REPORTING ON ART AND FOOD from Troubled Places

Warning : This is a modern-primitive writing website, of impressionist rather than informative character.

New on 25 October are "High on Sponsoring and Leeds Rage" under Digestions 2020 here and "High on Gratitude!" under CW Watch Back here

New on 24 October is "Working for Peace in the Middle East" under Little East, new on 23 October is was "Little Peace"  also under Little East here

Thirty people, children uncounted, at a business lunch with God, negociating the future spiritual and material well-being of seven babies undergoing a group baptism in a church in Central London, all the godmothers wore red dresses, Saturday 24 October about 1700

23 October - High on Filth (or the notion and memory of it)

The things I've been high on lately are - I’d say the “usual suspects” - people, art and food… but more specifically:

(To be continued )

"Dad, even our Coke tastes better than theirs, why?" My Iraqi cousin at the age of seven while on a holiday in Bulgaria. "Because our watter is swampier" My Iraqi uncle in response. 

Cafe Bohėme is as it was perfect - I always loved everything about it. The bistrot interior. Le menu, ou les menus, du jour. The simplicity of the dishes and wines. The crowed. The mid-afternoon live music preLockdown. The newspapers on the counter. The Soho characters in their costumes and postures: Soho George, Gabor. The regular beggars: Pam *wish you an reincarnation in a penthouse overlooking Central Park* in the beginning and Mel still. All and everyone synonyme of perfection. A perfection reflected by the place, a bohemian Grail, itself - apart from the chips.

Previously Cafe Boheme's chips have been tinny and crunchy pieces of fried potatoes coming in a huge bowl. Finely chopped and fried unto lovely golden crispness and delightful crackiness on the tooth that echos like a serenade in the soul. And this coming from me, a hereditary, on the side of my father, chips non eater.. SPECULATION Boheme's chips priorLockdown has been very crispy, I reckon, because... well, if you came in the middle of the afternoon ... refreshed at least once. Refreshed by a quick passage through the pan where exposed to the healthily tanning powers of a good, very hot oil SPECULATION.

Nowadays, Cafe Bohème's chips are ...well, everybodyelse'slike chips - fat and pale. For who has the time to properly crisp and crunch chips today? Nobody. And if the chips is simply freshly made and not once or twice refreshed, as it surely isn't at Café Bohème nowadays, it's simply ... how can I say... lacking on vitamine D?... not attractive enough?... and certainly not tasty enough to be worth the calories.

Which brings me straight to my starting point : Filth is full of flavour, isn't it? Even when sterile is good it just can't reach the heights of tastiness of some of the renowned filth. My mother's point exactly when describing the best cup of tea she ever had - bought on the pavement of a street in Baghdad. " You see" she would say "They washed one man's cup with the remains of other man's tea. That's why, I only had it this once, but it was the best tea I ever had".

Here is - en lieu, which should actually be en guise ,of a photo - a riddle: " Red sun with yellow eye, cold on the tongue - warm on the heart, my favourite plat a la Boheme's cart, what is it?  

Wardrobe High at Kentish Town Health Centre or The Unexplainable Piece of Master-Woodery.

6. High on Uric Assid. Every self-respecting professional traveller will tell you that one claims to know a town well only when one knows where to pleasurably ...urinate.

Here I am not talking about having any piss at any random place and it is not per chance that Frank Zappa came with the lyrics "Don't eat of the yellow snow". I am talking about having a slash in a nice, goodsmelling, comfortable and luxurious place. Those who have suffered in Paris know how important it is for each to have their pissoire-map. And while my main piss-hubs in Londo are available once more - generously I am constantly volunteering with all sorts of useful infirmation, but my pissoire-map I consider too intimate, all together with too precious, to share - I still find it important to talk about some closed piss-hubs, despite the fact that I don't usually use them.

For instance all the Costas, Neros, Prets and others; nowadays one can't get an access to their slashrooms even when one buys a bottle of watter. "Go in the station darling". They send off their clientele to the nearest public facility. It turns out that as long as the watter is sold that's alright, but the back collection isn't. A back water collection which doesn't come free anywhay, as it is already included in the £1.60 price of the bottle one bought. Missing also is the fair sign "No matter what you buy you ain't using our slashroom". Fairness is probably not it the nature of big chains.

And what a dreadful urban sensation that is - to be dead thirsty while bursting for a leak. As a result: my water consumption has fallen to a quarter of its preCOVID levels and I am high on uric acid.

On the bright side: imagine the situation in Paris....

As a picture is missing to illustrate this text, en lieux of such here is a riddle : It has a strategic location near the Red Lion's mouth, its full of real green plants like an exotic garden and has a pocket-size gallery attached to it, which lavatory is it?

22 October

Pink tomatoes, Bulgarian cheese, old white onions and tiny black olives salad plus homemade rakia in Sunny Beach on Tumpike Lane

5. High on Sunny Tumpike Beach Lane or High - actually very high, on Foodstalgia and Homesick.

Never been there since the age of four, in Iraq, when I was missing my snow sledge and I was longing for a gevrek - a hybrid between a bagel and a pretzel -, else to say a double - boiled and baked - cooked dough. Gevrek as I remember it - from when I was four - doesn't exist anymore. It is gone then and there - freshly boiled and baked - at the corner of my childhood street; spreading its smell 360° round within miles.

Long story cut short: Gevrek is nomore and nostalgia and foodstalgia is how growing old feels - very very old actually - : many of the things - together with people - one knew are nomore. Taken by what will always look as a premature death. 

Yet, the good thing about growing old abroad is that you are not alone in the NosFoodStalgia. Diasporas revive things longdead on the big mainland - just think about the ancient French Canadians speak or the old Bulgarian Macedonians speak. Diasporas are strange timespace islands.

And maybe this is the charm of all of Little Italy, Little France, Little Arabia, Little Bulgaria - Tumpike Lane - and all Little NosFoodStalgia of Anywhere else. You - all NosFoodStalgics - are there much more together than in any Big Italy, Big France, Big Arabia, Big Bulgaria or every Bigwhere else.

In Sunny Tumpike Beach Lane you have all the accumulative Bulgaria NosFoodStalgic mirage consistent of cigarettes smoking while drinking coffee or else, white firm non-feta cow cheese, pink tomatoes, tripe-in-milk soup, butter cooked tongues and hearts and livers all at £5.50, homemade rakia - like French eau de vie, not like the raki in Turkey or Greece - espresso and cakes.

Many a time while working in North London I’ve wondered whether to have a look at .... continues on Sunny Tumpike under La Bouf here  

This text is a vague response to Caitlin Moran’s “My kids don’t understand me”. CW, what about “My kid, my partner and most of my friends understand me less than a handful of accidentally met strangers in a strange city”? Huh?

21 October

Pascal Sender's augmented reality at Saatchi and Yates

4. High on Less Buisnesses less Adverts. Therefore, Poems on the Underground are back in + huge posters MIND THE GAP - year? payment? party? new acquaintance? what? - This year I am gapping on everything. NEVER MIND THE GAP should be tube's new slogan. 20 October

3. The Good Gallery Weather continues in RA's back yard so to speak; and more precisely at 6 Cork Street, the new Saatchi Yates Gallery. Where an augmented reality work by Pascal Sender, a work I called 'Meet Me by the Nuclear Explosion' depicts what looks like an unexpected and in the middle of the road encounter between a diabolically looking man and a young woman accompanied by a child at the timespace spot of a...(more under October/November) 19 October

2. Good Gallery Wather or И септември ще бъде май / 'And September will be May', the old communiste slogan promising a perpetual good weather and cherry blossom had been brought to a manifestation in the most pompouse of all artistic establishments in town - the Royal Academy. In RA October is as good as July and therefore the Summer Exhibition is still on. 18 October

1. Men of colour at my local Côte - two of them. Which means that now my local Côte looks more like London than like Warsaw than ever before. Just to make it clear - I am not a user of Côte in general. I am a user of a particular table at a particular Côte - I like to look at the universe from precisely this spot in space which may or not have something to do with Côte itself as such. What do I order there? Nowadays, que du pain et du vin - an old classic I rediscovered last summer in Bulgaria. Right at the summit of fresh fish and sea-life and magnificent, outwardly vegetables grown by one's parents and one's friends' parents in their gardens by the sea; which is also the summer when I've eaten  my frined Nadeto's neighbour's free running Samantha Fox, the chicken - mate of Rod Steward, the husky crowing time-deranged bastard - delivering his gigs at times as late as 0630 instead of the specific down-hour - as a repay for her, Samantha the chicken, casual trespass into Nadeto's garden. Yes, all the animals in the vicinity were named after renowned musicians baptised by a neighbour, a world famous sax player; which is also the summer when I was hit by the concept of 'Dangerous Cooking, when I came across an aubergine casserole cooked by my mother accompanied by plain bulgur, both what we would call vegan today, and was brought unto a child like state repeating a long forgotten dialogue "Mum, if you see me passing out now, what will you do?"; she "I will call an ambulance", sounding strangely reassuring despite her muffled laughter. As a result of bottoming - eating up to the bottom - both dishes alone and - like a proper rock'n'roller - despite occasionally hearing random comments of my mother’s like "Your father haven't had lunch yet" or "Somebody might want some lunch still". Finishing both casseroles I felt the sunny grace of the summer afternoon entwining with the shadow of imminent death caused by gluttony to cristallise the concept of Dangerous Cooking - why is it always aubergines that bring people to their peril? Remember Imam Baildi, the notorious The Imam Dropped Dead dish of stuffed aubergines - ? It might, after all, turn out to be natural, that in this particular summer, and not another, I realised that what I flavour and fancy most is bear bread and wine.. .. Focaccia olive oil salt and white wine, not even red, and the always windy, restless bay of Gradina, where kiters break their necks - the accumulation of this summer of gourmet and natural lush...and the reason why I nowadays take only wine and bread while at a specific table at a specific Côte. 15 October


Michael Clark Cosmic Dancer exhibition at the Barbican

6 October - Iconoclast at the Barbican and Sin at the National Gallery

What's not to like about art in a declining culture? Nothing. Art itself is at its summit. Some of the trimmings are missing... Nothing important, just simple civilizational marks such as the croissants and the coffee at galleries' morning press views, overhearing other people's interviews with the curators ... But let's forget what is missing. What is there to see is fab.

Michael The Iconoclast Clark Cosmic Dancer exhibition at the Barbica is the best exhibition dedicated to dance I've ever seen. This might be partially due to the fact that precisely there I was made aquainted with this Most Rock'N'Roll of All Dancers - What a miracle.

A word to be said... about the visiting time - one hour is not enough for this exhibition. It took me an hour to see through the first floor only. After which I was ushered, rather cruelly, to the exit without seeing much of the second floor not realising that it is already 1300 - the finish time for the press view.

Sin at the National Gallery (Where else?), for contrast is a pocket size exhibition full of masterpieces that can be visited for leas than half an hour. My favourite jewel in this filigrane Sin box is Velasquez The immaculate conception - what a chef-d'œuvre. And what stands next to it, on the right.

Artemisia Gentileschi at the National Gallery on Wednesday, 30 September, about 1030

30 September - Artemisia Gentileschi

"Great exhibition, keeping a well judged balance between her superb talent as an artist in her own right and her story as a woman. " LAAF's envoy Roy S.

Artemisia is at the National Gallery from 3 October 2020 to 24 January 2021

29 September - The repetative themes of a generation or here we go again

My favourite Renoir Bag Lady Bag is from the National Gallery. It works in the city and at the beach. It is perfect because, just as any other Bag Lady Bag has no weight of its own and can contain tones of belongings. It can be washed and ironed - else to say it has zero-COVID19 carrying emissions - and when folded occupies literally zero space on the shelf, unlike any "normal" statement bag.

15 September - The Bag is Dead, Long Live the Bag

Just by the time I was thinking that the bag, as we knew it, is totally and utterly dead, V&A's exhibition 'Bags: Inside Out' comes as the perfect obituary of the handy item.

Initially, I was thinking that the "normal" statement bag is dead for me alone. This, after working on a humanitarian mission with people who had to unexpectedly leave their settled lives and who were carrying their personal documents in self-made pouches sown to their pants, banknote savings incorporated in their belts and familly-jewelry stuffed in their bras. Having wan smuggled mountain-crossings and wild boat-rides these ultimate survival champions had emerged on their second-life shores free of all "normal" statement bags. Else to say the "normal" statement bag is of the items that liveth not a second life.

Having realised that, I then and there started wearing a suede, handmade Belly-Belt Bag, also know as fanny-purse, containing my ids, phones, wallet, portable wifi, external battery and cables - in a word everything needed for a swift evacuation - and never took it off. Everything else, "The things that I won't mind to loose", such as the newspaper, the magazine, the water, the cigarettes and the nuts, I carry, like a Bag Lady, in a simple fabric bag, which I freely leave here and there - say by the door at an exhibition opening, or by the dj panel at a party - and so far had never felt to collect. "There is no force on earth" said I to my Multiple-Furla-Bags-Proprietaire of a friend in Sofia last summer "To make me carry "a normal" handbag anymore. Let alone a leather one. They are heavy - even the lightest of them and unhandy".

Then, I found out that the statement bag is dead not only to me, but surprisingly to women owners of statement bags. It's only that they still don't know it. Say my Multiple-Furla-Bags-Proprietaire of a friend in London - when she goes shoping, or walking her dog in the Heath she doesn't take her Furla bag, probably because she doesn't want to strike too posh of a pose, not even at Waitrose, let alone at tue dog walk, but as she doesn't have cheap bags she throws her sunglasses and wallet in ...well, a Bag Lady's fabric bag just like me.

Since, I've noticed many a well-kept-looking ladies taking the bus "For couple of stops only", or farmers' market-shopping carrying Bag Lady Bags alone. And no other handbag - because they, obviously, don't have a cheap enough handbag, normal enough as to carry on public transport or at commoners' markets. For them too the "normal" statement bag is dead - as they've given it away while on 3/4 of their daily missions, but they are simply not yet conscious of it.

I could go on and on about the death of the "normal" statement bag as we knew it, but let's see first V&A's comprehensive obituary "Bags: Inside Out"

My Belly-Belt Bag has been bought in Monsoon some three (?) years ago. I aim to carry it until it becomes black with adventures dirt and then cary it even more. Together with all personal belongings necessary in times of brisk evacuation it also features a massive sel-added stud. This some 275 carat impure ruby was given to me by my son, who had bought it from a friend of his who mines gems and sells them in his own gem shop. It was later on put in a silver frame by a friend of mine. And now ordains my old Belly-Belt Bag. It serves two purposes : My vanity as one; my survival as two - I imagine it might buy me at least two weeks food supply in times of famine, or a Mad-Max style desert ride in times of climate-change evacuation but above all it has a story. Furla, what can you buy?

"V&A Bags: Inside Out, opening 21 November. Tickets for the exhibition are on sale from today, 15 September with the museum also increasing opening hours to 5 days per week (Wednesday – Sunday) from tomorrow, following popular demand " V&A's press release


Weapon of Vice, by Bambi, Pipckerying Street or how the symbolism of a piece of art might change from one day to another during a pandemic, mid March

Shamsia the Clairvoyant, Women By Women exhibition, see bellow. 8 March or couple of weeks before the quaranteen.

In the Times of COVID19

I wonder what France does with its ban on face covering...?

"The bill prohibits the wearing of face-coverings in public places and also applies to foreign tourists visiting France. The law imposes a fine of up to €150, and/or participation in citizenship education, for those who violate the law." Wiki

Other contemporary practice that in the Times of COVID19 strikes a particularly rotten pose is the one of the Admin*-Abattoirs as I call them.

Think of the new Camden Municipality building, the one next to Google at the otherwise so luring new Pancras Square, with the exciting postcode N1C. Or also think of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation HR, the one at Chelsea Harbour (this shamelessly boggling expression of greed that hadn't allowed the growth of a single tree amongst the sardinesquashed buildings...posh? mon queue). I am saying these admin-abbatoirs where up to hundred people are jammed desk to desk with not as much as a cubicle, like the ones in American films, to separate them; and where staff 'meets clients' in massive equally unpersonalized lobbies (overheated or hipper cold respectively), I mean these monstrosities are as a pure health hazard as a chemical attack.

And before my Lady of Elevation, the Starry Badger ** nags me for sueshoutingattea***, which is the contemporary English for unconstructive criticism, I will say : Nay, I am not sueshoutingattea and here is my sconeandclottedcream which is the contemporary English for "having a positive idea nearly solution":

Whenever you've created a workplace for humans - step back, squint your eyes and examine the creation. If it looks like admin-abattoir, start again thinking aesthetics and respect. If aesthetic and respect are incorporated health conditions would be bettered too.

Admin Life Matters.

*By Admin I mean all working for public institutions.

**Caitlin Moran aka CW

*** For contemporary English entry 'sueshoutingattea' follow the link and read N1 ' Yorkshire Tea' here


Shield! by Shamsia and Shamsia by Tahmina, at Women By Women exhibition, by ActionAid at OXO Tower, until 8 March

Women By Women and Niqab for Men

An example of strongly talented clairvoyance : Shamsia wears a mask before everybody else. Unfortunately the photos on this exhibition are not dated, so we don't know how much before everybody else exactly.

Shamsia was born as Afghan refugee in Tehran, where the Women-Fearing regime did not allow her to study art (as in addition to Women-Fearing the regime in Tehran is also a Muslim-slaying one - not only it slays Syrians but it also deprives from all rights and dignity the Afghani refugees seeking shelter on its lands).

Today, Shamsia is a street artist, fine arts lecturer and professor in sculpture at the University of Kabul. And hopefully for many a year to come despite all manmade wars and batmade viruses. Else to speak despite all Batmen.


By the way, suddenly, in the eternal match Iran vs Saudi Arabia, SA scores yet another goal - Saudi women's gear is more en vogue with the last virus fighting trends. Lately, I am thinking shouldn't we all, women and men, start wearing full niqab?... for couple of months at least. 

Women By Women exhibition, by ActionAid is at OXO Tower, until 8 March

Extinction Rebelion visiting Antony Gormley

Fly now Pay Later - Extinction Rebellion at Antony Gormley

An endearing, lonely extinction rebellionist was a live female sculpture amidst Gormley's Iron Men.

Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic by Polite Extinction, @politeextinction

Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic

Mare Tranquilitatis is a lunar mare that sits within the Tranquilitatis Basin on the Moon.

Polite Extinction, went to Goldsmiths BA, MA, Museology in Ed, PGCE university of Brighton and is currently in artistic residence at Budapest.

Here We Go Again or Screaming Brexit

Credit @art_decoded. Follow @art_decoded on Instagram

Screaming Johnson, an ahead of its time image of Boris as captured in September 2020 by Francis Bacon

"Oh, Theresa tried so hard but in the end you couldn't make Brexit happen. We just hope that you are not taking it as badly as this painting is making you out to be." @art_decoded

"If this seems familiar, it is because it is based on Francis Bacon's 'Study of Velasquez's Portrait of Pop Innocent X' or The Screaming Pope as it is otherwise known.", @art_decoded continues its strict analysis.

Yet, Laaf just discovered an apocryphal edition of Nostradamus' Chronicles in which it is revealed that Bacon's inspiration for The Screaming Pope wasn't his tumultuous relationship with Peter Lacy as largely thought, but a vision of Britain's Prime Minister in September 2020.

The apocryphal chronicles reveal that the vision came to Bacon at about 0710 at the junction of Greek Street and Old Compton Street, Soho on 25th of May 1967, after a drinking night with Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Henrietta Moraes and Lady Caroline Blackwood.

"You will paint a Prime Minister caught in a scary stuff called Brexit, ne cherche pas a comprendre, and you will call it Screaming Pope" a mighty voice whispered in Bacon's ear the chronicles further unveil.

Inspiration courtesy @art_decoded.

Follow @art_decoded on Instagram

It's one of Laaf's favourites

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