Exactly what do you SERVE for that celebration?

I got word from Abacus, Kent Rathbun’s Uptown resto, that this morning they have received several calls from diners who want to book “celebratory” dinners tonight. What’s the occasion? Why, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, of course!

I suppose people celebrate lots of odd holidays with a meal out, but I can’t help wonder: What does one serve for such an event? Roast pig? Deviled eggs? Falafal? Some kind of seafood (in honor of his ocean burial)?

Any ideas, guys? What would you serve? Or do you find the idea, ummm, distasteful?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LGBTs join anti-Bush protest at SMU

Action timed to coincide with groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at SMU

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bush protest
PROTESTING BUSH | About 100 people from around the country, including some local LGBT activists, turned out to protest during the groundbreaking for the Bush presidential library on the SMU grounds this week. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

While George Bush and Dick Cheney broke ground on the new presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Tuesday, Nov. 16, about 100 people from around the country gathered a few blocks away to protest.

Although only one rainbow flag was flown during the protest, members of the LGBT community were prominent among the protesters. That one flag flew from the wheelchair of Kay Lucas.

Lucas was director of the Crawford Peace House, which has since closed. That house was near the main intersection in Crawford, down the road from the Bush ranch. During Bush’s presidency, the property was the center of anti-war activity and where Cindy Sheehan staged her protests.

Sheehan became the face of the anti-war movement after her son, Casey, was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. She spoke at the rally at SMU.

Dallas gay activist Aaron Rathbun attended the rally dressed in his graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

“I didn’t have on any rainbow paraphernalia,” said Aaron Rathbun, “I went representing academia.”

He said he went to listen and was impressed by the array of speakers. He mentioned a CIA trainer who left the agency during the Bush administration.
Rathbun said he was impressed by the conviction of someone who would give up his career by saying, “I’m not going to do this anymore.”

He also pointed to another speaker, Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military and another 16 years as a diplomat. She resigned her diplomatic post to protest Bush administration policy.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station along Central Expressway and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium on the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Airline.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. Police from each of the three cities remained in their own jurisdictions.

SMU campus police also were on hand at the rally, which was on campus. Sheriff’s department officers guarded the groundbreaking and former administration officials in riot gear with helmets, shields and batons.

While Rathbun said he was pleased with turnout at the protest, he said it was underreported because camera crews and journalists were not allowed to come and go from the groundbreaking site.

“They were on lockdown,” he said.

Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

Colleen Rowley, who was Time magazine’s 2002 person of the year as one of the year’s whistleblowers and has since run for Congress, tried marching from the protest site toward the groundbreaking.

“The police looked as sad as we did,” Rowley said.

She wore all black with a white expressionless mask and the name of an Iraq War soldier killed in action hanging on a sign around her neck.

Radio host and QueerLiberaction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

He said that the policy institute was being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said that cannot be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We all know that this library is just a way for him to rewrite his own history until it becomes a fait accompli,” Vanderslice said.

He said he was struck by the age of most of the protesters.

“Everyone was middle age or older,” he said. The old anti-war hippies.”

He was curious about the absence of any SMU students at the protest, noting a few who had come from University of North Texas and even one who came to Dallas from Baylor. Only two SMU staff stood across the street to observe despite the large number who had signed a petition to keep the library off campus.

However, many SMU students who were interested in the groundbreaking ceremony were watching the event on a large screen TV truck set up nearby. Campus officials reported that a large number logged onto the Internet to watch.

Vanderslice said that the rally was a weeklong event to activate people.

“I still think there’s efficacy in protesting,” Vanderslice said. “Younger people look at protesting as an antique.”

He said the Bush administration was such an enemy of the LGBT community, more should have attended, but understood that the rally took place during the workday and a school day.

“There must be consequences for misconduct,” he said. “We must demand justice.”

“With the scope of the atrocities done, I’d like to see Bush held accountable to an international tribunal,” Rathbun said.

Many of the protesters held signs that said “Arrest Bush” and “Arrest Cheney First.” A few criticized Obama for continuing Bush’s war policies.

Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin listed a variety of Bush administration atrocities such as water boarding, denying global warming and “bombing Iraq into the Stone Age.” She said she was amazed that after he admitted some of these things in his new book, no investigation was taking place.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the protest.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Tasting notes • 11.12.10

If your last name is “Wines,” you’re probably destined to become a sommelier, and that’s just what Emily Wines is. In fact, she’s one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to earn the title master sommelier (even fewer are women — Barbara Werley at Pappas Bros. is another). Wines works for the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, but she’s coming to its Dallas cousin Thursday for a fundraiser for Resource Center Dallas. For a $20 donation, you can enjoy Emily’s “Wines for the Season” intro to white, red and sparkling vinos, as well as Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck’s tasty bites. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Landmark Restaurant inside the Warwick Melrose Hotel is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its parent company with “Three for $30 Dinner” during the month of November. Come in an order an appetizer, entrée and dessert, and even taste some house wine, for 30 bucks. To book a res, visit LandmarkRestoDallas.com.

Kent Rathbun’s three local restaurants — Abacus, Jasper’s and Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen — will do something they haven’t before: Sell the same item on all the menus while raising money for the North Texas Food Bank.

At a tasting this week, local foodies chose from among three yummy entrees to pick one that would make it on the menu. Anyone ordering that dish for $15 through Nov. 17 will get a complimentary pumpkin pie empanada dessert and earn a contribution to the NTFB, courtesy of Capital One Bank. The winner: A phenomenal chile-seared sea scallop on chipotle corn mash, pictured.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Taste maker

Using his skills at detail and aesthetics as pastry chef, Rick Griggs moves his art from the plate to the canvas

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

PIECE OF CAKE | Former pastry chef Rick Griggs now produces work that won’t be gobbled up — he comes out as an artist with his first solo show Saturday. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
PIECE OF CAKE | Former pastry chef Rick Griggs now produces work that won’t be gobbled up — he comes out as an artist with his first solo show Saturday. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

OUT OF THE BLUE
Cameron Gallery,
1414 Dragon St. Oct. 16–Nov. 18. Opening night reception at
6 p.m. RickGriggs.com.

…………………………..

Call it an identity crisis or a leap of faith, but Rick Griggs has his mind made up. With more than two decades of experience as a pastry chef, Griggs is in the midst of a career change. Earlier this year, he switched away from regimented hours of working in a restaurant to the nebulous schedule of a full-time artist. And with that move came a bundle of nerves and uncertainty.

“I’m nervous in the monetary sense, not getting a regular paycheck,” Griggs says. “But it’s also exciting. It’s like an adventure —  you don’t know how it’s going to unfold. That’s part of the fun of it. Not knowing is a little bit nerve-wracking. But I tend to be a free spirit.”

This week Griggs will have his first solo show, Out of the Blue, at the Cameron Gallery in the Design District, marking a fairly significant moment for him. His artwork has been featured in local magazines and hangs in prominent public spaces and Dallas homes, but this is sort of his coming out moment as an artist. After years of building up a reputation as a quality pastry chef, he now has to reinvent and reintroduce himself to the local scene. But he’s got a head start.

“I show at Abacus and Jasper’s,” he says. “They have my work on rotation.”

“Rick has always been one of the greatest pastry chefs I’ve ever worked with and turns out, he’s an incredible artist as well,” says Kent Rathbun, the chef who was Griggs’ boss for eight years at Abacus. Rathbun himself is an art lover; his Plano restaurant, Jasper’s, was named after its inspiration, the gay artist Jasper Johns.

But it was not until Rathbun’s annual Dallas Art Party this year that Griggs seriously planned a change. Although he had been working on his art and selling it, pursuing his passion as a career was the next step for him to move forward. But really, he’d been living his dream for 20 years.

“This really was a natural progression,” he says. “My eye  became more refined in doing pastry work. Your vision changes as far as what you’re doing and I think if I’d started painting in 1984, I’d be doing different things now. With that time and learning technique, I think I’d be more layered, a better artist.”

There is a relation, though, between his pastry work and his painting — which means he could be a better artist than he gives himself credit for.

“I see a lot of similarities,” says Griggs. ”I use a palette knife because I realize there is a technique similar to  putting icing on a cake. A lot of my work also has that splattered paint like I’ve used with sauces. It’s a lot of the same fluidity and control.”

Griggs’ creative streak stretches back to his youth. His father worked in a very specific design world: archery. Being around that, Griggs got used to working with wood and paints. He says that was part of the foundation for his interest in art and also home restoration.

Griggs calls these subliminal influences which are coming out now in his work.

Griggs says it’s hard for him to explain his art. Visually, it’s abstract with geometric sensibilities. But interestingly, he says they are spontaneous and even reactionary. They are preconceived ideas or visuals but manifested into something altogether different when he begins each piece.

“I’d say it’s very intuitional and responsive. The paintings are a very subliminal rendering or an abstraction that could be relative to organic landscapes or architectural renderings,” he says.

Griggs’ culinary career began in 1984 and took him to Miami, New Orleans and Athens, then brought him back to Dallas and The Mansion on Turtle Creek before going to Abacus. Still, Griggs doesn’t think he’s leaving food behind.

“I still will dabble in food,” he says. “I have thought about opening my own business. Just as long as I can paint.”

“The intersection between art and food is basically the same — it’s a stimulus for people,” Rathbun says. “Rick has the ability to trigger two senses, which I think it truly unique and fascinating.”

Part of his personal plan is to begin his own coffee shop/gallery where his two passions can merge together. Which is an interesting notion considering what he says has pushed him to concentrating on the visual arts.

“I’ve always loved interiors and cool spaces and museums and I think the permanence of a painting versus the impermanence of food really drove me,” Griggs says. “I can spend hours and hours creating a food product that will disappear in moments, but a painting is everlasting. To me, there is a lot of reward in that.”

Griggs is working on getting the last pieces hung and then, once the show starts, he’s at the mercy of the art-loving universe.

“The exciting part is seeing how people react to it,” he says. “But I also wanna sell the art and that’s the most nerve-wracking. You have to sell to continue to produce.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas