On the walk between my hotel and my meetings in Houston this week, there is one of these timed fountains. Maybe it’s because I live in fountain-deprived Columbus, but I find it to be fascinating and beautiful. Not in an overpowering, Las Vegas fountain performance to the sounds of Mannheim Steamroller kind of way, but rather for the simplicity of the arcs traced in the air by the controlled bursts of the water.
It makes me wish that Columbus were more like Rome, and that there were more fountains in the world. I’ll take a fountain over a rusting piece of generic abstract art on a corporate plaza any day.
Kish and I like staying in VRBOs as an alternative to hotel rooms. If you’re going to be in a place for a few days, it’s usually more affordable, gives you a better feel for the city, and is interesting, besides.
One of the interesting aspects of VRBO rentals is how they are decorated. If you were going to decorate a spot that will be used primarily by complete strangers, would you go for something generic — or something distinctive?
I personally think a well-framed painting of a chimp wearing an Elizabethan gown and crown makes a real statement, don’t you?
We’re at the Greenbrier for a weekend getaway. It’s a pretty ornate place, with lots of random statues and busts here and there. The lighting of these pieces is pretty dramatic, too. This guy looks like somebody you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.
We were down in New Orleans this past weekend for a bachelor party. To celebrate the occasion, Russell designed and hand made hardwood fleur de lis cribbage boards, suitably inscribed on the back, and we ordered some customized playing cards, using some photos I took of New Orleans on our trip a few years back.
We didn’t get to play as much cribbage as we would have liked — eating, drinking, and listening to fantastic live music every waking moment somehow got in the way — but the participants on our Big Easy Bachelor Party weekend will always remember their trip thanks to these beautiful cribbage boards. Great job, Russell!
Some questions seem to be eternal ones. Typically, they involve choices between competing views that are so obviously debatable, with good points to be made either way and strong, often passionate proponents ready to vigorously argue either side, that they’re just never going to be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
Think Beatles versus Stones. Apple versus Microsoft. da Vinci versus Michelangelo. Star Wars versus Star Trek. Einstein versus Newton. The Gettysburg Address versus President Trump’s Twitter feed.
You get the idea? So, is cone versus basket filter one of them?
This is a question I’m ill-suited to resolve, because the niceties of coffee brewer technology are lost on me. Obviously, there is a difference between the basket and cone approaches. One directs the water flow through coffee grounds that are configured to end in a fine point, and the other doesn’t. The difference in approach and design apparently is so significant that, when you go to buy coffee from one of those high-end coffee snob shops, the barista will ask you whether you have a basket or cone filter coffee brewer. In short, the cone versus basket debate even affects how they grind the coffee for you. Why? Beats me! But I sure as heck want to get the coffee ground in a way that is most suitable for the battered, aging coffee machine we’ve got at home — one of the basket-filtered variety.
I raise the potentially volatile basket versus cone question because we’re thinking of replacing our coffee pot with a new one. In the past we’ve had both cone and basket design machines, and to be honest I really haven’t noticed a marked difference in the quality of the coffee they produce, because my coffee taste buds just aren’t that nuanced. But now we’re being asked to definitively choose, again — like being exiled to a desert island and being told that you can only listen to the Beatles or the Stones while you’re there — and I want us to make a good, reasonably educated choice. And presumably one design isn’t definitively better than the other, because manufacturers keep churning out machines with both designs, leaving people like me in a quandary on this question that evidently involves significant judgment and taste.
Can somebody out there who is knowledgeable about the topic and pays attention to their coffee let me know the competing views on the seminal cone versus basket filter issue? Simply put: why should I care?
Neil Rector is an old friend who followed a different path from most of us. Years ago, he made the decision to focus on collecting art. It’s fair to say that he is an avid collector, and an extremely capable one as well. Since he first dipped his toe into the world of collecting, he’s assembled six discrete collections of different types of art from different periods and places — and his collections have curators clamoring for pieces as they assemble new shows.
Two of Neil’s collections are of Soviet-era photography and Russian unofficial art, and parts of those collections — but only parts — have been assembled in a stupendous show at the Columbus Museum of Art called Red Horizon. It’s clearly one of the best exhibitions at the CMA in years, and today Kish and I were part of a group that got to walk through the exhibition with Neil to hear his personal reflections on the pieces, which was very interesting. The show itself is fascinating, giving the visitor a peek behind the Iron Curtain at art, and thoughts and perspectives, that were forbidden during the Soviet regime but nevertheless were realized — because the artistic impulse simply can’t be totally quashed, no matter how repressive a government might be.
I can’t begin to capture what Neil described this morning, so I can only urge you to visit this powerhouse exhibition and enjoy it. And you can also reflect on what being a savvy collector might mean. In Neil’s case it means having that terrific hammer-and-sickle riff on a Soviet style Venus de Milo, below, hanging in your dining room, and also having yourself memorialized in that collection of portraits of Soviet and ancient Roman tyrants, above. That’s Neil in the lower right, in his best Soviet-style guise. He was added to the piece, he explained, because artists view collectors and patrons as tyrants, too.
Go see Red Horizon. It’s at the CMA through September 24.