Monday, August 02, 2004

Had a wonderful evening...

This might serve as an open letter of thanks to Jeff Kelley and Hung Liu, who hosted a small dinner party at their home tonight. It was delightful to be in the gathering.

It is wonderful when eight people can sit at a table and all take part in one fascinating conversation. Sometimes eight is a risky number... factions break off and the party never stays together as one. Tonight, it worked.

Liu's son Ling Chiu was there, late of Beijing. I so hope he will contact my own son, Evan, whose xanga blog "bauhinia" is his own open book to the world. They actually have a lot in common.

Jeff offered an excellent California Zinfandel to start with. We never got past the second bottle (Cabernet), which was also enjoyable. Liu's cooking (especially a certain fungus dish) was delicious and filling. It was great to see my mom eat so much. She's not in good health and rarely goes out to eat, never mind dinner parties.

Ron Nagle and Cindy Ehrlich were there. Ron is a heroic musician and quite amazing ceramicist. He is the sort of person who seems to be destined for enormous fame at some future date, when I will be long gone. Art history recognises true greatness; I think Ron will have a large place in the art history texts of the future. He is far too much of a renaissance man for his contemporaries to give him his due. America doesn't like a multi-talented person. American fashion champions the expert but not the explorer. So I figure he won't get his due in this life, not yet.

Over time, Ron's cut two albums of his quirky rock ballads. He still writes songs and records them... as he mentioned tonight, his "Don't Touch Me There" is a rock classic and yet our relatively prissy Barbra Streisand sang two of his songs on her Superman album. He is a tough-looking guy but his ceramics are smooth and sensitively glazed... some quite streamlined. He has a way of being a curmudgeon without being at all a party pooper. You gotta love a guy like that. I admire contradiction and imperfect genius.

Cindy, his longtime girlfriend, was there. She is a sensitive journalist and writer with a lot of heart. I haven't seen her since I was about 10 years old, at a party given by Rayer and Leslie Akiko Toki. Cindy is a writer, but we connected easily and chatted the whole time before dinner was on the table. She spoke so easily about her writing, her life. I don't know why, but we found common ground that opened up large, like a soundless earthquake from the panels of a comic book. Woah, is that the zinfandel?

We talked about mainland Chinese artists and their patrons, their mammoth studios, their work, their hangouts.

We talked about popular music. Jeff (who must have been born in 1951), extolled the revolutionary messages of his incomparable Beatles, and could not convince me that our young postmodern music fans are missing out on something big... for he started 3 sentences with, "Kids nowadays..."!! Ach, a bad choice. Ron was in fine form, berating Train and Dave Matthews and Elvis, dismissing The Dead and The Airplane, too. Iconoclast, thy name is Chuckie.

Fashions tonight... for what it's worth: My mom wore blue cashmere under a beautiful Janice Bornt serape. Hung Liu wore a black silk pyjama set and her little silver earrings were adorable. I wore my Shanghai Calico cheongsam and a bulky wool sweater - it's a typical August day in the Bay Area you understand! And Cindy wore a white skirt with cherries embroidered on it. Her haircut was the most chic of the group... a sort of Eddie Haskell - meets Annie Lennox thing. Since she has the figure of a pinup, it is not hard for her to look great. Winner of the menswear award: LC for his blue polyester dragon monstrosity of a shirt.

Did I mention the dessert? Ron and Cindy brought it... some fantastic choco-mocha thing with shavings of white chocolate on top. I loved the way Ron sliced the thing "like Solomon" said my dad, "and the baby" said Ron!

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