Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
...nine muses,all in all,and four aloneare just for poetry.The gods were telling usit would be hard.Or were they telling usit would be hopeless?
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Monday, December 05, 2011
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
"Toward the end of the book, Otto and Sophie, the central couple, go to stay in their holiday home. Sophie opens the door to the house, and is immediately reminded of a friend, an artist who used to visit them there; she thinks about him for a page or so. The reason she's thinking about him is that she's staring at something he loved, a vinegar bottle shaped like a bunch of grapes. The reason she's staring a the bottle is because it's in pieces. And the reason it's in pieces is because someone has broken in and trashed the place, a fact we only discover when Sophie has snapped out of her reverie. At this point, I realized with some regret that not only could I never write a literary novel, but I couldn't even be a character in a literary novel. I can only imagine myself, or any character I created, saying"Shit! Some bastard has trashed the house!" No rumination about artist friends--just a lot of cursing..." -Nick Hornby, in his collection of reviews & essays, THE POLYSYLLABIC SPREE.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
"When you are on the phone or on the air, you have no body." - Marshall McLuhan
Saturday, July 16, 2011
"To tell you the truth, though, I still haven't made up my mind whether I shall publish [Utopia] at all. Tastes differ so widely, and some people are so humourless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one's efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them."wrote Sir Thomas More in 1515 (translated by Paul Turner & quoted by Fay Weldon in her novel, Letters to Alice.)
Thursday, July 07, 2011
"Were the graffiti to be left, I think somehow that would have delighted Mordecai because...it would be critical and that was his nature." - Florence Richler
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Strangers in Paris is a museum of experience and objects that is anything but iconic; the collection establishes a new hunt for language worthy of a changing city. It is possible to find Paris in these pages, but it is just as possible to find everything else.
Monday, June 20, 2011
this corner is part of a larger project--the whole layout of the art piece is here, but i'm going to keep Boyer's words in reserve, to stumble across serendipitously when the weather's just right.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
I expected a shop dedicated to tourist books & innumerable editions of Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil (which kicked off the historical district's relentless walking tours). But Esther Shaver's bookshop is much much more, a real resource for readers and writers. See what i mean by checking out their current recommended reading list--the kind of bookshop where you can throw a dart & know you'll hit something interesting. (no, don't actually DO this or you'll stab the bookseller.)
After Shaver's, i walked around wondering what Midnight author John Berendt is working on these days. His follow-up to Midnight was a book about Venice, which didn't suit him so well as the lazy hot streets of Savannah. I tried to be positive when i reviewed his City of Falling Angels for The Globe & Mail in 2005: 'Berendt's charm as a raconteur suits the narrow Venetian streets, but some of his stories lead straight into a dead-end calle.'
Later, i read an even more cutting review by Jan Morris, travel writer & Venice expert extraordinaire. Reviews are hard...should you always be honest? Well, yes... But i still love Midnight in the Garden. And wandering around Savannah as a tourist, it's hard to imagine the city without Berendt's book.
ps. here's a full list of bookshops in Savannah, including Shaver's address
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
what's inspiring about this? we're actually making progress--a rare & wonderful reason to celebrate this day.
Friday, April 08, 2011
weirdly, we realized that we've both been escorted from a train in Belarus at gun-point. Janet managed to get a temporary visa, whereas i got sent back to Warsaw--perhaps the regime had simply gotten harsher over time. my original goal was Moscow, where i was hoping to arrive at this lovely train station.
i did eventually get to Moscow, and ate a memorable breakfast across from the train station. but i wonder if either of us will ever really visit Belarus? the new national library is vast and sparkling. very Orwellian--a huge symbol of freedom of expression in a country known for censorship.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
normally, massive zeppelins do not crisscross the sky above the Paris train stations--though they have been seen, historically (the Prussians used one to bomb the city in 1916 & killed 17 people).
last week, there were sightings all across Paris as the airship cruised around measuring the radiation in our skies. this wasn't because of the tragedy in Japan, but simply a routine annual operation, to keep tabs on normal air quality and radioactivity in the French capital--or at least that's the government line, and they're sticking to it. the zeppelin hovered at around 100 metres up--roughly the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, so really not very high. other cities have apartments with balconies higher than this zeppelin.
the zeppelin over Paris was very plain & utilitarian-looking. [take a look, here] but since spotting it, i've been thinking of Thomas Pynchon's novel, Against the Day. i really admire Pynchon--I especially loved Mason & Dixon, and i wanted to love this hodgepodge airship crew, but by the end i just felt annoyed, as if five different novels had jumped into my head at once, with all the characters running around waving their arms in the air yelling 'look at me! look at me!'
and yet it starts so promisingly... (excerpts from the first pages of the 1120-page novel):
“Hurrah! Up we go!”
It was amid such lively exclamation that the hydrogen skyship Inconvenience, its gondola draped with patriotic bunting, carrying a five-lad crew belonging to that celebrated aeronautics club known as the Chums of Chance, ascended briskly into the morning, and soon caught the southerly wind. […]
At one end of the gondola, largely oblivious to the coming and going on deck, with his tail thumping expressively now and then against the planking, and his nose among the pages of a volume by Mr. Henry James, lay a dog of no particular breed, to all appearances absorbed by the text before him.”
[intrigued by Against the Day? visit its wiki. And don't say I didn't warn you.]
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
“...he also had a device which looked rather like a largish electronic calculator. This had about a hundred tiny flat press buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million ‘pages’ could be summoned at a moment’s notice. It looked insanely complicated, and this was one of the reasons why the snug plastic cover it fitted into had the words DON’T PANIC printed on it in large friendly letters.
Arthur turned it over nervously in his hands. ‘I like the cover,’ he said. ‘Don’t Panic. It’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody’s said to me all day.’”
– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
"Some day someone ought to explain to me the theory behind dust jacket designs. I assume they are meant to catch the eye without offering any complicated problems to the mind, but they do present problems of symbolism that are too deep for me. Why is there blood on the little idol? Why is the idol there at all? What is the significance of the hair? Why is the iris of the eye green? Don't answer. You probably don't know either."
- Raymond Chandler, writing to his editor Paul Brooks in 1954
for the record, i like the cover, though it has pretty well nothing to do with Chandler's storyline. i can't decide if a cover is obliged to relate closely to the contents.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
"But, truthfully, these glorious pauses do, sometimes, occur in the discordant but complementary narratives of our lives and if you choose to stop the story there, at such a pause, and refuse to take it any further, then you can call it a happy ending."
Thursday, January 06, 2011
in 1913, his newly-opened theatre was the site of one of the more interesting riots in Parisian history...because this is where Stravinsky's Rites of Spring was first performed.
Stravinsky's music was booed, and Nijinsky's choreography infuriated the crowd--one elderly Duchess apparently thought the whole thing was some kind of hoax. (here's a great description) But the producer, Diaghilev, was serene... Stravinsky later wrote:
"After the 'performance' we were excited, angry, disgusted, and . . . happy. I went with Diaghilev and Nijinsky to a restaurant... Diaghilev's only comment was 'Exactly what I wanted.' He certainly looked contented. No one could have been quicker to understand the publicity value, and he immediately understood the good thing that had happened in that respect. Quite probably he had already thought about the possibility of such a scandal when I first played him the score, months before, in the east corner ground room of the Grand Hotel in Venice.”for a great recreation of this moment, there's the film 'Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky' --check out the first 27 seconds of this promo video, below (and then go see the movie! it's gorgeous.)
last night, it was a thrill to look down from my seat in the gods, to see the old fauteuils--because this theatre has small armchairs on its main floor, not fixed theatre seats. And whenever my interest in Lepage's performance waned, i thought about Josephine Baker, who made her premiere here with the Revue Negre in 1925. Baker took Paris by storm, from this very stage. showered with jewelry & marriage proposals after every performance. she wryly said, "Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs. As for the rest...beautiful, no. Amusing, yes."
interesting quote--because watching the few remaining early clips of her Revue dances, what's really surprising is her great comedic timing. she's a real live wire on stage--making crazy faces, laughing at herself, goofing around--and yes, dancing & singing. no wonder Paris was amazed.
so, yes, Eonnagata was disappointing (Lepage was interesting on stage, as were the two dancers, but the overall concept just didn't work. everyone seemed under-utilized, the movements were predictable, and even the late Alexander McQueen's costumes were dull), BUT i still had a great evening thinking about performance & art. maybe part of the point of performance is to risk failure--or at least, to risk being ridiculous, at least some of the time.