Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Than This

Even the most sociable of extroverts occasionally needs an introverted day.

I began mine with a drive past the windmill, past the sheep farm and out to the Northern Neck to see my parents.

They are both talkers so while I help out with things around the house, we chat about the strangest things.

My mother's wedding suit was a size seven and she weighed 104 pounds when she got married, I learn as I mend a draft snake for them.

While helping water the array of plants on the big screened porch, we compare the soft-shelled crab preparations we've all had lately.

I hear that they've gotten an e-mail from their local restaurant saying sugar toads are in.

As is typical for her, my mother expresses disgust at the thought of something so exotic while I wax poetic about the sugar toads I had three days ago.

Sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree.

After lunch I sit bundled on the dock with the river lapping all around me, finishing Rob Sheffield's ode to coming of age in the 80s, "Talking to Girls about Duran Duran."

May I just acknowledge that I hadn't thought about Madonna's "Dress You Up" since, well, probably the 80s?

I related to both the musical references, Roxy Music, A Flock of Seagulls, Psychedelic Furs, as well as the spirit of the book: "So we beat on, boats against the currents, borne ceaselessly back into Bryan Ferry."

Surely that set the tone for the rest of my night, if not my life.

Back home, I chose some solitary art time by going to the Visual Arts Center to see "Oscar Munoz: Imprints for a Fleeting Memorial" because it leaves tomorrow.

It's a compelling show with the Colombian artist exploring image and memory in various multi-media permutations.

And I was the sole occupant of the gallery.

"Narcissus" was a video self-portrait done by sifting charcoal onto the water of a bathroom sink.

The charcoal causes a shadow of the image to form and as the water slowly drains, the image and its shadow coincide, his mouth becoming misshapen, his jaw floating away, until it all goes down the drain.

So much for vanity.

In the back gallery was an installation called "Sedimentaciones," consisting of two tables with overhead video projections on them.

Table as canvas, so to speak.

On each were images of photos, blank paper and two developing trays with drains.

Out of nowhere, a hand appears and picks up an image and places it in the tray where it dissolves.

But wait, moments later another hand appears, chooses a blank image, placing it in the tray where an image appears.

Ad infinitum. And all the while, the sound of a drain is heard.

Mesmerizing was the video piece, "Roltrato," a word which can mean either "portrait" or "I try again."

In the video, Munoz uses a paint brush with water on it to "paint" his portrait with water on a concrete slab in the sun.

The moment he creates the image, it starts to disappear. Trying again endlessly to create a portrait.


It undoubtedly says something about what an art geek I am that I can walk out of a show the night before it leaves town feeling lucky to have made a last minute catch.

Book finished, art appreciated, there was nothing left for me to do but go eat.

But eating's tricky this week what with restaurant week going on; I don't want to add to the fracas.

That led me practically back home to Magpie where I found a civilized but small crowd probably seeking the same thing.

A glass of Conde Villar Tinto was an easy-drinking Portuguese wine I found justifiable given today's cooler temperatures.

The amuse bouche was a cucumber square in tomato coconut cream with lime foam.

Now I was amused.

I heard about upcoming nuptials from a groom-to-be, with the bachelor party involving guns, pig and a road trip.

Most brilliant of all, it's also scheduled days in advance of the big day.

As the bartender said, "Who ever thought the night before was a good idea?"

Needless to say, the bride was not in attendance, given the proximity of the ceremony.

I was happy to see a section of the menu devoted to low-priced small plates and began there with fried hearts of artichoke with roasted poblano pesto ("I could eat a vat of that pesto," the bartender told me and I agreed).

Nor could I resist the fish special, a sandwich of all things.

More precisely, an open-faced sandwich, a pan-fried softshell on a French batard with house cured bacon (pork belly), tomatoes, sunflower shoots and a poblano curry sauce.

The bacon was thick and plentiful, the crab crispy and the kitchen clearly working the poblanos.

Well, I might add.

Other than my brief chat with the groom, I'd spent the evening reading about Baltimore's quintessential cookie and keeping my sociability to myself.

For an extrovert, it's almost like beating against the current.

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