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.


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