Friday, March 29, 2013

Cucumber vodka.

Yesterday, I decided to infuse some cucumber into vodka. I decided to try it out after reading an article in Out magazine's April 2012 issue. The idea of making my own "craft" spirit was appealing because everybody seems to be making their own version of something, and because I had no plans this Holy Week. I chose to infuse cucumber because it is refreshing and reminiscent of the summer and the sea. The infusion takes some time, so I'm guessing my experiment will come to fruition at the peak of summer.

Infusing vodka can be quite easy, and you don't need to have any skills in the kitchen. I have none, and I was able to concoct a beautiful looking and smelling mix. All you'll need is vodka, a rather large cucumber, and a jar. It might be a good idea to use inexpensive vodka so it's not too big a deal if it ends up tasting like shit.

Because I was excited to get this baby on the road, I failed to invest in a jar. I emptied the bottle and stuffed the chopped cucumber in the bottle and draped the vodka over it. After it's ready, it is important to remove the cucumber as it can affect the flavor - taking on an unpleasantly bitter taste. Removing the soggy cucumber will prove a challenge for me, but I survived peeling and chopping the gourd when my only kitchen skill is steeping tea.

I plan on dashing a bit of soda and some muddled mint when it is ready to be served. Adding mint is a flash of inspiration. I once tried a divine cucumber and mint shake when I had dinner at Vikings a few ago. It was so refreshing that I had two glasses, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than rip off all my clothes and fly to Boracay. I didn't want to infuse the mint because it might be too strong and overpower the sweet flavor of the cucumber.

Right now, my bottle is in the freezer. It's important to shake it every now and then to balance the flavor. It's also important to use pure vodka as this does not freeze. I will update you once it is ready. Cheers for the summer!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Art in the Park 2013 x Brixton Block Party

Last Saturday, I was at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati for the seventh Art in the Park. I wrote an extensive feature for Supreme, and I wanted to thank the exhibitors personally for helping me with the article. I also wanted to see what the 40 participating galleries had to offer, so off I went even if the skies didn't look too friendly for an outdoor affair.

Art in the Park is a project of Trickie Lopa, Lisa Ongpin Periquet, and the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. Lopa and Periquet also launched the first Art Fair Philippines, which I wrote about on my blog and for Supreme. Art in the Park aims to remove the intimidating air of the art world by bringing it to the non-threatening atmosphere of a public park and capping the price of all art works to P30,000. This year saw 40 of the best galleries exhibiting the works of both emerging and established artists.

Maybe it was because I came earlier this year, but this year's artworks were more provocative, more intense. If I had to choose my favorite galleries, it would have to be Vinyl on Vinyl, Secret Fresh, and Silverlens. These three seem to have their identities down pat - from Vinyl's and Secret Fresh's crazy and colorful toys and artworks to Silverlens' serious and brooding pieces.

The galleries were wonderfully curated, representing every school of thought from modernism to pop art to abstract. Art in the Park is one of my most anticipated events of the year because it is so inclusive. You don't need to be an art patron or a gazillionaire to enjoy art and purchase it.

Speaking of purchases, I bought a print from JP Cuison at Secret Fresh. It has always been one of my dreams to own one of his prints, and I finally got one for a very good price. Cuison is known for his posters,  and his most prominent is that of the Cinemalaya favorite Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. His style is reminiscent of those old comics and I like the way he uses color. I plan to have my print framed after Holy Week. I'm so excited!

I was with my friend Stefan, and he introduced me to stylist Melvin Mojica. Such a great guy. We had a few glasses of white wine and talked about art, food, and fashion.

We soon went on our separate ways, but we all agreed to meet at Brixton for Heima's Brixton Block Party. The cult lifestyle store has opened a branch in Pasig and is celebrating its launch together with the release of Ang Nawawala's soundtrack on vinyl. I had a slight buzz because I downed my last glass of wine, so I was feeling good about myself and my purchase. So good.... that I left my camera in the cab.

It was so frustrating because the camera has been with me for only three months, and I bought it because I lost my previous camera. I'm really careful with my things, but sometimes shit hits the fan and this happens. I would like to believe that the loss of my first camera wasn't really my fault, but this one was an act of carelessness and I hate myself for being so relaxed. What hurts more is that I bought the camera with my own money. That definitely took away the great buzz I had from Art in the Park.

I met Nikko and we had a quick dinner at Edgy Veggy Cafe (also at Brixton). They're a cozy restaurant that proves being vegetarian doesn't have to be boring. According to Nikko, Edgy Veggy is owned by Carlos Celdran's wife, Denise. I had the Korean, a large plate containing spicy bibimbap rice, tofu mushroom bulgogi, and salad. The flavors were exquisite, and the combination of rice, bulgogi, and salad provided an explosion in my mouth that countered the depression I had with my camera. The dish was both light and heavy - I became full but not the horrible kind of full where you just want to lock yourself in the restroom and cry and purge.

Heima's new store was lovely. If you're familiar with the store's aesthetic, their Brixton branch is just that, except more polished. The shop doubles as a showroom, with gorgeous couches tastefully arranged around the store. Their standard products - books, stationery, prints, and home furnishings are all there. The store was packed to the hilt with friends, supporters, and fans of the store.

To celebrate the release of Ang Nawawala's soundtrack, DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation and Terno Recordings, Pulso, Hanna + Gabi with Outerhope, Pedicab, Tarsius, Jazz Nicolas and Kelvin Yu, Ebe Dancel, Daydream Cycle, and Buboy Garovillo performed. All the performers played really great sets, but what stood out for me was Pulso's. They played really great instrumentals, but the best thing about the band was Robby Mananquil, who aged really well. The group I was with were practically creaming, and I can't say I wasn't one of them.

* Art in the Park photos from their Facebook page
* Heima interior photos from their blog
* Heima crowd photo from their Facebook page

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Grimes live in Manila

Last Thursday, Grimes was in the country for a one-night only performance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Makati. I first heard of Grimes a couple of weeks ago through my high school friend, who I recently re-connected with since going our separate ways in college. He introduced me to Oblivion, and I was hooked. Then after a few days, I found out that she will be performing here. Perfect.

I managed to get a ticket because I will be featuring the concert for When In Manila. I also wrote about the concert the previous week in Supreme. I recently started going to gigs and learned that music is better listened to live, and I found myself appreciating genres I never thought I'd like. For example, rock really isn't my thing. But when you listen to Wilderness perform live, it's like you're another person. The same thing happened when I watched Azealia Banks perform at the anniversary party for Magnum. To me, it's more about feeling the music than hearing it.

Anyway, Grimes was more up my alley because I love electronica. Grimes, or Claire Boucher, does not make your ordinary music and is in a genre of her own. Her official genre is indietronica, but The Guardian once said that “by sounding a little like everything you’ve ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard.” Her sound is “post-internet,” a mix of synthpop and a breathy and ethereal voice that mixes perfectly to create an electro dream. She sounds a bit like Bj√∂rk and a bit like Enya.

Her latest album Visions is a work of art. It has been lauded by The New York Times as one of the most impressive albums of 2012. The single Oblivion is Grimes’ most successful release so far, and was named #1 song of 2012 on Pitchfork. Much of the album is just as great, with favorites GenesisVowels = Space And Time, and Skin providing a solid backbone for the type of music Grimes plays. Curiously, she made the entire album on Apple’s GarageBand.

Grimes' concert at the Hard Rock Cafe was a riot. She played most of the songs on Visions, and even if she only played eight songs over a set that lasted less than an hour, the energy was out of this world. Grimes opened the set with Symphonia IX and the crowd got wilder as she progressed, singing Circumambient, Nightmusic, and Be A Body. When she performed Oblivion, everybody cheered and went crazy. By the time she closed with Phone Sex, I was already part of my friends’ mosh pit and dancing along with the crowd.

The day after her show, she tweeted “manila was out of this world i will absolutely come back to manila and i suggest to everybody else that they go to manila one day. ”

*With excerpts from my article at When In Manila here. A link to my feature on Supreme here. Photos are by Stephen Lavoie, courtesy of Kind Assault. Follow Grimes on Twitter here and Kind Assault here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nananaginip Nang Gising, UP Asterisk's 7th anniversary party

Last Friday, I was in Conspiracy Bar in Quezon City to support my friend Stefan for Nananaginip Nang Gising.  The event is the seventh year anniversary and cult night of Asterisk, the three-time Outstanding Arts and Letters-Based Organization in UP Diliman. Stefan handles social media, and he does a great job of it because I usually get events to feature for Supreme from him. He did the marketing for the event and he invited me, Nikko, and Erin Emocling to represent When In Manila

On a side note, I would also like to congratulate Erin for landing a gig as writer for Yahoo! and VERA Files. She's a great photographer and writer!

Prior to that, I attended the reception of my officemate Rhea Ramilla's wedding. She and her now-husband Bryan finally tied the knot after 13 years of being a couple. She looked absolutely stunning that day and I wish that she will have 13 more years, then 13 more with him. Bryan's a lucky guy.

Nananaginip Nang Gising featured the music of Wilderness, Slow Hello, Plagpul, The Oemons, The Jeffrey Zulueta Experience, TABAKK, Ciudad Tribu, Super Lolo, Sheenola, The Strangeness, Justin Pinon, and poetry by UP UGAT, with live art by Ang Gerilya.

Wilderness played a great set that night, but totally different from the last gig I watched. According to Stefan, a neighbor complained about the noise the bands made and threatened to report them. Wilderness was affected the most because their music can be really loud, what Erin describes as a "bombastic love explosion." At one point, I was handed a tambourine and I jammed with the band for a few songs. It felt really good.

The Oemons were pretty good, too. They look like rockers in a jazz band, complete with a trombone and trumpet, but they play ska. They're a riot to watch and though I didn't exactly understand what they were singing (they mentioned burritos, white men, and bukkake), they were an entertaining band and their music was addicting. I might go to their other gigs.

I enjoyed The Strangeness' set the most. My friend Shinji plays the tambourine, and they describe themselves as a "lo-budge narco country psychedelic garage punk n' soul band... from outer space." It sounds like a lot to digest, but their songs are laidback and perfect for chill Sunday afternoons. They performed one of my favorite Strangeness songs, Being Sober is a Drag. Which really is.

The rest of the event went great. I got to meet Bon, who runs Indiebon, this artist from Ang Gerilya, and Geli Bolinao from Clavel. We promised to collaborate on projects soon. Exciting times ahead!

Asterisk is perhaps the coolest student organization. They hold these fantastic cultural events from Lav Diaz screenings to talks with established cultural creatives. In fact, I'm seriously thinking of going back to school just to join Aste!

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