Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Well I'm Honored

Something I discovered: Elizabeth Peyton, popular pop-icon portrait painter, made a painting of the corner by my house.

I think that's cool because it's not like it's a particularly famous or interesting corner (7th Ave & 11th Street), but it's a part of what I see just about every day and for some reason she thought it was paintworthy. Maybe she's my neighbor?

Peyton has a major show opening at the New Museum next week. Finally, a legitimate reason to go back to that museum.

The Data

Best September Was Latin Literature Month

With hours to spare, I can announce that Latin Literature Month was a complete success--meaning that I read the four books I meant to read this month of September, and that also earlier (like, at the beginning of the month) I decided that September would be my Latin Literature Month. (If what Latin Literature Month means requires some explaining to you, let me explain that in Latin Literature Month I would read books [some of which could be called literature] at least slightly Latin(o) in their authorship or subject matter or history or whatever).

Behold, the books that I read:

Death and the Idea of Mexico by Claudio Lomnitz

Part of my reading playlist for 2008 (which I've been chipping away at pretty well), I got this book for Christmas 2006, read a bit of it around then, the let it sit on my shelf until September 1 of this year. It's a rather academic (as it should be) scholarly study of the history of Mexico and the relationship of said history and nation with Death. It's hard to describe this book beyond that. Probably the most interesting parts for me were the descriptions of the horrible treatment ("horrible treatment" here meaning "mass murdering of") of the Lamanites when the conquistadors arrived and anything regarding what's going on in modern Mexico, Mexico City particularly, because, as you know and as I tell you as often as I can, I still sure like Mexico City a whole lot and can't resist things that have to do with it.

Mexican High by Liza Monroy

And speaking of not being able to resist things that have to do with Mexico City, I give you "Mexican High." Man. Where to start. I saw this book at a bookstore but bought it real cheap off the internet because I couldn't resist (there I go again) its premise...an inspired by real-life experiences fictional tale of a girl transferring to one of Mexico City's most exclusive and expensive private schools for privileged kids and all the terrible things those kids get up to--basically Gossip Girl set in Mexico City, I suppose. I did not expect this book to be any good but was pretty surprised by how lousy it actually was. Like, terrible. This is what they're calling books these days? And it was a hardback with quotes from respectable-ish people and a serious looking photo of the author...like this was supposed to be a literary debut, not something barely readable, even for a beach. But I don't blame Monroy, I feel her editor is totally to blame. I'll try to keep my criticisms short as it wouldn't be fair to honor this book with significantly more postspace than Don Quixote, but first, let us consider the voice of the narrator: Kudos, I suppose, to Monroy if she was trying to write in the voice of a self-important, terribly unlikeable, and immensely stupid teenager. However...if the weakness of the narrator's ability to tell this tale was not, uhm, Monroy's intent then, oh dear. Well, oh dear no matter what, really. Next, and this is what kept me from not being able to be mad at the book constantly (meaning that I was mad at this book constantly) was that, for some reason, and I was not told this by the book for many pages, the tale is set in 1993. Ok. The book is in 1993. That must be the year that Monroy lived in Mexico City, so she's drawing from her experience and keeping it real. Ok. Well, if the book is in 1993, the editor maybe should have made sure that the book was NOT FULL OF THINGS THAT DID NOT EXIST IN 1993 or THAT PEOPLE DID KNOW ABOUT THINGS THAT HAD BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS BEFORE 1993. I remember watching the Wonder Years with my Uncle Frank when I was a kid and he was like "They didn't have malls in the 60's" and I was (in my brain) just like "Chill out and just enjoy the show, Uncle Frank." Well, I'm a grown up now and a stickler for what did or didn't exist in 1993. Play along with some specific examples, chime in if you have chimes:

1) Fall of 1993, the main character, a bit morose and alternative as it is, is "introduced" by a friend to a "new band" called Nirvana. Dude, fall of 1991 we were debating whether or not Nirvana had sold out in my freshman Intro to Art class.

2) Kids are driving around in Escalades and Mercedes SUVs. Come on.

3) The girls are showing off their Prada bags and the narrator (cuz she's a little edgy and different) thinks she'd rather have something by Marc Jacobs. Fashion people, tell me if there's any probability of this being so. The first time I remember Prada being praised by teenagers was in 10 Things I Hate About You, which came out in the Summer of 1999.

Also, aside from being fastidious in the indicating of which disco the kids were at every night, there seemed to be no sense of Mexico City in this whole book. I'm prettily easily charmed and made nostalgic by any reference to that city, this book may as well have been set in Buenos Aires.

However, on the plus side, the main character considered her first taste of tacos al pastor a total revelation, and that I can relate to and commend.

I definitely got what I deserved.

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes

Also pulled from the 2008 Playlist, I bought this in 2006 or 2007 because both Dad and Andrew were reading it (here's a little tale of quality control: I just wrote that sentence, and then went over to my book to check the date of its printing, so that I could be sure that it was even possible that I bought it in 2006 [published in 2005, so I'm good], it's that easy, Monroy.) and loving it. I read about 70 pages of it, was quite entertained, but this translation is huge, so it was easy to put down for later. But the spirit of Latin Literature Month inspired me, along with my obligation to the 2008 Playlist, so I spent the last week heavily involved with this book.

The thing about Don Quixote is that it's real funny, and I'm always shocked when I encounter something that's several hundreds of years old AND funny, like I consider humor a recent invention. I only started underlining the parts I found especially brilliant 2/3rds of the way through and regret that I wasn't involved in highlighting the whole time. This book is as quoteworthy as any fine Will Farrell movie or especially sharp season of Saturday Night Live. The only possible complaint I could make is that there isn't really a plot to this book...as long as Cervantes can think of adventures for Quixote to have, it keeps going. It ends so suddenly you have to imagine Cervantes just figured he'd written enough. Still, what a classic, this book deserves a Peter Jacksonian trilogy to honor it right in the movie theaters, I'd hate to think of any incident, from feral cats lowered through the knight's window to the famous windmills, left out of an adaptation. I remember a 5 page (or so) comic-adaptation of it in one of my old Boys Life magazines, I wonder if it was any good.

The Mexico City Reader, edited by Rubén Gallo

Now THIS, this is some real Mexico City stuff. A collection of articles and essays about the DF from the DF, each paragraph of this book contains more proper Mexico City essence than a 1000 Mexican Highs. Touching on statues, the metro, maids, parks, tortas, artists, stuffed polar bears, street vendors, corruption, red tape, shopping malls, grand hotels never completed, the flight of wealth from the center of town, the history of major thoroughfares, crazed wealthy housewives, Chinese coffee shops, garbage collection, and so much more, this book both tickled my memory-bone and inspired a page in my notebook full figures or features of Mexico City that I wasn't familiar with and needed to google and flickr. And yes, the authors were writing about the most awesome and essay-worthy city and interesting city in the world, but still I was quite impressed by the quality of each essay...with the exception of maybe two (out of dozens), every piece was interesting and enlightening. And it wasn't all just me being entertained by the often backwards nature of the city, articles such as an first-person account of a woman trapped beneath the rubble of her apartment after the devastating quake of 1985 with her three year old son (alive) to her left and her husband (killed and on his way to rotting) to her left for 60 hours before being dug out by a nephew (and later getting her arm amputated) packed an emotional punch. The book honors the city from details tiny to monumental and begins to encapsulate an old home of mine that I'm still trying to make sense of after only living there for about 14 months eleven years ago. Anyway, if there's a city you like as much as I like Mexico City, I hope there's a collection comparable to this one for you to read.

But I give you a mystery: Why is this translation about 300 pages longer than any other one I've seen? What was everyone else missing?

Best My Morning Right Now

I'm watching a documentary about Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby and Davey & Goliath. I've learned so much already, for example: when Art was a little kid, his Mom divorced his Dad to marry a police officer that had been renting a room in their house. Art moved out to live with them in California, but Art looked too much like his Dad for the Cop to stand so the Cop said to Art's mom "It's either him or me" so Art was sent to a house for abandoned boys. A few years later he was adopted by a wealthy physician and was taken on trips around the world which they recorded with the Dr.'s motion picture camera, sewing seeds for his future career.

However, I have to say, it was a bad decision to have this movie narrated by the voice of Gumby. I'm serious.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Best Can You Believe This...

Check it out, a photo. From a concert. That I went to!

There was a time, not too long ago, but it has been a while, when this blog was to pictures from concerts what it's now (pretty much) to pictures of my dinner. So it was fun to be back in the saddle on Friday night, out late on the Lower East Side, being amongst the people and the liveliness. The band was Great Lake Swimmers from either Toronto or Vancouver. They played two kinds of songs: slow and slower. But truth be told, one of their songs was almost medium. It was good. And good to return to the Mercury Lounge, it had been three years. Not much had changed. Might as well have been a day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Best Oh Yeah...

I just discovered something! Apparently I went to Montauk a month ago? Well, I must have, because I've got all these pictures. Let me try to remember the tale.

The way I think it happened is that a bunch of people went up on Friday but Liz and I rode out on Sunday afternoon. Liz came super-prepared with red velvet cupcakes for both of us (Along with bottles of milk! That's thinking!)

At one point our train filled with some totally obnoxious partiers well-suited for MTV's Spring Break for a few hours, but they all got off at Bridgehampton (I think). So we learned a lesson: Never go to Bridgehampton! This is an attempt at photographing a beer belt, something I had never seen before that day, and on that day I saw so many of them!

This is how you eat and blackberry at the same time, if you're me. And no, that's not my b.berry. If you know me you know that, when it comes to smartphones, I'm holding out (somewhat impossibly it sometimes seems) for a job where they give me one.

During the ride I had opportunities to say things like, "Oh, this is Southampton."

If you didn't know, Montauk at the very end of Long Island. It takes a little more than three hours by train to get there. But when you do get there you feel nice and far away from the city. This is from the window as we were arriving.

And this is arrived and aboard a taxi van to the beach. Something learned: if you're going to Montauk, get ready for a lot of taxi van rides.

Zippin' through Montauk on our way to the beach.

Everyone had been at the beach all day and was beginning to head back to the hotel so we met up with Ali and hopped in the rental Focus for our ride back to the hotel. Don't worry! We weren't all mad that we missed our day at the beach, that was pretty much the idea we had in leaving Sunday afternoon for Montauk. Things were tight in the Montauk beach parking lot.

This photo is to illustrate how Liz was telling Ali how much room was left as we were trying to get out of our parking spot. It was a lot like the first Austin Powers when he's trying to turn the cart around in the hallway. If you remember that...

But fortunately we got out eventually and headed over to our neat hotel, the Sun n Sound. Time was spent at the pool (cuz, you know, after a day at the beach the next thing to do is hit the pool) where I swam four lengths underwater on one breath! Because that's what I do when I get to pools! Do I have pictures from pooltime? No, of course not. I'm not going to put my camera in those sorts of dangerous situations.

The back of the hotel, the part facing the sound.

Keeping the maid out.

Montauk was full of all-stars that weekend, such as dear old Fernie.

Jen is an talented artistic photographer, this is one of her artsy photos.

People started grillin' and Liz and I did a little exploring because we were the new people and needed to understand our environment better. As you can see in this photo (and, if you look closely, in the photo above) I was wearing shorts. At the beginning of the summer there was this conversation I had with Kristin or Lindsay where she was like "Briggie, do you ever wear shorts? 'Cuz we've never seen you in shorts." And I said "That's probably because we made friends in the winter? And it's only the beginning of the summer right now?" But, truth be told, even in summer I don't wear shorts so often...but really I should because I felt so great, just walking around in my shorts without any socks, so free and so happy.

If you were wondering, your brother hid your shoes on the roof.

Our explorations took us up the coast of the sound, eventually to this thing of rocks sticking out into the sea. Out on the rocks we admired the environs even more and eventually got an important phone call alerting us to the fact that Dinner. Was. Ready!

Something you don't always see on this blog are pictures of me, but this post has plenty. Earlier this summer I was way into my fake Wayfarers, but they broke, so at this point I was way into my fake aviators, which were also kind of broken...just less than my cooler shades.

Dinner! Burgers and corn on the grill, treats all over the table. Don't worry, Trevor isn't angry at me, he's just telling me where my burger is (at the other grill).

I'm only worried that it's going to be too delicious.

See! Told you Montauk was full of all-stars. Paul, Kristin, and Peter!

Something I forgot to remind you of was that this trip was over Labor Day weekend. I spent Memorial Day weekend (the Saturday part) with Kristin, Caroline, and Lindsey at Six Flags (remember?). This is like our reunion photo from when everyone was like "Oh my gosh, that's right, Memorial Day AND Labor Day!"

Ali and Lisa going to town on a cob of corn.

And then Rustin swoops in to attack it, too. (In the Director's Cut of this post there's about 34 more pictures involving chowing on corn cobs and the mess that can make)


The sun disappeared.

Clearing up a little stray-kernel problem that was discovered post-photo.


Some music-less dancing broke out.

Good dude Evan over there on the right is showing off a move called "the Salmon."

After the eating and the partying we went "into town" which is really sort of an impossibility in Montauk, more like we went into the place where they sell ice cream and also hang up fish. Are you ready for really gross fish totems? Here they are...

On the way back to the hotel we mistreated someone's decorative boat. See! Look at all these people, Montauk was crawling with all-stars, that's what I've been trying to tell you!

Then there was laying out in the total blackness looking up at the stars until someone surprises everyone (or almost-surprises, because it looks like Liz was a little ready for this?) with a flash photo bursting through the darkness.

The next morning, Lisa had a little accident involving the cream cheesing of her bagel. Can you figure out what it was? Here's a hint: she did not just have a pedicure and she is not waiting for her toenails to dry.

Monday was spent at the beach. It was sunny, the water was cold, the waves were belligerent, my towel was tiny, I didn't have any treats, I didn't know what to do with myself. So I took some walks. And that's what I'm going to finish this post off with, photos from walks along the coast and how fun erosion is.

There were these stone towers along the way here and there.

And while photographing one, the magical gnome responsible for its creation appeared in my shot!

And pretty much that's what I've got to say about Labor Day weekend in Montauk a month ago. It was fun. You should've gone.