Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
For the last week or so the apartment has smelled like ginger and butter and fresh baked goodness as Laura has been preparing for the great Cookie Takedown.
The Takedowns are the brainchild of Matt Timms, the man, the legend, the celebrity-craving genius with the hand-painted heart of gold. Matt's a friend and neighbor who consistently beats me at Facebook Scrabble and then gloats like an evil villain in a Bond movie about it, not that I'm bitter, no, that would be wrong. Matt's notion of the Takedown started with a Chili Takedown and has moved on to Bacon Takedowns, Lamb Takedowns and countless other Takedowns in a growing number of cities across America with a growing legion of sponsors and supporters and an increasing focus of media attention. Matt's Takedown will no doubt expand to global domination because Matt Timms is a driven dude and he knows that people both like to cook and like to share and if you set a table, they will come.
And so it came to pass that the holiday Takedown call went out to cookie makers and here my worlds collided, for I happen to live with and love a pretty and sweet baker who likes to hand out cookies. Laura had never done anything like this, but she jumped in with both feet and made a run for the gold.
In order to perfect her recipe--the top secret Dark and Stormy Cookie--Laura tinkered and experimented with ingredients, cooking times, temperatures and cookie sizes. "What do you think of this one?" she'd ask and I'd eat another cookie and try to think if it was better than the last one I'd eaten. It was a burden, yes, but I carried it because . . . well, I got to eat a lot of Laura's cookies.
Laura was one of the first contestants to arrive, so she had her pick of where to situate herself at the long table. I recommended that she grab the center--number sixteen. Soon, all the places were filled and the sold out tasters were swarming over the cookie trays. Gloved hands handed out cookies and people jockeyed for first place--"vote for me!" they'd say as if their cookies didn't say enough.
It's kind of a sugar-rush blur, what happened next. I remember that I grabbed a glass of egg-nog spiked with bourbon and rum and filled a plate with cookies from the table. There was a bacon, peanut and pecan cookie and there was a "nacho-momma" cookie. There was a cookie that looked like an egg-roll, stuffed with brownie mix and drizzled with an espresso reduction. There was something called "The Stoner Cookie" which scared me, but I ate it because I ate everything like a damn stoner. There was a ginger snap cookie and something called the Chocolate Decadence and oh-my-lord-there-were-so-many-cookies-I-might-be-sick-for-a-week-no-seriously.
It was, to be frank, a hipster feeding frenzy.
When the dust had settled and awards distributed, sadly, it happened somehow that Laura did not take home the hundred dollar first place prize. It should be noted however that the top prizes went to the contestants on her left and right, so I wasn't completely wrong in my advice on where to set up; I was just slightly off.
I sampled a lot of cookies yesterday, perhaps more than I've ever tasted in my life. But I reckon I didn't eat any cookie better than Laura's Dark and Stormy. There's probably a lesson there, but I'm not going to tease it out any further than to say that Laura's cookies are the cookies I crave and home-baked is best.
Also, it should be noted that Matt Timms is a mad genius. He'd want me to end this that way, and so I will.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
All the Hits
Our Hit Parade celebrated the year and the decade with two shows last Wednesday night.
Our Hit Parade is the most consistently amazing and inconsistent cabaret show out there--and, to be clear, it's mostly way out there. Murray Hill might have said it best in his toast to the show when he described it as one of the last shows that isn't afraid to become a hot mess. Hosted by Kenny Mellman, Bridget Everett and Neil Medlyn, Our Hit Parade can be outrageous, sweet, polished and at times so rough it looks like the only plan planned on was getting to the stage with or without clothes and, by the way, does anyone know where we put the microphone? It's not for everyone, but in a world more perfect than ours it would be.
The first show of the new decade will be January 27.
Magnetic Fields, getting cosmic.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I've had a general rule of not posting drawings from the live shows, mostly because I believe Show Drawings are like theatre--things that happen in the moment and are unique experiences for the folks present at the event.
But rules are made to be bent and broken.
On Wednesday night, I sat in with Michael Leonhart and the Avramina 7 and drew on the big screen while they played their mix of heavy funk psychedelia. The day before, Michael had finished the final mixes on his new album, The Seahorse and the Storyteller, so he was ready to show off.
After Soundcheck, Michael and I sat down and talked about some of the narrative and notions behind the music. The concepts are dense and the musical images vivid, so I spent a couple of hours letting them bubble beneath the surface while I wandered the city doing Christmas errands and other things. When I got to the Pub, I had absolutely no plan for the drawing, other than to try and draw the musicians and maybe capture some of the images swirling around the music.
But plans are made to be bent, broken and laughed at by the gods.
What emerged instead was the drawing above and I don't have much to say about it because it seemed pretty magic to me. It looks like we'll try to do this again a few more times, these concept concerts of funk and ink. We'll set up and play and let the music and the story take us where it will. As plans go, it seems pretty solid.
The next show is at Joe's Pub on January 9th.
By the way, the current issue of Covers magazine has a feature on Michael and his music and another on me and my drawings. Check them out; the P-funk revolution has begun!
Thursday, December 03, 2009
John Cameron Mitchell read and sang as part of Amanda Stern's Happy Ending Music and Reading Series at Joe's Pub last night.
Earlier in the day, the New York State Senate had voted down the Gay Marriage Bill. "They'll all be dead someday," Mitchell sighed and shrugged, before unfolding some crumpled pages and reading aloud from a journal he kept during a trip to Russia for a screening of his film, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The screening had been part of the first gay and lesbian film festival in Russia, a festival shut down before it could screen any film and driven underground in a land still emerging from underneath it all. The memories read aloud were bittersweet and poignant, and sadly less distant on a day when even the most impassioned hopes could not move the mountain of fear.
All participants at the Happy Ending are required to take a public risk and, for his, Mitchell concluded by singing a lullabye in Russian. In days gone by, he explained, the song he chose was broadcast every night on Russian television as a sort of transition between the broadcast day and the evening news. Mitchell talked about how everyone in Russia knew it and sort of hated it as a fossilized artifact, a dust-covered tune incapable of being new.
He sang it sweetly and beautifully and the room was as reverent, attentive and fiercely present as the room gets.
It was a same old song that almost no one there had ever heard before. It once signaled the end of a day that would start again, the same, tomorrow. It was sort of beautiful and sad and I can't tell you what it meant, but it will stay with me for a while.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I've just listed these and a couple of other prints for sale over at Etsy. There's a very small number of them available, so if you are interested, head on over there and check out the Inklines Etsy store.