Monday, March 27

Weekend Wrap-up

Had a wonderfully carefree weekend. Admittedly, it started rather late, seeing that I didn’t haul my ass out of bed until almost noon on Saturday. I had a really, really late night on Friday. Outiboy, Mike the drummer and I played at Café Apollonia. The place wasn’t packed, but there was a decent crowd for a Friday night, and we got many compliments on the music. Outiboy accidentally (!) left his guitar at home so he accompanied me on oud during my set. My parents came with a cousin of mine and his wife. After our gig, Mike joined us back at our place. He had stopped earlier that day at a wine and cheese shop near where he works and he graciously shared some of his purchases with us—a nice pinot and a lovely hunk of cheddar. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, so I had some pear brandy—four shots of it. My belly was full though, so I was nicely buzzed, but not sick like last weekend.

Once I was sufficiently awake on Saturday, I drove over to the halal butcher in Roslindale to order a spring lamb for Easter—a whole lamb, which I’ll roast in the yard on a spit, like the old-time Greeks used to do. I’m old fashioned, I know. I also picked up a couple of sandwiches at Fornax, which is arguably Boston’s best bakery.

On my way home, I stopped over at Serino’s to pick up a menu for next Saturday (Joe’s birthday). I used to order food for parties at a place called Mario’s (said to be Menino’s favorite restaurant), but they recently closed their doors, to the disappointment of many locals.

We ate our sandwiches quickly because we were supposed to meet K, M and F, and our housemate G at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum at 3pm to see the “Gentile Bellini and the East” exhibit, which was in its final day after already being extended by a week. K joked that I would be spending Greek Independence Day by looking at art that was created to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mehmet II (1432 – 1481), otherwise known as “Mehmet the Conqueror,” the Ottoman sultan who conquered the Greek city of Constantinople in 1453 and the rest of the Greek-speaking world (minus Crete and Cyprus, which remained in under Venetian rule for a while longer) within less than a decade. Anyway, I’m sure my lineage includes some Turkish ancestors.

The exhibit was impressive. I saw many great works of art, like Bellini’s Portrait of Mehmet II (1480, oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London) and Pisanello’s medallion of John VIII Paleologus (1390 – 1448), which I had previously seen only in books. There were also several beautiful Byzantine icons from Crete and some lovely Ottoman-style silver vessels that were produced for the European market. Gentile Bellini (1429 – 1507) was one of Venice’s most prestigious painters. In 1479, he was sent to the court of Sultan Mehmet II in Constantinople to serve as both an artist and also a kind of cultural ambassador. In this respect, Bellini was one of the first Orientalist artists.

His brother Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430 – 1516) was also a renowned artist in his own right, and personally I prefer his work. The Gardner Museum has in its possession Bellini’s portrait of Christ carrying his cross, arguably the most strikingly beautiful Christ ever painted. If Christ really looked like that, and he were to come to me in an apparition of some kind, I’d surely get an erection. I’ll be posting an image of it soon (Bellini’s Christ, not my erection).

Later on, Joe and I ended up at K’s place for tea. We chatted a bit about various things going on in our lives at the moment, and I thumbed through a coffee table book on Istanbul and the Orientalist tradition that K had purchased during her recent trip to Turkey. Soon we were off again, this time to a dance recital at the Riverside Theater Works in Hyde Park. A co-worker of mine was doing a short contemporary dance piece that he had choreographed himself. I don’t often see dance performances, so I find that I lack the vocabulary to describe what I’m seeing, but I’ll try.

The movements were both fluid and jarring. The mood of the piece was contemplative and tense. I found that it conveyed both distress and, towards the end, longing. Only the latter half was accompanied by music. Overall, it was quite beautiful. More beautiful was the young ballet dancer that performed as the sole male with several women in a piece choreographed to Mozart. A stunning lad he was: lean, pretty, and a head full of curly, auburn hair. He made me forget all about Bellini’s Jesus.

We left at intermission—it was getting late and we were all pretty hungry—and after some discussion, settled upon Meze in Charlestown. When we arrived, it was a total mob scene. It’s a big place too. They told us it would be a 30-minute wait, so Joe called over to Olives (right around the corner), and they said they could accommodate us right away, so off we went. I have to say, we had one of the best meals I think I have ever had at a restaurant. Joe and K had a grilled octopus-squid appetizer and pasta for their entrees. I had a beef carpaccio appetizer followed by rabbit saltimbocca, which everyone agreed, was almost better than sex. It was amazing. I was practically licking the plate clean. We split a tiramisu for dessert. They assemble it at the table, which was interesting. A fantastic meal overall.

We ended up and P and L’s at around 11:30pm for a nightcap. Joe and L had a smoke out on their balcony. We played with their adorable cat and took turns testing our blood pressure with a home-testing kit that L picked up some months ago. He and I had the highest blood pressure out of everyone—no surprise there—while Joe and P were at the lower end, with K in the middle. K told L that he should try yoga for relaxation and de-stressing. I’ve been meaning to try it myself.

We also talked about my blog for a bit and blogging in general. K, P and L are all semi-regular readers. K has her own blog, which I’m constantly on her case to update. I keep telling L to start his own, since he has many opinions about lots of things.


Blogger Will said...

I really don't think it's arguable--Fornax IS the best bakery in Boston, better even than the famous Iggy's, in my opinion.

2:39 PM  

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