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Andy Warhol, September 11th & Kobe Sliders

Andy Warhol, September 11th & Kobe Sliders
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  • Andy Warhol, September 11th & Kobe Sliders

    Post #1 - March 5th, 2008, 11:44 pm
    Post #1 - March 5th, 2008, 11:44 pm Post #1 - March 5th, 2008, 11:44 pm
    Andy Warhol, September 11th & Kobe Sliders

    When I was a kid growing up in Elmhurst, Andy Warhol was about the coolest person I could imagine. He lived in New York, wore leather jackets, and had a loft hangout where he and his ultra-hip friends made art…well, “made” is a problematic verb, because at that stage in his career the boy from Pittsburgh basically reproduced commercial products and called them art (because he could, and none would argue). It seems hardly necessary to quote the most famous of these commercial food shots, but for those younger members of the audience, I’m referring to works like this:

    Image

    Warhol was saying, in effect, “You thought it was just a commercial product, but I say it’s art; you thought it was this, but I say it’s that.” The ironic distancing was most appealing to disaffected adolescents, such as I was at that time.

    Flash forward a few decades. September 11th was deemed by some to herald “the Death of Irony,” a cold water splash in the faces of those who put wry comedic space between themselves and reality. That era of such dry distancing was over, they said, short-sightedly.

    It would take much more than a national disaster to kill irony, of course, and it seems to me that the trend of the past few years to create higher-end versions of lower-end food is an example of the survival of irony and even a kind of Warholian commentary on the artistry of the everyday.

    I had Daniel Boulud’s $40 hamburger at the Wynn in Vegas a few years ago:

    Image

    Since then I’ve had Kobe sliders at several Chicago restaurants, many containing ground foie gras, truffles and other costly ingredients, and every one, it seems, a kind of commentary, a gustatory pleasure positioned at least two removes from the plate. Check out this recent entrant of lobster tail & sashimi tuna bound together with scallop mousse, served at Central Michel Richard in Washington:

    Image

    These are fun creations, just like Warhol’s soup cans, so I hesitate to be too critical, but they all seem (in my more mature eyes) so…decadent. There’s artistry, cleverness of a sort, and great expense involved, but also a certain cool remove, a posturing that makes the older me feel a little uncomfortable. There’s also a smug sense that the chef is creating a parody, a commentary on something else, a creation whose value depends, in part, on our knowledge of something other than the thing that’s being eaten. The overriding sensation is one of distance, and I don’t think I ever want to be distant from my food. I can’t say I enjoyed DB’s burger or any of the Kobe sliders I’ve recently eaten as much as hand-splattered Steak N’ Shake burgers – and that’s because when I eat the regular old well-made hamburgers, I enjoy the food itself rather than the cerebral exercise of comparing it to something other than it is. When it comes to what's on my plate, irony fails to satisfy.

    David “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - March 8th, 2008, 9:55 am
    Post #2 - March 8th, 2008, 9:55 am Post #2 - March 8th, 2008, 9:55 am
    Interesting point Hammond. Moreover, sounds right to me. Wonder if there's a spot in Fujisan's Burgermania list which could serve as the tipping point into irony? Maybe it's the first kobeburger that does it...


    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #3 - March 8th, 2008, 10:17 am
    Post #3 - March 8th, 2008, 10:17 am Post #3 - March 8th, 2008, 10:17 am
    Just wanted to chime in (FWIW) that I, too, find your linkage of Kobe sliders and Warhol perspicacious.
  • Post #4 - March 9th, 2008, 11:00 am
    Post #4 - March 9th, 2008, 11:00 am Post #4 - March 9th, 2008, 11:00 am
    The latest entrant in my own personal log of "traditionally-low-end-food-rendered-ironicially-if-not-metaphorically-high-end" is this platter of "fish and chips" that I had last night at the Drawing Room at Le Passage:

    Image

    These are actually salt cod beignets made of crispy potato filled with a delicately flavored fish puree, sprinkled with malt vinegar powder and sitting in a puddle of preserved lemon aioli. They tasted pretty good, but I 'm not sure I don't prefer the MikeG-sanctioned Long John Silver's version (no, I'm not trying to be intentionally perverse here; there are sometimes just greater satisfactions to be had with the straightforward).

    The Drawing Room at Le Passage
    937 N. Rush
    312.255.0022
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #5 - March 12th, 2008, 7:06 am
    Post #5 - March 12th, 2008, 7:06 am Post #5 - March 12th, 2008, 7:06 am
    David Hammond wrote:These are fun creations, just like Warhol’s soup cans, so I hesitate to be too critical, but they all seem (in my more mature eyes) so…decadent.


    I like the thought behind these posts...and i would just like to point out that the "irony" of the irony of food items mentioned above like Kobe beef burgers and the fish and chips you reference later in a follow up post would not be lost on Warhol who famously defined art as something frivolous that somebody doesn't "need" to have and also HATED anything commercial going so far as to say that Commercial things really stink and as soon as something becomes commercial for a mass market it really stinks. (his words) This always cracks me up considering how expensive his work had become during his lifetime and especially now and the commercialism of his work defined a new school of art defined by its own commercialism. Ironic.
  • Post #6 - March 12th, 2008, 9:02 am
    Post #6 - March 12th, 2008, 9:02 am Post #6 - March 12th, 2008, 9:02 am
    David,

    Have you seen Warhol eating a hamburger on YouTube? (I know I'm going to sound like I live in the dark ages, but it's in these cases that YouTube really impresses me. When I was studying Warhol, I had a very hard time getting this clip. Now I just have to Google it! Amazing.) I do like some of Warhol's food silkscreens, including the hamburger I saw in Pittsburgh, but I actually find his films to be much more interesting in terms of decadence, eating and food. Of course there is Eat from 1963, but there are also the restaurant films, nude and clothed, which I don't think have been discussed on LTH.

    BTW, I think I read in school that the hamburger Warhol eats in that video is from Burger King.
  • Post #7 - March 12th, 2008, 9:13 am
    Post #7 - March 12th, 2008, 9:13 am Post #7 - March 12th, 2008, 9:13 am
    happy_stomach--

    Just curious: is there any record of Warhol and the Original Hot Dog Shop on Forbes near Pitt? Now that I think about it, I can't believe that he didn't eat there... A genuine Pittsburgh monument, just waiting to be Hammondly ironized!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #8 - March 12th, 2008, 9:16 am
    Post #8 - March 12th, 2008, 9:16 am Post #8 - March 12th, 2008, 9:16 am
    happy_stomach wrote:David,

    Have you seen Warhol eating a hamburger on YouTube?

    BTW, I think I read in school that the hamburger Warhol eats in that video is from Burger King.


    It sure looks like a BK burger.

    I was enthralled by Warhol's delicate, white claws gripping his lunch, eyes darting, and the way he artistically dabbed from a puddle of catsup, at one point removing the heel of the bun and carefully folding the remaining meat in the crown before dipping.

    My thumbnail definition of decadence is "form without feeling," and I don't recall Andy ever expressing an emotion.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #9 - March 12th, 2008, 10:20 am
    Post #9 - March 12th, 2008, 10:20 am Post #9 - March 12th, 2008, 10:20 am
    David Hammond wrote:
    happy_stomach wrote:David,

    Have you seen Warhol eating a hamburger on YouTube?

    BTW, I think I read in school that the hamburger Warhol eats in that video is from Burger King.


    It sure looks like a BK burger.


    As a master of the obvious I think it is safe to assume that the hamburger is from Burger King. The Burger King logo is the giveaway :)
  • Post #10 - March 12th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Post #10 - March 12th, 2008, 11:39 am Post #10 - March 12th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Geo wrote:Just curious: is there any record of Warhol and the Original Hot Dog Shop on Forbes near Pitt?


    None that I know of. He ate that hamburger, but from what I recall of a biography I read long ago (it wasn't something scholarly; I know it wasn't the Bockris biography; the author's name is escaping me), Warhol was pretty abstemious. I'm guessing that if he went to the Original Hot Dog Shop, it was more to be seen than to satisfy a craving. I never got to reading his diaries. Maybe there's a reference in there.

    David Hammond wrote:My thumbnail definition of decadence is "form without feeling," and I don't recall Andy ever expressing an emotion.


    I don't know... I've seen a decent amount of Warhol footage, moving and still, and I feel like I started to see some variation in his affect-less affect, a type of emotion in itself. Maybe once I get more comfortable using YouTube, I can find some examples to illustrate my point. :)
  • Post #11 - March 12th, 2008, 11:42 am
    Post #11 - March 12th, 2008, 11:42 am Post #11 - March 12th, 2008, 11:42 am
    Speaking of Warhol and hot dogs, this is my very favorite of his Campbell's soup cans:

    Image
  • Post #12 - March 12th, 2008, 11:51 am
    Post #12 - March 12th, 2008, 11:51 am Post #12 - March 12th, 2008, 11:51 am
    happy_stomach wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:My thumbnail definition of decadence is "form without feeling," and I don't recall Andy ever expressing an emotion.


    I don't know... I've seen a decent amount of Warhol footage, moving and still, and I feel like I started to see some variation in his affect-less affect, a type of emotion in itself. Maybe once I get more comfortable using YouTube, I can find some examples to illustrate my point. :)


    I think his repeated images (particularly of tragedies, like car crashes) suggests that over-repetition of the horrible drains these scenes of emotional content. Warhol's art was cool, in the sense of detached and affectless. At least that's my read, and my enjoyment of his soup cans, like my enjoyment of ironic platters of food, is more cerebral than anything else. I appreciate what's being done -- I may even find it interesting, clever, witty -- but I don't feel much.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - March 12th, 2008, 12:54 pm
    Post #13 - March 12th, 2008, 12:54 pm Post #13 - March 12th, 2008, 12:54 pm
    David Hammond wrote: … it seems to me that the trend of the past few years to create higher-end versions of lower-end food is an example of the survival of irony and even a kind of Warholian commentary on the artistry of the everyday.


    An ingenious observation, David. Irony is postmodernism's first impulse, and often, sadly, its only one.

    Let us not overlook pop art's pandering (which is to say, commercial) appeal. A foie gras burger, like a painting of a soup can, flatters a plebeian audience that its humble, readily manipulated tastes deserve honor.

    It is a flattery by which many are seduced. A yokel stares at one of Mark Rothko's luminous, ecstatic panels of color, and is not only mystified, but humiliated by his mystification. Similarly, a yokel presented with connoisseur's food – beautifully fresh sea urchin, say, or smelly cheese, or pig's feet – will be likewise dissatisfied at heart.

    But then, back at the gallery, the yokel turns to an array of a thousand silkscreened Marilyn Monroes or Elvis Presleys or Campbells soups … and is pleased and grateful that he understands what he sees … and smiles at the very least in the recollection of Some Like It Hot or "Hound Dog" or Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup. (And if he's a yokel with a little bit of education, he can additionally envelop himself in the smug delight of his recognition of Warhol's ironic pulverization of art into commerce.)

    And similarly again, the yokel sighs with grateful, delighted satisfaction, when faced with fancy, expensive haute cuisine … that turns out to be a hamburger! (Or a Twinkie … or a potato that looks like ice cream … or ice cream that looks like a potato …. )

    Oh, how the yokels will pony up for flattery that seductive, that devious, that clever. And thus does the talentless Warhol become an honored millionaire, while an uncompromising (therefore, broke) genius like Rothko commits suicide.

    Of course, the taste for a hamburger does deserve honor – which it receives, honestly and honorably, at homely establishments like Top Notch Beefburger and Meier's Tavern, made by craftsmen-not-artists, cooks-not-chefs who will never puzzle foodies from the cover of Food and Wine.

    But the pandering flattery of a foie gras burger satirizes rather than honors that taste (for a $40 upcharge). A satire that the yokels are unable to detect, needless to say.

    I suppose haute cuisine's current fad for hyperbolic food mimicry originates with Adrià at El Bulli, who, it is said, intends to provoke sensual discontinuity and a confounding of expectation.

    And maybe he does. But I fear that his imitators – those who ape the aper – seek merely to achieve the irony the original post described so well.

    Which is one of the most juvenile and distasteful fads ever to afflict cuisine, in my view – a horde of Brady Bunch Gen-Xers for whom postmodernist irony is the only artistry they can imagine. It has made me unable even to stomach the thought of dining at someplace like Alinea.

    Yet I've had trouble putting my finger on exactly why I have detested this fad so. Your post, Mr. Hammond, has helped me to do this – to realize that food is one place I have zero tolerance for the discontinuities of surrealism and irony. I am too simple and pleasure-loving for that.

    Thanks.
    Harry V.

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