Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rosé yeah! Foie Gras Nay?

I always manage to find the most amusing tidbits of information while procrastinating on the internet. Yesterday I ran across an article that gave me quite a chuckle. Apparently according to the New York Times article, The Summer Drink to Be Seen With, Rosé is the trendy new “it” drink of the summer.

“Rosé has replaced prosecco and cosmos as the new chick drink,” said Ken Friedman, an owner of the Spotted Pig, a celebrity-friendly restaurant in Greenwich Village, which offers five rosés on its wine list.

Also, it seems that some idiots, I mean New Yorkers, are willing to pay up to $30 a bottle for a Rosé. This makes me laugh for two reasons: First because I love when the New York Times “discovers something. And secondly because as an ex-NewYorker it’s hilarious to see otherwise clever and worldly urbanites get suckered into paying $30 for a 5 euro Rosé. (Hey, I have a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge that I could sell you…) Not to mention that the French people have been drinking Rosé all summer since “toujour” as my French mother-in-law informed me yesterday afternoon at lunch while we were sipping an absolutely exquisite Rosé for which she payed little more than 5 euros.

On another insane food news front, the city of Chicago once again proves it is indeed very much part of the slow and ass-backwards Midwest, by banning the sale of Foie Gras as of August 22nd. For those of you who don’t already know, foie gras, (pronounced fwah-GRAH) is French for "fat liver”. To fatten the liver of the birds, a tube is inserted into their throats twice a day and partially cooked corn is pumped down the esophagus. Gives new meaning to the expression “down the hatch!”

Personally I’m not a fan of Foie Gras. I eat it every year at Christmas dinner, but only after I’ve already had nearly a half bottle of champagne. Even so, this new ordinance makes me laugh for several reasons: The first being the very idea of fat-ass, old politicians with Midwestern accents telling other people what they can and cannot eat is just sadly comical. My second reason for chuckling is that being an ex-midwesterner I know for a fact that Chicago used to be known as the great 'slaughter house’ of the US, yet there are only three foie gras farms in the entire United States. ( two in New York and one in California)
But wait, it gets better: it seems this case of the crazies has also made it into the water supply in California where Governor Schwarzenegger approved a measure that would end the practice by 2012. Also Israel, the world's fourth-largest producer of foie gras, has recently banned production of the delicacy on the grounds of cruelty. (Ok, so lemme get this straight: Blowing up countries- OK. Hurting birds- not OK. Alrighty then.)

On a much lighter and funnier note, partly in response to all of the nonsense in the US, France, which produces about 80 percent of the world's foie gras, has taken swift pre-emptive action to protect it's Fois Gras farmers. French lawmakers unanimously passed an amendment pronouncing foie gras a legally protected part of France's cultural heritage.

This also marks the first time in the nation's history that French lawmakers have ever unanimously agreed on anything.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I don’t have many funny French anecdotes to deliver to, but in the meantime I thought I’d answer the most popular question I get about living in France: “How did you meet your husband?”

Well, like all great love affairs of our time our romance began on the internet. We met quite clumsily and by accident. I had just left New York City and was trying to settle into rural life in upstate New York. I was friendless, jobless, and bored silly. After 8 weeks in the wilderness I began formulating my escape plan to get out of not only the state of New York, but the US in general. Quite randomly I picked Italy as a destination. I went full steam ahead with my escape plan to get an Art residency in Italy. I bought about 10 “teach yourself Italian” books, and joined an International chat group where I never actually spoke one word of Italian and ended up talking to the other Anglophones. At some point I stumble upon a French guy’s profile that had a funny quote on it from a Seinfeld episode. I shot him a one sentence e-mail to say hello and then promptly forgot all about him. He returned from his vacation in the US to find my e-mail and replied. No sparks flew, but we just really liked talking to each other. Finally after a few months of chatting I begged my mother for $600 to buy a plane ticket to France.

I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle and there he was. We spent 4 or 5 days in Paris together. He took me to the top of the Eiffel tower for my birthday and then bought me a “gaufre” with powdered sugar and whipped cream as a stand–in for birthday cake. The next day we jumped in his car and drove to the south of France where we spent a few days wandering through Aix en Provence. At the end of the trip we drove back to Paris where we tearily said goodbye at the airport not knowing when or where we would see each other again.

For the next year it was back and forth transatlantic flights every 1-2 months. And although we accumulated a mountain of frequent flyer miles, it was exhausting on all levels. In hindsight, I think the real reason we got married was so we could stop spending all our money on airfare. Long story short, a year after we met we ran off and got hitched without telling anyone except two of David’s friends who acted as our witnesses. David wore a hilarious 3 piece pinstriped grey suit. I wore black patten leather knee-high stiletto boots, a black mini-skirt, a white blouse and a goofy white H&M flower pin in my hair. (Don’t believe me? I have video footage.) At the time I didn’t speak French, but David convinced the deputy Mayor that I did. I didn’t understand a word of the ceremony. I did however manage to say “I do” at the right moment because David squeezed my right hand so hard that he almost broke my pinky bone. This is the only photo we have of our wedding day.

Since David is an only child, and I’m my mother’s only daughter, we immediately went about planning the religious ceremony for our families. (Plus I just wanted a big fancy white dress.) In May 2005 we finally professed our all encompassing undying love or whatever for each other in front of family, friends, God, and a few pigeons & squirrels that were in the park with us.
My mom performed the ceremony. We jumped the broom. It was fab. My family and a few friends flew in from the States and stayed for a week and we all partied it up with David’s family.
So just to recap, I never learned Italian or got to make art in Italy, but I did marry an adorable French boy, and I spend my days working on my artwork in France.

Close enough.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Better late than never.

Voila! It's done!

One down......nine to go in order to meet my summer goal of 10 new paintings. I have the feeling that I may be granting myself a 2 week extension, but I must say that I'm thrilled with how this first canvas worked out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Anatomy of a painting.

It's no secret that I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been busy painting.

Yes painting.

Never mind the fact that I have an MFA in painting, before this summer I haven't made a real life honest to Godess painting in maybe 5 years. So when I set myself up with this summer project to make 10 paintings by the end of September I knew it would be an uphill battle at first, but I figured it would be a bit like riding a bike: it all just comes back once you hop on right?

If only that were true.

At the moment I'm working 4 large canvases simultaneously right now in my not-so-large makeshift studio-- and by studio I mean dining room. In it's present state it's hard to imagine how we could have ever entertained guests in this room, but untill I have my private home studio in our new apartment it'll have to do. I figure it will just make me that much more appreciative when I do have my own space.

After a very rough start, I can now say that I'm feeling optimistic about the insanity and ugliness going on in my studio. I love nothing more than a really ugly painting. It seems my love of the "make-over" extends into my art practice.

Anyway---the paintings are weeks away from being finished- finished, but I can give you a sneak peak at the first steps of may process:

Step #1:

Mark up the canvas. I made a simple black grid with a sharpie marker then added some modeling paste and a wash of pink.

Step #2:

Add a few images. In this case an old house, a songbook cover, tree branches, and sheet music of some church songs that I remember from my childhood.

Step #3:

Add some color and form. There is no method to my madness. I just do it and see what takes shape. I add blocks of color and often weird nonsensical marks.

Step #4:

One wash of color to unify all the parts thats have been added. Later I'll add more images and hand-draw some marks onto the canvas. And then I'll let it rest for a few days.

So that's that. The very first hours of one of my paintings.

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Going philosophical on a matress.

Although it can be argued that Western Civilization has long since done away with it’s most meaningful rites of passage I would beg to differ. Nothing signals that you have reached adulthood more than shopping for and buying a new bed with your adorable French husband. My initiation into mattress adulthood came last week when our new bed arrived at our door. As the two remarkably cheerful French delivery men with dirty fingernails carefully attached the legs onto the “sommier”, I became acutely aware that I was passing from one phase of my life into another. From “twenty-something” to “thirty-something”, from futon to Posteurpedic.

Now, I realize most people don’t wax poetic or go all philosophic over their mattresses, but sometimes a bed is not just a bed. In my defense I’d like to explain that beds are special to me not only because of my love of sleep, but because I have spent so much of my life sleeping on really bad ones. (That and the fact that this bed costs more than my first car, or even my wedding dress.) From my squeaky childhood bunkbed to the dusty double stuffed futon in my first Brooklyn apartment (remember that one Alena?), where I’ve slept has always been a pretty good indicator of my lot in life. And if this mattress is such an indicator then baby, life is gooooood!