Thursday, June 23, 2011

Be Me and Report Back

Does anyone else really want to do what I do?

Tonight that would have started with the happy hour at the Anderson Gallery for a performance by the Bird and Her Consort.

For the uninitiated, that would be Jonathan and Antonia Vassar of JV and the Speckled Bird.

Using guitar, accordion and classical voice, the duo performed what was termed as "parlor music" with an open parasol sitting on the floor in front of them.

Before the show, the older gentleman sitting next to me in the gallery inquired if I knew what parlor music was and I was of no assistance, but we were both willing to find out.

After listening to their beautiful interpretations of vintage music in French, Italian and English, I would say parlor music involves sad songs of love, passion and longing, some of which I even recognized.

They had recently performed at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and after a sad French song, a French Canadian couple had informed them that it had been sung too slowly.

"But I think they're wrong," Antonia said defiantly tonight. She sang the song at the exact same tempo as she had the last time and it was stunning. What do French Canucks know anyway?

After the show, I was asked what was next on my agenda for the evening. But it was a devoted fan of Antonia's who asked me the question of the day.

"So have you ever considered having someone take over your life for a few weeks to give you a vacation?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

Silly me, my initial reaction was that she was suggesting that my life might get tiresome. Then I realized she was offering herself up.

"I'd need some advance notice," she qualified. "I'd have to rest up and go to the gym." All I had to do was hand over my itinerary and she was going to live it and blog it for me.

It was a most intriguing idea, even if she would need me to plot it out for her. Someone pointed out that she'd have to modify her 9:00 bedtime to be me. That's the least of her worries, I might add.

Stop number two was the Virginia Center for Architecture for a screening of "Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman."

Had I known who Julius Shulman was a month ago? No, but once a little research divulged that he was the premiere architectural photographer of the twentieth century, I was in and interested.

Because architectural photography is the primary means by which most people see a given building, it is hugely significant.

And the twentieth century was an optimistic time when architects believed they could change the world and the photographs of their work shaped the world's perceptions of the West Coast and that lifestyle.

The film was made before Shulman's death in 2009 (he was nearly 100!) so it included his ruminations, jokes, and thoughts as well as visits to some of the houses he had shot decades ago.

Sadly, post-modernism drove Shulman  into retirement, but his photographs became invaluable for restoration projects of any number of modernist houses that had fallen into disrepair.

Eventually, his photographs were seen as fine art and he had gallery shows both here and abroad.

A fascinating observation made during the film was that "The houses in real life were not as beautiful as Julius' photographs."

From what was shown in the film, he clearly had a knack for picking the best possible angle of any given structure. Luckily, his legacy lives on in the archives of the Getty Museum in L.A.

Last, but not least, was dinner with a long-absent girlfriend at Pescado's China Street. She'd been traveling for work so much that it had been a month since our last rendezvous.

When I walked in it was after 8:30 and every table was taken, as was every bar stool. I'd never seen the place so crowded.

My friend had finally snagged a table after much waiting and our server immediately poured me a glass from her bottle of Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc.

I didn't get too far into it before we were able to move to a couple of available stools and get settled in for some catching up.

Conch fritters made for a fine start and then I had the smoked Pacific marlin tostada with black beans, radish and roasted corn salsa.

While it qualified for "tall food" status, it was the trio of flavors; smokey fish, fresh corn salsa and hearty (and heart-healthy) black beans that got my taste buds singing.

My friend had the tetilla tamales of roasted chicken, masa, tetilla cheese, tomato/basil jalapeno sauce and cilantro aioli, which I had to taste because I'd never had them before.

Instead of the usual Latin music or reggae, we enjoyed a soulful mix tonight that even got our bartender busting a move at one point. Old-school soul certainly has stood the test of time well.

Co-owner Bob dropped by to talk restaurants and near West End development with us and we all got passionate about the possible demise of the Westhampton Theater. Now that would be a loss.

Eventually my friend went on to the delicious Los Cabos salad while I enjoyed the switch to Conde Villar Branco Vinho Verde, a fizzy little gem that was perfect given today's heat.

We were so busy catching up with one another that all of a sudden we looked up and the staff was putting chairs on top of tables. Oops, time to go.

And therein lies the challenge for my replacement. Sure, you can be me as long as you can hang until you've finished doing all the good stuff every night.

Only then is it okay to cut bait and go home and tell the world about it.

Well, except for the really good stuff, which doesn't happen nearly often enough, and that's what remains the great mystery.


  1. Good things come to those who wait...patience is a virtue...what goes around comes around..

    You have a great aura & good energy so hang in there for the payoff..

    ps--nobody could be you!

  2. I'm certainly hoping that all those cliches are true!

    And thank you for the kind words.

  3. Cliches can come true/It could happen to you...

    A kind and earnest comment from somebody that knows an aura when visible or not.

    My tidings are a wee bit different:

    Nuance is your own measure. Deft and astute supports such.

    To be appreciated at a pace all predicated by you; is to be appreciated for more than nuance.

    This blog you own.

    Regardless, it was kind of your dulcet-voiced friend to offer a two-week grace note.

    "Lug" still slays me.

  4. I do consider the aura comments compliments, by the way.

    Thank you for your appreciation of this sharing that I do.

    I don't often get to slay a reader with my word choices, so I'm glad to hear I got you with that one.

  5. Well, let's see ... I never get to bed before midnight! But that isn't what I was talking about regarding "training" for living your life while you take a vacation! Ha! No, no. I was talking about the kind of stamina that transcends the idea of merely staying up late. But anyway, you have a good point about the *really* good stuff--John probably wouldn't like it if I was partaking of that anywhere but at home. I'm also guessing that the more you share, the more important it is to have your private life, too. But ... how does one have a private life in Richmond, with or without a blog?

  6. Honestly, it's almost impossible. Everywhere you go, someone knows you (or your past) so operating incognito is all but impossible.

    As for stamina, perhaps if I was expending my energy in, ahem, other ways, I'd have less for maintaining my busy schedule.

    But I have my fingers crossed for that to happen!

  7. Maybe your readers have the best of both worlds? We get to live (a lot of) your life, as well as our own! We are able to enjoy more music, art, food, drink, and friendship than we could all on our own. Boy Howdy, this IS the life!

  8. What a great sentiment! Thank you for that!