Monday, April 30, 2012

Of Geisha Memoirs and a Starck Lark

Dear Ones, Nero's devised a touch of drama to begin this Monday with a bit of a bang-bang. An improvised date night led the pharaoh and yours truly to sample the latest celebrity chef and rockstar designer concubinage to hit Houston, sushi lounge Katsuya by S+arck, a razor sharp collaboration between chef Katsuya Uechi and the Marlon Brando of branding himself, monsignor Philippe Starck. 

The culinary kabuki unfolds in an atmosphere of black, white and crimson, staged with copious amounts of stainless steel and the quasi-surgical sterility one would expect from an establishment that minces, handles and hawks raw fish. Divided into several areas, a clubby lounge and watering hole, a central seating space crowned by a sushi bar, and a chandeliered partition for private occasions, Nero was pleased to note that despite the intimidating Russian roulette of floating knives that greets guests upon arrival and the slanty-eyed sexploitation masquerading as murals, the clientele was not restricted to not-so-bright young things. Indeed, several parties came bearing small children, who quickly bellied up to the sushi bar, crowned at each corner with a golden gun or a caricatured creature -- signature Starck and a great way to distract the youth while the Kobe beef skewers sizzle. 

We ate sparingly, more interested in taking in the pantomime -- a cup of miso soup each, a ceviche for Nero and a raw tuna platter for his excellency -- all truly fresh and flavorful though the portions were petite. Nero, who cannot leave that stone unturned, made an obligatory visit to the privy in the hopes of uncovering some stunning sink hardware or an interplanetary feat of hand soap styling. Alas, as evidenced below, the John felt like a pharmacopeia done up by Damian Hirst -- stainless steel and mirrored glass, icy to the touch, lacking even the intrigue or flourish of a baby shark floating in formaldehyde. 

Fittingly, Nero had accidentally dressed the part of Madame Butterfly post-Pinkerton -- a bloody mess minus the heart-shaped bow of a Chanel-tinged geisha lip. Next curtain call, I will come armed and dangerous, toting the vintage Dior clutch pictured in the last image below. It feels thematically appropriate, created well over a decade ago, rendered in a kimono silk by John Galliano in his prime, when visions of Japanese painted ladies and cherry tree blossoms still danced in his head, before the champagne bubble burst and his dreams were dashed, before he became just another belligerent drunk hiding behind a brand.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Of Wiley Ways and a Mug Maestro

Nero has long been a gushing fan of the work of artist Kehinde Wiley, whose piercing paintings and sculptures fast-forward the staid and classically elite art of portraiture, translating it through unrelenting color and curlicue, into a modern narrative of essence and being and beauty, born of the mingling of exuberant street culture and figurative storytelling. The May issue of WSJ Magazine profiles Wiley's trajectory from one of six children born to a single mother in South Central L.A., through DIY furniture restoration and on to Russian forests, Nigeria, China and beyond, to become one of the most recognizable and acclaimed artists of our time. Though Wiley's oeuvre is redolent with social commentary and symbolism, often sparking heated discussions about dead white males, essentialisms, the Western gaze, and viewers' interpretations of Otherness, what Nero finds most magnetic about the pieces stems from a more instinctual and perhaps sophomoric place -- it is glorious to look at, to enjoy, to admire, to absorb, to learn from. The colors and motifs invoke a sort of happy rejoicing, the subjects are often rendered like latterday Russian icons and yet feel approachable and real. The paintings uplift, they resonate -- mix metaphors. Indeed Wiley's art is the stuff of modern life, where Orientalism meets Ohm, where Kente cloth cozies up to a street cavalier, where Brazilian footballers sport Baby Phat. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Exhale, It's Friday

Go, go, go Tokyo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Of Divine Dining in the Fine

Nero often has trouble unearthing a dining room that strikes that difficult chord which lies suspended between form and function. But today I'm rather drawn to this unabashedly feminine incarnation of a formal eatery, which resides, curves and all, in Paris. The various pastel power plays, the undeniable romantic streak, and the stylistic tensions are sitting well with Nero at present, whetting my appetite, even. Apart from the detail that the legs on the dining table remind me a great deal of the base on my IKEA computer desk, I'm ready to sit down to an amuse-bouche followed by something pink and chantilly-ed. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Of Canal Corralled and a Crash Pad Quest

Dear Ones, 

The Nero Trio has a wedding to attend in Rome come June. It is the knot-tying of a most beloved friend and we are overjoyed for her. But as yet no definitive flight arrangements, nor accommodations, no, not even a presentable party dress have been secured. Si-si, Nero is treading on epic fail turf here folks and time is of the essence. But I digress. It happens that the tickets to Europe come at a king's ransom these days (who knew?!), and so our little fly-by-night over to the ole boot will likely morph into an official quickie family summer holiday, including a hotfooting into Florence followed by a va-va-voom to Venice. After all, I'm told that that venerable beacon of art, sighing bridges and exquisitely blown glass is sinking faster than the fat lady can sing, so best give the child a taste of life sans automobile before his mind becomes thoroughly corrupted by visions of plug-in hybrids. And now to the point. Budget travel can be a thing of beauty, but budget lodgings in Europe can be dodgy at best. Does anyone have any recommendations for a modest yet chic hotel in Venice -- a well-situated pensione with some pizzazz? All suggestions will be welcomed but keep in mind that charm is at the heart of the matter. 

Always and eternally grateful, your very own Nero.

Notes on a French Cranny

The French know their nooks and cubbies. 
It's always stylish, barely cramped, ever cozy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Monday, let's Chase Change

Happy Monday, fair readers. For those of you who like to keep Sally Wheat's delightful design dalliances on your radar, Joni over at Cote de Texas, has laid out a detailed progression of the Wheat's home and its metamorphosis over the past four years. From the chrysalis to the butterfly and back, Nero's of a mind you'll all be surprised and quite amused by the breadth and scope of the living space switcheroos.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Of Nails for Sale

Dear Nerophytes and jewelry lovers, what think we of Cartier's latest reissue, the Juste un Clou collection, originally designed by Aldo Cipullo of Love bracelet fame? Though Nero bends and bows to anything spiked and gilt-y and can certainly cop to the clou's edgy leanings, I'm on the fence at present and not sure this sexed up nail can ever one up the Love's iconic chastity belt-inspired screw and its accompanying itsy-bitsy driver. How would you readers weigh in? Is it too reminiscent of Gucci's Chiodo collection? And priced higher than the basic Love bracelet, does this piece hold the same staying power or is it more of a pointy provocation -- a one hit wonder, as it were? Do you believe it offers sufficient bang for the buck, folks, or is a blue thumb all we'll have left in a season or two? Expound away. That is to say, discuss.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Of Weekend Warrior-ing

Nero's gearing up for a hectic weekend filled with plenty of moving and shaking.
But here's hoping a few of you can find that special quiet place.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Of Easy Brizo in Black

Nero can't help but notice how very, very -- well for lack of a better defining moniker -- Nero-fied? Nay, make that Nero-licious, Jason Wu's debut bath collection for Brizo is. Certainly this general impression has a great deal to do with Wu's decadent use of noir on the streamlined and fashion-forward hardware, which the designer has coincidentally signed, sealed and delivered in amorphous black dollops which greatly resemble Nero's signature wax seal directly to your right. This is all very good if you ask me, fair readers. In another words, this darkly decadent collection bears Nero's overarching stamp of approval, though I'd advise against using all of the pieces at once in a single sanitation station, as that would be Nero-cide. 


Urban flâneuse, armchair observer, absent-minded scribbler, occasional epicure and carpool line cultural attaché, my nom de plume is Nero. Join me as I catalog a compilation of earthly delights and stuff that I dig. Alcira Molina-Ali



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