March 7, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Yesterday, the estimable Margaret Eby sent me something she had run across in The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook, a 1961 oddity fiercely beloved by culinary bibliophiles. This book—which featured an introduction by Alice B. Toklas and illustrations by Marcel Duchamp—is a treasure trove of literary arcana, containing as it does entries from contributors as wide-ranging as Man Ray, George Sand, and John Keats. (Maria Popova did a terrific post on TAAWC, if you want to see more.)
One of the more contemporary offerings, and that which Margaret passed along, is Harper Lee’s recipe for cracklin’ cornbread. It reads as follows: Read More »
March 6, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
The Whitney Biennial has generated any number of reviews—the more comprehensive ones will tell you about the distinguished curators, the three “biennials within a biennial,” the ambient sound installations.
So far, I have not read anything about the Apple.
On a chilly evening earlier this week, I attended a preview with a friend. It was, as others have recounted, crowded. “I thought you were the artist,” said a woman as I studied one of the pieces, a voluptuous ceramic by Alma Allen. “Because of the way you’re dressed, I mean.”
“Thank you,” I said. Alma Allen is a man.
By the door, a young woman was handing out canvas bags. “Just the ladies,” she said as we exited.
I waited until I was home to open my gift bag. Inside was a black box. “BCBGMAXAZRIA + WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART,” said one side of the box. Another side said “Celebrating 25 Years of Style.” A third said, “25th Anniversary Chrome Apple.” And the fourth featured text:
This chrome apple epitomizes the eternal relationship between fashion and art. We present this gift to you in celebration of BCBGMAXAZRIA’s 25th anniversary and the 2014 Whitney Biennial Sponsored by BCBGMAXAZRIA.
March 5, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Once upon a time, a very nice couple whom I didn’t know very well threw some kind of party. I can’t remember what the occasion was, but I do know that they lived in a nice apartment near the Broadway-Lafayette F stop, and that I went to the party with a former boyfriend. It proved to be a memorable evening.
We made small talk with lots of nice people. At some point we found ourselves clustered together with two other couples; at least one component of each was an architect. Some public figure had just come out as gay, and one of the guests said something innocuous about the importance of being true to oneself.
“Oh, I agree,” said one of the women, blandly. “Take my father-in-law, for instance. It wasn’t until he got terminal cancer that he was able to tell the world who he really was.”
“What was that?” said my ex-boyfriend. Read More »
March 4, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Do you remember Amish Friendship Bread? Basically, it’s like a chain letter, except you give people bags of gloppy, smelly starter, which they grow and mix with various strange ingredients, and distribute along with loaves of bread; the idea is you pass it along in perpetuity. It’s easy to find the recipe online. One—which attributes it to a “Mrs. Norma Condon of Los Angeles”—describes it thusly: “This is more than a recipe—it’s a way of thinking. In our hi-tech world almost everything comes prepackaged and designed for instant gratification. So where does a recipe that takes ten days to make fit in? Maybe it’s a touchstone to our past—to those days not so very long ago when everything we did took time and where a bread that took ten days to make was not as extraordinary as it seems today.” (Well, those days not very long ago when you made a bread with a box of instant vanilla pudding, anyway.)
Name notwithstanding, the bread apparently bears very little resemblance to anything made by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Wikipedia was good enough to address the issue, informing us that “according to Elizabeth Coblentz, a member of the Old Order Amish and the author of the syndicated column ‘The Amish Cook,’ true Amish friendship bread is ‘just sourdough bread that is passed around to the sick and needy.’”
As memory serves, I was neither particularly needy nor infirm the long-ago summer it came into my life, but, perhaps knowing that I liked to bake, a church friend of my grandmother’s brought me the Ziploc bag of starter, and I dutifully fed and stirred it every day before forcing sacks of it on three hapless neighbors, along with the obligatory mimeographed paper bearing the instructions and recipe. Not making it did not even occur to me: this was on the order of a sacred trust. And while the final product—which is somewhere between a gently-spiced snack and a dessert—may leave something to be desired, it’s true that making the friendship bread was a fun experience. Read More »
March 3, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Over the weekend, for reasons too silly to get into, I decided to change my phone number. It was a surprisingly emotional process. I have had this, my first phone number, for some twelve years, and there was something bittersweet about abandoning the area code of my parents’ suburban home. A great deal of the difficulty, however, arose from my own incompetence, a faulty Internet connection, and a confusing and ancient family plan. Long story short, I accidentally changed my dad’s number instead. The result was a small transcontinental panic, a volley of hysterical phone calls, and several confusing texts from my friends, each of which my dad apparently greeted with a suspicious “whoisthis?”
I was sure some enterprising suburbanite would snap up my dad’s abandoned 914 number before I could reclaim it, and my anxiety only grew as the automated voice on the customer-service line cheerily informed me that there was an unusually high call volume and the estimated wait time was eighteen minutes. I bit my nails and refreshed my browser every few minutes to find out if anything new had happened in the news, if, for example, we had sent troops into Ukraine. On speaker, the voice droned on about various mobile plans.
In the meantime, I took a call from my dad. “We’re very concerned,” he said. “Do you have a stalker? Is that why you’re changing numbers?”
“No. I don’t want to get into it. It’s complicated,” I said. “I just need a new number. And you have to stop watching the murder channel.”
“We can’t. The murder channel figures very prominently in our rotation. And every time a young woman is killed, we discuss the odds of the same thing happening to you.”
“No one’s going to murder me.”
“They all think that.” Read More »
February 28, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Looking at this year’s Best Picture nominees, I realized that while I had liked three, nine out of nine had made me tear up—including The Wolf of Wall Street. Fellow movie criers will understand. Especially for those of us who might hesitate to cry in the light of day, there is a singular pleasure to letting tears flow, even—or maybe especially—when what’s happening on screen is really stupid. I come by this honestly. My father refuses to see any movie in which a child dies.
This outpouring of emotion is not limited to the cinema; after watching Audra McDonald and Norm Douglas perform “Bess You Is My Woman Now” in the recent revival of Porgy and Bess, my mom and I were so overcome that we had to skip the second act and go get a drink across the street. And the list of songs I can’t listen to dry-eyed is so long that I’ve had to quarantine them in their own Spotify playlist. But movies are the biggest culprit.
The first movie that made me inconsolable was Dumbo—“Baby Mine,” of course, after he’s been taken from his mother—and the second, I believe, was Chipmunk Adventure, after the baby penguin is taken from his mother. My brother and I both sobbed so loudly in Land Before Time (after the baby dinosaur is taken from his mother) that we had to leave the theatre. Thank God we were never exposed to Bambi. (My mother, traumatized to realize that she was “Man,” resolved at age five to spare her own kids the same shock.) Read More »