Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Enjoy Side B of our “monthly” mixtape below. If you missed Side A, you can check it out here.
Some women compulsively buy shoes. Others prefer handbags. Me? I have a berry problem. Straw, rasp, black, blue, mul – you name it. I love berries in all their juicy, staining glory. I have written before about my untamable desire to buy produce, but it’s a good berry that really drives me wild. The jewel-toned colors, the sweet-tart pucker, their welcome place in oatmeal and pancakes! J’adore. The only downside is how fleeting their season really is. But I shall teach you to make summer last forever! [Insert villainous laugh.] Read the rest of this entry »
For someone who cooks as much as I do, it’s something of a wonder that I’ve made it this far in life without ever having baked (or even eaten!) strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s relatively standard as far as spring-time pies go, and I know what rhubarb is all about (looks like red celery; leaves are poisonous), but I’ve just never done it. I decided this would be the year I add strawberry-rhubarb pie to my portfolio. Read the rest of this entry »
Admittedly, I knew very little about Michel Houellebecq (pronounced “well-beck”) before I read this novel. I knew he was the main inspiration for Iggy Pop’s underrated 2009 album Preliminaires. I knew he has been criticized for being an intense misogynist and racist. But then again, so was Henry Miller, so I let that slide. I heard of his writing being particularly vulgar, solipsistic, but nonetheless brilliant. At the center of The Map and the Territory is Jed Martin, an artist in the present day. Despite a few throwaway thoughts of a wandering mind, Martin doesn’t seem to carry any of the characteristic tendencies of a Houellebecqian main character, but rather offers a more introverted and reflective presence. Martin is rather cold and distant, but not entirely outside of society. He does live in Paris after all, but he carries the defeatist and fatalistic outlook akin to Camus’ Mersault. “They don’t really amount to much, anyway, human relationships,” he thinks to himself while having Christmas dinner with his father.
When Jed was on his way to the funeral of his grandmother, he was struck by a new artistic inspiration, not in the form of any existential crisis or questions of meaning often associated with the death of a loved one (or at the least of a relation), but rather with the sublimity of a simple Michelin road map. He launches an exhibition of photographs of these maps and serendipitously acquaints himself with a beautiful Russian woman who works for the company. They begin a romantic relationship, as well as a commercial one, and Martin’s stock as an artist rises. Eventually, his gallerist suggests he contact a writer named Michel Houellebecq to write the catalog for his newest exhibition. The narrative tactic of an author placing himself in the story has become a bit trendy over the past few years and perhaps that is why Houellebecq decided to do it, almost mocking the connection of author and story. He doesn’t paint a positive picture of himself, as an alcoholic recluse in Ireland. But Martin and him become quick friends, surprising considering both of their isolationist tendencies.
A major theme of the novel is not just the acceptance of mortality, but the anticipation of one’s own death. This becomes abundantly clear when Jed’s father develops cancer and they have the most open and honest conversation of their lives during their annual Christmas dinner. Further, Houellebecq drives the point home with the third part of the novel involving a murder, of which the biggest concern for Detective Jasselin is what the biggest criminal motivation is: sex or money? This is the third in a set of conflicting, albeit not complete opposite dynamics as shown previously with art and love (the latter being fleeting in Jed’s eyes), and fathers and sons.
What doesn’t show itself entirely clear but is something to consider is the implications of the title of the novel. The quote that inspired it is “the map is not the territory,” the meaning of which can be likened to Magritte’s painting of a pipe with the text “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“this is not a pipe”). While the representation may have similarities with the object it is meant to represent, it does not encapsulate entirely what the thing is. The title of the Martin’s map exhibit is “The map is more interesting than the territory.” It doesn’t seem too much of an extrapolation (although Houellebecq never mentions this explicitly) to apply this train of thought to those of us who are always “connected.” Certainly by this point in life, if you haven’t been criticized by someone for updating a status, tweeting, or posting a picture of something while you’re doing it, you’ve done the criticizing yourself. Our culture (and apparently the global one at that) has become plugged in to the point of ignoring objects while embracing the representation of those objects ignored. This view is often lamented as the demise of [language / experience / relationships] but the title of this exhibition says otherwise, that perhaps the abstract is actually more meaningful than the concrete.
Fiction is a simulacrum of reality. The sequence of events in this or any work of fiction never happened, even if parts of it may have been inspired by empirical reality. Therefore, stories are just a representation of reality and in which we find just as much, if not more, truth in. Because if we didn’t, I would have no reason to review this novel. And you would have no reason to be reading it. I would be writing about current events and what not. Alas, here I am, wrapping up this review, more enveloped in a representation than the objects that surround me outside this 269 page exploration into a fabricated world, of which I know never happened, but still commit energy and time to deconstructing. Houellebecq (the author) offers honesty and imagination. We have to wonder why he inserts Houellebecq (the character) into the novel, and what the relationship between the two of them are, the map to his territory.
Andrew Hertzberg is a Chicago music blogger for Windy City Rock, a deep dish pizza slinger, and a night-time bike riding enthusiast. This is his first book review for Frontier Psychiatrist.
It is strange to think that tuxedos, which are today the height of formality, were once an informal concession to comfort while dining. As Lord Grantham dons a tuxedo in last week’s episode of Downton Abbey, he cautiously notes that “All the chaps in London are wearing them only for the most informal evenings.” Mr. Carson can’t have been happy.
It’s all a slow slide until we’re all wearing Snuggies, I suppose. While the tailless dinner jacket got its start from the tailor of Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Edward, it got its American name due to its adoption by members of the exclusive country club in Tuxedo Park, New York, where members wore it to dinners. The founder of the tony club, Pierre Lorillard VI, was a tobacco magnate and avid horseman. It’s safe to assume that he and his blue-blooded cronies enjoyed a cocktail or two. Which brings us to the cocktail named for Lorillard’s club – cocktails named after fancy clubs tend to be among my favorites.
The Tuxedo Cocktail
2 oz. dry gin
1½ oz. dry vermouth
¼ oz. maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice; strain into an absinthe-rinsed, chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry and lemon peel.
This precise formulation is from the magnificent PDT Cocktail Book, but the drink itself shows up in many early cocktail guides. It often appears in two versions, the above, which is often labeled “No. 2”, and a “No. 1” from the Old Waldorf Bar Days.
No. 1 swaps an ounce of fino sherry for the dry vermouth, and omits the maraschino and absinthe rinse. They’re both great, the No. 1 as a Martini variation with a dry nutty backbone, the No. 2 as a Martinez variation, but all told I prefer the No. 2. Also, I’m more likely to have a dry vermouth open than a fino sherry. Either way, the result is one sophisticated tipple.
For six months I lived in Sevilla, Spain, with my very own temporary Spanish family. My Spanish “mom” had very little in common with my real mom, but they both had a penchant for worrying about me, and feeding me. Actually, I think the two (worrying and feeding) are inversely related for them both: worry decreases when feeding increases. Needless to say, I ate a lot in Spain.
Once we established the ground rules of no mayo and lots of vegetables, everything I was served was delicious. Smoky paprika sat sprinkled atop most dishes, luxurious olive oil coated every nook and cranny of fresh tomatoes, and fresh bread sandwiched fluffy, gooey tortilla Española. It was heavenly.
Before I returned to New York, I requested a cooking lesson so I could take a little bit of the Spanish dream I had been living back home with me. I looked over my Spanish mom’s shoulder, taking notes, as she made all of my favorites in a single afternoon: tortilla, lentil soup, spinach and garbanzos, and stuffed eggplants. The eggplants had been a mystery to me. They always came out creamy and gooey with melted, super sweet summer veggies and cheese, and a slight nuttiness. For all the complexity of flavor, it’s a pretty simple concept: ratatouille, stuffed back into the vegetables from which it came. Except in Spain they call the mixture pisto.
Bender: The status of being bent for more than a day. Usually results in loss of memory, money, strange tattoos, and other things you’ll have a hell of a time explaining. (Urban Dictionary)
Things were going so well. For a month I had been thoroughly enjoying my new, clean-living, acquisition-free existence. Despite the fact that pretty much everything not nailed into a wall has been on sale this month, I was amazed at how pleasant and easy it was to extricate myself from the cycle of spend-rationalize-accumulate, and escape the mild self-loathing I experience when I emerge from a store with a well-priced but unnecessary T-shirt.
But ah, I forgot an important lesson from literature and mythology: on a journey, the hero is always tested. In quick succession, like a trio of biblical plagues, three pairs of my shoes met with distinct and exquisite ends. A pair of espadrilles worn on a soggy day succumbed to mold; the heels on a pair of Camper sandals—one of the two pairs of shoes I rotate between during the work week—cracked because I had not replaced the rubber sole I had worn through; and my other pair of Camper work sandals began ripping the skin off of my toes and ankles when the lining under the eight-year-old leather straps began to disintegrate. Let me tell you, when people start greeting you with “Hi, what happened to your feet?”, you seriously consider whether you have any business writing a fashion column.