Info Gluttony

“Creativity is a challenge against yourself”

Posted in books, fud, personal by echan on October 13, 2011

This is a quick fire post, but I wanted to transcribe my notes, at least in bullet-point form from Monday’s Ferran Adria talk at the Castro. This was definitely my favorite talk of the year, if not of the last five years. I walked away completely mesmerized.

  • Adria is no Anthony Bourdain. He is not there to make you laugh with funny anecdotes or foul language. Adria is there in his messianic way to: 1. guide you to create, and 2. point you towards the future of food.
  • Adria opened up by stating, “In order to cook well, you must think well, and in order to think well, you must be humble.”
  • Adria used the fable of the omelette and the mini-skirt to illustrate that it’s not important to be the first person to create something, but to be the person who conceptualizes it. We don’t know who invented the first omelette, but now most cookbooks devote 5% of their content to omelette recipes. Similarly, miniskirts date back to ancient Greece, but it took Mary Quant in the 60s to pair it in such a way to emphasize the female form. The evolution of the recipe is key.
  • We know nothing about cuisine and everything about food is subjective. The Spanish eat the second most fish per capita, but they hate raw fish. Adria’s own parents did not like sushi, when he brought them to a Japanese restaurant.
  • Back before his restaurant was big in the 90s, chefs guarded their recipes. But recipes are meant to be shared, so that people can improve them. Essentially, Adria was advocating open source cooking.
  • Fruits are an alphabet. When you cook with them, you create a language.
  • Adria showed us a clip of how his kitchen can make 2 meters of cheese spaghetti. When we eat a plate of spaghetti, we eat 60 meters of spaghetti.
  • I can’t find a good video online of the El Bulli Foundation masterplan, but it’s going to be on a nature preserve, and it definitely puts forth Adria’s utopian vision.
  • Finally, this event was also a book signing party of Adria’s The Family Meal. This is simply one of the most stunning cookbooks that I’ve ever opened.
Finally, while I’ve never had the fortune to dine at El Bulli, I had a chance to eat at another temple of molecular gastronomy, Arzak. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the level of technical skill that went into the tasting menu, but when he explained spherification and other techniques, I had an “A-ha! That’s how they made it” moment with some of the dishes I tried this spring.
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Look Over Here

Posted in thinking about cities by echan on October 11, 2011

Here’s my first post for a little blog on urbanism that grew out of my summer program. Check out the other writers too.

Wise Words

Posted in personal by echan on September 15, 2011

LYL alerted me to this excerpt from Roger Ebert’s soon to be published memoirs, but I was particularly struck by these words:

To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

The Poetry of Youth and Loss

Posted in books, Uncategorized by echan on January 27, 2011

My first encounter with Patti Smith was at a Ralph Nader rally in 2000, where she gave a speech over at the Kaiser Auditorium in the East Bay. I simply thought of her as the middle-aged, frizzy-haired hippie-type that I encountered all the time growing up. I’m still not really familiar with her music, but I recently finished Just Kids, her testament of close friendship to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Just Kids is essentially the Portrait of the Artist as a young woman in the New York in the late 1960s and 1970s. Patti runs away from the factory life of New Jersey and has brushes with Andy Warhol’s factory instead. If it was anyone else, you would call the author a name-dropper, but because Ms. Smith is famous in her own right, her casual references to Warhol, Alan Ginsberg, Sam Shepard, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jan Wenner, etc., function as a catalogue of ships, or rather catalogue of artists at the Chelsea Hotel. This is Patti’s origin story, and she was surrounded by gods.

Her relationships with the young, famous, and damned, however, weren’t the feature of the story that made the deepest impression on me. Rather, my head was stuck on her descriptions of living in artistic squalor. She describes catching lice, not once, but at least twice, once in Paris, and once from one of her boyfriends. Her wardrobe was chic, but expertly thrifted or found on the street. Mold was removed from loft spaces, turned into art studios, and food was cooked over a hot plate. For whatever reason, her narrative brought back a memory of my third-grade teacher, Ms. S, who told us stories of living a missionary life in Nicaragua, and of dumpster diving for food in San Francisco supermarket parking lots (these stories were told with an eye towards getting her students to donate their change to Catholic charities). They were kindred spirits in pursuit of art or public service.

Patti’s story is also Mapplethorpe’s story, the artist-hustler, who would later go on to be the center of the 1980’s culture wars (as a kid in San Francisco in the 1980’s AIDs, earthquakes, Dan White, and Mapplethorpe seemed to dominate the local TV news that I consumed). The tale of youth is sandwiched in between an elegy for Mapplethorpe, and Patti’s dirge echoes another recent memoir on loss, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. While Didion’s book was written while see was still in grief’s throes, Patti’s tale is one of the loss that lingers, even two decades after a dear friend has died.

The Shows of 2010

Posted in concert, indie rock, music, personal by echan on January 6, 2011

I was going to do a post on the 10 books that I read in 2010 (not “best” books, mind you, but the 10 books that I read in full) under the mistaken impression that I wrote a post about the books that I read in 2009. It turns out, however, that my only year-end round-up post last year was the Best Shows of 2009. So, in the spirit of that post, here’s the 2010 edition.

Although I saw more acts this year (my unscientific count via TwitFlick photos is 28), I thought 2010 was only a “meh” concert year overall.* So, instead, I’m just going to list shows that I really really liked (once again in good to better to best order):

10. Phantogram at the Indy – Such a big sound for such a simple 2-person duo.

9.  Mirah and Thao Nguyen at Noisepop – This sounds bad, but it was actually quite good: this show = your Gender Studies T.A.’s performing while a bit drunk.

8.  Massive Attack at the Warfield – This one occupies the spot of “Triphop band from the 90s that I’ve been waiting forever to see.” With EXCELLENT SCROLLING VISUALS.

7.  Pavement at the Greek – And to compliment #8, this one occupies the spot of “Grandfather of all Indie Bands from the 90s that I’ve been waiting forever to see.”

6.  The Morning Benders at the Independent – I’ll let my pal Wenlin’s cartoon speak for this night.

5. The National at the Independent (Correction – GDubrow points out in the comments that this was at the Fox in Oakland. My memory failed me because I didn’t think that I could get that close to the stage at the Fox) – I thought Matt Berninger and the band engaged the crowd more at Treasure Island (with the quips that only Matt is allowed to wear suits and that “Slow Show” is the National song that’s most often played at weddings), but it can’t beat the spot that we had at the Indy the Fox.

4. Band of Horses at the Independent – The only thing that could have made this show better was a duet with Cee-lo (or Cudi).

3.  DeadMau5 at Treasure Island Fest – This is the year that I converted from being an Indie Sunday to Dance Saturday person at T.I. Fest. The Mau5 was a huge reason why. Oonce oonce oonce

2.  Thom Yorke at the Warfield Fox (addendum: My brain completely erased the knowledge of the existence of the Fox Theater in Oakland while writing this post) – If it wasn’t for Arcade Fire, Mr. Yorke (one day, Sir Yorke, when William is king?) would automatically get the number one spot.  This show was a reminder to take Eraser out again, and give it another good listen (in fact, just writing this post is forcing me to put Eraser on).

1. Arcade Fire at the Greek – Though I’m still not in love with The Suburbs, this was the first concert that made me cry in a long time. There’s something about this band, where the crowd wails out in unison, and feels better afterwards. Collective catharsis, however cheesy that may sound.

*I started this post thinking that 2010 was a “meh” year, but by the time I’ve reached this part of the post, I’m pretty darn satisfied with what the 2010 concert calendar delivered.  No Portishead, but I’ve decided that “Waiting for Portishead” is the new “Waiting for Godot.”

**Peter Hook and Co. playing all of Unknown Pleasures, LCD Soundsystem at the Fillmore, the Magnetic Fields at the Herbst, and Hot Chip at the Warfield Fox probably deserve some kind of honorable mention, but whatever.

***Vampire Weekend at the Warfield gets the award for “loudest concert of the year.” My ears are still ringing from that show.

****With 4 3 different venues on my list, The Independent wins my vote for favorite venue of 2010. I’m a bit amazed the the Fillmore isn’t on this list at all. And I’m amazed that I forgot that a couple of the shows were at the beautiful, albeit acoustically challenged Fox in Oakland.

New to Me

Posted in media by echan on November 22, 2010

I grew up on a diet of Johnny Carson, too young to know about Dick Cavett.  Thanks to this article in the New Yorker, yesterday, I sought out some of his clips on YouTube:

Norman Mailer v. Cavett and Gore Vidal was nearly as entertaining as Norman Mail v. Rip Torn:

The YouTube settings won’t allow me to embed this, but Cavett presents Hitchcock.

I can’t wait until I have some time to dig into Cavett’s interviews with John and Yoko.

Quick Question

Posted in frocks by echan on November 10, 2010

Feel free to answer this anonymously/pseudonymously, but I’m trying to gauge where I fall:

What’s your annual wardrobe budget?

November 2010

Posted in personal, san francisco by echan on November 5, 2010

We’re only 5 days into this month, but very momentous things have happened already.

November 1, 2010 shall henceforth be known as a very big day in my life as a San Franciscan because of two things. First, after 18 years of intermittent Fast Pass use, I used a Clipper Card for the first time. Second, the Giants won the World Series.  Before the Giants’ victory, I underestimated the gross local happiness that a World Series trophy could bring to the City.

On November 2, 2010 was election day. I could elaborate about my disappointment about Senator Russ Feingold’s loss, or my surprised relief over Sharon “You Latinos look Asian” Angle’s failed bid, but the civil libertarian in me is stuck on Prop. L‘s passing in San Francisco. Prop. L criminalizes the act of merely sitting or lying on a public sidewalk between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. and is targeted towards the homeless in San Francisco.  I think it’s funny that the same San Franciscans who voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing pot were the same people who voted to criminalize not having a place to go. To my fellow smug San Franciscans, you are not as liberal as you think.

But November 3, 2010, Giants Day in San Francisco washed away any sins with a sea of orange streamers.  Seeing the two Willies (McCovey and Mays) in the parade once again highlighted the meaning of the win.  I am just so happy that the Giants achieved this victory while these two legends were still around to enjoy the victory. I wish that my grandfather could have seen it too.

To top it off, before this morning’s fog, the November weather had been uncommonly warm.  The unexpected warm nights after a chilly summer and wet October seemed to add one extra blessing to San Francisco this week.  It almost makes up for that feeling of loss that accompanies the shorter days.

But the jubilation and sun are already slipping away from us.  The City pulled down the orange, black, and white balloon bouquets along market and replaced them with snowflake lights.


Posted in religion by echan on October 8, 2010

I love Professor Paul Ekman’s* description of the Dalai Lama’s magnetism from this New Yorker piece (subscription required):

His Holiness is a mutant.

*Ekman is a New Yorker favorite, who got the Malcolm Gladwell treatment in Blink.

Event Music

Posted in family, music, personal by echan on September 29, 2010

I’ve been thinking about my grandmother at some of the weddings that I’ve attended because wedding music tends to overlap with the music we played at her funeral.  This is one such song.  This is another. Just an observation.