The Best Pesto

A Modest Lesson in Journalistic AdviceIt may be odd for a former restaurant critic to claim that he always thought anyone could cook anything well, but it's true. Cooking in a restaurant shouldn't be rocket science, yet it certainly isn't easy. Silly Hell's Kitchen and TV shows like it are staged exaggerations, but their working assumptions -- of instinct, teamwork, communication -- are all honest kitchen keywords. This is my preamble to what could seem like a brag, but it just so happened that tonight I made for myself what could be the best … [Read more...]

Next Round: Bill Viola Versus the Pope

Who Would Expect a Video Artist To Be a Hero?   Every week's cultural and political news is actually a puzzle to be solved, a jigsaw set with antagonistic pieces. Here's one part of the puzzle that I find heartening, though others may not. Artnet.com is an auction and art-market site that also has a kind of magazine attached, Late last week the mag lifted part of a story almost verbatim from Catholic New Service. I myself will borrow the beginning of the original: Pope Benedict XVI has invited hundreds of artists to meet with him in the … [Read more...]

Has ‘Project Runway’ Jumped the Sharkskin?

And Other Crucial Parts of the Culture Puzzle I've never been a fan of purely reactive writing. Most of it banishes those errant ideas and images that have no obvious connection to the fake trend or genuine outrage of the moment, but are nonetheless a writer's best reason to write. It's a puzzle, then, to find novel ways to react "new" to the daily cultural-political flood. Maybe the task can be accomplished in pieces. Jigsaw Part 1: Bloodsuckers I'm afraid that our favorite TV "crossover" shows are withering. You know, crossovers, the … [Read more...]