Thursday, December 22, 2005

In Praise of My Children and Other Stuff

Read that as "students" since I don't have any children of my own! Knowing that I was going to Nicaragua for Christmas, the kids chipped in together and got me $200.00 in American Express gift cards to use on my visit! And many got me other things $150.00 in Barnes & Noble gift cards (which I will use to buy books for the classroom.)

It is a tradition to buy teacher's gifts; and frankly, I don't NEED anything. But my kids are generous and just can't help themselves. Each will receive a post card from Managua; and I will try to find other items to use in the classroom while I'm there. But frankly, I might also pay for a fresh lobster dinner for myself at some point, too!

On another score, Delta has changed my flights and on the trip down made it IMPOSSIBLE to make my connection. Arriving into Atlanta at 9:33 AM and departing for Managua at 10:10 AM? Are they smoking crack? IF the plane arrived on time, sitting in seat 32D, I'd be lucky to emerge from the gangway by 9:45!--and Atlanta with it's four terminals accessible by light rail is no place to only have 25 minutes to navigate. Don't they have a computer program that can flag asinine combinations like this? They ought to! You know, back in the 80's, Delta was the premiere airline in America. What happened to them? And why is there no institutional memory there that holds those responsible for its downfall accountable? Why must bankruptcy be the answer?

So cutting to the chase, I was able to change my first flight, and I now have to be at the airport by 4:15 AM; which means leaving my home by 3:40 AM. How do YOU spell "saint"? I spell it L-A-U-R-A, as my most faithful friend Laura will do me the honors of taking me to Thurgood Marshall/BWI.

Again, I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful HOLIDAY season! And that the war mongering Fascist-Christians who huff and puff about their victim status while bullying everyone else into kissing their (mostly) lily WHITE asses, stumble upon the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! May it be so.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Holidays

I hope that I've told you at some point in the past that I am a teacher. I have, in fact, been teaching since 1984!--21 years, and I'm no where near burnt out by it. Every day just seems to jazz me more and more.

And some days provide wonderful surprises. Like yesterday: standing in the hallway, greeting my students as they arrived....and a little boy approached me and thrust a bulging envelope into my hand. I recognized that he is the younger brother of a former student. I taught A. back in 2003/04. I opened the envelope only to discover a holiday gift and well wishes. It was a gift card to Barnes & Nobles for $25.00. Very generous by any standards, but unheard of from a former student two years removed!

A. is an amazing young man. Very well versed and profoundly analytical in his mental capacities. While conducting an experiment with meal worms, a classmate of his inquired of me whether her specimen was a "boy" or "girl" mealworm for the purposes of naming them accurately. I explained to her that the animal was in a phase of their life cycle where they did not have a gender.

A. responded to the conversation by asking, "So they're hermaphrodites?" And I responded that they weren't because they possessed no gender, while hermaphrodites were born with aspects of both. He persued the conversation, and I suggested that he take it up with his parents, to which he replied, "Oh, I've asked my dad, but he's a doctor, and he doesn't know anything!"

Later, his dad and I discussed this interchange with great humor and sympathy.

The family is Iranian; and I have taught children whose parents come from every corner of the planet, but none are as wonderful as Iranians. So tender and supportive of their children, and SO supportive of us teachers. Guess I shouldn't have been surprised by A.'s gift.....

May something gracious surprise you this holiday season! Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

One State's Stats

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I am really personally intuned to the War in Iraq. Not simply as someone who opposes it. Not only as someone who recognizes the lies and obfiscations that drew us into it. And not only as someone who desperately would love to see those who perpetrated this evil brought to justice.

But I am someone who completely and totally honors those who have served our nation in this cause. I acclaim all who have and are in the threatre of this conflict. And I deeply revere and pray for the souls of those who have been sacrificed in the prosecution of this conflict. The cowards at the top may go free for now....but eternally they will face justice. And if they don't, then there is NO JUSTICE.

Imagine, with me, that for every one of these soldiers, there are 10 times as many Iraqi's who have been martyred. And WAY TOO MANY of them are women and children.....

Who is going to STOP this MADNESS? Who is going to come clean and declare that enough is enough?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Light Perpetual

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Once again, we are confronted with the stark reality that we as a nation practice the barbarous act of capital punishment. The death of Stanley Tookie Williams only highlights a practice that goes on week after week all across our nation -- even, here in my beloved Maryland. My faith deeply informs my thoughts about this. I did not always believe that it was wrong, but my heart turns more profoundly toward the image of unconditional love with each moment that life is my gift.

Why do we do this? Some claim it is a deterant. But it's not. The states with the highest per capital murder rates, have the death penalty: Texas, Louisiana, Florida.... citizens of these states are NO STRANGERS to the execution of murderers. But it doesn't stop people from killing....

As a Christian, I must tell you that faith is not for the arrogant -- no matter how many so-called Christians stomp around shouting and guilting others toward submission. It's not for the faint of heart, or the small of spirit. It's not for the weak of conscience. It pains me that the most vociferous of proponents of the death penalty too often hide behind their "Christian" faith....which is, of course, ridiculous.

They are not acting in faith, the nature that drives their passion is completely human. And as such, I totally understand it. But it's NOT Christian. Jesus was clear when he told us that life is precious; that redemption is our mission, that forgiveness is the key that opens that door; and judgment is not as powerful as mercy. Mercy enlightens and unburdens our souls, while judgment only promises us the same in equal measure.

Now I know the details of S. T. Williams' crimes and they UTTERLY HAENEOUS -- words cannot describe the evil; nor can they hope to comfort the survivors. But and eye for eye honors nothing. Here's a thought: "Unless a seed fall to the ground and is buried, it bears no fruit." We are all bound for death, we should all live our lives with this reality in our hearts, and no matter the circumstances; pray that our lives mean something to others...change the world for the better. That's redemption.

Now here's a hard and heartfelt statement: should my life end violently and unfairly at the hands of a cruel and ignorant person. No thing would make my soul rest more peacefully than to know that by planting my seed, others lives florished.... Let us not play God. Let us not ignore evil, but in our desire to accomplish justice, we must not forget the power of grace to accomplish redemption, that everyone is called to lives of forgiveness and mercy. That vengeance is easy and shrinks our spirits, while mercy in the midst of great sorrow demands divine unction, and expands our souls toward a hallowed, transformative love.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Day! -- Great Day

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
With the unplanned freedom to spend today as I pleased, thanks to this early season snow storm, I chose to finally get to the National Museum of Women in the Arts to see the Alice Neel show. Called "Alice Neel: Women," the exhibition presented portraits from the beginning of her career to the end. Many of the images were also included in her 2000-2001 retrospective, which I experienced at the PMA in Philadelphia.

The museum was typically sparse in visitors, and so unlike the PMA experience, the galleries were quiet and the opportunity to experience the images was very hallow. And yet, the psychological intensity and intimacy of the works ellicited a verbal response from me more than once.

In portraiture, there are two concepts: technical accuracy versus phsychological intimacy. Tech masters include Gilbert Stuart, Inges, and Close; and psych artists would enlist, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Neel. And having said that, each blurrs the lines! No one is either/or. And with Neel, you discover an artist whose technique continually refines itself, while her sense of psychological understanding is consistantly acute.

The show is open until January 15th. Make the time, you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What I'm Listening to #7

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The soundtrack to "Brokeback Mountain."

No surprise, eh?

And I love most of all Rufus Wainwright's rendition of "King of the Road."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Random Quote #35

"Christmas, as we know it, is a symbol, a recognition, a flower on the altar, a bow in passing. It says a tiny yes to the dream, it sings a little song.... "

~ Harriet Monroe, 1907 - 1995

Happy Holidays

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Amidst the current flap over the difference between "Christmas" trees and "Holiday" trees, there runs a tradition that harkens me back to my youth every year. The TV animated specials are Christmas for me! It wouldn't be a Holiday season without them.

There are 4 that stand head and shoulders above the rest: "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer," "The Grinch that Stole Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," and (first among equals) "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I own the VHS. I can watch it any time that I like. But it seems nearly blasphemous to shun the national ritual of watching it on TV as it is broadcast to everyone, versus creating a random and private viewing.

And when Linus speaks of the true meaning of Christmas...the noses of magical reindeer glow, the hearts of crumudgeonly creatures grow, and Snowmen resist the urge to melt.... It's pure Christmas magic.

Like the the virgin birth, and unconditional love: it instills in us a sense of the possible, even if the present argues against it.

Happy/Merry Holidays/Christmas!!

Random Quote #34

"God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time."

~ Robin Williams, 1952

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What A Gootcher

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This is Jamie Hatchett. He's a British model and actor, who just happens to have a major role in "Slutty Summer." Re: my previous post.

Imagine my surprise at seeing him here in an ad in the latest issue of my beloved "The New Yorker" magazine?

After watching him fuck the wits out of another man in an amazingly sexy HOT scene in "Slutty Summer," I'm not sure I want to buy WHAT Sammsung is using him to sell~! Cheers!

What I'm Watching -- on DVD #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Here's a low budget, sweet hearted film created in 14 days by an ensemble of friends in New York City. It's mega-campy and irresistably charming. I look for great things in the future from it's brain-child Caspar Andreas. Hopefully as a producer/director .... don't get me wrong, he's definitely eye candy. He just needs to hone in on his true talent, and focus.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Random Quote #33

"For in a real sense, America is essentially a dream. A dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where men of all races, of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together as brothers."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 - 1968

Random Quote #32

"Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn."

- Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1947-

Saturday, November 19, 2005

O, The Weather Outside Is....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Well, not yet. But it's finally more seasonal! And with the forecast suggesting SNOW on the 25th, here's a photo from the winter of 2003. My home is on the right.

I love snow....

Friday, November 18, 2005

Different, Still Okay?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Love this add for Lambda Legal Services in the Nov-Dec issue of "The Gay & Lesbian Review" from Harvard University. As an elementary school teacher for over 20 years, AND gay; as a man who knew he was different at the age of 5! [I really don't get these late epiphanies....but, whatever!]; and as a patriot in a nation that declares independence so that liberty and happiness are now basic rights for all of its citizens: I just want to tell you once again that I LOVE this advertisement.

Congrats Keith Urban!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A smart and contemporary country music artist who managed to take home CMA's 2005 Male Vocalist of the Year award this past weekend at their ceremonies in New York City. Check out his music.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sligo Creek Image #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Another image from my most recent walk through Sligo Creek Park. Don't you love the way in which the ancient oaks loom and brood over the moment casting their shade and shadows across the forest bed? It was an amazing site which the late morning light accentuated.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What I'm Watching -- on DVD #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, a mediocre commercial for McDonald's can illicit tears from me....I am quite the tender guy when it comes to heart-warming things. Every flower, every insect, invites me into their world after the simpliest glance....

So, it's no wonder that watching "Beautiful Boxer" has left me utterly devastated. The fact that it's based on a true story only adds to the power of the film and it's affect upon me.

I hope everyone I know will be able to find a way to watch this amazing foreign film...

Random Quote #31

"Sex is like Bridge. If you haven't got a good partner, you'd better have a good hand."

~ Woody Allen, 1935 -

My New Fetish

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
First, it has nothing to do with the photo! I went back out to walk the path along Sligo Creek below my home again -- camera in hand. And this is one of the photos. (Hope you like it, Stevie!)

But back to the topic at hand. I have recently discovered progressive talk radio here in DC. It's 1260, WWRC. On Saturday mornings there's a show called the "Satellite Sisters." It's 5 sisters who live all over the country and come together to chat and dis and share their opinions and worlds. Marginally interesting to me, but I can appreciate the concept.

But today, one of them (I haven't figured out who's who, yet) did a review of up-coming movies based solely on the press photos. It was HILARIOUS!

And so based on her (Sheila's?) recommendations, look forward to "Brokeback Mountain" (the gay cowboy movie where the secret gay cowboy pick-up line is finally revealed: "attaboy") and Woody Allen's "Match Point" (for no other reason than Jonathan Rhys-Meyers -- Amen!) They have a website:

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Autumn Musings, part #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
As leaves fall along with temperatures, teachers face the ritual of fall conferences. I've done this 19 times now. The rite of taking my 21 years of experience and education and mixing it with two weeks of experience with their child; shaken a little, and then poured out to be tasted....

These annual conferences inevitably leave me with as many questions as it does provide others with answers.

I have a very sharp and creative group of children this year. They work well together and respond with great trust and affection toward me. Together, we create daily a place where learning happens. I toss in the curriculum, and they devour it in order to grow in knowledge and skill. Teaching is the MOST amazing vocation of all. Trust me.

This second picture of the hiker trail near my home along Sligo Creek in Montgomery County Maryland, reminds me of the Robert Frost poem; "The Road Less Taken." And as I work with, grow to know, and learn to cherish my students, I wonder what the path of their futures will look like, and how my influence can help them to be successful. To choose the "Road" ("Less Taken" or otherwise) of their BEST future.

Monday, November 07, 2005

What I'm Listening to #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
If I'm not careful, I might end up seeming like some kind of rabid red-neck with my penchant for earthy folk and country vocals! But you're as likely to encounter Indian raga, or Mozart on my CD player, so don't be mislead if my recent posts favoring country music. Remember, I'm also listening to Kanye West!

I am a newbee when it comes to Patty Lovelace. And I discovered this album via my new habit of listening to "Imus In the Morning" on my commute to work..... Yet, her powerful voice and expansive choices in songs touches my heart just as old familiars do: women like, Rhonda Vincent, Rosanne Cash, and Patti Griffith. My favorites on this CD are "Same Kind Of Crazy" and her duet with Dwight Yoakam "Never Ending Song of Love".

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Autumn Musing

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
You know, I suppose my life is not very unusual. I could use a 26 hour day in order to complete all the things that my work and church and heart demand of me. And it isn't always easy deciding which of this trinity of expectations wins out.

But today, as autumn has finally decided to erupt in it's glorious zenith, the heart made it's needs acutely the priority. And so I rose early and waited for the morning sun to reach it's best angle and then spent two glorious hours hiking on the Sligo Creek trail (an urban wilderness that passes just below my home). Isn't this a lovely image from there? The pristine reflection of many colors in the water's glassy surface suggests a place miles and miles away from our nation's capital. But it isn't -- and it's in my backyard. May each of you succomb to your heart's desires when the results are so restorative to your soul.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Random Quote #30

"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884 - 1962

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Random Quote #29

"One of the most adventurous things left us is to go to bed. For no one can lay a hand on our dreams."

~ E. V. Lucas, 1868 - 1938

Poetry I am reading #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I am presently loving the works of Leslie Monsour.

The Book is called, "The Alarming Beauty of the Sky," and indeed the beauty of her words are as expansive and frightening as the sky.

Here are a couple of examples:

#1) in a poem entitled: "The Suddenness of the Past," she describes the killing of a hummingbird on her windshield in the perspective of attending her son's graduation with this phrase:

"Of red across the glass, a proof of being,
Caught in the wherenesses, a smear of now."

#2 And in a poem about a snail's consumption of her marigolds, she wrote:

"Its rapturous head in worldly leisure,
Oblivious, petal-blind."

'Petal-blind'? How brilliant a play on words! How typical of this stunning wordsmith. Trust me when I tell you that her poems are dangerous--they will stun you, time and again with their clarity and precision.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What I'm Watching -- On DVD #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This Gregg Araki film is nothing short of genius. And the best part of all is the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A master-piece of Gay phsychological angst, no matter how you cut it. It's a Must see GAY movie!

Sunday, AM - the Met

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
How can any visit to NYC Museums be complete without a tour of the Met? Clearly one of the most magnificent museums in the world.

I spend my first hour basking in the works of Medieval Europe. Having become a fast devotee of the audio tours, an hour was gone before I even realized it. And finding the voice of a curator who I met through my ex-, Mr. C., on the recording was also a pleasant surprise. And my last two hours there were divided between visits to the special exhibitions of the drawings of Vincent Van Gogh and the splendors of medieval Prague.

Van Gogh was simply fascinating. With over 1,000 works attributed to him in his relatively brief (10 year) career as an artist, did you know that over half are drawings? In fact, the earliest portion of his career was exclusively drawings, because he believed that it was necessary to master drawing before attempting painting. This nearly perfectly apportioned exhibition takes you from his earliest works right up to his final drawings and you not only travel with him across the breadth of his geographical wanderings in the low countries and France, but you also see clearly the evolution of his genius and the obsessive passion he felt toward his art.

My final stop was a leisurely tour of the works from Bohemia in the time period of 1347 to 1437. It was a time when Charles II and his followers sought to make Prague the cultural rival of Paris and the other great cities of Europe. To that end, artists, architects, and artisans of ever type were imported, trained, and commissioned to build and embellish churches, castles, and public spaces with art. The exhibit includes everything from manuscripts, altar pieces, reliquies, and vessels of various types to monumental sculpture and architectural elements. I confess that I was rather "arted-out" at this point and so my focus was very selective. I would enter a gallery and perhaps only spend time with 1 or 2 of the works. A fine way to end the weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Saturday, PM - Dinner

At my friend's suggestion, we met at Markt, a Belgian restaurant, @ 14th and 9th. Prior to arriving I spent some time investigating it online. The menu sounded intriguing; but previous patrons time and again denounced the service. So when I arrived early (around 6:30 for a 7:00 PM date), I went inside and made a walk-in reservation for 7. I was told that they had a table, but that we'd have to be done by 8:30 to accommodate a previous reservation. Is this perfect, or what? An hour and half to enjoy a meal, and the impetus for good service lay at the feet of the restaurant with a dubious reputation in this regard. So I immediately said, "Yes."

My friends arrived at 7 and we were seated. From this point forward we received the BEST service I have ever experienced in a restaurant! Everything was done in a timely fashion, and we were watched over by a distant, but very attentive server. I had the smoked duck salad with a lite lemony vinaigrette, and the "Gratin des Legumes" as my entree. Both of my friends enjoyed their choices as well. And for dessert -- an indulgence that I rarely partake of, I had the lemon-custard "flan" on an almond paste crust with a scoop of "beer" sorbet! Absolutely fabulous! We enjoyed tea and coffee with our meal, and the entire bill for three came to $88.00; which I augmented with a very generous tip (20%+) to express my appreciation for the phenomenal service. Perhaps contrived, but hopefully characteristic of this wonderful restaurant.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Saturday, PM - late Lunch

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I enjoyed a late lunch in the expansive atrium attached to the Dahesh. The space was dominated by this over-sized sculpture of a table and six chairs. I didn't seek out the label, so I have no idea who the artist/s is/are or what the work is titled. Certainly Claes Oldenberg-esque!

Saturday, PM - The Dahesh Museum

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Saturday afternoon I walked over the 56th hundred block of Madison Avenue and visited the Dahesh Museum. A lovely venue. The collection was assembled by Dr. Dahesh (ne, Salim Moussa Achi) in Beruit, Lebanon. The focus of the collection were works of the European Academic tradition. Works that express the ideals of exoticism, romanticism, neo-classical genres. His dream was to establish a museum in Beruit, but when the civil war erupted in the late 1970's, it became clear that his dream would not be possible. And so the works were shipped to the US for protection. Later, friends in the US convinced Dr. Dahesh to sell his collection on the proviso that a museum would be established in his honor and the works would be open to the public to enjoy. This painting is by Peder Mork Monsted, a Danish painter, called "Portrait of a Nubian". It's representative of the entire collection.

Saturday, AM - MoMA

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Saturday started with a delightful breakfast at little dinner on Madison Avenue with my friend, Mr. B. And the promise of dinner with he and his boyfriend, Mr. R. later that evening. From here I walked to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), arriving just as it was opening. The line stretched from the front door all the way down the block and into a series of maze-like corrals filling an adjacent lot. How fortunate for me that I had purchased my ticket online ahead of time, so I just walked right in. Having been closed for some time for a major rennovation and only recently reopenned, MoMA is still a hot ticket -- at least, on rainy Saturdays!

Some impressions: The top images are "The Four Seasons" by Cy Twombly: Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter from left to right. They are magnificent, and standing before them I found myself so overwhelmed that I nearly burst into tears. Art does this to me. And the older I get, the more vulnerable I am to it. The center shows one of the first works by Joseph Kosuth. Assembled in 1965 on the cusp of conceptual art, it features three representations of a chair; a drawing, a chair, the definition of chair. And so which one is the chair? Created when he was 25, he actually lied about his age at the time in hopes that being older would give his avant garde work more gravitas in the art world. The bottom image is the information desk in the newly expanded lobby with the lush Ellsworth Kelly "Spectrum IV" on the wall behind it. The new MoMA's architecture provides many places where viewing rooms and works of art from various perspectives is possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Friday, Dinner

I met my long time internet friends Mr. G and Mr. M for dinner at a restaurant of their choosing, Pergola Des Artistse, 252 West 46th Street. It's a French restaurant just off of Times Square. The proprietors emigrated from France as bear trainers many decades ago; and then chose the restaurant business as an easier way to make a living!

I had the roast duck which came with a walnut rice pilaf and braised Brussels sprouts and carrots with daubs of a rich and sweet cherry reduction gravy/sauce. Charming and personal, I would return without hesitation. Dinner for three with tip came in at around $92.00.

Friday, PM - the Frick Collection

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Perhaps my favorite museum in the world's greatest city of museums is the Frick. The special exhibition of portraits by Hans Memling was the impetus for my weekend.

I have long been a fan of Memling, and this particular portrait from the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. Memling worked in Bruges at the end of the 15th century. He died two years before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. In his lifetime, there is no exact catelogue of his work, yet around 100 paintings survive. This exhibition presented just over 20 of those.

What do I love about Memling? I love his men. He primarily painted the faces of important men from the mercantile and aristocratic classes of this prosperous Renaissance city. He painted with such detail and sympathy that his images give to us today complex and intimate psychological views of his sitters. So personal that you just can't help but embrace them.

A great way to end this first full day of my trip. After experiencing this exhibition, I also toured the permanent collection lingering again with some old friends: the Holbein portrait of Sir Thomas More, The Rembrandt image of the Polish Rider....

Monday, October 24, 2005

Friday, Lunch

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After a morning in Russia, I turned to Italy for lunch!

Caffe Grazie on the corner of E. 84th and Madison avenues has long been a favorite of mine. My ex- and I first stumbled upon it nearly a decade ago; and we never visited the city without a meal there. I have carried on this tradition whether with a guest or on my own because frankly, the food and service has NEVER disappointed me.

For lunch I had a wonderful crab cake salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, avecado wedges, and corn, drizzled with a zesty lemon-vinagrette. And the service was extremely pleasant. The hostess and waiters made me feel like I was the most important person in the place -- A great "light" lunch.

Friday, AM - Guggenheim

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
My first stop in New York was the Guggenheim on the upper east side. The exhibit consuming the museum's spiraling space is entitled: "Russia!"

It is a retrospective view of Russian art from it's earliest iconic representations of Christ from the 14th century to modern day installations. An amazing and expansive exhibit that I would unreservedly recommend to all. The following posts are reflections on only two of the hundreds of images to be found there.

Friday, AM - Guggenheim #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A profound statement of conscience from artist Vasily Vereschagin. Painted in the winter of 1878-79, this image of battle was meant to send a profoundly anti-war message and drew the ire of the Czar. It depicts a priest (very classically Jesus-esque) and an officer paying respects to a field of the naked, dead solders. It was a very amazing and chilling canvas.

And very typical of the repeated revelations of consciousness that this retrospective of Russian art from 1300 to today provoked in me.

Friday, AM - Guggenheim #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This oil painting by Ilya Repin entitled, "Portrait of Pavel Tretyakov, founder of the Tretyakov Gallery," 1883; was a profound moment. Amidst the grandeur and the dazzle of the entire exhibit, and nearing my own personal saturation with much yet to experience, this simple portrait really entered my heart and soul. Here a beleagured everyman stares at you without apology or complaint or plea. The epitome of nobility.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NYC Redux: My Hotel

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The first place that I experienced in NYC was my hotel. The Hotel Chandler is located at 12 East 31st Street on the edge of little Korea, 2.5 blocks from the Empire State Building, and between 5th and Madison Avenues.

My entire experience there was a positive one. The staff was courteous and attentive. The Room was well cared for, clean and more than ample for my needs -- it resembles this promo photo minus the bay windows and accompanying chairs. I stayed on the 11th floor; so street sound was not an issue. I'd stay there again without hesitation. Kudus Hotel Chandler!

NEW YORK City Redux

I spent the past weekend in New York. It was a long holiday weekend for teachers in Maryland. I have been planning it for some time now, and it unfolded well. I took the train up on Thursday evening (10/20) and stayed at the Hotel Chandler on E 31st just off of 5th Avenue. Besides friends, I visited five museums: the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, MOMA, the Dahesh Museum, and the Met. I trained home this evening. It was a wonderful experience in many ways, and in the following/preceding posts I will share some of my thoughts and images with you.

It's a weird thing about blogging: when you intend a reader to experience a series of related events chronologically, you have to post them backwards! This entails composing them all in advance and then posting them in descending order! I did this with my peace protest on Washington photo series. I won't do this with my New York City visit redux. Sorry.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What I'm Watching -- On DVD #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Have you seen this epic drama yet?

I have many times, and every time I watch it, I discover something new, something special, something more profound. Never a wasted moment with this one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Random Quote #28

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." (April 16, 1953)

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890 - 1969

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Random Quote #27

"Try not to take life too seriously. Afterall, nobody gets out alive."

~ dcboi1980, 1980 -

Costa Rican Memoir #8, parts 4 & 5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Part 4 "Tarantula"

As the incident with the fire ants would suggest, living in a place that is so different from the one you've grown up in is bound to present you with encounters which you would never have imagined. The house that Mr. K and I shared was built by Costa Rican standards and reflected the needs of shelter in a Mediterranean Climate zone. So the entire place was framed in 2 x 4's, and interior walls were all paneled with thinner planks. Exterior walls were only sided on the exterior leaving the framing exposed on the interior. No insulation, no furnace, no need. The hottest season (January to March) only sported temperatures in mid to high 80's; and the coldest (October/November) only ever dipped to the mid 50's. So fans and clothing supplied whatever needs comfort might demand.

Two of the walls in my bedroom where exterior. One bore a window with a wide sill. Since the only furniture was a twin bed and a small dresser, I placed a trytich brass picture frame on the window sill -- a short distance from my bed. One night after getting into bed and shutting off the light the picture frame crashed to the floor. Too heavy to do this on it's own, I wondered if in the motion of entering the bed and flipping the switch for the light, I had missed a small earth tremor.

So I immediated reversed my movements and flipped the light switch on again. And what did I discover? A full grown tarantula gingerly making its way along the window sill. Apparently, hindered by the picture frame, it had found a way to remove it as an obsticle.....

The photo is of our neighbor's pets: Senor Gato and Chogito. I include them in this memoir, because without their watchful presence, the infestation of interesting fauna would have doubtlessly been much more interesting and problematic.

part 5 "Frankenstein Shower"

In a home without central air or heat, it's no surprise that there was no hot water tank either. To heat water, you simply placed in on the stove which worked for most things..... The shower was the exception. So to remedy this the water was heated by a coil wrapped around the pipe of the shower head. And this coil had two wires that emerged from the base of the pipe against the wall to a "Frankensteinesque" toggle switch mounted on the wall next to the shower.

The routine? Get naked. Turn on the water flow. Reach over to the toggle switch and pull it down while stepping into the water! And I swear to you, I never got used to this. The only comfort was the knowledge that IF it failed, my death would be amazing and swift.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Costa Rican Memoir #8, part 3

You've heard about the danger of fire ants, but have you ever experienced them? There is no misnomer in their name.

Just outside of rear door of my home in Costa Rica, Mr. K. and I had strung a line to hang our clothes upon after washing. I had used it countless times, and so it was second nature to just trod out there and begins pinning our damp apparel to the line. That is until one day....

I walked outside. Tossed the laundry over the line, piece by piece. Returned to first thing and began to clip it with a pin when all of sudden the first bite occurred. And before I knew what the hell was happening, half a dozen more assaults happened and simultaneously I assessed the situation and began stripping off my pants and screaming! Thank God our home was a private one. So no one saw my frenzied dance and strip tease.

The little guys had taken up resident in our back yard and built a mound without any warning; and that's how they chose to attack me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Costa Rican Memoir #8, part 2

This home (picture in part 1) was a great place, and I have many fond memories related to my year spent there. On one evening I was in the middle of fixing dinner when the lights when out! Not a common event, but not so rare that it was without any precident, either. After discussing our options amid the candlelight, Mr. K. (My housemate) and I decided to head into the center of San José to find food and distraction.

Reaching the bus stop just outside the alley entrance of our home, we could see that lights were on in most of the city. So without another thought, we caught a bus into the city and had a great dinner followed by a movie. Returning home many hours later, we found both the restoration of electricity and an incredibly irate old man (our neighbor/and literal "housemate").

Many words were exchanged in repairing the damage of our neglect. You see, we had inadvertently failed to turn off the electric stove before leaving. The power returned and the bacon began to cook again, and then burned and then flamed!--filling the house with smell and smoke. Our neighbor called the fire brigade AND our landlord who arrived together. The latter used his master key to open our home, and the former used their skill to dowse the source. By the time that we returned, only the old man was still there.

Stay tuned: part 3, "Fire Ants," part 4, "Tarantula Power," and part 5, "Frankstein Showers" will be posted soon.

Costa Rican Memoir #8, part 1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Home, Sweet, Home"

This was my home when I lived in Costa Rica. This was in Curridabat, a western suburb of San José. The house sits on a "hidden" lot off the street on a hill between a shoe factory and a bus mechanics' yard/garage. The Factory rose on the left side of this photo, and the Bus facility was found on a flat lot beyond, and well below, the right side of the photo. So it found itself on the middle terrace of three on the main road that led from the western highway out of San José to the city center of Curridabat.

You got to our home via an alley that gave no hint of what lay beyond the 12 foot hight metal gates or the little iron door that was our perimeter entrance.

The lot held rich vegetation. A Rosamary bush that reached to a good 10 feet! Trees bearing Papaya, Mango, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, and Grapefruit grew randomly around the edges of the "yard."

The house was divided into two parts. One half was the longtime home of an elderly Costa Rican man and his little dog, Chogito. My roommate, Mr. K. and I lived in the other half. It was basically three rooms. An EL-shaped large Kitchen/Bathroom (washtub and wall shower with NO Privacy), and two private bedrooms. Mine was on the front of the house, shown here--the window is from My bedroom.

More on this soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Random Quote #26

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

~ Walt Disney, 1901-1966

What I'm Listening to #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Isn't it great to rediscover an old friend? That's how I feel about this CD. And time has taken me through these songs and back again. And this time I can appreciate them from a safe distance.

"Songs" do remember our pasts, "Nightengales" do replace our tears, and ALL the other shit that she so beautifully sings about, does happen. But no longer hearing Trisha's tender and powerful voice results in my wallowing. No longer do CD's like this leave me feeling sad. Rather, I am glad. Glad to be beyond so many things -- especially, the things that such torch songs remind me of.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

DVD's I'm watching #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This is one incredible movie. Both simple and sophisticated at the same time.

Also very revealing of the evil that is the Mormon church without being mean-spirited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Random Quote #25

"Honey, there ain't no such think as a toad when the lights go down. It's either feast or famine. It's the day light that you've gotta watch out for."

~ Harvey Fierstein, "Torch Song Trilogy"
1952 -

Sunday, September 25, 2005

No Dirty Words

After my promotion of KanYe West's CD's, an acquaintance challenged me based upon her cursory exposure to his lyrics on (typically 30 seconds). I assured her that in spite of the profanity, there was a message worth the few bucks to purchase.

Since then, I have really thought alot about this. Artists like KanYe are about witnessing a reality that is meant to challenge the status quo. The words they choose are not random or obscene. They are intentional and intimate. And that's the spirit in which we should recieve them.

There are no "dirty" words. Words are only phonetic expressions created by our vocal chords. How we except them, and then allow them to affect us is not a function of the word. It's a function of our culture. I long for a world were there are no dirty words. Say what you will, you can't offend me. I want to hear you express yourself. I am intelligent enough to find your heart's meaning in however you choose to express it.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

13 Views of the Peace Rally in DC

Taking from the works of Japanese Woodblock artists like Hiroshige, I offer these images and thoughts from today's Rally for Peace. My highlights where hearing Cindy Sheehan speak, marching with the throngs of Americans who know that there is a better way to live on this planet, and my various little interactions with participants. My disappointment was that lack of minority participation. My only purchase was a sticker that proclaims "End Racism". Let us work to know and care for others who do not have our skin color, who do not speak our language, or imagine God and eternity in the same way we do.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
On the back of a T-shirt worn by a Quaker participant.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Three street performers: the first dressed as the Devil holding puppet strings to Cheney, who holds puppet strings to Bush. Both Bush and Cheney players frequently exchanged a bottle of Oil from which they mock took enthusiastic swigs! What fun, what theatre! -- long live Freedom of Speech!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Created by one of the computer graphics from the little pictures of the soldiers who have given their lives for Bush's war.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Whose grandma is she?


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This Bill Board Truck was parked near the rally and on the parade route. "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." ~ Grover Norquist, "Field Marshall" of the Bush plan. The image is from New Orleans after Katrina....


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A mock cemetery to honor "anonymously" the soldiers sent to Ancestry during the War in Iraq. This image shows only crosses, but some replaced the cross arm with crescents and others with Stars of David. Some where adorned with little American flags, and many festooned with flowers (Roses and Carnations). The whole displace was many times larger than my photo depicts.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A Parade Contingent preparing to march. This group carried psuedo-coffins draped in the flags in honor of those gone on to Ancestry too soon.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A crowd image shortly after I arrived. The crowd was very diverse in terms of age & sexual orientation; but I wondered why more minorities weren't present.... Locally, a major push was undertaken to energize the African American community, for instance; but I did not see a significant participation from this minority group.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Moving through the crowd, I noticed this sign: "Old Farts for Peace" -- Bless such methane always!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Booths soliciting support for opposition organizations flanked the edge of the elipse. Love the "No Blood For Oil" T-shirt!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
At one point I encountered the images of the soldiers who have passed into Ancestry all TOO prematurely laid out on the ground in ribbons. Later, these would be used to line the parade route. I could hardly look at them without crying.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The highlight occurred soon after I arrives and found my place amidst the throng. First, I listened to Jesse Jackson, and next Cindy Sheehan. Strange bedfellows on many levels, but both delivered powerful speeches. Cindy was particularly eloquent and moving. All around me I could see people representing a myriad of constituencies and locales. Flags from Iowa and Alaska waved amidst placards Denouncing Bush, Promoting Peace, demanding the end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the US use of landmines in conflicts.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Christmas This Year

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Will find me once again in the blessed company of Father G. at the wonderfully hospitable Casa Ave Maria in the bario of Monsenor Les Cano in Managua, Nicaragua. I've known Father G. for over a decade and last year was my first visit. And it was a wonderful visit that included time for side trips which I will go into in greater detail in future posts. Suffice it to say that Nicaragua is an amazing place....and as Christmas is an amazing season, the two fit well together.

What I'm Listening to #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After his courageous pronouncement that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" on nationwide TV, I committed to buying everything that this young man produced. I hope that his star rises even faster as a result of that uncensored moment. Long Live FREEDOM of SPEECH!

And you know what? It's a fucking good CD! But avoid it, if words like "Fucking," "Nigger," and "Bitch" to repeat but a few possible offensive words, stand in the way of your appreciation and edification of/by art.

If art is meant to challenge, document, and affirm; then KanYeWest is an artist extraordinaire. Bless you brother!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Zimbabwe Memoir #7

Zimbabwe Memoir #7
Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
While in Harare, a friend of the family in whose home we were staying arrived to greet us and see if he could be of any assistance. My travelling companions were still in the throws of their gastro-intestinal illness, and so I was left alone to accept his hospitality. A young man, just graduated from High School, he proceeded to show me around "his" world.

The top picture is of the main build of his private High School. We attended a portion of a cricket match there. Very white, blacks were only working the grounds and serving.

When he finally asked me what I wanted to do, I asked about markets where I could purchase printed frabrics -- the budding quilter that I was at the time. And after some coaxing on my part, he took me to the open-air market in the central photograph, where I eventually purchased cloth from the vender in the bottom picture.

Being in both South Africa and Zimbabwe when I was (November/December 1990) I also experienced the vast contrast between race relations in the two neighboring countries at that time. In South Africa, whites were mostly aloof and blacks treated whites with a cool, well practiced respect. In Zimbabwe, the only thing that mattered was whether or not you had a VISA/MASTERCARD and were planning to use it. At least, this was my perception of the black Africans' public attitudes.

And since I used my VISA card, I was treated generously wherever I went in Zimbabwe.