Saturday, July 27, 2013

Restaurant Monsters, Inc.

It's best to get the high-brow out of the way so the evening can end with the more, ahem, common pleasures.

I had plans late and later, but it was neither late nor later yet.

My default when faced with unexpected free time is usually the same: VMFA.

Walking in to the museum,I immediately headed up the stairs, past two young women on their way out.

On the bright side, they were leaving by the Boulevard entrance, my favorite.

On the downside, one of them gestured down towards Evans Court and said to her friend, "Down there is African art,which I avoid at all costs."

I refrained from saying something, but just barely.

My goal was the changing gallery just before the Near gallery to see Goya's "Los Caprichos." a print series from 1799 with the artist pulling from his vivid imagination rather than reality.

Let's just say that the prints represented a high point in the history of satire.

"The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" was hardly reassuring with bats circling above the head of a reasonable sleeper.

"Can't Anyone Untie Us?" showed a couple tied together and to a tree, with a huge bird on top, one talon embedded in the hapless woman's head.

Commentary on marriage or coincidence?

"Bravo!" showed a monkey playing a guitar (lute?) with a rapt ass looking on and bystanders making fun of them both.

Each print made fun of some group or convention in the slyest of manners.

Hard as it was to leave a print of a creature passing gas, I made my way toward the American gallery, where a man stood watching my approach, smiling broadly.

When I got close, he said, "I'm thinking we're the last of the tour," and went to lead me into a back gallery.

Except, I told him, I wasn't on the tour.

But I trailed nearby, listening to the docent talk about Beauford Delaney, a friend of Duke Ellington and Georgia O'Keefe's, and the painter of the stunning and very yellow portrait of Marian Anderson painted in 1965.

Wandering into an adjacent gallery, I ran into an artist/musician friend whom I'd seen playing at Balliceaux just last week.

Tonight, he was in his artist's guise, notebook in hand, strolling the American gallery and saying it had been too long since he'd been to the museum.

Since the VMFA's renovation, I can honestly say I've never had cause to admit that.

Dinner followed at an undisclosed new restaurant, where we spent the better part of the meal discussing whether or not a sense of romance comes standard in most human beings or whether it's a thing that is developed over time and life experience.

After dinner we drove downtown to the city dock to look at the place where the man had driven his car into the river earlier in the week and died.

Since he's now suspected of having stabbed a woman half an hour before propelling himself into the river, we felt no guilt about being gawkers at his death site.

Then it was on to an anniversary party for the Roosevelt, an atypical gathering on a Friday night  of a bunch of local chefs and assorted staff.

As I was talking to a couple of chefs and a sausage-maker (and, no, that's not a metaphor), someone mentioned people who don't like oysters.

"If you don't like oysters, you don't like sex," one proclaimed definitively.

I had more than a dozen oysters yesterday, so I think my position on that matter is clear.

There were two cakes, a Coke (or was it penis?)-shaped one for the Roosevelt and another more traditional sheet cake for Magpie, both for their second anniversary.

The party began technically after dinner hours, but a few diners remained, only to be all but trampled as celebrants arrived.

The music was a magnificent pastiche - Ricky Nelson, Looking Glass - when you could hear it, which, as the evening progressed, got difficult.

So many restaurant people, so many drinks, so much volume.

And you know what restaurant people talk about at a party?

Kitchen costs. Opening new restaurants. Brunch menus. Slow summer business.

But they're also hilarious, clearly thrilled to be out with their kind on a Friday night, drinking, hugging and trash-talking with abandon.

Truth be told, the later it got, the more ass-grabbing and ball-punching went on, all in good fun, of course.

Still, ouch.

Because apparently, this is what grown men do on a rare Friday night when they're finally away from the kitchens where they spend the better part of their lives.

And all to celebrate success in a food-crazy town where new restaurants never cease opening.

In many ways, it's optimism of the highest order.

Not for these guys the sleep of reason.

And aren't we lucky for that?

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