Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Various Recommendations

Here are some things I've been reading/watching/listening to/seeing lately...

Spain...On the Road Again - A PBS miniseries following Mario Batali, Gwenyth Paltrow, Mark Bittman and Claudia Bassols as they drive around Spain in convertibles, searching for delicious food and enjoying Spain's culture. It just premiered last week, and I know, the cast is fantastic. It's casual, light, and very enjoyable. You can also log onto the website for various recipes and extras.

Drawing Babar - The new show at the Morgan Library, featuring original watercolors from the Babar series. They are SO wonderful. Be sure to grab lunch at the Cafe after!

The Sharper the Knife, the Less you Cry, by Kathleen Flinn - The book I just finished, written by a woman who lost her job, and picked up to go to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. Everyone's dream! Though it toys with some cheesy parts (particularly since her boyfriend came with her), the writing is good and reading about the school is fantastic! She takes Basic, Intermediate, and Superior Cuisines (each a semester) to earn a diploma. It also mixes in recipes.

iTunes Genius - This may or may not beat out the Style.com app for greatest Apple feature. If you download the new version of iTunes, you can now highlight a song you want to listen to, click a button, and voila! A whole playlist, based on that song, is created for you from your library. It has changed the way I listen to music, and I've loved how it pulls out songs I haven't thought about listening to in years. I feel like this is one of those technology things you used to imagine would be cool, but never thought could happen. It did!

Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield - Essentially a B-version of High Fidelity, the real draw of this book (which is about music and love and loss in the 90's) is that it takes place in Charlottesville! I'm only through the first chapter, and he's already talked about Tokyo Rose and Plan 9. Sick! (N.B. As I've only gotten through the first chapter, this might not be a true recommendation, but updates on quality to come...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jeff Koons Versailles: Reaction

My brother is studying in Florence this semester.  This past weekend he went to Paris, so of course I recommended he beeline it to Versailles.  His reaction: 

"The next day we went to Versailles, which needless to say is pretty amazing... Sadly to say Calvine, Jeff Koons did a nice job of ruining many of the rooms.  Simply to say  a Michael Jackson piece does not belong in the room of Apollo."

Ah, opinions.  Love your reaction, Morg.  Wish I had gone with you to argue my own point! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jeff Koons Versailles

One of my favorite days in Paris this March was our trip to Versailles, and one of my favorite days in New York this Spring was our night at the Met's Jeff Koons on the Roof exhibit.  They have now been combined (minus the whole Calvine being there aspect).  

Jeff Koons currently has a retrospective (his first full one) at Versailles--in the actual palace and on the grounds.  Though Versailles often installs specific shows (there was one on antique silver when I was there in March), they rarely focus on contemporary artists and if they do, they are shunned to random rooms.   Not this time. There is currently a balloon dog in the Hall of Mirrors.  Amazing. 

The combination of contemporary and historic or classic art (particularly architecture) is something I find fascinating and wonderful.  Bizarre, controversial, and epic, shows like this one question progress and changes in aesthetic opinion over time by (mis)placing contemporary pieces in antiquarian settings.  The article about the Koons retrospective in Sunday's Times focused primarily on French hatred of the show (there were many demonstrators at its opening), but made one point that really stood out to me: Louis XIV would have loved Balloon Dog.  It is new, it is large, it is imposing, flashy, awesome, bizarre, and expensive.  It is of the time and of the future.  The Sun King, if living now, would indulge in artwork like that of Koons and Damien Hirst (you know that diamond skull would have been in his palace in seconds).  

I think the decision to bring contemporary art to spaces like Versailles is forward-thinking and fantastic.  I wish I could make it to see this fantastic wedding of old and new, but a trip to Paris by its closing in December is not exactly possible.  If you are in Europe at all over the next few months, PLEASE go see this exhibit---and send pictures.  I'm thrilled that this is happening.
The NY Times Article (Photos from the NY Times Slideshow)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Go to Ventana

I briefly mentioned the bar Ventana in my previous post, but after grabbing drinks there again last night, I realized that it necessitated a full blog post. It is simply fantastic.

Ventana is located on 5th street SE, where Kiki used to be. Kiki prided itself on drinks made with fresh fruit--so fresh that it took approximately 18 minutes for the one bartender to create each drink. It was shortlived. Ventana has definitely kept the fresh aspect going, but is ten times more efficient. People without much patience (me) require this of a good bar. Also, Serena has now introduced me to the owner and the main bartender, so we can really expedite the process.

Ventana has a very creative drink list--from Mango Ginger and Rosemary Grapefruit Martinis, to Cucumber and Jalapeno Margaritas. They even have this odd seafoam concoction that they top drinks with (sort of like a latte) instead of putting salt on rims. Inventive, yes, over the top, maybe, but delicious? Absoltely. I've loved every drink I've tried there--especially the Rosemary Grapefruit, and the Bellini (made with fresh peaches).

I've yet to try the food (they have a Mexican-style menu), but word on the street is that it is delicious. The atmosphere is also great--extremely low key (we still stuck out a little bit in our heels last night, but I will continue to wear them), with great music, comfortable seating, and interesting people. Oh, and there's a live video feed in the bathroom so you can watch what's happening in the bar. We had a really great group last night, and Ventana was just the perfect place to be.

The icing on the cake? They were playing the Flight of the Conchords soundtrack.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Charlottesville Fashion Week

What? You haven't heard of Charlottesville Fashion Week? You're in New York, hanging out with Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, and Zac Posen? Psshhh, why would you want to do that when you can be in Central Virginia?!?!!!

Needless to say, morale is low in this part of the woods this week, particularly for those of us with a fondness towards fashion and anything New York. Yes, in fact, the whole month is destined to go downhill, as we longingly watch videos of shows streaming from Paris and Milan on our not even all that fast Charlottesville internet. Don't even mention the word "party."

Last night, Andrew, Serena, and I headed out on the town to lift spirits and distract from thoughts of separation from the excitement in New York. We had a great dinner at The Local in Belmont, then wandered over to the mall to hit the bars. After three failures (empty Ten, couples night at Zocalo, and Bachelorette Penis Hats at Blue Light), we ended up at Ventana, actually a really great bar with delicious drinks (Rosemary Grapefruit Martini? Yes, please). While completely failing to lift ourselves from Fashion Week Depression, we invited the pirate-patched bartender to have a drink with us (yes, this story is 100% true). His first question: "Why are you all so dressed up? Did you have some event?"

THIS is the problem with Charlottesville: we were not dressed up. I had on jeans and heels with a casual blouse and cardigan; Serena was in linen shorts, a tank top, and heels; Andrew had on leather leggings (I know, kill him now) and a flannel shirt (note this extreme seasonal oddity at his and Serena's outfits). Normal, I'd say, for going out to dinner and grabbing drinks after on a SATURDAY night! If we were in any city, even DC, this would be dressed down. But no, we stuck out like sore thumbs amidst Lacoste shirts and hippie skirts. It was as if You're Not at Fashion Week was flashing in lights.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it is blinding, neon, and flashing: STYLE.COM IPHONE APP. The greatest thing ever invented. You can see all the shows in crystal clear images (zoom in too!) and flip through them, oh, I'd say 350 times quicker than if you were using their obnoxious slideshow feature online. Everything is updated as soon as the site is, and it even feeds in Style File Blog! It is absolutely the greatest thing to happen to Fashion Week, to Style.Com, to Ipods everywhere, and particularly, to those of us in Charlottesville, VA.