Invited to the MoMA member reception “The Tomorrow Now…”

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On Wednesday my wife and I were invited to the MoMA member reception “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World”, which opens officially tomorrow for the general public.

Obviously the rain did not prevent hordes of socialites to flock to MoMA and gather around one of the three open bars. But that was great because it gave us, and quite a few other “they must be on a How About We date” couples to visit some of the galleries without having to use our elbows.

We both enjoyed “Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949“, and saw “Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of The Brown Sisters” on the way out. But definitely the star of the show was “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World”.

I need a long blog post to comment on that exhibition. It definitely caused some very mixed feelings, from the “tongue-in-cheek, I get it” to the “this is amazing” to, more often than not, “you gotta be kidding me!”.

I understand the challenge curators of contemporary art face when trying to put together a historically relevant contemporary exhibition. It reminds me of entrepreneurs being asked to come up with expected revenue figures in a round A roadshow (or worse, in a seed investment elevator pitch). I admire their bravery. I admire the creative ways with which they try to convince others that they know what they are doing (I can’t decide if quoting William Gibson was a way to lure millennials in, a touch of genius, or a lame attempt… so I guess it might be a bit of all). But I really missed the IMHO disclaimer that should go with those bold and often over-the-top statements.

One thing I would most definitely have liked, as always when visiting an art exhibit, is a chance to discuss the art with the artist. Because in this case I think it would have been a riot. Whether I mean that in a good or bad way, I don’t even know.

All in all, a worthwhile experience. As always.

Home pleasures in NY

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After all this traveling and going out, it feels wonderful to spend some time at home.

Some things I have been enjoying this week:

  • Hanging the art piece my sister painted for (and titled after) my wife. By the way, congratulations on your latest solo exhibition, sis!
  • My wife’s cooking: Amazing and unique caribbean stew, banana-chocolate-coconut cake…
  • Reading (Simone de Beauvoir, Douglas Hofstadter…)
  • Watching The Newsroom season 2 and some How I met your mother

Traveling, going out and business is all good and fun. But some homey-cozy is also delightful.

Walks around Manhattan and Dinner at Chefs Club by Food and Wine (twice)

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For a few days after Thanksgiving we enjoyed having my parents stay with us in our Chelsea apartment. Visitors are always a great excuse to go to those places that are “too touristy” to go to, even if we like them.

This time we devoted almost a whole day (November 30) to Chinatown, where we enjoyed delicious (and really affordable) dim sum at Dim Sum Go Go.

We also had a blast at the “AllCityStyle toy subway trains for graffiti” display in Grand Central Station, and enjoyed a great lunch at Kitchen by David Burke on our way to the 9/11 Memorial.

Another highlight was to finally try a restaurant that we had really been looking forward to: Chef’s Club by Food and Wine.

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Our friend Daniel manages the place, and he told us all about it. It’s a great concept: the Best New Chefs (according to Food & Wine Magazine) from around the world showcase their favorite dishes in NYC’s historic Puck Building, in NOLITA. Awesome, right?

So Monday December 1st we went with my parents. The first thing you notice is the art installations from Murray Moss (and the amazing giant Tibetan salt rock suspended from the ceiling).

Here is my wife’s review in some social network:

Loved it. We were intrigued by the concept of this new restaurant. Food was excellent. Oysters were sublime, halibut was subtle and delish. The chicken was superb- many layers of flavors and very generous with the truffles. Cake of the day was ridiculous – pumpkin layer cake with homemade toasted marshmallows, almost too good to share. Space is attractive, with cozy booths for 4 but they also have tables facing the open kitchen.

This is a place where you will feel comfortable wether you are looking for sophisticated or cozy ambiance. But the main trick is the food: a menu that will not intimidate anyone, almost “a little boring” and not at all pretentious, but when the food is served you do realize why these are definitely the BEST chefs.

We enjoyed it so much that on Tuesday 9th we went back with some friends. Awesome!

HTO: a hyper-reading project

Iban M. G. and Ben Martin have launched a writing project that breaks the boundaries of typical book in paper/digital format. Over the years I have seen many attempts to push the publishing world further. All commendable and appreciated. But so far I have not seen any project as ambitious as HTO.

Note: Literary review aside. I have not read the novel yet and, as a matter of fact, that’s irrelevant for the purposes of this post.

HTO. Hostile Takeover is a literary saga action and science fiction in Spanish. The first novel in the series,“El legado de Henry Bobson” is already available for about $4.85 (€ 3.95) in eBook format licensed under Creative Commons with a reading mode they call hyper-reading. You can also read for free the first seven chapters of the novel from a new online reader they have developed. They have also created an online enciclopedia to clarify concepts, characters, plots and the future of the project.

As if this were not enough, once you buy the book you can download the novel in several formats, DRM-free, 4 times, and they even ask “please, share it with your friends using our PRO piracy system and your social networks.”

But what’s more unique is that you can access a private area with:

  • Access to private downloads
  • Exclusive content
  • Gammification-badge-accomplishment system
  • Hyper-reading using smartphones, codes and online content
  • An account in the Bank of Ishtar with an initial virtual currencydeposit to invest in development of HTO packs

I wish them the best of lucks, and I applaud their initiative. These are the people who will “kill” publishers (and we should all cheer) if they don’t “get with the program”. If they were smart, and wanted to grow and stay in business competitively, major publishers should offer them a place in their boardrooms now. But we all know that it is easier to manipulate prices with monopolistic measures, go crying to government officials and the media, impose DRM even harming their own clients and the dissemination of culture, and require legislative measures which enable repression forces to chase anyone seeking culture.

Congratulations Iban and Ben! The future is yours. You have earned it.

Disclaimer: I have known Iban M. G. 7 years. But I write this post not because he is a friend, but because the project seems great.

Family road trip to Ithaca, Niagara and Thanksgiving in Buffalo

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Since my parents were visiting from Spain, we decided to drive with them to Buffalo to spend Thanksgiving all together with my in-law family.

Wednesday, November 26 we drove over 400 miles (650 Km) through the snow storm from New York City to Niagara Falls. Well, my wife drove. I don’t think anyone else in the car could have managed all that snow and ice on the road, but fortunately she has a lot of experience with it, so while it took us four more hours than expected (and forced us to stop at a diner in the middle of the road for lunch, instead of making it to Ithaca as it was our plan), we made it across the Canadian border at Niagara Falls safe and sound. It was cold. -21°C (-6°F) to be exact.

The view of the falls from the hotel room was absolutely stunning. I can’t get over that view.

Before going to sleep, and to relax after such a long drive, we headed to R5, a nice lounge where they have “The Ultimate Cosmopolitan” (a $2,390 cocktail) and the “Martini-On-The-Rock” (a Martini starting at $10,000) in their menu. We settled for a more reasonable bottle of Malbec.

The next day we had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my cousin-in-law’s. Almost everybody was there, and we had an archetypal Thanksgiving early dinner, with humanely-treated-non-gmo-organic-fed-cage-free-happy-til-he-died-turkey, stuffing, six cakes (one of them a Jorge-approved new pumpkin-cheesecake recipe), games and fun, including playing turkey-trivia and cuddling two ferrets and two cats.

The following day we toured the Falls, and had a delightful lunch at the charming Prince Of Wales Hotel with my in-laws. On the way to lunch we stopped at Dufferin Islands, a secluded 10 acre park with several small islands connected by small bridges and footpaths. There we met a big flock of geese, seagulls and ducks. We also saw two beautiful cardinals staring from a safe distance. And as we left we spotted three wild red foxes. Amazing.

After lunch we walked around Niagara On The Lake, where we bought classic hats (quite convenient for a bald head like mine), and headed back to have dinner at Windows by Jamie Kennedy from where we watched the fireworks.

On Saturday, November 29, after a delicious breakfast at my in-laws, we drove back. My wife, knowing the area as well as she does, insisted on stopping at Taughannock Falls. While the path to the falls was all ice and quite slippery, it was totally worth it. So gorgeous! Impressively spectacular.

Once in Ithaca, after seeing a deer, a quick visit to Cornell University, and stopping at the Autumn Leaves bookstore, we had a yummy vegetarian dinner at the coop Moosewood Restaurant.

A wonderful Thanksgiving trip, full of precious memories.

Back in Mexico for a day

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On Monday 24 and Tuesday 25, I flew to Mexico for a quick and very important meeting. The meeting went really well, but as usual the highlights were the delicious restaurants my charming distributors take me to every time I visit. This time it was “Nueve y Nueve Bistro”, a wonderful Hacienda renovated and modernized (Casa Lamm), which is not only a restaurant but also hosts several art galleries. I had delicious local fare, but I can not remember the names, so look at the pictures and enjoy ;)

An interesting anecdote is how my levels of SPO2 (oxygen in the blood) drop from 99% to 96% when I’m there. It’s fascinating how the environment (altitude, pressure, etc) affects our metabolism.

Before I headed back to New York, we had lunch at “La Mansión” a restaurant inside the airport which was quite good too, just like “Casa Ávila” was last time. Great restaurants, specially being inside an airport.

I guess I will be returning to Mexico soon, and this time I will read during the flight “Los Señores del Narco”, the very interesting book my friends told me about during my previous trip and now have bought me. Thank you!

Invited to the inaugural cruise of the Quantum of the Seas

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My wonderful wife invited me to the inaugural cruise of the Quantum of the Seas, which sailed from New York (actually, New Jersey, across the river) and into the Atlantic Ocean, November 18-21.

I love those “inaugurals”. Although their official destination is “nowhere”, I get to enjoy the ship, with its restaurants, and entertainment, in just 3 days. Of course I prefer full cruises (and next April we are taking a very awesome one), but right now I can’t be away from cell coverage and internet for more than 3 days, so this is perfect.

Besides, she gets to be the invited VIP and I get to be the guest, where nobody knows me, and there are no “industry insiders” (at least “my” industry) which is fun. She was even given presented with an 8″ Hexa tablet as welcome gift. Nice!

While this brand new ship is geared towards the “mass market”, it is truly spectacular, with technology playing an integral part. Let me list some of the highlights for you:

  • Robot bartenders. Yes: ROBOTS. With a cool screen that tells you which cocktail are they preparing now, its recipe, the average age of the people in the bar, what they are ordering, etc.
  • Bumper cars
  • Roller skating
  • The “North Star”, a giant glass sphere that hangs several feet above the ship, held by a giant crane arm
  • The full cast, production and show of the Broadway musical “Mamma Mia” (yes, the full two and a half hours of it)
  • The largest HD screen in the world, on the back side of the ship, in a room that transformed to hold concerts, shows, and special events
  • Several specialty restaurants, like Jamie Olivier’s, a Japanese restaurant with great rolls, Silk (Asian Fusion), Grand, American Icon, or the most anticipated one: Wonderland, full of creative and surprising dishes like the disappearing foie noodles.
  • A balcony stateroom that was quite large, with a very nice bathroom with a shower large enough to fit two people!

All this besides some other “more common features” in ships like this such as rock climbing, video-game arcade, library, a band that did excellent versions of U2 classics, a standup comedian, etc.

But, surprisingly the most refreshingly novelty of the ship was its art, valued at over $5 million. 2,980 original pieces by some well known artists decorated the whole ship. While it was not a daring, risky or even exciting collection (it was curated by a company that puts together commissioned “corporate collections”), it was a very welcomed feature, quite an improvement over the bland prints and lousy reproductions of other ships. I hope the industry takes note and makes this a regular feature.

So it was a wonderful experience, for which I am truly grateful to my wife, her travel agency and Royal Caribbean. Invite me again any time you want! ;)

Quick family visit in Valencia

Of course, everytime I go to Europe I make sure I stop in Valencia and see my kids. It makes me SO tremendously happy to see them! I can’t wait until we can all live in the same city again. Some day, soon.

We had fun meeting the family (although my parents were on a cruise), projecting movies at night on the “large screen” over the living room windows, and playing all kinds of games. I also gave them a couple of surprises: the certificates of their names, along with mine:

having been added to Orion (NASA’s new spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space) flight test to Mars, scheduled to launch Dec. 4, and their e-tickets to fly to New York and spend Christmas vacation with my wife and I.

On Sunday morning I took a plane to New York. My airline miles program status upgrade was “celebrated” by a class upgrade, but only on the local leg of the flight, because the international part was full. Darned! At least I had a plug, so I worked the full 8 and a half hours of the flight. And I also wrote the last few posts you can see here; otherwise I will never be able to catch up!