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Monday, February 28, 2011

Annie Girardot

Annie Girardot
(1925 - 2011)

I saw her firstly in Le Bateau d'Émile, long time ago. I was a teenager. I felt then in love, like a bum, for the personage played by her in Rocco e i suoi fratelli. I saw her then in other movies, as she was getting older, as I was getting older. Nadia, the woman loved by Rocco and by Simone, is no more. A bit of me has died. Some place there Émile (Lino Ventura) and Simone (Renato Salvatori) will be together with her again.

(Cinéma Français)

A Few Words about the Revolution in Romania

...I loved that guy,he came all the way from the far south of Egypt,came up to us,asking us,as the youth,about what we think of this and that,and then he went on and on,telling us amazing tales of the revolution in his city back in the south!---Magical moments--- (Amor Eletrebi)

A Facebook friend asked me to say a few words about the Revolution in Romania. My friend is one of those in the photo above, surrounded by guys of his age, living the magic of the Egyptian Revolution.

Many things that happened in the Tahrir Square in Cairo reminded me of what was in Bucharest, in December 1989, and what followed in January - June 1990. There are of course also many differences.

I will not try here to give a complete account of the events. I am not a historian, and many things that happened then are not fully explained yet. So I will give here just some glimpses.

Mubarak was much more skillful than Ceausescu in dealing with the revolution. The Revolution in Romania started mid December in Timisoara, a city in the west of the country, the army was ordered to use fire against the demonstrators, Ceausescu decided to organize a huge meeting in the capital, Bucharest, hoping to get popular support, he started to talk there about foreign agents behind the riots, the meeting became quickly a huge mass of revolted people, the next day the army fraternized with the people, and Ceausescu was put down. He tried to run, they caught him, he was summarily judged and executed by a fire squad.

There were of course various groups inside the leadership, and they immediately started to fight each other, so the first days were of shooting here and there, a lot of rumors, a lot of panic, rumors about mercenaries, while the Revolutionaries were trying to organize themselves and to face all this, in a climate of general confusion and reciprocal suspicion. All this ended in a week or so, and still there is no official explanation for what happened.

Romania had only one political party, the Communists, there wasn't any kind of organized force of opposition. If Ceausescu hadn't been able to deal with the events, the structures at large did. First of all, a huge Front of National Salvation was created on the spot, controlled by a faction inside the Communist party who had been hostile to the old leadership. This Front aimed to be a mass organization of all people of good faith (while the Communist party had also aimed to be a mass organization and to control this way the whole society). The Front created his cells in every factory, every university, etc, looking everywhere for second-rank guys: people who had not been at the center of the stage, while they could be considered loyal.

The historical political parties (destroyed by the Communist regime long time ago) resurfaced, with people who had been in the emigration, or people who had long years of political prison: these guys were all very old, so they started to look actively for adherents: and of course they were flooded by people belonging actually to the Communist structures.

The Revolutionaries were not at all content with the evolution of the events and by April a huge demonstration started in the Piata Universitatii (University Square), the very center of Bucharest. It was a marathon demonstration, that lasted till June, with the square occupied by the demonstrators, and all auto traffic blocked.

Soon the society became split. I am speaking about the whole society at country level. Of course you could not expect the same level of political awareness from downtown Bucharest to the last small town or village. And the propaganda of the Front was masterfully working, warning against the guys who had come from abroad (look, they did not live here, they did not share our difficulties, now they come to give us advice, but we are not stupid to be taught, isn't it).

Finally a huge mass of miners came to Bucharest in mid June and started to beat the demonstrators and beat everyone looking suspicious (it means everyone looking like a student or like an intellectual). There were a couple of awful days, after that the miners left. and the image of Romania remained seriously damaged.

What happened after that? Firstly the Front split between the guys wanting at most a cosmetic change and the guys wanting at least a cosmetic change. The forces of opposition became more mature. The society at large became slowly more mature, understanding the realities and challenges of a democracy.

(Zoon Politikon)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Haupt Garden

The Haupt Garden, a four-acre Victorian style area between the Smithsonian Castle and Independence Avenue in DC.

The garden carries the name of Enid A. Haupt, a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars in support of horticultural institutions. Beside the garden near the Smithsonian Castle, there are the Haupt Fountains on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument, the River Farm Plantation at Mount Vernon, the Victorian style Haupt Conservatory at the Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY.

(Smithsonian Castle)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jean Velicy - Dincolo de Păduri, Ardealul

O carte scrisa cu suflet de un om de cultura, un om foarte inteligent si care iubeste Ardealul. Un om cu un simt remarcabil al limbii, cu o fraza foarte eleganta, si cu un farmec special. Nu este un scriitor, si e mai bine asa, cartea este foarte proaspata, foarte sincera. Am inceput sa o citesc si nu am mai lasat-o din mana pana la ultima fila.

Poate ca un scriitor ar fi echilibrat-o altfel, ar mai fi lasat poate spatii sa respiri, asa avalansa de informatii (fiecare extrem de interesanta si redata cu competenta) te cam oboseste la un moment dat. Dar tot nu o lasi din mana.

Autorul, doctorul Jean Velicy, s-a nascut in Ardeal, unde si-a petrecut copilaria si tineretea. A facut scoala la Cluj, isi petrecea vacantele la bunici la Sibiu, a fost ani de zile medic la Baia Mare. Viata l-a purtat departe, de prin 1990 traieste in Franta.

S-a intamplat sa vina cu un grup de colegi francezi intr-o vizita in tinutul de bastina - patru zile petrecute la Cluj, Sighisoara, Biertan si Sibiu. Si-a pregatit cu migala calatoria: luni de zile a cautat toate informatiile despre locurile acestea si despre oamenii mai insemnati din istoria Transilvaniei. Si-a cercetat propriile amintiri, si le-a completat apoi.

Pregatirea aceasta a durat cateva luni de zile. S-a gandit indelung ce sa selecteze din noianul de informatii ca sa le prezinte colegilor lui un tot inchegat si nu o masa amorfa. In patru zile nu puteai sa vezi tot, nici sa afli tot.

A cautat sa selecteze acele informatii care sa ii intereseze pe colegii lui, cu care sa ii captiveze: acele momente in care cultura Ardealului s-a intersectat cu cultura Frantei, acele momente in care oameni din Ardeal au creat ceva cu adevarat unic in lume, acele lucruri care sunt specifice Ardealului, sunt numai acolo si niciunde in alta parte. Exista asemenea momente, si asemenea oameni, si asemenea lucruri, insa iti trebuie suflet si multa rabdare sa le gasesti si sa le pregatesti apoi pentru a le prezenta cu inteligenta, cu farmec, si cu simtul captivarii atentiei .

Ardealul este un spatiu in care s-au amestecat mai multe neamuri, fiecare neam cu problemele lui proprii, si cu viziunea sa proprie asupra viitorului. Cum se intampla peste tot, relatiile au fost marcate de conflicte, si fiecare neam si-a cladit istoria sa proprie. Iar pentru a gasi acele momente intr-adevar unice si care sa fie relevante si in afara granitelor tale, este foarte greu, pentru ca trebuie sa depasesti neintelegerile dintre aceste neamuri, sa stii sa intelegi si istoria neamului celalalt.

Il cunosteam de mult, de pe o lista de discutii pe Internet, pe doctorul Velicy, si cartea a venit sa imi confirme ce stiam: este un om atasat neamului sau, si istoriei proprii a neamului sau, insa in acelasi timp este un spirit deschis, iubitor de dialog, sensibil la istoria vecinului. O remarca a lui din capitolul introductiv al cartii este relevanta: explicand titlul (Dincolo de Paduri, Ardealul) autorul spune ca este vorba de padurile ce trebuie strabatute pentru a cunoaste Ardealul, crangul de idei preconcepute, hatisul de inexacte sau chiar false cunostinte, jungla ignorantei.

In acest spirit a reusit sa selecteze un manunchi de informatii, cum nu mi-a fost dat sa gasesc in alte carti pe care le-am citit pana acum despre Ardeal.

Si aici imi vine in minte un fragment dintr-un text al scriitoarei turce Elif Shafak: Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water.

Si a venit apoi calatoria, patru zile in care grupul de francezi s-a plimbat prin locuri despre care nu stiusera nimic, printr-o istorie care avea sa ii surprinda, printr-un univers care le aduna pe toate, si locurile, si legendele, si intamplarile verificate de istorie, si muzica, si bucataria, toate.

Patru zile in care doctorul originar din Ardeal a reusit sa isi entuziasmeze colegii, sa ii transforme in participanti activi in descoperirea universului transilvan. O calatorie care a insemnat, si pentru doctorul Velicy, si pentru colegii sai, o aventura spirituala traita cu intensitate.

Iar dupa terminarea calatoriei a urmat scrierea cartii. A scris-o cu entuziasmul inca viu, cu intensitatea zilelor traite in Ardeal, a scris-o dintr-o bucata, si asa se citeste, dintr-o bucata.

(Jean Velicy)


Despre Bruderi si Despre Organisti

O discutie intre prieteni mi-a redeschis amintiri.

LCM - Liceul Clasic Mixt era scoala din curtea Catedralei Sf. Iosif. Fusese pe vremuri un liceu catolic, tinut de faimosii Bruderi.

Eram elev la Sf. Sava (Nicolae Balcescu se numea atunci), asa ca eram vecin cu scoala din curtea catedralei. Sala de sport o aveau la subsolul palatului Arhiepiscopiei. Era destul de nostim sa vezi elevii in chiloti de sport alergand pe scarile palatului arhiepiscopal - e drept ca dela parter in jos.

Mai tarziu scoala din curtea catedralei a fost, ca sa zic asa, downgraded: din liceu a devenit scoala generala, pentru primele opt clase - Scoala Generala Vasile Alecsandri.

Dupa 1990 Arhiepiscopia a recapatat cladirea, care a devenit sediul mai multor scoli catolice de diverse grade. Iar Scoala Generala Vasile Alecsandri, s-a mutat intr-o cladire noua, ridicata pe Stirbei Voda, pe o bucata din terenul de sport al liceului Sf. Sava.

Cat despre Bruderii care predasera la liceul catolic dela Sf. Iosif (ca si la scoala dela Sf. Andrei, pe undeva pe Calea Calarasi), au avut si ei o istorie zbuciumata. Au ramas sa locuiasca in palatul Arhiepiscopiei, fara sa mai aiba dreptul de a purta rasa monahala (toate ordinele si congregatiile catolice fusesera interzise), in 1958 au fost toti arestati intr-o noapte - o parte au fost condamnati politic si au stat in inchisoare pana la amnistia din 1964, cealalta parte au fost deportati in Baragan pentru cativa ani.

Dupa 1990 congregatia lor (numita de fapt Fratii Scolilor Crestine, infiintata de Sf. Jean Baptiste de La Salle) a fost reinfiintata si improspatata cu calugari veniti din Spania: asa incat Bruderii au devenit Hermanos. Cativa dintre vechii Bruderi mai traiau inca. Acum congregatia respectiva activeaza, din cate stiu, la Universitatea din Iasi, dar s-ar putea sa gresesc.

Organistul catedralei era Parintele Gerstenengst. Era acolo din 1959, venise in locul Parintelui Dr. Dumitru Herghelegiu, care fusese mutat la o parohie intr-un sat de pe langa Roman.

Parintelui Gerstenengst i-a aparut odata un disc, cu Bergamasca de Frescobaldi si Toccata in Re de Pachelbel. Prezentarea de pe coperta discului era facuta cu mare rafinament de catre compozitorul Costin Cazaban.

Eram si eu tanar si voiam sa le stiu pe toate, intr-o seara cand Parintele iesea din catedrala l-am oprit sa il intreb pentru ce Toccata in Re, si nu in Re major sau Re minor. A zambit si mi-a zis ca fusese compusa inainte de crearea gamei temperate. Apoi m-a invitat sa vin intr-o seara sus la orga. Nu am avut curajul sa o fac.

Peste cativa ani am avut un contract pentru un sistem cu calculator la Combinatul Siderurgic din Resita, mergeam acolo aproape saptamanal. Combinatul se latise peste vechiul cartier nemtesc, halele erau printre stradute linistite cu casute si gradini mici. Biserica catolica era inghitita si ea printre otelarii. Preotul de acolo era un om destul de tanar si foarte simpatic. Am intrat odata in apartamentul lui si am vazut in sufragerie un pian imens. Mi-a zis cu admiratie, la pianul asta canta Parintele Gertenengst, fusese paroh la Resita pana sa fie mutat la Bucuresti.

Prin iarna lui 1985, cand era frigul mai aspru si nu aveam caldura si nici apa calda deloc, ma duceam des la Atheneu (imbracat de parca m-as fi dus la cabana-n varf de munte) - erau recitaluri de orga ale lui Ilse Maria Reich. Era sotia pastorului Christian Reich dela Biserica Luterana. O asista Dan Racoveanu, sedea pe scena langa ea, ii intorcea foile - avea si el sa devina un organist cunoscut. L-am vazut altadata in sala, urmarind pe caietul de note ce se canta pe scena - m-a impresionat atunci foarte mult.

Sotii Reich au plecat in RFG in 1988 - ea a infiintat acolo o scoala de muzica pe care o conduce de multi ani.

Pe alti organisti ii cunosc numai de pe discuri: Helmut Plattner, Horst Gehann, Franz Xaver Dressler dela Sibiu, Hans Eckardt Schlandt dela Biserica Neagra din Brasov, printre altii - un disc pe care l-am cautat fara sa il gasesc era cu orgi de lemn din biserici din Transilvania, in schimb am gasit un disc inregistrat cu o asemenea orga de lemn prin Lituania sau Estonia, nu mai tin minte - si asa ne intoarcem la epoca dinaintea gamei temperate, cand toccatele se compuneau in Re si nu in Re major sau minor.

Ca sa nu uit, muzicologi mai din zilele noastre au inceput sa se indoiasca de faptul ca Toccata si Fuga in Re Minor ar fi fost compusa de Bach. E drept ca nu s-a pastrat manuscrisul original. Dupa unii ar fi fost compusa mult mai tarziu, de un muzician ramas necunoscut, dupa altii ar fi fost totusi Bach, insa ar fi o transcriptie a unei lucrari de-a lui de vioara care s-a pierdut. Cum ar fi zis batranul Cantemir, Galceava Inteleptilor.

Aveam sa ascult peste multi alti ani, la Galeria Nationala din Washington, un concert deosebit, piese de orga interpretate la acordeon.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Intalniri neasteptate cu Romani - Theodor Rogalski

Iarna lui 1954 cu nametii uriasi din Bucuresti: eram elev in clasa a doua primara si m-am bucurat de vacanta neasteptata si de derdelusul din Piata Amzei pe care ne dadeam cu sania.

Se zvonise ca a murit in nameti Emil Gavris, un interpret de muzica populara. A fost doar un zvon, Emil Gavris a mai trait multi ani si de cate ori aparea la televizor imi aminteam de iarna lui 54.

Odata cu el se aflase ca murise si un compozitor, Theodor Rogalski. Vestea aceasta era adevarata. Peste cativa ani am asistat la Catedrala Sfantul Iosif la un concert in care s-a cantat o lucrare a acestui muzician. Doamna Rogalski se afla in prima banca de langa altar.

Insa atunci, in 54, afland prima oara si de Gavris, si de Rogalski, ii cam confundam si din cand in cand imi mai iesea cate un Emil Rogalski.

Am gasit pe youTube de curand un video care m-a emotionat, aduncandu-mi in amintire compozitorul de care aflasem in 1954, aducandu-mi aminte si de copilul care eram, bucurandu-ma de nametii uriasi de atunci, care facusera atat de mult rau, dar care pentru un pusti in clasa a doua primara insemnau in primul rand derdelusul din Piata Amzei: o compozitie de Theodor Rogalski interpretata la Carnegie Hall in New York: soprana Camelia Voin, acompaniata de pianista Anna Shelest.

Mult mai tarziu aveam sa aflu ca printre victimele nametilor de atunci s-a numarat si Ionel Teodoreanu.

(Intalniri neasteptate cu Romani)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Elif Shafak about the Politics of Fiction

Shafak’s writing breaks down categories, cliches, and cultural ghettos, bringing out the multiple stories of minorities, immigrants, women, subcultures and global souls. She also has a keen eye for black humor, as well as spirituality, Sufism and Ottoman culture, with a particular genius for depicting backstreet Istanbul (wikipedia)

Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water. (Elif Shafak)

(Elif Shafak)


Elif Shafak in Today's NY Times

l'art de briser les frontières

Paris, London and Moscow seemed closer in spirit to Istanbul than Cairo was, says Elif Shafak. Now Turkey started to look East. There is a saying that the Koran is revealed in Mecca, recited in Cairo and written in Istanbul.

You should read the op-ed of Elif Shafak in today's NY Times:

(Elif Shafak)


Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak writes in Turkish as well as in English. Her focus is targeted to the cultural space of her country, while also to the universal. She has a deep understanding of her Turkishness, without being a prisoner in a cage. She is a cosmopolitan very well defined by her roots.

For Elif Shafak Istanbul is a she-city, an old woman with a young heart, forever dreaming of new stories and new loves.

I will soon start to write about her books. I think I will start with The Bastard of Istanbul and The Saint of Incipient Insanities.

(A Life in Books)



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4 Year Kid Calls 911 For Help With Math


Arvid - Holding It Together

Thomas Arvid is back in his studio in Marietta, GA. On March 4th - 5th he will be present at the Redstone Gallery in Park City, UT.

Room to Breathe

(P&C Art)


Train Window

red rain

An image I took once, from a train window (approaching New London, on the railroad toward Boston), and a video made by Yoko; she was traveling on the Kosei commuter rail, some place among Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka.

(The Thousand faces of HANAFUBUKI)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Wong Kar-Wai - My Blueberry Nights (2007)

The mirror... it's broken. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel (sabbaroo)

She comes every night to a small café in SoHo, looking for solace after a break-up. He runs the place and knows how to listen words and silences. Between them a blueberry pie that works wonders. He falls for her, she needs firstly to come to her own terms. So she leaves New York for a journey coast to coast, working as a waitress in different towns and knowing various people with their stories. In a pub in Memphis a long time botched couple, ending miserably. The survivor will have a ghost to carry. In a casino some place in Nevada an embittered gambler, hiding another ghost. Everybody seems to be there either a skeleton or a zombie, with a skeleton in charge.

One day she will return to the café in SoHo. Life can also be nice.

My Blueberry Nights - Trailer
(video by edgarfracg)

It's My Blueberry Nights, made by Wong Kar-Wai in 2007. She is Norah Jones, at her first movie role. He is Jude Law. The couple in Memphis is played by David Strathairn and Rachel Weisz. The Nevada gambler is Natalie Portman. It is the first movie Wong Kar-Wai made in America, with an American cast, also the first time he did not collaborate with Chris Doyle. Here the Director of Photography was Darius Khondji, the lonesome lens man who made Pollack, Allen, Fincher, Boyle, Polanski, and Bertolucci look so fine (richard_sleboe).

Hate is baggage, life's too short to be pissed off all the time (insomniac_rod)

It's Wong Kar-Way, so first thought goes to Chungking Express: neon colors generously flooding the place, great dreamy shots bathed in music and making the universe look psychedelic (which it probably is, why not?), the small coffee shop where passed loves are cured and new loves look so promising, young sweet heroes whose lives are flooded with sweet crazy details (the café in SoHo carries a Russian name - КЛЮЧ - as a former flame in the life of the young man was a superb Russian, Katya; also КЛЮЧ is the Russian for KEY, which sends to the glass full of keys on the countertop - keys of passed loves waiting to be taken back or thrown away; the postcards sent every day by the young girl from every town on her journey, without giving any clue about her actual address). English spoken with all kind of accents (Mancunian, Muscovite, Tennessean, to name just a few), whirled together. And above all the blueberry pie.

Don't forget that the young heroine is a waitress in both My Blueberry Nights and Chungking Express. And don't forget the cop in both movies.

My Blueberry Nights - Cat Power
(video by MidnightVera)

So it calls in mind Chungking Express, which is a masterpiece. The problem is that nobody cannot create the same masterpiece twice, not even Wong Kar-Wai. Understandably many reviewers were slightly disappointed, some even very critical.

It is true that you find here the same cinematic language as in Chungking Express, only we should observe that a movie is not only about cinematic language.

Chungking Express has a formidable sense of immediacy, it's a spontaneous flow: slices of life not ordered by some logic, evolving on their own with no predictability. The two stories in the movie end with no resolution; just a moment in life chosen by random.

Here in My Blueberry Night the evolution is predictable. We are following a story with a start and an end and we are waiting the heroine to come back one day to New York and to commence her new love.

And the first feeling is that's not Wong Kar-Wai. Said one reviewer, it's Wong Kar-Wai lite.

At the end of the day, this is Wong Kar Wai to the bones: every frame is an exquisite color scheme, dreamy languid music (or at times complete silence) and all the rest of it (harry_tk_yung)

Imho these critics miss an important point: Wong Kar-Wai created not only Chungking Express; In the Mood for Love is another great movie and it is quite different.

Actually I would think now at another work of Wong Kar-Wai, the segment he created for the movie Eros: the segment is named The Hand and it's a small gem. It's a poignant description of a tragic destiny, a description flooded with an intoxicating erotic desire, told with a minimalism that's simply exquisite.

What seems to me is that there are two roads in the work of Wong Kar-Wai (let's say the one in Chungking Express and the other in In the Mood for Love - or in The Hand) and here in My Blueberry Nights he wants to put them together. If the whole sends us to Chungking Express, the two episodes in Memphis and Nevada send directly to the poignancy of In the Mood for Love and The Hand. Someone observed once that some movies of Almodovar could be viewed as a cathedral and its chapels (well, the observations continued that the cathedral was Kitsch and its chapels Gothic). Here in My Blueberry Nights the romance of the two sympathetic lead characters is the cathedral hosting the two episodes. I would say, the romance is Wong Kar-Wai-lite because it's just a pretext: the Gothic stays in the episodes.

it's like what happens with Lucía y el sexo: Paz Vega is the leading but the movie belongs to the female supporters: Elena Anaya and Najwa Nimri (lauburu100)

Each of the two episodes, in Memphis and Nevada, is amazing: each one has the essentiality of a morality tale. It's the tragedy of the couple: the love has disappeared you don't know when, you hate the other, you hate yourself, you cannot escape. You carry the ghost of the other whatever you try, wherever you go, regardless the other is alive or dead. You are a ghost.

And David Strathairn, as well as Rachel Weisz, as well as Natalia Portman, play amazingly.

My Blueberry Nights - Clip
(video by OptimumReleasing)

Paris (ou SoHo?) est tout petit pour ce qui s'aiment d'un aussi grand amour (mpsgs710)

My Blueberry Nights - The Kiss Scene
(video by Ren0405)

And here is a documentary about the making of the movie (the four consecutive videos were published on youTube by Golden Dragon Pictures; as embedding was disabled I have indicated the link for each of the four parts; I inserted also some comments found on the web).

The film was shot on location at the Palacinka Cafe in SoHo in New York City, the South Main Arts District in Memphis, and Caliente, Ely, and Las Vegas in Nevada.Palacinka Cafe, 28 Grand Street and Thompson Street, Manhattan - the cafe has since closed after losing their lease and been taken over by a Beauty Salon.

This is obligatory viewing for romantics, with a touch of cynical realism; and it's a pity that one's own local café proprietor is not as caring and gorgeous as Jeremy. Jeremy has the typical personality that most male characters have in Wong Kar Wai's movies, that is, stubbornly persistent, sentimental, sensitive, observant, empathetic (but self-absorbed sometimes)…as well as reticent (personally speaking, Jeremy is even more lovable because he enjoys eating desserts).

David Strathairn reminds me of Garry Cooper: the same profile.
A bit too Tennessee Williams for my taste.

I'm not sure whether that night really happened, or if it was just another dream.
Nice movie, like a slow song in a shady café.

(Wong Kar-Way & Chris Doyle)


Gion in Kyoto

I'm looking at this image and I remember a place that I liked. It was New Hope in Pennsylvania, on the border of Delaware. The rear of the houses was looking the same on the narrow canal. It was a town of the artists, and of course of tourists.

Here is about Gion in Kyoto. It was the way to reach Yasaka Shrine, since ancient times, and it became the district of geisha. Only we should know that here, in the Gion of Kyoto, the gheisa was rather a geiko: a child of the arts. It was also the district of kabuki theaters. It's the heart of Kyoto.

Yoko walks us through Gion, without haste, during the day, coming again there by night, to make us get the soul of the place. Naoki Tohdo scored the video. It's a beautiful music.

(The Thousand faces of HANAFUBUKI)


Fries, Rilke, Chopin

Ernst Fries, 1827 - Römische Gebirgslandschaft - Blick aus südlicher Richtung nach der Rocca di Mezzo in den Sabiner Bergen mit der vorgelagerten Felsenstadt Civitella

Ernst Fries (b Heidelberg, 22 June 1801; d Karlsruhe, 11 Oct 1833): Draughtsman, painter and lithographer. He received his first drawing lessons from the university drawing master in Heidelberg, Friedrich Rottmann (1768-1818), the father of the painter Carl Rottmann. In 1815-18 he studied drawing and watercolour painting in Karlsruhe, landscape and figure drawing at the Akademie in Munich, and optics and perspective in Darmstadt. In about 1817 he started producing lithographs based on his own drawings or on works by other artists. Around 1820 he made his first attempts at oil painting. During the years 1819-23, Fries often went on sketching trips, alone or with friends, both in the area near his home and further afield, for example in Switzerland. Throughout this period he sought to develop a personal style out of diverse influences: his teachers, his father's collection of Dutch 17th-century works, and the contemporary painters Georg Augustus Wallis (1768-1847), Carl Kuntz and Joseph Anton Koch. Fries's wash drawings reveal a measure of independence in their light touch and free execution, and in the attempt to reproduce light and variety of tone.

Wunderliches Wort: die Zeit vertreiben!
Sie zu 'halten', wäre das Problem.
Denn, wen ängstigts nicht: wo ist ein Bleiben,
wo ein endlich 'Sein' in alledem? -

Sieh, der Tag verlangsamt sich, entgegen
jenem Raum, der ihn nach Abend nimmt:
Aufstehn wurde Stehn, und Stehn wird Legen,
und das willig Liegende verschwimmt -

Berge ruhn, von Sternen überprächtigt; -
aber auch in ihnen flimmert Zeit.
Ach, in meinem wilden Herzen nächtigt
obdachlos die Unvergänglichkeit.

(Rainer Maria Rilke - In meinem wilden Herzen)

A strange expression: to kill time!
How to keep it is the real problem.
For whom does it not worry: where can we stay,
where is it at last a being in all of this? -

See, the day is slowing, going towards
that space that takes it on towards the evening:
rising became standing, and standing lying,
and what wants to lie just drifts away -

Mountains rest, out-shone by all the stars: -
but Time still twinkles even in all of them.
Ah! in my wild heart there is a bed
unsheltered for imperishableness.

(Trans. Brian Cole )

Chopin - Nocturne
(video by klausknulp)

(Rainer Maria Rilke)


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yanni - Prelude & Nostalgia

A musical experience toward midnight: Yanni - Prelude & Nostalgia.

The woodwind instrument, duduk (or tutuk) comes from Armenia. Some say this instrument comes from Turkey. It comes from a region shared by nations fighting each other for their identity and writing their shared history with blood. And today music should build bridges and dissolve barriers.

I dedicate this post to my friend Arthur. I had with him great discussions about the history of his nation.


Lara Logan's brave decision to go public breaks a long code of silence

(image Reuters: CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Tahrir Square moments before she was assaulted)

Lara Logan's brave decision to go public breaks a long code of silence. Read this op-ed from today's NY Times:

(Zoon Politikon)

Nader and Simin, A Separation - The Golden Bear at Berlin

It happened today: Nader and Simin, A Separation (جدایی نادر از سیمین - Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin) by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has won the Golden Bear (along with the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Best Actor) at the 61-st Berlin International Film Festival. The director dedicated the success to the great Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is imprisoned by the regime in Tehran for his courageous political views expressed in his movies.

The movie was released just several days ago, on February 9.

Here is the plot of Nader a Simin, aA Separation (as I found it on wikipedia):

Nader and Simin have been married for fifteen years and live with their eleven-year-old daughter Termeh in Tehran. The family belong to the urban upper middle-class and the couple are on the verge of separation. Simin wants to leave the country with her husband and daughter, as she does not want Termeh to grow up under the prevailing conditions. Her desire is not shared by the stubborn Nader. He has concerns for his father, who lives with the family and suffers from Alzheimer's disease. When Nader decides to stay in Iran, Simin files for a divorce.

The Family Court judges the couple's problems to not be grave enough and rejects Simin's application. Simin then leaves her husband and daughter and moves in with her mother. Nader hires Razieh, a young, pregnant and deeply religious woman from a poor suburb, to be able to better take care of his father. Razieh has applied for the job without consulting her hot-tempered husband Hodjat, whose approval according to tradition would have been needed. Her family is however financially dependent on the work, and brings her daughter with her.

Razieh soon becomes overworked by taking care of Nader's father and does not receive much pay. She becomes unsure whether her religion allows her to wash the old man who suffers from incontinence. She refrains from the task and ties the man to his bed while she leaves for a doctor's appointment, but plans to ask her husband about the issue before Nader hears anything about it. However Nader returns and discovers the father's condition. Outraged, he shoves Razieh out of the apartment and calls her a criminal, whereupon the next day, she loses her unborn child in the fourth month of pregnancy.

The case is taken to court. Razieh's husband could either get a prison sentence for attempted murder, or receive financial compensation if Nader is found to be guilty of the miscarriage. The wives and daughters wait outside for the final verdict. Razieh is found to not be guilty of the incident and tumbles to the street.

Here is another summary of this movie, given by Radu_A:

Nader and Simin are a couple about to break up over the question of moving abroad, for which they have obtained a permit after waiting for 18 months. Nader, however, has his father to take care of, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Sirin still wants to leave, but not without her daughter (yes, pun intended) Termeh, a somewhat shy, bespectacled 11-year-old who cannot accept her parents' break-up. She therefore decides to stay with her father, which prompts Simin not to leave the country, but move to her mother. Nader is thereby forced to hire someone to take care of his dad, and a colleague of Sirin recommends the pregnant Razieh. Being deeply religious, she should not work in a single man's household, but her husband has been out of a job for a long time and is threatened with jail by his creditors. Her pregnancy and the necessity to attend to her daughter additionally stress her out. When Nader comes home one day to find his father left alone and tied to his bed, a struggle with the returning Razieh ensues, with catastrophic consequences for everyone around...

One more word about the interpret of Simin: it's Leila Hatami, a fine actress that I saw also in Leila, an unforgettable movie made by Dariush Mehrjui.

(Iranian Film and Poetry)


The Goodman House in Alexandria

A dream house in a dream town: the Goodman House in Alexandria, Northern Virginia. I found in W. Post its story.

Back in 1952 there was a 100-year-old farmhouse for sale atop a ridge on North Quaker Lane in Alexandria. It sat near the edge of seven acres and, it is said, could boast a view of the Potomac River. Those who looked at buying the old frame dwelling probably thought of two courses of action: Either lovingly restore the simple two-story house or tear it down and use the lot for something new and less modest.

The slate floor underfoot has radiant heat
Photo John McDonnel for W. Post)

But the buyer turned out to be Charles M. Goodman, well on his way to becoming the hottest modern architect of the period in Washington, and he found a third way: He lived with his family in the farmhouse for a while, then gutted it, preserving the shell, and in 1954 attached a long, modern glass pavilion to it.

Today, the view of the Potomac is long gone, obscured by the past 60 years of development. Six and a half of the seven acres are gone, too, sold to developers years ago. Gone, too, are Goodman, who died in 1992 at 85, and his widow, Dorothy, who sold the house about a decade ago and lives in a nearby condominium.

But the midcentury-modern Goodman House still stands, sheltered by trees, its perimeter marked by about 2,000 square feet of stone patios and walkways that divide the garden areas and offer places for relaxation or entertaining.


The dining room
Photo John McDonnel for W. Post)

In the living room, a cantilevered concrete fireplace and ledge are anchored in a massive stone wall that rises to meet the ceiling
Photo John McDonnel for W. Post)

The inner courtyard
Photo John McDonnel for W. Post)


(Contemporary Art)


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pierre Sioufi about Libya, Bahrain, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Iran

Pietro, amico impareggiabile

Pierre Sioufi on Facebook: ‎84 killed in the unrest in Libya. My deepest respect for those killed for their opinions anywhere in the world and at any time. I personally support the people of Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, and Iran and all Revolutionaries anywhere in the world. The cleaning of the political powers all over the world is long overdue. My respect to the Tunisian people who gave us the hope that things could be changed.

(Zoon Politikon)


Friday, February 18, 2011

Pierre Sioufi

Pietro, amico impareggiabile

No whore is wholly, and no war is holy and vice versa, says Pierre Sioufi, who is a personification of the eclectic spirit of Tahrir (Roger Cohen): a Christian with images of the crucifixion hanging on the walls and a sign of Allah at the entrance (add to this the image of an Asian deity in his Facebook page), with books the kind of Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion lying around. The great Arab uprising is about bringing debate out of the mosque and into the public sphere (Roger Cohen).

Roger Cohen talks about Pierre Sioufi in his op-ed in today's NY Times:

Interesting: Pierre Sioufi keeps (very loosely) a blog (http://kikhote.blogspot.com) whose name suggests the great dreamer imagined by Cervantes. It was this way that all started in Tahrir.

I would add to this what Pierre Sioufi wrote on Facebook this morning, we all used to claim that the kids were just spoiled brats who had no ideas of their own and we were wrong; please stop believing all what was said about the Egyptian people, please open your eyes and see that all this was just because of the lack of basic freedoms and the brain washing by both the medias and their ministries and the NDP and their power base.

(Zoon Politikon)

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snow Stepped by Yesterday in Kyoto

Snow doesn't come very often in Kyoto. It arrives suddenly and leaves quickly.

Yoko had just a small break time at the theater; she approached the window and the homes were covered by a thick blanket of snow.


The white went out as Yoko was looking on in blank amazement.

(The Thousand faces of HANAFUBUKI)