September 2007 Archives

THE FUNNIEST MAN IN BRITAIN

I am privileged to know very slightly a tall gentleman from Liverpool named Peter Serafinowicz. (His last name rhymes with terrapin-o-wich, which was a popular snack in the time of Edith Wharton.) Peter is a fantastically talented comic writer and actor who, while well known in Britain, is at this point only a cult figure in America. You might know him from his viral video in which he played all the Beatles save George whilst proving conclusively that John Lennon invented the iPod. He was also the star and prime architect of Look Around You, a BBC2 comedy program whose narrowly defined concept–it was a sendup of science-oriented educational television circa 1981–didn’t prevent it from being one of the most brilliantly written, conceived, and performed pieces of sketch-style television since the heydays of Monty Python and SCTV. (I am still convulsed by a sketch from the show’s 2005 season, the “Music 2000” competition, in which three finalists performed their renditions of what they thought pop music would sound like in the year 2000. Finalist “Tony Rudd” is my favorite.)

Anyway, Peter has a new show premiering this week in the U.K. called, rather succinctly, The Peter Serafinowicz Show. Based on this trailer, it looks like he’s thrown his all into it. He’s hoping to get America interested in the show, and, frankly, so am I. At the very least, he deserves Little Britain-style exposure on BBC America, or the Flight of the Conchords treatment on HBO. Start pestering your local executive-vice-president-in-charge-of-entertainment-programming now.

September 29, 2007  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

GREAT POLITICAL WRITING... FROM A FASHION GUY

Glenn O’Brien has for several years been GQ magazine’s resident Style Guy. He’s also a fascinating human specimen: a former Warhol acolyte, a trenchant wit, a dad, and one of the only straight men I know who wears foundation and eyeliner. I barely know him, but I worked with Glenn a little in my GQ days, and we put together a few features in which I’d have the photo researchers assemble pictures of a group of men–political candidates in one instance, NFL coaches in another–and Glenn would offer fashion analysis that doubled as incisive and funny social analysis.

Glenn’s still at it on his GQ blog, evaluating the slate of GOP candidates. And, as ever, he manages to be more astute, even while writing on putatively superficial matters, than a thousand David Broders. Here he is on Rudy Giuliani’s hair: “I miss the comb-over, which seemed to so neatly symbolize his biography (his illusory heroism during the attack on America having combed over a history of blundering management in service to special interests).”

September 14, 2007  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

THE NOBLER MAN WITH MY NAME

Grove Detail.tiff

Some years ago, I discovered that there was a New York-based landscape architect with the same name as me: David Kamp-with-a-K. It was an accidental discovery; I kept getting phone calls intended for him. But, my curiosity piqued, I decided to find out more about this other David Kamp. He turns out not to be just any landscape architect, but a highly regarded and forward-thinking one. His company, Dirtworks, PC, specializes in creating therapeutic environments for places like hospitals, senior homes, and autism centers–using groves, arbors, hedgerows, and the like to foster mental and physical well-being.

I’ve never met the other David Kamp, but I’ve been thinking of him this week because of his involvement in the Living Memorials Project, an old-school Rooseveltian public program, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, to create permanent green spaces devoted to the memory of those who died on 9/11. (Above is a detail from Dirtworks’s plan for the Flight 93 commemorative site in western Pennsylvania.) Dirtworks is in the process of creating a September 11 Memorial Grove along the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.

It’s a lovely, bracing idea, the “living memorial.” Having spent my childhood D.C. trips shuttling from classical edifice to classical edifice, I never would have thought that a memorial could be constructed from living things. I guess that’s what you need other David Kamps for.

September 11, 2007  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

BAD FOR THE PALATE, GOOD FOR THE PALETTE

One of my stock lines in describing The United States of Arugula is that it’s the story of “how we went from Velveeta and Wonder Bread to chevre and artisanal loaves.”

You wouldn’t be wrong to detect an inherent anti-Wonder Bread stance in this statement; I’ve always found the stuff pretty nasty. But now I’ve discovered that Wonder Bread serves a noble purpose that would delight even the most processed-food-abhorring aesthete: It helps preserve great artworks.

Recently, I became acquainted with a director at one of the major art auction houses in New York, and she let me in on a trade secret: Wonder Bread is often used in the art world to clean oil paintings. You wad up a slice into a ball, she says, and you remove the grime and grit from the painting with a blotting, rather than wiping, motion. Repeat over the canvas with several slices of bread, section by section. And just like that, your dusky Mark Rothko will blaze and glimmer anew. Makes the bread taste great, too!

Wonder2.tiff

September 5, 2007  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

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