Monthly Archives: June 2009

Ina Garten Da Vida

Normally I don’t like to go dragging other people into the muck that is my blog life, but the following e-mail correspondence was just too good not to share.  When I received the first message from my boy B-Dubbs in LA, I knew it was going to be a special day:

From: B-Dubbs

Subject: culinary psycho

i have become frighteningly obsessed with ina garten.

to the point that i want to murder that fucker jeffrey in his sleep and take ina back to my apartment to live with me and my girlfriend.  in his fucking sleep.  the smug fuck.

From: willcwhite

Subject: re: culinary psycho

I know — what IS it about her???

The food, to be sure, but then it’s so much more.  It’s her attitude towards the food and towards life in general I think.  It’s the fact that she keeps a full stable of gay men to decorate her dining room table.  It’s the fact that she invariably calls the most complicated dishes simple, and breezily mentions that you could use a good canned chicken stock, but homemade is so much better.

She’s the only one on that whole Food Network that’s worth a damn!  I actually kind of like Jeffrey… actually, on second thought, what I really like is when Ina talks about Jeffrey… about how much he’ll like a particular dish, ingredient or piece of silverware.  You know she’s really just using him as an alter ego to amplify her own opinions.

Have you seen any of the episodes with her friend “TR”?  Major hottie.

Is TR the graying one who buys desert and worked in her restaurant as a young lad?

Yeah, maybe that’s what bugs me about Jeffrey.  He’s neither one of her gay mob, nor one of her uncomfortable female friends who are watching their weight.  He’s just away during the weeks on business.  When he should be at home with his genius fucking wife.  He should be chopping shit for her.  He should be giving her never-ending backrubs.  He should be bringing her bushells of red fresh cut roses every fucking time he walks through that door.

Because, as I said, if he’s not, a psychotic fan like myself is liable to do something highly illegal.

And yeah, her vibe is certainly about much more than food.  It’s about dark collared untucked oxfords that look best on the beach in the hamptons during the off season.  It’s about 5 sticks of butter when a dollop of olive oil would probably do the trick.  It’s about all the fish merchants and wine store clerks who may or may not actually know her name.

She’s just a fantastic human being.  And she deserves better.

And, yes, for sure the only one on that network worth a damn (although The Neelys for sure have something special going, even if they probably secretly hate each other)

the very one: http://trpescod.com/

good stuff.

let’s admit though, that Mr. Pescod is a bit of an outlier among the usual Barefoot guest crowd looks-wise…not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Concern with looks is really kinda below Ina’s socioeconomic/intellectual strata, wouldn’t ya say?

Oh I definitely would say.  Yes, you’re right about the looks and also, he is a pretty rare visitor (although increasingly featured). The real old school ugly gay men are the core of the program — how many florists can there possibly be in the East Hamptons?

Quiz: what’s Ina’s favorite flower?

fuck, now you’re testing the limits of my ability to actually pay attention to what the hell she’s saying rather than sort of just zoning out to her general lilt.

um….the big white ones with a shitload of petals?

all i know is that there are definitely arranged by her friend Michael.  how bad can THAT be?

did you watch the clips from Barefoot on TR’s website?  Look under the “host” tab

Answer: orange roses.  Just a tip in case you’re ever invited to the same party as her…

You turn up that volume, Ina!  God, I really can’t get enough.

who wouldn’t want that?

ina with orange roses

Just when I thought it was too late to get Bernstein between my legs…

A really excellent 36 hours in NYC with my good friend El Bensón.  Time was spent with his friends Diego and Sanra, proprietors of the tiny, ultra-hip Casa Felix in Buenos Aires.  When I asked Diego about his style of cuisine, he gave the ideal response: “I cook fish and vegetables”.  Brilliant.  From now on, when people ask me what kind of music I write, I’m going to say, “I write music for voices and instruments.”

Lovely breakfast with Dick Scanlan of Broadway fame who tended to agree with me that the state of Broadway orchestrations these days is in a shambles (though he’s been unbelievably lucky in that regard when it comes to his projects!)

Took in the Francis Bacon Retrospective at the MET.  Some great stuff; I especially love his large scale sense of balance in his big triptychs, but many of the individual works leave me cold.  I’d say I’m about 60% a fan.  Did anybody who saw the exhibit think of Alien Resurrection looking at some of his early stuff though?

My second pilgrimage to Lenny’s grave followed (the first was in ’03):

me and lenny

lenny between my legs

punkplay at the OHIO Theatre, a work which my friends in the Hipster Élite of the NYC Theatre Intelligentsia (that’s how I roll) had been heavily anticipating.  I didn’t expect to enjoy a play about Punk Rock so much; the very reason I did enjoy it was that it wasn’t about Punk Rock.  It’s a show about coming-of-age, and the Punk Rock setting serves the theme quite well… but the it’s such a universal idea that it worked just as well (OK, maybe better) when it set in Mexico in Y tu mamá también.

A mere 8 hour drive after all these shannanigans, I wound up amidst the unbelievable stillness and serenity of Coastal Maine.  More on that later.

L’Art sur l’art

hour-of-the-wolfRegular readers of this blog (and Italians the world over) will recollect a long-ago post in which I avowed my dislike of Fellini’s “8 1/2”.  I remain unrepentent on that point, but the great thing is that this weekend I saw a film that has much the same style and message, but in my mind is so very much better: Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf” (“Vargtimmen”).

Here is a movie about the artist’s process, frustrations and, most importantly, insecurities.  I immediately identified with the message of this film, the idea of isolation and the fears that an artist faces on a daily basis.  “8 1/2” simply left me cold, alienated and bored.

Of course, “8 1/2” is actually about a film-maker, whereas in HotW, a painter stands in for Bergman.  No concerns there.  However, this does get me thinking about the immense amount of art that concerns the artistic process, and the particulars a given artistic medium.

My favorite, and possibly the earliest example of a film about film-making has got to be “The Cameraman’s Revenge”, a parable about infidelity among the insects, created by the Polish entomologist Ladislas Starevich:

TV about TV goes back to at least the Jack Benny Program, and up through Seinfeld, and to a new favorite of mine, Extras. Painting about painting, well isn’t that kind of what the 20th century was about?  Examples of writing about writing are too numerous to mention.  Ballet about ballet?  Well, I have no idea, but I have a sneaking suspicion that much of Tchaikovsky’s music is Music about Ballet.

And then of course, there’s music about music.  Here, I immediately think of Stravinsky, who said, and I quote:

In general, I consider that music is only able to solve musical problems; and nothing else, neither the literary nor the picturesque, can be in music of any real interest. The play of the musical elements is the thing.

Well put, Igor.  Or, even better put: http://www.willcwhite.com/audio/Octet%20trim.mp3

This is actually the main reason why I find myself so interested in Rufus Wainwright’s new opera, Prima Donna, despite all of the nasty gossip about it — it’s subject is opera about opera.  How many of those do we have, really?  Tosca, I suppose, and… I can’t really think of any others (though there must be some).  There’s opera about singers (Meistersinger, et al…) but I can’t really think of any opera about opera, though I have a sneaking suspicion it’s the only trail left for new opera.

[And Mary Zimmerman’s bogus staging of “La Sonnambula” at the Met does not count, but it does perhaps indicate that the opera world is crying out for some new repertoire that would cover these issues, but they just don’t know how to get it.]

Of course, the list of backstage musicals goes on and on and on, from Kiss Me, Kate to A Chorus Line.  Oh, speaking of which, I saw this great movie yesterday, all about the casting of the 2005 revival of A Chorus Line: Every Little Step.  There’s a film about auditioning for a musical that is about auditioning for a musical.  It’s so meta that my head is schpinning.