Friday, March 23, 2007

Miami Dice I

Miami Dice (one of a pair), after Mallarmé. 12.5cm cube, 2003.

A quick trip from Princeton in November to see my friends and supporters for over thirty years, Ruth and Marvin Sackner. Boldly they moved (and well) as their fiftieth wedding anniversary approached, from Miami Beach to the penthouse of an apartment block in Miami itself. Great deflectors of attention, their celebration of both events is disguised as a party in my honour.

Miami and Party are synonymous for me since I've never visited the Sackners but that I was soon steered to some lavish gathering, the most opulent of which was to mark the blessing by a rabbi of a new jetty for the hosts' yacht. Was it at that themed evening (Welcome Aboard said the invitation which took the form of a T shirt) that a professional mermaid swam round and round a giant illuminated pool? and was it there that I watched the immolation of a million dollars in an endless firework display and was the sole witness, all other necks by then having returned to steaks like bibles and hat-high mounds of caviare, of its final showpiece, the sparkling portraits of host and hostess hovering expensively in the air with the coruscating, if enigmatic, inscription WE - WE - COME - YO - - ABOAR - ! and was it also there that a flotilla of imported gondolas ferried us beneath the stars across a small lagoon from entrée to dessert? Or was that the party we reached over many a bridge and small islet and sinister checkpoint to a gilded hall, loudly echoing with popping corks, where two executives stood with a tiny tape-recorder that eventually issued the message, "this is Baby Johnson saying Hi and welcome to my birthday party. I'm sorry I can't join you; I have a slight cold; but you all have a wonderful time now", after which the corks resumed their popping, a band struck up and all the guests started dancing glumly in their glittering gowns
and evening dress.
but I digress
for the Sackners are victims rather than purveyors of social ostentation. Their soirée was warmly austere, though the gay caterer (much praised by all and his card taken by many) had arranged the excellently chaste food with artistic precision as if feng shui dictated the alignment of asparagus spears, or some severe aesthetic one might call bauhaus baroque governed the relative location, on a dish, of ghostly chanterelles
and dark green cress

but I digress
suffice to say that all was perfect: but the moment arrives when I must make a speech, instructed by Ruth and Marvin not to talk about them but of myself. I have to ignore this injunction since what I say will contain my anniversary gift.
Somehow a work of mine would not have been right; their walls are already lined, their shelves heaving with them (as you can imagine if you check the Sackner Archive). I have instead devised a cocktail with the help of my friend, that prince of restaurateurs, Jeremy King who knows a thing or two about such matters and, moreover, knows that I know nothing.
I shall explain...

[to be continued]

Thursday, March 08, 2007

TP on R3 Nightwaves

TP will feature on BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves on Wednesday 14th March at 9.45 to 10.30pm discussing the Unknown Monet exhibition opening at the Royal Academy.
  • Royal Academy link for more information on the exhibition.
  • Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Hand held

    Two things seen together on my kitchen table both recently acquired give me as much pleasure and provoke as much thought as anything I've ever owned. They are united in many ways being roughly the same size and designed for holding in the hand. Indeed their tactile aspects are equally satisfying: each gives an instant feel of inviting rightness and in each the thumb finds itself in an instinctive position of control.

    Both are exemplars of the aesthetic principle of high modernism that perfection of function equals beauty of form. What separates them however is the distance between their moments of manufacture, a space of half a million years.

    The iPod represents the future as imagined in my past, from the forties when I read of Dick Tracy's wrist radio and the fifties when I voyaged in space with Dan Dare.

    The flint multi purpose tool (axe/knife/saw) from Tchad, whitened by millenia of wind and sand takes me on an opposite flight of the imagination to when it was held and used by a hairier hand than mine.

    A third object on my table catches my eye and picking it up I find that my thumb reaches the controlling button at exactly the same point as the thumbgroove of the axe. Although the phone, patinated by a few years of studio use, is not so elegant as the axe, their length is, uncannily, exactly the same.