We are so proud to announce that ALTAI is now open for business. Our store at 5810 West 3rd Street is open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 7pm and on Sundays from noon to 7pm. And altai.la is available to you twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. We look forward to meeting you at the store and create an account at altai.la for updates on what’s happening at ALTAI. Meanwhile, here’s a preview from the New York Times.
For a long time the consensus among my family members is that what I really need to do is find what they call, “a nice southern girl” and things will be fine. They’re on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina and they’ve invited me to go with them to a picnic and festival. They’ve also invited a number of family friends and their sons and daughters. Mostly, it seems, daughters.
Dir. Ross McElwee
Matthew Biancaniello is a mad, mad mixologist with a bent for foraged ingredients: wood sorrel, mugwort, wild mustard, stinging nettles, black sage, and white mulberries. One of his latest obsessions is candy cap mushrooms, which he’ll use to infuse sherry or bourbon. “I love to use the bourbon to make a Manhattan,” says Biancaniello. Or he’ll mix candy cap sherry with curry-infused elderflower liqueur, tangerines and lovage. What’s so special about candy caps? It’s actually quabalactone III. That’s the recently discovered compound that gives candy cap mushrooms their distinct maple or butterscotch aroma, the quality for which they’re coveted. After nearly three decades of research, Humboldt State University chemist William Wood last year identified quabalactone III in candy caps, only present when they’re dried (the result of an amino acid reaction). They’re almost always used dried, in the same way you might use saffron or vanilla pods. The name quabalactone is derived from the scientific name for the Mexican tree rosita de cacao, Quararibea funebris, whose flowers contain the same compound and were used by the Aztecs to flavor chocolate drinks. For Biancaniello’s quabalactone-fueled sherry, place an ounce of dried candy cap mushrooms and a bottle of fino or oloroso sherry in a covered container and let infuse for at least a week (two is better), then strain. Sipped straight, it’s a mycologist’s dream after-dinner drink.
State Route 27 winds from Topanga State Beach in Malibu to the 101 freeway in the San Fernando Valley. Accessed from either direction, it doesn’t take long before mobile phone reception disappears and dirt road junctions flash by, marked with banks of ramshackle mailboxes. Around a few more bends, and hand-painted signs start appearing at the side of the road: fresh berries, homemade hot sauce, Theatricum Botanicum… The history of Topanga Canyon is filled with bygone lives of actors, artists, back-to-the-land types, musicians, and nudists. Its bohemian roots give bloom to life in the canyon today. At first a weekend hide-away for Hollywood actors, the canyon took on a new dimension in the 1950s and 1960s. The likes of Wallace Berman and George Herms found the rolling hills and wild eucalyptus the perfect backdrop for seriously unserious revolutionary experiments in art while Will Geer formed his famous theater that continues to enchant audiences with Shakespeare played out under summer evening skies. Topanga Canyon has seen its dark times, too, but there is a magical feeling up there. Collective creativity mixed with rugged independence and surrender to nature lend to the uniquely seductive air of the canyon.
THE HOUSE IS BLACK
“I thank you God for creating me. I thank you God for creating my caring mother and my kind father. I thank you God for creating the flowing water and the fruiting trees. I thank you for giving me hands to work with. I thank you for giving me eyes to see the marvels of this world. I thank you for giving me ears to enjoy beautiful songs. I thank you for giving me feet to go wherever I will.”
The House Is Black
Dir. Forugh Farrokhzad
Born in 1928, Paulo Mendes da Rocha completed architecture school in 1954 and opened his own office in 1955. In 1957, he completed the now-legendary Paulistano Athletic Club in São Paulo, Brazil. The radical blankness of its raw concrete recalls the Brutalist style of the day, but its poetic simplicity and sculptural forms feel more akin to the International Style and the experimental lines and volumes of John Lautner. Developing a reductive style based on intense training and respect for technique and appropriateness to place, Mendes da Rocha went on to achieve international renown, designing and building numerous public spaces, museums, and exemplary residences. He was honored with with Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2006.
For the interior spaces of the Paulistano Athletic Club, Mendes da Rocha designed the Paulistano Chair. Made of a single seventeen-foot-long tube of solid steel, the frame is welded in only one place. Still in production, the original version of the Paulistano Chair used a single large piece of leather wrapped around the steel structure to form the shallow seat. The sling-style seat can be adjusted to sit more less upright. Both the steel and the leather are hand finished and weather over time, adding character with the patina of age and use. More rare, however, is the version done in wire mesh. At once delicate and masculine, the mesh cover makes the chair appear to hover in air. Perhaps more grounded, though, is the chair’s relationship to the body. With sensitive proportions, the frame and sling shape to the user: flexing to accommodate the body’s weight and molding to its form, the Paulistano Chair is as sensual as it is simple and functional, adhering to Mendes da Rocha’s emphasis on sua dimensão humana.