Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Slideshow

A small selection of photos from our recent exploits – click to enlarge:

Belltown, Downtown Seattle

The barrel of a Disappearing Gun at Fort Casey, on Whidbey Island. My Great Grandpa Owen grew up on the Muskogee Reservation in Oklahoma, joined the military, and was stationed here in the early 1900s. Later on he was a beat cop in Georgetown. More on Owen and Fort Casey and the notorious Triangle of Fire in a later post.

Emily at Ebey's Bluff, Whidbey Island. Finally got around to it – we were going to walk along this trail last November but it was too foggy to see anything.

A chart explaining the different ships that pass through the Straits of Juan de Fuca on the way in and out of Puget Sound, including but not limited to a Sloop and a Yawl.

Rig full of trophies

Jason and Emily with one of Jason's chickens.
This one has furry feet.


Dude I was talking to on the way to work the other day

My brother Sky, his girlfriend Daniela, and Emily at the Cappy last week.

My mom and Emily at Penn Cove, Whidbey Island

Daniela and Sky

Thing I found on the beach

Garter snake


Much more on my photostream at Flickr.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fish

Fish Tacos. Unlike most recipe photos,
your finished product will actually look like this!
Photo by Zachary Zavisiak for The New York Times

One of the great things about being back in Seattle is the abundance of good Mexican food of all kinds – authentic or Tex-Mex, upscale or humbly served out of a truck in a gas station parking lot or from the back of a bar. Not to put New York down – after a time we found a few spots that measured up to our exacting standards (the tamales from the cart next to the indoor flea market off 6th Avenue in Manhattan remain unparalleled for flavor, consistency, and price; the ball fields in Red Hook were great before they got overrun; the now defunct Tres Amigos on the L.E.S. will always hold a special place in my heart, even if more for the memories than for the food; and La Esquina later upped the ante), but on the whole really good South of the Border joints were few and far between.

Area taco trucks. Top photo courtesy;
bottom photo via

One of the meals whose ubiquity we missed most was the Baja Peninsula staple so suited to the seemingly never-ending supply of good seafood on the Pacific coast: Fish Tacos. When done well, I can think of very few dishes that rival this one – small pieces of flaky white fish fried crisp and sprinkled with lime and salt, placed in a warm corn tortilla and topped off with salsa fresca, cabbage, and a drizzle of tangy white sauce. Perfection. Just before we left NYC we discovered the gem in Far Rockaway that is Rockaway Taco (Strath wrote about the trip here), and had we stayed in Brooklyn I would have been more than content to make that my second home; as it worked out, since October we have been steadily eating our way through a line-up of fish tacos (and burritos) in Seattle.

The goods from Rockaway Taco; more details here and here.

But – and to get to the point of all of this – the one thing I never thought possible was to produce a fish taco in our own kitchen that could rival (and maybe even surpass) the best of those perfectly balanced little flavor pockets. That all changed when I clipped this article and accompanying recipe out of The New York Times Magazine on my birthday this year and decided to give it a try. I've made these at least five times since with unerring success, and I kid you not, this recipe is surprisingly easy and makes a killer fish taco. It's worth reading the accompanying article for some background and tips, but at the very least, follow the three rules laid out therein (courtesy of Dave Pasternack, chef and owner of Esca in Manhattan), and you'll be golden:

No. 1: You’ve got to get over the fear. ("The recipe is going to work. Trust the process.")

No. 2: Buying the fish is half the battle. ("
For tacos, something fresh and white and firm. Emphasis on the fresh. Out in the cold waters off Montauk, the cod bite is on and the flatties are coming soon: big doormat flounder caught on hooks and line. Montauk snowshoes, they call these monsters, and if you see them in the market, it’s time to make tacos.

No. 3: Crust is crucial. ("You want, at home, a fish taco that has the crunch and texture of the deep-fried version available at the beach in Ensenada, though with better flavor and less mess.")

This recipe makes a very spicy fish taco, so if you want less hot, cut back on the jalepeno in the salsa and the chipotle in the white sauce. With all of the chopping and dicing, the prep time for both is about an hour, but once that's done the fish takes just a few minutes in the pan – and you could easily make the sauce and salsa a day ahead and refrigerate.
Photo by Zachary Zavisiak for The New York Times

Try it. I promise you won't be sorry.

Fish Tacos
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise into half moons (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 limes, 1 halved and 1 cut into wedges
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canned chipotle pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup flour, preferably Wondra or other fine-milled flour
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup peanut oil, plus a splash more for greasing pan
Pat of butter
1 pound flounder or any firm white-fleshed fish, cut across the grain of the flesh into strips about 1/2 inch wide by 3 inches long
12 6-inch fresh corn tortillas
2 cups shredded green cabbage
A saucy hot sauce, like Tapatio or Frank’s.

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeño (if using).

2. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and sour cream until combined. Season to taste with the halved lime, salt, pepper and chipotle (if using).

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, chili powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons each of kosher salt and black pepper. Pour the milk into another medium bowl, and place the fish into it.

4. Pour 1/4 cup of the peanut oil into a 12-inch frying pan and place over medium-high heat until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Remove the fish pieces from the milk bath and dredge them lightly through the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Add the butter to the pan. Place some fish pieces in the oil, without crowding them, and cook until deep golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn carefully and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to a warmed, paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining fish.

5. Meanwhile, lightly grease a skillet with a drizzle of oil and set over medium heat. Heat the tortillas, one or two at a time, until they are soft and hot. Keep them warm, wrapped in a dish towel.

6. Fill each tortilla with 3 pieces of fish, browned side up, followed by tomato salsa and a pinch of cabbage. Drizzle with the cream sauce. Serve 2 to 3 tacos per person, with lime wedges and hot sauce on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

Enjoy with:
Happy Weekend.

Your Weekly Mr. Littlejeans

Show us your belly Jeans

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yellow Fever

Our good buddy and oldest client, Lily Raskind of Sunshine & Shadow, has joined the ranks of Kim Gordon, Steven Alan, Rachel Comey, and others with the launch of her first of several capsule collections for Urban Outfitters. It's called Yellow Is Gold:

I had the pleasure of designing the logo, which goes on labels inside the clothing, hang tags, etc. It started out photographic, with the letters chopped out of white powder, but to vectorize it I made all the little dots out of tiny squares. It was kind of intense. Here's the hang-tag:

Locals might be interested to know that Lily is from Seattle, and she and Matthew (who occasionally blogs up in here) moved back to the great NW at the same time as Emily and me. She still maintains her New York studio as well. There's a lot of commuting involved.

Check out Yellow Is Gold at your local Urban Outfitters or at, and see more from Sunshine & Shadow at

Also, in case you missed it, Urban Outfitters has a blog – it's not bad, even if they don't like the word penis.

[Top image via Refinery 29]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Tara Donovan at Lever House.
Photo by Librado Romero, The New York Times

I'd like to be in New York this summer to check out the new public installation at Lever House by Brooklyn-based artist (and 2008 MacArthur Foundation "genius" award recipient) Tara Donovan. As Ken Johnson describes it, the piece "[c]onsists of 2,500 pounds of plastic sheeting loosely folded into a wide box that is glassed in on the front and back and built into a freestanding white wall."

Detail view of Tara Donovan's installation at Lever House.
Photo by Librado Romero, The New York Times

It's hard to gather great effect from the photos above, but if the piece is in keeping with Donovan's past work, I imagine that the play of light through the translucent material helps create a display reminiscent of some otherworldy landscape or eerie primal life form.

Untitled (Mylar), 2007, from Donovan's self-titled show
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
which ran from November 2007 – September 2008.

© Tara Donovan, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York

I enjoy a lot of art, of all different periods and stripes, but the list of artists to whose work I instantly and unequivocally respond is much smaller. Tara Donovan is somewhere near the top of that list. I was introduced to Donovan when we happened upon her piece Untitled (Plastic Cups) at PaceWildenstein a few years back, a massive barren landscape constructed of opaque drinking cups stacked at varying heights. (The photographs below unfortunately don't do the piece justice; as it is, I have yet to see a photo of anything she's done that comes close to conveying her work's impact when seen in person.)

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006, at PaceWildenstein gallery.
Photos by Kerry Ryan McFate, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York

Speaking from afar, I can explain that I love the way Donovan uses industrial materials that have nothing going for them besides an unglamorous function (plastic and styrofoam cups, drinking straws, adding machine tape, paper plates) and collectively transforms them into ethereal organic forms, frequently using light as a central and animating element. I can also say that I like the works' contradictions: they are
about both the natural world and the man-made items that often wind up polluting it; simultaneously simple and highly complex – the most sophisticated after-school project ever. And not only are her pieces clever, funny and visually breathtaking, but for me they also serve as a helpful reminder that imagination, or just an observant eye, can reveal beauty in very unlikely places.

Haze, 2003, composed of stacked clear plastic drinking straws.
Photos courtesy Ace Gallery, Los Angeles.

Still, all of that doesn't fully explain why I'm drawn to these pieces.

Moire, 1999. Adding machine paper.
Photo courtesy Ace Gallery, Los Angeles.

A couple of years ago an instructor in a contemporary art class related – in the context of a discussion about what makes a particular effort "Art" – a conversation she had with a New York gallery owner. This owner explained that his own search is for work that absorbs him so completely in its contemplation that he forgets any sense of his own surroundings or self-consciousness. I think this is as good a position as any from which to defend your personal feelings about what you like, and it better encapsulates why I'm so enamored of Tara Donovan's transporting work than any description of its formal or conceptual qualities could. You really do have to see it to believe it.

Untitled (Styrofoam Cups), 2008.
Photos courtesy Ace Gallery, Los Angeles.

Tara Donovan's untitled exhibition at Lever House will be up through September 5. More information about Donovan is at PaceWildenstein's website, here, and more photos of her work can be found at Ace Gallery and (where else?) The NYT.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Divine and Bright


Chadwick Tyler's shots for the Jeremy Laing Fall/Winter 2009 campaign remind me of old-west photographs. There's an extraordinary amount of empty space but it's activated by this grainy graphite-wash haze. The photos achieve a difficult balance of feeling dark and bright at the same time.

The model is Heather Marks [Women Management].

More at
More of Chadwick Tyler's work at
Click here for more fashion advertising campaigns on Pacific Standard.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Do You Think I'm Pretty

. Sky Shepard on the job…sort of…at Ladder 12 in Chelsea, NYC

My brother Sky got interviewed by my bud Jason Crombie for Vice Magazine, as part of an article called "Hey Regular Guy, What Do You Think of These Boards?" Worth reading because it's my brother, who is actually anything but regular, and because everything Jason Crombie writes is worth reading. Click here to check it out.

Make A Brand New Start

Girls "Lust for Life" – new video:

Kind of makes me wish the weekend wasn't over.

[ More Girls on Pacific Standard ]

[ Video via Pitchfork ]