I Never Cooked for My Father

Littleneck clam

"I learned about cooking and flavor as a child, watching my mother prepare food in our kitchen in Virginia." Maybe I'm worried that it's too easy, or dislike the part of me that's a permanent boy, but I've become increasingly shy of drawing from the same family well to recount my early fascination with food. Recently, though, I came upon a recipe for creamed scallions by the late chef Edna Lewis taken from her kindly and expert "memory" cookbook, In Pursuit of Flavor. The line at the top of this post is that book's opener, and here's how she … [Read more...]

Newspaper Fate


Do you want to pay for your newswith dead trees or the predation of oil? In this case, the form of payment itself makes news. The news corpus above is part of a new artwork by Gustav Metzger shown in a small basement space in New York's Lower East Side. E-flux, at 41 Essex St., is right near not one but two Orthodox Jewish ephemera shops and the Pickle Guys, where school kids line up for half-sours among barrels of brined turnips and pineapple chunks. At e-flux, "the viewer is invited to cut out articles related to the topics 'credit crunch,' … [Read more...]

Applause! Applause?

Normally, my single question to you at the end of this post would be posed via Twitter or Facebook. But so many smart classical-music mavens are my Artsjournal neighbors that I thought I might borrow some of your tidewrack readers for just one time.Recently I saw and heard the Met's production of Richard Strauss's Capriccio, starring Renée Fleming, at a fairly comfortable, stadium-seating multiplex cinema in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.The theater was almost full -- and I may have been the youngest customer. I was truly happy … [Read more...]

Getting Pickled: My Brine Cocktail Comeuppance

I was taken aback by my failure to find a worthy pickle cocktail. I love pickles to an extent that should embarrass me. I could eat pickles every day of my life -- especially classic kosher half-sours. I can't explain that, in a Freudian or even middlebrow New Yorker way; it's just a kitchen fact, and I have no expectation that constant or even random readers would share my pickle jones. Perhaps it's genetic, like green hair or being gay. But how could you not crave tumid, crunchy, garlicky off-green pickles? Cut them up into dainty pieces if … [Read more...]

Oh, You Can’t Scare Me …

                                             Photo courtesy of New York University's Grey Gallery    Would it shock you to read that "only" 146 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire? It's not a lot, really, but poets and peasants long ago figured out that death can't be measured by numbers. "A thousand" tsunami-drowned bodies wash up on Japan's shore. "Hundreds of thousands" died in Haiti's quake; global disease and starvation kill cool, statistical "millions." Yet every mourner knows that one loss close to home … [Read more...]

Condiment Time-Travel

Who Invented Crab Louis? It's almost pink, not a pretty-in-pink pink but a sickly, Pepto pink. Neither liquid nor solid, it crawls from server to plate like lava, lava with chunks. I know what those chunks are, because I chopped and diced green pepper, green onion, and green olive to create them. Sure, I licked that spoon. But in the time it took for my palate to awaken, before I could compute the flavor and register my pleasure and approval -- the taste was right, in the certain way that a blend of wrong things can be right -- I … [Read more...]

Susannah York, ‘Tom Jones,’ JFK, ‘Killing of Sister George’

I'm back in the writing saddle after quite some time, and it took unexpected memories of an underknown movie star to do it. The helicopter-shot hunting sequence in Tony Richardson's 1963 Tom Jones brought that equestrian cliche to mind, because in it a saddled Sophie Western is plucked off her runaway steed by a steed of another kind, the ready, randy Mr. Jones. Yes, Susannah York died recently. She had ensorcelled my adolescent eyes not once but twice, the second time as creepy Childie in 1968's The Killing of Sister George. We … [Read more...]

Hats Off to the Ghosts of Us

 Digital inebriates, slow down for just a moment. Anyone invested in media currency and the gives and takes of reputation is entitled to a rest, and an antidote. I'd like to offer a holiday reminder that the value of our gawking intercessions may be weighted and elucidated by a smart salute to the past. (And to a young James H. White, who produced the film above.)Historians know I'm right, for their present, crossing the street, always looks both ways. Also, because I recently visited the original Disneyland in Anaheim, I was driven back … [Read more...]

Gay Performance, or Why the Director of the National Portrait Gallery Should Resign

This is a short post about long-held beliefs.If you know the abbreviated world of performance art or the run-on-sentence world of gay activism, you've heard of Tim Miller. Thirty years ago, the nervy tyke co-founded PS 122 on First Avenue and Ninth Street in Manhattan's East Village. His lightning struck twice in Santa Monica, when he co-founded the performance space Highways more than 20 years ago. Tim is also known nationally as one of the NEA Four. Although I've seen Tim perform throughout his career and urge you to attend his latest, … [Read more...]