Tag Archives: idle idoltry

Don’t Mock the Artisan Meatery

Just finished my third reading of a recent New York Times Magazine article entitled “Don’t Mock the Artisinal-Pickle Maker.” As it turns out, those smelly “hipster” picklers, bakers, reclaimed wood salvagers, pigment paper dyers, urban farmers, food truckers, and chicken coop keepers are not in fact a radicalized liberal threat to our modern economy. No, no. They’re just doing capitalism old school.

It’s tempting to look at craft businesses as simply a rejection of modern industrial capitalism. But the craft approach is actually something new — a happy refinement of the excesses of our industrial era plus a return to the vision laid out by capitalism’s godfather, Adam Smith.

This is really good news because my boyfriend has recently been associating with this nefarious type of quasi-industrialism. A butcher’s apprentice at Indianapolis’ Smoking Goose Meatery, he’s on the forefront of the artisan meats game and his boss, capitalist-in-disguise Chris Eley, was recently outed as the Indianapolis Star’s #1 up-and-coming entrepreneur making a mark on the city. One key to Eley’s success – with Goose the Market at 16th & Delaware and its wholesale equivalent, the Smoking Goose at 407  N. Dorman Street – is specialization, as prescribed by Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.”

More significant, we’re entering an era of hyperspecialization. Huge numbers of middle-class people are now able to make a living specializing in something they enjoy, including creating niche products for other middle-class people who have enough money to indulge in buying things like high-end beef jerky.

To know just how well Eley hyperspecializes, you’ll have to indulge in one of the Goose’s meaty offerings. Here are a few of my favorites.

On point with prints…

Each morning, I drink a cup of coffee and live vicariously through my favorite blogs – theselby.com, archdaily.com, thesartorialist.com, and of course, garancedore.fr/en (the Sartorialist’s fab French girlfriend).

This morning, my coffee and I visited French fashion week and according to Garance Doré, prints are in and I’m delighted. Not because it means I’m fashion forward, but because my bed definitely is. I snapped a few iPhone pics and snagged a couple of Garance’s pics (as well as one from The New York Times Style Magazine‘s Prada fashion week coverage) to prove my point.

Today, Mr. Higgins interviewed Dan Wakefield…

My best friend George’s father is a writer for the Indianapolis Star and he writes the kind of articles that I enjoy most. A recent graduate of the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism, I don’t especially enjoy the parsed-down, strictly facts and no fun method of event coverage that intro journalism classes preach. Will Higgins’ writing has style.

Lately, it’s been breaking laws canoeing the canal, or tweeting coverage of the George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars concert in Broadripple: “Jager tastes like licorice.” Today, Mr. Higgins wrote about literary legend and Indy native, Dan Wakefield – and I’m envious.

My friend George and I consider ourselves ambassadors to the city we’ve grown up in (and our parents grew up in), and honestly, I can’t speak for George, but I’m almost uncomfortable with the recent outpouring of super positive attention the city has garnered following its super successful stint as SuperBowl host. Of course, I love the super recognition, but I’m not surprised. Indy has been overlooked for a long time and honestly, I think it’s part of its underdog appeal.

You have to be a kind of insider to get it. Like reading Dan Wakefield, or his good pal Kurt Vonnegut, and getting it. Sure, people outside of Indianapolis get Wakefield, as two of his novels have been made into Hollywood films (although he approves of only one), and Vonnegut is taught in schools everywhere. But I think when you’re from here, you have a heightened sense of getting it.

Even their books that aren’t based in Indianapolis or even about Indianapolis, you have a certain shared background: you know where they’re coming from, literally. Wakefield’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story “Going All the Way,” however, is based in Indianapolis and being able to identify and locate Sonny and Gunnar’s hangouts is an added treat.

Shortridge High School is Shortley. The Crown Hill Cemetery is Crown Point. Meridian Hills is Meridian Hills. The Melody Inn and the Red Key Taverns probably haven’t changed much at all since, and Binkley’s Kitchen & Bar on 52nd & College is just Binkley’s Pharmacy, which it really was in the 1950’s when “Going All the Way” took place.

Sure, Wakefield and Vonnegut haven’t always painted Indianapolis in the most super of lights, but it’s really just proof of our underdog mentality. Our city isn’t perfect. What city is? And sure, they both left, as did David Letterman, Jane Pauley, John Wooden, etc., but that’s OK. Letterman wouldn’t be Letterman if he’d stayed.

Mr. Higgins’ article is actually about Wakefield’s recent return, at the age of 79, to work on a novel and a collection of Vonneguts’ letters to be published later this year.

“There’s so much Indianapolis” in the correspondence, Wakefield said, “that it just felt right to be here.”

I think the key to Mr. Higgins’ style is in his restrained delivery of the details. He doesn’t explain as much as present. He gets all the best details from his sources and lets them speak for themselves.

He walks past the electronic sculpture “Ann Dancing” practically every evening and is charmed by it. “It’s like a beacon lighting the way home,” he said.

Revisiting: “Wilbur Montgomery & his poor old folk artist home”

A couple of summers ago, I spent a day documenting my friend Wilbur Montgomery for a photojournalism project. Wilbur is an Indianapolis photographer, and at the time, he was embarking on a new, daunting, but do-able project to convert an abandoned factory on the Monon Trail into a so-called “poor old folk artist home.”

I collaged one of the photos I took of him as a show of gratitude for hanging out with me – and because at something like 6 foot 8 inches of height with a fluffy white beard, Wilbur’s a great subject! Of course, I didn’t give him the gift until just last week – two years later – because us artsy types simply can’t be bothered with trivial timelines for showing gratitude and social decorum… Right, Wilbur?

Well, Wilbur immediately wrote me an expressive and wonderful thank you card for my measly collage, which I received before the weekend was out. That cad is giving us arty types a bad name! Well, anyway, I thought I’d share the video (which I had to convert to a different file type, so the timing is a little screwy), as well as the collage in question.

I think one of these days I’m going to do another Wilbur blog exclusively on his artwork. It will be wonderfully easy since my parents’ house is full of it! In the meantime, check out some of his awesome Indianapolis prints here.

“The China Pacers” in action…

Delightful, inexplicable cultural phenomenon: Asians love Reggie Miller.

Always have, always will.

Attending games during the last season of Reggie’s career, there would be huge groups of Asians, all decked out head-to-toe in #31 gear, completing a pilgrimage (or so I imagine) to see Reggie play before his retirement.

Witnessing their excitement and imagining how far they traveled to see Reggie play was really special. To this day, I feel very honored and privileged to have witnessed so much of his career firsthand.

Check out this amazing video montage of “The China Pacers,” reenacting the best moments of the Reggie Miller era, beginning with Reggie’s 8 points in 8.9 seconds to save game one of the 1995 eastern conference semifinals against the evil Knicks.

The classic Slick Leonard/Mark Boyle audio on the Chinese Pacer’s video gives me chills. Literally.

In retrospect…

I put it off as long as I could. This Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, I’ll be graduating college and in honor of this momentous event, I’d like to subject you to a few of my favorite assignments from the past four-and-a-half years of my life. Nerdy, I know…

The following event piece, written on deadline for a Literary Journalism class, describes Gay Talese, literary journalism legend himself, during his brief stop in Bloomington in the fall of 2010.

Gay Talese is on the move
By Chrissy Astbury

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Ice Cube’s got mad respect for the Eames

Looks like I’m not the only one working an Eames crush…

Seriously, watch it. Ice Cube, who studied architectural drafting before becoming a rapper, gives his take on “the good, the bad, and the ugly about L.A.,” as well as why he’s got mad respect for Ray and Charles Eames.

Found on ArchDaily, some of my favorite Ice Cube insights include:

“It’s not about the pieces, it’s how the pieces work together… You know, kind of like sampling.”

“The Eames made structure and nature one. This is going green 1949 style, bitch. Believe that.”

Well put, Ice. Well put… I might have an Ice Cube crush now.