Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bits & Pieces

First of all, thanks for the people who showed me support, especially the far away ones. I know it's just a car and it's just money, but it has been terribly upsetting. I've had lots of personal travails over the last few years, and that one proved to be the last straw. So thanks to Rita, Joseph, Analia, Mariah, Wendy, Martine, Ivan, Jose and Daniel. I see the poll is garnering some votes, so far I think you guys are too kind in choosing "an eternity of listening to Celine Dion songs", because what if the twats who stole and stripped my car like Celine Dion? I'm all for feeding them to the lions myself. Anyway, you have 3 more days to vote.

Anyway, I don't have much time to do art stuff this week (also going to a funeral tomorrow), so today's artworld shocker is Tom Krens stepping down from the Gugg. Do I care? No. Should you care? Well, unless you're a Gugg donor, I doubt it will drastically change your life, right? OK, so end of Tom Krens, and not too soon. My prognostic is they will shut down all satellites but Bilbao (Venice is a bit different). Will it make a difference? Well, the McDonaldization of art institutions has already done its damage (see: the Louvre in the AEU), so it's too late.

What else? Oh, BCAM. Still haven't seen it. Please read Vince Johnson's report below. I'll write about it after I see it, which will be after the Whitney. I kind of wanted to respond to Charlie Finch's ludicrous piece on artnet, but that would give Finch too much importance. Just want to rectify one thing: Mr. Finch, curators have the least power of decision in US Museums, regardless or these museums public or private funding. So if you've problem with what's shown in BCAM, and with the idea of BCAM itself you'd better address your criticism to LACMA's former and current directors, and also to the cheapness of LA donors. If they had give more money for expansion, Broad wouldn't have had free reign. Anyway, I cannot find the piece on the artnet site to link, so maybe it was so bad it's been removed.

I'm still in a crappy mood, as you can see, and mad I cannot really get around to see shows. So I won't announce anything this week, but the opening of the Walker-curated (Hi Philippe!) Kara Walker retrospective at the Hammer. Have fun and enjoy the art.

PS, no, this is not Tom Krens in the picture.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Area Sneaks Launch Party

A mere 3 days before having her beloved Civic stolen and stripped by unscrupulous robbers (you know who you are, you the assholes operating body shops on Pico, may Lucifer, Godzilla and the Axis of Evil disembowel you and eat your tripe while still alive); a mere 3 days before that infamous event then, FBC! was still a happy art lover, having a great time at the Area Sneaks launch party at LAXart.
There were a couple of readings, two musical performances including a very moving rendition of Stephanie Taylor's song performed a capella by artist Simon Leung. The place was packed, including a few LACMA curators (Austen Bailey, Howard Fox), artists Lisa Lapinski, Will Fowler, and Alex Klein, art dealer Daniel Hug was spotted, and I think I've also seen Andrew Bernardini. All in all a very exciting and fun event, and I can only encourage you to go buy your Area Sneaks copy(ies).
I'm posting a few pictures in a couple of separate posts, per Blogger infamous image hosting policy with the template I'm using.

I'm still too down to really write anything, so I may post some more YouTube stuff in the next few days,maybe one installment of Your Social Life if I feel like it. Next week I'll be in NYC for, among other things, the Whitney Biennial, so after I come back I'll post about NYC art for a change. After this I have no eff-ing idea whenever I'll be able to have a decent car, so it will sharply reduce my ability to go see shows and blog about them, unless I find rides to go to events. Meanwhile, my B-Day is April 22nd, and FBC! would appreciate some love demonstrations. To the aforementioned list I can now add a newish used car. Leads are welcome.
Thanks, and you can also look at the poll at the bottom of this page.

PS: I'm not sure the Area Sneaks link is working, please Google if it doesn't. And stupid Blogger has trouble with vertically oriented pics, so you have to do a bit of neck gymnastic to look at Stephanie Taylor.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cabaret Voltaire- Sensoria

FBC! is on a writing hiatus and would need some help, frankly (how do you get rid of a car stripped of its engine, transmission most electronics, etc. and what type of car should I get next, if I can afford one at all?). I don't feel like writing, so I'm posting some videos straight outta YouTube. So here's Cabaret Voltaire, circa 1984. FBC! loves prehistoric electronic music, it reminds me of rural rave parties in the winter in hinterland Europa. Who hasn't danced in a dense fog on a frozen sugar beets field can cast me the first stone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Having my car stolen, stripped and then being left with tow and storage bills just killed all my mojo. So no FBC! under further notice. I've only got my two eyes left for crying, I'm sick of it all and tired, so sorry I don't feel like writing or reporting on anything. I don't feel like anything but crying and burrowing, really.
Sorry to leave you in the dark, but several continuous years of bad luck have had an effect on me. Shit have been happening in such a cumulative way I'm losing any little snese of humor I may have had. So FBC! is saying goodbye for a while.

Meanwhile, if you hear about a cheap VW in the $1,800 to 2,500 range, automatic, in relatively good shape please drop me a line, and if you know what to do of a unusable stripped car that costs you storage fees for being stolen, I'd like to have some good advice.

Thanks for reading FBC! over the last few months, and watch this space occasionally in case I resurrect the blog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FBC! Is Mightily Annoyed And Temporarily Immobilized

Hi Dear Beloved, Devoted Readers,

Just to let you know, FBC!'s trusted Honda Civic was stolen last night. So aside from being mightily annoyed, FBC! is temporarily without a mode of transportation and therefore not so sure about her gallery-hopping and reporting immediate future.

In the meantime, if you happen to spot a dark green Honda Civic (sedan, EX/LX) with a 3RWL004 License plate (front and back) or spot some suspicious parts bearing the 2HGEJ6607TH531002 VIN#, please call the LAPD Wilshire Division (on Venice and La Brea) at (213) 473 0476.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Trip To BCAM by artist Vincent Johnson

After the delightful Annie Oelschlager, FBC! is overjoyed to introduce a new contributor, the LA-based artist Vincent Johnson. You can currently see Vince's work in Santa Monica at the Patriot Acts show, or look online a past show at LAXart.
Meanwhile, Vince was kind enough to send me an email about his BCAM visit and let me publish it here. Here are his comments after seeing BCAM and reading about it in various newspapers and online magazines.

"Upon entry into BCAM through its 3rd (top floor) galleries, I feel that the current show is far too narrowly focused on New York in the 1980's. The opening show should have been a celebration of the art made in California since the 1950's to the present. I do see a positive reason for this part of the show - especially the Koons pieces - as most of LA would not have seen this work, unless they flew to NYC regularly, since it comes out of NYC gallery shows from the late 70's through the mid-1980's before it became a part of contemporary art history.

If this exhibition were in NYC in a museum context, it would not be well received, for the reasons I have already described. This is more like a show that the Houston or Seattle or Portland artworlds need to see than the LA artworld. I am stunned to not see California video art as a apart of this show.

Where are the surprise gems that Broad collected that do not come out of this moment of contemporary art history?

If there was an interest in fully portraying the NYC artworld of 1977-1986, there is a huge amount missing, especially the German painters Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer, both of whom were as inportant at that time to the NYC artworld as Schnabel, Fischl, Salle, Goldstein, Sherman, et al. I know this because I was living in NYC during this time and visiting it often when not living there, before coming to California in 1986. The Holzer's are from after the 1977-86 period, which is odd, since her artistic formation occurs at that time, and the electronic signboards and carved stools come much after her straight to the point small text pieces that were scattered throughout NYC on mostly urban, but not museum surfaces.

The Serra is phenomenal on the first floor, but there is still not enough room to view the piece from distance. Same goes for the Tony Smith at the bottom of the staircase in one of the other galleries.

I wonder if the BCAM space will ever be used to house a permanent collection. It seems perfect for traveling shows, but does not have the jewel boxes that one finds in permanent collections, such as what already exists at the Art institute of Chicago, (their Joseph Cornell rooms are incredible, for example). The AIC is building a Modern Art Wing that opens next year. Like BCAM, it is also designed by Renzo Piano, but the Modern Wing's budget is 373 million dollars, as versus 56 million dollars for BCAM.

The Art Institute of Chicago says that it has the third most important collection of Modern Art in the world, behind only MOMA and the Pompidou. Even if Broad donated his entire collection to LACMA, this would not cause LACMA's Modern collection to be ranked anywhere near the other museums I've just mentioned.

So again, if it is MOMA and now The Art Institute of Chicago that will be the home to the study of Modernism in this country, what role does LACMA's BCAM actualy play besides being a showcase like the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin?

Lastly, BCAM shows that LACMA should be torn down and built anew from scratch. There are too many competing interests represented, and the museum overall has the feeling of being more disjointed than ever, as one moved from the luxurious to the unfortunate and embarrassing spaces in the museum.

The Financial Times of London has the best observations about BCAM I've read online.

The NYTimes does not hate all of LA. When the Disney Concert Hall opened it was hailed by them as the best symphony in the best concert hall in America. But it does expect LA to play ball at the world stage standard in the field of visual art, to match its standing as a center of art production."

Vincent Johnson, Feb. 2008.

Picture of Renzo Piano's BCAM model via this site.

Norms, La Cienega On Fire, 2008 Edition

You Edward Ruscha fans of course all know his 1964 masterpiece, The Los Angeles County Museum On Fire, currently (and probably forever) hanging at the Hirshhorn in DC. It has a lesser-known little brother (or sister, depending on which side of the Gorilla Grrls you're standing on) called Norms, La Cienega on Fire, belonging to the Broad Art Foundation.
It depicts a defunct La Cienega branch of what was a classical googie-architecture diner on fire, as its title indicates. There is still one Norms on Pico boulevard, well-known for being open 24-hour and serving cheap (but alas, not very good) breakfasts.
So it was only fitting that after the post-BCAM opening extravaganza brunch at the Broad Art Foundation, my pal Daniel and I stopped at the real Norms for a (sub-standard) meal. I felt like entering an Edward Ruscha painting to discover inside a Dan Graham photograph (see pictures above).

Your truly hasn't seen BCAM yet and is waiting for a bit of the madness to calm down before getting there so there will be a couple of weeks before I can post veni, vedi, scripsi*. In the meantime I'm having artist Vincent Johnson give us his opinion in a subsequent post.
Anyway, before seeing LACMA getting flamed over Eli Broad and his collection and his new building there as in the Ruscha painting, Daniel and I headed over to the Broad Brunch in sunny Santa Monica. Every year there's a bash to celebrate the new installation of the collection showcasing some of the new acquisitions. So, ground floor: all Andreas Gursky. Not my cup of tea, you give me Thomas Ruff any day instead, but I've always liked his 99cents store picture (so LA!). There are a couple early photographs in the pure hardcore, post Bernd & Hilla Becher style installed at the Broad that really show how Gursky was talented if derivative before going all commercial in his photoshop-retouched monumental arrangements. The Becher were presents in the installation, as was Struth on a different floor with some continuation of his "museum viewers" series. I didn't see any Ruff though.

Upstairs, in a combination of floors I don't remember were Pierre Huyghe's phenomenal video "A Journey That Wasn't", another artist whose name escapes me at the moment (but I know I don't like the work. Tansey maybe?), Franz Ackerman in a weird installation-cum-painting that is somewhat recent (I'm not a huge fan either) shown with Neo Rauch, an artist who is so overrated and clearly destined to be a forgotten little master in a century or so. Some good Albert Oehlens, Christopher Wool ditto, a bunch of Ellen Gallhager (an artist who can look good in group shows but I'm not sure her work really stands alone, I'd rather get Sue Williams myself), shown with William Kentridge, an artist I am not sure deserves all the veneration he gets. I mean, it's nice, but...
There was also a very good recent Jeff Wall, alas not very well installed. I mean, if Andreas Gursky whose work wouldn't even exist without Jeff Wall gets an entire floor, at least Wall's work should get better placement. I'm glad Wall finally enters Broad's collection any way, though I doubt Broad will be able to collect Wall in depth as works by the artists are rare on the market.

The event itself was rather relaxed, FBC! being thrilled to meet Jeff Wall in person, as well as his lovely (and extremely funny) wife Jeanette. FBC! counts Wall amongst her private Gods, another one being Dan Graham, so it totally made my day (and yes, I've made Dan Graham in the past).
There were a bunch of LACMA people present of course, Michael Govan and Melody Kanschat in full schmoozing mode with smiled glued on their faces. Marian Goodman was here with her son Michael. Marian Goodman was very nice in person, and also shorter than FBC!, something very rare in the artworld (and probably elsewhere) so I felt like mentioning it. Aside from our short stature she and I also share a taste for colorful designer glasses, so maybe if I'm lucky the resemblance won't stop here and I'll end up as the Marian Goodman of the 2030s. One can always hope... In passing, if you're in NYC this Saturday, there's a new Jeff Wall show opening at Marian Goodman.
It seems I've also shaken Tyler Green's hand but if it was so it was at the end when I was developing a headache so I don't remember it and I probably didn't introduce myself as FBC!. Sorry Mr. Green, another time maybe.
Anyway, FBC! isn't so I'll stop here with the name-dropping. Have a nice end of President Day, and be careful when you elect the next one.

* My Latin is becoming shaky, so scripsi it may not be.
**pictures are copyright Daniel Congdon, 2008. Daniel is an artist, so please don't repost/publish before contacting FBC! for permission and without mentioning the author. Thanks!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Choice Between Being Racist and Being Sexist?

At the opening of the Patriot Acts show a while ago I talked to an old friend of mine about the primaries. She said in the end it boiled down to a choice between being sexist and/or being racist. To which she added that when going online she saw lots of inflammatory stuff against Hillary Clinton such as Photoshopped images of the Democrat candidate being screwed by animals, or political meetings where the slogans were "Now shoot the bitch!". But so far she hadn't seen the same type of gross comments directed at Barack Obama (no "Shoot the asshole!" or photoshopped images of him screwing animals). At the time John Edwards (who, IMHO, had the most progressive program of all credible Dems) was out of the running so the choice was really either Obama or Clinton.
Sadly, my friend was totally right, as this CNN snippet demonstrates. I'm sure minority women are going to appreciate.
Now, seriously, if the US voters think being sexist is OK, I'm going to rethink my citizenship application. It kind of sucks not to be able to vote, frankly, even though I pay my taxes here. I guess it makes me an honorary DC person (Hi DC people!)

I think it's very sad candidates are judged not on their programs but on their good looks and charisma. But I think it's even worse to reduce the competition to sexism vs. racism. Both are seriously offensive, and I wished voters would do their homework before going to the polls. Yes, Clinton has her husband administration's baggage, and it sucks to have political family dynasties, yes Obama has sexy flapping ears (FBC! is a bit of an ear fetishist, just for you to know) and is good at using rhetoric and marketing strategies. Do you remember when he said the US should nuke Pakistan? That was a good foreign policy move, sure to make the US more appreciated abroad.
Now when you elect the sexy charismatic male, don't regret the lack of universal health care coverage, you audacious hopeful, non-racist, but-it's-OK-to-be-sexist people. Gee, I miss John Edwards.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Artsy-Fartsy Valentine Day

Quick, a pause after all this art stuff that's been taking up way too much time lately. Tomorrow is Valentine Day, as only someone exiled on [the place formerly known as planet] Pluto could ignore. All these cheesy red hearts and artificial-looking roses everywhere, arf. It's a bit too much in your face for all the singles around (hi fellow sufferers!) and all the people stuck-in-a-bad-relationship and all the going-through-a-bloody-divorce types. Come to think of it, probably 85% of the population loathes, loathes Valentine Day.
Personally I don't care, it's not so much of a tradition in France, but I'm thinking about my beloved, devoted readership. Who, I'm sure, is fed up with the commercial hammering of all things Valentine.
That's why, dear beloved, devoted readers, I'm posting a picture by Alain Sechas, a French artist I like very, very much. The painting is called "Chocolate Suicide" and it says it all, right?
But, to keep with the spirit of fairness and balance that is supposedly at the heart of US journalism -and aren't we all citizen-journalists, we the bloggers? - I'm also thinking about the minority amongst you that does celebrate V-Day. In passing, to go back to "fair and balanced news in US journalism", I don't know about you, but the endorsement of candidates to the presidential election stinks of partisanship to me, not speaking about the spread of the Obamania in the pages of supposedly distinguished newspapers, at the expense of Hillary Clinton and previously, John Edwards. I'm sure most of the people supporting Obama and "change" haven't read his poorly-written book, BTW, and also haven't really studied the history of "change" as a mantra in worldwide politics. I find it scary, personally, just to look at all the politicians over the past century who have been elected on charisma and empty rhetoric alone.

I'll let you ponder that one, think about how universal health care is a good idea, and let's go back to our V-Day lovers. FBC! has thought about you and is sharing a recipe, a nice cake you can bake in a heart-shape mold (thanks Rita!)

Meyer Lemon Valentine Day cake:

4 eggs, separated.
150g sugar
60g cornstarch
40g flour
zest and juice of one Meyer lemon
pinch salt.

1 heart-shaped mold, greased and floured.

Pre-heat the oven at 375F.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until you obtain a creamy, pale batter. Mix in the lemon juice and the zest. Sift the flour and the cornstarch over the egg mixture, stir well.
Beat the egg whites with the salt, when they are fluffy (hint: don't believe in the "soft peaks" jargon, but tilt your bowl on the side, when the whites are stiff and ready they don't slide or move in th bowl). Fold the whites in the batter (if you do not know how to do it, ask your Mom, your Grandma or your Aunt Edna, you need to see it done to be able to replicate it).
Fill the heart-shaped mold, and bake for 35-40 minutes. If you insert a knife or a skewer in the cake it should come out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. It's better to eat it cold. You can slice it in 2 and fill it with either lemon curd, whipped cream or raspberry preserves, but it's better as is. The powdered sugar on top is unnecessary taste-wise, but it look better in the picture that way.
Share with your lover, your spouse, your best friend or your pet, and drink champagne, tea or coffee or whatever else you like. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your Social Life, back to normal!

FBC! is back from a week heavy in social obligations, and filled with too much driving to spend much time in front of the laptop. A 2-part review is coming up, first part will be on the Broad Foundation annual brunch/new installation (I'm waiting for my friend to e-me the pix) and the second will be on BCAM at LACMA, that is after I see it. Which will be with the vulgus pecus on Sunday (note to my snobbish readers: vulgus pecus is Latin for *hoi polloi*), as my former colleagues neglected to put me on any list. Good! I won't refrain to say what like for fear of hurting their feelings.

Meanwhile, many things are happening in LA. For one, the end of the writers strike. I'm happy for them things are getting back to normal, and hope they will find work fast. I haven't followed the denouement lately nor asked my friends what they thought, so I'm not sure whether they got a fair deal or not. I only regret the missed opportunity by all the creative industries at large to explain the notion of residuals to a mainstream audience, because it concerns also musics, art, etc. When talking about the strike issues to my non-creative family and friends back home, I saw over and over again a look of sudden realization on their face, about their own Internet-stealing-pirating-downloading-appropriating ways.
No one is entirely innocent of it, but when faced with the notion that the creators loose a lot from the practice, most people realize that culture and entertainment have a cost, and result from someone else's hard work/job. I think the Industry-part of the entertainment sector should have used the opportunity to educate readers/viewers/etc. about why DRMs exist and how to share costs in a way that wouldn't be detrimental to the creative workforce only. And since these are thorny issues that should also concern the artworld, we would have been well-inspired to follow (appropriation, anyone?).

Anyway, best of luck to the writers, and on to the rest. This week in LA will see the launch of a new literary/arty magazine, Area Sneaks, put together by the husband-and-wife team of Joseph Mosconi and Rita Gonzalez, otherwise known as my very good pals. Rita G. is Da Best Curator in Town, and Joseph M. is an undercover writer doubling as a Tech Giant worker. Yours truly is not contributing to the current and first issue, but will do for the second one.
So for your pleasure, this Saturday come at LAXart for the launch/reading/performance. All the info you need is here.

What else has been happening in LA? Well, there's the Holy Quaterty of 1980s women artists showing all over town (Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman), a project by West Of Rome, Emi Fontana's efforts about bringing art in non-traditional venues in Los Angeles. I haven't seen any of the art yet and cannot report fairly on it. From the website many of the works are re-actualizations of older works, the question being: are they still of consequence today, can they be recognized as such in the public sphere, etc.
You could also look at it another way and wonder why pieces chosen are historical/from an earlier era, if it is really about bringing back to the present an art that hasn't lost its urgency and its signification, or if it is a consequence of the contemporary art world ever-present ageism and its corollary stereotype. You know, "so and so have lost their mojo and their work was much better when they were young". Curators and collectors and critics are routinely guilty of it, something I always found tragic, neglecting great works by overlooked or underestimated artists.

West of Rome has been collaborating with art PR extraordinaire Bettina Korek for a while now, and in turn Bettina has produced a new brainchild, For Your Art. If you've been gallery-hoping recently you have seen the little leaflets with maps/listings of some carefully selected galleries and their programs.
In addition, For Your Art has also put out a website, which you can access via the link above, in its beta version. Its a good information hub about what's going on in LA, in a hip, trendy way (there's not much about alternative spaces and projects), but I am a bit disappointed by the content and/or the writing. There are a few writers posting short entries, but art critics they are not, and the style is vaguely hesitating between blog posts and PR/marketing style. Not a winning combination, and I'd suggest to keep the entries short and descriptive AND add a real review under the said entries, if possible by real writers and/or bloggers or critics. A case in point is the "BCAM Stillborn" entry, which could have been better expanded and developed. The author states: "it’ just not OK to let a billionaire tell his own version (or Larry Gagosian’s) of Contemporary Art History on county land", well my dear writer, please explain why at length, and expand about the County-not-doing-its-job part and what in the name of the culture has made such a thing happened, and what's the future of it. Mind you, the criticism in itself is bang on the money (pun totally intended), but lacks rigorous thinking and writing.
Also, it's difficult to understand the difference between the entries labeled "See" and the ones titled "Enjoy". But as it is a beta version, let's hope the site is going to improve and will become a good reference for what's happening in LA and maybe foster some decent art criticism in its wake.

In passing, I've been meaning forever to link to Andrew Bernardini's blog. Bernardini is an awfully young writer (and it sometimes shows) but he's very accomplished. I trust he will do great things once he sheds all the critical theory bullshit Newspeak, and after he has the opportunity to go all over the world and look at tons of good art. He's doing just that, actually, but I think after he matures a bit he will be truly awesome, as opposed to promisingly brilliant. I'd love to see this guy go get a Ph.D. in art history and get a classical education on top of it, as I'm sure he would benefit from Von Schlosser, Aby Warburg and Carl Einstein. Anyway, even without this he's good, so please stop by his blog and enjoy.

Have fun in LA this week!

The 2 pictures above are in the upcoming #1 issue of Area Sneaks.

Friday, February 8, 2008

FBC! Temporary Mute Until Next Week

Hello dear beloved readership,

FBC! has to drive all over the place for the next 3 days and therefore will be unable to do anything with the laptop/the blog. You may spot me at the Broad, though.
Post to you next week, and have a great weekend!



Wednesday, February 6, 2008


'llo everybody,

Today Ed Ruscha speaks (sort of) to The Guardian. DIA explains what you have to do to help save Spiral Jetty on their homepage. Hurry, you have to manifest yourself before Feb.13th. It's especially important you get your network involved, moreover if you have friends abroad who can email or send faxes and letter.
In passing, Charlie Finch , I never thought much of you as an art critic*, really but please do a bit of homework before writing your sexist interpretations of the Jetty. It's your interpretation alright, but you're on your own with that one. Also, FYI the Jetty was submerged when Smithson was alive, and he did plan to raise it about 3 meters high permanently to avoid that problem. He died before this could happen, so your insinuations about its own destruction being built-in in the work, if in line with Smithson's writings about entropy, are in fact inaccurate regarding that particular artwork. Sorry if you never had the opportunity to ever get there! Maybe you should hurry and try, that could make you become a real art critic, who knows.
Hey, it gives me an idea! Why don't we all pitch in and send some money to artnet to fly Finch to Spiral Jetty? And Walter Robinson, while we're at it, so maybe there will be finally something real to read on there, rather than only use their clunky auction database?

*Nothing personal really, I don't respect most critics anyway. You're just more openly sexist than most of the others, that's all.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Love Letter to America

America Dearest, My Beloved,

Today is your big day. No, not Mardi Gras, though I believe you will need to eat many pancakes for sustenance, to help you be guided in your choices. No, I meant Super Tuesday.

America, my Dear, my Beloved, I know, it hadn't always been so easy. It's a bit, how shall I say? Special and lonely to be the most famous, the biggest one, and, like Britney, to have each and every one of your most embarrassing blunders thrown into the spotlight 24/7.
A few times, like Britney, you went beserk, and no one watching you from afar could find any reasonable explanation as to the whys and hows and wheres and whens and whats. Maybe you had suffered some temporary insanity, and it's understandable after what happened to you on that fateful September morning, a few years back. Maybe, like Britney, you were ill-advised, if advised at all. When in pain it's hard to keep a cool head. Hey, if it's hard for Britney, it certainly can be hard for you too.

Like Britney, after you reached that level of fame and power, there were few safeguards for you, and you didn't want to listen or defer to any type higher authority anyway. You're the biggest! The most famous! Why should you waste your time with the tiny kids on the playground?
Sometimes you even managed, through cunning staffing, to transform those international figures of authority into your very own private Entourage, all the while telling your kind and generous people that no, it ain't so.
The result is if someone dared try to respectfully warn you about potential pitfalls, you pouted and sulked and pretended it didn't happen.
But you know what, America my Beloved?
It has been horrible, that bully attitude of yours, for too many people around the world, and for too many people within your borders. It cannot continue like this. You need to stop being that crazy cousin who comes gunning down everything in sight for fear of losing domination. Yes, we understand, being for so long the ugly but giant teenager who felt unloved was hard, and maybe our attitude toward you was a bit condescending or patronizing when you were growing up. But, come on! You are an adult now, the awkward years are over. Let's get together and make peace all over again.
Now the time has come for you, America my Beloved, to remember how it was to be desired and admired, and to reclaim not so much your economic leadership, though this one will be tough, but what makes it so cool to be you.

You see, there are pretty darn great things about you, when you come to think of it. No, not your cupcakes, brownies, Caesar salads, burgers and BBQs, your cool kitsch attractions (Demolition Derbies! Disneyland! Trekkies Conventions! LolCats!), your sometime disputable fashions (shirt collar and lapels OVER the jacket ???), not your fascinating cultural industry (please be nice to the writers when the strike ends, OK? you've seen how bad it was without them). Not your fabulous contemporary art, that was undoubtedly the coolest ever for the second part of the XXth Century (alas, you've been a bit lazy recently). Ditto your cinema, which you should do a better job of remembering, archiving and making available for everyone. Not your TV, which is the greatest in the whole known universe, save a few Brit gems, but please stop with the reality TV, OK? Not your literature, which is fabulous if you subtract Stephen King, John Grisham, Michael Crichton and the whole chick lit stuff. Not your music, most of which I am alas a bit not interested in, with the exception of Elliott Smith, the Ramones, The Residents and Devo, and a few 1980s punk things and when drunk I can even admit to the Black Eyed Peas (but you need to ply me with several gin gimlets before).

All these things about you are pretty cool, and make no mistake! (as your current president would say) they all contribute to your universal appeal outside of your borders. No, America, my beloved, I'm going to tell you what's really, really soooooo great about you.
Your values. If you think about it, we share a bit of the same, you know, liberty-equality-fraternity. But you have a few even greater ones embedded in your Constitution, such as, totally randomly, let's say... your 1st Amendment! We don't have that one in France, and French presidents and their bethroted spouses make a free use of our libel laws to make sure we shut up when they need us to.

Now America my beloved, in choosing the best candidates on the side of the political spectrum you situate yourself in, don't forget about your cool values, and think about a few additional issues that would be well worth fighting for, such as the right to universal privacy (including online), or the right to a universal healthcare system supported by both our taxes and our employers (gee, if other countries can do it, it makes you look frankly retarded, I'm no afraid to tell you, my Beloved America).
If your said taxes (and mine, remember? non-citizens also pay those) could be better employed toward, I don't know, education, heathcare, and helping the poor, the sick and the disabled, maybe your next President would do a great job. Remember, America my beloved, we're going to have to survive that recession, and if a budget deficit there shall be, then maybe the borrowed money would be better employed within the country than without, fighting un-winnable and devastating wars. Just sayin'.

So today, America my Beloved, I hope that whichever side you're on, you will chose a decent, dignified, humble, humane, caring, smart, compassionate, down-to-earth, realistic candiate and maybe future President, someone who won't look stupid when November approaches and the real day comes.
America my Beloved, the whole world is looking at you and hoping this time you won't screw up. Remember, you cannot do worse than what we currently have. (Or can you?)
And no matter who wins the election, America my Beloved, there is no way you you can do more ridiculous, undignified, scary and utterly vulgar than Sarkozy.

America, I love you. Be wise, be smart, be bold, be cool!

Flag. 1954–55
Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood (three panels)
42 1/4 x 60 5/8" (107.3 x 154 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Philip Johnson in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr.
© 1996 Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Friday, February 1, 2008

National Crêpe Holiday a.k.a. La Chandeleur.

In France we have all these Pagan rituals, loosely tied up with religious holidays but in fact inherited from some immemorial pre-Christian stuff. On the Epiphany we eat the Magi cake (I've just been told that La Maison du Pain was making them, I'm so happy!), for Easter we eat legs of lamb with flageolet beans, and in between there's Lent, something I'm not very good about but I'm pretty certain it is not about dieting to look good in your bikini this Summer. Most likely a way to frugally hold on to the last food reserves left during a long winter, I suppose.
But before Lent we have Mardi Gras, which we celebrate with a Carnival (not the same as in New Orleans, no beads) and also La Chandeleur, hereafter renamed National Crêpe Holiday.
What do we do? We cook crêpes, pardi! There's a bit of a complicated ritual where you are supposed to hold a gold coin in your left hand while you flip the crêpes over the skillet with your right hand, all the while letting a candle burn (hence the name) but I've never seen anyone do this ever. Maybe because gold coins have all but disappeared a long, long time before L'Euro replaced our beloved francs.

Anyway, tomorrow is La Chandeleur, so FBC! hereby grants you license to go out and eat crêpes at your favorite place, or even better! Make your own! The recipe follows. Nota Bene: if you want to do savory crêpes, please be aware that they are in fact called galettes, are made with buckwheat flour and water, not milk. FBC! always lamentably failed in her attempts to make galettes, which is only natural as I'm from Normandy and galettes are made by our nefarious neighbors, the Bretons from Brittany (to you, evil Bretons, one last time and for all: the Mont Saint-Michel is in Normandy!)
Crêpe Batter:
400g Flour (King Arthur white flour)
1 liter milk (Broguiere or Strauss, 2% fat)
3 eggs
1 large tablespoon oil (Canola or Cornflower)
1 pinch salt
choice or either orange blossom water, rose water, rum, vanilla extract, Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional, don't do it if you plan to use the batter for savory crêpes)

In a large, but very large bowl, pour the flour in a little heap, dig a depression on top. Crack the 3 eggs in the depression, add the tablespoon of oil, the pinch of salt and a tiny bit of milk. It looks a little bit like the top of a volcano with a lake.
With a fork, start stirring and mixing all the wet ingredients together and gradually incorporate the flour that sits around the slopes of the volcano (and have a thought for Pliny The Elder).
You should get a oatmeal-thick type of mixture, with the flour in its normal floury state around. The trick is to pour a bit of milk gradually and keep on stirring, to incorporate the sides of the flour until most of the milk is incorporated and the batter looks like waffle batter or a thinnish pancake batter. In case your have lumps in your batter, don't panic! You can use a hand-held mixer to smooth everything in, including the flavoring you can now add.
Since you've been reading up until here, I can reveal it to you know: you can actually use your mixer from the start to prepare the batter, even use a kitchenaid, but it's not as much fun. I concede it is faster, though.

And now what? Now you put your lovely batter in its covered bowl in your fridge, and you forget it for the next few hours. Go on a date, get plastered with your best friends, go volunteer at a homeless shelter, forget about the Super Bowl and think about America before you vote. The longest you let your batter rest, the better it will be. But don't try to read Kant's Critique Of Pure Reason because your batter will be moldy by the time you finish.
Fast-forward to crêpes-cooking time. You imperatively need to use a non-stick skillet. It's OK if it is not a crêpière-type of skillet, but it has to be non-stick, and you'd better have gas burners.
Anyway, take your batter out of the fridge, stir well. If it is a bit thick you can add a bit of water to thin it out.
Wash a small, waxy potato, cut it in halves, dump some bland-tasting oil (canola) in a small ramekin. Pick a fork on the curved side of your potato half, dip the flat (cut side) in the oil, and use your rudimentary oil-spreading tool to grease your skillet(s) that you wisely pre-heated on moderate heat for a few minutes.

Once your skillet is hot enough, pour in between a half-ladle to a ladle-full of batter in the center of your skillet, and spread the batter all around by gracefully moving the skillet left, right, anyway you like for its surface to be covered in batter. No, you don't need that cute wooden spreading tools from Brittany, so no need to do some last-minute, frantic online shopping.
Wait for the underside of your
crêpe to be cooked (the edges will start to unpeel themselves naturally from the sides of the skillet) then use a wooden curved spatula (that one you truly need, believe me) to flip it over and cook the second side. It takes roughly 2 minutes for the first side to be cooked, and 1 minute for the second.
Voilà, your first crêpe is cooked! Oh, I forgot to tell you: the first one is always, always an utter failure: the skillet is too hot, or not hot enough, the crêpe doesn't flip over well, you poured too much batter, not enough, etc. Don't despair, it takes a few attempts to get the hang of it, and even I who has made crêpes since I was 8, I usually screw up the first 2 or 3 ones.

Where was I? Oh yes, your first successful
crêpe is cooked! Well, you can now depose delicately your warm crêpe on a plate, and spread whatever you want on it. My favorite is very simple: sprinkle a bit of sugar and pour a bit of lemon juice on top. Fold your spread-covered crêpe in half, then fold this half in another half and you get a nice triangular-shaped, yummy-filled crêpe.
Other fillings can be: whatever preserve you like, or some sliced bananas with: a) Nutella, b) whipped cream, c) toasted sliced almonds, d) all of the above, or some caramel au
beurre salé , just some Nutella, a bit of butter with some sugar, some lemon curd, some candied chestnut purée, some apple slices cooked in butter, any kind of fruit with or without whipped cream, etc.

If you wish to eat a savory version using the recipe above, omit the flavoring in the batter, and spread the already cooked top of your flipped
crêpe while the bottom half is cooking, with any combination of the following: some diced ham, cooked and sliced mushroom, cooked spinach, grated cheese and crème fraîche, and maybe sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg on top. Fold your crêpe in half with its filling while everything is in the skillet and lower the heat a little bit to let the filling warm up, fold it a second time in a quarter. If you are skillful you can flip the folded-in-half crêpe in the skillet to make sure the filling is evenly spread out and warm, before folding it into a quarter and serving it. It will ensure that there isn't a portion of the crêpe that's more cooked (or burnt!) than the other.

Enjoy, and don't forget to help save Spiral Jetty: the deadline to write/phone is has been extended to February 13!

A Public Appeal To The FBI

For some reason the FBI is cracking down on the art world (do they have less pressing criminal business than usual during the winter? Drugs dealers are on vacation in Thailand or what?) and mounting raids against art galleries and museums. I cannot comment on the latest as I've never heard of the gallery in question and never set foot in Chicago, but when I look at the picture published I can only cringe.
This is a public appeal to the FBI:


You know, bubble wrap, glassine, blankets, gloves, special crates, climate-controlled environments and, ahem, trucks? Not the trunk of any vulgar hatchback?It's freezing cold in Chicago, and you're removing artworks like this? It is very, very painful to watch.
Now I have to do a public confession, I've always wanted to work in an art squad, but I'm a bit put out at the methods, really. This being said, I'm looking for a job, do you hire non-citizens? I can train your agents to handle artworks. Really.

Your Social Life

FBC! has been hibernating lately (all this rain, plus a nasty cold) and a bit out of it, so I neglected to help you out with this week Your Social Life. Oopsie.
So, quick, tonight you can go at Another Year In LA and don't worry about Friday night's traffic, because their openings run late. I won't be able to go, so please say hi to David and Cathy for me. Thanks!
Tomorrow is also the opening of the show curated by Michael Ned Holte at Richard Telles, where I will be absent from due to a previous social engagement, so once again please say hi to the charming Will Fowler for me! And after this? Well, you can go see the last days of the Francis Alys show at the Hammer or the Murakami show at MoCA and most importantly swing by the Glendale College Gallery for tomorrow's opening (look for Jennifer Lane and Caroline Thomas' work).
You can also go see the show Patriot Acts at 18th St. in Santa Monica. I'm fully disqualified to review that show since I have 5 friends in it, not including the curator, but before you go vote on Super Tuesday it would probably benefit you to have a refresher in what's great about American's values, when they are cherished and respected.

Next week you will have to brace for the upcoming mammoth opening of BCAM at LACMA. For the non-acronymous readers, all those initials stand for Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a mouthful isn't it? You may have seen the Jeff Koons-hatched egg plastered on banners all over town. Koons being championed by Broad in many, many of his gigantic-sized endeavors, the trademark may have seemed obvious to LACMA's Marketing Dept. but I'm afraid not so much for the rest of the city. Now you know!
Anyway, there will be a series of grandiose shindigs starting with the Gala fundraiser and then a series of openings, none of which your truly has been invited to, so I'm a bit peeved at my former LACMA colleagues. That's OK, I will report on the building and the collection once the commotion will have died down. I think I'll contrast it with the Michael Asher show at SMMOA (yay!) and then later will post the LA-provincial-versus-international text I've been working on and off for the past weeks. So if like me you are not invited, you can 1.) but the LAT Sunday, there's a 6-page spread coming up and 2.) get a free community ticket for the Feb. 16/17 weekend (I'm going at 2 PM, if you really want to know, but if there are too many people in attendance I'll flee).

Meanwhile, there's also the brunch at the Broad Foundation to present the new installation there, and I'm very excited to go because there's a Jeff Wall that must be new there, and there will be solid good stuff like Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth and Pierre Huygues.
To the best of my knowledge there isn't any Jeff Wall in Los Angeles' public collections, so hopefully it will trigger some desire in collectors here to buy a good one and donate it to an institution here.
I personally don't care (admittedly, I'm not a Museum Director) whether Eli Broad gives or not his collection to LACMA or any other LA museum at the moment, because:

a) he never said he was going to give it, before, during, and after the construction and opening of BCAM (hey, NYT article from a few weeks back: this is not news. The info was out and public for I don't know how long!)
b) he may change his mind later
c) even if he doesn't, the Foundation that will administer the collection may decide to donate it in parts or in its entirety in the future
d) Eli Broad isn't dead, in case you haven't noticed. If you hadn't, you probably live on Mars. Since he's very much alive, he can do as he may well please.
e) The building is great, and if it leads LA donors to pledge more money in the future to totally renovate and rebuild LACMA from scratch it would be a good idea (but please, preserve the Bing Auditorium as is).

And seriously: why is it that Eli Broad can do pretty much as he pleases in LA? It's very simple: no one else is stepping in. Where are you all the other LA billionaires when you are needed? How much do you donate to Los Angeles civic projects? To the Los Angeles public good at large? Probably not enough. Until you do, Eli reigns.