February 28, 2012

crème de la crème

Last Valentine's Day, Jacob got me tickets to see Leo Kottke, the twelve string guitarist we both dearly love. On the day of the show, I was having a horrible day: work deadlines, stressed and sleepless, mercury in all kinds of retrograde. Then he called with the realization that the show was not in fact THAT night, but it had been the night before. We missed it. We missed the show we had both been looking forward to so much for months. I broke down in tears and we were sad about it for weeks.

So for Jacob's birthday in December, I decided we should try again. I got two tickets for tonight, February 28th. I knew we were going on tour with Girl Walk for most of February, and we were getting back to New York on the 27th after producing 8 shows in two weeks, but decided to get them anyhow. And we got home last night, and were utterly wasted with tiredness. And the airline lost one of our bags. And I stayed up for 50 hours working on a massive presentation. And I woke up this morning and realized my wallet had been stolen by someone who went on a McDonald's eating spree. And spent all day on hold with banks canceling credit cards and trying to find a way to replace my license so I can rent a car on Thursday to drive to Maine. And we had tickets for this goddamn show that really seemed like it was just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

But we went and it was just so goddamned beautiful and restorative and soulful and saturated with the storytelling that makes you feel like every bad adventure is worth a good tale, and so you should appreciate everyone one of these absurd days that ultimately become the memorable ones. And that just opening yourself up to the beautiful thing that is a man talking about his life and playing his guitar (with a voice channels Leonard Cohen + The Dude from The Big Lebowski) and strumming his instrument like a gentle master of his beast xis enough to restore every molecule in your being.

If you're not yet a fan, then I recommend starting with his 1988 album, My Father's Face. Look it up on rdio or Spotify or Youtube or wherever you do your thing.

February 22, 2012

On grit + working hard -- Ira Glass

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

"The most important possible thing you can do is a lot of work."

The perfect video to come across after 13 bleary eyed days on the road, workin' and workin' and workin' with little sleep and lots of hustle. Two shows left on this tour: one tomorrow night in SF at Roxie Theater and one on Saturday in LA at Space15Twenty.

February 19, 2012

February 17, 2012

More eating and drinking in Seattle

Who says you don't eat well on tour? Seattle treated us damn nice, and now we're here in Portland, eating our hearts out as well. Good thing we're on the nightly dance party diet...

Above: a beautiful brunch at the aforementioned The Fat Hen in Ballard. The pastries are beautiful, the baked eggs divine, and I had the best eggs florentine here in recent memory. It really makes the most of the gray Seattle light, which saturates the world in very nice ways.

Other exquisite eating: 
Sitka & Spruce: In Melrose Market in Capitol Hill, a string of 8-10 businesses (butcher, wine shop, wine bar, flower shop, and this restaurant in the back) that are basically like being in some food fiend's glorified loft. It's hard to communicate quite how beautiful this space is, but the entire structure is a renovated all-wood former autobody shop -- cavernous but cabin-y at the same time. Our dining experience took place at the foot of a 30 foot massive wood table with candles glowing, tiny vases of flowers skirting the surface and a giant burning fireplace at the far end. We didn't actually eat the "regular" menu -- on Monday night's only they have traditional Mexican food prepared by the "Malafacha" family. And it is just phenomenal. If we had one more night in Seattle I'd demand going back to eat the daily menu, which feels so much more inventive to me than what's going on with food in NYC (someone prove me wrong). Anyhow: if you're in Seattle: go here.

Next up: 
On Tuesday night we had our Girl Walk screening with guest chef Matt Costello who came in from Whidbey Island, where he's the chef and GM of the Inn at Langley. We had no idea what to expect, but he'd sent us a five course "menu" adding that he liked to throw in some "surprise courses," and we knew he liked to describe his food as "locavore meets gastronomy."

In short order: THIS WAS THE BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE. The event was held at Delancey in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, so generously donated to us by Molly Wizenberg (aka of the blog Orangette) and her talented pizzaiolo husband, Brandon.

The menu, from memory, with many ingredients left out:

  • Amuse bouche: beet meringue filled with whipped camembert and a crushed hazelnut crust + a miniature "old fashioned" cocktail inside a candied kumquat
  • Course 1, CURED: Smoked salmon frozen mousse with sweet cucumber ice, shaved cucumbers, salmon roe and coriander. Served with prosecco with crystallized basil.
  • Course 2, BAKED: Fresh pretzel roll served with goat's milk butter and radish
  • Course 3, FISH: (Perfectly) seared butter fish on chestnut puree served beside trumpet mushrooms and a "burnt onion" filled with hazelnut hollandaise and topped with a braised mini turnip. We were instructed to "burst" the onion, which released a sauce that unified the rest of the flavors on the plate.
  • Course 4: SURPRISE: A hollowed egg shell filled with pea custard, fresh peas and topped with sunchoke foam and a baby sage leaf.
  • Course 5: GAME: Rabbit and confit with roasted mustard greens and diced pumpkin. (And about 5 other sauces and textures on the plate).
  • Course 6: CHEESE: Toasted hay ice cream atop a smear of soft ripened triple cream goat cheese with sesame powder, sesame seeds and sorrel
  • Course 7, SWEET: Panna cotta with pears cooked in truffle honey and walnut sugar. Served with the essence of smoldering spruce, cinnamon and vanilla (released in smokey wafts by the chef on the table).

Matt donated this entire meal (as well as the time and talents of a staff of 6), cooked for 25 people, because our film reached him in some way that inspired him to share his own creative craft. After the meal ended, we all sat there in bafflement, putting our hands together in thunderous applause. I've worked in a handful of restaurants, and fancy ones that at, but this was truly a rare opportunity to bear witness to someone who is a master at their craft. And, ever humble, generous and kind. As Girl Walk makes it to the world, the greatest part of the whole project is the extension of so many people's kindness, and the opportunity to watch people create in their own mediums. If you are ever in the Seattle area, take the ferry to Whidbey Island to experience Matt's cooking. It may very well change your life. (See pictures from the night here).

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Stare out the window with the one you love. Happy Valentine's Day.

February 13, 2012

Kelli Anderson's Disruptive Wonder

Treat yourself to a 16 minute break and listen to Kelli Anderson's TEDx talk, Disruptive Wonder for a Change. I heard a version of this at AIGA about a month ago, and Kelli brings an incredible thoughtfulness to design that is expertly and exactingly considered at every point from conception to actualization.

And while you're at it, take a look at Kelli's portfolio of projects: they're incredible. (p.s. Kelli made the Girl Walk logo + posters and mine + Jacob's wedding invites).

Seattle Tree Lust

Experiencing Seattle tree lust. Walking and wandering, taking in the perpetually misty air that saturates the ground, the air, the trees.

Our Seattle Premiere at Neumo's was a smash hit. 500+ people, dancing their bodies into sweaty oblivion. During the days we're planning our next events, but are also eating and exploring. We've had some good bites so far at:

The Fat Hen (more on this soon), but beautiful brunch, pastries, wainscotted walls, deep gray enamel light fixtures and geode-shaped sugar cubes
Delancey: gorgeous blistering pizza, homemade fennel pork sausage, great local beers on tap, (and hey! we're having an event here tomorrow night)
Smith: great pub fare and a beautiful beer list down in Capitol Hill. Taxidermy and random found portraiture on the walls (sound like Brooklyn? Anyone? Anyone?)
Cafe D'Arte: ugly interior, but a good cup of coffee. A few blocks from Pike's Market.
Lowell's: A tourist haven, yes, but lovely view overlooking the Puget Sound and great for the fish n'chips sort of fare that you just need sometimes.
Honore: Very sweet French bakery / boulangerie next door to Delancey in Ballard. Get the Kouign-Amann, an outrageous salty-sweet pastry originally from Brittany that combines the best of a danish with the best of creme brulee.

February 10, 2012

Hi from Seattle.

Good morning from gray but luscious Seattle. We're excitedly prepping for the first two screenings of our Girl Walk // All Day tour, and exploring with friends Scott + Jess. It's my first-ever trip here, so I'm learning my way around and eager to try what seems like 1,000 great restaurants and bars.

Saturday, February 11th: Our big Seattle Premiere at Neumo's on Capitol Hill with DJs Tigerbeat and RadJaw. Special performance by Anne Marsen. DANCING! $12 (adv) / 21+ [TICKETS]

Tuesday, February 14th: On Valentine’s Day we’ve got a one-night-only 20-person screening at the gorgeous restaurant, Delancey (owned by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette and her husband Brandon). Guest Chef Matt Costello will prepare an amazing 5+ course meal with wine and cocktail pairings, to be followed by a screening of the film. A pair of tickets just freed up and promise: this is going to be an incredibly special screening for a tiny audience. If you're still looking for V-day plans, I hope you'll join us. [TICKETS]

Currently looking at / reading / cooking from:
+ Jennilee Marigomen's series From the See
+ Polaroids of Ed Ruscha for Band of Outsiders
+ M.I.A. Shouldn't Have Apologized by Sascha Frere Jones
+ OEN interviews photographer Brian W. Ferry of The Blue Hour
+ PLENTY, Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook about the beautiful possibilities of vegetables. I own a LOT of cookbooks and my brother gifted me this a few weeks ago and it is a real trophy in the pile. This is vegetarian, yes, but not about restriction, and entirely about possibility.

February 8, 2012

Various works by Niall McClelland

Beautiful works by Niall McClelland (top to bottom)
Tapestry - Smashed, Folded photocopy on paper
Tapestry - Portrait, Folded photocopy on paper
Trash Bulbs 3, Aerosol paint and broken light bulbs on raw canvas
Stain - 6, Leaked printer cartridge ink on paper

February 7, 2012

Windows, lately.

Upstate + Brooklyn. Love these views. By the way: doing a second edition print of my Life Near Windows books; they'll be available in the shop again soon.

5 p.m., on the balcony

From the upstairs balcony at 5 p.m. today, taking a breather. We leave NYC for the greater part of 7 weeks on Thursday. I'll miss this view.

February 1, 2012

In Grey Gardens

Celebrating Audrey's birthday in Grey Gardens style. Jacob went as David Maysles, the awesome boom-mic carrying necktie-clad brother in the filmmaking Maysles brother duo. There were also at least 20 Little Edie's, 2 Big Edies and 1 Marble Faun (i.e. Jerry Torre, the gardener), who we have learned -- since the movie -- has become an amateur marble sculptor. Stranger nights have rarely been had.

In other news of excellence and oddity: at the Girl Walk // All Day premiere in December, we noticed a nun dancing in the crowd. It turned out her name is Sister Silvia, and the film inspired her to go dancing by the river at sunset. This video is probably my favorite thing on the internet in 2012 thus far.