My evening began with an artistic South African who was followed by a randy American. Guess which one I enjoyed more?
The Anderson Gallery was hosting a walkabout with Siemon Allen, the force behind Imaging South Africa: Collection Projects by Siemon Allen.
I'd been impressed by the exhibit when I first saw it, here, so I was especially interested in hearing the artist speak about it.
As were the dozens of other people who showed up; this walkabout, which had to be confined to one gallery because of the sheer size of the audience, was surprisingly well-attended.
He explained in his lilting accent that the South African newspaper article collection demonstrated the image constructed by external sources, whereas the stamp collection reflected the South African image constructed internally (stamps as government propaganda, essentially).
I was fascinated to hear that his South African record collection began with a $2 find at the old Diversity Thrift store.
But it wasn't so much the records that had captured him, but the liner notes.
The wall of mostly singer Miriam Makeba albums contained harsh critiques of the apartheid policies of the former South African government, in some cases comparing it to that of Nazi Germany.
These were liner notes as political statement for sure.
Allen, a native South African who lives here now, would like to see the record collection eventually go back to South Africa.
The stamp piece, massive as it is, has already been purchased by a collector in Johannesburg.
Allen acknowledged that he has been building an archive of lost information for his homeland, a country still struggling with its international identity.
So while it didn't turn out to be much of a walkabout due to sheer numbers, the talk itself was fascinating.
I only hope that the exhibit gets the wide audience that it deserves while it is in RVA.
Stop number two was Secco and although it started badly, it ended well.
I'd barely found a bar stool when a guy came in and asked if the one next to me was taken.
I had to admit that it was not and the newcomer couldn't have looked more pleased (or predatory).
Moments later owner Julia appeared and asked me to come with her.
Turns out that the new arrival was the same one with whom she'd tangled and chronicled their conversation on Facebook just a couple of weeks ago.
Knowing he was arrogant, ignorant and obnoxious from her own experience, she was doing a rescue mission on me.
He was also the same guy we had seen hitting on the heavily botoxed woman we referred to as The Joker a while back.
Apparently he's a regular at Secco because of the high percentage of women who hang out there.
But I was spirited away to the front couch and saved from inane conversation with Randy (yes, that really was his name), whom I later learned had saved my stool indefinitely in hopes that I'd return.
Both a customer and a server said he told them that he was holding my stool "until death" or I returned, whichever came first.
Finally the honest Amanda just told him, "Look, she's not coming back. She's with friends up front," and he tossed back his wine and left.
That's what friends are for.
I had the pleasure of drinking a new wine not yet on the list, the P'Tit Rouquin (carrot-topped kid or little redhead, neither of which describes me but both sound a lot like Julia), an organic and bio-dynamic table red grown on 60-year old Gamay vines. Very nice.
Later I had the chevre salad (in a nod to my filling lunch) and a hunk of Camembert (recommended to complement my wine by my server Matt, who also pointed out that "Whenever you come, so do the 11-year olds," referring to the extreme youth of the bar crowd tonight).
I bypassed the pork rilletes that have just been added to the menu, so I'll probably want to try them next visit.
Of course, coming back for pig puts me at risk of Randy showing up again, in which case I'll have to try to redirect his attention to the 11-year olds.
I can't always a count on somebody saving me from unwanted advances.
And it's been a long time since I've experienced a wanted advance.