuck and directionless. i'm doing my best to hoop-jump and juggle but i'm losing my footing and my grip. everyone is unsatisfied, including me.

i''ll be working from home the rest of the night. that's not too bad a thing. 30 rock will be on later...and i can listen to music all night too.

in lieu of a happy pill, i'll be listening to happy music...

how about some english beat? some special beat service?

my sister wore deep grooves into one track on the lp :"i confess." i don't think I fully appreciated that ultra cool song at the time, in part because it was hers. if i was gonna like the english beat at all, i needed my own songs. the sweet "tears of a clown" and the frenzied "sole salvation" were really the only two tracks i bothered with.

but in listening to "the best of" on the ipod, i've discovered the charms of others.

especially "best friend." this brings out the teenager in me.

how about saxa in this video? love him...

and this is sweet:

finally...back to "sole salvation." i fell in love with the tempo changes, the bass, the horns... but i have never really known the lyrics (except "we never feel the power of our own it right, do it now here there everywhere shouting out i'm as mad as hell...stop being a baby!...stop! ... have a heart but don't take mine" and something later on about "a woman's understanding." and obviously, "sole salvation"). i just dance around to it.

but it turns out there are a hell of a lot of words in between, so many more than i could have imagined, so this little video was informative AND entertaining. love that the producer even added caveats about spelling, technical credits and citations.

enjoy! (and i'll stop being a baby)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

read a good poem: love song

richard, teresa, and kevin, at the corner bookstore, madison ave, nyc. the word on the street is that scenes from "the princes of tides" were filmed here.

cheers to my friend, mr. kevin c. fitzpatrick on the occasion of the publication of his 3rd book: the lost algonquin round table. The book is a collection of writings (including previously unpublished works) from 16 members of the round table, including robert benchley, alexander woollcott (who inspired the haughty, creepy "waldo lydecker" character in the noir masterpiece, laura) and one ms. dorothy parker.

you can purchase the lost algonquin roundtable and kevin's other book, a journey into dorothy parker's new york, on

here's a little ms. parker for you and me:

love song

suppose we two were cast away
on some deserted strand.

where in the breeze
the palm trees sway--

a sunlit wonderland:
where never human footstep fell

where tropic love-birds woo.

like eve and adam we could dwell,

in paradise, for two.

would you, i wonder, tire of me

as sunny days went by,
and would you welcome joyously,

a steamer? would i.

suppose we sought bucolic ways

and led the simple life

away--as runs the happy phrase--

from cities' toil and strife.
there you and i could live alone,
and share our hopes and fears,
a small-town darby and his joan,
we'd face the quiet years.

i wonder would you ever learn

my charms could pall on you,
and would you let your fancy turn

to others? ...i would too.

between us two (suppose once more)
had rolled the boundary deep;

you journeyed to a foreign shore,

and left me here to weep.

i wonder if you'd be the same,

though we were far apart,
and if you'd always bear my name
engraved upon your heart.
or would you bask in other smiles,

and, charmed by novelty,
forget the one so many miles
away?...that goes for me.

--dorothy parker (1921)
from "the lost algonquin round table
copyright © 2009 edited by nat benchley and kevin c. fitzpatrick


more of my friends:

richard and teresa, aka film snobs


Monday, August 17, 2009

a superfan's notes

i recently had the opportunity to correspond with comedian and "colbert report" writer, peter grosz, for a freelance project. i'm officially a superfan! he made a rather challenging circumstance a lot easier to manage. and...well...he's funny. he's also a photography enthusiast, which endears him to me tremendously. i've received a couple great recommendations for photography anonymous: enigmatic images from unknown photographers and america in passing.

you may recognize him as one of the "two guys" in the sonic commercials...

another thing i love about him is he's really keen on promoting young talent, and supporting the theater arts and live comedy: upright citizens brigade, the magnet theater and iO in la and chicago...we're going to try to do our bit at work to promote them, too.

hopefully, more to come.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"too hot" (and read a good poem/wild for my melon toddie)

i like the groove of the original track but this live version is fun...

i've been spending most of these last few dog days indoors, practicing my picture-taking, summer cleaning, and reading "hot, flat, and crowded"-- which i thought would be the super-clever title of a post that i planned to write from (or about our family trip to) the philippines. but it was really not so very hot there at all. and it was not really so very crowded as, at least for the first week, we were virtually the only guests at a sprawling golf resort...

the pool at malarayat golf resort...july 2009...

i did make it out to greenpoint on saturday to share some birthday cheer with my friend, reid, aka "rad reid," a bona fide philly soul if there ever was one. i indulged in a few refreshing servings of watermelon soaked in vodka. sweet! and no hangover. though i did have a crazy two-part dream that involved one very handsome writer/editor friend...and i woke up with my bedsheet wrapped around me like a toga...

in the spirit of that melon "toddie," i'll share a poem from virginia hamilton adair.
i've re-printed one of her poems here once before and i'll happily re-link to the pbs online newshour interview that introduced me to her work. enjoy.

Ants on the Melon

Once when our blacktop city
was still a topsoil town
we carried to Formicopolis
a cantaloupe rind to share
and stooped to plop it down
in their populous Times Square
at the subway of the ants

and saw that hemisphere
blacken and rise and dance
with antmen out of hand
wild for their melon toddies
just like our world next year
no place to step or stand
except on bodies.

Friday, August 14, 2009

pretty city: the real deal

ted croner's "time square montage," 1947-48 via the ("capturing the city" slideshow). ps. i don't know if the title is really "time square montage" or if that is a ny times typo.

in my last post i talked about one of the highlights of the past weekend being a night at my sister's house, skimming fashion mags and watching tv. i'm a thrill-cat, aren't i?

but i suppose i just needed a night of pure relaxation. this weekend, my plate is three-quarters-full (dancing...filming...birthday-partying) but i'm hoping to steal a little time on the couch, to read and watch "rafaelito" make his real summer debut in montreal.

if i get a little ambitious or antsy, I may make a trip down to the yancey richardson gallery. i read this article in today's times, and was inspired. and i heard from a very reliable source here at the office that the yancey richardson gallery is one of the best in town. if i don't make it to chelsea on sunday, (you and) i have until august 28, to check it out. that's not a lot of time, so we'll have to make time.

ps. the helen levitt show at the laurence miller gallery, further uptown, also sounds great. on view only through aug. 20...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the road, and ruby blue

one of the highlights of my last weekend was hanging out at my sister's house, sifting though her piles of design and fashion magazines (fell in love with a spread of stella tennant in damascus):

photos of stella tennant, photographed by tom craig, which appear in the may 2009 print edition, via

(see the behind-the-scenes video from the shoot here...)

and then, she caught me up on SYTYCD?! i do love that show, but i missed the first few episodes of this season and never managed to catch up. it's a lot of hours of programming every week. but my sister is a brilliant curator, and i trust her to show me only the best of the best dances. i finally got to see the mia michaels "addiction" routine . and there was a great disco routine, which she said reminded her of me. which i thought was highly flattering-- have i missed my calling? disco dancer? we did laugh that if it involves some crazy head shaking and ass shaking, i could probably pull it off. but what i would LOVE to be able to do, which is really pretty far beyond me is this:

SO fun...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

testing testing: the sigma, at aldea

i recently invested in new lens on the advice of one of my cousins, who's an amazing photographer. i expressed to him that i was having a problem getting great, indoor photos of people without a flash, on a consistent basis (a lot of "blur," which i like sometimes, but didn't always want). he gave me a few ideas, i chose a sigma 50 mm F1.4 ex.

first use: a gelf magazine event. i started to miss the zoom on my other lens. i was happy enough with the photos, though, and was glad i didn't need a flash.

second time around: i took some headshots for a friend--and my cousin was right. the lens is much faster and the portraits looked good. in that particular session, there were very few shots that were not crisp. but again, i was missing the zoom...

third time, the real charm? i took the lens with me to dinner at aldea. and i started to discover the limits to its use. the camera actually wouldn't take a lot of shots that i wanted. and several that i did manage to take were blurred. below are the better ones of the bunch. if i took a little more time, these might have been better, but, at some point we needed to dive in to the meal...

but these aren't really the quality that i was hoping for..clearly, i have a some things to figure out with this lens..what it can do, when i should use it best...

sea urchin toast, with cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, and lime

lightly cured spanish mackerel, with meyer lemon, almond milk and crunchy soy

sea salted chatham cod, with market cranberry and fava beans, lemon basil mussel broth.
(not pictured, because i couldn't manage a good shot: arroz de pato: duck confit, chorizo, olives, and duck cracklings)

caramelized brioche, with blood orange gel, creme fraiche pink peppercorn ice cream

lens issues aside, the dinner at aldea was elegant.

this is my iberian summer--i've had a season full of good food, but dinner here, and at txikito on 9th avenue, were the meals i craved. (i have been longing for a seaside vacation?) txikito stands out as distinctively iberian--a marriage of the simple, quintessential spanish flavors: smoky, cured meats paired with sea salty cod and anchovy. their portions are smaller, but they are richer and heartier (quail eggs..chorizo hash sandwiches...croquettes).

aldea takes the same flavors, but presents them with a far lighter touch. the result is cuisine that is less distinct to a region (asian notes in the sea urchin toast, the lightly cured mackerel, and the caramelized lychee), but meals that reflect strong french tradition and technique and a modern, green-market sensibility. to wit: meyer lemon, coriander yogurt, green garlic, crunchy soy, cauliflower cream, creme fraiche pink peppercorn ice cream...

my lovely friend allison (one of my favorite dinner companions: we have the same sense of adventure, the same approach to the menu. she arrives to our meals very well-schooled-- i can rely on her to remember critic's picks and pans. but we regard everything before, during, and after the meal...and she lets me take photos) had her first taste of sea urchin (liked it!) and we had the requisite "umami" discussion. i somehow imagined that the sea urchin would have been whipped into some sort of spread, and broiled, open-faced, in a toaster. but i love sea urchin raw, so i wasn't disappointed to have whole pieces presented on a long, crispy flatbread. the contrast in textures was new and good. we loved both the chatham cod and the arroz de gato. and the caramel brioche! when i think of brioche, i think of stretching and pulling pieces of sweet pastry and popping them into my mouth. but this brioche yielded so easily under the fork, like my mother's chiffon cake. it was wonderful. and the pink peppercorn in the ice cream was the best surprise--no heat, just a mild, peppery crunch.

the lone disappointment of the night were the "sonhos," little munchkins, rolled in sugar and presented with 3 dipping sauces--a too-dark chocolate sauce (allison rightly compared it to baker's baking chocolate); a zingy apricot sauce, and a hazelnut sauce, a nice cross between whipped cream and a pudding). but the dough in the doughnuts tasted uncooked. that they were doused in sugar didn't help. the sauces just put it over the top, and not in the best way.

but the service throughout was impeccable: attentive, polite, and generous. and, aldea offered a lovely little dessert amuse bouche (chocolate caramels, brown butter financiers and white peach pates de fruit) that would surely set any little wrong right.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

postcard: food tour, tokyo stopover

i've been to tokyo 4 times--4 stopovers on the way to and from the philippines. in terms of total hours, i don't think i've stayed a day. but at least during our trip this year there was enough time between flights to wander around the gate. my dad was keen on having "japanese noodle soup" and while i wasn't terribly hungry, i had a feeling the next leg of our flight would not come with a proper meal. and let's face it. it's just not like me to refuse a meal, especially on the road.

we stopped at the casual asian cafe�@bowl bowl.

this long lacquered hot dog struck me as unusual, but i suppose there is a lot of food fakery on display at eateries stateside. maybe it was the proportions that threw me?
onion rings
wrinkly and pink
this is the waiting box. rather like the square vibrating pager they give you at the outback steak house and the cheesecake factory. (and five napkin burger. and, if memory serves, the rosa mexicano on 18th street.) anyway, the kicker with this is that you have to "touch" the waiting box to the table. it's not enough to have it and hold it, or rest it on the table. the "waiting box" has to touch "home base" (the rectangular panel affixed to the table). if it's not on home base a server will walk by and place it there. and if you move it, they will put it back. it's a precision system. and then your food arrives.
miso, looking like a trippy underwater adventure.
and, one of my favorite comfort foods: a beef bowl.
this fairly straightforward beef bowl was made extraordinary by the brilliant yolk. the richest and best part of the meal.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

summer fling: phoenix

i'm having a summer fling with this song.

i have no idea what they are saying. ("gentleman only"? lisztomania? the film?) but does it matter? it just makes me feel so good when i hear it. i'm not going to think much beyond that.

(fling, remember?)

i have a thing for the gentle groove in this one too. (i'm going to totally date myself by asking if anyone else hears a little leo sayer goin' on here?)