Warm my Heart, Oh Sweet Tacos.

I’m slowly learning that my new office is situated among one of the few, if not only areas in DC Metro where a guy can get Chicago-quality Mexican food.

I haven’t posted for a while because that’s about all I can say for the job so far.  And, the rest of it is occupying the rest of my energy.

Good f**ing honest Mexican food though.

And I can’t tell you how much finding a solid taqueria just made my whole week.  It really did.

So, I’ve learned that, unlike Chicago, the Hispanic community in Prince George’s County, MD lives, by and large, segregated from the rest of the population.  It’s a diverse place, the wealthiest majority black county in the U.S., and not a place where people generally exclude or look down on one another.   But, none of my co-workers ever go to the Spanish-speaking businesses.  Heck, most of them don’t know what a real taco looks like — just figure what they get at Chipotle must be it.  Can’t say I’ve ever been inside a Chipotle restaurant to know whether or not they’re right.

I went to a Mexican place down the street where lunch cost $10.  First sign the place isn’t authentic, right there.

I went to the taqueria by where all the day laboreres hang out.  Plastic table cloths and gnarly aloe pants in the window made it seem promising.  But, the meat in my torta was “aged”, at best.

For me, Mexican food is fresh, straightforward, and served with humanity.

I’m not really much of a Tex-Mex guy.  I know that’s what most non-Hispanics outside of Chicago think of when I say “Mexican food” though.  So, I’ve learned to not talk about it too much and to not take related restaurant advice from people without substantive inquiry.

So, yeah.  Around a corner, on a side street, Edmonston Rd., 3 tacos al pastor and a soda for $5.99.  Lunch special.

And I don’t know why white people are afraid to go in those places.  I go, I’m white.  I suppose eating there seems natural to me because  I lived in Chicago, where all kinds of people eat in Mexican restaurants, run by Mexican people, with Mexican food and Mexican music and sometimes crazy Mexican TV and if there were language snafus we just worked them out.  No big deal.  The waitresses here look at me funny though, as if I might be lost.  Just at first.  Truth is that they’re always nice to me, like I’m a customer.  I eat, like a customer.  And everything works exactly like it does everywhere else.

Except, the food is better and cheaper.

With heart.  Like a thick torsoed old lady who could beat me in arm wrestling if she ever thought about such things (‘cuz she doesn’t)  just finished mashing up my salsa in the old molcajete just  a minute ago. The tortilla chips are properly deep fried and why do so many American people not know that you have to cook tortillas even when they’re just wrapped around tacos.  Properly, a taco should have two tortillas, warm.  White people places always serve doughy tortillas — I can’t even guess why.  What I wanted, what I found, was direct, honest about the flavors of its ingredients, and embracing, just like you’d want a person to be.

Squeeze your lime on top.  Eat your radish garnish if you want.  Tip.  Then leave back to the world where you make your paycheck, where nothing has anything to do with humans, despite the best efforts by the staff.

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Lucian Freud is a Funny Guy

mouton-rothschild-label-200

Lucian Freud, the world’s most expensive living artist, has joined the ranks of a select group of artists: those who have designed labels for Château Mouton Rothschild wine.

…previous artists include Miro, Chagall, Braque, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Bacon, Haring, and Balthus.

The artists receive no payment for their contribution other than cases of the Bordeaux-region wine.

@ http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/30447/freud-designs-mouton-label/

Things That are Awesome, Especially Dave Letterman

These days, by the time I get home from the first 9-5 job I’ve ever had (yeah, and I’ve been fine and middle-class-ish and stuff) and finish my stint in DC traffic, all I really want to do is open the tap on my box of wine and convince the cats my attention is not what they need.

By the time that’s done and I’ve cooked dinner, blogging is nearly out of the question.

Besides, much of what’s occupying my mind amounts to bitching and moaning — things I will not descend to on this space.

I would like to write a post, inspired by voluminous rantings against Shepard Fairey, about erasing the meaning from history.  He’s sort of the opposite of Nancy Spiro, in the way an artist might use history to communicate ideas.  He’s like infant-sized Che T-shirts, whereas Nancy Spiro challenges her audience to learn more so that our broadened horizons may illuminate us about gender inequality in our own time.

Maybe  I’ll get to that post soon.

There are others.

In the meantime, I would like to tide you over with two awesome things.

One:  Twelve Animals.  Kentaro Nagai’s animation/designs reconfiguring maps of the earth into animal figures.

Two:  David Letterman interviewing Joaquin Phoenix.  It ends with, “I’m sorry you couldn’t be here with us tonight Joaquin.”

I remember, can’t forget, an interview Dave Letterman did years ago with an absolutely wasted Harrison Ford.  I’ve always respected Dave for the way he walked Harrison through that — not that any mortal could have completely obscured the fact that Mr. Ford appeared to have lost a battle to bring himself down from a few rails by cracking a bottle whiskey.  Not that I know what he was actually up to prior to his appearance.

Here in 2009, Joaquin Phoenix was irreparably bazooted off his gourd.  No recognition of the very idea that he’s on national TV.  Too f**d up for me to guess what he’s done to himself.

I link to it for all of you who have navigated evenings, day times,  of dealing with exceptionally intoxicated people, perhaps those of you who went to art school, you who have grown up and formed your lives in such a way that you won’t have to do that any more.  — those of you who know you’ve done this to other people, but are past a point where you would want to shut down that much of your brain again.

More than that, in the context of remembering that Harrison Ford interview, I honestly admire the way that David Letterman politely shows absolutely no respect for a guest that comes onto his show slurring his speech and  unaware of the movie he’s supposed to be promoting.  The entire audience is in on the jokes at Joaquin’s expense.  And Joaquin leaves apparently unaware that he’s a total dick.  His agent will tell him tomorrow.  Dave is the pro of late night pros

Shephard Fairey is the Vanilla Ice of Guerilla Art

The realization came to me during my commute home last night when “Under Pressure” came on the radio.

Mr. Fairey is even in the midst of his own sampling/plagiarism law suit.

Vanilla Ice, as you remember, continued a long tradition of awkwardly forcing white faces onto music that would continue to for some time be performed better by black people.

Think there’s a consumer niche that wants to buy MC Hammer records but has otherwise refused to move forward from Reconstruction?  Man, have I got a guy for you.  And you should see his hair!

Anyway, when “Under Pressure” comes on, I still sing “Ice Ice Baby” until David Bowie takes over.

I even tried to learn that side-to-side step with my pants rolled tight, when I was 13.

And thus it all hit me.

I had read this earlier in the day yesterday: How phony is Shepard Fairey? (found on Arts Journal).

You know, we all love Banksy and our leftist warriors for the public visual space.  May I refer you to the always delightful Pixelator.  And, of course Knitta Please.

But after Jean-Michel Basquiat gave us all that trouble back in the eighties…

Ugh, new money.

I think they’ve got their guy now though

A Designer and an Artist!  How 2008!

“When I copy, it’s a reference.  If you don’t get it, it’s cuz yer not as smart as yer supposed to be.”  “Duh.”

I think I’ve already mentioned that Mr. Fairey’s art is, at it’s root, a more professional execution of an assignment I’ve given Intro to Computer Art students as a first assignment using Adobe Illustrator.  Moreover, I inherited the assignment from Debra Davis, who was my supervisor at the University of Toledo.

So, at that, I would like us all to remember all of the things that people want from their art world that are not Art.  Truth is, they already have them and you’re just mean if you want to take away the things that make them happy.  We can all take a deep breath, smile and, relax.  Some dude has figured out how to update Patrick Nagel to become more popular than the rest of us, so good for him.  If you became an artist because you thought it would lead you to fame and fortune, you’re probably not smarter than anyone you feel like criticizing.

Oh Dear Lord in Celestial Heavenliness, What I Would do for an Italian Beef

Sandwich that is.

I’m not talking about Fabio here…

There’s been a lot of Chicago on TV this week.  And, you know, I love that with all its internationalism you can get just about any kind of food there is here in DC (if you can afford it).  But one thing you can’t get is Chicago food.

Monday night Anthony Bourdain reminded me that I never did make it to that place that cooks its fries in duck tfat.  Part of the problem was that for a while, the only times I passed it were when I was coming back from the (park district) gym.  Didn’t have the heart to erase all that work(pun intended).

Then I came home today and that one guy who’s show I’ve avoided because his commercials make him look like a douchebag is on the TV eating an Italian Beef (sandwich).    (Parentheticals included for you non-Chicagoans — just know that “sandwich” is understood but not said aloud, right.)  You can’t get those things here.  You just can’t.  You can get gyros and passable burritos, good ones if you avoid places where white people go, and even Five Guys that everybody in DC thinks is so damned special is pretty much just like a normal Chicago old school burger joint (which there are a million of).  But, you can’t get Italian Beefs.  And it’s not that I would want or that my arteries could stand for me to eat them all the time.  Just that they’re good, dry with hot peppers and mayo, and that I can’t get one.

That.

That, and I’d sacrifice a finger for a proper elote.

If you don’t know what elotes are, and your not familiar with non-American Mexican food, any description I can give won’t help you.  I’ve tried before.  They’re corn, usually on the cob, but sometimes available in cups, with Cotija cheese that most white people think is Parmesan when they see it, Mexican cream, which is Mexican and not acceptably substituted with non-Latino creams, and, properly (if you ask me) with powdered red pepper.  They are so, so good.  People have doubted me.  So, if you find yourself among them, it’s OK.  However, no one who I’ve ever seen try elotes has not liked elotes.  They are so, so good.  Did I say that? They are messy.  And, in my last two former hoods, they’re available on the street within a block or two of wherever you are, cheap.  Take one down with a liquado, please.

And don’t even ask me how many times an old dude/lady selling tamales out of a cooler has saved me when I didn’t feel like cooking dinner.

I’d trade in all our Ethiopian restaurants for a little of that.  And that would really hurt.

Oh, yeah, and your “Pizzeria Uno” doesn’t use the same recipe as the tourist-trap original, it just bought the name, and Chicago hot dogs are way, way, WAY better than NY hot dogs, or DC’s for that matter.  What’s with the red sauce on the onions?  Geez.

“MeDoesn’tTeechArt” — Blog Name Crisis Reborn

So, it appears that I will not be teaching any art over the course of this semester after all.

The crux of it all boils down to the fact that I was hired to manage at an art center that is not open, has no set opening date, was supposed to open so many times so long ago that I’m not even sure when the first one of those was let alone know how much credence to give any one of those times, and seems to have no avenues through which I could change those facts.

As that is, I am currently working with niether a  job description nor a known schedule of future time commitments extra to the 9-5 work week.

Many people have different perceptions, apparently, of what that means for me.

Naturally, I have the least influence over the universally accepted perception of my job function — at least in terms of the most important things, like, um, keeping my job, receiving pay checks, etc.

However,

however…

On Friday, I served on a panel of judges for Fairfax County Public Schools Regional Scholastic Art Competition.  It was pretty cool.  I’d tell you who the winner of our category was, but I’m pretty sure, you know, being that the CIA is in that school district, that I shouldn’t.

I will say though, that seeing all the high school students’ work took me right back to those teenage years.  I think that’s a great compliment to the work — that it could be so revealing of the thoughts and attitudes of the students who made it.  The best of the work was really exceptional.  My sense is that, nationally, Fairfax Schools seem to be ahead of the curve in focusing their art curriculum on creative expression, rather than rote skill drawing, etc.  And, it shows.

So, not teaching, but a little teacherly-ness now and then…