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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

Archive for February, 2011

Still rolling Sofia Coppola’s movie around in the mind. It has its share of critics, which is fine, but I think a lot of them are missing the point, and revealing their own hang-ups with her charmed life and career. Better to set that aside.

As I see it, Johnny Marco suffers from a malady called celebrity. The entertainer can’t be entertained: a steady stream of Hollywood pleasure-on-demand has deadened his nerve endings. Joy must belong to his humbler past. Things are different now: all that material success has led to an inner failure, something nicely hit upon by Walter Benjamin (1928: success dulls the mind) and Willie Nelson (1977: so-called successful lives leave behind the basics of love).

In Johnny’s pampered present, he’s absent. Physically he’s there, drifting through the parties and the junkets, into the anonymous bedrooms. But he’s emotionally elsewhere. Often seen as the summit of American success—the rise from mere man to big-screen hero—Coppola gives us an insider’s view of stardom as a somewhat tragicomic condition of existence. From her casting (Chris Pontius, the girl from the Office) to her art direction (the spot-on “Berlin Agenda” poster) one can safely infer that she has a sense of humor about this: the crucial “comic” in “tragicomic.” After all, it is not exactly profound or innovative to argue that money and fame do not beget happiness; this is not Somewhere’s aim. Instead the film serves more as evocation than argument, watching with sympathy and patience and even humor how today’s cultural gods reveal and cherish their humanity, how they mourn its surrender, and ache for its recovery.

-B

I had fun making the first Valentine’s heart, and kept at it. These are inspired by some of the prints that caught my eye while browsing style.com. Most are from previous seasons (Too hard keeping up with everything!) I’ll probably send some late V-day cards.

  1. Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 rtw
  2. Jil Sander Spring 2011 rtw
  3. 3.1 Phillip Lim Resort 2010
  4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2010 rtw

- C

Next weekend will be super busy with my kids’ big art contest of the year, and BJ will be flying to Seattle for his mom’s 60th birthday. Pictures from the past week so far…

  • Sandals?! Enjoying the springish weather on campus.
  • Testing out my brooches
  • Teacher block. Brainstorming Art 1 watercolor lesson that will appeal to all skill levels and doesn’t involve painting Georgia O’Keefe-esque flowers?
  • Received invites (that B helped design) for our friends’ Chicago wedding. Booked tickets!
  • Sigh, my total lack of will power gave into this sparkly ring at Anthropologie.
  • This plant is still living! Goal for round two: keep cilantro and thyme alive.

Also… delicious brunch from Shade in our neighborhood (I keep thinking of their fresh pastries platter), celebratory coal-fired pizza with siblings at Grimaldi’s, and caipirinhas at Oporto

— C

Some things I’ve been working on. I find that working in groups of 15 helps me concentrate and stay focused. I’m excited to see how it’ll progress and evolve.

At the same time, I have lots of unfinished projects both work-related and personal that are in the middle or almost done. Finishing has always been a struggle for me. Over the last week I’ve tried working with a timer, writing lists, using post-its on my desk, and making notes on my phone. Intense, but I need all the help I can get! Then there’s the creative block and feeling totally unoriginal… pff. I’ll save that for another day.

— C

Mark Bittman, aka the Minimalist, drops some serious science in his Food Manifesto for the Future at the NYT. He uses the word “sane” a lot when he’s driven to talk about these things, which underscores the fact of the matter: that the way we eat, end to end, farm to table, is insane.

His points start with the government, which has, let’s be honest, been asleep at the wheel at best, in the pocket of industry at worst. So he wants us all to tell them to

  1. quit paying for processed food (which frees up $ for the next points). A mess of subsidies keeps the more heinous food-esque items cheap.
  2. start paying for real food. Time to make those subsidies work for us.
  3. reorganize and better redistribute power among the relevant agencies. USDA’s in bed with business; FDA’s lacks the muscle to lay down the law.
  4. start paying for food education, to promote home cooking. Not everyone can rely on their moms; moms have lives, too.
  5. tax the merchants of junk food.
  6. guide us away from waste and toward recycling.
  7. put an end to false “healthy/natural” advertising. There’s enough sodium in some of these supposedly good-for-you soups to detonate a car, I think.
  8. start paying for research to take these gestures global. I want to believe that our country can still lead in other areas besides the export of Ashton Kutcher movies.

The gist: close Washington’s wallet to the bad stuff, then fork out the ensuing savings for the good stuff. In short, sanity. If only Bittman and Pollan could be installed as decision makers somewhere high up in our government, we’d not only eat better, but we’d also need fewer trips to the doctor. Until then, thank heavens for Obamacare. For now we can only do our part, in the kitchen and the market, and maybe at the ballot box.

Luckily, here in Houston, we have a fair amount of farmers’ markets available to us. For locals, here’s a list:

  1. the one by Rice, near the unnecessarily large stadium
  2. T’afia
  3. Urban Harvest at Discovery Green
  4. Urban Harvest at Eastside, between Richmond and Alabama
  5. Highland Village (which I guess is now part of the ever-expanding Urban Harvest empire now, too)
  6. Canino’s on Airline (more accurately: an open produce market; allegedly a go-to for restaurateurs)

- B