Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We Don't Need Another Hero

It occurs to me that the world could use fewer heroes and more leadership.
I'd define a hero as someone who acts bravely (and most often foolishly) when things get out of control. Better leadership would prevent that loss of control in the first place.

On the turntable:  Bodkin, "Bodkin"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Papers: Robert Hughes

"Cultures do grow old, and sometimes one of the ominous signs of this can be their frustrated desire to look young."

On the turntable:  Blur, "Best of Blur"
On the nighttable:  Robert Hughes, "Rome"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Nakasendo Waypoints #91

There is a step
Inside the step,
Along familiar paths.

On the turntable:  Babylon Circus, "Demo No. 1"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nakasendo Waypoints #90

Red rivulets
Race like snakes toward 
A Kiso swelled by storm.


On the turntable:  Babes in Toyland, "Painkillers"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Papers: Goethe

"I shall never rest until I know that all my ideas are not derived from hearsay or tradition, but from my real living contact with the things themselves."

On the turntable: Boston, "Boston"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Upon the valley wall
Stone softens to green,
As the jungle awaits.

On the turntable:  Barry White, "All-time Greatest Hits"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Papers: Napolean Bonaparte

"History is a set of lies agreed upon."

On the turntable:  Bruce Springsteen, "The River"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Scenes from an Italian Roadtrip


Flying into Rome to meet LYL.  We were meant to meet at a cafe on the Piazza del Popolo, but she and another couple were turned away because they were Chinese.  (Amazing this happening in a city surrounded by so much history, but apparently they've learned nothing from it.)  I begin a frustrated search, exhausted from a 12 hour flight, peeking into cafe and cafe under we walk right into each in a small back alley.  Love always wins...

...seagulls call out to one another in the street at dawn. Up the street, a group of men are hard at work at Trevi fountain, sweeping up the coins with long handled brooms before the tourists return to fill it again...

...I make a pair of visits to the Antico Caffè Greco, Rome's oldest bar.  It was been fueling poets and painters since 1760, including Stendhal, Goethe, Byron, Franz Liszt, Keats, Henrik Ibsen, Hans Christian Andersen, Felix Mendelssohn, Wagner, and more recently Morrissey and those noisy American girls at the next table.. I take my coffee amongst the Baroque paintings and antiques, served up by waiters in tails...   

...tiny birds the same color as the tiles on the terrace...

...invisible villas and towns in the valley below, mere lights at night, but fully visible at dawn, spread across the deep rolling valleys of Umbria;  the sound of farm noises from somewhere below...  

... I am getting a good education in European wines this summer:  French wines are lighter so as to emphasize the subtleties of heavier food and rich sauces;  Italians are bold in order to add accents to the lighter pastas;  German wines the wild card, the sweetness counterbalances all that meat.  It is all made moot when I am served Chinese boar for dinner...

Castille Delle Serre--  
After the quiet of siesta, noise begins to rise, mainly as squeaky birds. They perch nearby, battling with the pigeons for supremacy...

A platoon of lizards appear once the sun is gone, scampering down a wall now colored Tuscan. There is a distinct contrast with Umbria, in that the latter is the scenery of 19th Century painting where Tuscany is like a film location...

...the chill of the air at dawn is a reminder that autumn will come. And with it, the inevitable decay.  This castille as well shows its age, most dramatically in the industrial staples in the roof spire...

Sulla Strada--
... a week playing connect the dots with the castle towns of Tuscany, vowel-heavy names that roll like the hills themselves: Perugia, Volterra, San Gimignano, Montaione, Castelfalfi, Lucca, Pitigliano, Montalcino...

...the ancient Etruscan cities further south, empty and forgotten, and Pisa on the sea, simply mobbed.  If all the tourists were to combine their strength and push, the leaning tower could be righted in a single afternoon...   

...and the headliner of the entire trip, Andreas Bocelli playing his annual show at the Teatro del Silenzio in Lajàtico.  A once in a lifetime experience, this night at the opera, as the silhouettes of castle towers fade with the light...

...every meal simply epic, one after another after another...  

...the final days wandering the rubbled sites of Rome, and a long quiet visit to the house of Keats and Shelley, finishing my visit in the 19th century before flying back to the 21st.   

On the turntable: Caetano Veloso: "Ciculado ao Vivo"
On the nightable:  Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, "Aparajito"

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Sunday Papers: R. Taggart Murphy

"One might even go so far as to say that success in Japan was determined by one's ability not to notice contradictions."

On the turntable: Aimee Mann, "Whatever"

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Toyo Ito and the Depth of Minimalism

The architecture series over at ZenVita has expanded beyond a triptych.  The latest:


On the turntable:  BB King, "Blues on the Bayou"