Someone else’s tab

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Haunted wine cellar?

The Excelsior Inn‘s restaurant is so far out of my price range that I usually don’t bother to look past its beautiful gate when I pass by. In Harry Potter speak, you might say the building has a Secret-Keeper, and their secret is a platinum credit card.

Of course, the real trick is to know someone who has a platinum credit card. Just snag a rich uncle, or a scholarship donor like mine. He gives all of his recipients dinner at the Excelsior one night a year.

That’s how I found myself plodding through the quaint garden and up the steps of the Italian ristorante in wet Dockers and mismatched socks last night. I can never quite nail down the dress code.

The interior was lavish and beautiful, and also possibly haunted. On one of my donor’s tipsier years, he told us that the wine cellar was home to spirits, and that once a glass had gone flying off the fireplace all on its own. People have also heard “mysterious” footsteps upstairs, but that’s where the hotel rooms are.

The art was surprisingly less fine, at least in some corners of the establishment.

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Karla S. Chambers, Sunspot II

Karla S. Chambers’ Sunspot II was lurid in color and crude in style. Our waitress was quick to defend her, though.

“She has had good things in here before,” she said, looking very concerned. It’s funny to ask waiters at fancy shmancy restaurants to fix problems they can’t. An intense fear of getting fired by the stuffy management is always bubbling under the surface.

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James Moon, Rest Stop

There were some pretty great watercolors in the place, though, including some wonderful portraits by James Moon. Can’t you just see Moon setting up a little chair in front of this snoozing gentleman and leaving just as he wakes up?

I love the chaotic shadows on the ground, which subtly change our understanding of the subject’s surroundings, and the even line of bushes behind him. Moon has expertly dropped a whimsical character (his little red bag says “supermercado” on the bottom) into a vaguely ominous location. Do those shadows actually belong to scraggly-armed monsters?

After some I-have-to-close-my-eyes-because-otherwise-they-will-pop-out-of-my-head-and-knock-out-the-lenses-of-my-spectacles delicious desert, I went home and googled Moon. According to Bob Keefer, he’s a former dentist who has traveled through Mexico and Italy. Too bad “supermercado” means the same thing in both Spanish and Italian. I would like to imagine this little gent as a hispanohablante, mostly because he reminds me of Don Quijote in some of his more tired, curmudgeonly moments.

FLASHBACK: The Excelsior guest starred (kind of) in the second photo I ever posted on this here blog! Do you remember Proginoskes?

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