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ABOUT GOINGS ON: How to subscribe and submit listings

Franklin Furnace's Goings On
January 26, 2005

CONTENTS:
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1. Agnes Denes, FF Alumn, at Univ. of Tennessee, thru March 9, with lecture Feb 7
2. Danny Tisdale, FF Alumn, launches new website, www.tisdalestudio.com and shows at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, thru April 23
3. Tim Miller, FF Alumn, at Univ. So. Florida, Tampa, thru Jan 29, and more
4. Terry Dame, FF Alumn, at The Kitchen, TONITE
5. David Medalla, FF Alumn, at DAAD Galerie, Berlin, Feb 3, 8 pm
6. Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga, FF Alumn, at the Bronx Museum, opening Feb 2, 6:30-8:30
7. Maciej Toporowicz, FF Alumn, in London, England, Feb 4, and online
8. Lynn Cazabon, FF Alumn, at Anthology Film Archives, thru Jan 30
9. Doug Beube, FF Alumn, at Brooklyn Public Library, Jan 30, 2-6 pm
10. Cathy Weis, Jennifer Miller, FF Alumns, at Dance Theatre Workshop, Feb 16-26
11. Irina Danilova, FF Alumn, at 59 Franklin Street, Manhattan, Feb 5 and 9
12. Gearoid Dolan, FF Alumn, in Manhattan, Jan 28, 8 pm til 8 am
13. Jessica Hagedorn, FF Alumn, at Atlantic Center for the Arts, May 16-June 6
14. Harley Spiller, FF Alumn, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, and more
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1. Agnes Denes, FF Alumn, at Univ. of Tennessee, thru March 9, with lecture Feb 7

Agnes Denes: Art for Public Spaces, a retrospective, Ewing Gallery of Art & Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, From January12 to March 9, 2005. Show is comprised of drawings, sculpture, photograghs and models. Agnes Denes's lecture at the University: "Art for the Third Millennium: Creating a New World View" on February 7, 2005.

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2. Danny Tisdale, FF Alumn, launches new website, www.tisdalestudio.com, and shows at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, thru April 23

www.tisdalestudio.com

This web-site was created at the Longwood Arts Virtual Residency. The site is in the first phase of it's development and will progress over the next few years.
Thanks, Daniel

Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 will open to the public at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on January 22 - April 23, 2005.

The show includes Daniel B. Tisdale's seminal work, "Rodney King (Disaster Series)." Tisdale is working on another his new work WAR from the on-going Disaster Series. These new works contain images from the Iraq War, the Twin Towers, Hostages, Sadam, Osama, View some of the work on his new web-site www.tisdalestudio.com

The Museum will hold the preview reception on Friday, January 21, from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. .With independent curator, editor and catalogue contributor, Franklin Sirmans, will give an informal talk in the exhibition.

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3. Tim Miller, FF Alumn, at Univ. So. Florida, Tampa, thru Jan 29, and more

Hi All,

Below are some thoughts about these RED/BLUE days we live in as I head off to Florida this weekend. I will be doing a residency at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa Jan 23-29. I'll be performing my new show "Us" at USF Jan 28 (tix info 813-974-2323) and making a piece with students which will be performed Jan 29. Also doing a performance workshop at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Patel Conservatory Jan 29-30. More info below.

Time to hit the road again now that the Bush 2 oil-junta has started up again. I flew away from the US a couple of days after the election for a month long run in London of my show appropriately titled "US" for that election week. I was depressed, enraged, freaked out frustrated angry laid low by the hideousness of what happened Nov 2 and these days I often find myself wishing I was a little bit Ukrainian. No small thing for someone who spent ten years of his life in NYC in The East Village, eating daily at Ukrainian restaurants and rolling my eyes when they would say someday Ukraine will be free as I danced around their Easter festival. I just wish we in America a few years back had shown one-tenth the courage they have shown in Kiev these last two months. Why didn't we do that in Florida in 2000? Why did we let those GOP thugs fly in from all over the US to threaten people. How come they got to have a putsch and we didn't? In Kiev they have all that Ukrainian orange and we're stuck with this ridiculous over-simplified red and blue.

I have been deleting the endless gang e-mails lately with these new color-coded RED-BLUE maps of the US. The United States Of Canada and Jesus Land one. Also that JPG that compares our current Red-Blue situation to the map from 1860 showing the free states and the slave states, Hmmm. Scary how much the maps are the same!

Of course we know this color chart is too simple, false, designed for despair. But still - as a gay person with a foreign partner who will seen have to leave the US- that US of Canada feels a lot like the country I already live in. Not knowing day by day when we will have to leave the US. My home state of California slowly slips north and soon we will be in British Columbia (So glad I just got my contract for the Vancouver East Cultural Center for a year from now.)

I spend much more of my performing life in those falsely over-simplified designated red states. Not sure why. It's just how it happened. Maybe it's cuz I'm such a giant civil war queen, or the Jesse Helms attacks on me created a strange bond, or because of how I was shaped by Alternate ROOTS (the Regional Organization of Theaters South). Lots of years North Carolina is the state I perform in the most! Whatever. I spent the weeks before the election in Red-landia. In Dallas, Texas at SMU and up at Out North in Alaska and LSU in Baton Rouge (Which I only finally figured out meant RED STICK this last trip!) Slipped in one Blue state with the Theater Offensive in Boston, the Vatican of Liberalism. Just for variety!

On election night my Australian-Scottish partner Alistair and I slumped over the kitchen table and had a serious talk. Maybe it's time to give up. Maybe after ten years of fighting to try to keep him in the US, we need to just throw in the towel and go somewhere gay people are treated like human beings. This was the mood I was in a few days later when I got on the plane. I arrived in London and someone immediately gave me the Daily Mirror newspaper cover with the headline "How can 59 million Americans be so dumb?" This cheered me up. The run in London was totally sold out. They invited me back for three more weeks this spring. And a month after the election I got back on the plane. To come home. Home to RED & BLUE.

Flying over Greenland and then Canada where gay people have rights and can marry each other when we slipped over Saskatchewan, clipped a corner of Alberta, into Montana (got queer-bashed there in Bozeman when I was performing) I almost imagined I would see that the States had been colored in. It was all just going to look like a map on CNN. Red Montana. Red Idaho. (Never performed there…one of only seven states where I haven't performed) I started to hallucinate a bit. After ten hours over the arctic, doesn't everyone? Blue Oregon. Red Nevada. Blue California.

I always travel with one of my performer's Bibles with me ---the ROSCOLUX theater lighting gel guide. I know when painters mix colors, red and blue make purple. But since I'm a performers when you mix red and blue and add light - it's our secret power, that light- you get PINK. Pink that is in between. Liminal. Interstitial (Okay, I joined word of the day club) Pink that is generous. Queered. Sexy. Think pink. Show pink. For me Rosco 27 and Rosco 83 makes Rosco 339 Broadway Pink! An address I lived at in NYC!

As a performer these next years I want to be in the business of smooshing these two rigid red & blue colors into the potential for transformative PINK light! I am in the business of making pink light. Where windows open! Where ideas shift. Where stories get told. Where people get laid! Where hearts soften! A pinker place where our country finally starts becoming the country it should be.
best, Tim Miller
http://hometown.aol.com/millertale/timmiller.html

Tim Miller will perform his solo show "Us" Jan 28 at 8PM at the University of South Florida, Department of Theatre, Theatre II, USF Campus, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa FL 33620. Tickets are FREE! Call the USF College of Visual and Performing Arts Box Office after Jan 10 for reservations. 813-974-2323. This line is open Monday thru Friday 12:00-4:00 PM. Tim Miller will also be teaching a two-day intensive performance workshop at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Patel Conservatory Jan 29-30 from Noon-4PM. To register call 813.222.1002.

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4. Terry Dame, FF Alumn, at The Kitchen, TONITE

Hi All,

Electric Junkyard Gamelan will be performing next Wednesday 1/26/05 at The Kitchen in Manhattan as part of the four night series featuring NY alumni of Cal Arts. It should be a really great event and I hope you can make it. Peace to all in the new year.
Best,Terry

Electric Junkayd Gamelan performs original music on invented instruments and is Robin Burdulis, Terry Dame, Mary Feaster, Lee Frisari and Julian Hintz. www.terrydame.com
The Kitchen 512 W 19th Street NY, NY 212-255-5793 for full festival schedule go to www.thekitchen.org

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Host: Steven Lavine, President, CalArts
Kathy Rose -- Video Performance Artist: selected works
Terry Dame's Electric Junkyard Gamelan
Marina Rosenfeld -- New Work for Turntable (World Premier)
Earl Howard -- Saxophone, synthesizer and Denman Maroney - Hyperpiano
Cal Arts Allstar Jazz ensemble (w/Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Allesi and others)

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5. David Medalla, FF Alumn, at DAAD Galerie, Berlin, Feb 3, 8 pm

David Medalla, FF Alumn, and Australian artist Adam Nankervis will give an impromptu performance during the inauguration of the new DAAD Galerie at Zimmerstrasse 90 - 91 in Berlin-Mitte, near historic 'Checkpoint Charlie', on Thursday, February 3, 2005, at 8 p.m. The impromptu performance is the latest "Cosmic Propulsion" by Medalla and Nankervis, founders of the Mondrian Fan Club. The impromptu is a participatory event entitled "Homo-Harmonium". In the same evening, as a continuation of their impromptu performance, David Medalla and Adam Nankervis will proceed from the new DAAD Galerie to the Galerie KaI Hilgemann nearby,in the second courtyard of Zimmerstrasse 90 - 91, where they will do a second impromptu using masks especially created by English artist Stephen Wilks. David Medalla and Adam Nankervis performed in the old DAAD Galerie above the Cafe Einstein on the Kurfurstendamm in 1998, during Medalla's tenure as artist-in-residence of the DAAD. Adam Nankervis is founder & director of the Museum MAN, which started in Berlin, and is currently 'visiting' Liverpool in England. David Medalla is founder & director of the London Biennale. For further information about Medalla and Nankervis, please log in the internet into the websites: www.londonbiennale.org and www.museumman.org

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6. Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga, FF Alumn, at the Bronx Museum, opening Feb 2, 6:30-8:30

Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga at the Bronx Museum as part of the group exhibition When Living Was Labor curated by Erin Salazar. Living Was Labor is one of five collection-based exhibitions that comprise Collection Remixed. The exhibition opens Wednesday February 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Details and directions are available at: http://www.bronxmuseum.org/collection.htm

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7. Maciej Toporowicz, FF Alumn, in London, England, Feb. 4, and online

The premiere of a short movie by Maciej Toporowicz (FF alumni) called The Real will take a place at the 4th London International Festival Of Science Fiction and Fantastic Films. The screening will take place on Fri 4 Feb, Curzon SOHO, 5PM http://www.sci-fi-london.com/2005web/2005shorts.htm The movie can be seen on its web site: http://therealmovie.com/

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8. Lynn Cazabon, FF Alumn, at Anthology Film Archives, thru Jan 30

Lynn Cazabon, FF Alumn, presents "Discard" at Anthology Film Archives' Courthouse Gallery, 32 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003, 212-505-5181, Tuesday thru Friday, 7-9 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 5-9 pm.

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9. Doug Beube, FF Alumn, at Brooklyn Public Library, Jan 30, 2-6 pm

Friends,
Reductive Readings by Doug Beube is in the Balcony Cases and Marc Sapir and Katarina Wong are exhibiting their work in the Lobby Gallery at the BPL which closes this Sunday at 6:00pm. The hours are Tues-Fri. 10-9pm and Sat/Sun from 10-6pm. Doug will be there on Sunday, Jan. 30th from 2-6pm.
REDUCTIVE READINGS
Grand Army Plaza-Brooklyn Library
Brooklyn, NY. 11238
718-230-2100
www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org
for directions and information
Balcony Cases (there are two display cases), 2nd Fl.
Nov 30th-Jan 30th, 2005
Doug Beube explores the ambiguous space between abstract and the specific, between what is known and unknown. Beube physically deconstructs books only to reconstruct them in ways that also call to mind the playful construct of language. His books are forms of conceptual sculpture: he cuts into, folds, and reshapes books to mirror or suggest their implied content.

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10. Cathy Weis, Jennifer Miller, FF Alumns, at Dance Theatre Workshop, Feb 16-26

CATHY WEIS PROJECTS
Electric Haiku: Calm as Custard
Created by Cathy Weis
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Live Sound: Steve Hamilton
Video: Cathy Weis

Performers: Scott Heron, Diane Madden,
Jennifer Miller and Cathy Weis

February 16 - 26
Wednesday - Saturday, 7:30pm
Post-Performance Discussion Feb 16 with David Hurwith
Thursday Night Toast Feb 17 - Free Food and Drink
Dance Theater Workshop, New York City

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11. Irina Danilova, FF Alumn, at 59 Franklin Street, Manhattan, Feb 5 and 9

Dear friend,
Believe it or not, Hiram and I got married on inauguration day and are going to Texas (through Houston) for our honeymoon. Mister Bush is not a reason for any of that. Inauguration day was the only opening for our legal ceremony (we applied late) and Route 59 starts in Texas and goes all the way to Canada. Between those two ends we have chosen the warmest.

There will be a New York wedding celebration with 59 Brides installation at 59 Franklin Street, suite 202 on Saturday, February 5th from 2 to 5 pm (2005, 2/5, 2-5). Invitation is attached. Welcome! If you can't make it on the 5th, 59 Brides installation will be open on Wednesday, February 9th, from 5 to 9 pm.

Here we are, back to work with hope to see you on February 5th at 59 Franklin Street.

Hiram and Irina

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12. Gearoid Dolan, FF Alumn, in Manhattan, Jan 28, 8 pm til 8 am

I am doing a performance/installation piece, titled "Separate", this Friday in the studio of Jana Leo in the International Studio Program. Jana will also be presenting her piece "Displaced Lounge". We will be open for visitors at 8pm. My piece will continue through the night till 8am. 323 W. 39, studio 711
Gearoid Dolan, FF Alumn

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13. Jessica Hagedorn, FF Alumn, at Atlantic Center for the Arts, May 16-June 6

ATLANTIC CENTER FOR THE ARTS
MAY 16 - JUNE 6, 2005 (Application Deadline: February 11, 2005)
JESSICA HAGEDORN, writer
JANE HAMMOND, visual artist
DAVID RAKOWSKI, composer
Since 1982, Atlantic Center's residency program has provided artists from all artistic disciplines with spaces to live, work, and collaborate during three-week residencies. Located just four miles from the east coast beaches of central Florida, the pine and palmetto wooded environment contains award-winning studios that include a resource library, black box theater, and digital computer lab and studios for painting, sculpture, music, dance, and writing. Every residency session includes three master artists of different disciplines who each personally select a group of associates - talented, emerging and midcareer artists - through an application process administered by ACA. During the residency, artists participate in informal sessions with their group, collaborate on projects, and work independently. Atlantic Center for the Arts provides housing (private room/bath with work desk), weekday meals and 24-hour access to communal studio space.
For more information on how to apply, please telephone (386) 427-6975 or (800) 393-6975 (domestic US only) or visit www.atlanticcenterforthearts.org or email us at program@atlanticcenterforthearts.org.
*The application deadline for the May 16 - June 5, 2005 residency session is February 11, 2005. All applications must be postmarked by February 11, 2005. All domestic and international applications must arrive within 10 days of the postmarked date.

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14. Harley Spiller, FF Alumn, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, and more

Harley Spiller, FF Alumn, is featured in today's Chicago Sun-Times (link and text below) and will be interviewed on WGN Radio in the Greater Chicagoland area on Friday January 28th at midnight central standard time.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/food/foo-news-menu26.html

Exhibit traces Chinese restaurants' growth in U.S. January 26, 2005
by Dave Hoekstra Staff Reporter NEW YORK -- These days nothing is more American than a Chinese restaurant. Nearly 35,000 Chinese restaurants across the United States are serving chop suey, General Tso's chicken, kung pao and other concoctions you can't even find in China.
This explains why there is a big appetite for the exhibit "Have You Eaten Yet?: The Chinese Restaurant in America," which runs through June at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA), 70 Mulberry St., in the Chinatown section of New York City. "Have you eaten yet?" is the Chinese greeting that parallels "How are you?" The Chinese restaurant exhibit is one of the most popular efforts in the 25-year history of MoCA.
The show is anchored by 50 of the best Chinese restaurant menus from America that are part of the 10,000 Chinese menu collection of Harley Spiller, a resident of the Upper East Side. All told, his Chinese menu collection encompasses 80 countries.
"Have You Eaten Yet?" side items include restaurant matchbooks, photo albums, a "Chop Suey" board game (circa 1967) and novelty records like Sidney Bechet's 1925 hit "Who'll Chop Your Suey [When I'm Gone?]" and Louis Armstrong's "Cornet Chop Suey." Armstrong and Bechet both came from the culinary capitol of New Orleans. Even the Ramones can be heard singing their 1983 tune "Chop Suey." "Have You Eaten Yet?" features more than 100 Chinese restaurant artifacts.
"Almost every town across the United States has a Chinese restaurant," said exhibit co-curator Cynthia Lee. "That's become part of our landscape. If you're not Chinese it is part of a new experience memory for people. The Chinese restaurant became this site of cultural exchange for Americans." One exhibit panel cites Chinese novelist-philosopher Lin Yutang, who said, "Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."
MoCA visitors can trace the migration of the Chinese restaurant from the Federal Cafe menu (1934) in San Francisco and Madame Wu's Garden in Los Angeles (where Cary Grant was a regular) to Jimmy Woo's New China menu (late 1960s) in Baltimore, Md. Golden oldies also include King Joy Lo Mandarin Restaurant "Chicago's Wonder Palace" at 57 W. Randolph in Chicago, although I didn't see my beloved Jimmy Wong's, 426 S. Wabash. That Chicago landmark shut down in the summer of 1995, a couple of weeks after Wong's hosted my colorful 40th birthday party. And I kept my colorful Jimmy Wong's menu.
"Menus from the 1930s to the '50s were interesting to me," said Lee, 34. "I felt those menus had something my generation hadn't seen. I grew up in Long Island in the 1970s. Older menus had long biographies of the owner, pidgin English or little remarks about how to order Chinese food. These restaurant owners saw themselves as cultural mediators and they understood that for a lot of folks this was their introduction to Chinese culture. And the attention they put into graphics and [menu] design are sort of an entree into another culture for people." The exhibit even highlights menus that underscore the American stereotype of Chinese as "perpetual foreigners," using pidgin English (replacing r's with l's). The menu (circa 1940s) for the House of P.Y. Chong in Hawaii pointed out, "When come, place full no room. Vely sorry. You please wait little while."
"Have You Eaten Yet?" traces the Chinese restaurant's origin and growth in America and explores how it broadened the definition of American culture through the introduction of new foods. General Tso, for example, was no chicken. He was a ravenous Chinese warrior from 1812 who was so fierce that many think that's why the fiery garlic and vinegar dish was named in his honor. The irony is that General Tso (a.k.a. Gen. Zuo Zontang) believed that China needed to modernize to survive and he thought that could be accomplished by using steadfast Western innovations to improve Chinese tradition.
"Or, chop suey was such an amalgam of the Chinese philosophy of cooking with American ingredients," Lee said. "And what American tastebuds would accept."
Translated from Chinese, "chop suey" means "different pieces." It is also a phrase meaning "entrails and giblets," portions of the diet in farming societies where nothing is left to waste. "The recipe books talk about the La Choy food company [now owned by ConAgra] and how it capitalized on the chop suey craze during the 1920s," Lee said. "Chop suey became something American company cafeterias and hotels would serve because you could produce it in large quanities.
"People always ask, 'Why is there always the same brown sauce?' and 'Why doesn't it seem authentic?' A lot of those restaurants are family run and succeed because they don't have overhead. People are trained under each other. A brother might come over, train under another brother and open his own place. That's how recipes get transferred. They can't take as many risks. They work long hours, seven days a week to make it. But Chinese food was exotic during the Depression. There are more (exhibit) menus from urban areas. But when you look at rural areas, you saw more chop suey houses, like from [Everett's Cafe] Walla Walla, Wash."
Chinese restaurants first appeared in the San Francisco area in the mid-1800s. Railroad barons like Mark Hopkins (founder of the Central Pacific Railroad) imported 10,000 Chinese workers to build his majestic line, which later became the Southern Pacific. He reasoned that if they could build the Great Wall of China, they could construct a railroad. Other Chinese immigrants toiled in mining towns during the California gold rush. The Chinese slowly moved east. They first settled in New York in 1870, a three-minute walk from the museum in the heart of the 40-block long Chinatown. The museum is not far from the World Trade Center site. "After 9-11 everyone was hit so hard, especially the restaurant industry," Lee said. "I wanted to do something that would bring people back to Chinatown and we didn't know of any other exhibits that had been done on the Chinese restaurant."
During the 1940s the Chinese menu was tough to navigate for us lazy pizza loving Chicagoans. The King Joy Lo menu reads in part: "Instead of individual orders if a party of four orders a variety of single dishes to be served to all on individual plates after being brought to the table a really pretentious spread may be secured at a trifling expense. Try it. If you experience difficulty in making selections the floorwalker will cheerfully aid you."
American attitudes toward the Chinese improved when China became a United States ally during World War II. These alliances created new attitudes toward Chinese food. Chinese restaurants created an "exotic yet affordable" mantra that gave Americans an air of sophistication. Offshoot endeavors included nightclubs like the China Doll in New York City and Charlie Low's Forbidden City in San Francisco. The Forbidden City had dinner, dancing and a floor show. It was so popular in 1942 that Jane Wyman and then-Lt. Ronald Reagan dropped in.
In 1971 fellow Republican Richard Nixon opened more diplomatic doors becoming the first President to visit Communist China after the Cold War. A pop-art portrait of Nixon holding starcrossed chopsticks adorns the promotional post cards for "Have You Eaten Yet?"
The exhibit also illustrates the inroads Chinese cuisine has made across the world. Footage of Barrio Chino in Havana, Cuba can be seen on a video display in a corner of the exhibit space. The Lung Kong is a charitable clan association that runs a home for Chinese elderly in Cuba. The organization supports itself by operating a Chinese restaurant on the side. This community dates back to 1847 and has now become truly Cuban. During the early 20th Centuury, Havana had one of the largest Chinatowns in the Americas. (New York's hottest Chinese Cuban restaurant is La Caridad 78, 2197 Broadway at 78th; 212-874-2780).
The conduit for these world travels of Chinese food is "Chinese Restaurants," a 13-part documentary series by Canadian filmmaker Cheuk Kwan. Besides Cuba, the series covers Israel, Trinidad, South Africa, Norway and others. Kwan finds a deep story within every Chinese restaurant across the world. (His Madagascar segment ponders if the Chinese came to Madagascar in the 15th Century, even before Europeans.)
To underscore Kwan's point, just talk to Lamgen Antonio Leon, MoCA's chief of operations. Leon, 45, was born in Azua, Dominican Republic. His father operated a Chinese restaurant in a Dominican market.
MoCA is in a 100-year-old building that was a former public school in Chinatown. The museum is one of seven non-profit tenants. MoCA has been in its present space since 1985. The museum does not have a restaurant on site, so to fully appreciate the "Have You Eaten Yet?" experience, eat some Chinese food before or after your visit. Leon said, "If people want something reasonable like noodle dishes or barbecue, they can visit any of the Wong's restaurants in Chinatown. They are very good and very reasonable."
On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon, I had a huge serving of the roast pork with noodles soup ($3.75) at Wong's Rice and Noodle Shoppe, 86 Mulberry St. (212-233-2288, General Tso's chicken $4.25). Now there's some food for thought.
and
Ordering 10,000 menus BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter
Harley Spiller eats Chinese food at least once a day. What else would you expect from someone who has one of the world's largest collection of Chinese menus? Spiller owns 10,000 Chinese restaurant menus that date back to 1879.
Spiller, 45, was the main source for the exhibit "Have You Eaten Yet?: The Chinese Restaurant in America" at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA) in New York. A 1980 English literature graduate of Northwestern University, Spiller now lives on New York's Upper East Side.
Exhibit co-curator Cynthia Lee had heard of Spiller in collector's circles. Spiller also collects neckties, spoons and photographs. "His menus are not really cataloged or put away in any organized manner," she said in a recent interview. "He lives in an older apartment where the bathtub is in the kitchen. It is small. He created loft shelving over his bed and I think he has boxes under his bed. They're sort of everywhere. It was daunting the first time I visited him."
The magic of Chinese restaurant menus came to Spiller in a different way than Italian, Indian or Mexican menus. "Chinese menus just slide under your apartment door," he said in a separate interview. "They hang off hooks on the street practically into your hand. Other restaurants don't quote menu as much as Chinese restaurants. In the late 1980s New York City cops invented the verb 'menuing.' There were city ordinances about illegal dropping of fliers. When I moved to New York in the early 1980s the Chinese restaurants were menuing like crazy. I didn't realize it, but I was there at the beginning."
Spiller was born and reared in Buffalo, N.Y., and now works as administrator at Franklin Furnace Archive Inc., a group who preserve, interpret and present avant garde art. Spiller also teaches about collecting at New York area museums and schools. In the MoCA exhibit Spiller is quoted as saying, "Chinese restaurant menus are much more than a list of food. They are windows into issues of race, gender, transnational culture, economics and more."
Despite his affinity for Chinese food, Spiller gathered most of his Chinese restaurant memorabilia on eBay instead of visiting restaurants. Spiller's collection also includes Chinese restaurant board games, imprinted takeout pails and promotional items. He bought nearly 400 menus during a two-year span in the late 1990s. "It's expensive," Spiller said. "I found four steady competitors. One is an AP reporter. Another is from Hong Kong. We all know each other. The only reason prices went up to $100, $200 for a menu is because of us four. I shortly realized this, so I wrote long, pleading messages to these guys and tried to become friends. And I became friends with all of them." The friendship grew so strong the collectors would lay off bids in respect to each other.
Can someone equate the quality of the food with the quality of the menu?
"No one has asked me that before," Spiller answered. "One of my bosses brought me a menu from a dinner theater in Hong Kong. The menu opens up like a stage and there's page after page. The pages are die cut and it's gorgeous. The food couldn't be awful, they went to so much effort to make this production. That's a good question. I could go on and on."
Of course. Spiller owns 10,000 Chinese restaurant menus.
Part the exhibit is devoted to personal remembrances, such as the testimony written by Ronnie Fung of the Hoy Choy Kitchen in Bay Shore, N.Y.: "Perhaps the most poignant memory from Hoy Choy was when [my father's] mother from Hong Kong first visited the family after [we] immigrated to the States. She saw [me], barely tall enough to see over the wok, cooking at the restaurant and started to cry. Her tears represented both the sacrifices that [our] family had to make in order to survive and [our] imminent triumph to achieve the American Dream."

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~~end~~

Goings On are compiled weekly by Harley Spiller

Click http://www.franklinfurnace.org/goings_on.html
to visit 'This Month's World Wide Events'.
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Martha Wilson, Founding Director
Michael Katchen, Senior Archivist
Harley Spiller, Administrator
Dolores Zorreguieta, Program Coordinator