Tuesday, January 31, 2006

R.I.P. Nam June: "Zen for Head"

"Zen for Head", Paik's Interpretation of LaMonte Young's composition, "1960 #10",
performed at Städtisches Museum Wiesbaden, August 1962

Word came yesterday that Nam June Paik, the Fluxus artist and "father of video art", died on Sunday at his winter home in Miami Beach. He had a stroke in 1996 which left him partially paralyzed and also suffered from longterm diabetes. But he also had an irrepressible sense of fun and high spirits which often were reflected in his video work.

Paik was an artist with a special place in the lives of many Cincinnatians. I first remember hearing of his work in 1968 when my future high school art teacher (and later director of The Contemporary Arts Center), Jack Boulton, was still a student at the University of Cincinnati. Jack was also the director/organizer of U.C.'s Spring Arts Festival which brought to town the Charles Lloyd Quartet, along with two Fluxus artists: Hermann Nitzche, who created controversy by butchering a cow as performance art, and Nam June, who created something called "A Terminal Experience"--a video and light show extravaganza at Union Terminal, Cincinnati's Art Deco era train station. Later Nam June worked closely with the Carl Solway Gallery in fabricating and installing large scale sculptures all around the world. So there are fond memories of him here.

But as I mentioned, before Nam June began exploring video art, he was a Fluxus artist. And this revolutionary anti-art, performance movement was one in which Nam June was an enthusiastic player:
In reference to Paik’s performance during the Originale happenings, which Karl Heinz Stockhausen initiated in Cologne in 1961, the composer wrote: "Paik came to the stage in silence and shocked most of the audience by his actions, which were as quick as lightening. For example, he threw beans up to the ceiling and into the audience. He then hid his face behind a roll of paper, which he unravelled infinitely slowly in breathless silence. Then, sobbing softly, he pressed the paper every now and then against his eyes until it became wet with tears. He screamed as he suddenly threw the roll of paper into the audience, and at the same moment he switched on two tape recorders blaring a sound montage typical for him consisting of women’s screams, radio news, children’s noise, fragments of classical music and electronic sounds…" -- db artmag

The photographs shown above depict Paik's piece for the 1962 Fluxus International Festival for Very New Music in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he performed "Zen for Head", which involved dipping his head, hair and hands in a mixture of ink and tomato juice and dragging them over a scroll-like sheet of paper to create a dark, jagged streak. The second photograph depicts the final artwork created from his performance.

What an original mind. He shall be missed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Please pass the ... blog?

Food bloggers go mainstream in this article by Natalie Ermann Russell in USA Today Weekend (January 8, 2006). In it, the author focuses on seven popular bloggers, including the goddess of them all, Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde writes in warm and gentle English about her daily life in Paris, with a heavenly sprinkling of recipes, restaurant visits, and shopping trips. She is a frequent contributor to NPR's program, Kitchen Window, and is currently working on her first cookbook, for publication this year in the U.S.

Read more about Clotilde:

*More cooks say 'blog appétit!', Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2005
*Interview with chocolateandzucchini's Clotilde Dusoulier, Parisist. com, October 17, 2005
*Clotilde Dusoulier's Tasteful Blog by Scott Simon, audio interview on NPR, July 30, 2005
*My Paris is better than yours, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, June 2005
*Young Parisian puts her heart into a cordon-blog, San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2005
*Culinary diva in the making, The Age, Australia, August 18, 2004

And here's her website of adventures in the U.S.

Monday, January 16, 2006

“Judy, can you pass the Prosecco?”

Cover illustration for the U.K. edition

While perusing the January 23, 2006 issue of The New Yorker online, I found this little item in The Talk of the Town column about a book that I've been hankering to read: MR. BERENDT’S PARTY. In it, we are treated to a "fly on the wall" view of his soirée for Brooklyn's Prospect Park South book club and an evening's discussion of his new book about Venice, The City of Falling Angels.

Whether it's through films like Nick Roeg's hazy, suspense-filled Don't Look Now, Paul Schrader's creepy The Comfort of Strangers with its dialogue by Pinter, Barbara Kopple's documentary about Woody Allen, Wild Man Blues, or books like Signore Berendt's, Venice is a palpable presence and a mysterious one. I will gladly devote myself to travelling there in his company.

Le Train Bleu

Mon amie, Mary, is making final preparations for her upcoming visit to Paris in February and recently mentioned that she and some of her cyber-friends from the Fodor's Europe messageboard are planning to have dinner together at the Gare de Lyon's beautiful Belle Epoque restaurant, Le Train bleu. I reminded her to try to book the "La Femme Nikita" table where Nikita and her "trainer", Bob, had dinner! As they say in spy novels, "Mission accomplished!"

Ooooooo! And just take a gander at the Menus page. Since my visit will only be a vicarious one, I think I shall have the home-made Treilles duck “foie gras” with vanilla flavoured fig quenelles (24 €) accompanied by a Glass of Château Adélaïde, cuvée Impératrice 2003 Gaillac (sweet)(7,5 €); Roast salmon steak with orange scented chicory leaves and cocoa chips (25 €) with Croze Hermitage Tête de cuvée 2003 Yann Chave (12 € a glass); Spiced Bread and Pear sorbet (12 €) with Flor Fina Espresso (4,5 €) and Bas armagnac château de Lacquy Millésimé 1981 (24 €). What a charming experience this was!

Le Train Bleu Restaurant
Place Louis Armand
75012 Paris

Reservations: 01 43 43 09 06
Fax: 01 43 43 97 96
Or contact via e-mail

Bar: Monday-Friday 7:30am-11pm; Weekends and national holidays 9am-11pm
Restaurant: Open everyday of the year 11:30am-3pm & 7-11pm

Metro: Gare de Lyon (lines 1 & 14)
RER: Gare de Lyon (lines A & D)
Bus: 20, 29, 57, 61, 63, 87 & the Balabus (La Défense - Gare de Lyon)
Train station (SNCF & TGV): Gare de Lyon
Shuttle bus to CDG airport

Credit cards: Visa; American Express; Eurocard-Mastercard; Diners Club

Monday, January 09, 2006

Kind of blue

You, too, Miles? But if we must be blue, let it be International Klein Blue (IKB Patent 63471)!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

In bed with the Virgin Queen

British writer Paula Milne shares her rationale for focusing on the importance of Queen Elizabeth I's vow of chastity in researching her BBC new teleplay, The Virgin Queen.

I must admit, I really love Paula Milne's work. She wrote a suspenseful miniseries in 1990 called Die Kinder, starring Miranda Richardson as an Englishwoman whose children had been kidnapped by her ex-husband, a German terrorist. She was aided in her desperate search for them by a rather dissolute-looking Frederic Forrest in a memorable role as a detective. Highly recommended if it is ever released on DVD!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

And a Bonne Année to you!

May we look forward to a new year in which all of us may live together in peace and harmony...