Archive for July, 2010

In The Comfort of Northern Spy Food Co.

If you’re thinking about exploring one of the numerous Manhattan trendy farm-to-table restaurants you might consider trying Northern Spy Food Company, and yes it’s named after one of New York State’s heirloom apples. It’s located in Alphabet City at 511 East 12 Street, a brisk walk from the “L” train stop on 1st Avenue. Despite being open only little under a year the place has mustered a strong following from the neighborhood locals.  One might easily miss this restaurant if it were not for a barely noticeable small wooden shingle protruding over the front door, in an old style stenciled hand-lettering that serves as a distinctive marker. In front a set of cerulean blue benches offer extra sitting for the overflow of customers waiting to grab a table since the restaurant does not accept reservations. The facade of this locale is a reminder of the lower Eastside ethnic historical past.

When I arrived around 6ish to meet my group the place was empty with plenty of tables to be had, within an hour the chatter had elevated to that of a loud bar room banter. Sitting at the small bar a cheery bartender offered me a menu with a list of refreshing cool drinks to ebb off the hot summer heat. I settled for a sparkling Cucumber and Mint drink knowing this combo would quench my thirst. The restaurant is small, cramped with square butcher block tables. Although, I can’t help but to conjure up a picturesque scene ripped right from the pages of a New England 1950s mystery novel, right down to the vintage floral and stripped cool colors of blue and green wallpaper, the white washed slated walls, and the softly dimmed lights. Even the brass toilet paper holder in the bathroom was stamped with the word, “captain”. Compared to the restaurants appealing web site and the vintage interior decor featuring reclaimed furnishings, the design of the menu was rather drab. Lacking the stylish zest of the interiors cool color schemes.

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07 2010

ARCHITECTURE: Max Bond Papers @ Columbia University

Bond Family papers at Columbia University:
Last year, the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library acquired the papers of J. Max Bond Jr., the African American architect and former Columbia professor who died last February at age 73. The documents, which are still being unpacked from 30 boxes, provide a window into the life of this accomplished and barrier-breaking architect of the 20th century.


07 2010

FOOD: Stirring It Up With Cast Iron Skillets

Scott pounding cornmeal with a pedestal in a wooden mortar.

This is an insightful interview with Scott A. Barton, chef and food historian, he’s currently pursuing a PHD at New York University in the Food Study program. Allow me to share an informative chat with Scott about the ubiquitous cast iron skillet, many of us hold loving memories of those oversized, black  heavy cooking pans that our grandmothers or mothers used to fry-up juicy tender chicken or bake crisp cornbread. These are some finger lickin good moments.

Below is podcast interview with Scott A. Barton:


07 2010

ART BEAT: Objects of Obesssion

Beth Lipman, handblown glass sculpture, "Bride."

The mountainous glass sculpture in the window of the Institute of Contemporary Arts at the Maine College of Arts (ICA), in Portland, Maine is part of the two-woman exhibition, “A Meticulous Ferment,” featuring the work of Beth Lipman and Kirsten Hassenfeld. Both of the women artist are clearly obsessed with the dual functionality of found objects these aesthetic show-up in their masterful obsession with each piece in this installation. The artists work to exploit the language of various materials; one in handblown glass, the other in paper, each creating a distinct narrative in there work.
Respectively, this show conveys the artists shared interest in the

Kirsten Hassenfeld, Treen.

history of decorative arts and ornamentation. Both bring a sensibility of balance with the contradiction of disorder in our daily lifestyles as consumers excessively obsessed with decadence and the need for cultural consumption.

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07 2010

ON POINT: The State of African American Studies @ the Schomburg this Fall.10

The State of African American Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean at the City University of New York extend a call for papers for their regular conference on the state of scholarship in African American Studies. Entitled, The State of African American Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research, the conference will take place on January 6-8, 2011 at the Schomburg Center, located at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, located at 365 Fifth Avenue. Complete panels and individual paper submissions related to the theme – broadly conceived – are invited from scholars and graduate students. In addition to papers in your academic areas of expertise, and on teaching and research methodologies, are particularly welcome submissions on labor, community engagement, gender, sexuality, visual culture, and relations in the Diaspora.

Proposals should be submitted electronically and must include your name, title of the paper, panel, or roundtable, and an abstract of 150 words. They should also include the institutional affiliation of each presenter, phone numbers, and email addresses. Submit proposals by November 1, 2010 to:

Aisha al-Adawiya
State of African American Studies
Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York NY 10037-1801

Please consult the Schomburg Center’s website for information on travel and hotels.
Registration $20, Students: Free


07 2010

ARCHITECTURE: Renee Kemp-Rotan’s Call For Haiti

Renee Kemp-Rotan co-founder of the blog, and the director of Capital Projects for the City of Birmingham, Alabama has authored a project to revitalize the devastated country of Haiti. She’s seeking all those creative visionaries interested in helping to rebuild Haiti to answer the international call for papers.

The following as reported on BDN:


by Renee Kemp-Rotan, author of the code
A Culture Code for Haiti: The Rebuilding of National Identity through Architecture (NIA) assumes that culturally informed architecture can help to fulfill new national ideals, through rebuilding Haiti as a utopian civilization with NIA/purpose.
First, The Culture Code will outline a comprehensive framework of 100 cultural considerations advanced across the socio-economic geography of pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial and post-earthquake Haiti, in a way that informs all future design and development.
Second, The Culture Code is an international call for papers to address 100 topics on Haitian culture, politics and space for:
•    cultural anthropologists
•    geographers
•    policy planners
•    urban designers
•    architects
•    developers
•    economists
•    historians
•    disaster experts
Third, The Culture Code will meld ‘form and content’ data collected above to propose a series of design principles structured to influence all future and permanent master plan efforts in the rebuilding of post-earthquake Haiti. Thus both quantitative and qualitative design decisions can be made.
Fourth, The Culture Code will develop specific ‘pilot prototypes’ that lead to a system of development contracts that follow best practices for town planning/settlement building/housing designs (macro and micro) that  are culturally significant, replicable, yet influenced by population capacity, location, geography, transportation, communication and resources.

For more information: visit