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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best of 2013

We are off to the UK to see Paul’s family so I thought I would file this before we lift off.

Best Historic Memory
I am compiling this a few days after Nelson Mandela’s passing. In 1990, with my dear friend from college days, Kristina, we went to hear Mandela speak at the stadium at USC. We met at my place in Baldwin Hills and then joined a long march to USC (where her daughter now attends school). Once we reached the stadium we were standing (I don’t know that we ever sat down) with people of all races and presumably classes. I felt, for that night, we were, as Richard Blanco wrote in his inaugural poem, one people. It is one of those rare times I feel like I witnessed history and knew it was happening.

Nelson Mandela in 1990
Photo: Michel Clement, Daniel Janin/AFP/Getty Images
Courtesy wnyc.org

Best Political Story
Edward Snowden. I think history will see him as a hero who challenged a government gone mad. Much like Daniel Ellsberg did. And he will change the course of our country’s history. And the reporter Glenn Greenwald may not have started out as journalist, but he saved journalism for democracy. Which, of course, saves democracy itself. The shadow government will have to come out of the shadows.

Photo: The Guardian, AFP/Getty Images

Best Rediscovered Artist
A few years ago I went to an art fair in San Francisco and saw a few pieces of an artist named Jay Kelly. I can’t quite afford his work but it is one “material” thing I crave. His website is jaykellyart.com.

2009 Metal, Wood, Gesso, Acrylic
Jay Kelly Art

Best New Print
What I could afford this year was a print Caio Fonseca made at Paulson Bott Press in 1998. I keep following the lines somewhere different.

Caio Fonseca
Notations I, 1998
courtesy paulsonbottpress.com

Best Tote Bag
Dear friend Johnny gave me this Andy Warhol bag for my birthday! Isn’t it the best?

Best New Satchel
My pals Maria and Chris gave me this British Schoolboy bag from Cambridge satchels. Isn’t it perfect? Had to put it on Pinterest right away!


Best New Source for Bow Ties
For an early holiday gift my dear friend (from the seventh grade onward!) Cherie gave both of us gorgeous bow ties. We looked inside and the label said Kathleen Kelley. Sure enough it is the same Kathleen Kelley who worked at MBT and later at EBay. One of the most elegant ladies I've ever met. Check out her site at kathleenkelleyartisan.com.


Best Local Restaurant
We finally got around to going to Comal in downtown Berkeley. Excellent high-end Mexican food and a great dining room. If you don’t have much time before the theater you can also walk right out to the patio (with a fireplace) where a lady comes out around with a taco chip and margarita trolley. comalberkeley.com

Best NY Restaurant
My pal in Brooklyn Noel took me to Vinegar Hill House in Dumbo. It’s a bit out of the way, but has the best pate I’ve had in ages. Spatially it’s quirky and intimate. Not for the big boned gal. Check out the tiny kitchen with three people and a brick oven. I would lose weight working there. The after dinner nighttime walk on the Brooklyn waterfront was magical. vinegarhillhouse.com

Best (and Strangest) Thai Food
I’ve never thought of DC as a good restaurant town, but apparently that’s changing. My pal Kristina took me to Little Serrow, which is owned by the same folks who own Komi, which has gotten rave reviews but costs a pretty penny. Downstairs in the basement through an unmarked door is a very noisy aqua colored room with a painted corrugated metal ceiling and not one stitch of Thai inspired tourist dreck. Just high tables, stools and a fixed fresh family style menu. It is spicy but not light your mouth (and digestive track) on fire hot. But each week its different. If you have food allergies forget it. And you had better get in line at 5:15. No reservations and the door opens at 5:30. The the few seats fill fast. littleserrow.com

Best Social Media Toy
Speaking of Pinterest, it is hands down my favorite social media toy. I have no idea how it is influencing my “brand.” Being a visual person it is a way to chart my interests, especially the aesthetic ones. It’s like an autobiography in photos. A harmless addiction right?

Best Wedding/Adoption Celebration
David and Jay’s celebration of their wedding and adoption was full love, tears, wine, and good food. You can read about it here (http://seekingfatherhood.com/adoption/more-and-more-married) and here (http://queersage.blogspot.com/2013/09/in-church-on-birmingham-sunday.html) and here (http://www.sfgate.com/style/unionsquared/article/First-came-kids-then-vows-for-David-Kerr-Jay-4849519.php). It was a big deal.

Best Wedding/Adoption Celebration Photographer
Gabriel Harber did a great job on David and Jay’s celebration so I thought I should give him a plug! www.harberphotography.com

Best Art Show(s)
We saw all three James Turrell shows. Although the exhibit at the Guggenheim was the most spectacular of the three shows (I mean any show that can get socialites to lie down on the floor of the Guggenheim must be a good thing!). I loved the quietude of the Houston show. You never perceive light the same after seeing a great Turrell piece. Question what you think you see.

Best Architecture Show
The A Quincy Jones show at the Hammer in LA. It’s about time he got a show. Besides my deep affection for his wife Elaine (who was mentioned in the show) I felt that his architecture was influenced by a sense of humility. He was trying to figure out the best possible solution to a set of challenges, not building a monument to his own ego. If I were ever to do a book about architecture I would call it “The Humble Moderns: Architecture That Disappears.” Folks like Quincy, Renzo Piano, Joe Esherick, Ralph Rapson, David Salmela. My kind of architecture.

Best Book(s)
It was not a big year for reading books. But I did enjoy Donna Tartt’s new novel, The Goldfinch. I probably liked the gay adolescent love story detail the most. A kind of sweetness within mayhem. On the architecture front, I really enjoyed my pal Pierluigi’s book on Bay Area modernist Don Olsen. Due to the author’s efforts in this and earlier books we aren’t going to lose the modernist narrative in Northern California.

Donald Olsen: Architect of Habitable Abstractions
by Pierluigi Serraino

Best Celebrity
These days the only celebrities I meet are artists thanks to my gig with Paulson Bott Press. I interviewed Maira Kalman and she was as enthusiastic and curious as her drawings suggest. You can read the interviews here (http://www.paulsonbottpress.com/about/oktp/oktp_kalman.pdf) and here (http://paulsonbottpress.blogspot.com/2013/10/maira-kalman.html).

"Easter Parade" 1996

Best Growing Experience
See wedding. It has been the presence of David and Jay’s kids, Shayla and Jaden. I would have been a terrible parent, but I’m a pretty fun uncle!

See you in 2014!

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