Friday, July 31, 2015

CECIL THE LION - RIP


Cecil the lion
RIP

Like most people, I am outraged and heartbroken that asshole thrill killer dentist Dr. Walter Palmer lured, tortured, murdered, skinned and beheaded beautiful Cecil the lion.


Hey Palmer!


The day Cecil's death made the headlines here in London even a stranger at a little Moroccan restaurant struck up a conversation with me about it. His accent made it hard to follow word for word but our rage and grief were identical.  


Big "game" hunting is not a sport,
it's murder.


Of course it's easy to hate Palmer. Relief even. He's a member of that despicable group who pride themselves on being big "game" or trophy hunters. They are, in fact, clueless selfish rich bastards who flatter themselves by thinking that wild animals, the world's living treasure, are theirs for the killing, if they just throw around enough money.


Another gloating, shithead corpse rider


But killing is not a "game", is it? It's life we're talking about and it's murder. 

Whatever "glory of the hunt" bullshit used to be heaped on the privileged rich of yesteryear, and it was considerable, that time has past. It is now time to pull the plug on these arrogant sadists.




You can help by signing (even one of) these petitions:

United Nations: Ban International Travel for Hunting. NO imports of animal parts.

Lions Like Cecil Aren’t Trophies. USFWS: Don’t Allow Exceptions for Wealthy Hunters

DEMAND JUSTICE FOR CECIL THE LION IN ZIMBABWE

Extradite Minnesotan Walter James Palmer to face justice in Zimbabwe.

WildCRU - Oxford group who were tracking Cecil at the time of his death and currently monitoring his cubs.



Rest in peace, Cecil.


"...the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” 
-- Leonardo Da Vinci




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windy Brighton

Yesterday was Kathy's last full day here so we went to Brighton to see the palace and today she leaves for Moscow then back to the States. Brave lady, 85 and traveling alone.

Kathy and M. at the Royal Pavilion


Brighton was windy as hell but, OMG, the royal pavilion was wildly and insanely extravagant. George IV drained the kingdom building it then, basically, ate himself to death there. Sorry, again, photos not allowed but you can get an idea here. Stingy policy, if you ask me.


Minerva at the beach

In any case, Minerva loved the beach.

.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Houses of Parliament - no photos please


I was wrong. We ordinary people did not get to run around the Houses of Parliament snapping selfies willy-nilly.




They only allow photos in the great hall so, on the way out, we snapped a couple.




Anyway, what little we saw of the place was quite impressive, arcane and antiquated.



Although the House of Lords is currently being rocked by a very juicy scandal complete with cocaine, prostitutes and salacious gossip compliments of Lord Sewel, or Lord Sewer as one journalist called him. Lord Sewel is of the last of the 90 some hereditary Lords still in the House of Lords and has lived down to our lowest expectation of aristocracy, proving himself to be yet another pompous, clueless dickhead.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Another cold day in London

Me and Swami
warmer days in Segovia

Another gray cold day in London. Accuweather, which "guarantees superior accuracy" promised it wouldn't rain today. But I just checked again, you should always check again when you're using Accuweather, and now it says "rain starting in 65 minutes" and counting. Rain with a high of 67°. I'm gobbling my oatmeal and swigging down my coffee. We leave in 20 minutes. We're walking over, picking up M's mum because today we're taking her to tour the Houses of Parliament. At certain times, they allow us ordinary people to swarm the place with our cameras to do our selfies in front of all the famous statues. Swami is coming. He loves that shit. Well, actually he just humors me.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

DITL not in America

We saw the play Gypsy yesterday and Book of Mormon the day before. Great casts. Great performances and, best of all, M.'s mother adored them both, especially Gypsy. And yesterday, on the way home, there was a show on the bus. Some poor woman suddenly erupted because no one would open the window. Actually, she was yelling at M. Lee because he wouldn't open the window.

Look at you! It's "summer" and you're wearing jeans and three layers of tops. It's SUMMER. Open the window. Look at you all. I hate you all. You disgust me. You're maggots. You're despicable worms. It's summer and look at you all. Sitting there like that!

No one moved or said a word until, that is, a guy in the back of the bus, started yelling back.

Get off the bus you crazy bitch. GET OFF THE BUS. Get out of here. Shut up. Nobody wants to hear you.

Then, of course she really went off.

You don't know what I've been through. None of you know what I've been through. Look at you all, sitting there in your layers. It's summer. You don't know what I've been through. The life I've lived. What's happened to me. I hate you all. Do you hear me? I HATE you all, every rotten one of you. You don't know. I HATE you all. Shut up. Shut up.

And on it went, escalating with each exchange.

If this were happening in America, this is when the vigilante asshole big mouth in the back of the bus, who we all wished would just shut the fuck up, pulls out his gun and shoots her or, other way around, she pulls out her gun and shoots him or they both pull out their guns and shoot each other and/or M. who was sitting between them or miss him and each other but shoot us and/or we all pull out our guns etc. etc. I don't have a gun so I'd just get shot. But it's London so, what did happen is, I pulled out my camera but, just at that moment, she dashed off the bus, ran to the end of it and started wildly smashing at the asshole's window with both her fists, yelling at him all the while as he yelled back at her but, before she could punch the window in, and it did seem just in the nick of time, the driver eased the bus back out into traffic and drove away.

Ok. We gotta go pick up M.'s mom.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

London lowdown

We got to London a couple of days ago and are staying in a flat near Finsbury Park which is about six miles north of city center. London is so expensive, we were lucky to find anything even this close in. It's an uncluttered, two room apartment with a tiny closet-like kitchen owned by a nice couple who only recently moved to their new place a bit further out. M. Lee, who compulsively follows these things, told me it's got a market value of almost two million dollars (US) and that a 292 sq. ft. studio apartment on the top floor here is valued at over a half a million US. London real estate is back to pre-crash prices of a few years ago and still going up. Even he thinks it's crazy and depressing.

Morning after another night at
El Raval's drunkie corner, Barcelona
 
What I like is that, unlike where we stayed in Barcelona, it is actually quiet here at night. Last night was the first good sleep I've had in a month. The bedroom opens onto a lovely garden instead of the drunkie corner. Also, the apartment is near both the Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Very handy for getting around town.

And last evening, to our delight, we discovered that nearby Green Lanes road is a multi-ethnic foodie gem. We're not exactly foodies but we are vegetarian and always on the lookout for healthy cheap veggie take away. After Istanbul, Turkish cuisine currently tops our list. The Turks actually like vegetables so many of their traditional dishes are vegetarian. Last night we discovered gözleme, a Turkish flatbread filled with various toppings (for us spinich and feta), sealed and cooked on a griddle. On Green Lanes they are only £2 which, today, is just over $3. In a town where even the price of a cup of tea makes you think twice, that's a bargain.

Ok. Gotta go. We're meeting M.'s mom who arrives today for one week.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

About Gaudi and Sagrada Familia

"It would be a betrayal to even think of finishing the Sagrada Familia . . . without genius. Let it remain there, like a huge rotting tooth." -- Catalan painter Salvador Dali


Gaudi's Sagrada Familia - Barcelona
Sagrada Familia from Sant Pau, another World Heritage Site


We leave Barcelona in the morning but, before we go, a word about the Sagrada Familia. the church which has been under construction here for the last 133 years.


Spain - Dancers with Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in the distance
Sagrada Familia from Montjuïc


Antoni Gaudi is the mad genius behind it all. He was the Architect Director of the Sagrada Familia for 42 years. It was his magnum opus. After photographing the basilica from different points as we explored the rest of the city, we finally did go inside.


Sagrada Familia from el Guinardó mirador


I love what he did .... especially the bugs nestled in the wild, over-grown vines surrounding the entrance under his Nativity facade. Yes, for all of it, I like the bugs best, that he included them.


Swami at Gaudi's Nativity facade

A ladybug at Gaudi's entrance

Some ants at Gaudi's entrance

A fly at Gaudi's entrance

And the light inside is excellent. I have read that he intended the interior columns to resemble a forest. hey do but, for me, the magic ends there. Sadly, this is no Gaudi forest.




And yes, as a whole, the site is impressive and unique but, in my opinion, very little of it is true to Gaudi's vision. Only the Nativity facade, crypt and apse are purely his. After completing them he died.


Interior - Sagrada Familia
Darth Vader presiding over all from the back
second tier


The rest, the 80%  done since his death in 1926, is spartan, angular and as indifferent to nature as Gaudi was intimate with it.


Darth Vader? Is that you?

After visiting the Sagrada Familia and reading about his "accident", I came away with the sense that, after being consumed by this project for nearly fifty years, he willing stepped in front of that train.


New construction


Our host agreed adding, "everyone here in Barcelona thinks so".





Saturday, July 18, 2015

Photo jam at the Barcelona Cathedral


Busking is a hard job, especially during this damn heatwave.

Barcelona - "Headless man" working crowd for donations


At the time I took this photo it didn't occur to me to give the guy a donation. I feel kind of bad about that now as I was enjoying his performance. He must have been sweltering in that costume.


Barcelona - Crone in black working crowd for donations


And the "crone" must have been really hot in all that black. I do not know her circumstances but she is not as old as she would like people to believe. For that reason, I felt less sympathetic to her and don't feel bad for not giving her a donation. Also, I didn't like the way she stuck her Jesus can out at people and rattled it. It came off like, "Hey tourist. Gimme some money!". 

Smoke break for the "headless man" and "crone in black" - Barcelona


But then again,  everyone is frazzled by the heat. A much needed, friendly smoke and coke break in the shade of an old Roman wall.


Smoke break for the "headless man" and "crone in black" 2 - Barcelona


On the plaza and cathedral steps, the photo jam rocks on.




Every direction I looked, people were either posing for or taking photos.







Saturday, July 11, 2015

Barcelona museum crawl


Barcelona - detail - Medieval painting
Pause when agitated

Barcelona: 
Museums visited to date:


Museu d'Història de Barcelona (City History Museum):  Rome came alive when we explored the underground ruins of the medieval Roman city of Barcino upon, and around which, Barcelona of today is built.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan):  I think more famous for the building than the art. On our first visit we viewed the medieval art. I came away impressed again by how much religion depends on its martyrs, real and imagined. Especially imagined. We went a second day to see the modern collection. Thanks to smart curation, it was good in spite of itself. The Spanish artists are placed in the larger context of the Paris art scene of the 1920s, thus adding significance to what is otherwise mostly B grade work.

Swami at Barcelona museum
Of course I don't mean you!

Miro Museu
:
  Prepare yourself for room after room of Miro recycling the same patterns in primary colors over and over again and again. Perhaps he knew and respected his limits? I do have a new appreciation for his sculpture and mixed-media collaborations and but, otherwise, we both came away with a diminished regard for his paintings.

The temporary exhibit of the work of Alfons Borrell was absurd. Oh, colorful enough, but really. Is the world is still dazzled by "modern artists" doing monochrome paintings?  In any case, the curation is a delightful example of how absurd and pompous art-speak can be.

Picasso Museum Wow. Okay. Yes. Picasso the man was a flaming sexist asshole, among the extreme but a man his time but, after visiting this museum, I have a much greater appreciation for his genius and artistic contributions. Most of the work here was donated by Picasso himself in collaboration with Jaime Sabartés, his lifelong friend and, in later years, administrator and secretary. It includes wonderful paintings from Picasso's teen years up through the Las Meninas series including the pigeon paintings, all done at blazing speed at the end of his life and never, otherwise, exhibited.

Until now I did not know that Picasso also considered himself a great writer and poet. Naturally, some agree and some do not. In his 2012 publication A Psychoanalytic Approach to Visual Artists, James W. Hamilton writes, 
"some of Picasso's prose reveals concerns with oral deprivation and immense cannibalistic rage towards the breast.." 
For the hell of it, I include some of Picasso's imagery below, all from "The burial of the Count of Orgaz and other poems", courtesy of Wikipedia:
"the smell of bread crusts marinating in urine"
"stripped of his pants eating his bag of fries of turd"
"the cardinal of cock and the archbishop of gash"

MACBA
(Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art):  Skateboard park on the outside, pretty cool art museum on the inside, plus it's only a street away from where we're staying in El Raval. This particular sculpture, depicting Spanish King Juan Carlos having sex with the late Bolivian activist Domitila Barrios de Chúngara and a dog, was one among many excellent on display.

Not Dressed for Conquering
by Austrian artist Ines Doujak
MACBA

This spring, the night before the exhibit was scheduled to open, the museum director announced he was cancelling the entire show because the artist would not remove this piece from it. A bitter protest followed resulting in the director's resignation and the dismissal of two museum curators. MACBA, definitely worth a visit.