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April 1, 2006

Apropos of 'Readymades' — by Marcel Duchamp


In 1913 I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn.

A few months later I bought a cheap reproduction of a winter evening landscape, which I called "Pharmacy" after adding two small dots, one red and one yellow, in the horizon.

In New York in 1915 I bought at a hardware store a snow shovel on which I wrote "In advance of the broken arm."

It was around that time that the word "Readymade" came to my mind to designate this form of manifestation.

A point that I want very much to establish is that the choice of these "Readymades" was never dictated by aesthetic delectation.

The choice was based on a reaction of visual indifference with at the same time a total absence of good or bad taste... in fact a complete anaesthesia.

One important characteristic was the short sentence which I occasionally inscribed on the "Readymade."

That sentence instead of describing the object like a title was meant to carry the mind of the spectator towards other regions more verbal.

Sometimes I would add a graphic detail of presentation which, in order to satisfy my craving for alliterations, would be called "Readymade aided."

At another time, wanting to expose the basic antinomy between art and "Readymades," I imagined a "Reciprocal Readymade": use a Rembrandt as an ironing board!

I realized very soon the danger of repeating indiscriminately this form of expression and decided to limit the production of "Readymades" to a small number yearly.

I was aware at that time, that for the spectator even more for the artist, art is a habit forming drug and I wanted to protect my "Readymades" against such a contamination.

Another aspect of the "Readymade" is its lack of uniqueness... the replica of the "Readymade" delivering the same message, in fact nearly every one of the "Readymades" existing today is not an original in the conventional sense.

A final remark to this egomaniac's discourse: Since the tubes of paint used by an artist are manufactured and readymade products we must conclude that all the paintings in the world are "Readymades aided" and also works of assemblage.

Written in 1961

April 1, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Instant Clothes Rack


Wait a minute... what's that music I'm hearing... is that Donovan?

From the website:

    Instant Overdoor Clothes Rack

    Mounts over door or wall in seconds (no tools required).

    Use as hanging rod for wet laundry or freshly ironed garments.

    Extends in length from 19¾ - 39½".

    Aluminum and plastic.

    Folds flat for storage.


First, there is some clothing
Then there is no clothes rack
Then there is.


April 1, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints From joe–eeze: Cheese Management


Page 2 of Cook's Illustrated, the newest member of my paper magazine subscription circle (I signed on last month after finding an astonishing number of useful things in an issue read at the newstand at Barnes & Noble), features "Notes From Readers," which in fact consists of questions from readers and answers from the magazine's staff.

The May/June 2006 issue contained the following exchange:

    Moldy Cheese

    Q. Aside from cheese that contains cultivated mold [Cabrales, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton et al], is it safe to eat cheese that has grown mold as long as I cut off the affected area?

    A. We spoke to Mary Keith, food and nutrition agent at the University of Florida Extension Service, to get some answers to your question.

    According to Keith, hard cheeses can generally be salvaged, but soft cheeses cannot.

    The toxins in the types of mold that grow on cheeses are mostly water–soluble, so they usually cannot travel far beyond the surface of harder cheeses with low moisture levels.

    To remove surface mold from a hard cheese such as cheddar, the general rule is to cut off all visible mold as well as an inch of the surrounding area, being careful to keep the knife out of the mold itself to prevent cross–contamination of other areas of the cheese.

    Of course, this works only if you have a big piece of cheese.

    Small pieces on which the mold has grown on multiple sides should be discarded.

    Soft cheeses such as goat cheese, Brie, or Camembert and wet, curd–like cheeses such as ricotta or cottage cheese should never be consumed once mold appears.

    Because most of the toxins produced by these uncultivated molds are water–soluble, they can easily travel beneath the surface of these high–moisture cheeses and contaminate the rest of the product.

    Cheeses that are injected with mold, such as blue cheese [above], should be discarded once they start becoming slimy or softer than usual or exhibiting strange odors or colors.

    Our advice is never to buy more cheese than you can use in one or two weeks; the moister the cheese, the quicker it will spoil.

    As for storing most leftover cheese, we have found that wrapping it in parchment paper and then in foil is the most effective method, but a sealed zipper–lock bag is a very close (and much easier) second.

    Whichever method you choose, the cheese is best kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

    One more thing: Freezing doesn't kill mold.

    While freezing might slow down the mold's growth, it will not destroy any of the toxins the mold has already produced.


I recall my introduction to soft cheese management, back when I was in college: I loved Camembert and Brie but after a couple days I'd notice a sharp ammonia smell when I opened the package: that was a sign that was obvious even to me.

April 1, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Personalized Workshop Clock


From the website:

    Clever details make this clock so appealing: the face is a circular saw, the swinging pendulum is a tape measure, and a hammer, triangle and saw form the hands.

    We'll personalize it for you (limit 12 letters/spaces).

    Uses two AA batteries (not included).

    14-3/4"L x 2-1/2"W x 12-3/8"H.



April 1, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tears — by Josephine Jacobsen

Tears leave no mark on the soil
or pavement; certainly not in sand
or in any known rain forest;
never a mark on stone.
One would think that no one in Persepolis
or Ur ever wept.

You would assume that, like Alice,
we would all be swimming, buffeted
in a tide of tears.
But they disappear. Their heat goes.
Yet the globe is salt
with that savor.

The animals want no part in this.
The hare both screams and weeps
at her death, one poet says.
The stag, at death, rolls round drops
down his muzzle; but he is in
Shakespeare's forest.

These cases are mythically rare.
No, it is the human being who persistently
weeps; in some countries openly, in others, not.
Children who, even when frightened, weep most hopefully;
women, licensed weepers.
Men, in secret, or childishly; or nobly.

Could tears not make a sea of their mass?
It could be salt and wild enough;
it could rouse storms and sink ships,
erode, erode its shores:
tears of rage, of love, of torture,
of loss. Of loss.

Must we see the future
in order to weep? Or the past?
Is that why the animals
refuse to shed tears?
But what of the present, the tears of the present?
The awful relief, like breath

after strangling? The generosity
of the verb "to shed"?
They are a classless possession
yet are not found in the museum
of even our greatest city.
Sometimes what was human, turns
into an animal, dry–eyed.

April 1, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Just in yesterday from Brian Hayes.


He wrote: "A basic tool for grating garlic, the GarlicCard was originally conceived when Swedish chef Herman Rasmusson used the embossed numbers on his credit card to grate a clove of garlic. The size of the card was suited to the small size of garlic, and a product design concept was born. The GarlicCard is sturdy, easily washable, and the affordable kitchen tool comes in a variety of colors."


From the website:

    A great way to grate!

    Here’s a simple yet colorful solution to one of cooking’s most vexing problems — how simply to grate garlic into puree without painstaking effort or agonizing clean–up.

    Faced with this same problem, noted Swedish chef Herman Rasmusson one day took out a credit card and began rubbing a clove of garlic against the embossed lettering.



    In almost no time, he had turned the clove into a uniform paste.

    Then, fortuitously, he decided to wash the card (not wanting to fragrance his wallet with a permanent garlic aroma), and was amazed how easily the card cleaned with just a warm–water rinsing.


    From there, the concept for GarlicCard was born.

    Then, employing designer Lisa Flodin, he honed the GarlicCard into a compact yet sturdy utensil, available in eight bold display colors and subtly distinguished by the rows of finely embossed Gs and Cs that comprise its grating surface.

    Today, the GarlicCard is an award-winning design, including the Netherlands' Gift Fair 2005 prize for most innovative consumer product, and is used by professional chefs and home cooks worldwide.


    GarlicCard is easy to use, easy to clean and so convenient you'll want to stock up with more than just one.

    Its practical and appealing design make it the perfect gift or stocking stuffer.

    Environmentally–friendly, recyclable PET plastic.

    Hand wash only.

    3½" x 2".


I predict the MOMA catalog will include this item by the end of the year.


If it does not — and you remind me of this forecast anytime after December 31, 2006 — I will personally buy and send you a GarlicCard in the color of your choice, signed and inscribed however you like, as a token of yet one more failure on my part.

It comes in red, white, yellow, orange, pink, green, blue or black.


Nice price: $6.

[via Brian Hayes]

April 1, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'Taste test: the little joes take on Starbucks'


I simply couldn't resist a headline like that above, which appeared over a March 27 USA Today story about a one-man taste taste by Jerry Shriver (the paper's food and wine critic) of the "new and improved" coffee at McDonald's against a bunch of other frequently imbibed decoctions.

And the winner is... Starbucks, by a [coffee] country mile.

Here's the article.

    Taste test: The little joes take on Starbucks

    Hope is brewing for us caffeine-craving commoners who have overdosed on upscale java jive of the past decade.

    So much attention has been paid to the fancy end of the market that it's easy to forget that "regular, cream, no sugar" still accounts for a significant chunk of the $8.3 billion in annual U.S. coffee sales.

    So when McDonald's restaurants launched an upgraded version of its basic coffee called Premium Roast, I set out to see how it stacked up against the comparable versions served by other mass-market competitors.

    Although I'm a food and wine critic, I'm also just an ordinary coffee lover, and I approached this project as such.

    Over 10 days I visited Manhattan outlets of McDonald's, 7-Eleven, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks.

    At each place, I ordered a small, regular, normal-strength brewed coffee, black, no sugar, and either a pastry or a breakfast sandwich.

    For all five purveyors, I visited two different outlets.

    I assigned to every cup a rating of one to five slurps, based on flavor and value, and then averaged the results from the two visits for a final score.

    I'm pleased to report that the lessons of the upscale coffee revolution increasingly are filtering downward.

    Stiffer competition and heightened consumer awareness have triggered an overall improvement in bean quality and flavor; there were no real losers in my limited survey.

    But consistency still appears to pose a challenge for some purveyors.

    Of course, the variations in flavor might have been affected by my own taste buds, too, which can react differently because of the food I just ate or many other factors.

    And, keep in mind that this was a brief sampling from one city and not necessarily reflective of the chain's quality nationwide.

    Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend
    Smallest serving: 10 ounces.
    Price(approx): $1.19.
    Beans: 100% Arabica from Central and South America.
    Company's description: Classic, smooth, delicious.

    The Original Blend has won raves from many consumers, which is why I was mystified by how mundane my two samples tasted. Though there were no obvious flaws, nothing stood out. Both cups had faint, nutty aromas, watery textures and flavors that turned more acidic as the liquid cooled. The flavor of the second cup was marginally better with some bright fruity notes, but both were missing that essential jolt of coffee essence in the middle.
    Verdict: 2 slurps out of five.

    7-Eleven Regular Exclusive Blend
    Smallest serving: 12 ounces.
    Price (approx.): $1.10.
    Beans: Blend includes 100% Arabica beans from Central America and Brazil.
    Company's description: A well-balanced, medium-bodied blend... with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.Both samples were fairly one-dimensional brews with muted aromas, watery textures and a flavor that strayed too far toward tobacco. The aroma of my second cup improved as the liquid cooled. In both instances the sugar from my glazed donut blunted the tobacco notes, but they re-emerged once I finished the pastry.
    Verdict: 2 slurps out of five.

    Burger King BK Joe
    Smallest serving: 12 ounces.
    Price (approx.): 99 cents.
    Beans: 100% Arabica from Central and South America.
    Company's description: Smooth, medium-bodied.

    Give the BK Joe, which was introduced last fall in decaf, regular and "turbo-strength" versions, points for consistency if not for exceptional flavor. My two cups of regular performed exactly the same: faintly nutty and sweet aromas; medium bodies; and relatively mild, balanced, mainstream flavors that intensified slightly as the liquid cooled. No characteristic, either good or bad, stood out. I, however, prefer more vibrancy.
    Verdict: 2½ slurps out of five.

    McDonald's Premium Roast
    Smallest serving: 12 ounces.
    Price (approx.): 89 cents.
    Beans: 100% Arabica, South America.
    Company's description: Full-bodied, robust... smoother than before.

    My first sample of the "smooth" version (some outlets also offer a "bold" style) displayed an aroma of roasted nuts, a smooth, medium body and a pleasantly rounded taste that stayed consistent. But two days later a cup tasted slightly off. The aroma was sharper, and the flavors suggested a bit of tobacco, although some cocoa notes emerged as it cooled. It was still good, but something had upset the balance.
    Verdict: 3½ slurps out of five.

    Starbucks House Blend
    Smallest serving: 12 ounces.
    Price (approx.): $1.40-$1.65.
    Beans: 100% Arabica from Latin America.
    Company's description: A light-bodied blend featuring a vibrant acidity and clean, balanced flavors.

    The first cup was a knockout, as it should have been for $1.65 for 12 ounces. This was a dead-serious brew with an intense bitter chocolate aroma, a silky texture and a complex, fruity, almost wine-like flavor. The finish lasted at least a minute. Two days later another cup was almost as good, although the fruitiness had receded and the espresso characteristic was more prominent, resulting in a slightly less-balanced brew.
    Verdict: 4½ slurps out of five.


I'd never heard of Shannon Wheeler's "Too Much Coffeeman" comic strip until I went hunting for an illustration for this post; I also found this one


quite amusing.

April 1, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Only believe


April 1, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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