Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In Paris, A Display From Hockney's Pixelated Period

December 7, 2010

Purple flowers in a green-and-rose vase on a blue background
Enlarge David Hockney

From the exhibition "Fresh Flowers," a drawing created by artist David Hockney with the creative tool that's been fascinating him lately — the iPad. Untitled, 10 July 2010 is one of hundreds of digital works showing on 40 screens in the Paris exhibition, which runs through Jan. 30.

David Hockney thinks his current exhibition may be the first one that's ever been 100 percent e-mailed to a gallery. The 73-year-old artist is standing in the space in question — the Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent Foundation in Paris — trying to talk about the works, when his iPhone rings.

"I'm right in the middle of an interview," he says, laughing. "I'm sorry — wait a minute — I am, actually." Then, to the reporter: "I'll turn it off."

And he does, though it might have been more fun if he hadn't: He might have made us a new artwork right on the phone — a little vase of flowers, or a face, or a landscape.

When Hockney first got the device about two years ago, he immediately realized it was a new medium for creativity.

"Incredible little thing, really, because it was like a sketchbook and a paintbox all in one," the artist says. Better, even: "No cleaning up. No mess."

That's because he's painting with an app called Brushes — a small virtual paintbox on the phone's screen, into which Hockney dips a finger — or 10 — and makes pictures.

"He started out sending out these images — little images that he would make on his iPhone — to his friends," says installation designer Ali Tayar. "You wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and you're trying to go back to sleep, but on your computer is one of his images," Tayar says. "That is a treat — a 'Hi,' a little flower."

Capturing The Morning, With Light Instead Of Inks

Hockney started making these vibrant digital "paintings" early in the morning at his home in Yorkshire, England.

A dusk-pink rose in a crystal jug on a dark-blue background
Enlarge David Hockney

Untitled, 8 July 2010

"From about late April to July, the sunrise would hit me in bed," he explains. But "if I'd [only] had a pencil and paper by the bed, I wouldn't have drawn a sunrise."

Black lead, white paper; not that much to get up for, really. But Hockney had his iPhone by the bed, so he could draw the sunrise on the phone, in color.

Then the sun hit a vase of flowers near the bed. Hockney painted that, too. More mornings, more paintings, until he'd made hundreds and hundreds.

"Some were drawn quite quickly," he says, "Some were drawn over two or three mornings, meaning I'd go back to them. And I sent them out — lovely thing was, I could send them out to my friends. ... Often they were getting the sunrise that they'd missed."

As you might guess, the people on his list — a couple of dozen or so — said they loved receiving those early-morning e-mails.

For A Few Weeks, 'Fresh Flowers,' And Then A Sudden Fade

Then Hockney heard about the larger iPad. The artist has always carried a small sketchbook with him. Now he carries the electronic equivalent. The creative experience is different on the bigger device, he says.

"On the iPhone I tended to draw with my thumb," he says. "Whereas the moment I got to the iPad, I found myself using every finger."

And he really gets into it, reports curator Charlie Scheips.

"He says he sometimes gets so obsessed that when he's going, he rubs his finger on his clothes to, like, clean his finger — as if he was using real paint."

Scheips coordinated the Paris show, a riot of non-paint paintings on luminous digital screens. One wall at the gallery is hung with 20 iPhones; a second wall carries 20 iPads. (The Berge-St. Laurent Foundation paid for all the devices — it's not an Apple-backed effort, it says.)

All the gadgets are turned on 24 hours a day, and from time to time Hockney e-mails a new work to one of them — a kind of artistic status update.

The show, called "Fresh Flowers," closes at the end of January. And then, installation designer Ali Tayar says, all the art will disappear.

"It's not the traditional painting," he muses. "It really doesn't exist. It's just light on a screen."

Pink flowers in a crystal jug on a blue background
Enlarge David Hockney

Untitled, 16 April 2010

You could print a Hockney e-mail, if you were lucky enough to get one, but it would lose something in translation without that brilliant backlighting. The work only lives on these gadgets.

There's another hurdle, of course.

"We haven't figured out how to get paid," Hockney says. "At the moment it doesn't matter, but I will have to figure it out like everybody else."

Meantime, he's having fun making art with this newfangled but basically old-fashioned instrument. So are loads of other artists who are bringing back drawing this way, making works on digital devices.

Curator Scheips says Hockney has always been forward-looking — years ago he made collages with Polaroid pictures, and used home copying machines for other works. This new phase, Scheips thinks, is just the logical next step.

But it's a big step, artistically.

"These things are all about surfaces," Scheips says. "It's all about mark-making. ... These drawings — they may be small physically, but they're big and important in terms of his total oeuvre. And he thinks that this medium is gonna change the world."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I woke up this a.m. and as usual started my espresso then checked emails. Like always the N Y Times was there. I found an article critiquing this guys show at the Beacon Theater last night. I had never heard of Mr. Stevens, but liked what I read. Stacey came in and glanced at what I was reading and inquired. Don't know I told her, but check this out. I showed her how in less the a minute we could hear samples of his songs on and purchase them if we like. 99 cents and they are downloaded to your itunes page right away. The article about the show talked about images projected on a large screen throughout the show. It mention some of the images were from an outsider artist, Royal Robertson, a Louisiana sign painter. So of course I needed to know about him. When I googled Royal Robertson I found, among other things, the article I have copied below. I love being able to do this.

Sufjan Stevens' musical 'Age' is still maturing

by Taylor Baker
Contributing Writer

Arts | 10/19/10
Posted online at 1:46 AM EST on 10/19/10

Many songs on 'Adz' were inspired by Royal Robertson.
Media Credit: Marzuki Stevens/Asthmatic Kitty
Many songs on 'Adz' were inspired by Royal Robertson.

It's funny that no matter how much someone changes, they still stay the same. That's what first comes to mind when thinking of Sufjan Stevens' new album, The Age of Adz. In his most recent album, Stevens lays on the electronica to his usual combination of intricately layered vocals, soaring choruses, orchestral arrangements and a slew of other instruments that all add up to his unique sound. For anyone familiar with Stevens, his new album will be a bit of a departure, despite the fact that he released an electronic album in 2001, which, in my opinion, was not enjoyable at all. Unfortunately, it seems that his 2001 album was a precursor to his new one.

After abandoning his 50 States project-Stevens planned on releasing one album for every state of the Union but later revealed the attempt was a gimmick-Stevens released several other albums. One album consisted of B-sides, another was a compilation of Christmas songs, the third was an instrumental album inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City and he also released EP that was a prelude of sorts to Adz. The Age of Adz is Stevens' first full-length album without an overarching theme of a state, like his previous two Michigan and Illinois. Instead of providing narratives of being bitten by a wasp in Palisades Park or of a man living in Michigan slowly losing the grip on his life, Stevens indulges listeners with much more personal, romantic and apocalyptic narratives.

Now, don't get me wrong. The Age of Adz is not a terrible album-there are some really great songs and there are certain parts I could listen to over and over again. Moreover, I'd say the introduction of electronic elements to Stevens' sound is not a horrible idea; however, there are some points where the screwy sound effects bear down on the music and the listener.

Adz starts off with "Futile Devices," a song that could have easily been on any of Stevens' previous albums. The song consists of a simple melody, a guitar and Stevens' timid, somewhat haunting voice. Then, as if to say, "That was then, this is now," the next song, "Too Much," comes to life with an aquatic, electronic beat. In "Too Much," Stevens melds the relatively new, electronic sound with his usual intricate orchestral sound. This is one of the standout songs of Stevens' album-it's an introduction to how personal the album will be. Also, at certain points, this song is very cinematic. It reminded me of an intergalactic space war, which is most likely an homage to Royal Robertson, a paranoid schizophrenic painter whose art often depicted futuristic space scenes of the End of Days. Stevens' website confirms that The Age of Adz is partly inspired by Robertson's art.

There is also a futuristic, cinematic sound in the next song bearing the same name as the album. Age of Adz is familiar in that it soars in some places with compounds of sleigh bells, trumpets and choirs and then quiets down in others with only Sufjan's melancholic voice and guitar. It is in this song that Stevens introduces his apocalyptic and Biblical allusions, a trademark of sorts in his music: He includes everything from the glory of God being in everyone to the prospect of eternity and the Earth's breaking apart. All of these images aside, Stevens finishes the song apologizing for his selfishness, shortcomings and inability to persevere.

Other high points on Stevens' album are: "Get Real Get Right," another song with vivid imagery, trippy, electronic beats and backing choirs echoing the haunting message of the song and "I Want to Be Well." The latter song is the most honest and aggressive one on the album. The explicit despair over a messed-up relationship and desperate search for peace yield an exquisite, heartbreaking, haywire vocal bridge.

I think The Age of Adz can be summed up in its last song, "Impossible Soul," the album's 25-minute opus. The song, like the album, can drag at times and get a bit overbearing with the electronic samples but is redeemed by some truly magnificent parts. The third part-I broke up the song into four parts in order to better digest it-which starts at around the 14 minute mark, proves to be the best. It is upbeat and expressive, and the electronic effects meld perfectly with the layered vocals and instruments.

For the most part, The Age of Adz works. It's exciting to see Sufjan Stevens' sound evolve: We just might need to wait a bit longer for that evolution to reach a less awkward stage.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I got big wood.

My current commission is to basically build out the bar and tables for the dinning room for a new restaurant here in Atlanta. I am also gonna cover a 11" tall x 19" wide wall with assorted found materials. I also get to do three large paintings for the dining room.

Big wood? That's right, 37' of bar top made form live edge slabs of an oak tree. Three pieces make up this bar. Each piece is about 12' long by 27" wide and 4" thick. I bet each piece weighs about 500 lb's. Three table tops are gonna be made from live edge slabs of oak each about 6' by 3' x 2" thick. Also I am making 23 table tops from antique pine 2" x 6" material.

Above are some photos of the raw materials. As you can see some of it is very rough stuff. It's a dead tree for god sakes just relax, I can handle it. No I have never done work like this before, but hell I'm to stupid to say no or to be scared.

Now look what I did with these dead trees.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

from an article in the Atlantic Magazine

The Dark Side of Benefit Dinners: A Chef's Perspective



To try Sara's recipe for cold cauliflower soup with curried crabmeat, click here.

As people in the food business, we get bombarded with requests to donate our time and food to benefits. Benefits for cancer, benefits for the homeless, benefits for three legged dogs in China, benefits for the hungry (I always think it's weird to gorge yourself to help the hungry but hey, whatever it takes right?). It goes on and on. And fall is the height of benefit season, and it seems to have gotten excessive.

The idea used to be to throw a party, get some press for the cause, some press for the participating chefs and industry people, and raise some money. But there are some very dubious causes receiving money out there, and it's never clear how large a percentage of funds raised actually go to the cause being featured. Recently I was asked to do a benefit for Slow Food (really?). I am all for Slow Food, but I am not sure they need money as much as victims of natural disasters or terminal disease.

For me to participate in an event, I have to come up with amazing finger food that can be served in a setting with no running water, no heating devices, and no storage area.
I was raised to believe in giving back to my community and to the general world community, and I believe in doing so. Some events I wholeheartedly endorse. Every year for the past six years I have participated in a great all-female event to support an organization called SHARE, which helps women with ovarian and breast cancer. The money really does go directly to the cause, plus I love that there's one night every year when most of the famously rare female chefs in New York gather under one roof. In the spring, I do the Taste of the Lower East Side, which benefits the Grand Street Settlement house, an organization that has been helping economically challenged residents of the Lower East Side since 1916. I love supporting the community I work in so directly.

Some of the so-called "benefits" I have participated in seem to be more about throwing giant, self-congratulatory parties. It seems like every time some terrible event happens, everyone gets busy setting up a benefit for the victims and at the same time making sure they get more press themselves. Before you know it, rather than talking about the awful situation in Haiti or Pakistan we are talking about what delicacies such and such restaurant is serving. I also question whether it is really the best thing for my restaurant and me to be a small line on some press release. Isn't it better for my customers and for me if I stay in the restaurant and cook? Isn't that what my business is about?

For me to participate in an event, I have to come up with amazing finger food that can be served in a setting with no running water, no heating devices, and no storage area. Increasingly I am being asked to bring 700 to 2000 portions of said food, which should also represent my restaurant, me as a chef, and maybe the democratic ideal as a whole. I have to prepare it in my restaurant (taking away resources from the day's normal activity), pack it up, haul it over to the venue, stash it under a table, and then reassemble it so it looks beautiful. In order to do this I need to bring one or two cooks with me (who need to be paid because they are not getting anything out of it) so I can stand there and smile and interact with people who have paid a lot of money to be there. One thing I learned early on was that however long it takes you to make the dish, the dish better be easy to serve.

At one of the first events I participated in, I made vitello tonnato, the Italian classic of poached veal layered in tuna mayonnaise. It was great in terms of the ease with which we plated it, but it looked absolutely hideous on the plate, even when artfully garnished with sprigs of parsley. Sometimes I do sfomato, a savory Italian custard that can be served room-temperature, made with whatever vegetables are seasonal. It is easily plated plus very elegant. One year I made ramp sformato. For three days my cooks and I sautéed mounds of pungent ramps and pureed them, mixing in cream and egg yolks and baked them off in rounds late at night when the kitchen wasn't being used. Needless to say after, three days of being smothered in the smell of ramps I have not really ever looked at one again.

For a while I did cold soup at summer events, which was perfect, refreshing, easy to make, and could get jazzed up with an elegant topping of lobster or crabmeat salad if need be. With the opening of Porchetta in 2008, though, all anybody wanted was for me to bring a giant roast of porchetta and make sandwiches at the table. It's pretty easy to assemble, but it's a huge amount of expensive product to give away. Which means I really need to pick and choose where I want to expend my energy. It better really benefit the charity and not just the organizers.

Recently I have been asked to show up with more and more portions, and then only half the portions I have been asked to provide are consumed. This leaves me with excess product that I often cannot reuse. That makes me really sad, and it makes me wonder why I don't just donate the money straight to the charity and cut out all the silliness along the way. I'd rather be in my kitchen making food in an environment designed for it and interacting with the customers, some of whom are there to see me. Making sure the people in my dining room feel warm and taken care of and want to come back rather than chasing some press that might net me a few new customers and might benefit a worthy cause (and they are all worthy—even the three legged dogs in China). And with the exception of SHARE and Taste of the Lower East Side, that is what I am going to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


A few nights ago the botanical gardens here in Atlanta invited it's members to be the first to see and use the new pedestrian bridge that snakes it way through the tree tops of the garden. This project had a sad history before it even opened. About a year ago one man died and many were injured in a construction accident while the bridge was being built. We joined some friends to check out this beautiful work of architecture and then for dinner at the restaurant Social located in downtown Atlanta.
The bridge is amazing. The meal at Social not so much. Like I said this bridge is a great piece of architecture. I hope some how the fellow that died in the accident knows how much pleasure it is going to bring people.
Our friend Pratt took the photos.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


When I was a kid my Mom would find all kinds of things for my brother and I do. On those long summer days when Mom needed a "babysitter" she would often drop us at the multiplex. She instructed us to watch a movie and then move to the next theater and watch another. She would pick us up about 4 or 5 hours later. Everyone in a better mood.

If the State Fair was in town she sometimes dropped us off there. I remember the midway at the fair. The huge ferris wheel, cotton candy tons of lights and my favorite, the air guns that were used to shoot targets.

This was the late 60's early 70's. This was Mobile, Alabama. Things were different. What was different you ask? Well to start with blind faith wasn't just a rock band, but a way of life. Drugs, pedophiles, child slave labor, who knew? And if we did know we had to tell ourselves "not in Mobile, this couldn't happen here". And it didn't happen here. No one ever bothered us, no one ever tried to get us to try drugs or tried to get us to get in their van with the offer a cute puppy or candy. Good thing cause I would have gone for it.

Just like I went for Lobster Boy, god bless his soul.

See my little brother and I are at the fair. Alone. We must have been 9 or 10 years old, so no big deal. It wasn't like it was night time or anything. Back then "freaks" were a big part of these traveling carnivals. You know the bearded lady, the fattest man in the world, the 2 headed cat and so on.
The one that attracted us was a sign for Lobster Boy. Pincher's for hands and feet. Step right up ladies and gentlemen and little kids to see the freakiest freak on earth. Little brother stubbed out his cigarette and said "hell yes" that's for us. So we bought our ticket and entered the tent. I'm am 48 years old now and still remember how weird this was. Just me, my brother and Lobster Boy. He was in a cage like the ones on wagon wheels. He was about 3'tall and was no boy. He was a full grown, 3' tall man with what looked like the meat of lobster claws for hands and feet. They were the shape of pincher's, but all flesh. He was sitting cause who could stand on feet like that? He was smoking a cigarette and told us to come closer. I remember us standing right in front of the glass panel between him and us and my jaw was just hanging. So was little brothers. He spoke through a microphone and it gave his voice a crackly, scary sound. He smoked and told us of his condition. He ask us if we wanted to buy photos of Lobster Boy. I bet we didn't say shit. I bet we just looked at him as if he was some kind of freak. He probably had to tell us to leave cause I'm sure we were to stunned to do anything. Some of you are now saying to yourselves "that explains a lot about those Hartley boys".

The reason I'm telling you this is cause the other day the fair was in East Point, just around the corner from where my wife and I live. It is in town often and often we go for a walk just to check it out. The other night Stacey and walked through the midway at night. I wanted Stacey to get some photos. It reminded me of Lobster Boy. I told Stacey all about it and how much these traveling fairs have changed. No freaks. But, Stacey did get some cool photos.

I remember reading Confederacy of Dunces not long after it was published. I remember the story of how the authors mother talked Percy Walker into reading it which led to Tulane Press publishing it. Dunces won a Pulitzer Prize. This all happened years after John Kennedy Toole, the author, had committed suicide after being rejected by publishers.

The novel was an instant classic and it was passed around among my friends. This was 1980-81. I think about Confederacy of Dunces and Ignatius J. Riley, the main charter in the story, when I'm in NOLA and I come come across a Lucky Dog Vendor. And I laugh out loud. There are lot's of laugh out loud parts of this book. It is such a well written book. It is full of very unique characters. And the dialect of each is perfect. From the well educated , pompous tones of Ignatius to the hip, jive, soul brother talk of Jones the floor sweeper at the local bar. There's the cop, and the mother and her friend and the stripper and the lady bar owner and many others. They each have a very distinct way of talking and it came through in the book. And it is a big part of what makes this such a good read.

So my moms calls and tells me she read that Confederacy of Dunces was being offer as live stage production put on by The Theatrical Outfit. The Theatrical Outfit is in downtown Atlanta, on Luckie St. We caught one of the last shows and enjoyed very much. If you have read the book you would know why I worried if they could pull it off. To start with the characters in the book are so distinct I thought no way they could do them justice. Well they did. All except the jive talking Jones, the "flo sweeper". It was still a great show.

The actors would sometimes bring the stage set with them as they came on stage for their scene. While on the other side the stage was being set for the next scene. It was a brillant way to handle scene changes. The play was in two acts. The background, a New Orleans cityscape with the D. H. Holmes clock in the center, never changed. Like I said some of the set pieces were carried or pushed on stage by the actors in a particular scene. When that scene was finished actors came from another part of the stage with other set pieces, put them in place and started acting. The set pieces were simple. Like a small kitchen table with 2 chairs and maybe a phone, a bottle of booze and and a candle on the table. Just enough to get the setting across. Then the actors grabbed the chairs and pushed the table away when they were done. I thought it was a great way to present a play.

You should go to this link and read a review of the book. It will give you an idea of what Ignatius was like.

I read the next day in the paper that there is a effort to get the play to NYC. Hope that happens.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure — were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."

Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.

The groups at the top of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey were followed, in order, by white evangelical Protestants, white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, people who were unaffiliated with any faith (but not atheist or agnostic), black Protestants and Latino Catholics.

Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were included in the survey, but their numbers were too small to be broken out as statistically significant groups.

Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and author of "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — And Doesn't," served as an advisor on the survey. "I think in general the survey confirms what I argued in the book, which is that we know almost nothing about our own religions and even less about the religions of other people," he said.

He said he found it significant that Mormons, who are not considered Christians by many fundamentalists, showed greater knowledge of the Bible than evangelical Christians.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a Methodist minister from Leawood, Kan., and the author of "When Christians Get it Wrong," said the survey's results may reflect a reluctance by many people to dig deeply into their own beliefs and especially into those of others.

"I think that what happens for many Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and they stop examining it. Consequently, because it's already accepted to be true, they don't examine other people's faiths. … That, I think, is not healthy for a person of any faith," he said.

The Pew survey was not without its bright spots for the devout. Eight in 10 people surveyed knew that Mother Teresa was Catholic. Seven in 10 knew that, according to the Bible, Moses led the exodus from Egypt and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

The question that elicited the most correct responses concerned whether public school teachers are allowed to lead their classes in prayer. Eighty-nine percent of the respondents correctly said no. However, 67% also said that such teachers are not permitted to read from the Bible as an example of literature, something the law clearly allows.

For comparison purposes, the survey also asked some questions about general knowledge, which yielded the scariest finding: 4% of Americans believe that Stephen King, not Herman Melville, wrote "Moby Dick."

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Poster Art by Dave Cook, 2010 /

These are a few of my favorite things. Maybe not the smoke so much. But, I like Roller Derby and I like pork. I like them together or alone.

Last night we attended the final matches of the 2010 season for the Atlanta Roller Girls. First was a grudge match next was the championship bout. The event took place at the Yaaraba Temple on Ponce de Leon Ave. I haven't seen Roller Derby since the 70's when I watched it on tv with my Grandma Hartley. Back then I didn't know the rules or how to score so it took a while to follow it. But, Saturday night was great fun and a really well run event with a few artist selling paintings, tee shirts, posters and all kinds of ARG paraphernalia. There was a band playing out doors in the court yard and lot's of folks were tailgating with ice chest and barbecue grills all over the place.

Here is a link to all the excitement.

We had a mini keg of home brew, chviche, brisket sliders and popcicles for our tailgate party. We had fun and plan on doing it again next season.

We went from there just up the street to the Righteous Room. The name is correct, it is indeed a righteous room. Great beer list, good bar food and to much smoke. That's the only problem, which isn't a problem for everyone else there so what ya gonna do? Anyway we had a beer and caught up on some football scores and headed around the corner to Pura Vida Tapas Restaurant.

Hector Santiago is the chef at Pura Vida Tapas and he has been putting out great food at the corner Blue Ridge and Highland for a long time. He was also on Top Chef a couple seasons ago. He also recently opened a sandwich shop next door to Pura Vida Tapas and it's a huge hit. We ate well. Here's what we ate. Oh, the sandwich shop is Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop. Click for link.

Beers, vodka and red wine.

Ga. Trout ceviche con leche
lemon-lime marinated trout loin
aji mixto jelly, celery juice, milk & canchita corn

Mussels in white wine and lot's of garlic. It was served in a small cast iron skillet and the dish had herring in it.

Tuna Poke, Porque No?!
charred mushrooms, soy cassarep marinated tuna loin, sizzling in chipotle garlic butter
coffee nibs, pickled garlic & ginger,
scallions, red habanero
sour orange "caviar" & tapioca flakes

Mofongo con "carne frita"
green banana mash with pork cracklings
berkshire pork carnitas and pork jus espuma

Steamed Coconut Buns
Smoked pilón pork belly, tamarind sauce, shaved cabbage,
chives, cilantro & pickled chilies.

BBQ Beef Rib
Adobo rub beef short rib,
slow cooked, served with carrot slaw & orange
chipotle BBQ sauce.

Mayan Tostones
Fried green mayan plantains, cilantro & peanuts. chipotle honey

Sierra & Longaniza Pinchos
Wahoo & house made longaniza sausage
skewers with baby banana mustard

Damn, damn, damn this was a good meal.
The whole night was good.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Al-Ikhlas (Arabic: سورة الإخلاص‎) Qur'an. It is a short declaration of God's absolute unity. Al-Ikhlas means "the purity" or "the refining", meaning to remain pure and faithful or a state of purging one's soul of non-Islamic beliefs.

It also means good fried chicken and apple pie to die for.

I do believe that if this dumb ass preacher man down yonder there in Florida was to eat up on some of these peoples food he may have second thought about burning their holy book.

Sometimes, like once a week, I call the gal working the counter at Ikhlas and tell her I want 15 fried whole chicken wings. They are slow so Stacey and I usually start some food at home to go with the fried chicken and then go pick up our order. Sometimes we get an apple pie.

Ikhlas is truly a hole in the wall. But they put out some really good food. The fried chicken is like grandmas. Only problem is they only do wings. I don't know why. Also every time we eat their fired chicken or pie, it is just the same as last time. Always good. The apple pie is so ugly it is beautiful, kinda like Tom Waits. The crust is haphazardly folded over the top. It has cinnamon in it. We have shared this pie with lot's of different people and they often claim it the best apple pie they have ever had.

Ikhlas is at the corner of Cleveland Ave. and Sylvan Rd. in East Point, Georgia. Wings are sold in multipules of 3, can't remember what the cost. The pie is full size and cost $8.50. They do sell out of the apple pies. The do have other pies. You don't need to call ahead for a pie, but I would for wings. PH# 404 766 2808


Friday was August the 13th. Supposed to be a unlucky day. Didn't scare us. Us as in me, Lil Lady and our friends Mikey and Keith. Keith and I had just celebrated our oldness and Lil Lady was due up Check Spellingsoon so we usually get together around this time and do something fun. This year we decided to fly an airplane. A Boeing 767 was our plane of choice.
You can see I had my hair cut like a Pilot for the occasion.

It was a lot of fun flying around for the day and we each got a chance take off, fly and land at different airports. I chose Atlanta, Keith chose San Diego, Lil Lady Boston and Mikey landed at LaGuardia.

We were actually in a flight simulator at the Delta headquarters. Stacey won a 2 hour session for four at a silent auction. This was a rare event as these simulators are booked solid for training and testing Delta pilots. Other airlines pay Delta to test and train their pilots. It took us almost a year to get a reservation.

I have never flown an air plane, but from what we were told this was as close as you can get and still be on the ground. Delta has about a dozen simulators and the guy who "took us up" told us they cost about 20 million each. Taking off was easy the plane kind of does all the work on take off. Flying is easy. Landing is a bitch. I was the only one of us who crashed. The ladies did best. Mikey nailed her landing and the tech ask if she wanted to do another landing? She said no way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Atlantic bluefin tuna's fate in the Gulf of Mexico explored a timely book

Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010, 10:50 AM Updated: Wednesday, September 08, 2010, 1:58 PM

The journalist Paul Greenberg has, with a little help from The New York Times, been remarkably successful injecting the plight of the endangered – and perhaps fatally delicious -- bluefin tuna into our national discourse.

Four fish.jpg

His timing could not have been better. Back in June, when coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was at a fever pitch, his book, “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Fish,” was excerpted on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

A few of its more salient points:

* The Atlantic bluefin tuna “is a fish that when prepared as sushi is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. It’s also a fish that regularly journeys between America and Europe and whose two populations, or “stocks,” have both been catastrophically overexploited. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of only two known Atlantic bluefin spawning grounds, has only intensified the crisis.”

* “The United States continues to allow bluefin fishing in its waters even though the Gulf of Mexico-spawned stock is considered by many scientists to have entered into full-scale collapse.”

* “BP’s Horizon Deepwater oil rig collapsed into the sea and spewed oil into the only bluefin spawning ground in the Americas just as the few remaining North American stock giant bluefin were preparing to mate in the Gulf of Mexico. Though the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has been deeply critical of the Mediterranean bluefin catch — in 2007, it went so far as to call for a moratorium — it has been noncommittal about the American fishery.”

In August, a laudatory review of “Four Fish” appeared on the cover of the Times Sunday Book Review. It was authored by the paper’s restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, who wrote:

“The point of the book comes down to the push and pull of our desire to eat wild fish, and the promise and fear of consuming the farmed variety. As Greenberg follows his four species, and our pursuit of them, farther and farther out into the ocean, he posits the sense of privilege we should feel in consuming wild fish, along with the necessity of aquaculture.

“Along the way, Greenberg raises real-life ethical questions of the sort to haunt a diner’s dreams, the kind of questions that will not be easily answered by looking at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood-watch card. In truth, he shows, there is rarely such a thing as a good wild fish for any of us to eat, at least not if all of us eat it.”

I have not yet read “Four Fish” – it’s next on my list -- only the excerpt and subsequent coverage of the book, which suggests that Greenberg’s work should be on the radar of those charged with rebuilding Louisiana’s fishing industry following the oil spill.

While they’re at it, they should grab a copy of Carl Safina’s “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which takes a scalpel and tweezer to the political struggle surrounding the bluefin’s fate. Safina, a celebrated ecologist and conservationist, has written extensively about the environmental ramifications of the oil spill.

Finally, a Greenberg editorial appeared in last Sunday’s Times. It was keyed to the announcement that aquaculture scientists “had succeeded in spawning the Atlantic bluefin in captivity without hormonal intervention” -- and what that could spell for the bluefin’s future.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Like I wrote some time ago we have been trying to eat at less expensive restaurants than normal. Normal went from $100 plus a meal to $60 plus a meal to under $30 a meal. For two with tip.

Stacey took this photo when we were in Bangkok.

These are some of the spots we have been getting these under $30 meals at.

Righteous Room, Q's Southern Food, Taqueria La Oaxaquena, Rio Grande, Five Guys Burgers and Taco Rancho.

Most of these spots have been around awhile. Taco Rancho is new. It is almost a full menu, full on Mexican restaurant. Five Guys is a real good burger, lots of fries for $2.60. Fresh stuff and a well run franchises.

Oaxaquena and Rio Grande are hole in the wall joints on the south side of Atlanta and they both rock and they are both very cheap and they are both real Mexican food. The folks running each of these spots are not locals and when we eat there we are usually the only gringos in the place. Our bill is usually $20 with a tip. Check out the tamales at Oaxaquena.

Q's is in East Point. A few blocks from our house. They have good food. Meat and threes. Really it's meat and two. With cornbread. Everybody has got a favorite meat and three and lot's of them are pretty good. Q's is a little better than "pretty good". I love their oxtails. I love their chicken fried steak. I like their Mac and Chz a lot. Their dressing is good. Their fried chicken does not suck. Lil' Lady loves their rutabagas. She gets some every time.

Righteous Room has been in the Plaza Shopping Center at Ponce and Highland Ave in midtown Atl. for the last 15 years. Bare bones, good beer cheap. Always good bar food and cool service.
They have a choice list of beers and a hand full are $3-4 a pint/bottle. Wish it was closer to East Point.

So there!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Sunday, August 8, 2010


I got a call the other day from a guy named Michael. He said he was calling from Emory Hospital and wished to speak with Tracy Hartley. I'm me I informed him, how could I help him? He told me this was a follow up call concerning my bone marrow transplant. Shit, I had forgotten all about that small medical procedure I had received, what was it, 14 years ago? "It's been 14 years whata ya wanta know" I ask him? "You haven't spoken to anyone from Emory since then" he ask? "No one" I told him.

It was July 30th. It was my 48th birthday and here was some guy calling 14 years later to check on me. So I went into this very long winded, detailed description of every aliment I had suffered in the last 14 years. Michael keep trying to interrupt, but I plowed forward. I told him about my back problems. I told him about the poison ivy rash I had suffered. I told him how bad the headaches were when Stacey and I went on a cleansing diet and cold turkey quit caffeine. I told him about the different times I cut myself and had to be stitched up in the emergency room. I told him how I thought I was dying after taking penicillin, which I had obviously become allergic too. I told him about how my blood pressure was giving me trouble. I told him about the time all the bees stung me. I told him about busting my toe and how it took a year for toe nail to fall off and another year to grow back. Hell I even made stuff up just to make it sound really good.

Finally I took a breath and he jumped at the chance to say something. He ask "what about the transplant, what about the cancer any problems with that"? "Oh that" I said, "no problem, no problem at all, check back in 14 years" I told him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bigotry Takes a Hit


by Michelle Goldberg
The Daily Beast.

BS Top - Goldberg Same Sex Marriage

Most people who followed the Proposition 8 trial expected Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban. Still, the scope and breadth of the decision is thrilling. In clear, cogent prose, Walker systematically eviscerated every hackneyed canard and bad-faith assertion offered by religious conservatives to justify rank bigotry against gays and lesbians.

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote. “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional,” the judge ruled.

read more:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The other day Stacey was gifted a bottle of this elixir. BECHEROVKA.
Read some of the stuff I dug up. Sounds like things could get strange?

So what is the big fuss about? Many people will tell you that the presence of thujone from wormwood gives the drink psychoactive properties, but they may well be mistaken. Laboratory testing has shown that the amount of the substance needed to produce any effect is 8.5 mg, equivalent to an entire bottle of Hills (for example), but by the time you've drunk that much, you may well be either dead or passed out under a bar. Absinth purists will tell you that the pleasant effects are due to a "delicate balance of herbs" though they will also tell you Czech absinth "strays furthest from the original recipe" or even "isn't absinth at all."

Becherovka was created around the same time as absinth and also as a health tonic, but this time by a pharmacist from Karlový Vary named Josef Becher. The herb-based tonic was called the "English Bitter" and was sold as a remedy for stomach ailments, much like every other famous alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. Becher soon started selling his "drops" in half-liter bottles and the "blend of fifty herbs and spices" became an immediate marketing success when the Austrian emperor took a fancy to it and the court in Vienna began ordering 50 liters of Becherovka monthly. Competing alcoholics boosted the sales and it soon became the Czech Republic's most successful and individually recognizable spirit. The taste is a little like Jagermeister but with a much more cinnamon-based flavor, more delicate and less sweet. Even though the drink is as strong as most vodka at 38% alcohol, Becherovka is a sipping drink and should not be downed, but instead taken in a double shot with your beer and savored, though the aftertaste may be a little too strong for some. On a side note, Becherovka is also reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities, though you would be hard pressed to find a traditional spirit anywhere in Europe that isn't. Whatever other qualities it may have, most agree that it is the best spirit the Czech republic has to offer, in terms of taste at least. Recently bartenders have been preparing a drink called a 'beton', which comprises a shot of Becherovka with tonic and lemon, for those who like their drinks long. The success of the first Becherovka cocktail has led the company to publicize a whole range including the popular Red Moon, which combines the spirit with blackcurrant juice. Radost FX has several becherovka based cocktails on its menu

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I have launched my own line of Tee shirts

O P TEES, as in other peoples tee shirts.

I buy 2nd hand shirts and tag them with my custom graphics. To apply my designs

I make a template from cardboard and when it wears out I will replace with new design. I will

make about 20 shirts per template.

I look for shirts with text that I think will go well with current template. I hand print

each shirt then wash before the ink completely dries. This gives me a worn look to match the

2nd hand tee shirt..

O P TEES are $20 ea. that includes s/h

Stayed tuned for photos of all available shirts coming soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


This is what I have spent the morning looking at the last two times I've had a space at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market. I set up my tent and my art and this guy sets up an outdoor kitchen. With a portable pizza oven in tow. These are truly beautiful pies and they taste as good as they look.

Moto Bene for the time being is oven-craft street pizza. It says so right there on his business card. It also reads "Have Fire Will Travel". And they will. Currently if you wish to have a taste of these awesome pies you got to catch Moto Bene at one of the local green markets they set up at weekly. The principle of the operation tells me this is the design. Work the markets for about a year, get the word out and then go bricks and mortar.

It's working. Moto Bene is moving 50-70 pies every Saturday between the hours of 8:30 til 12:30 or til sold out, whichever comes first. $3 a slice $12 a pie. Folks line up steady most of the morning because this guy, the pizza dude, the one running the show knows what he doing and more importantly he knows what going on around him. Once he has his fire going he starts hitting the vendors. All vendors at the Peachtree Road Market are local and produce their own product. So pizza dude is walking around grabbing fresh basil, chorizo, mozzarella cheese, tomato's, eggs all kinds of food stuff. Hell he used pink eyed peas on some pies last Saturday. Usually his first couple pies each morning have a nice, farm fresh egg that has been wood oven poached in it's center. Some of the produce he uses was harvested only 6-8 hours earlier. The meats and cheeses are all handmade, all natural and very fresh. All produced by people whom pizza dude knows by name. That's why it's so damn good. Cause pizza dude knows that by using simple methods and the very, very best ingredients you can not go wrong

You can find Moto Bene Saturday morning at the Peachtree Road Market, Tuesday at the East Atlanta Market every Thursday May thru November from 4:00PM to Dusk. Or at the Dunwoody Market. 1551 Dunwoody Village Parkway
Dunwoody, GA 30338
Wednesday, 8am-12:00noon

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

St. John day 2

Got busy here in Atlanta lately. Drunk and infested with poison ivy. Haven't felt like sitting up much, less trying to write, but I did want to tell you more about our trip to St. John Island a few weeks ago.

One of our traveling companions, Stacey and myself got to the island Friday.

We get up Saturday morning and don't do much. I know we mixed bloodies and spent time on the balcony. We are all three multi tasking. Reading, eating, drinking and conversing.

Around 3 p.m. we become a party of 5. Companions wife and 2 kids arrive the same way Stacey did the night before. Since the weather is dank and wet we decide to stay close to the condo. I stay real close as in on the balcony. The balcony is one floor off the street which is directly below. The beach is directly on the other side of the street. We are in the perfect spot. I sit and read and watch people walk by. The others head up to the pool and hot tub with a very expensive bottle of champagne. Everybody is happy!!

For dinner it's the Lime Inn. Our "host/traveling companions", if you will and you should, have been to St John about 20 times. They know all the spots. Beaches, bars, restaurants they know them all. This is one of their favorite spots. The Lime Inn is owned and operated by a young lady we had read about and happened to meet earlier in the day. St. John really is a small Island. I ate a whole fish roasted. It was wonderful. Bone in, head on and caught a few hours ago. It had a jerk glaze.

We walk back to our condo, you can walk everywhere. We grab drinks and take a walk up and down the beach. It's really nice. Nightspots on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
We plan to rent a car for a day and drive to some favorite beaches, bars and restaurant.
For now we all going to bed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the aura of the far Northland

Again, why I love this guy. You can't own him.
Auburn University thought they owned him for a couple years. WRONG.
The latest on the good Dr. John.

"I can get this project done in 2 years but I have a contract to work at
Northern Tier for 10 weeks this summer." jd

"Can't let you do that." auburn guy

"And I can't let you own me for 12 months on a $15,000 salary." jd

"Sorry" auburn guy

"So am I. I'm flying to Minnesota on May 27." jd

That's basically how it went with my major professor at Auburn. And he
basically said, "Don't come back."

The pull of the lake country where I teach a history program in a
fashion that allows me to practice the arts of music and theater is
overwhelming. And they pay me to do it.

When I got here, I saw Jay Timmerman.
"Hey Jay! What number is this for you?"
"Its my 13th or 14th season. Can't remember."

I'm sitting at the table with the chef one day and I say, "Hey
Christian, have you ever been here before?"
"Yeah, I was a youth participant in 1988."

"Really? That was the first year that I was a guide here."
Christian goes home and checks his map and low and behold there is a
signature on it that says, "6 August, 1988. John Duke."
I was his guide! But I don't remember him - he was 14 and I was 21 at
the time. There are roughly 350 crews that go through here in a summer
and there are about 60 guides. I could explain the math if you wanted
but the chances of one guide getting a particular crew is about 6 out of
350 or about 2%.

To get here this summer, I left my car in ATL and bought a 500 dollar
Geo Metro in Minneapolis. I met this guy in the hood by taking the bus
from the airport. It doesn't look pretty but he was a damn good
mechanic and the car runs like its made for the race track. Its peppy
and gets about 40 miles a gallon. We became good friends and I drank
beer with him for about 2 hours while he put a side view mirror on the
driver's side.

This is my last summer. I swear as God is my witness! At least for a
while. Can't wait to get back to my own hood.

Over and out.

John E. Duke

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Last week I caught the MARTA train to the airport, where I caught up with a friend and we caught a plane to St. Thomas, USVI.
In St. Thomas we grabbed a bottle of vodka, a bottle of tequila and a taxi. The taxi took us on a 30 minute ride through St. Thomas to the Red Hook Pier. At the Red Hook Pier we had a margarita then caught the ferry to St. John Island. In St. John we got a ride to our condo from the nice lady who handled the property. She actually took us by the grocery store which was huge.
We settled into our condo with this awesome view.

We are staying on Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is a small inlet compared to the bay I grew up on. But it's much cooler than the bay I grew up on. The ferry comes and goes from Cruz Bay. It's just a 5 minute walk from our end of the beach to the other end where the ferry docks. The water is clear and blue. There are bars and shops everywhere. There is a street market and tons of restaurants. Here is a view from the other side of Cruz Bay. Looking towards our condo.

Later that night Stacey followed our tracks and we met her ferry about midnight. It was fun to sit on our balcony waiting to for the first sight of Stacey's ferry coming across the Caribbean Sea. When we did see it we grabbed a drink for Stacey and walked up the beach to meet her. As we walked up the beach Stacey walked down the pier towards us and the beach. Perfect timing! I handed Stacey her drink and she handed me her suitcase. I slung her suitcase over my head and we headed back up the beach. What a way to receive and be received on St. John Island.



God Hates Shrimp

Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver's and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye's shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.

Leviticus 11:9-12 says:
9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Deuteronomy 14:9-10 says:
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

Sign made with the Church Sign Maker.

Copyright © 2004-2010 by Joe Decker and Ryland Sanders.
Please don't hotlink images on this site; you are free to copy them to your own server.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Crewed Catamaran LEVANTE

Stacey and I spent the last week at St. John Island. We went with friends who have been 21 times. It was a busy week. It was a fun week. We ate and drank like kings and Queens. We spent a day island hoping on a 56" catamaran. We rented a jeep one day and drove from beach to beach, bar to bar, from one side of the island to the other. Here are a few photos. More photos and details in the coming days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010


George, the mixed up basset hound, and I drove to Mobile the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
Stacey worked half a day, got on a Delta Jet and beat us there. Damn, damn, damn.

Anyway we were gonna spend the weekend in beautiful downtown Mobile, eating and drinking. And I must say we did a very good job doing both.

Everyone was there. Sisters Kim and Pam and Kim's boy Scottie. Our brother Jeff was around all weekend as was our cousin Cheril and her two boy Nathan and Cole.

We spent most of our time at Roper St. Like I said eating and Drinking.

To start with Stacey mixed up a couple batches of a Strawberry, black pepper, tequila drinks. Yes, you read that correctly. Strawberries, black pepper corns cooked down in simple syrup, strained into a strawberry tequila mixture.

This was Saturday night. If you weren't drinking the strawberry/tequila drinks then you were having Vodka Martinis. Either way it was not pretty.

We cooked about 75 oysters on the half shell that night. Half of them we covered with spinach, bread crumbs, cheese and baked them for bout 15 minutes. You know Roc-a-fella style. We baked the other half as well, but we covered these with bacon, That's right bacon, shallots and a white wine sauce. Both ways tasted great.

We also has some jalapeno peppers, stuffed with cheese and onions. They were served in a puddle of Grilled Red Pepper–Tomato sauce. Nice.

MFH had read about these dishes in parade magazine. A Bobby Flay article about grilling everything. Which is a concept I'm totally into.

Desert. Peaches. Sliced into bite size pieces, wrapped in foil, along with, butter, Cinnamon and brown sugar. Grill for about 5 minutes, longer if your coals are old. Then serve with vanilla ice cream and Carmel sauce. DAMN DAMN DAMN!!

That was Saturday night. Mom and Dad wanted to do ribs and stuff on the grill Sunday so we did.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We are leaving. Going home. And the nice young lady, AD2, who has been so nice to let us stay here, is leaving as well. We are going back to Atlanta and AD2 is going to Hawaii. Boo Hoo.

We get up Friday morning and go looking for fried chicken. Those sons a bitches at the Dirty Bird still have not opened. Stacey's pissed. What ya gonna do? We walk a few blocks to the Meat Packing District and check out the Apple Store. Cool place. It is differently the future of retail. You would think you are in a library not a place to buy notebooks, Ipods, laptops ect.. Everything is clear. All glass or Lucite as in the spiral staircase with clear steps going from the ground to the 4th floor. Very nice place.

We walk back and still no Dirty Bird. So we walk across the street to an old school doughnut shop and grab a bite to eat. We walk around for a while, then we decide to head home. Atlanta.

It' Saturday, we get back from NYC around 4 p.m. and head straight out to Ikhlas for fried chicken. The best fried chicken in East Point!!!