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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Camille Pissarro, Le Boulevard Montmartre, Effet de Nuit

Le Boulevard Montmartre, Effet de Nuit, 1897, National Gallery, LondonCamille Pissarro - Le Boulevard Montmartre, Effet de Nuit, 1897
National Gallery, London

At five o'clock in the morning Guillaume locked the door of the bar behind us. The streets were empty and grey... A garçon de café spilled water on the sidewalk before his establishment and swept it into the gutter. At the end of the long, curving street which faced us were the trees of the boulevard and straw chairs piled high before cafés.

(James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room)

I will be very busy for the next ten days, so I'll leave you with this image of the Boulevard Montmartre. I have several other wonderful images - I saw an exhibition of Paul Klee that I would like to talk about, and many other things. I'll do this when I come back. Meanwhile I will miss you all.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit

Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit











(Click here for the Romanian Version)
By ten in the evening the whole corner would take on the fullness of its own life with the terraces crowded and the well-known drunken poets or painters... wandering across the road from café to café.
(Morley Callaghan, That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others)


Some time in the 1920's Callaghan lived briefly in Paris, and he was part of the group that later would become known as The Lost Generation, term coined by Gertrude Stein, only by that time they were just a gang of young friends sharing enthusiasms and dreams in Montparnasse. That Summer in Paris is about them, about Hemingway, about Scott Fitzgerald, about Joyce - and about a boxing match! Yeah, Hemingway challenged Callaghan, who was a better boxer, so he knocked his friend to the ground. Scott Fitzgerald was keeping the time.

The 1920's in Paris, an epoch chronicled by the photos of Brassaï, of Kertesz, of Man Ray - you feel the spirit of those years in the paintings of Stuart Davis, Picasso, Van Dongen, or Mondrian. They still live, those years, in so many pages of Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and Callaghan, and Cowley...

Hemingway and the others, The Lost Generation and The Mad Years, Les Années Folles.

A movie, Les Années Folles, was telling the story of the twenties in Paris. The film director was Mirea Alexandresco. His parents were Romanians and they lived many years in Paris where Mirea was born. They came back to Romania, but Mirea remained in France. My parents were good friends with them and I remember how Mrs. Alexandrescu was telling us about the plans of her son to make the film. So I knew the movie before seeing it. Les Années Folles was produced in 1960, I saw it several years later, at the Romanian TV. Serge Reggiani was the narrator, and the history of the Parisian twenties remained for me associated with his baritone.

Much later Mirea Alexandresco came briefly to Bucharest, and he visited our family one evening. He came with his wife and his daughter and we spent a fine evening together. He was speaking Romanian quite well, with French accent, of course. A very nice man. He died prematurely, and Les Années Folles remained his only movie.

(The Fitzgeralds)

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July 25, World in Brief

Siniora, RiceUS Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has started today her diplomatic mission in the Middle East - meetings with Israeli PM Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas (NBC) - on an unannounced trip to ravaged Beirut, Dr. Rice outlined a plan Monday to deploy an international force, possibly led by NATO, in a buffer zone just inside Lebanon for 60 to 90 days, after which it would expand its mission to help the Lebanese army (WaPo). Support is building quickly for an international military force to be placed in southern Lebanon, but there remains a small problem: where will the troops come from? (NYT). Beirut has been split in two, its less affluent Shiite flank mutilated by airstrikes while the rest of the city remains mostly unscathed (NYT). Borders clashes intensify as Israel hunts militants (NYT). The op-ed by Nicholas D. Kristof in today's TimesSelect: Washington is resisting an immediate cease-fire so as to give Israeli forces more of a chance to destroy Hezbollah. But more time isn’t likely to accomplish much militarily, while every day of grisly photos on Arab television strengthens hard-liners — and Iranian and Shiite influence — throughout the region. World in brief: Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Mexico, Thailand, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Spain, Great Britain, Belarus, Jordan (WaPo). Serbian leaders hear formal plea for the independence of Kosovo (WaPo). Former US President Clinton supports Sen. Lieberman (WaPo). The Fix makes the case for Sen. Barack Obama, pondering the possibility of his presidential candidacy in 2008. They say the young Democrat Senator from Ilinois has still a too thin resume, but there are two years ahead. Run Barack, Run! I totally agree.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Josephine Baker, Georges Simenon

Simenon and Josephine at La Coupole














Et l'amour : si étrangement confortable se trouverait l'amour dans ce café où tout s'arrange pour provoquer des regards et des coups d'oeil.
(Louis Aragon, Le Paysan de Paris)


And love: how strangely comfortable love would find itself in this cafe where everything contrives to provoke looks and glances.
(Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant)


For many of his readers Simenon means Maigret, and Maigret means Gabin, however there was a time, long ago, when l'homme à la pipe was young and was also looking amazingly young. For Simenon - Maigret - Gabin love was a thickness that was not good to catch, however there was a time, long ago, when the writer was crazy about Josephine Baker, and she was crazy about him, too. The photo above was taken in 1925 at La Coupole - only Simenon was already married, so he took the job of part-time secretary of Josephine, to explain to his wife his continual presence near the great dancer.

The relationship didn't last too long, as Simenon was afraid to not become Mr. Josephine - anyway he remained well known not only for his books, but also for his very agitated sentimental life. And if we look for the character of the author, not for his hero, we will find out that the creator of Maigret was in his real life the man who wasn't Maigret.

Some time in the thirties Josephine Baker gave a couple of performances in Bucharest, and the event remained in the memory of the city. A good friend of mine, Marius Dobrin, found this old photo, funny witness for the impact of the brief presence of Josephine in the Romanian capital.

Bucharest, near Palatul Telefoanelor

Lust, Caution - News about Ang Lee and Tony Leung


I found this post (author: Ellen) in my Amazon Plog. I saw many of Ang Lee and Wong Kar Wai films, and I saw Tony Leung also in Hou's Flowers of Shangai (beside his great performances in Wong's movies - as Ellen says, check out In the Mood for Love and 2046 if you haven't done it yet). So news about Ang Lee and Tony Leung are always exciting for me.

It was announced today that Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) has cast Tony Leung (aka Tony Leung Chiu Wai) as the lead in his upcoming espionage thriller Lust, Caution. Filming doesn't even begin until the fall, and I know precious little about the film other than it's adapted from an Eileen Chang short story, but you can bet it's already on my must-see list, based on three factors:
  • Factor #1: Lee's track record for excellent movies (hey, even Hulk wasn't that bad). That he's filming another Chinese-language movie (Check out The Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman if you haven't yet), his first since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is doubly intriguing.
  • Factor #2: His eye for giving young actors a big break (Zhang Ziyi, Eric Bana, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire). In this case, he's cast a newcomer named Tang Wei (so new in fact, as of this writing she doesn't even have an entry in IMDB), which is nothing but good news for her.
  • Factor #3: Working with Tony Leung. Who, you ask? One of Hong Kong's most prolific and versatile actors, who starred in Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love, 2046, Happy Together and Chungking Express; in Zhang Yimou's Hero as the peaceful fighter Broken Sword; and undercover cops in Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao) and John Woo's Hard Boiled. If I've only seen about 15 Chinese-language movies my entire life, Tony Leung has starred in about 10 of them (He's been good every single time). Perhaps he's a prime candidate for our Why We Love program, where we highlight actors you should get to know better. But I digress. Go back and watch these again and realize you've been watching the same actor in all of them. You can thank me later.




(Ang Lee)

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Today July 24

NYT: a woman held a photograph of her brother, who was killed on Sunday by a rocket that hit Haifa

NYT: Israel weighs foreighn troops on border. NYT analysis: Israel is embracing the possibility of an aggressive international force on its northern border with Lebanon to bolster its security in its struggle with Hezbollah. NYT: Saudis urge Bush to push for cease-fire in MidEast. Bob Herbert has an op-ed in TimesSelect: It’s too late now, but Israel could have used a friend in the early stages of its war with Hezbollah — a friend who could have tugged at its sleeve and said: “O.K. We understand. But enough.” That friend should have been the United States. Yes, it's too late. W Post: Pakistan expanding nuclear program. Bad news come never alone.

Birthday of Dumas-Père and Amelia Earheart. Jennifer Lopez turns 37, and Michael Richards (the beloved Kramer from Seinfeld TV series) turns 57.

Andre Kertesz, The Daisy Bar

Andre Kertesz, The Daisy Bar, Montmartre, 1930
Les rues étaient abandonnées et humides. Une bruine fine enfermait les lumières dans des halos. Quelques figures se déplaçaient près des maisons. Sur le coin de la rue Montmartre et des Grands Boulevards, un café était encore ouvert.
(Georges Simenon, Maigret et la Jeune Morte)

Le cadavre d'une jeune fille est découvert place Vintimille. Maigret s'occupe de l'affaire, provoquant le mécontentement évident de Lognon, l'inspecteur du deuxième quartier, bien connu par ses complexes d'infériorité et de persécution ; le Malgracieux devra une nouvelle fois s'atteler à des tâches secondaires. Maigret parvient à identifier la victime : il s'agit de Louise Laboine, d'origine niçoise. Dès 16 ans, la jeune fille a tenté sa chance à Paris ; dans le train qui l'emmenait vers la capitale, elle a fait la connaissance de Jeanine Armenieu, Lyonnaise décidée, elle aussi, à vivre sa vie. A Paris, tandis que Jeanine réussissait et parvenait à se faire ouvrir les portes de la haute société, Louise végétait et vivait le plus souvent aux crochets de son amie. Celle-ci a mis fin à cette situation en partant du meublé de la rue de Ponthieu où elles habitaient. Dès lors, Louise a commencé son naufrage : foncièrement honnête et de moralité irréprochable, elle a quitté l'appartement et a sombré dans la misère, lorsqu'elle a appris que son ancienne amie allait faire un mariage avantageux avec Marco Santoni, Italien fortuné. Elle a cherché à la revoir, a reçu d'elle un peu d'argent, ainsi qu'une lettre adressée à son nom, mais remise à Jeanine par la concierge de l'immeuble de la rue de Ponthieu qui ignorait le nouveau domicile de Louise. Cette lettre lui a été laissée par un Américain nommé Jimmy O'Malley. Ce dernier a été le complice du père de Louise, Julius Van Cram, escroc international que la jeune fille n'a jamais connu. Avant sa mort dans un pénitencier américain, Van Cram a demandé à O'Malley de dire à Louise comment elle pourrait entrer en possession de l'argent qu'il a accumulé dans sa vie d'escroc. O'Malley, qui n'a pu retrouver Louise, a déposé pour elle un message dans un bar louche de la rue de l'Etoile. C'est là qu'elle s'est rendue le soir du meurtre, mais le message avait été intercepté par Falconi, patron du bar, Bianchi et le Tatoué, individus peu scrupuleux qui ont profité de la situation. Pour se procurer l'« héritage » à la place de Louise, ces truands ont essayé de lui dérober ses pièces d'identité ; elle s'est défendue et a été tuée par accident.
(Tout Simenon)

The streets were deserted and wet. A fine drizzle enclosed the streetlamps in halos. A few figures were moving close to the houses. On the corner of Rue Montmartre and the Grands Boulevards, a café was still open.

The album had the English version of the text. I thought that a Maigret should be presented firstly in the original version - so I considered translating the text back to French. For wet I choose humide, rather than mouillé. Halos remained halos, and I believe this is also the word used by Simenon. For streetlamps I decided to use lumières - I am sure there is another word, more appropriate.

I found then on the web a summary of the novel - I copied it here, for the sake of all fans of Maigret.

And the photo of Kertesz, that Daisy Bar, is absolutely fabulous. I visited today again the Washington National Art Gallery - there was an exhibition of recent photographic acquisitions - among others, a Pont des Arts by Brassaï, and a couple of fantastic photographic portraits of Maiakovski, by Rodchenko. Here is a Parisian photo made by Charles Marville in the 1860's, Rue de la Bûcherie.



Charles Marville, Rue de la Bûcherie, 1865-1869



Marville was commissioned to record the streets, monuments, and parks of Paris both before and after the radical changes implemented by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann (from the biography published by the Washington national Art Gallery).

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mid East, July 23

Jieh, South of Beirut, an emptied resort, a burning fuel depot after an Israeli air strike (NYT)
Today is July 23, 2006:
On July 23, 1914, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia following the killing of Archduke Francis Ferdinand by a Serb assassin; the dispute led to World War I.

As Christians we believe war is not inevitable. If we can choose war, we can choose peace.
(Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church)

(Church in America)

Troops ready, but Israel bets on air power (NYT). Israel fights to secure key region in Lebanon (WPost). US plan seeks to wedge Syria from Iran, as Americans consider Damascus as central to any efforts to resolve Mid East crisis (NYT). In Iran many wary about the commitments abroad: We Iranians have a saying. We should save our own house first and then save the mosque. A lot of people think this way. The government should help its people first, and then help the people in Lebanon (Ali Reza Moradi, 35, a portrait artist in Tehran, quoted in today's NYT).

Prayers for peace in Lebanon (Catholic Standard, the newspaper of the Archdiocese in Washington, DC): a Mass for peace was offered at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Washington. The Mass was concelebrated by Lebanese Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, the Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the retired Archbishop Cardinal McCarrick, and the Maronite Catholic Bishop of Washington, Gregory Mansour. Today I stand before you as a disciple of the Lord as we rededicate ourselves to the truth and to the One who gave us life, said the Maronite Patriarch, and he added, as Christians we believe war is not inevitable. If we can choose war, we can choose peace.

(Church in America)

Today again, Israel believes that it is improving its long-term security by attacking Lebanon. And once again, I believe, that will prove counterproductive (the op-ed of Nicholas D. Kristof in today's NYT: Spanish Lessons for Israel). Neocon incrementalists have kept our democratic dreams, but we’ve slowed our gait to a cautious walk (the op-ed of David Brooks in today's NYT: Onward Cautious Soldiers). It's not World War 3 (Rossner's Blog).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Teo Tarras - Cafe de la Paix

Teo Tarras, Cafe de la PaixPaintings and music, street noises, flower markets, modes, fabrics, poems, ideas, everything seemed to lead toward a half-sensual, half-intellectual swoon. Inside the cafes, color, perfume, taste and delirium could be poured together from one bottle or many bottles - from square, cylindrical, conical, tall, squat, brown, green or crimson bottles - but you drank black coffee by choice, believing that Paris itself was sufficient alcohol.
(Malcolm Cowley, Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s)

Cowley lived in Paris for three years and he was a friend of Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald. Later in life he edited the works of Hemingway, Faulkner and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Very important his introductions to The Portable Faulkner and to Winesburg, Ohio of Sherwood Anderson. His Exile's Return appeared in 1934 and chronicles the general movement by the Lost Generation out of the United States (Wikipedia).

The Hours was firstly a novel written by Michael Cunningham, and then a movie - the story of how a book affects (and is affected by) the life of three women, living in different epochs. The three women are the author, the reader, and the main character. The author is Virginia Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman) - she is starting to write the first chapter of her Mrs. Dalloway, in 1923 in England. The reader (played by Julianne Moore) filters the universe of Mrs. Dalloway through her own universe - other time (1951), other space (California), other experience of life. And the main character of Mrs. Dalloway (played by Meryl Streep) lives also in her own universe! - once she was created by the author, she got (with or without the author's will) autonomy, an existence of her own, free to chose her time (2001), her space (Manhattan), her career, her issues. Actually a book has three independent players, the author, the character, and the reader - there are so many Don Quixote as many readers are - and Don Quixote is not only what Cervantes decided. Great authors (Chekhov is such an example) understood this need of their characters for autonomy and did not impose too many constraints through the plot of their books.

This album on Parisian cafes, that I follow page after page, shows me also the way the author, the characters and the reader have impact on each other. The author, Val Clark, made the selection of the images and of the texts. The characters of the book are great photographs along with great writers. And I see Paris through the eyes of Brassaï, Kertesz, Doisneau, Boubat, Man Ray, Dennis Stock, Teo Tarras (and also Van Gogh, Manet, Stuart Davis, Pissaro), each one with its own sensibility, with its own obsessions. I am looking on the web for the images from the album, sometimes I found other photos, and as I follow the book, I get more and more intimate with the universes of these masters. Then the writers selected in the book, generally belonging to the so called Lost Generation - each one different, with its own memories of Paris - and each one surprising me in a slightly different way.

And as I follow the pages of the album, looking on the web for the photos, finding sometimes others, understanding little by little the universes of these fabulous artists, photographs, painters or writers - all this is filtered through my own life experience, my memories from Bucharest, as well as my present experience - I think at Paris as I am strolling through the streets of Washington, as I am interested also in other lost generations: the generation of Vietnam (Caputo, Herr, Wolff), the generation of Bosnia (Loyd), along with the generation of writers from the Eastern Europe, my generation, who lived under the Communist rule, having our own dreams, obsessions, hopes... I am just reading Imperium, by the Pole Ryszard Kapuscinski, fantastic journey through a Soviet Union in the moment of collapse.

So my reading (so to speak my own Don Quixote) is not only the Paris of Val Clark and not only her selection of artists – my reading is in the same time Paris and DC, and not only.

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Profile: Segolene Royal

Segolene Royal
Segolene Royal could be the first female president of France, after being their first cyber-candidate. The French Socialist establishment was considering her as too light-weight (Who will take care of her children? - Laurent Fabius, Presidential race is not a beauty contest - Jack Lang - it seems that the French left remained anchored in some very old male views), so Segolene took a grass-roots approach. She has a blog (Desirs d'avenir) that solicit views on the economy, unemployment and immigration. Chapter by chapter, she is writing and publishing on her blog a book that has been likened to a political manifesto (W Post).

Don't take her for a lightweight candidate. Segolene has her strong personal views which sometimes go far beyond the well known positions of the French left and even against some sacred cows of the Socialist establishment, the 35-hour workweek, for instance. She also does not hide her admiration for British PM Blair (who is anathema for French left). She thinks with her own head, she thinks well, and she has the courage to say what she thinks.

Now, as Segolene uses so intensively the net roots, look what net roots have to say. Here you go:

Mid East, July 22

Israeli forces gathered at the northern border
NYT: The Israeli military massed armored vehicles near its northern border on Friday, called up several thousand reserve soldiers and warned residents of south Lebanon to flee, suggesting expanded ground operations may lie ahead in its war with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

NYT: US will speed up a delivery of precision guided bombs to Israel. Some see this as a sign of a longer campaign ahead.

W Post: Condoleezza Rice yesterday announced plans for talks with Israeli, Palestinian and Lebanese leaders as part of a new U.S. diplomatic effort in the Middle East conflict, but warned that the United States would not support a cease-fire that fell short of disarming Hezbollah and restoring Lebanese government control throughout the besieged country.

Condoleezza Rice: What I won’t do is go to some place and try to get a cease-fire that I know isn’t going to last.

Op-Eds in TimesSelect: Maureen Dowd and John Tierney.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Robert Doisneau - Vue de Nuit des Halles



It ended at last, at daybreak in a bistro near Les Halles, where they had often gone at dawn for rolls or chocolate or coffee. Outside they could hear the nightly roar and rumble of the market, the cries of the venders, and smell all sweet smells of earth and morning, of first light, health, and joy, and day beginning.
(Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River: A Legend of Man’s Hunger in His Youth)


Thomas Wolfe died at thirty-eight. William Faulkner was saying that Wolfe was the best writer of his generation. Some consider that Jack Kerouac, the leading chronicler of the Beat generation, was influenced by Thomas Wolfe.

When I left Paris I was only three years old – soon I forgot all that small amount of French that I was able to speak at three. I remember precisely the day when I started to use Romanian words. It was after six months – one morning when I discovered suddenly that I knew the French word and that I knew also its Romanian equivalent, and that I could use the Romanian one. I took quickly a decision, to use only Romanian words – and to keep in my speech only one French word, that I loved – bateau. And soon after that the only French word that remained in my memory was exactly this one, bateau. There were several marines in our house – one of them was showing several boats leading toward the harbor – I don’t know why I remained with the impression that those were Turkish boats, kind of caïc-s, and that the harbor was Constantinople. The painting is still hanging on a wall in my apartment in Bucharest, I still believe firmly that it shows caïc-s leading toward Constantinople, and I still don’t know why I believe that.

From Paris I kept two memories – firstly the escalators in the subway stations – as I had seen a gentleman getting on the escalators, taken up by them – and when he was on the middle of his way, the gentleman was always starting to go up by himself. I remember how I had seen this scene in Paris several times – amazing scene for a kid under three years old. This was my first chunk of memory that I remained with from my early childhood in Paris, and it was so strong that always when I am on an escalator, in a subway station, in a department store, wherever, I start to go up by myself when I am on the middle – aiding the escalator, so to speak.

The second chunk of memory that I kept was from my first birthday. It seems incredible, but the impression was too strong for the kid of one year old. My mother took me to a terrace of a café, to treat me with a glass of lemonade – and I was trying to put the glass to my mouth, and the sparkles were pinching my nostrils – so I tried several times to drink the lemonade without success.

Some places in Bucharest were impressing me in a particular way – one of them was Halele in Piata Mare (named today Piata Unirii). As I can see in the photo above, Halele in Piata Mare in Bucharest had as a model Les Halles of Paris – and like them they were demolished sometime in the seventies or so – their location was near the famous Hanul lui Manuc.

Well, after about fifty years I was again in Paris, this time for a week only, and as we were on our way from the Charles de Gaulle airport, some other memories, that I was unaware of, were emerging from me. But this is already another story, to be told some other time…

Snapshots without Camera

Michael Godard, Martini Club
The Martini Club
of
Lost Snapshots







Snapshots without Camera - Haiku with a Laptop

Michael Godard, Martini Club
The Martini Club
of
Lost Snapshots





La Starbucks, la o masa se aseaza o tanara indianca. Este cu tzancul ei. Isi aseaza pe masa laptopul si cafeua si incepe sa tacane la tastatura. Tzancul are vreo cinci-sase ani si nu-i da pace. Ea zambeste si continua sa tacane la tastatura in timp ce vorbeste la telefonul mobil.

Afternoon scene in a Starbucks café. A young Indian woman, with her kid. She’s laying on the table her laptop and the coffee and starts to hit the keyboard. The kid is maybe five, maybe six and wants to play with her. She’s smiling at him and keeps hitting the keyboard, while talking at the cell.

Snapshots without Camera - Early Bird Japanese (a story from Jean)

Michael Godard, Martini Club
The Martini Club
of
Lost Snapshots






This one comes from Jean.

Dimineata devreme, inca racoare, inainte ca oamenii sa fi pornit, cand cafenelele Romei de abia si-au deschis obloanele. O piata celebra a capitalei, plina de monumente care sunt multiplicate la infinit pe carti postale. Pe terasa cafenelei, o singura clienta: o tanara japoneza. In fata ei, pe masa, o cafea. O cafea italieneasca, in inima Italiei, la Roma. Si japoneza, cu aparatul ei cu macroobiectiv, fotografia ceasca de cafea.

It’s early morning, still cool in the air, people haven’t yet started their rush, and Roman cafes have just opened their shutters. A celebrated piazza, full of celebrated monuments, multiplied on celebrated postcards, ad infinitum. On the café terrace only one patron: a young Japanese. In front of her, on the table, a cup of coffee. Italian coffee in the heart of Italy. And the Japanese, with her photographic camera (with macro-objective, how else?), photographing the cup of coffee.

Mid East, July 21

Beirut
NYT: Israel may expand ground offensive. W Post: President Bush's unwillingness to pressure Israel to halt its military campaign in Lebanon is rooted in a view of the Middle East conflict that is sharply different from that of his predecessors. Opinion of Thomas L. Friedman: Order vs. disorder: There was a small item in The Jerusalem Post the other day that caught my eye. It said that the Israeli telephone company, Bezeq, was installing high-speed Internet lines in bomb shelters in northern Israel so Israelis could surf the Web while waiting out Hezbollah rocket attacks.
I read that story two ways. One, as symbol of Israeli resilience, a boundless ability to adapt to any kind of warfare. But, two, as an unconscious expression of what I sense people here are just starting to feel: this is no ordinary war, and it probably won’t end soon. At a time when most Arab states have reconciled to Israel and their dispute is now about where the borders should be, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite militia, armed with 12,000 rockets, says borders are irrelevant; it is Israel that should be erased.
That’s why I find in talking to Israeli friends a near total support for their government’s actions — and almost a relief at the clarity of this confrontation and Israel’s right to defend itself. Yet, at the same time, I find a gnawing sense of anxiety that Israel is facing in Hezbollah an enemy that is unabashedly determined to transform this conflict into a religious war — from a war over territory — and wants to do it in a way that threatens not only Israel but the foundations of global stability.
How so? Even though it had members in the national cabinet, Hezbollah built up a state-within-a-state in Lebanon, and then insisted on the right to launch its own attack on Israel that exposed the entire Lebanese nation to retaliation. Moreover, unprovoked, it violated an international border with Israel that was sanctified by the United Nations.
So this is not just another Arab-Israeli war. It is about some of the most basic foundations of the international order — borders and sovereignty — and the erosion of those foundations would spell disaster for the quality of life all across the globe.
Lebanon, alas, has not been able to produce the internal coherence to control Hezbollah, and is not likely to soon. The only way this war is going to come to some stable conclusion any time soon is if The World of Order — and I don’t just mean “the West,’’ but countries like Russia, China, India, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia too — puts together an international force that can escort the Lebanese Army to the Israeli border and remain on hand to protect it against Hezbollah.
I am not talking about a U.N. peacekeeping force. I am talking about an international force, like the one that liberated Kosovo, with robust rules of engagement, heavy weapons and troops from countries like France, Russia, India and China that Iran and its proxies will not want to fight.
Israel does not like international forces on its borders and worries they will not be effective. But it will be better than a war of attrition, and nothing would set back the forces of disorder in Lebanon more than The World of Order helping to extend the power of the democratically elected Lebanese government to its border with Israel.
Too often, assaults like Hezbollah’s, which have global implications, have been met with only “a local response,’’ said Gidi Grinstein, who heads Reut, an Israeli defense think tank. “But the only way that these networks can be defeated is if their global assault is met by a global response.’’
Unfortunately, partly because of China, Russia and Europe’s traditional resentment and jealousy of the U.S. and partly because of the foolish Bush approach that said unilateral American power was more important than action legitimated by a global consensus, the global forces of order today are not at all united.
It is time that The World of Order got its act together. This is not Israel’s fight alone — and if you really want to see a “disproportional’’ Israeli response, just keep leaving Israel to fight this war alone. Then you will see some real craziness.
George Bush and Condi Rice need to realize that Syria on its own is not going to press Hezbollah — in Mr. Bush’s immortal words — to just “stop doing this shit.’’ The Bush team needs to convene a coalition of The World of Order. If it won’t, it should let others more capable do the job. We could start with the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton, whose talents could be used for more than just tsunami relief.
The forces of disorder — Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Iran — are a geopolitical tsunami that we need a united front to defeat. And that united front needs to be spearheaded by American leaders who understand that our power is most effective when it is legitimated by a global consensus and imbedded in a global coalition.


And here is the second part of the dictionary of war clichés from Rossner's blog - read and have fun.

And it's the birthday of Hemingway...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Walking with Henry Miller through Parisian Cafes

Walking with Henry Miller
Anais Nin once wrote, the hours I have spent in cafes are the only ones I call living, apart from writing. She met Henry Miller in 1931, and their relationship would span a lifetime (Val Clark).

Proust is going to my head... This afternoon I was reading him in the Cafe Mirroir... From time to time I looked up and allowed my eyes to rest on the string of cafes cremes that ran from one end of the hall to the other.
(letter of Henry Miller to Anais Nin, February 7, 1932)

For me, things are looking up. I am elated. I wake up now after five or six hours sleep and I am thinking the next line for my book. At the same time I am thinking in terms of color. I want time too to make a few water colors, at least one or two every day... I have begun to whistle and sing mornings. Oranges first, and then porridge at the Coupole.
(letter of Henry Miller to Anais Nin, February 27, 1932 - 2:00 A.M. Saturday)

Miller seemed to make optimal use of cafe stationery, and many of his letters to Anais are from cafes all over Paris.

Henry's letters give me a feeling of plenitude I get rarely. They are extraordinary. I take great joy in answering them.
(Anais in her diary, the same month of February, the same year of 1932)

There was in New York a Henry Miller's Theatre, on the 43-rd Street, close to Times Square. It is not the name of the famous author of the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. That theatre was built by another Henry Miller, an actor-producer who died in 1926. It used to be a famous Broadway theatre - here the musical La Lucille of George and Ira Gershwin was performed in 1919 - in 1925 Noel Coward stared here his Vortex - Days Without End of Eugene O'Neill was here performed in 1926. In 1934 the theatre hosted Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Helen Hayes, Leslie Howard, Lillian Gish and Douglas Fairbanks performed on Henry Miller's Theatre.

But these were the golden years. The theatre passed to other owners - and in the 60's was there a porno movie venue, then a disco. It came back to its original destination in the 90's - sadly the theatre was demolished in 2004 - only the facade was kept, as it's considered a New York landmark. It happened that I passed in front of that facade just in 2004.

Church in America

Clarendon Presbyterian Church, Progressive, Inclusive, Diverse.
I think one cannot fully understand a culture and a society without considering its religious dimension and the way life of its church goes on. In some cultures, in some societies, the religious dimension is not as apparent as in others - but it matters always.

American culture and American society have their specifics - and I keep trying to understand these specifics since I came here. There is in today's America a cultural divide and the American church reflects this divide. I will try to explain how I understand the various orientations in today's American faith, how they reflect themselves in the life of society (just today President Bush used for the first time his right of veto in the sensible matter of stem cell research) - and I will try to note the significant events.

I would like to thank here some good friends who are of great help for me in understanding the way today's church in America goes - Pastor David and the community of faith from the Clarendon Presbyterian Church (progressive, inclusive, diverse), Ms. Marjorie Ramos from the Staten Island Unitarian Church (and I am trying to understand better the Jam-Session approach of the Unitarians), and my good friend Jorje, who helps me to understand the Born-Again approach.

The image above is of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church. I discovered their community by chance- there was a column in the Washington Post, that I read one evening - I will tell you once about. It's a splendid community of faith.



Mid East July 20

Israeli soldiers trudging Wednesday near AvivimNYT: The deadliest day yet in the deepening two-front Middle East crisis claimed more than 70 lives on Wednesday in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and northern Israel, with no immediate cease-fire in sight.
At the United Nations the Americans, who have signaled that they will give Israel more time to continue the bombardment of Lebanon to weaken Hezbollah’s military power, opposed a French proposal for a Security Council resolution calling for a lasting cease-fire.

NYT: Iraqi PM denounces Israeli's actions.
The denunciation was a sharp break with the U.S. position and was noticeably stronger than those made by Sunni Arab governments.

David Brooks has an op-ed in the Select section of NYT:
Can we use political reform to spark cultural change in the Middle East, or do we have to wait for cultural reformation before we can change politics?

It happened just over a year ago in Key West, of all places. We’d come down for a conference organized by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and one afternoon two friends, Reuel Gerecht and Jeffrey Goldberg, squared off for a debate on the prospects for democracy in the Middle East.
Gerecht and Goldberg are Americans whose fascination with Islam has taken them to ridiculous places. Gerecht, a former member of the C.I.A. clandestine service, spends an astonishing amount of time in spare rooms in Middle East backwaters talking fatwas in klatches with bearded fundamentalists.
Goldberg has lived in a madrasa in Pakistan. His pieces from inside Hezbollah won a National Magazine Award for The New Yorker. In the fall he has a book, “Prisoners,” coming out about his time as a prison guard in the Israeli Army, and his friendships with the Palestinian detainees.
Having heard many of their stories, I have this image of Goldberg being kidnapped by some terrorist group and when he’s thrown into the hide-out he finds Gerecht already there schmoozing with the local mullah.
But these two companions disagree utterly about the path to Arab democracy. Gerecht began their debate in Key West by reporting that a genuine wave of democratic thought is sweeping through the region. It’s not only happening among the liberal secularists who are marginal to the Arab mainstream, he said. It’s happening among the ayatollahs and the clerics.
The people who will do well in the first elections, Gerecht predicted a year ago, will not be to our liking. They will be anti-American and ferociously anti-Israeli. The first phase of Arab democracy will be extremely bumpy, he warned, with possible attacks on Israel, and crackdowns on women’s rights.
But it is better, he argued, to go through this phase than to wait for a religious reformation, which will never come. It is better to endure this phase than to preserve the old dictatorships, which feed extremism.
The only way to reform the Middle East, Gerecht concluded, is by changing political institutions and enduring as the spirit of democratic self-government slowly changes society. There will be a period of fever, but the fever will break the disease.
When it was Goldberg’s turn (the transcript is available online at
pewforum.org), his first observation was that sometimes fevers break the disease but sometimes they kill the patient. The only difference, he said, between the terrorists and the “moderate” Islamic supremacists that Gerecht would empower is that the terrorists want to kill all Americans and all Jews whereas the moderates only want to kill all the Jews.
Morally, Goldberg, continued, the U.S. cannot champion democratic reforms that produce jihadist regimes that attack Israel and wink at the honor killings of teenage girls. And politically, how long are we supposed to endure this period of painful democratic birth? Fifty years? One hundred?
In Goldberg’s view, cultural reform has to precede political reform. The West should continue to champion the Arab world’s liberal modernizers, who believe in pluralism and human rights and who may have deeper roots in society than we think.
Fourteen months later, we’re in the middle of the fever Gerecht and Goldberg were grappling with. Hezbollah, Hamas and Moktada al-Sadr have indeed benefited. But, Gerecht points out, so have a lot of real democrats who are resisting the extremists. Goldberg counters that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah were always jihadi and will always be jihadi, and no amount of democratic participation will change that.
What this debate is really about is the mother of all chicken-and-egg problems. Can we use political reform to spark cultural change, or do we have to wait for cultural reformation before we can change politics?
The Bush administration’s position is clear. In some of my best arguments with senior officials, they insist, à la Gerecht, that institutions shape behavior. And to their credit, even in this moment of turmoil they are hanging tough and pushing for more democratic reform.
But the truth is that at the moment neither the Goldberg nor the Gerecht thesis is winning. The fever Gerecht predicted has sent world opinion scurrying off for stability at any cost. World opinion is abandoning both Palestinian-style democratic transformation and the cultural modernizers who are being crushed in places like Egypt. People are rushing back toward the illusory stability of Mubarak and the House of Saud.
That, Goldberg and Gerecht both agree, is what brought us 9/11.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Edouard Boubat, Lella, Bretagne

Edouard Boubat, Lella, Bretagne, 1947
Some consider this photo the masterpiece of Edouard Boubat. It was made in 1947. Lella, jeune fille aux fleurs, was his muse, he was madly in love for her. They soon married and lived a bohemian life in Paris. Look how she is emerging from darkness into light, with arrogance and style.

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Brassai, The Way a Poem of Ady's began on a Cafe Table in Paris

Brassai, The Way a Poem of Ady's Began on a Cafe Table in Paris, 1928(image from archfoto.freeblog.hu)

Neither the issue nor the sire,
neither fulfillment nor desire
am I for anyone,
am I for anyone.

I am as all men, the sunless sea,
the alien Thule, mystery,
a fleeing wisp of light,
a fleeing wisp of light.

But I must look for friends and brothers;
I want to show myself to others
that seeing they will see,
that seeing they will see.

For this my lyric masochism;
I long to close the gaping schism,
and thus belong somewhere,
and thus belong somewhere.

(Ady Endre, Longing for Love, 1909)

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Brassai - This is a Chair... Nothing More

Brassai, This is a chair ... Nothing moreSome days ago I was trying to describe this photo made by Brassai - finding it on the web seemed impossible. A friend was today of great help.
Do you remember? ... a secret wayside cafe... where... a shadow was the most ancient of the regulars... the verses of Eugene Guillevic.
A chair and a shadow, constant friends. Why is the shadow there? Hafiz would answer, to take care...







And love
Says,
I will, I will take care of you,
To everything that is
Near
(Hafiz)



(Sufi)

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Mid East July 19

HELENE COOPER and STEVEN ERLANGER, NYT, An Israeli gunner covered his ears as an artillery piece fires towards targets in southern Lebanon from a position in northern Israel
NYT: The outlines of an American-Israeli consensus began to emerge on Tuesday in which Israel would continue to bombard Lebanon for about another week to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia, officials of the two countries said. Then, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the region and seek to establish a buffer zone in southern Lebanon and perhaps an international force to monitor Lebanon’s borders to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining more rockets with which to bombard Israel. American officials signaled that Ms. Rice was waiting at least a few more days before wading into the conflict, in part to give Israel more time to weaken Hezbollah forces. The strategy carries risk, partly because it remains unclear just how long the rest of the world, particularly America’s Arab allies, will continue to stay silent as the toll on Lebanese civilians rises.
NYT: With Israeli Use of Force, Debate Over Proportion. The asymmetry in the reported death tolls is marked and growing: some 230 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians, to 25 Israeli dead, 13 of them civilians. In Gaza, one Israel soldier has died from his own army’s fire, and 103 Palestinians have been killed, 70 percent of them militants. The cold figures, combined with Israeli air attacks on civilian infrastructure like power plants, electricity transformers, airports, bridges, highways and government buildings, have led to accusations by France and the European Union, echoed by some nongovernmental organizations, that Israel is guilty of “disproportionate use of force” in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and of “collective punishment” of the civilian populations.
Israel has heard these arguments before. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, “Proportionality is not compared to the event, but to the threat, and the threat is bigger and wider than the captured soldiers.”

Zed Chafetz has an op-ed in NYT: Israel Leaves the Scuds Behind. This president doesn’t seem to regard Israel as a nuisance. On the contrary, he sees it as a friend and an ally in the fight against Islamic radicalism. An Israeli victory in Lebanon wounds Hezbollah’s patrons, Syria and Iran, both of which threaten American troops and aspirations in Iraq. It establishes Mr. Olmert as a major figure as he tries to set Israel’s permanent borders in accordance with American policy.
Thomas L. Friedman in NYT:
Profiles of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah always describe him as the most “brilliant” or “strategic” Arab player. I beg to differ. When the smoke clears, Nasrallah will be remembered as the most foolhardy Arab leader since Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser miscalculated his way into the Six-Day War.
Yes, yes, I know. I am a too-rational Westerner. I don’t understand the Eastern mind and the emotional victory that Nasrallah will reap from all this pain. It isn’t whether you win or lose; it’s whether you kill Jews. Well, maybe — but, ultimately, wars are fought for political ends. An accounting will be rendered, so let’s do some math.
First, Nasrallah has set back the whole fledgling Arab democracy movement. That movement, by the way, was being used by Islamist parties — like Hezbollah and Hamas — to peacefully ascend to power. Hezbollah, for the first time, had two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet. Hamas, through a U.S.-sponsored election, took over the Palestinian Authority. And in both cases, as well as in Iraq, these Islamist parties were allowed to sit in government and maintain their own militias outside.
What both Hamas and Nasrallah have done — by dragging their nations into unnecessary wars with Israel — is to prove that Islamists will not be made more accountable by political power. Just the opposite; not only will they not fix the potholes, they will start wars, whenever they choose, that will lead to even bigger potholes.
Does this mean Hamas and Hezbollah will never get another vote? Of course not. Their followers will always follow. What it does mean is that if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Islamists in Jordan or the gulf, had any hopes of taking power through electoral means, they can forget about it. I don’t see their governments ever allowing elections that might bring Islamist parties to power, and I don’t see the U.S. promoting any more elections in the region, for now. The Arab democracy experiment is on hold — because if Islamist parties can’t be trusted to rule, elections can’t be trusted to be held.
All Arab dictators say, “Thank you, Nasrallah.”
On the peace front, let’s see, Israel gets out of Lebanon and Gaza, and what is the response of Hamas and Hezbollah? Build schools, roads and jobs in their recovered territories? Nope. Respect the border with Israel, but demand that Israel continue to withdraw from the West Bank? Nope. The response is to shell Israel from Gaza and abduct Israeli soldiers from Lebanon. Hamas and Nasrallah replaced the formula “land for peace” with “land for war,” said the former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.
In doing so, they have ensured that no Israeli government is going to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank and risk rockets on Tel Aviv. Nasrallah and Hamas have brought “strategic territorial depth” back to Israeli thinking. All West Bank Jewish settlers say, “Thank you, Nasrallah.”
But let’s assume Nasrallah doesn’t care about democracy or a Palestinian state. He has to care about his own standing. His adventures have led to the devastation of his people — what is happening to Lebanon is a terrible tragedy — with relatively little damage to Israel. He launched a war on behalf of Iran that ruined his people, and the best outcome he can expect is a cease-fire that requires Hezbollah to move away from the Israeli border.
Moreover, Iran gave Nasrallah missiles to deter any Western or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. By frivolously playing their missile card now, Hezbollah and Iran have exposed and weakened Iran’s deterrent. Really dumb.
Can America capitalize on Nasrallah’s foolishness? To me, the big strategic chess move is to try to split Syria off from Iran, and bring Damascus back into the Sunni Arab fold. That is the game-changer. What would be the Syrian price? I don’t know, but I sure think it would be worth finding out. After all, Syria hosts Hamas’s leadership in Damascus. It is the land bridge between Hezbollah and Iran, without which Hezbollah can’t survive. And it is the safe haven for the Baathist insurgents in Iraq.

Yes, we have a lot to discuss with Syria. And so do the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Jordanians, who are worried that Syria is paving the way for an Iranian-Shiite takeover of Arab politics.
I’d sure be interested to know if Damascus would respond to a U.S.-Saudi overture, like the one that got Libya to give up its nukes, and come over from the dark side. Unlikely, to be sure, but if the Bush team had the smarts to pull it off — also unlikely — it would be the mother of all defeats for Iran and Nasrallah.

Maureen Dawd has her habitual op-ed in NYT, and you should read also this column in W Post.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Psalm XLI/XLII

New and Greenbrier RiversPrimele fragmente de traducere a Bibliei in limba romana au fost din cartea psalmilor. Nicolae Iorga spunea ca Neamul romanesc s-a nascut in tinda Bisericii. Psaltirea a fost abecedarul pe care neamul nostru a invatat sa citeasca. De ce s-a inceput traducerea Bibliei in limba romana cu psalmii? Raspunsul nu este greu de dat. Luati Biblia in mana si deschideti-o la mijloc. Veti da negresit de cartea Psalmilor. Psalmii sunt inima Bibliei.
[Psalmii]

Am gasit pe web textul acesta si mi-a placut foarte mult - si am vrut sa il pastrez, ca sa il asez comentariu la psalmul care pe mine m-a impresionat cel mai mult. Psalmul acesta, 41 dupa traditia pastrata de Biserica Ortodoxa si de cea Catolica, 42 dupa traditia mai veche iudaica, preluata apoi in Biserica Protestanta, este povestea unui om care a fost candva fericit - dar asta a fost candva de demult, de atunci adanc peste adanc cheama in glasul caderilor apelor, si toate talazurile au trecut peste el - insa omul acesta nu a uitat niciodata fericirea lui de demult - si in adancul amaraciunilor care au trecut peste el de atunci, nu a incetat sa indrazneasca a crede in dreptul lui la fericire, sa indrazneasca sa isi doreasca fericirea asa cum cerbul doreste izvoarele apelor. Pentru ca fericirea si-a pastrat-o tot timpul in sufletul lui.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

(King James Bible)

As the deer calls longingly for the brooks of water, so does my soul call longingly to You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
For me my tears were sustenance day and night, when [they] say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'
These do I recall and pour out my soul for [what has befallen] me; how I passed with the throng, walking slowly with them up to the House of God; with joyous song and thanks, a celebrating multitude.
Why are you downcast, my soul, and why are you disturbed on my account? Hope to God! For I shall yet thank Him for the salvations of His countenance.
O my God, for me my soul is downcast, because I remember You - from the land of Jordan and Hermon's peaks, from Mount Mitzar.
Watery deep to watery deep calls out to the roar of Your water channels, all Your breakers and Your waves have swept over me.
In the day HASHEM will command His lovingkindness, even by night His resting place is with me; a prayer to the God of my life!
I will say to God, my Rock, 'Why have You forgotten me? Why must I walk in gloom under the foe's oppression?
With a murderous dagger in my bones have my tormentors taunted me, when they say to me all day long: 'Where is your God?'
Why are you downcast, my soul, and why are you disturbed on my account? Hope to God! For I shall yet thank Him for the salvations of my countenance and because He is my God.
(Artscroll Tehillim)

In ce chip doreste cerbul izvoarele apelor, asa Te doreste sufletul meu pe Tine, Dumnezeule.
Insetat-a sufletul meu de Dumnezeul cel viu; cand voi veni si ma voi arata fetei lui Dumnezeu?
Facutu-mi-s-au lacrimile mele paine ziua si noaptea, cand mi se zicea mie in toate zilele: "Unde este Dumnezeul tau?"
De acestea mi-am adus aminte cu revarsare de inima, cand treceam cu multime mare spre casa lui Dumnezeu,
In glas de bucurie si de lauda si in sunet de sarbatoare.
Pentru ce esti mahnit, suflete al meu, si pentru ce ma tulburi?
Nadajduieste in Dumnezeu, ca-L voi lauda pe El; mantuirea fetei mele este Dumnezeul meu.
In mine sufletul meu s-a tulburat; pentru aceasta imi voi aduce aminte de Tine, din pamantul Iordanului si al Ermonului, din muntele cel mic.
Adanc pe adanc cheama in glasul caderilor apelor Tale.
Toate talazurile si valurile Tale peste mine au trecut.
Ziua va porunci Domnul milei Sale, iar noaptea cantare Lui de la mine.
Rugaciunea Dumnezeului vietii mele, spune-voi lui Dumnezeu: "Sprijinitorul meu esti Tu, pentru ce m-ai uitat?"
Pentru ce umblu mahnit cand ma necajeste vrajmasul meu?
Cand se sfaramau oasele mele ma ocarau asupritorii mei.
Cand imi ziceau mie in toate zilele: "Unde este Dumnezeul tau?"
Pentru ce esti mahnit, suflete al meu, si pentru ce ma tulburi?
Nadajduieste in Dumnezeu, ca-L voi lauda pe El; mantuirea fetei mele este Dumnezeul meu.

(Cartea Psalmilor)

Such is the rhythm and pattern of human life... Though he may not follow the highway to Zion with his feet, there it is, all the time, in his heart. (Erik Routley)

Great Journeys

Great JourneysMSN has today a column about the top 10 scenic drives in the US:
    Blue Ridge Parkway, linking Shenandoah (Virginia) to West Smoky Mountains (North Carolina)
    Hana Highway, in Hawai
      Highway 1, in California, on the Pacific Coast
      Highway 12, in Utah
      Going-to-the-Sun Road, in Montana
      Million Dollar Highway, in Colorado
      Red Rock Byway, in Arizona
      Seward Highway, in Alaska
      Sonoma/Napa Valleys, in Northern California
      US Route 1, in New England
        It's July 18 today, and it's the birthday of Mandela and of Thackeray.