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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Photojournalist Dith Pran, Cambodian Genocide Survivor, Passed Away

Dith Pran, Killing Fields witness and survivor, passed away (NY Times).

He worked for NY Times in 1975, to cover the fall of Phnom Penh to the Communist forces. He could not leave then Cambodia and was sent to a forced labor camp. Dith Pran was able to escape in 1979. He coined the phrase killing fields to refer to the clusters of corpses and skeletal remains of victims he encountered during his 40-mile escape.

From 1980 Dith Pran worked as a photojournalist for NY Times.

The image above shows him visiting the museum at Tuol Seng, the site of the torture of 20,000 people.

(Zoon Politikon)

De Brug (followed by Philips-Radio)

The bridge is De Hef (De Koningsbrug) over the Koningshaven, linking the Noordereiland with the Feijenoord districts of Rotterdam. It is a huge railroad lift bridge inaugurated in 1927, serving the Breda-Rotterdam line. De Hef is parallel with a smaller double bascule bridge (De Koninginnebrug) dedicated to the street traffic (this one replaced in 1929 an older swing bridge). I found a video on the web, showing the moment De Hef was assembled:

Koningsbrug te Rotterdam (1929)
(video by BeeldenGeluid)

Well, this bridge is De Brug: Joris Ivens created in 1929 a masterpiece. The miracle is that the masterpiece consists strictly in showing the process of operating the lift of the bridge: rising to allow a ship to pass bellow, coming down to allow the railway activity to go on.

Ivens (like Vertov) had a productionist approach. Productionism (производственичество) was one of the flavors of Constructivism (конструктивизм). There would be much to say, of course, about the strong political commitment of the Avant-Garde of the Twenties and the deep influence of their convictions into their art, but, to make it short: Productionist artists were interested mainly in capturing a process of production as an ongoing work. The result of the process was for them secondary. If you find this explanation too dry, then let's make use of a joke told by Yuri Tsivian in his analysis of Vertov's movies: a Productionist artist would have destroyed the building rather than the scaffolding.

So De Brug is a Productionist movie. Here is the plot, as synthesized by David Carless:

Close shots of a railway train underway: track racing underneath, steam escaping, cars coupling, gears ratcheting, signals changing. The train reaches a lift bridge which must rise to allow a merchantman to pass below... Bridge section and counterweight move choreographically. The balletic motion of beam relative to girder creates an elegant, abstract expression of the precision of technology... The lift operator sets the bridge to the correct height then returns it to the original position. The train carries on its way, passing prosaically over the ship canal.

And the question raises itself again: what makes it a masterpiece? The answer is that Ivens approached its subject with a deep poetic insight. The bridge became a whole universe, full of life, with all the charms and the unexpected twists, with all the knowns and the unknowns, with all the wonders, with all the inexorable, a universe full of much more than it let you see.

So there is a universe, the bridge. But this was not enough. The story needed also a character, to face the universe, to oppose it, to affirm its right to exist. This is the train, coming in front of the bridge, stopping, waiting till it's allowed to go on.

Yes, here is the mastercraft of Ivens: a prosaic train and bridge became engaged in a dialog full of intrinsic tension and majesty.

And here is the movie of Ivens, De Brug. Enjoy!

After De Brug, Regen will follow in the life of Ivens, maybe one of the greatest movies ever. De Brug is much less known, and that's a pity: you'll find in it the same poetical genius.

Philips-Radio was then made by Ivens, in 1931. I watched a fragment of it last year: the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC hosted an exhibition dedicated to the Avant-Garde of the Twenties.

Philips-Radio is much more clearly Productionist: the product is made in front of your eyes (it is much more like Man with a Movie Camera: the movie of Ivens shows the production of the radio devices while the movie of Vertov shows the production of the movie itself). Here is the plot for Philips-Radio, told by the same David Carless:

An industrial film which shows the operations inside the Philips Radio plant: In a mêlée of activity, glassblowers make delicate glass bulbs. Machinery assists the bulb manufacture. A virtuoso glassblower begins a more complex tube used in radio broadcasting; it is then turned, fired, and sculpted. Conveyors carry partially completed units. Workers perform their various specific assembly-line tasks. Cases are manufactured and machined, wire harnesses are assembled, loudspeakers are produced. As radios near completion, they are run through a series of tests. Engineers and draughtsmen define future developments. In a closing stop-motion sequence, in a style reminiscent of Norman McLaren, a group of loudspeakers performs a playful dance. The film overall is a poetic depiction of an industrial process.

Well, Philips-Radio is a Productionist work, that's obvious, though it shows an ambiguous attitude towards the industrial process. We are far from the enthusiasm in the movies of Vertov. Let's come back for a second to De Brug: we had there a universe (the bridge) and a character facing the universe (the train). Here in Philips-Radio, the universe is the manufacturing process, and no character comes to face it, to oppose it, to enter in dialogue, to affirm its right to exist (I repeated here the arguments that I used in speaking about De Brug). There are the workers, only they are just parts of the technological process: the process is not opposed by anything. And a universe not challenged by anything is ultimately a void world. Is it here a critique of the capitalist ways? I think so.

(Joris Ivens)


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Robert Fagles, Translator of Homer and Virgil, Passed Away.

NY Times announces the death of Robert Fagles, a renowned translator of Greek and Latin masters. He gave us great English versions for The Iliad (in 1990), The Odyssey (in 1996) and for The Aeneid (in 2006).

He also translated from Aeschylus and Sophocles, but rendering Homer and Virgil in English was his most important achievement.

Actually he was the only one succeeding in offering English versions for all three great epics of Greek-Roman Antiquity.

The success of his versions is based on the fact that Robert Fagles was not looking for an exact literal translation. He possessed the genius to express the spirit of the original in his own narrative energy and verve (NY Times).

Here is a fine example offered by NY Times: a small excerpt from The Odyssey in four English renderings.

Robert Fagles (1996)

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.

Robert Fitzgerald (1961)

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

Alexander Pope (1726)

The Man, for wisdom’s various arts renown’d,
Long exercis’d in woes, O Muse! resound.
Who, when his arms had wrought the destin’d fall
Of sacred Troy, and raz’d her heav’n-built wall. . . .

George Chapman (1616)

The man, O Muse, informe, that many a way
Wound with his wisedome to his wished stay;
That wanderd wondrous farre when He the towne
Of sacred Troy had sackt and shiverd downe.

I would add another example, the beginning of The Iliad, as rendered by Fagles and by Pope:

Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many styurdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.


The Wrath of Peleus' Son, the direful Spring
Of all the Grecian Woes, O Goddess, sing!
That Wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy Reign
The Souls of mighty Chiefs untimely slain;
Whose Limbs unbury'd on the naked Shore [5]
Devouring Dogs and hungry Vultures tore.
Since Great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the Sov'reign Doom, and such the Will of Jove.

Said Robert Fagles, in a sense, all translations are unfinished, one thing I have learned is that no one will have the final say, that each generation needs its own translation (W Post).

(Here are these excerpts from The Odyssey and The Iliad in the Romanian version of George Murnu)

O, muza canta-mi mie pe barbatul
Viteaz si iscusit, care-ntr-o vreme,
Cand el cu maiestria lui facuse
Pustiu din ziduri sfinte de la Troia.
(fragment din Odiseea, versiunea George Murnu)

Canta, zeita, minia ce-aprinse pe-Ahil Peleianul,
Patima cruda ce-aheilor mii de omoruri aduse,
Suflete multe viteze trimise pe lumea cealalta,
Trupul facandu-le hrana la caini si la feluri de pasari.
(fragment din Iliada, versiunea George Murnu)

(A Life in Books)

Senator Obama knows the Body Language

Obama surrounded by Women, Image from Today's NY TimesSurrounded by nice ladies, Senator Obama demonstrates a mastership in using the body language. The five ladies are Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

I have found this image in today's New York Times. You should read the article:

Senator Barack Obama didn’t go on “The View” on Friday solely to talk about race and the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. He also wanted to address the gender issue. And if the fluttery response of the show’s five co-hosts is any harbinger, Mr. Obama will not have any trouble assuaging female voters if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton drops out of the Democratic race for the White House.

Barbara Walters told Mr. Obama he was “sexy-looking.” Sherri Shepherd announced that she had shifted her support from Mrs. Clinton to Mr. Obama; she made Joy Behar temporarily switch seats with her during a break so she could chat up the candidate. Even Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a Republican, told Mr. Obama how moved she was by his speech to the 2004 Democratic convention.

Whoopi Goldberg did not gush as much, but her final words could not have been much comfort to Mr. Obama’s Democratic rival. At the sign off, Ms. Goldberg offered the Republican nominee equal time on the show, saying, “John McCain, we’d still like to talk to you, too.” Ms. Behar prompted her, adding, “And Hillary.” Ms. Goldberg did not appear chagrined by her oversight. “Everybody,” she said.

For politicians, “The View,” on ABC, is a halfway house in between a CNN interrogation and the razzing of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” The five women mix spirited debate of what they call “hot topics” with vivid description of hot flashes. The talk show is neither totally serious nor completely frivolous, but it is an estrogen-intense zone. For a male guest, the hardest part is navigating the diverse and somewhat prickly personalities who sit on either side.

Mr. Obama, who has run the gamut of news shows in recent weeks to defuse the ado over his relationship with Mr. Wright, had no trouble finding longwinded words to demarcate his allegiance to his longtime pastor. “Had the Reverend not retired and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws,” he said, “then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying there at the church.”

Mr. Obama used body language to bridge the gender gap. The candidate who is sometimes attacked by feminists as a golden youth passing over them on his way to the old boys’ club reminded the co-hosts that he was “surrounded by women” at home.

He patted Ms. Behar’s arm and whispered so intimately into Ms. Walters’s ear that Ms. Hasselbeck accused them of “canoodling.” Mr. Obama is an effective speaker, but he is just as smooth at wordless communication: he mixed a cool and somewhat princely demeanor with warm smiles and touches.

He was discerning about whom to embrace, when and how. When he walked onto the set, at an elegant loping pace, Mr. Obama tightly hugged Ms. Behar, Ms. Shepherd and Ms. Goldberg; he gave Ms. Walters something closer to a Hamptons air kiss. And he was even more careful with Ms. Hasselbeck, who was intent on chiding him about his ties to Mr. Wright. He shook her hand.

When interrupted on television, many politicians start talking louder and faster to mow down their opponent’s point. Mr. Obama has a more winning way of encouraging others to speak up. “Go ahead,” he told Ms. Hasselbeck when she cut him off. “No, no, please,” he urged. She did not hold out very long. Ms. Shepherd told Mr. Obama that after listening to his speech on race she wanted to “leave ‘The View’ and campaign for you” — she quickly corrected herself, saying she wouldn’t quit the show but would work for him on weekends.

There was only one moment when Mr. Obama did not appear to have his hosts entranced, and that came when he was asked if his battle with Mrs. Clinton was turning ugly. As Mr. Obama recited a gracious rote response, “She was my friend before this contest started, she’s going to be my friend after this contest started — after this contest ends,” Ms. Goldberg looked away and fiddled with her hair, and Ms. Walters stared down at her lap, unable to suppress a smile that, loosely translated, signaled, “Yes, and I am Marie of Romania.”

(For Romanian readers, an explanation: Maria, the Queen of Romania, visited once the United States; her royal distinction made a great impression; people there realized that it was not for everyone to be a queen; since then this expression, if you say that... then I am the Queen of Romania. We Romanians use in such situations, daca tu spui asa ceva... atunci eu sunt popa catolic).


(Zoon Politikon)


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Regen of Ivens - Autumn in Varsovie of Ligeti

Watching Regen while thinking at Autumn in Varsovie. Listening Autumn in Varsovie while thinking at Regen... The movie of Ivens, the piano etude of Ligeti. It's 1929 and it is raining in Amsterdam, I'm thinking at an autumn in Warsaw. It's 1985 and it's autumn in Warsaw, I'm thinking at a rain in Amsterdam. I cannot dissociate them anymore.

Autumn in Warsaw! Its mutating chromatic chords and wild rhythms draw me inexorably into the vortex of the music, escalating to an exhilarating climax and concluding in a kind of controlled chaos (Joanna MacGregor performing).... not only does the pianist play in up to four different speeds at the same time, but an individual part of the texture can change speed over time from 3 to 4 to 5 to 7, speeding up gradually or slowing down. All these individual lines are played over an underlying gridwork of fast, regular pulsations; as one of the parts that changes speed criss-crosses this background of pulsating notes, fascinating patterns are created along the way (Ligeti and his influences)... titanic Autumn a Varsovie, where the lamento theme from the finale of the Horn Trio is simultaneously presented in multiple different rhythms. The music becomes darker and more complex until a fortissimo passage crashes down to the bottom note of the piano, ending the piece (Aimard performing).

Gilles Deleuze gives a wonderful reading of this film in which he argues that the film is no longer a representation of rain, but is attempting to give the viewer the feeling, or pure quality of rain, called a qualisign. The editing is not unlike Robert Bresson in the fragmentation and use of what Deleuze calls the any-space-whatever. In Rain the shots do not have a signed linear sequence, and have no forward movement in time (there is no character moving through the spaces, nothing to make one shot before or after another one in time). This means that all of the shots could have happened all at the exact same time, theoretically. This is one of the qualities of an any-space-whatever, a space in which the spatial and temporal potentials are deconnected (unlike a fiction or documentary film which has cohesive spatial and temporal dimensions) (Dick Whyte).

In 1932 Joris Ivens asked Lou Lichtveld (who also made the music for Philips Radio) to make a sound version of it, and in 1941 the film inspired Hanns Eisler to compose his Fourteen ways to describe rain in the context of a Film Music Project. I haven't yet had the chance to listen to the variations composed by Eisler, and I watched Regen with the music of Lichtveld.

I had read a lot about Regen - so when I watched it for the first time I was expecting a masterpiece. Something was not there - something was missing - or something was too much. I saw it for the second time. The images were fantastic - but something was impeding me to feel the masterpiece.

I thought that I was too tired - Regen was coming after two hours of watching other short movies, by Epstein, Eisenstein, Weinberg ... So I was definitely tired.

I took a break and went to the kitchen to eat something, then I came back. I saw it once more. I had an idea - I cut the sound - and I watched Regen again - and now I felt the masterpiece! It is a masterpiece. Only in its simplicity it has a grandeur, a greatness - and the music of Lou Lichtveld (which is fine) is not at the same level of greatness - of simplicity and greatness.

I saw it then several times - it is like a spell, it is binding you.

A very talented video artist (cbnjulie) created Weathered, as a homage to Regen of Ivens. Her choice for the music was Chopin's Nocturne No. 20.

I sent her a comment regarding the score for Regen: someone should try also with some more modern music, like Autumn in Varsovie. Because Regen is very modern in his cinematic language. It's not only that. It's true that Regen is balanced and flows quietly while Autumn in Varsovie is wild. It's true that Regen has a Mozartian poetry, a noble and generous insight, while Autumn in Varsovie is provocative. However, there is the same any-space-whatever (see the explanation of Deleuze) in Regen as it is in Autumn in Varsovie. Any fragment comes unexpected.

Of course, Regen is around 12 minutes long, while Autumn in Varsovie is much shorter. So my suggestion is impossible.

And it is also something else. Regen is in its images music so pure that it does not need sound.

(Joris Ivens)

(Musica Nova)

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Photo from a Book about Arlington County

(America viewed by Americans)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Creator of Mambo Passed Away

This video was recorded in London in 2007. The bassist, Israel Chacao Lopez, was 87.

Chacao transformed the rhythm of Cuban music when he and his brother, the pianist and cellist Orestes López, extended and accelerated the final section of the stately Cuban danzón into the mambo. The springy mambo bass lines Cachao created in the late 1930’s — simultaneously driving and playful — became a foundation of modern Cuban music, of the salsa that grew out of it, and also of Latin-influenced rock ’n’ roll and rhythm-and-blues.In the late 1950’s, he brought another breakthrough to Latin music with descargas: late-night Havana jam sessions that merged Afro-Cuban rhythms, Cuban songs and the convolutions of jazz (NY Times).

Have you danced mambo? In Bucharest it was brought by Liana Antonova, a famous Bulgarian artist; long time after she had gone back to Sofia a melody was on our lips:

Tu, Liana Antonova,
Ce-ai plecat din Bucuresti,
Ne-ai lasat fetito draga,
Trei cantece ca-n povesti.

Primul e Iubesc Parisul,
Al doilea e Siboney,
Si-n sfarsit fetito draga,
L-ai lasat pe Hei Mambo

I was thinking at this melody and at the years of my youth as I was reading the Times.

Before getting seriously ill, this March, Chacao was planning a new European tour and he was asking his manager to hurry up, telling him, You've got years, I've got minutes.

He died on Saturday.

(Musica Nova)


Monday, March 24, 2008

Audubon - The Pond - and a Sijo

A shadow is reflected in the water;
a monk is crossing the bridge.
Monk, stay a moment;
let me ask you where you' re going
Stick pointed at the clouds,
he passes without a backward glance.

Deep blue stream, don't boast so loud
of your passing through these green hills.
Though your way runs swiftly down to the sea,
there is no such easy return.
While the bright moon floods these lonely hills,
why not pause? Then go on, if you will.

(Marie Faverio, Reason and Rhyme)

(A Life in Books)


Audubon - Down David's Alley - Burnt Nornton, Ultimi Tempi

Poarta spre Imparatia de Lemn

Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?

Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

Un copac in furculita

The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

Well, these were the last stances from Burnt Norton - the first quartet composed by T. S. Eliot.

(T. S. Eliot)

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Antiques in a Row

(Around Fairfax Circle)


The Red Ford

(Around Fairfax Circle)


Symphony in Red

This was last November.

(Around Fairfax Circle)


This was last October.

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Magnolias in blossom

I am on my way towards metro and the view of the magnolia in blossom is arresting. I'm trying to record a video, to capture the beauty of the place. I'm starting slowly, then I move very fast.

Soon the Cherry Blossom will be celebrated here. Spring is coming.

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Friday, March 21, 2008

At Audubon - Burnt Norton ,Terzi Tempi

Again Burnt Norton comes to mind:

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.

Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.

(T. S. Eliot)

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Potomac Waterfront in Alexandria

The place is superb: the Potomac Waterfront in Alexandria. If you click on the image above you'll see the Capitol, far away.

I was there last Saturday and tried to record a video. I don't like what I got: a nervous recording contrasting with the peacefulness of the place. At least the noise of sea-gulls is fine.

You can see the large Cherry Blossom boat - restaurant, also the fine restaurant in the Lighthouse. Woodrow Wilson Bridge can be seen in the distance.

At the start of the video you can see a small part of Miss Mallory boat: it is used for sightseeing cruises between Alexandria and Georgetown. The boat appears in full by th end of the video. I took it many times. Once I made another trip by boat: from this waterfront up to Mount Vernon, to visit the manor of Washington. I'd like to make it again, this time with my camera.


Towards Audubon - Reading a Quartet by T.S.Eliot

Secundi Tempi from Burnt Norton - the first Quartet of T.S.Eliot

Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

(T. S. Eliot)

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Study on a Wooden Machine Gun

Long Shot

Close Up

Closer, At Dusk

Closest, In the Night

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Overture in Yellow

Spring started with a Yellow Overture.

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Le Pavillon Royal

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poze vechi - Anticari

Un alt dar dela Gabi si Ovidiu: Piata Anticarilor si Casa Anticarilor. Piata am putut sa o localizez usor, in spatele cladirii Casei de Economii si Consemnatiuni, inspre cheiul Dambovitei. Casa Anticarilor a disparut peste vremi. De ce? Am cautat pe web, iata explicatia data in revista Conexiuni de catre domnul Ion Cogan:

In ziua de gratie 14 martie 1924, Comisia Interimara a Municipiului Bucuresti aproba, prin Decizia nr. 84, ca pe locul aflat in fata palatului – in care functionasera pe rand Vama Postei (construita in anul 1911) si apoi, mult mai tarziu, Procuratura Generala, si pana de curand, Ministerul Administratiei si Internelor – Asociatia Anticarilor sa-si ridice un pavilion propriu. (Suntem la doar cativa pasi de strada pe care pictorul Tattarescu si-a amenajat casa). Marele istoric Nicolae Iorga si-a adus o contributie esentiala la grabirea demersurilor in vederea luarii deciziei finale de infiintare a Casei Anticarilor, ca despre ea vorbesc aici acum, el insusi fiind un mare iubitor de carte, asa cum de altfel cunoastem. Şi ce pacat ca un primar al urbei, militar de cariera, investit in functie tocmai pentru a face ordine intr-un oras devastat de anormalitatea starii de razboi, a tinut mortis, probabil, sa-si arate recunostinta pentru cei care stiau, numai uitandu-se la tine, ce CARTE cauti, cat sa-ti ceara si fiind multumit de pretul achizitiei sa revii dupa o zi – doua, o saptamana sau la salariu… pentru ca intreaga scena sa se repete aproape identic… Şi pentru ca primii lui dusmani erau (desigur) acesti carturari – negustori si cladirea lor frumoasa, cocheta din piata ce isi regasise o a doua tinerete tocmai prin prezenta activa in viata comercial-culturala a Capitalei a acestora, domnul general Ion Rascanu – primar intre 21.X 1942 si 22.VIII. 1944, a gasit de cuviinta sa-i expulzeze in 8 colturi diferite ale orasului, iar pavilionul sa fie demolat fara nici o explicatie, lasand un gol imens in sufletele si asa chinuite ale bucurestenilor care se indragostisera, pur si simplu, de acest loc. Placerea de a rasfoi o carte care are propria ei istorie nu este la indemana oricui. Cel care o face stie cum sa o faca pentru a-si prelungi cat se poate starea aceea de aproape beatitudine care il stapaneste in fata unei tiparituri de exceptie, totul se desfasoara cu un ritual subtil, tainic, numai de el stiut… mai ales cand se afla intr-un TEMPLU al cartilor cum a fost acel pavilion. Şi tocmai acest ritual a fost stopat cu brutalitate printr-o simpla semnatura pusa pe un ordin aberant. Aici deci, in Piata Anticarilor, in anul 1943 s-a savarsit un atentat care din pacate s-a repetat de-a lungul istoriei culturale bucurestene, decembrie 1989 fiind finalizarea destinului tragic al acestei istorii. (Imaginea de cosmar a incendierii Bibliotecii de Stat Universitare ne-a ramas desigur multora in memorie).


Meditative Chair

(Around Fairfax Circle)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eva, ONT, Lido - Aici a fost odata Muzeul Simu

Eva, ONT, Lido ... si trafic auto ca la Hong Kong

Blocurile Eva si ONT par infipte acolo de cand lumea. De fapt au aparut pe la inceputul anilor saizeci, iar constructia blocului ONT a insemnat si demolarea cladirii Museului Simu. Strada Anastase Simu a ramas, o strada foarte scurta, intre una din laturile blocului ONT si strada Nicolae Golescu. Asadar strada era in spatele muzeului. Cu strada din fata e o problema. Articolul pe care l-am gasit pe web plaseaza muzeul pe strada Mercur numarul 2. Mie imi pare mai curand ca se afla pe strada Pictor Arthur Verona. Din doua una: ori strada se numea inainte Mercur, ori existau acolo mai multe stradute, lucru care nu este imposibil, daca luam in considerare dimensiunile blocurilor Eva si ONT.

Museul SimuCladirea muzeului, in forma de templu ionic, era o bijuterie. Iarasi o dilema: articolul ne spune ca arhitectul a fost un anume Sciky, pe cand o alta pagina web il da ca autor pe marele arhitect Petre Antonescu. Si aici poate fi o explicatie, pagina dedicata lui Antonescu vorbeste de clădirile care adaposteau muzeul, asadar Sciky putea foarte bine sa aiba ideea templului, pe cand Antonescu sa fi fost conducatorul proiectului. Dar hai sa nu ma avant in supozitii.

Cum arata Museul Simu inauntru? Fac din nou apel la colectia de fotografii vechi ale prietenilor mei Gabi si Ovidiu. Exuberant si totodata distins, aducand mult cu colectia Frick din New York.

Distins, pe cat de distins a fost Anastase Simu, diplomat, senator, membru de onoare al Academiei, pasionat colectionar de arta. A fost prieten de o viata cu Bourdelle. Si-a donat colectia de arta Statului Roman si s-a angajat sa continue sa o intretina toata viata. Ce pacat ca raspunsul peste ani al statului a fost sa darame templul!

O casa care era vecina cu muzeul a ramas. Am descoperit-o recent, la coltul dintre strazile Pictor Arthur Verona si Nicolae Golescu, in plina renovare. In spate se zareste silueta blocului ONT.

Am copilarit in zona aceasta si am apucat Museul Simu. Nu imi amintesc insa deloc ce era acolo in afara de muzeu: blocurile Eva si ONT sunt enorme. Imi amintesc vag ca ma mai duceam cu prietenii din cartier pe acolo si erau niste trepte uriase, apoi un spatiu imens. Doua poze din colectia lui Gabi si Ovidiu imi vin un pic in ajutor:

Si inainte de toate acestea? Un articol din Ziarul Financiar ne vorbeste depre un anume plan alcatuit de maiorul Borroczyn, contemporan cu Cuza: aici a fost Posta Veche.

Printr-un miracol, ulitele din zona Episcopiei nu au disparut, nu au suferit nici macar unele modificari de traseu. Pur si simplu, au capatat un nume, au fost pavate si prevazute cu trotuare, avand dreptul sa se intituleze strazi. Strazile acestea ne sunt binecunoscute: strada C.A. Rosetti, strada Nicolae Golescu, strada George Enescu etc. Postea Rumineaska, cum a notat-o Borroczyn, se afla pe actuala strada Nicolae Golescu, exact intre strazile Anastase Simu si Arthur Verona. In locul delimitat astazi de aceste strazi, Simu si Verona, si strada Nicolae Golescu se intindea o curte imensa, dreptunghiulara. De jur imprejur, pana la strada Pitar Mos, erau gradini si livezi. Intrarea in curtea Postei se facea printr-o ulita pe locul careia s-a inaltat acum blocul Eva.


Towers in Rosslyn

(Washington, District of Columbia)

It is fine at Greenberry's

This coffee house is in Arlington between Courthouse and Rosslyn, on the Wilson Boulevard. It is a franchise of a small chain (Greenberry's Coffee & Tea). I went there twice. The coffee is fine, the pastries too. You have a large choice of newspapers to read there for free.

I have tried a small video. Let's see what I've got.

(Washington, District of Columbia)