Monday, February 27, 2006

Giaccomo Casanova

Braving the snow in XVIII century dress...

What could justify the presence of this blogger of yours at this year's "bal masqué" at the Circulo de Bellas Artes? A commitment towards the ancient and noble art of Carnival-induced personality change? An alibi to fulfill the life-long fantasy of dressing up as a Gentiluomo at a casino in the Rialto area, circa 1775? An urge to be part of an highly bloggable event? All the above plus making Mayamalinkarusskaya and Frody reasonably happy, one might say.

As described in the following day in "El Mundo", there was "an abundance of NewYear's Eve Party-crowds, recycled gays from Chueca and numerous foreigners".. The proliferation of pocket digital cameras produces the bizarre circumstance of everybody paparazzing everybody.

This blogger of yours was dressed as a slightly decadent Chevalier de Seingalt with satin gloves displaying high quality fake jewelry:

A portrait of the blogger-artist as a (not so) young Casanova...

What was not on the cards was the heavy snowstorm that made getting a taxi an impossibility.. This blogger of yours had to walk, in high-heeled buckled shoes, silk socks and XVIII century velvet and lace outfit, under severe weather conditions, to get, 3 km away, to the rescuing SUV. Madrid in the snow on Mardi-Gras night.. A Casanova keeping a brisk walking pace among other dressed up revellers..

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Baron Pierre de Coubertin

SportFootball is not about competing but about winning, Stupid!...

The talisman-eagle "Vitória" (Victory)

before a most enjoyable SL Benfica 1 - Liverpool FC 0

Sport is about sweating your outfit, produce endorphins and end up with a near post-orgasmic sense of wellness. Coach-potatoing or Stadium-attending spectator sports are supposedly entirely different experiences. Why is it then that yesterday evening this blogger of yours, in front a plasma wide TV screen, was sweating in his chinos and cotton shirt? Why was the endorphin-secretion process evidently triggered? Why did he ended up reaching a climax at minute 83? ... We won! The "Glorious" has won!

Monday, February 20, 2006

DJ Vibe

Baroque DJ mixing table in the "Architectural Digest" (new Spanish Edition) party, last Thursday Posted by Picasa

Umberto Eco

Master-bedroom, February 2006

Feodor Dostoevsky

The ex-Yugoslavia implosion through Karamazov Bros ' eyes...

Tomaz Pandur's "100 Minutes"
A production from the Ljubljana Festival by the Slovenian Theatre Director Tomaz Pandur came to town. Called "100 Minutes" (the duration of the play) it tries to exorcise the experience of war in the former Yugoslavia through the vehicle of Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov".
As the production notes tell us:
" 'The Brothers Karamazov" is one of the more savages works by Dostoevsky: corruption, vice, perversion, violent sex, murders, evilness, parricide, rapes, abuses, infamy: Sodoma". The Director selected that work to establish a resemblance with the bloodl-lustful war in former Yugoslavia: the four brothers Karamazov (if one adds Smerdiakov, the bastard half-brother and manservant of the household) and their father are the four or five (sic) Nations that were dilacerated apart after the death of Tito, who kept them together despite their many differences: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro". The notes add: " It is as a reproduction in a very onirical tone and erotic reaching madness, of that terrible war. The only good thing Tito had left for their mutual understanding is a common language: Servo-croat".
The show is in fact quite effective indeed in portraying the "feel-awful factor" of a war . Violence was masterly conveyed. Helped by the carefully selected very loud, very "metallic" weird music (including from the orgy scene of Kubrik's "Eyes Wide Shut") and the superb work of the actors who have the menacing body language and the bodies to match. Corruption, vice, perversion.. etc, etc (see above) are all there. (The epileptic seizures of Smerdiakov were particularly uncomfortable to watch, a sure proof of its scenic efficiency). As to the erotical content and the efficacy of the (violent/perverted) sex-scenes I'm not so sure. Faked violence can be in itself violent but can faked intercourse convey more than plastic, faked sex?It's like violence work better in a live play than in movies but regarding sex it's the other way around.
One needed a minimal knowlegde of Dostoevsky's Brothers K. not to loose what Pandur was trying to underline ( and I'm proud to say that I re-read the metaphysical adventures of Ivan, Dmitri, Alioscha and Co. last Summer). In particular, the diabolical lines from Ivan about the immediate corollary of the inexistence of God ("If He does not exist everything is allowed then") . War as the supreme example of where our journey is aimed at when we all let ourselves go.
A tremendous loophole in the otherwise exemplary structure has to be pointed out though. In a play where all the religious imagery was Orthodox Christian and all the Nations/Brothers roles were assigned, where was the Kosovar/Albanian dimension? Where were the Muslim Albanians of Kosovo and FYROM? Where was the non-SerboCroat linguistic world?
No one ever learns anything? Reading the "Brothers Karamazov" and carrying on is not enough.

Michel Houellebecq

Envious Parasites of Literary Success...

An anti-Houellebecq manifesto..

A rainy Sunday in the Ciudad made me stay at home with diet salads and Jean-François Patricola's demolition job on the literary achievements of Michel Houellebecq.
This blogger of yours is ready to concede that to like Houellebecq's prose might be an acquired taste (but so is caviar..). But to write a 273 pages essay to accuse Uncle Michel of almost every sin on Earth from a supposedly serious intellectual angle is a bit too much, the Honourable Reader might agree..
The "niche" of Houellebecq's prose stems from the confluence of an anger voice (the "fuck all" attitude which is very rock and roll) with Sci-Fi and X-rated sex imagery.
True anger in literature (neither faked nor posture but coming out from every pore) is a difficult achievement. Céline was the unsurpassed Master, and France has not produced a writer of his caliber since the "Voyage au Bout de la Nuit". In a bookworld of too much niceties or fake rebellion, Houellebecq's iconoclasty is refreshing.
The sci-fi dimension connects MH with Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" stuff and the essayist almost performs a similar attempt at character assassination of the author of such near-masterpieces as "Eyeless in Gaza" or "Chrome Yellow". Nobody reads the early Huxley any more, only the futurologic books or the mescaline intake in " The Doors of Perception" still excites the reading public. Huxley was a man of Humanities who had also a solid relationship with Science (via his family. That's how it works in Britain, too long to explain). That's what ruffles the feathers of too many critics or fellow writers who are "one-culture only" and cannot feel at ease with "bi-cultured" minds (C.P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" should be obligatory reading.. even nowadays!). Houellebecqcq has a scientific background (a degree in Agronomy) and much of the sci-fi incursions in his novels might be risky but they sound credible to a sciences-educated reader.
And what about the use of down-to-earth pornographic imagery in his writings? Surely nobody's shocked with it anymore? Specially because his sociological approach of today's Sexual Politics is perhaps the most distinctive feature of his literary oeuvre. He wants to say something out of that provocative sex stuff, it's not just macintosh-clad exhibitionism.
Céline is enormous. Huxley's mainstream novels well deserve not to be forgotten. Houellebecq is a (contemporary) must-read.

Mao Zedong

Maoist shoes, as seen in Calle Hortaleza..

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Silvia Beach

CCTV insiders view of the "Shakespeare & Co" bookshop

Walt Whitman

Paris en vaut bien une messe...

A Secular Church to Literature...

In recent unique trip to Paris (one does not expect more than one honeymoon in one's life) I took Malinkarusskaya to the "Shakespeare & Co" bookshop, gorgeously situated in front of the Notre-Dame. When the high-tech 1000 square-meters FNAC-like supermarkets of books will swipe away all the small bookshops with the old smell and atmosphere I'm sure "Shakespeare & Co" will be the last bastion...
They have a very developed Russian Section now, both in English and in (bloody Cyrillic) Russian. A fact totally unrelated with the 90% Russian population of next door's brasseries..
This bookshop has been talked about (Joyce's first publishing of Ulysses, blablabla) and photographed so much that I tried to get an original look. Please go to next post, thank you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Miguel Macaya

Painting acquisition in the electronic age...

Miguel Macaya's "Cebra". Oil on canvas. 195 x 215 cm.

The highly reliable Honourable Reader would not have missed a reference some months ago to this blogger of yours' thirst for a zebra painted by the Talented Mr Macaya. It was exposed in Jorge Alcolea's gallery just next door and a mix of financial timidity and relative poverty prevented me then from getting this "donkey-in-pajamas" trophy.

Around New Year a messenger from the gallery stopped me on the street, on my way to the konsular yellow house, and whispered: "Miguel is painting a new zebra... ". I thanked the blackdressed gallerista and said something about keeping me posted.

In the hectic week before my near-elopment I receive an e-mail with 1st of February as the date the huge canvass would be ready for my near medieval "First Night" rights. The very morning of the events I've depicted in the "The Russkaya Bride and the Blogger Groom etc, etc." vignette.. One can be excused for not remembering on time the need to pass by the neighbourly gallery...

Already speeding up on the motorway, at 200 plus whenever one gets distracted, I receive an SMS: "we will close for lunch now, when are you thinking of visiting us?". Damned! Total blank! I retrograde from sixth speed to fifth and phone the Art Vendeuse. Apologizing I suggest they e-mail me the photo of the painting with details of dimensions and price.

Later that evening my German friend ( Alzheymer..) prevented me from remembering the gmail password. I suggested, as an alternative, Vinniepoohra's address. The trip went on. Again SMSs from speeding SUV to Madrid gallery with reports of failing servers. Finally the option of the e-mail address of Lutetia hotel was remembered.

So first enjoyment of latest zebra was purely electronical. Price overwhelmingly unattainable. Bargaining process started. All the time via SMS ( first abroad then back in Madrid). When the end game approached it was no longer the blackdressed staff girl but Jorge Alcolea himself who was answering the bids.

I did saw the painting at some point ( with the expert help of my Barça-based friend, Gonza, a talented painter himself who was making the annual migratory ritual of visiting Madrid's ArCo) but all the thousands euros nerve-wrecking stuff was done through mobile phones short messages service...

Will I buy the painting in the end? A little suspense makes wonders for the sitometer statistics...


Freedom to enjoy cartoons...

satirical verses..

How come this blogger of yours who never fails to come up with a blogtext whenever any Arabia-related piece of news arises from the horizon is keeping his cards so scandalously close to his chest in this whole affair of the cartoons? That is a legitimate concern the Honourable Reader will not have failed to feel.
"Spin fatigue" might be the obvious answer. The patterns of reactions are so cosily arranged by now. The heavy artillery ( deep Huntington-related stuff) has been used. The media virgins defending freedom of expression at the top of their wailing voices have tear down their clothes. The rent-a-mob manipulators got their forty seconds of CNN prime time. (Even, Goodness Me!, the well intentioned Norwegian-dominated International Presence in Hebron - dear old TIPH with their ice-cream vendors' white overalls.. - had to resettle somewhere away from Al~Khalil !).
My Correspondent from Ramallah adopts a stoically note in her e-mails, no matter the closeness of live ammunition shots - and still I fail to decide myself to write about it.
And then "Charlie-Hebdo" gets itself involved and .. There!.. The urge to blog about a more than thirty two years-old story changes it all..
Has the Hounorable Reader any idea how was it possible for an engaged adolescent to read in Lisbon the forbidden "Charlie-Hebdo" before 25/4? "Charlie-Hebdo" could not be sold in Portugal before 1974 period. But there were ways to circumvent the authorities (which only proves the point that we were far away from a fascistic country, not withstanding the Leftist propaganda). A bookshop belonging to a enlightened bourgeois family, with democratic gentle-Left opposition credentials, did accept to forward subscriptions of forbidden publications. Acting like a mail box in a way. I was very proud, being 17 , of this semi-clandestine stuff. I was a subscriber of Charlie-Hebdo and felt that I too was making my small contribution to erode the berlinwall of Portugal's absence of freedom and democracy. Some of that satirical stuff was precisely what was needed to shake the un-cool grey world of these Woodstock-denial political authorities.
I had just recently fall for a new girl-friend, smart and posh, lovely eyes and almost Trotskyite. She lived not far way from the bookshop and was quite in awe with my underworld life of forbidden magazines. One day she offered to collect for me the latest copy. We met the following day, the lady-like smartly-dressed Plekhanov student carrying with her the folded magazine. She had used a silkish pink ribbon to give it an almost Valentine Day's note. (But there was no St Valentine in those times, not then). She was disguising a slightly embarrassed awkward feeling when she handed me over the folded "Charlie-Hebdo". I went through the pink ribbon and the folding stuff to have a look at the front page: a cartoon by Reiser with very obvious and vulgar hairy genitalia. So sweet of her, to overcome her upperclass gut disgust, and ideologically hardened with Rosa Luxembourg writings, proceed to wrap in girlish pink tones the magazine for her excitingly non-conforming boyfriend..
Would it not be great if, as we speak, a near adolescent couple of lovers, in Teheran or Amman, in Cairo or Gaza, were experiencing some similar story around a forbidden satirical magazine? Just a couple of years away from the advent of Freedom?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Jorge Juan

Two hyperchromatic fashionistas, this morning, near Etro..

A A Milne

The stuff Adventures are made of ...

Vinni Pukh, Tiggra and Pyatachok..
When adopting Commando names for an Operation one must go further than Tarantino's Messrs. Yellow or Blue. So, what about Milne's characters but with a twist? At this point, for the benefit of the Honourable Reader who might not be quite at ease with the Russian language, a little lexicon seems in order. Translated to russki izik, Winnie The Pooh becomes Vinni Pukh, Tigger becomes Tiggra and Piglet becomes Pyatachok.
Some blogtexts in the near future may recall the adventures in France of Tiggro and Vinniepoohra (who's carrying a Pyatachoshka). Will they be able to escape from the butter and parsley temptations of the EscargotBourguignon? Will they find Bianca Castafiore's historical vinyl recording of Gounod's "Aria des Bijoux"? Will they manage to hide in the upper floor of the Shakespeare&Co Bookshop? Will they successfully spin their closed fists in a dancefloor, like in Madonna 's latest video?
The plot thickens in blog-land!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Peter Greenaway

The Russkaya Bride, the Blogger Groom, his Older Daughter, the White Russian Princess, H.E. the Ambassador, the Ambassadress, the Consular Officer and the Indian Servant…

Happy End

"The Russkaya Bride, the Blogger Groom, his Older Daughter, the Russian Princess, H.E. the Ambassador, the Ambassadress, the Consular Officer and the Indian Servant…" Sounds like a title of a film by Peter Greenaway or the name of a post-La Fontaine fairy tale but it is in fact the cast of a live performance of a very unique kind, which took place on the First Day of the Second Month of Anno Domini 2006.

The Artistic Direction, usually in the hands of the Bride’s Mother was this time credited to the Blogger Groom himself. The set had reminiscences of Orthodox Russia: both orthodox Lenin portraiture and Russian Orthodox Church gilded icon frames with heavy scented candles. There was a touch of the atmosphere of Archeological and Natural History decadent galleries. And only the Arms depicted in the half-broken plates of a Stately porcelain service linked the play to the Atlantic & Indian Oceanic Empire whose headquarters were in Olisipos.

The plot was not particularly original, telling a story that has been successfully staged since the Beginning of Time. The leading female role is normally played by a young actress with a fresh face and white garments and this production didn’t differ from the norm. The leading male role, though, is usually also performed by a young good-looking actor but this time the constraints of the Production called for a more mature artist. The youthful pale-blue silk tie the Blogger Groom was wearing was a flourish one can only attribute to a Peter Pan Complex.

The plot demands a Consular Officer with a pleasant firm voice and a “gravitas” demeanour. His lines are serious ones. He has to ask the amateur theatrical company and the Audience if anyone knows of any reason for the Ceremony not to proceed. He has to read and comment Rights & Duties. And, finally, he has to proclaim the Power of the State to turn an otherwise mere commitment into a life-long Bond.

The most entertaining and cherished scenes are the ones when the fresh young girl accepts indeed to join her destiny to the one of the mature post-adolescent and when he, in turn, accepts to link his own destiny to hers. The Russkaya Bride takes a glittering prop, golden and ring-shaped with her pianist long fingers and gently begins to find for the said ring its proper place, while saying words of Tenderness and Love. The Blogger Groom then takes a similar but quite smaller tolkienish Ring with his once reputed beautiful hands and performs a similar gesture, accompanied by no lesser enthusiastic words of Love and Tenderness.

H.E. the Ambassador from the Seafarers’ Country and the White Russian Princess then advance with grace and sign, as Witnesses, the Binding Document.

The Older Daughter and the Ambassadress from the Orthodox Land join in the general merriment, while the Indian Servant, on cue, enters the Stage in his white livery carrying the Champagne-shaped bottles that look conspicuously like Don Pérignon.

The Final Scene, with Beluga black spheres served on sour cream buttered Aladje happily consorting with fried salty codfish pastries, was one of widespread enjoyment.

It was a short play, the leading actors having already been booked for a lunar performance tour that took them in succession to Biarritz, Amboise, Paris, Beaune and Aix-en-Provence.