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.