Wednesday, April 28, 2010

day 6 - Napoli !!!

i haven't lost my mind...every time i go to naples it seems that there's some new fad of sorts going on here. sometimes those fads aren't so new...4 years ago every woman and girl below the age of 20 had on cowboy boots! this year's disernable fashion trend is the color(s) purple & lavender. but what does that have to do with klak klakakakakaka?
that's the sound 2 plastic balls (held together by string) make when you wack them in just the right way! remember those things? i was in elementary school the first time i saw them. they were bigger then, and thankfully WAY more dangerous! the story was some kid took an eye out or something, or did he split his head open? anyhoo, they went away.... but now they've resurfaced and shown their ugly klakity heads in Napoli. you can't go anywhere without hearing the vendors who sell them, or the kids who buy them KLAKAKAKKAKAKA. if you really want to make me laff....bring one to a con, sneak up behind me and start klaking! please video tape my expression ;-)

in other news my camera is kaput! so no more pix until i get back and upload them from my phone. i need the right usb cable. ug.

so, i got an early start and made a bee line for the restaurant where i left my credit card from the night before. yes, i called them that nite! went an alternative route there...but found out that a certain part of the street was private. so i went a bit out of my way. no worries.

then i tried to add money to my vodaphone card...long story short, after doesn't work. so a bit of wasted time.

luckily right down the street was a Caraggio in a historic building (owned by a bank). they charged me 3 euros to see it. only a sucker for the big C would submit to it.

then as time was running out i rushed desperately off to the cloister San Gregorio in Armenia. which closes at noon. i went an alternate route and found the adjoining church open for once and boy was i rewarded! what a glorious church it was....probably the best one for it's size in Napoli. and then i went to the cloister and chilled a bit.

next i had lunch at pizza Sorbillo ....a great place, quite well known in Napoli. i had a special one with a bitter brocoli like green and sausage and cheese. no sauce. it was yummy. my stomach expanded to acomodate all of it.

finished with gelato (pistachio & strachitella)
while sitting in the sun i decided my next plan.


an awesome time... you can not visit this place too many times. especially since the restoration process continues and you're likely to see something that wasn't open yet. 3 hrs just flew by.

when i left i literally ran to catch the train. got it !

got a little lost for a bit after leaving the train station, and luckily stumbled across a granita stand. it's an italian slushy. and i had the cafe granita. mmmmmm

after walking all day i was quite relieved to rest my sore feet in a wine bar before dinner. then headed back to the restaurant umberto from the nite before. it was just too easy to go back, i was in the neighborhood, tired, etc...
i had a nice salad of asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and calamari. and then for the pasta (so secondo for me tonite) i had potato gnocchi with clams, mussels, calamari with zucchini & pumpkin. yes, it was very very good. each nite i'm drinking Falanghina.

i took pix...i'll show all when i return.
then i nice walk home and yes...more gelato on the way.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

day 5 - Naples - italy


another fine day in Bella Napoli.
woke up really late, and rushed off for the 30 minute walk to the old center. had a great pizza at matteo's. margherita con funghi!

but before i ate, knowing that all the churches close by around 1pm, i squeezed in as many as possible. i made it to the duomo with just a little bit of time to spare....luckily i got to see the San Genaro chapel and then they kicked me out! Pizzeria Mateo was just a couple of blocks away. BIG difference between the place i ate the day before (Da Ettore). first of all...Da Ettore, while they have excellent food & pizza, jacked me by charging a 3 euro cover! considering the pizza was 8 euro...this is highway robbery. usually the cover is for bread, but with pizza? come on...they don't give bread. needless to say...i didn't tip. fast forward to today. 5 euro's for the pizza pie, and 1 euro for the aqua gassata. 6 euro total. yeah... and the pizza is great.

so, after lunch i started off in desparate need for my first coffee of the day. i passed the entrance to the subterranean aqueducts and decided this trip i'd do it. and i have to say it was well worth it. we had a humorous young guide (who shared a coffee with me afterwards) and it was totally fascinating getting the history and the amazing scope of what was going on down there! first we went to a home where they recently rediscovered the ancient greek amphitheater! i've included a pic of us entering via the stairs thru the floor. the whole experience was great.

and then i discovered that my camera died! now what to do. i can take pix with my phone...but i don't have the usb cable to upload the images to the laptop. stay tuned.

after this i went to a few more churches and then headed off to a couple of different wine bars. after that it was time for dinner at Umberto
i had mixed fried veggies, and then pasta con vongole veraci. for desert pastiera.

a nice walk home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 4 - Napoli - italia

well, what a day it's been (and again if you're starting here....go BACK TO DAY 1).
caught the high speed train at Termini station from Rome to Naples at 10:05 am. it was 20 minutes delayed. 1 hour instead of 2. while on the train i got a text from the convention promoter that my hotel had been changed...lucky i got THAT text. the new hotel is actually way nicer...but not as well located. the taxi was 25 eu !!!! dropped my stuff off and as i have a savant's memory i found a great place for lunch that i ate at 2 years ago. Da Ettore... aside from them ripping me off with with a crazy charge of 3 euro's for the was great.

after lunch i headed off to the old center of town. the streets were teeming with life along via toledo. as i got closer i saw that all the churches were closed for the afternoon (i kinda knew this). i got a wonderful gelato at the classic chocolate shop Gay Odin (caffe with pistachio). then i walked a bit more, sat on the steps of one of my favorite churches "san domenico maggiore" (closed...but we'll get back to it later) finished my gelato...and nearly passed out! ok. severely sleep deprived here. and decided wisely to head back to the hotel for a nap. since everything was closed this was pretty easy decision making.

had my much needed nap, and headed back to the center of town where i made a stop in a church i'd never been in before (chiesa di S'anna dei lombardi...also known as the church of Monteoliveto). i had passed it before, but either never really explored it or ...??? i don't know. it was very quiet, no one in, and a guy started talking to me in italian and kind of ushered me towards the back where i could see signs about i followed him. and low and behold he led me way in back to the Sacristy where Giorgio Vasari did the most amazing frescoed ceilings !!! (this is the same Vasari more famous for being the first italian art historian...and also a great architect as well.)...but he was no joke as a painter! what a special art treat this was!!
after this i headed off to the church of Gesu Nuovo. another stunner! nothing specific, but glorious architecture and design everywhere.

after that i headed off for the church of san Domenico Maggiore (where i nearly passed out on the steps), had a great time... now it was time to head off in the direction of where i would eat dinner. back along the via toledo, where it was swarming with the pre dinner walk. made a right turn on via chiaia. first stop a nice little wine bar where i had a couple of glasses of proseco with olives on the side. perfect way to kill time before dinner, and then i walked over to the restaurant Manfredi. a simple fried mozarella app, then linguini with fruiti di mare (mixed clams), and a bronzino (sea bass grilled). all awesome....took the nice stroll home and enjoyed (oink) a way too big cup of gelato!

bout to head off to sleep!
buono note!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

italy - day 3 - roma

don't forget to start with day 1 !!, i didn't sleep well. it always happens to me on after these red eye flights to europe. i catch some kind of cold. been there, done that, doing it again. thankfully massimo woke me at wasn't really waking me, i just couldn't get out of bed. Marina made us Rigatoni alla Carbonara. the classic romano dish. mmmmmmmm. you need a special type of bacon for this called guanciale (pork jowls), and eggs & pecorino cheese, and some black pepper. very simple but also very easy to not make it well. and marina made a beautiful version! after this we went for a walk on the antica appia (the appian way...the first great road of ancient Rome)...incredible park along the road with ruins and monuments. just lovely.

after this we headed for another part of Roma unfamiliar to me... Villa Torlonia & the beautiful surrounding Nomentana district. 3 different museums ...we went to the Casina Delle Civette (hut of the small owl). built in the 1840's it had a great display of art nouveau stained glass and mechanical drawings of the artists work.

we were dropped off at the piazza del popolo...where i made a pit stop to see a couple of caravaggio's...but it was too dark and there was a mass going on so i didn't want to disturb with the bright lights. then we walked down the via margutta...a great quiet street lined with art gallery's. after this every restaurant we wanted to go to was closed! we were dead tired and near the jewish quarter so we went to the classic roman jewish place Giggetto...where we had the Carciofi alla Giudia (artichokes jewish style)...i had bacacala, and then we had spaghetti con pepe Y cacio. (black pepper and creme sauce) and lastly the Ossobuco! it was all good...and it hit the spot. on the drive home we stopped in the outskirts of town for gelatto.

time to crash!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

day 2 pix

top right day 1 with the roman forum in the back ground, polenta gnocchi (more like polenta cakes if you ask me!), 3-in the orange garden atop Aventino hill, 4-marina & i in the cloister of San Giovanni, 5-yummy apps from that delicious dinner, and lastly the desert.

italy - rome- day 2

i had a great nite's sleep, and after a nice breakfast, some good cafe was ready to head out to lunch with Massimo & Marina with our friends Giovanni Tarquini (owner of Forbidden Planet in Roma) his wife Luisa and 11 month old daughter Vittoria (a little sweetheart!). we had the classic pasta (massimo's fave place for it) bucatini all'amatriciana! it was awesome, and it was HUGE! oy...i was stuffed. but it was great. then we headed off to to Gio & Lui's beautiful home which is decked out to the T with beautiful architecture and design, we had some nice pastry and cafe.

then we headed off to see the church of San Giovanni (the duomo of Roma...that's main cathedral for those of you not in the know). the highlight was the great cloister. I hadn't been to this church i was psyched. on the way back to the car we stopped off for another quick espresso (cafe). also we hit up to nice smaller churches on this little walk (San Clemente, and San quatro sainti sp?). then a quick pit stop to the newly finished renovation of the Trajan's column area.

after this i had the special treat of going to yet another spot i've never been to: the Aventino hill district! Amazing views of Trestevere and the rest of Roma from the drop dead gorgeous San Sabina "orange garden". Also quick visit to the Church itself (San Alessio). then a walk thru the stunning neighborhood over to the lovely San Anselmo church and mini gardens.

next it was time for dinner...we headed off to the Testaccio district and ate in this funky cool restaurant funkiest place Ristorante della Citta dell'altraeconomia ("City for Another Economy")

we started off with 3 apps: 1- Antipasto (fiordilatte, tostine di pane con pate di verdure, formaggi & salumi di maiale nero reatino)...mozarella, little flat breads with veggie pate, more cheese, 2 tops of cured ham from the specific breed. 2- Vellutata di cannellini con verza stufata al profumo di balsamico (cannillini bean puree, with a little fried cabbage with a touch of vinegar).
3-Sformatino di finocchi e pecorino (sort of a fennel quiche). all were yummy and we shared.
then because i'm a sucker for polenta i had a primi of Gnocchi di polenta con salsa di gunghi & pomodori ( polenta gnocchi with mushroom gravy and cherry tomatoes.) and was off the hook. and YES i shared!

also served with the meal...a nice Primativo red wine from the south of italy.

for our 3 mains (secondo) we had 1- Lombata di maiale nero dei monti reatini (a nice piece of grilled pork), 2- Pollo ruspante con salsa masala (chicken with a delicate indian masala sause), and 3- TAgliata di manzo (beautifully grilled strips of beef).

our deserts were apple crumb tart, and baked pears with cream.

a great day...!
back at you tomorrow.

day 1- pix

clockwise from upper left- dinner at il san lorenzo- 1-this strips of squid with artichokes mint & lemon/olive oil 2- primi- home made pasta with sea urchin 3- was all awesome!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Italy - day 1 - ROME

i what a day! starts off with the fast security check at newark int'l airport i've ever seen. i guess the backlog from the volcano inspired them to move things along. i didn't complain! flight took off 6pm....u know what that means! ? no sleep. 8 hr flight, so i made the effort anyway...shut my eyes for a good 3 hrs at least. arrived in Rome got my packs, and breeeeeeeeezed thru customs. this is a big deal for me for many reasons. 1- i'm carry art! 2- $1000's and $1000's and $1000 of dollars worth of art!!! i'm always a bit on edge worrying whether some customs police guy is having a bad day and decides the bone up his ass oughta be up mine. 3- i was acting as mule this time! bringing in for a friend 3 very VERY VERY valuable pieces! luckily my good buddy in Naples helped me created a good customs form stating all the art was on loan to a museum (a real musuem...which i actually lent art to! so it's only a half lie...just not any of the art i brought on the flight ;-). oh yeah, back to breezing thru customs and there's my good buddy Massimo waiting with his friend (whom i brought the art for...for rewards we shall keep private for the moment). so, an uneventful customs crossing is a good crossing! i brought my friends Massimo & Marina (whom i'm staying with) bagel's from Murray's. they had that for breakfast and i had some pastry (yummy) and cafe with steamed milk. next massimo & massimo (yep his friend's name too) left for work, i hung out with Marina a bit and got directions on how to get home via metro & bus. and i found out that there was a Caravaggio show in town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so there was the plan for the day.

i took the Metro to the Coloseum stop, strolled by (not in) the Roman Forum, went up to the Capitoline Hill, and went in one of the my favorite churches up top there. then strolled down the steep steps and headed to the ghetto (the jewish quarter) scoped out a few old haunts to eat but decided to keep on going and head to the Campo Dei Fiori where i would hit up my fave bakery! bought some nice warm Foccacia (im too tired to check sp?) and some pizza con Fiori di Zucca (zuchini flowers! & cheese).
i sat and ate it up on the central statue, when it started to drizzle i popped my umbrella and was happy as all get out.

then i proceeded on to the Caravaggio show. the line was long. but what the heck...i got on. and there i stood for the next 2.5 HOURS...i couldnt fuckin believe it!!! once i was on a half hour i couldn't quit...but it just kept movin along at a snails pace...just when i was about to give up i met an american student on line and that helped the time fly. well, not really fly, the student had a limit time wise and was forced to get off the line after waiting for 2 hrs!!!!! horrible. but the show was MIND BOGGLING. a dream, and even tho i was delirious with fatigue, it was a great dream. a shot of espresso helped a lot!!! i had seen many of these pieces before (vatican, and other roman museums, napoli, the met, etc...) but the ones i had seen before and finding out where they were on loan from (fort worth texas??? !!!! ....sheeeeeiiiiit they're cara is better than the mets'!!! it was a stunning st john the baptist. and then there was another stunner from a museum in dublin! awesome...but the kicker (not the best piece in the show....but close) was from a private collection!!! PRIVATE???? i mean who the hell has a caravaggio in their collection. it was a big masterpiece...i could see it selling for $250mil minium!!! unbelievable!!!!!

ok, then it was back to the jewish quarter for dinner. i stopped in a sweet lil wine bar, had a glass of Prosecco (almost passed out 2-3 times...that jet lag was bangin round 6pm...hadnt had a chance for nap!) and had the common sense to ask the friendly bar tender for dinner recommendations and he provided me with 2 i hadn't heard of. BOTH were totally booked! the second one, i asked if they could help me out and they sent me off to a very elegant seafood place!
name of Il San Lorenzo
...first of all i got there right when it opened at 7:30pm, and i knew i was in for a good meal as i watched some locals eating fresh shucked oysters and raw sea urchin at the bar. i was eyeing them with extreme envy. everything is home made in this restaurant including the bread sticks!!! and here's what i had: they started me off with some free apps of lightly fried sardines (not the fishy yucky kind we get in a can here) with some bocancini (fried rice balls). I had a nice glass of dry white wine and bottle of Aqua con Gas (mineral water with bubbles!).

i looked over the menu and was THRILLED to see that they were serving a pasta con ricci (sea urchin), and i knew i was going to order it! i haven't had this for a few years, since i had it last in Naples. first my appetizer was thin strips of delicate squid over steamed artichokes with mint, olive oil and touch of lemon.

stuffed, i head off for a much need walk to the train. it was pouring...but the walk was fun. and then the metro to the bus, and all is cozy now.
gonna crash.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

new ashley wood robot model...special name

the brandnew ASHLEY WOOD ROBOT

lots of news...good and sad

the news i just got inspired me to voice my thoughts. first on the sad news: today i heard about the passing of a rap music legend. MC GURU of the group Gang Starr. someone i grew up listening to and have long had the deepest respect for the intelligence and power of his lyrics. his style was very unique, a smooth monotone voice with very witty and clever rhyming. Combined with the jazzy samples of DJ Premier they were easily one of my favorite rap bands of all time. and he will be missed as an artist. if there's an afterlife i know he's tearin shit up there!
i'm listening to Step in the Arena...

on to brighter news, my fears about missing my trip to italy are passing! seems the volcano with the ridiculously confusing spelling (to someone not from iceland) is chillin now! All the wonderful art is sorted and packed, and i'm VERY excited about this trip. i'm staying with my good friends Massimo & Marina in Roma, wonderful people, excellent hosts...i'm stoked! and then on to Napoli Comicon! you'll hear all about it.


San Francisco, Wondercon redux, and L.A.

Well that was some kinda cool trip! first stop San Francisco for the Wondercon. last year it was possibly the shittiest big show (sales wise) i've EVER done. but hey, it's San Fran and they have some great food there, several awesome museums and my good buddy art legend SPAIN RODRIGUEZ...whom i spent good time with. after the show i did some good trading and buying so i was hopeful about a return trip. and i visited my brother in L.A. so i had more excuses to come back to wondercon. aiiiiiiiight, fast forward to this year!-:

Packed a crazy cool selection of art and with a few last minute adjustments at the check in counter i was able to skirt the xtra fees regarding overweight baggage. yeah, i zig and zag when i have to. Got to San Fran with a day to spare and spent a great chunk of it with a walk to the Embarcadero, where i had lunch at the Ferry Building's Farmers market. OMG this place rocks...think the chelsea market and then magnify 2-3x. after i had a nice mexican lunch (tortilla soup, 2 fish tacos) i headed over to san fran MOMA. i must say this might have been the single most perfect museum visit i've ever had! how? i know, i mean think about it: i'm a museum HOUND!!! i love museums and i've been to many of the best in the world (Prado, Moma NYC, Louvre, Vatican, Alte pinacotec munich, Rijks Museum, etc... BUT, what makes this museum is it's size (small-mid) which enables you to see everything without completely blowing your senses and wearing yourself out, and of course the incredible quality to the collection and shows of this particular day i went. there were 2 great shows going on.

-first was the Belgian painter LUC TUYMANS. i wasn't very familiar with him prior to this show. i knew a little about him, but after this show i was blown away and regard him as a giant in the world of figurative painting. there are often motivations and explanations behind good works of art (and bad), but i found what was going on behind the paintings really poignant and significant, adding tremendous weight to works of art that stood by themselves without explanation.

-2nd was the great 75 years of loooking forward show. celebrating the 75th anniversary. Entirely from their collection. As you'd expect there were phenomenal pieces of art, but one of the most interesting and charming parts of the show revolved around the first Jackson Pollack painting they purchased. This was early in Jackson's career and way before the drip art success. he was largely unknown outside the New York area, and completely unknown in California. The fledgling museum had to scrape together the money and ask J's dealer Peggy Guggenheim for a discount!!! and then they still needed the purchase to be approved. i know this because the documents and letters were there and i really got a kick out of it. the asking price of this Pollack masterpiece was $750!!!! and they haggled it down to $500. wow. u gotta love it.

-3rd was the great photography show The View From Here with work from the 1840's and on.

a perfect museum day.

Now on the Wondercon. first 2 days totally uneventful. crapola sales...but that wasn't unexpected, however saturday nite i went out with Mark Bode and his wife Molly. had a great Mexican dinner and then over to their house to hang and do some art deals. Mark is the Son of art legend VAUGHN BODE
and visiting his home enshrined with great art by Mark and his Dad was truely a great experience! and we did some great deals...picked up awesome art by Cobalt 60 (by mark) and a few nice pieces by his dad!
Sunday, the show started off well with a coupla good sales (totaling more than fri/sat combined), and then it just got better and better with some significant trading, more sales, and a coupla great purchases (wally wood art!@!!!!! from early Mad Magazine). AWESOME!!!!

so all in all it was a great show.

flew down to L.A. and spent some super quality time with my brother EVAN (a musician and sound guru). well, we ate like nobody's biz, cuz he lives one block away from Sawtelle the home to a gazillion cool Asian eateries. and we did 3 big hikes in Malibu Canyon, so i just had a great time every minute.

also paid a visit to a well known collector and made a nice purchase, and had a great time hangin out.