Friday, September 22, 2006
Liberace and debauchery
A couple of days ago I got a call from my friend Jeremy, who does the Ghetto Gourmet in the East Bay. For those of you who've been living in the dark in regards to the underground restaurant scene this last year, the Ghetto Gourmet is basically a dinner party in someone's living room. Jeremy has roving chefs come to town and cook, artists musicians and writers giving performances, and great salon-type conversation.
Jeremy's call went something like this, "HiEllait'sJeremyihaveafriendintownwhoscookingforfamouspeople
Well, I like meeting new people, especially other restaurant people who are writers, because we are few and far between. Michael Hebberoy and I made plans to meet at Ti Couz for a cocktail and a crepe, and I knew we were going to get along when I texted him, "On my way. Brown hair, blue eyes, six feet tall. Bicycle," and he responded "Long hair blue eyes big truck likes Barry Manilow and walks in the park."
So I threw on my Barry Manilow t-shirt (yes, I really do have one! I only wear it on special occasions because it's very old and for some reason I always wind up getting really drunk when I have it on) and away me and Barry went. I thought I was just going to meet some chef. Who I met was a guy starting a cultural revolution. Hebberoy (or "Hebb" to his friends) is a well-known Portland resterateur who is going through a "very hard break-up with that city," and to get out of the public eye he decided to go around the world and cook for interesting people. His philosophy is philosophers, and in telling about me the sorts of dinner parties he's hosting (at other people's houses), I was reminded of nothing more than the literary salons hosted at the Paris home of Gertrude Stein and her partner in the 1920s.
This weekend, Hebb is going down to L.A. to host a dinner party at Gore Vidal's house. The impressive guest list includes well-known literary and musical figures; not the type you see in (my beloved) Us Weekly, but the type who are quietly doing what they love and believe in and have gained recognition for their work along the way. The guy who started the Sex Pistols is going to be there, as is Madonna's sister.
Hebb's book-in-progress, "Kill the Restaurant," will focus on three groups building culture through feeding people on the down-low: the Ghetto Gourmet here in the Bay Area, a guy in Seattle who serves only the things he grows on his 10-acre farm (except for flour and sugar, although both crops went in the ground this year), and a group in New York. He'll be attending the upcoming Ghetto Gourmet dinners on Sunday night in North Berkeley and on Wednesday in the Mission. I'll be there, doing what I do best: bringing the food out of the kitchen and putting it down in front of people who want to eat it.
Also last night I attended the soft-opening of my friend Brandon's new venture (aside from the newly-minted Avenue G), Luau. The bar is on Lombard between Franklin and Van Ness, and I vaguely remember driving by there in my Bridge and Tunnel days. A vague memory of last night is all I posess as well. I know that there were lots of people I didn't know when I got there at 10:30, and then lots of people I did know starting around 12:30 or 1am who began to trickle in as they finished their shifts. I'm pretty sure I was yelling and throwing pretzels by the end of the evening, and was trundled into a cab with my bicycle poking out of the trunk and sent home. I received an email from the esteemed Hebb this morning, which went something like:
"apologies for my sheer drunkiness last night. ended up losing my phone somewhere to boot. i think maybe it is kickin around the bottom of that fuckin truck. it is dangerous to drink heavily with a blog queen...- liberace"