#317 Go to an Art Dinner with Experimental Music

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Good friend Tim sent me an email last week telling me about some weird art dinner at this gallery called Public Fiction. Tim works in the Art industry so he’s always privy to stuff like this. All I knew was there was going to be some sort of vegetarian dinner with each course being paired with some sort of experimental music performance. It sounded kind of cool and scary at the same time.

I’ve definitely been to my fair share of unusual dinners such as dining alone, going to an underground supper club, eating bugs and dining in the dark but never one with any sort of live performance. Especially not experimental music which I’ve never really heard much of.

The dinner was at 7pm and I was really close to not going. First of all, I was kind of hungover for some reason. Even though I only had two glasses of champagne at the pole dancing class the day before and that was at like 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Maybe it’s because I don’t drink that much anymore I don’t know. But I had a headache and I was in a terrible mood. I didn’t feel like mingling with a bunch of strangers and I especially didn’t want to go eat dinner at some random event. How would the food be? And would there be enough of it?

Still, I dragged my grumpy ass out to Highland Park as I had already RSVP’d and told Tim I’d be there. As I was walking up to the gallery, so was Tim. We were pretty early and there weren’t that many people there. The weird thing is, I feel more comfortable in these situations when I go by myself now. Maybe I feel more open, more free to talk to other people, I don’t know. But knowing Tim there made me feel like the old awkward Greg. Perhaps having a friend there was like a safety line.

I felt bad for Tim because he had to deal with my grumpalicious self. And for anybody who knows me, they know how bad that can be. But Tim was fine with it. We got a couple of drinks and scoped the place out.

There were two large tables set up for about 50 people. In the corner was where the musicians would play and the back corner had a little bar set up.

Now let me say that dinner was supposed to be at 7pm. I understand that people in LA like to be late, but we didn’t even sit down until 7:45pm. And there was still no fucking food anywhere. Not a slice of wonderbread. Nothing. Look, if you’re going to have a dinner party, you gotta have food for your guests IMMEDIATELY. Put out a bowl of Fritos. I don’t care. Something.

When we finally sat down (on makeshift benches where there clearly wasn’t enough room for 50 people), I assumed we’d be fed. No. We had to listen to the first experimental music performance. I had to listen to this for ten minutes on an empty stomach:

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I was in no mood to be open minded at that point so I’ll just say it sucked. Ok, I understand that experimental music is analogous in a lot of ways to modern art. I love modern art. But someone can look at a bunch of random lines and paint splotches and think it’s garbage. Much as I thought this first performance was garbage. But then those are just our opinions. I guess I just don’t get experimental music.

Finally, they brought some food out. It was a shredded cabbage salad served family style in big bowls. Great. This was going to be a family style meal with 50 strangers? The salad was fine. Then we waited another ten minutes for hunks of bread to be dropped on the table. We were expected to just pick up the bread and tear it apart. I have trouble with my friends touching my food now strangers were going to put their grubby paws all over the one piece of substantial food we’d had in over an hour of being there? Luckily Tim grabbed the bread before anyone else did and I got a piece from him. The bread turned out to be shitty quality supermarket bakery bread.

I can’t remember if we had the crappy main course before or after the second performance. I’ll just get this out of the way. The main course was lentils and potatoes. I adore lentils. But serving lentils at a $20 dinner? It’s what they would serve in a Pakistani prison. Serving lentils as a vegetarian dinner is phoning it in. It’s the stereotypical, boring shit dinner that makes nobody want to be vegetarian. There are so many amazing vegetarian meals one could make. I wanted to go into the kitchen, slap some heads and make my own dinner.

The second performance was the best. While it didn’t have a traditional music structure or melody, it sounded more than just a bunch of random noises like the first performance. I actually really enjoyed it.

Dessert was cupcakes. Or so I thought. They were some sort of dry, dense, gingery thing with some random apples inserted into it masquerading as cupcakes. Really? You fucked up dessert too? That’s the easiest crowd pleaser. You want to make cupcakes, fine. Make chocolate ones. It’s boring but everyone loves chocolate. End the meal on a high note. Don’t try to make dessert healthy with whole wheat flour and shit. That’s the biggest mistake of all.

The third and final performance happened at some point. It was a guy with a violin and a woman singing. It wouldn’t be my cup of tea in my most open-minded of states. But in my present “I’m gonna murder somebody” state-of-mind, it sounded like a mouse running across violin strings and a cat trapped in a washing machine.

At this point, I was ready to leave but someone came by asking for “donations.” I gave them their twenty bucks even though I felt like taking twenty dollars instead. They should’ve came by BEFORE they served their crappy dinner.

Look, I know I sound harsh, but if you’re going to throw a dinner party in LA, you better bring your A game. Especially if you’re changing 20 bucks a head. That dinner at best probably cost $3 per person. The ENTIRE dinner consisted of bread, cabbage, lentils, carrots, celery, potatoes and flour, eggs, butter and sugar for the cupcakes. In other words, all foods considered staples to most sane people.

Eating bad food and hearing experimental did make for a scary evening. And the second performance really was beautiful and interesting so I was glad for that.

Tim and I salvaged the night by grabbing a whiskey at a bar nearby. Then I had a mind blowing Al Pastor Burrito at a taco truck, La Estrella, recommended by a local at the bar. I’m mostly vegetarian but after having that “vegetarian” dinner I was so ashamed I drowned my sorrows in marinated pork. Best of all, it was only $4.50.

The kitchen where our shitty food came from…

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