Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yves Saint Laurent

Winter Fashion for Dogs with an Attitude...

Francisco Goya

Unsuccessful Copycat...

The stage was all set for the Awards, we just had a couple of hours to wait....

Although slightly hangovered after a night dedicated to erasing from his brain the Reds' defeat against the Greens, this blogger of yours went to the Goyas gala out of a sense of duty towards the Honourable Reader.

The invitations mentioned 8.oo PM, and out of Old Europe punctuality Behemotchka and I were there at eight alright. We were then told that in fact the live-on-TV ceremony was about to begin at Ten!. With sub-zero temperatures outside, a congress hall in the middle of f"&%$& nowhere and no bar functioning inside the hall, one can be excused for this urge to trash the Goyas night comprehensively.

It felt like the Moscow Film Festival.. the same provincial trying-too-hard to mimic the Oscars attitude. The same evening dresses in cheap materials and the sad petty bourgeois atmosphere of Hola! readers or BigBrother fans. Pity, really, because the Spanish cinema is in quite good shape and they have a real industry going on here. If only they could relax on the Frenchy-inspired sniping at the Hollywood model in the name of culturally exceptional European cinema (while at the same time bursting with pride at the Hollywood careers of Antonio and Penelope or Paz). If only they could have found the inspiration to serve us a b*&$%! drink while there's still one and a half hours to go and it's snowing outside!

A feature of these events I still cannot grasp is the astronomic cost of prime time advertising on the TV channel broadcasting the show ( almost as expensive per minute as airplane gasoline) while at the same time large periods, full five to eight minutes, are wasted by presenters in hastily scripted supposedly entertaining lines in between "and the winner is" moments. I guess the edited pre-recorded version might work but live the logistical hiccups and slow-mo boring stuff (including self-congratulatory corporative speeches) is unbearable.

We left after the first block of awards, longing for the boletus I had left marinating in cognac.. The snow-covered suburb was indeed awesome to watch..

The only bright exception to an otherwise disastrous Sunday evening was the daring pink dress of the Lady Minister for Culture, from Agatha Ruiz de La Prada..

Monday, January 30, 2006


The loo at "Stendhal", Madrid

Winston Marsalis

A drink at "Jazzanova", Madrid

Alfonso Capone

A 'vendetta' in Calle Serrano?..

Alain de Botton

Choice in matters of love..

A philosopher writes a novel...

The Honourable Reader might not excuse me for the irretrievable damage made to books with my indulgence in folding the lower exterior corner of any page that deserves further attention, producing in the process a dog-ear of beagle-esque proportions. But it constitutes an habit that allows a non-pencil carrying reader to mark any possible future quotation without interrupting the full flight of deep plot-reading.

In Alain de Botton's "Essays In Love" with its Tractatus-like wittgensteinish structure, with numbered paragraphs within numbered chapters named in arid philosophical terms - 1. Romantic Fatalism; 2. Idealization; 3. The Subtext of Seduction; 4. Authenticity; 5. Mind and Body; 6. Marxism; 7. False Notes; 8. Love or Liberalism; 9. Beauty; 10. Speaking Love; 11. What Do You See In Her? 12. Skepticism and Faith; 13. Intimacy; 14. “I”-Confirmation; 15. Intermittences of the Heart; 16. The Fear of Happiness; 17. Contractions; 18. Romantic Terrorism; 19. Beyond Good an Evil; 20. Psycho-Fatalism; 21. Suicide; 22. The Jesus Complex; 23. Ellipsis; 24. Love Lessons - what dog-eared quote was left for ulterior consumption?

To use a Bible-like system, I could say - Essays 15.8 : "Watching her (...) I found myself falling victim of romantic nostalgia. Romantic nostalgia descends when we are faced with those who might have been our lovers, but whom chance has decreed we will never know. The possibility of an alternative love life is a reminder that the life we are leading is only one of a myriad of possible lives: and it is perhaps the impossibility of leading them all that plunges us into sadness. There is a longing for a return to a time without the need for choices, free of the sadness at the inevitable loss that all choice [however wonderful] has entailed."

The whole discussion about Choice vs Destiny comes to mind all over again, which could be easily (and wrongly) construed as the essence of the Rationality vs Romance dilemma. One does not need to be a philosopher nor a novelist to avoid the pitfalls of paying too much attention to "Essays 15.8"...…

Samia Serageldin

The Kaleidoscope Metaphor ..

A tiny shift of seismic proportions...

When some of his slightly barmy philosophical-literary obsessions combine in one book this blogger of yours is overwhelmed with joy and rushes to tell all the world of Honourable Readers about it. The book is "The Cairo House" by Samia Serageldin.

One can find in it the Atlantis image, when a structured highly civilized society disappears under the impact of revolutionary political tsunami (the tsarist St.Petersburg Society circa 1918, the ottoman Egypt following the Nasser phenomenon, the "Gone with the Wind" Southern world after the American Civil War..); one can indulge here in one's passion for Alexandrialogy (from a near "insiders" Fitzgeraldian approach to the Corniche Society); one relishes the chance to revisit, ever present in the plot's background, Middle Eastern fundamental political choices (with Political Islam lurking, eyeing with a patronizing smile at naive post-Marxist experiments destined to fail)..

But what has really worked for this blogger of yours is the Kaleidoscope Metaphor. As Ms. Serageldin explains herself "The kaleidoscope (...) has always fascinated me as a metaphor for life: how a seemingly slight incident can alter the course of one's destiny, just as an almost imperceptible shift in the angle of the lens changes the composition to form an entirely new pattern".

We all oscillate, to describe our lives, between two antagonistic Schools of Thought: the Fate/Destiny- GoWithThe Flow School (everything is written in the stars, all effort to change our roadmap is futile) and the Freewill-I'm the Agent and Modifying Force of my Own Personal Project School (you are empowered to make something out of your life). There is however, a third paradigm that can in a way overcome, dialectically speaking, the two others. A paradigm that takes on board the extreme importance of chance. Like described, most recently, in Woody Allen's "Match Point", a minuscule event can have a decisive importance.

We all have "missed the train" situations to deplore, we all have "if only I had recognized it when it happened" moments. Cavafy, that great Alexandrine, described it better than most in his "Che fece... Il gran rifiuto" poem:

"For some people the day comes

when they have to declare the great Yes

or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes

ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction.

He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,

he would still say no. Yet that no - the right no -

drags him down all his life".

Let us put it this way: we should realize that once in a while we are confronted, in a kaleidoscopic-shifting moment, with the need to avoid "the right no".

One should be prepared to have the "great Yes ready within him"..

The real life Cairo House, still owned by the Serageldin family, can be visited at www.thecairohouse.com .

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Anton Chekhov

Adding months to Chekov's life...

The days of Anton Chekhov were numbered...

José Sasportes, an example of a cultural and literary figure who was also once a Minister for Culture (although not in the same league of the illustrious French example, André Malraux), has just published a curious book - "Os Dias Contados" - arising from a good "concept" (to use L.A. scriptwriting lingo): what if a famous historical personality was given six extra-months of life? The tour de force, which immediately turns Mr Sasportes into a serious scholar of Chekhov, does work. Any non-lusophone reader interested or fascinated by the greatest playwriter of Russian literature (with Ostrovsky) will no doubt await with impatience a well-deserved translation..

Friday, January 27, 2006

Jorge Ryder

First Season..

The shop window of the printing house where the "First Season" of this blog was printed..

Vanity Publishing, they call it in the UK. I suppose I have to plea "guilty", here. This last Christmas I decided to go ahead with a ten copies edition of my blog texts in book form. I called it "First Season", private-joking with my TV-series-addicted children, and offered it mostly to young relatives, in order to counterbalance PS2 and iPod-related Xmas presents.
The first attempt by the printer in calle Lagasca was not a success as the binding device didn't quite work. I ended up taking the prints to Lisbon where they were finally bound in a tiny publishing business near the Prison of Linhó (in the outskirts of Sintra). But that flawed first copy of the book survived ...
After Christmas, as I was walking pass the window of the printing shop, I got the mixed-feelings surprise of seeing "my" book among many other items that intended to convey the marketing idea of a vast spectrum of printing possibilities...

Georg Büchner

Yawning at male full frontal nudity...

26/2/2006: A performance of "Woyzeck" at the Teatro de La Abadía, Madrid

Modern Contemporary Theatre (even when applied to a now almost classical text) shares some features with Modern Contemporary Art. One relates to but one has no fun, most of the times.
Yesterday I took Timotchka'sMother to a "Woyzeck" that the Teatro Nacional São João (from Oporto) was presenting in the hyper-cool new-yorkish premises of the "Abadía".
Heavy stuff, Woyzeck, we all know that (even in Alban Berg's operatic mode) .. The opression of class.. the oppression of psychiatric medical experimentation.. the opression of zero self-esteem following cuckholdery... the opression of being poor (period).
The director, Nuno Cardoso, managed to make us feel all those forms of oppression quite well, and showed sheer brilliance in a couple of cenographic solutions. Pity that he had to indulge in theatrical exhibitionism in the scene he was acting (as Doctor) dressed only with surgical rubber gloves. Is the director-actor's genitalia an important element in our enjoyment intellectual or otherwise) of the play? Very doubtful.. Us, bourgeois, are no longer "épatés" by these tricks.. Another flaccid modestly-proportioned penis on stage?.. O, Dear... (yawns..)

Izzedine al Qassam

In Lebanon too, "never a dull moment"..

Hamas activists before 24/1

It's true that this blogger of yours once spend part of his professional curiosity around English-speaking pro-Islamist Palestinian personalities in Gaza; it's also true that this blogger has attended the inaugural session of the Palestinian National Council in the parliamentary premises of Gaza City - but it only means my personal mental data bank does contain images taken in loco by my then non-Alzheymerish brain that react with the word "Hamas" in a peculiar way.
I've been reading comments and analysis from every possible medium and viewpoint about the meaning of Hamas victory and I'm sure the Honourable Reader might be fed up at this juncture with the spin-doctorship of the media and political academia. So I'll stick to my gut reactions, the immediate mental associations triggered by hearing the news that Hamas was about to landslide the parliamentary elections in Palestine.
First flash: (curiously enough) Algeria. What was about to happen if the Algiers regime had not prevented the second round of those key elections to take place (which would have carried the victory of FIS) is now for real: a "green" regime (of Islamists, not environmentalists).
Second flash: "Someone order Democracy? There you have it, Sir. " Too late for realpolitik reasoning now, the votes have already been cast and counted. Surprising results in free and fair elections are the real hallmark of a democratic choice. We'll have to live with it. And worth to remember that there have been no true surprising results before in Arab world's carefully managed elections.
Third flash: Sean Feinn/IRA; Batasuna/ETA; Hamas/Izzedin al~Qassam all over again. How can one deal with a political entity closely linked with a armed/terrorist wing?
Fourth flash: the black-dressed "Haredim" ( Ultra-orthodox Jews) in Jerusalem. They will feel right now more at ease than most in the Land of Israel.. Long-long term projects, and not political short-termism, are the conceptual framework of both "blacks" and "greens"..
Arik Sharon's political death.. Fatah's political collapse... Bibi's incoming political resurrection... - the curse of the "never a dull moment" very much at work in poor old Holy Land...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ferdinand Porsche

The driving " frisson" from a car maker that does Couture rather than Prêt-à-Porter..

Ernest Hemingway

StariBrat at his animal-lover's best...

Looks like Papa Hemingway, no? Please note that the cuddly dog-like animal is in fact a dead wolf, shot down by the bearded guy with a self-pleased smile, somewhere in Bulgaria.

Gustavo de Arístegui

Are the lands of the Al~Andalus "occupied territory" ?

Spaniard cry-wolves meet Islamist wishful thinkers..

Arthur Golden

Is a geisha a whore or isn't she? Answer the question, damned it!

José Fontana

The "Fontana", Madrid

(My dear old high school, the "Liceu Camões", was at José Fontana Square, in Lisbon)

Johnnie Walker

at the "Fontana", Madrid, last Friday

José Fontana

The most significant decorative feature at the "Fontana" ..

Hermanos Cuervo

abandoned drinks in urinals...

José Fontana

The "Fontana", latest trendiest club in the Ciudad...

John Logan

The Men's room at "Boogaloo"..

Bret Easton Ellis

Triumph of presentation over substance, of marketing over content:
art cover highly recommended..

Salman Rushdie

WaltzingMathilda exercising drawing skills in the Generalife.
Was Rushdie's "The Moor's Last Sigh" in the back of her mind? Posted by Picasa


A famous group-portrait of a romantic XIX painter, Columbano, gets the de-construction post-modernist treatment at the hands of primary school-aged very young artists (Museu do Chiado, Lisbon)

Cesária Évora

The whole who's who of Cape Verde's music performed here, including Cesária.
( "B.Leza" bar , Lisbon)

Jules Verne

Another failed attempt at witnessing the Green Ray.
Better to read Verne's book or watch Rohmer's film instead
(Praia Grande, off Lisbon) .

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Joseph Conrad

Is Peter Jackson trying his hand at re-interpreting Conrad's metaphysical novel ( "Heart of Darkness" )? After Copolla's simillar atempt in "Apocalypse Now", is "King Kong" another journey into a frightening unknown psycho-Freudian hinterland?

Imelda Marcos

A self-confessed fétichiste dares to expose her innermost longings...
( Dunhill party at Agustin de Betencourt, Madrid)

Francisco Franco

The necrologic concept of the totalitarian Right makes Lenin's tomb at the Red Square look pitiful..

(Vale de Los Caídos, off Madrid)


Coming Out...

Earliest echographic evidence of a Work In Progress...

For too much time I've been hesitating... But how could I go on with this double life?.. On the surface this Casanova-like availability but deep down another orientation?.. I would have to come out at some point.. Many friends will have some difficulty in grasping the new reality... A few female friends will no doubt feel utterly disappointed... But these are times of tolerance we are living in.. Not much is left that really shocks you... Better to come clean than to live a semi-lie.. The compartmentalizing must have a stop.. Hypocrisy and calculating cynicism have to be abandoned... My true self must be allowed a chance to come to the fore.. I'll say it not only out loud but in the Internet for all to know.. I'm proud of it, why refraining from tell all?.. So, there it goes.. I'm coming out.. :
- I'm a romantic monogamist . I'm entwining my future with that of Miss Maria Alexandrovna Kuznetsova ( a.k.a. the Russkaya or Miss Boots in the posts of this blog..) And I'm going to be a father (of a Boy) in early Summer.
There.. I've spilled the beans.
I feel better already.

Frederico Garcia Lorca

Multicultural New Year's Eve ..

Delerict grandee house in Alentejo: better to build from scratch?

Dinning-table: imagine a solid slab of French oak, varnished to perfection... (to be continued...)

At the very end of the evening, deep inside new year, the Host recites Lorca's "Eran las cinco de la tarde.." .. Commotion is generalized