Thursday, December 27, 2007

Your corny inspirational phrase here

Insert your corny inspirational phrase here:

No bird flies higher than on his own wings...

You'll never fly as high as on your own wings...

Trust yourself and you'll soar...

Solitude is the biggest high...

Join in! It's really easy / not as hard as it seems actually quite difficult.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

Puting the B back in BB

No , not what you might first have thought, I'm not off at some beauty treatment, indeed perhaps quite the opposite. Instead it's the first-b that needs a little bit of revitalizing -- I'm in Bombay!

I'll return in a few weeks a few pounds heavier but otherwise happier in every way.

More soon.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday morning on Coronation Street

I give you a kiss

I remember when I first heard this phrase. I was speaking over the telephone with an Italian - a beautiful Italian - I had met the day before, and just before hanging up came that phrase: "I give you a kiss..." We had met incidentally if not randomly and exchanged numbers. I thought there was a flirtatious frisson there, but couldn't be sure.

I couldn't be sure because it was the first time I had met an Italian from Italy. Indeed, it was my first week on my own, outside the little world (albeit large country) in which I grew up. I wasn't used to seeing people stand so close to each other during casual conversations, kiss socially, and it seemed pause for normal conversation within continuous flirtation. I didn't know that this phrase or some variant of it can close a conversation among friends in more than a few European languages.

Of course, this is the way I saw it then. In India, no one kisses socially: parents and children, husbands and wives, movie actresses and movie actors, no, no, no. It is more common to see two men holding hands - a friendly gesture - than a man and a woman. Coming from this world, I couldn't tell what was going on. Was everyone sleeping with everyone else, or at least trying? (Having to come to understand the male subspecies a bit better over the last decade I actually now believe the latter is true, but that's another story.)

Coming back to me an my beautiful Italian. I heard the words and my heart jumped. I was aglow from within. I felt as though I had actually been kissed, unexpectedly and wonderfully. We kept on meeting from time to time, always with warm flirtation, and I got comfortable with the right-left (or is it left-right, to this day I am never sure and am convinced I get it wrong) kiss. I didn't really expect anything to happen, though I might have hoped, and it didn't. But I was always thrilled to hear this awkwardly translated phrase at the end of our phone conversations.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Some simple facts for today:

New York

Sunrise: 7.01 am
Sunset: 4.28 pm
High: 0 C, Low: -4 C


Sunrise: 7.47 am
Sunset: 3.53 pm
High: 13 C, low: 12 C

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Q for A
or Extreme Sport English Edition: Queuing
or Queuing for Art

I went last weekend to the Royal College of Arts' Secret 2007 sale. It's a secret not because no one knows about it, but because you don't know the artist's name till you've bought the piece. Each work is postcard size and costs 30 pounds. It could be anyone from art student to famous designer (Sonya Rykiel, Paul Stewart...) to famous artist (Damien Hurst, Tracey Emin). You first go to the preview to pick off a few that you like. Then on the day of you arrive early. By the time I reach at 6.30 am - let me repeat 6.30 am - there were already 300 people - let me repeat, 300 - ahead of me. Note also that it was -4 C.

Though the British may lack something in hihowareyou chitchat they make up for it in stiffness of the upper lip. We were all joking about the mild weather and professing our ignorance about the event (This queue - happened to be walking by and decide to join in). Extreme conditions (think the Blitz) also seem to break down social barriers and you can smile and chat with your queue neighbor. Someone lent me a chair for a while. A long while, since we were in the cold for about 4 hours.

Then after a heartbreak hill moment (being just at the edge of the door but having to wait another 15 minutes while being unable to feel my legs below the ankle), the real sport began. As you entered, you began crossing off items that the previous 300 people had already snapped up. Many of these included pieces I had guessed were by some of the famous artists in the show, but also many pieces I happened to like:

(a little bit textbook but very pretty)

Gone, all gone... And this one too which I didn't love but recognized as Tracey Emin:

When it came down to my turn, I was left with a few numbers on my list. Here's what I scored:

by Thomas Winstanley a (I hope!) promsing art student at the RCA.

by Johnny Miller (what you can't see in the picture is that there is palimpsest effect, where you can see the lines to the Lone Ranger theme etched in the paper).

by Karoly-Zold Gyongyi, a Roman artst (also subtle features not seen in the picture). And finally my quasi-coup:

Of course you recognize it. It's by what's his name. (See comments.)



What would you have chosen? Take a look at the RCA Secret 2007 web site.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Flugelbindery disavowed - new career options

My friend Hannah pointed out to me the other day that flugelbindery (or at least its variant, fluglebindery) was the profession discussed by Tom Cruise in the film Cocktail. Incorrectly, it is referred to as the plastic bit that keeps the ends of the shoelace together. We all know that that that plastic bit is an aglet, and that flugelbindery is the craft of binding flugels together. And some craft it requires too, to render them both beautiful and useful.

I suppose all of you have known this all along but have been too polite to tell me (do I also have spinach in my teeth?). I don't think I can really be in a profession mentioned in any Tom Cruise film. (Unfortunately this rules out not only flugelbindery, but also secret agent, self-help guru, and Nascar race driver. Damn.)

In my own defense, although I have seen the film many years ago, I had forgotten this connection.

Nonetheless, I'm seeking a new profession. I came across some interesting options at the Biennale in Venice. Let me know if you think any of them are suitable.



(See if you can match each image to the profession: accounting, managment, production, public relations, and reception.)

(Check the comments for the answer.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tonight's program was taped before a live studio audience

Tonight's program was taped before a live studio audience.

Your host, BB, foolish enough to have considered taking 2 days off, has been temporarily lost behind a mountain of papers. The network denies this is punitive.

* * *

Good evening friends. Welcome to another episode of stolen-wifi, our airport, stream of consciousness, one-too-many musings. I've decided to tape delay this rather than broadcast live for two reasons. First, I was rather pleased with my last post (though I suspect my loyal reader...s craving more celebrity sightings are a touch disappointed). Second, you know the rule about never drinking and driving? Well it applies to blogging too (though rarely enforced).

I only took to blogging after trying every number on my mobile. But friends were asleep, family traveling, and not quite ready to face my exes (tearful phone calls several years in the future...)

But now that I'm here, I find this cozy intimacy so comfortable. I feel as though I could tell you anything. Confess to all my blog and non-blog secrets. Won't tantalize you any longer - no such confessions today. Well, I'll give you one.

When I was 18, I met this fantastic looking violinst. Actually saw. On the plane to Vienna. I was in the aisle seat and watched the violin walking by. Now a violin in and of itself is attractive. A fine piece of construction. But when combined with player... Let's just say it's always been a weakness. There was a moment when our eyes locked. Mine at least popped open. I'm sure a felt a little jolt pass through our optic link. I spent the flight thinking: how do get back there? I went down the aisle only to see my violinist sandwiched in a middle seat, asleep. Each one of the 5 times I walked by. Story over. Case closed. I fled. I didn't wait around at the luggage carousel. Because my violist turned out to be in a violin section and I couldn't find my courage...

I forgot, tried to forget about this lost opportunity during my 2 weeks in Vienna, which I managed to do until I was heading down the escalator at the Opernring. And coming up the other way was a shoulder with a violin. But not looking at me -- instead caught up in conversation with a cello. I waited, moment by moment, second being draw out into eternity, for the violinist to look at me. It didn't happen. Was it time for me to change my ways? Reverse directions, turn around, give chase. Quoting King Lear, "Never, never, never, never, never." Not yet at least.

So here we am. [Editor's note: the author insisted on this formulation.] Remembering a day when we were younger, when the tree of possibilities of life had many more branches. Regret. No. Nostalgia. Yes.


Monday, November 5, 2007

A quiet night at the movies. Denzel, Naomi, and I.

I swear that I am not a celebrity hound. I truly dislike that word. (Note to self: must invent a new word to convey the same meaning: famous, sometime attractive and often glamorous men and women who party for a living and often behave foolishly in public).

But there I was at the cinema on Friday, just trying to buy a ticket and a small glass of red. But these people wouldn't stop clicking away with their big lenses and powerful flashes. So I turned to looked and saw this:

Seemed a lot like Naomi Campbell and Denzel Washington. Indeed it was. Then they were milling around for a while talking about this and that. I thought of asking for a photo for the boys and girls back at the flugelbindery. But you know I'm the quiet, discreet type. And I have spent several years cultivating disinterested nonchalance. Why blow my cover now?

So then I went up to the film, only accidentally to walk into some sort of Q&A for American Gangster. I never did quite figure out what Naomi C was doing there. I suppose glam types hang out together? There were a lot of other tall, long-legged/muscular, well-tanned, and well-moussed types hanging about.

I just had my crisps and wine and went on my way. Ho hum. I've seen it all. (But still wishing I had asked for that pic!)


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chick flick. Persona by Ingmar Bergman. (Really.)

Don’t you think I understand?
The hopeless dream of being.
Not seeming but being.
Conscious at every moment. Vigilant.
At the same time the chasm between
what are to others and to yourself.
The feeling of vertigo and the constant
desire to at last be exposed.
To be seen through, cut down.,
perhaps even annihilated.
Every tone of voice a lie, every gesture
a falsehood, every smile a grimace.

Commit suicide? Oh, no.
That’s ugly. You don’t do that.
But you can be immobile, you can
fall silent. Then at least you don’t lie.
You can close yourself in,
shut yourself off.

from Persona by Ingmar Berman

* * *

A little heavy, no? Must be the Boston effect. Things will lighten up this afternoon on the flight back to London (think bubbles).



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Civilized city

There's no doubt that this is a civilized city. You may not think so when you're being trampled on Oxford Street or when the nearest underground station has been barricaded shut exactly at rush hour because it's too busy, and you're huddled outside in the cold like Communists queuing for toilet paper. But the locals still have a way with words, a way of saying things without quite saying them.

It was a sunny day and I was walking near Hyde Park when I saw this:

Indeed, it is gratifying to avail oneself of the convenience when the need arises. I was particularly taken with the idea of the "cleansing hot line". They're the ones you call when you conveniences are no longer so convenient. In New York, there are almost no public conveniences, and if they exist you can assume they will be pretty filthy. And then a few days latter I ran across this one:

Note that it was the winner of the "Loo of the Year" award. What a wonderful idea! An awards night for loo directors, designers, and actors. Do you think they dress up in gowns and tuxedos? Do they give tearful acceptance speeches where they thank their mothers? Do they get angry and beat up the ushers when someone cuts them off? Does Ladbrokes accept bets on who will win? Is there a red carpret, and does Joan Ri

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

iPod versus City (or Beatles to Bruckner)

I recently acquired an iPod. Well, more truthfully my second iPod. The first I bought two years ago to assist with my on-the-go flugelbindery lifestyle. It was a clunky 60 GB model which I used to transport a chunk of my music library rather than the binders full of CDs as we used to do back in the day. In any case, I had seen those small clip-size iPods and finally succumbed to the desire to own one.

The first day was a bit frustrating. The ear buds (as they are now called - earphones or headsets, so passé) kept falling out of my ears. I invested in a more expensive model which stayed in place long enough to test drive them. It was strange. Though I knew otherwise, I thought everyone was looking at me, giving me a knowing glance and passing judgment on music taste. I know the Beatles are very old fashioned, but I happen to like them. Or could it have been because I was unconsciously, step-by-step morphing into one of those wild-haired people in the iPod adverts who gyrates silently to music that only he or she hears? I think not.

The thing is I want to hear the sounds of the city, up to a point at least: conversations of those around me, the mechanical, the banal, the loud, the angry. Up to a point. But if it's a screeching lorry then why not crank up the Fab Four instead? It also turns out that my morning commute is mostly by foot (the Flugelbindery starts up early - 6.30 is not an uncommon time for me to be walking). It's quiet. There is almost no one around except the street sweepers (so charming! in New York the only garbage activity you see on the street are people adding, not subtracting it.) So I was really substituting silence for a bit of pulsating wakeup music.

It was all going as planned till I reached the end of Beatles Greatest Hits. My iPod was in continuous play mode, not shuffle. So what comes after b-e? On my play list b-r, Beatles to Bruckner, from "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" to "Bewegt, nicht zu schnell". Disconcerting to put it mildly.

I also found the music sometimes making me more anxious. While I was negotiating a stressful situation the music would tryi to soothe me, or when I was trying to rev up it would insistently go into a quiet passage. In the end, I suppose I'm just too used to paying attention to music.

So now, more than anything, I'm confused. Is there a perfect playlist out there? Something engaging, but not too much? Something lively, but not too much? Something trendy, but not too much? I'm open to suggestions.


Friday, October 12, 2007

This is not a blog about celebrity spotting. But...

This is truly not a blog about celebrity spotting. I'm really not very good at it. Proof of which is that in NY I only spotted 2 celebrities (I do truly hate that word) in 8 years: Michael Douglas and Charlton Heston. I would add Charlie Rose, but no one outside the US knows who he is. NY is crawling with them, and when I'm out with friends who have a better eye, they're picking them off like shooting fish in a barrel.

I was a little surprised by the Stella McCartney and Elton John sightings I had recently. In New York going to galleries never really led to run-ins with anyone famous, only those who want to be famous.

In any case, my friend P took me to an opening of a very fancy architecture exhibition. I went along for the good company and the plentiful champagne (yes, in that order!). As I was going in I spotted this man:

This is not a cosmic event, I know. But I it was interesting to contemplate whether he would get up to some Mr. Bean type antics. Naturally, I didn't take this picture myself. It would have spoiled the dignified, nonchalant, seen-it-all attitude I was trying to project. I can however report that he does look and dress pretty much as he does in the films and television shows, except he seems a bit better groomed and wears a jacket that has been washed in the Christian era.

I promise to find some more serious matters to blog on soon, such as how to survive in a London without ever buying yourself a drink (a similar thing can be achieved in NY, but using a very different strategy...)



Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Next Big Thing

As I mentioned in
recent posts and comments,
I was in the United States the last week or so, a little bit of flugelbindery on the
go. While there I came upon a brilliant new idea.

Something so innovative, that I'm sure it is going to change city streets around the world. I was so impressed that I have even obtained the exclusive European distribution rights.

So if you are at all interested, and you should be, then ladies
and gentlemen I introduce to you the you-saw-it-here-first

the wooden manhole cover.



Friday, October 5, 2007

Running / flying / fling

Running, flying, flinging myself back across the Atlantic.
Again in the pressure filled capsule that seems to relax me so;
Undoubtledly it's the bubbles.

I read these lines by A.O. Scott in the New York times:

Just about everyone who has been the parent of a young child has a priceless collection of masterpieces: treasured drawings and paintings taped to a closet door, stuck to the refrigerator with magnets or rolled up in a box somewhere in the basement. The value of these artifacts is personal and sentimental, but they can also have an aesthetic power that goes beyond parental pride. The untaught sense of color and composition that children seem naturally to possess sometimes yields extraordinary results, and the combination of instinct and accident that governs their creative activity can produce astonishing works of art.

Movie Minutes: 'My Kid Could Paint That' Video

I wish I could have stopped there. But he continues:

Except that these magical finger-paint daubings and crayon scribblings aren’t really works of art in any coherent sense of the term, but rather the vital byproducts of play, part of the cognitive and sensory awakening that is the grand, universal vocation of childhood.

Not sure what this refers to, or why it inspires me and depresses me. I believe all of us have that Platonic spark within us, if we are willing to release it and not be embarrassed by it. It's vital, and brilliant. But, sadly, not great art.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Somewhere in the world...

Today in London it's like this:

low 7 degrees C, high 13 degrees C, relative humidity 70 percent. Autumn? Winter? You decide. But somewhere in the world it's like this:

low 23 degrees C, high 33 degrees C, relative humidity 40%. And that's where I am.



P.S. I know - annoying when people gloat over the weather there versus the weather here. How petty. Is there nothing better to talk about? No, but I'll take it for now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Magic Mountain -- back to flight

Gentle reader(s),

It's back to flight for me, my true addiction, flying, flying, slightly pampered, far from e-mail and work obligations, with worry held at bay by the bubble of stale and pressurize air. Someday, perhaps, I'll figure out how to get this feeling with getting on a plane. But in the meanwhile, I'll keep on flying.



Running an empire had its charms

Running an empire had its charms. You could get fantastic(al) interior decorators, and get someone else to pay for them too! I couldn't bring myself to photograph too much of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (previously including the India Office) during London's architecture open house, but while averting my eyes, I did catch a few details that can seed your imaginations... Cheers, BB

Monday, September 17, 2007


I don't know (yet) if this is a hoax, a cult, or just a joke, but regardless I want to join:


Update: Yes, Mia, it's real. I went to Trafalgar Square expecting people singing and dancing and trying to convert me, but there were none. But there was a giant wall of photographs. I must confess I was a bit disappointed, not with the pictures but with the wall. Too much repetition, and but without any fugal or contrapuntal pleasures. Perhaps I was expecting too much. But I'm in touch with a Lola, who is ready to part with hers (after all, cats really don't need Lomos do they?)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The funhouse takes over the river

From today's New York Times, a telling comment by Roberta Smith, the Times' art critic:

[Musuems]... have happily become producers because these days installation artworks are often crowd pleasers, circuslike in their appeal. Viewers gasp at their scale or their sensational optical effects, as with “Sleepwalker,” the Doug Aitken video display on the Museum of Modern Art’s facades last winter.

Yet the experience can be very superficial. It’s strange to think that these big temporary installations may be the only contemporary art that some people know or enjoy. And there are dangers, including the possibility that in controlling the purse strings, a museum starts thinking of itself as a co-author who knows what the artist wants better than he or she does.

In my own simple way I have been grappling with this not only only previous visits to the Tate Modern - that has one of the funnest fun house art spaces around in its Turbine Hall - but also in previous posts (here, here and here). I feel torn between different impulses: the desire to give in to fun, to stop being such a pompous serious type who believes that art should instruct as much as anything else and the desire, well, just to have fun. Who cares if a series of giant slides is adults playing at children, or art; it's just fun.

These digressions were all inspired by an out-of-doors happening at at the Tate on Friday, Alvin Curran, Maritime Rites. As I walked toward the Tate, I heard, in fact felt, music in the background, as though there were the sound track from a science fiction film accompanying me. I've got to say, it was creepy, as though I was being watched and the music was offering a continuous commentary on my steps. As I got closer, I realized it was from a barge on Thames - later I learned members of the London Symphony Orchestra performing music by Alvin Curran - and was being blasted on speakers. Curiously, there were people sitting on the lawn, enjoying the sun, right next to the speakers. I suppose the British will tolerate anything in exchange for some sun. The scene looked and sounded a bit like this:

And I'm not sure whether this was intended to be part of the art or not, but it certainly became so: you could see the trails of airplanes flying overhead, making x's overhead, as in X marks the spot:

For me this was more interesting and disquieting that fun house art. But for the people around me sipping their white wines, it was quite a spectacle. There I go again. They were just have fun. So was I. There's nothing wrong with that. Not at all.


Monday, September 10, 2007

All told pretty satisfied

All told pretty satisfied with how this turned out. Bittmanesque simplicity on the left, and my own humble effort on the right. No, let me say it, proud. You'll just have to take my word that the tomatoes fresh from the market were succulently caramelized, the paella rice rich with stock, onions, garlic, saffron, and pimentón (and not anemic as they look in the picture; resolution -- must improve my food photography). For me this humble dish approaches the alchemic wonders wonders of baking. Correction, this dish exactly achieves the alchemy of the oven. In goes goop (for a cake) or slosh in this case and out comes a tasty delight.

If only I could solve all my problems with the same ease.



Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ART <+?=> CELEBRITY = did-i-underdress?

I began worrying the moment I stepped out of the house and was walking toward White Cube. My only previous experience of this in London was at Gagosian, where I had been to the opening of the Jeff Koons exhibition. On that occasion I had spotted Stella McCartney and a number of super/model types whose names I couldn't quite pin down. Since White Cube sits pretty high up (at the top?) of the pecking order of London galleries my worry was mounting that I had underdressed. True, why not think of these things before you leave the house? But I was in the uniform that could take me anywhere in New York: well-fitted jeans and a well-fitted black sweater, to which I added my own touch, a pair of gold and velvet shoes that I somehow or the other convinced myself completed the look. But of course I should have worried. Previously, at Gagaosian, I had noticed a proliferation of men and women dripping in designers. Men in the tie-off, immaculately tailored suit (that London pulls off so much better than NY) look. Women in everything from sexy co-worker to sequined glamor bombs looks.

This time around there were many of those, but also two other types. The eccentric trying-to-be-arty types wearing all sorts of crazy things. And then the just plain dowdy. And alas where did I fit into this triangle? In the very boring middle.

I haven't mentioned anything about the art, or about the Elton John sighting. The what? you say. Indeed, the man himself. I'm impressed by how A-list celebs come to art openings in London (albeit primo openings) and stand (if not mingle) with the masses at what are entirely open-to-the-public events. In London, people seem to be too discreet to gawk and just stare out of the corners of their eyes.

Oh yes, getting back to the art. Gary Hume. Pretty, sometimes. You'll have to look here. I couldn't grab the images, nor should I probably. Gloss paint on aluminum, in this case the media are the message exactly in terms of what you imagine of these materials. But sometimes pretty, let me not deny it.

These pics give you some sense of the scene.

Well Toto, I guess we're not in America anymore.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where am I?

This isn't a skill testing question for you, nor for that matter a prelude to dropping hints about the fabulous places I've been or am going. You know I am not that subtle. It's a question to myself. I know which city I am in (Boston), and will be (New York, then London). But am referring to those moments where the mind loses its natural references points, like a kind of temporal-spatial dizziness. I need to call a friend, and can't remember whether 6 am here is midnight or noon there, when I realize that 6 am here is also 6 am there. I am sitting in the cinema, and while the images flicker on the screen I suddenly am uncertain where I am. This kind of transport of rapture is of course what art is supposed to achieve, though I'm not sure the 5th Harry Potter film qualifies as art (don't give me a hard time on this one please - HP is children's food, and we all need that from time to time). What I mean is more like this. Even when you're indoors, don't you have a mental map of what the street outside will look like and how it connects to everything else? When you see an image of the screen (which happened to be London in HP 5), don't you say to yourself here (if it's the same town where you happen to be -- happens often in NY or London) or there (if it happens to be some other place you know well) or exotic (places you don't know at all). What happens when this mechanism breaks down? You float: the familiar looks exotic, the exotic vaguely familiar and calming.

Where am I?


What's this?

What's this? I go and get a makeover and don't get any comments? Sometimes, I really feel taken for granted.



Monday, August 27, 2007


Is this a cat's life? Eating a succession of fine meals accompanied by a veritable bowl of wine and then time in the afternoon to rest and think of meals past and meals future? Is this what it means to purr contentedly? I am of course referring to my most recent trip to Italy, and if all of the above includes worrying about adding too much fat in the wrong places then I think it is.

I don't want to alarm our Italian friends (hello friends) into thinking that I am like a starving refugee washed up on their shores (though it often seems like this). I do sleep in a warm bed, and I had seen hot and cold running water before being in Italy. What I had not seen (since my last time in Italy - admittedly it was only June, but it seems like the dim past) was a succession of fine meals ranging from a low of 13 Euros (a deliciously thin pizza and a carafe of red wine) to the bank-breaking extravagance of 40 Euros for a no-holes-barred, 4-course meal at a fancy spot. At my neighborhood spot in London I would pay 20-25 pounds for one of those meals where you carefully tiptoe across the menu like a minefield in order to convince your friends that you aren't either very stingy, poor, or suffering from an eating disorder (I'll have a side of field greens please and an ice water).

Yes, there was more than food on this trip. There was art, typically the older masterish variety.

There were mediaeval towns. There was driving and road trip music (more on the latter some other time). There was a wedding.

But as my stomach grumbles at getting back to dry toast and Danon Activia, my mind seems to wander back to a plate of truffle scented pasta and a half litre of Montefalco Rosso.

(Note the wall that is used to keep out starving foreign tourists.)

Prrrrrrr ... grrrrrr...


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here is my problem

I've got some real problems with the weather forecast. No, not only that I don't like it, but: as far as I can tell the weather forecasts in the UK seem to cover the entire country. Typically the narrowest I can get them is regions vaguely known as the South East or South West, or North by North West. Which one I am in? In New York I am used to a forecast that covers just my borough (Manhattan), and that too I am used to hearing a weather forecaster (a meteorologist, Dr. Joel Sobel no less) who looks at a radar image while he speaks (raining now in Brooklyn, should reach Manhattan around 57th Street in 12 minutes -- well not quite literally, but you get the idea).

After a session of extreme googling I finally came up with an hour-by-hour forecast just for London. The trouble is that most of the forecast is filled with symbols that look like this:

What pray tell is this? Sunny and cloudy with doses of heavy rain? (Note the ominous double water drop. Serious.) Sunny then cloudy followed by rain? Rain then dispersing clouds followed by sunny skies? I seem to recall from some math class that there are at least six distinct combinations.

What I'm always hoping for is something that looks like this:

I am told that if I stir out at exactly 10 am tomorrow then I am due at least one minute of pure sunshine.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Right now in London

It was just one of those days...

when London looks like a picture postcard of a lake in upstate New York.

Not that I've been to upstate New York or anything, but I'm sure that it looks just like this. This of course is just Hyde Park. Just in Hyde Park. Just in Hyde Park indeed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Prices in London

Coming back to London did however make me experience renewed sticker shock. I did this post a while back but never published it. I reproduce it here in its period charm.

* * *

Every newcomer to a city has his or her usual complaints. In London, I believe they are, in this order: the weather, prices, and the underground. More on the weather and the underground some other time.

This is the first in a perhaps to-be-continued series called "London Shopping Basket". My goal is not to complain about how expensive things are, though perhaps this is true. Nor is it to comment on how much better the quality is in London than New York or London of years past, though perhaps this is true. These two tasks I leave to you.

Shopping list 29 May 2007
>Brown lentils (canned, gluten free, vegetarian, no gmo, etc.,), 400 grams, £ 0.95
>Macedoine de legumes (a jar of assorted vegetables from France), 720 mL, £3.50
>Breadsticks (pinazatelli grissini torinesi tipo "0"), 300g, £2.20
>Semi-skimmed milk (unhomogenized, organic, from Somerset), 1L, £1.60

>Emmental cheese, 375 grams, £3.48
>French table wine (Gerard Betrannd, Vin de pays d'oc, Merlot, 2003), 750 mL, £ 6.95

Total (including VAT), £18.68



Back in the saddle

Back in the saddle of the cowperson lifestyle that is life at the aglet factory. Whilst I was away, no breakthroughs, still the same little transparent caps at the end of your shoelaces.

After a weekend of glorious London summer weather (resembles glorious autumn weather in New York - warm and dry), I awoke to the usual London sky frowning down on me. Had I missed that moody visage? Yes.

Welcome back the city says to me, and I say to myself.



Friday, August 3, 2007

What is opera?

(Every time I listen to Wagner I feel the rising urge to invade Poland -- Woody Allen .)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Flugelbinder World Tour

8 days, 7 different city stints, 5 unique cities, 3 countries, 3 airlines, 2 continents, 2 pairs of shoes (not enough), one bag (not nearly enough), one trusty Mac Book Pro (plenty), and 1 auto-correcting lights-out anti-jet lag constitution (not for sale).

It's a flugelbinder's life as they say.

But back home soon (oops, seem to have misplaced it).



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Desolate city (Still here)

Just had one of those blog moments where I lost my entire post...

But just to run down the key ideas:

- I'm still alive.
- I'm not where I should be, but I'll get there soon.
- The city in summer is a desolate place. There are people but everyone looks vaguely lost, marooned, displaced. Drinking a nice German Riesling helps, but does not cure this condition.

But I like the city, even in summer. It's quiet and this allows you to appreciate things around you with more care. I came across this building and loved it from first sight. Reused, abused, and abandoned in so many different ways, each of them wonderful.

Act 1
I always enjoy the pvblic face civic architecture, especially when it's nicely worn; pomposity gone, it's like bones in a graveyard.

Act 2
Caged birds trying to escape, lovely in their futility

Act 3An older citizen feels young again as new uses are found; old but not yet outdated.

Act 4
Only the best training will do for our municipal lifeguards.


I supposed to be there, but instead I'm here. Except I'm not really here. So if you see me here, then you didn't. If you thought you spotted me there, then perhaps you did, or at least that's my story. Clear?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer sports: sample sales

It's time for everyone's favorite summer sport: sample sales! Indeed, it is sporting and competitive. Not only because there is a huge queue when you arrive only 45 minutes before the opening of the Catherine Malandrino sale:

Velvet ropes and crowd control, even for a sample sale! But the real competition isn't to get in, but to look just right while waiting to get in:

(Who let the gazelles and flamingos out of the zoo?)

These pics are thanks to my friend Nuria, who in the end seems to have done very well for herself...

I am now going into a period of intensive training for the pinnacle of the season, the Barney's sale... Off to do my laps and work on my quick grab.


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