Saturday, March 14, 2015

a Saturday morning lecture

So on Saturday morning I got up to go to a lecture on the career of two architects from the turn of the century to the last days before the 29 crash, Carrère and Hastings.

here is the blurb from the museum where I went for the lecture-

The lecturer was a wonderfully knowledgeable and witty woman who had vast amounts of information about these two gentlemen- giants of their era. Most famous for the NY Public Library (where were they when the monstrosity that is the Chicago Public Library was being designed?) the two collaborated on many other famous works including the Ponce de Leon hotel in St Augustine and the Flagler Home in Palm Beach and many "country" homes of the uber-rich of the era in Newport and Long Island and other east coast venues. And one of our favorite museums - the Frick was their design...

here is the wikipedia entry for them

Carrère and Hastings, the firm of John Merven Carrère (November 9, 1858 – March 1, 1911) and Thomas Hastings (March 11, 1860 – October 23, 1929), was one of the outstanding Beaux-Arts architecture firms in the United States. It was located in New York City. The partnership operated from 1885 until 1911, when Carrère was killed in an automobile accident. Thomas Hastings continued on his own, using the same firm name, until his death in 1929.

Both men studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and worked at the firm of McKim, Mead, and White before they established their firm in the same building. The partnership's first success was the Ponce de León Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, which they designed for Henry Flagler. They went on to establish a successful practice during the 1880s and early 1890s, and rose to national prominence by winning the competition for the New York Public Library in 1897. The firm designed commercial buildings, elaborate residences, and prominent public buildings in New York, Washington and as far afield as Toronto, London, Paris, Rome, and Havana.

now the facility of Flagler College - we toured the Ponce de Leon hotel a couple of years back- here is my photo group-

here are some of the works she presented to us this morning - 
  • Ponce de León Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida, 1885–87, now part of Flagler College
  • Cairnwood Mansion, Bryn Athyn College, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, 1895
  • New York Public Library, New York City, 1897–1911
  • Burrwood, one of the Gold Coast Mansions on Long Island, New York, 1898–1899 (razed)
  • Vernon Court, Newport, Rhode Island, 1898
  • Blairsden, C. Ledyard Blair house, Peapack, New Jersey, 1898–1903
  • Bellefontaine, Giraud Foster house, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1899
  • Henry Flagler's Whitehall, Palm Beach, Florida, 1900–1901
  • Knole, Herman B. Duryea house, Westbury, New York, 1903
  • Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 1903–1908
  • Arden, E.H. Harriman house, Harriman, New York, 1905–09
  • Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 1908
  • Bagatelle, Thomas Hastings house, Old Westbury, New York, 1908
  • Nemours, Alfred I. DuPont house, Wilmington, Delaware, 1909–10
  • Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York City, 1910
  • W. B. Thompson Mansion, Yonkers, New York, 1912
  • Henry Clay Frick House, now housing the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York City, 1913–1914
  • Grand Army Plaza (Manhattan), NYC, 1916
  • Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, Washington, D.C., 1920
A very interesting lecture that literally packed the Historic Asolo theater- really worth getting up for!

astounding story - amazing film

so last night we went to see a film at the Bishop Planetarium - which has a Friday night film series. We decided to go see this one because our good buds CBGB have been touting it for a couple of years, ever since it played at the Traverse City Film Festival.  The movie is called Searching For Sugarman and it is the story of a guy who made a couple of records in the very early 70s and had virtually no success and so dropped out of the music scene.  However, in the closed world of apartheid South Africa he was a huge huge huge hit- bigger than Elvis.  The South Africans had heard of his suicide (in at least two versions of the tale) and at a much later date one guy decides that among the things on his life list was to find out how Rodriguez died.

The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote a positive review, calling the film "a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing."  Critic Dargis subsequently named Searching for Sugar Man one of the 10 best films of 2012.

my personal review is that this was one of the best documentaries I have ever seen... a terrific movie- we laughed, we cried (sad tears and joyful tears) - a wonderful tale of a most unusual artist and his art. And oh by the way - it won the academy award for best documentary in 2012....

spoiler alert: if you already have heard of this film you know this but if you plan on seeing it and don't know anything about it- don't read any further...

despite the varied rumors of Rodriguez death, he was actually living in Detroit and working as a laborer even after having gotten a degree from Wayne State University.  his co-workers are interviewed in some of the most humorous scenes of the movie as they recount their disbelief that he was this huge music star in South Africa.... the second half of the film - after they find him alive and well and living in Detroit, centers on his concerts in South Africa... really an amazing worth your time to seek it out.

so two strong thumbs up from us for this one! I love it when you can come out of movie saying WOW! and in the absolute best way....  find a way to see it...

friends visit

So this past week we had friends from Chicago visit - to escape the heat wave that Chicago had while they were here- LOL... seriously it was in the 60s (finally!) when they were away from Chicago- and down here it was in the mid 80s- which actually was a heat wave of sorts (substantially over the average) but hey- you aren't looking for the weather report---

so here is how we spent the time together-

lunch upon their arrival at the Riverhouse-

then a quick trip over to the South Florida Museum to visit Snooty for his last feeding time of the day- then dinner at Blue Marlin (a favorite of ours)

the crocodile god - the logo of the museum-

Day Two included the historic Anna Maria Island tour of the old homesteads of the past three generations of my family down here- LOL - after a breakfast at the popular Peach's on East Bay Drive.... and also after a stop at the beach on AMI-  then we went home and got Phil for a lunch at Captain Brian's.

The beach was quite crowded by our standards and I laughed when I saw how much my photo resembled the Keith Oehmig painting in our living room- except for the absence of clouds LOL-

Odd how the days get away- because shortly thereafter we were heading south to Fogartyville for a concert of Full Set- and excellent Irish band that we thoroughly enjoyed... afterward we grabbed a burger for a later meal and headed home.

a couple of photos from their website-

Original photo by Conor Ledwith.  Graphic Design by Brian Hanlon

Day Three we went to the Pirates game against the Red Sox and then later to our fave Italian place- Cafe Baci.

our dinner red- was just perfect- showed fabulously- despite its age- 25 years old!

the next morning it was back to the airport to drop them off for what turned out to be a smooth flight home and mild weather for them and an amazing evening out for us (more on that in another post)...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

you have to try

when my step-son Jeremy was little, he had a way of turning a phrase into a kid version of something people always say.  In the instance of this post- it was "you have to try before you don't know" and this became quite the saying in the family apparently. To this day, Phil will say that instead of you don't know until you have tried... LOL

so last night we went to another new (to us) restaurant and here is the quick summary- "no and yes"

the name of the place is Roast - and it is in a really cute old building right next to the Opera House...

it started off very badly- even though we had a reservation the woman at the front put the table ahead of us (walk ins) at the last outdoor table.  then she told us that she had a nice table inside for us- and it was a small crappy table shoved into a small corner where you had to squeeze past two other diners even to get to the two chairs backed up against the wall. we had brought a 1990 burgundy and opened it beforehand as we have been having pretty bad luck here with servers breaking old corks due to using the waiter's style wine keys to open the bottles and not taking the time to work with older corks. the wine glasses were Libby style thick glass - which was strange because 1. the place is kind of a higher priced/higher end steak and meat place and 2. they have lots of reds on their own wine list that you would think they would want to show off more to the advantage of the wine they were selling.

anyway- we were feeling pretty darn cranky when the server (who was very nice) gave this answer to a question about the preparation of the "Denver Lamb Chop Barnsley Style" and were told that it "was good" and "made with some oil and herbs on the top" - so without any further information Phil decided that if that was the best they could make it sound then he would order a steak.  then when the food we ordered was brought out the staff person who delivered the food had no idea who had what and had to ask "who had the..." which drives me nuts because anyone who has ever waited knows there are codes for which diner is which - like always start with the person at the 12 o'clock seat and work clockwise when writing it down- even if you don't take the orders in that order you can leave space so that the kitchen staff - food delivery staff knows who gets what...just lazy from a systems standpoint.

however, all of that being said- the food was actually really good and the server was attentive throughout the meal and very pleasant- and it wasn't her fault about the crappy table or the crappy wine glasses or the fact that the woman at the front gave preference to the walk-in over the reservation for the last table outside-

so no I wouldn't recommend it from this visit but yes we may go back and try again in hopes that the service end got better- and next time bring our own wine glasses...

the very nice outdoor area we wanted to sit in (below) and the indoor dining (above)

the excellent menu-

our 90 burg-

the starters- wedge salad and steak tartare- both excellent-

I had the beef sliders and Phil the rib eye - and we ordered both the duck fat fries and the truffle fries
and each of us liked one better but not the same one- LOL

we ended with a credible sticky toffee pudding that was worth going back for--- so all in all a mixed review - excellent food but the systems and set up not so much...

and a quick note about another place we tried  last week- Bridge Street Bistro - where the service was excellent and the place very nice with good wine stem ware and a wonderful setting on the porch three floors up overlooking the beach- but the food was only good- not excellent- wish these two places could get together and teach each other the skill set they are missing-

headed to the airport now to pick up company- so more after they depart on Friday!