Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Italian Blessing

I have done some editing and now I am ready to publish the Flickr slide show of photos from the Italian vacation, with a brief lay-over in London at the Tate Modern. There are, gads!, 243 photos---after editing. If you look at them, be sure to click the "fast" button at bottom, left, if things seem to be going a little slow. I realize this is not everyone's idea of an stimulating way to spend their precious time. I, however, am a fan of people's photos. I could look at them endlessly. I will spare you an analysis of my photo fetish, but I think it has something to do with a deprived childhood and a dysfunctional family...what else could it be?

Italy renewed my sense of freedom from the emotional and cultural bonds of an American life. I don't reject my American life. Rather, I am more interested in my capacity to elude its stifling homogeneity. I need a kick in the cultural butt, frequently, in order to remain creative, open-hearted and aware.

I doubted that travel in a western country could be anything but more of America. I was wrong, yet, again. The Italians have two things going for them that we don't, at least in northern Tuscany. These two things are "slow" and "home to anarchy." I'll say more about this another time, but you get my drift.

Travel for me, even at its worst, is always a blessing of renewal. Italy nourished me, and I am not talking about food, which was wonderful. I am talking out the traveler's experience. I was happy and sad in a traveler's way. I think that is the blessing of travel, the happy and sad, being awash in the whole spectrum of feeling. There is no closing down to survive the day. There is the opening, the encounter, the seeing---the sudden newness of everything.

Here are the photos.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Theo Jansen - Kenetic Sculptor

Theo Jansen is an artist and kinetic sculptor living and working in Holland. He builds large works which resemble skeletons of animals which are wind-driven. They appear to walk like living creatures. He hopes to provide a place where they can all just walk around and have a "life." If you value design, here's a feast. Don't stop until you see the "elephant".

Infuriating Phrases Competition.

The British have too much fun. The Telegraph, in the UK, asked readers to compose a piece of prose crammed with as many infuriating phrases as possible. This was one of my favorites by someone named R.G. Banks. You can read others here.

"Let’s stop obsessing and get down to the nitty gritty of fleshing out the gender issues, John. I’m wanting to hear inclusiveness and ethnicity here. A raft of blue sky thinking to challenge accepted orthodoxies. The bottom line is about empowerment and at the end of the day getting up to speed working 24/7 towards a coalition of understanding through best practice. This can only be fully achieved if the glass ceiling, in inverted commas, is transformed into a level playing field where the goal posts cannot be moved without leaving a substantial carbon footprint which inevitably would consign us all to the expediency of existing between a rock and a hard place. We must pick up the ball and run because we can no longer wait for the smoking gun of the next denial of service attack to consign us all to the wheely bin of history."

Keep your cliches to yourself. Ya know what I mean? Ya see what I'm sayin'?

Art Schmart.

Call it like it is Dana Gioia, new NEA Chairman! Chairman Gioia (pronounced Joy-a) spoke to the graduates of Stanford, who apparently disdained Gioia's lack of personal celebrity. His address was about the vapidness of current culture. This is an informative, if sketchy, read from the San Francisco Chronicle. Stanford snored.

Patti Smith Alert!

I received a Patti Smith alert about her US summer concert tour. The closest show to me is Philly, standing room only at Tracadero, but I can't seem to get an invitation. I was checking out the Santa Monica Twilight Series where she is appearing on August 16 (you, in LA, and you know who you are, you should get your tush to this show), I saw this funny show note offered by the Santa Monica Pier promoters:

"NEW bike valet! So successful, so appreciated at the City's Farmer's Markets and other local events, we are pleased to offer free valet bike parking to our patrons at the western entrance to the shows."

I don't believe bike valet service has hit critical mass here on the east coast, yet. Bike valet service! I just see this big concert with thousands of people in garish spandex. All those big rubber butts swaying. Water bottles sloshing. Reflective vests shining. Helmet safety lights blinking maddly...Patti Smith grining.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back In the U. S. of A.

If you click the picture above you will see the house on the hillside, beautifully perched below the morning fog, in northern Tuscany. I took this picture early one morning from where I stood on a roadside hill I had climbed. It nicely represents the feeling of the sublime I had, morning after morning, walking the roads and little trails.

The quiet was remarkable and necessary. I don't know why I need quiet, what part of my experience brings me back to it and its powerful cathartic offering. But, this trip renewed my appreciation of it. Maybe my cares and woes are just leached from my body out into the quiet---in environments of noise, the cares and woes have nowhere to go?

Since returning two days ago, I avoid the news, web cruising or any media, except books (currently, "The Kalahari Typing School for Men"). I am in a restful place, the place that is open and allows insights---some good and nourishing, some revealing a spectrum of regret. I crest with them like a big blue boat on a rolling sea. I seem to hang in air and them settle into the eye of something looming. Words elude me.

So. Italy was more than I expected. I am getting some other pictures together. I would like the photos to reveal the trip somehow, but, as always, the experience of the travel is rarely revealed in the photos. Too, it usually takes me a while to articulate what I have experienced, so off-balanced am I by most anything. You'd think I was some ninny if you could conceive of my tipsy nature. Someday I will be stable and sure and easy.