Archive | January, 2011

After Dark Magazine: Covers

31 Jan

At an estate sale years ago, I bought a small stack of After Dark magazines from the 1970s. The cover states it is “The National Magazine of Entertainment.” It’s pretty clear the intended audience was the swingin’-ist, clubin’-ist, pop-culture-lovin’-ist gay and straight people of the time. I’m glad I don’t remember if I bought all of them at that sale, because if I knew I had left any, I’d have to deal with the regret now.

I am declaring this my After Dark Week, with a new post every day. To get started, here are some cover scans:

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Spicy Chickpea Broth for Pasta

27 Jan

When I saw this recipe in the magazine La Cucina Italiana, I wasn’t sure about the idea of a bean sauce. But it was interesting and healthy-looking so I gave it a shot, and as it turns out, it’s yummy! I modified it slightly from the magazine so it is the kind of dinner I can make without shopping- and it’s vegetarian with the cheese and vegan without.

1 10 1/2 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 TB olive oil

1/2 tsp crushed red chili pepper, or to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, minced

1/2 TB dried parsley

1 TB dried basil

1 bay leaf

1 can diced tomatoes

salt and pepper

enough dried pasta for 4 servings, ideally something that will hold the broth well, like lasagna noodles broken in half or penne

1 c. grated parmesan or romano cheese

-process or blend all but 1/2 c. of the chickpeas with 1 c. of water until smooth

-heat the olive oil with the chili and garlic in a 1-quart saucepan

-add the onion, parsley, basil and bay leaf. cook, stirring, for 5 min

-add the chickpea and water mix, the whole chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and pepper. simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

-meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. add the pasta and cook until al dente.

-fold the pasta into the broth, remove the bay leaf and serve hot. drizzle with additional olive oil and top with grated cheese if desired. Sometimes I cook off more of the liquid so it’s more of a thick sauce than a broth.

I was so hungry tonight, I forgot to take a picture before I ate!

An Art documentary and New Orleans preservation

22 Jan

I wanted to write about some movies that were about art and artists. This morning, I finished watching The Art of the Steal.

It “traces the history of the Barnes collection of Post-Impressionist paintings, which was worth billions and became the subject of a power struggle after the 1951 death of the owner. Dr. Albert Barnes collected 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos and many other valuable paintings. But the political wrangling over the collection eventually led to its division.”

Dr. Barnes meant for his collection to be used for education, and he had a non-museum-like way of displaying the work. Instead of dividing it up by country of origin, or by style, he hung things mixed together as a way of signifying the universality the human experience. So carved wooden African heads are next to Renoir paintings are next to Chinese furniture. It’s a pretty beautiful idea, and I never thought about the way museums are organized in an opposite way and what that might mean.

The political maneuverings related to the art collection are sad, and make me think about money and art in general. I’m not one of those people who think art should be pure of money, because artists need to make a living! But politics and money and art, that’s a difficult combination. And I hate the way politicians and foundations and corporations can exploit things without valuing anything except money.

We hurt ourselves and our society when we can only see the bottom line. The Barnes collection was so much more than the sum of the work. It had a whole philosophy and belief system behind it. It had uniqueness and individuality.

The movie got me thinking about what is happening in mid-city here in New Orleans, which I’ve been following on a blog called Inside the Footprint. There is a large swath of land being cleared for what is supposed to be a giant hospital complex. This project is not yet fully funded, and despite promises of preservation, both historic buildings and large oak trees have been destroyed at breakneck speed. If it’s already done, there isn’t much anyone can do to stop it, after all.

But the fabric of our neighborhoods is one of the things that make this city so special and so different. One little shotgun house or another granite curb might be a dime a dozen now, but it is this pervasiveness of historic elements that contribute to making our city worth living in and worth visiting. If you chip away at that historic specialness with grand ideas for brand-new developments, what do you have in 10 years or 20 years or 80 years? A bunch of crappy, used-to-be-new buildings surrounding the French Quarter? Count me out of that scene. I want people to see the bigger picture, to value things above money, to value ideas and differences. I want everyone to act right in an art and culture-loving utopia! Is that too much to ask?

ETA: I was wrong about no houses being moved. Some have, but not many and not enough.

Mardi Gras Costume

21 Jan

This year, my starting point for a costume was a partial bolt of chartreuse velvet and the desire to use feathers somehow. I began to think about a turn of the century carnival or circus lady, like an acrobat, or the ones who stand on the backs of galloping horses.

I went with my friend to Jefferson Variety, which has a huge variety of beads on their website and in person, and a fabric store that, unfortunately, is not online. They are stocked with an overwhelming amount of lame, trim, sequins, feathers, hat forms, ruffles, and anything else you could think of to make a costume. I love that place. As an aside, I start to feel like I need about 5 or 10 sparkly disco dresses whenever I go there.

So, back on task! I was digging a kind of cassis color with the chartreuse, so I got sequin trim, fringe and a dozen feathers all in a range of deep pinky-purple.

When I got home and started searching for a pattern, I found this gem below. The pink outfit is exactly what I had in the fuzzy, back part of my mind.

The pattern is by Laughing Moon Mercantile, and that’s their image. I don’t think I have enough of the velvet to make the outfit, but I have more of a green dupioni silk which I think will be easier to work with, anyway. So here’s my pile of stuff so far:

I’m about a low-level intermediate sewer, so I hope I can manage this! Luckily, costumes are pretty forgiving. You can add a weird dart or something and it’s only for one day.

Succulents in vintage planters

16 Jan

I like having tiny collections- usually 2 or 3 similar things that I love and that I like to display together.

These planters live on our kitchen table. The succulents do good in the strong sunlight, and my cat doesn’t eat them. So win-win.

Carnival Season

9 Jan

I never had much interest in Mardi Gras, really. I envisioned what I think a lot of people do: drunk people on Bourbon Street. So, yuck. But before I moved here, without realizing it, I planned a trip to visit my friend and it turned out to be over Mardi Gras. I wanted to change the timing, but my work schedule wouldn’t allow it, and so Mardi Gras it was.

We walked with the Krewe of Saint Anne on that visit, and I became a convert. To me, Saint Anne is like a great, moving street party. Like this website about the history of Saint Anne says, there are no spectators, only participants. Costuming and walking with Saint Anne is still my favorite way to spend the day of Mardi Gras. Get up early, put on your costume, have a cocktail and start walking!

When I first moved to New Orleans, I lived Uptown. It was then that I really realized the joys of the smaller (but still big) parades in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras weekend. I could walk to the parade route, meet up with friends at the big tree, have a couple beers, catch some throws, then walk on home. Just the evening’s entertainment. Just what you do in Carnival Season.

The weeks-long season lends itself to a sort of casual aspect that I love. I get excited, for sure, but it also feels like a part of life. There are a few parades that I hate to miss, but I also get happy when I start seeing king cakes in the store and green, purple and gold decorations all around. When I think about living other places (which I do, sometimes a lot) I can’t imagine what life would be like without Carnival Season. I think I’d be in a funk this time of year anywhere else.

In 2011, we are having one of the longest seasons possible. This article explains it, but basically, the beginning of Carnival season is Twelfth Night, January 6, and the date of Mardi Gras is determined by counting back from Easter. The latest it can be is March 9, and it’s March 8 this year. I like it like this, as it gives me a bit of downtime after the holidays. So not only am I more in the mood for festivities by the time Carnival comes, it also gives me more time to work on a costume.

This year, I will blog about my costume, king cakes, my favorite parades, marching bands, and other Carnival stuff. And I need to figure out my costume inspiration soon! I found a partial bolt of chartreuse velvet today, so I may see where that takes me…

My Owl Barn

7 Jan

I love the blog My Owl Barn, and I am excited they posted about my book The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.

Take some time to check out other posts- they offer a lot of free downloads! One of my favorites was the owl lover calendar. The year just started, so pick the illustrations you like the best and print one up!