What happened to the girl from Ipanema? Today she is mostly black, overweight and from some Favela up in the hills. She will probably listen to Hip Hop and think of Joao Gilberto as a retired soccer player. The girl from Ipanema is dead, dead like Jobim, dead like Vinicius, Elis, Luiz, Chico and all the other beautiful voices that once were surfing the bossa nova right to the shores of the most famous strip of sand, which now covers their bodies and souls.
Italianitá is the opposite of the American dream, it is the principle of looking back, indulging in the beauty of the past. Where in America „the best is yet to come“ in Italy one tends to be constantly reminded of the best already being accomplished. It is a rather conservative attitude but one that reminds us of the simple fact that not everything is getting better all the time. Has there ever been built something like the Pantheon or the city of Siena again? How come we still think we would have another Michelangelo, Shakespeare or Beethoven soon? I doubt it and I suppose most Italians doubt it too. Since people in Tuscany started to look for the future in the past some 750 years ago, calling it „rebirth“, Italians seem to have that unerring feel for tradition revisited. It can be detected in almost everything they do, be it a restoration of a wall or the interpretation of something as diverse as a pasta dish or a folk song. Thus in the world of art and architecture the essence of Italianitá could best be described as the aesthetic principle of decomposition.
Better do nothing than do the wrong thing !
One can argue that Guidoriccio is the true figurehead of Siena, the essential Senese character. Why? First of all, he is not Senese. He was born in Fogliano, hence he is historically referred to as „Guidoriccio da Fogliano“. Like all „fantinis“, the famous jockeys riding in the Palio, he was a mercenary paid to do the dirty work for the power driven nobility of the city. As with the Palio the pride of the Senese character seems to rather originate in the art of strategic control and the knowledge to play the intricate game of power than risking one´s own life.
While the controversy among art historians about the real attribution of the fresco is still going strong - Guidoriccio might not be the guy portrayed and Simone Martini not even the painter – it is very clear that everybody who´d ever seen the enormous wall painting will always recognize it, be it on a wine bottle, a coffee mug, an apron or a piece of chocolate.
I was seeing a friend the other day who told me about this place in Koreatown, that would still be some kind of an insider place where only the „real people“ go. I was a little sceptical, first of all because I am not the greatest fan of Korean cuisine, especially the spicy sauces that won´t let you taste what the actual ingredient is and secondly I didn´t quite understand what he meant by „real people“. Who am I going to a Korean resto, unreal? As we walked in it not only smelled worse than I had expected it was also completely empty and somehow felt like a setting right out of a David Lynch movie. Before we even sat the waitress came and wanted to take the order. As is common with most Asian waitresses they don´t give a damn about what you want, it´s only about numbers! So we ordered 67, 99 and a side dish called 117. It felt strange and I would have really enjoyed some other company except my friend, just to make sure some other people die too. Before she ran away I asked the waitress if she could turn off the TV since nobody else was there and I wasn´t in the mood for TV dinner. She said „No.“ Just like that. „No.“
As we were still wondering about the Lynchiness of it all we concluded that the TV set on the wall was not for the customer to watch but for them to watch the customer. Enjoy.
Even for the non believer climbing up the Sun Pyramid inside the famous Teotichuacan complex is an uplifting experience. The Mexicans as the Aztecs before them are a very religious people, if they assumed God to be somewhere above in heaven, I guess they will definitely feel closer to him once they have climbed the top. I read some stuff in advance but still didn´t quite understand why they had called it the „sun pyramid“. It was early in the morning and I asked the only guard around. As he was also trying to remember the actual origin of the name, the sun came up behind the pyramid that moment and hit the guard´s head like a divine beam of light sent by the Almighty himself.
What a great Xmas gift, „la mejor de Santana“, a must for every record collector, a three lp box - only released in Mexico - of the greatest songs of the greatest Mexican musician ever to have left his mark on the world heritage of music. If I had to pick only one piece of music for a Mexican island, I´d pick this one!
For years I refused to go to the Getty Villa in Malibu. The idea of an oil mogul building a Roman villa for himself on the Californian coast just seemed a bit too tacky and absurd. Having seen it now I must admit that even though it is tacky and somewhat absurd there is something beautiful about the place and the relentless will of a man on a mission. The mission? Keeping the origins of Western civilization present in our heads and minds by collecting whatever he could get his hands on from the Greek, Etruscan and Roman periods. The most stunning exemplar is „Isidora“. It is one of the most beautiful mummy portraits still existing. Isidora is looking at us not only from a distant world but the early days of painting as such. Even art historians tend to forget that next to poetry, architecture and sculpture the art of painting was also „reborn“ in the Renaissance even though most of the original paintings were lost forever. Only in Pompeii under piles of ashes can they be seen and on those mummy portraits which were never meant to be seen again by anyone but transit to the realm of the living dead.
Yesterday spending some time off from the commercial crowd at the National Gallery. For the first time I noticed a beautiful painting of the Table Mountain that, even from a close distance appeared to be a really original if quite unknown piece out of the extensive German Expressionist catalog. But did Max Beckmann or one of the „Brücke guys“ ever set foot on the South African coast, let alone painted the table mountain under a pseudonym. If you google Maggie Laubser, you´ll be surprised to learn that she was a South African painter of rural background who happened to travel Europe in a time when the art of painting reinvented itself, constantly changing names and labels on the way to final abstraction. Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Dadaism, whatever label you put on it was trying to close in on abstact art without yet being abstract. Fortunately enough Maggie didn´t think too much about categorization or labels but just went on painting in the style of her young idols who weren´t at all unreachable for her as the painting of the table mountain strikingly demonstrates. When Maggie finally went back to South Africa in 1924 the people back home judged the state of her art considerably different.
"Is there any normal, sane human being in all South Africa who is able to appreciate as a work of art, to enjoy as a picture the one sent by Maggie Laubser?"
- Bernard Lewis (art critic)
The Pyramids, the Colosseum, the Empire State, the Eiffel Tower? Not quite! I am absolutely sure the most iconic snapshot of them all is the „holding shot“ of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. „Dad, I wanna make one too, they all do it!“ my daughter begged. No excuses. After a couple of rather lame tries from the „official“ Piazza del Duomo side we shot some more from the opposite side where the „keeping the tower from falling“ illusion comes off even better. It actually looks like it was put together later but it really is an old fashioned "in camera" I Phone shot.
Every year in June, after the movie people had their event under golden palm trees, the advertising crowd is heading for Cannes to have their own beach event dancing around the golden lion. As a friend of mine once said, it feels like spring break for managers.
This year the bubble suddenly burst when the news of Mr. Soprano´s death broke on friday morning. Sitting on the Carlton terrace in the warm morning breeze the advertising crowd must have realized what really seperates them from the palm people. They won´t be remembered.
They must have been tripping. I don´t know what kind of weed those cats at the art department smoked but it must have been massive. How in the world can someone come up with a cover art like this for some of the best Romantic music ever written? Is there a symbolism we don´t understand, some secret code or is it just one of the most radical jokes ever to see the light of advertising? Imagine the art direction guy getting into the office of Mr. Chairman of Westminster Record presenting the layout of the cover?
Her´s the new cover design, how do you like it?
What is it?
I can see that, but why the eggs?
You said, „covers should have a meaning“.
What´s the meaning of fried eggs?
They are tasteful. Like the music.
You think people who wanna buy music by Brahms will like it?
I don´t know.
You think Brahms liked fried eggs?
I don´t know.
But why did you do it then?
Didn´t you say it is a cover for a budget line?
Well, it´s like a breakfast special, two eggs any style, a lot of Brahms for 1,99$!
from "SCREAMS FROM THE BALCONY" by Charles Bukowski
Black day, they have kicked my horse-ass good. Girlfriend said I was as drunk the other night as she´d ever seen me. I used vile lang and yanked the mattress off her bed and then leaned back in chair and gave 2 hours lecture (while drinking)on the arts and what they meant or didn´t mean and who was what and why.Kid I´m definitely cracking. These last 3 or 4 months have ended me. I think I´m written out. I´ve said it all. What the hell else? I don´t care. I´ve still got the horses and the whores and Schlitz. Let these 19 year old editors gobble the gugga of rooster. I´m going to try to buy a shack somewhere and give everything up. Just be dirty old man waiting to die. I´m sick of all the 8 hour faces and laughter and babble, Dodger talk and pussy talk and zero talk. A roof no rent. That´s my aim. Pick up enough washing dishes 3 times a week or pimping. Lord I´m sick of it all. And poetry too. No wonder Van Gogh blasted his head off. Cros and sunlight. Idle zero. Zero eating your guts like an animal inside, letting you shit and fuck and blink your eyes, but nothing, a nothing. Christ, I´m watching a guy water his lawn now. His mind is empty as a department store flowerbowl. Water. Water. Water. Make the grass go green. GREAT. GREAT.
Sometimes you wake up in Los Angeles and look into a cloudless white sky. Mostly the white is actually light blue but there is no sun. On those days of white light everything looks kind of unreal, no shadows, no black, almost no color, as if the light shone down from the milky way. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else and it is by far the most flattering light for all the angels of the city.
The story goes like that. Paul and Linda are married for 10 years. They have a wonderful house, two kids and a dog. What they don´t have is a sex life.
Linda´s dad is turning 70, they are invited to the birthday party. Paul doesn´t want to go because he hates the old man. They go. At the party Paul meets Hope, the beautiful 33 year old cousin of Linda who had lived in Europe for more than 10 years until her marriage with a Fench investment banker broke up. Paul and Hope fall in love.
Since Paul is absolutely paranoid about his marriage and losing the family he tells Hope that they can´t have an affair but meet for sex somewhere. To his surprise Hope doesn´t have a problem with that and suggests a little hotel on Western Ave, which is close to his office. Sex for lunch. Twice a week. When they meet there for the first time Paul surrenders. He can´t do it. He´s afraid somebody could see them together or the clerk maybe telling Linda, he chickens out.
They get back to his black Lexus, which he parked around the block in an anonymous parking lot. They get in the car and immediately start undressing, kissing eachother wildly. Paul is all in as Hope abruptly stops kissing and smilingly points to the nearby street. They see a man and a woman getting out of stretched Chevy Suburban with black windows, parked next to the sidewalk. They embrace and kiss eachother again, before they part in different directions. Paul and Hope look at eachother smilingly.
In Germany a phenomenon exists which is called „Doppelhaushälfte“. It literally translates into „half of a double house“. Funny that, because if you think of it the half of a double house should still be a house and not just one half of it. I don´t even know if „Doppelhaushälfte“ does exist in other countries because it really doesn´t make much sense, does it? As to prove my point people in a „Doppelhaushälfte“ do everything to make sure that their half of the house is a separate „house“ and easily recognizable as such.
Domenica Sportiva has always been my favorite sports program on Italian television. It is everything a (Italian) man can dream of, it is two hours of mostly football presented by a tall blond woman who talks like a Dominatrix and looks like a billionaire club Callgirl. Her name is Paola Ferrari, which actually adds to the impression.
One day a big thunderstorm hit the little Tuscan village and the television screen went crazy. In the old days I remembered the disturbances to look like a snow layer, everybody referred to a bad transmission as „snowy“. That of course has changed like everything else watching moving images. Today instead of snow we see some kind of a disconnected puzzle that is reminding us of what TV actually is.
go to GALLERY
Pari is a tiny little borgo (village) close to Siena in Southern Tuscany where I like to spend some time during the year. It has 204 registered inhabitants, including me, a church, a piazza, a palazzo, a grocery and two restaurants. As is common tradition in Tuscany each little town has its own „Sagra“ which basically is a huge party with food, drinks and music. Every last weekend of September Pari is hosting „la Sagra delle Salsiccia“ which must feel to the locals like Easter, Christmas and New Year´s Eve packed into one big event. More than 2000 people are coming to the village to eat, drink and dance til the morning hours.
Why in the world would somebody name an ugly, one story bungalow that looks like it was built in a day Akropolis?
Think about it, three guys, maybe Greek, maybe not, maybe women too, maybe not, are sitting around a table at another Greek restaurant, drinking ouzo while discussing the business plan and name of a soon to be opened Greek restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere east. The next „city“ to get the proper picture is Gumtow. Google it!
Why don´t we just call it Taverna?
Because this is not a name, „Taverna“! We can´t call a restaurant „restaurant“
We could call it „Taverna Number One“ then.
That sounds cheap, numbers always sound cheap, like 7/11, you go to 7/11?
I love 7/11, how about we call it „Taverna 7/12“, it is simple and it would tell the people that we are open everyday for 12 hours, let´s say from 12 to 12, lunch and dinner, no breakfast!
Nobody has a Greek breakfast.
„Taverna 7/12“ is perfect.
It is bullshit. Numbers always sound cheap.
You said that before.
It should be more romantic, like what people think if they think of Greece, something like „Taverna...“
Not Taverna again.
We don´t want „Taverna“.
„Dionysos´ Temple“, temple sounds like...
Up in a room of the SAS Royal Hotel overlooking Copenhagen you feel the Scandinavian lust for nudity. As with the sauna concept too, nudity must be related to some subconscious, anarchic defiance dealing with the cold. Nowhere else could the sexual revolution be more successful than here.
Dressed again we went for lunch at the world famous „Noma“ and had another kind of revolutionary experience, which in a certain way seems to have evolved out of a similar genius as the sexual revolution. Let's get naked! Taking off your clothes in the world of cooking simply means, to present an ingredient in its natural and pure beauty instead of wrapping it up. My favourite of all the favourite dishes at Noma was the leek, which only slightly „trimmed“ and fried at the tip was just a perfect example of „nude cuisine“.
In a land where the horse used to be of greater value than the tent you lived in it shouldn´t surprise us much to see those huge SUVs in front of houses that are barely the same size. Not only that, I suppose there is no couch in the whole house as comfortable as the leather bench seat, no stereo matching the fat sound of the built in woofers and the installments for the house are probably higher than the monthly gas bills, even for a monster like that. That´s why.
Champions League Final at 11.30 a.m. Messi is sitting next to Rooney, everyone but a bunch of latinos is excited about the „greatest soccer event of the year“ desperately trying to understand the fascination of the game. Kickoff. Only a couple of minutes into the game the excitement is gone leaving most people look as if they were invited to a Memorial Day barbecue. It will never be an all American sport, too close to life and much too far from being entertaining unless you can really follow and understand the game. Nevertheless it was fun, Rooney and his brother Messi by the way were both from El Salvador.
When Roberto Murle Marx woke up one morning he had dreamed about turning the whole of Copacabana into a garden. Whenever the garden needed water the waves from the ocean would gently water the lawns, retreat into the ocean leaving them to dry in the sun until they had transformed into waves of stone.