December 30, 2010

Clouds and worries

I was driving pretty worried and thinking about an email I got recently. I dropped my brother at the airport, who is flying this very moment to Cancún, tuned a violin concert, but I couldn't get rid of my thoughts... When I saw for the very first time in my life a lenticular cloud. Not only one, but three at a time!

They were behind our Cerro de la Silla. And although they didn't wipe my worries, it was a magical moment, since I had been "chasing" these clouds for a long time. Unfortunately I had no camera with me. So I sped up, came back home, took my camera and drove to a nice spot.

After a minute, a Jeep came towards me, three ugly bodyguards with suits and sunglasses came to me and asked me to leave, since allegedly that was private property. "No, it is not, I am on the street, and this is public". We had an argument, and I just cannot understand this people, either extremely rich and stupid guys or drug dealers (who are also as stupid as rich). So I moved my car two meters back, changed the lens, and my clouds were gone...

There is this instinct of taking pictures to hold a moment. But sometimes is better not to take that picture with the camera, but with your mind. Today's clouds and violin concert were a nice gift.

Foto: Big lenticular cloud close to Mount Rainier, Washington, by Kevin Ebi

December 27, 2010

Un homme et une femme

These are two clips from Claude Lelouch's "Un homme et un femme" (1966). The first one is a monologue of a man driving his car, the second one is a dialogue between this man and a woman plus a selection of her memories (also, a hommage to samba). The first one represents a man with his plans to surprise a woman he is in love with; the second one is the dream of such a man: a woman who is absolutely in love with his guy.




December 26, 2010

Gone with the wind

Armando Salas Portugal is the best photographer of Monterrey. Like Juan Rulfo, he succeed in capturing the most melancholic stamps of the Mexico which doesn't exist anymore. Today's Mexico is wild, urban, violent, the old one belonged to the campesinos, the honor and the "ahí se va"...

I have the ability of looking for what is gone with the wind. I cannot find that Mexico, which I love, but I still hold on to it. That is the state of melancholy. Like Armando Salas Portugal's pictures: that forest was chopped down, that field is now producing tequila for export, the beach sports now hotels for gringos, the next field is a marihuana plantation, the last tree fall down to make room for a new road. Like Atget's Paris!

The same seems to happen with Love. You grasp it, and it's gone again. You touch it, and you contaminate it. You want to understand it, and you rationalize what is not to be understood but received. You receive it as a gift, buy you get afraid of it. You have it in front of you, but you are busy with your past. When you realize, it is gone with the wind.

December 23, 2010

German Christmas

The last years I have been observing myself getting less and less involved in the Christmas spirit. I feel increasingly distant and skeptical. All those masses buying frenetically go on my nerves, and the absurd of so many "traditions" seems odd to me. The better I understand Germany, the more I feel that Christmas is a German export, where "Gemütlichkeit" the keystone is. Besides "posadas", which are truly Mexican by origin, the rest is a hotchpotch of Italian (the Nativity Scene) and German (Tannenbaum, Adventskranz, carols, etc) delicacies with a lot of American consumerism.

Good for the Germans, who developed their own festivity. And the rest of the world? Shopping, Kitsch, pre-ordered feelings of peaceful joy and happiness... A new book tells the cultural history of German Christmas, read a review on The Times.

December 18, 2010

Foot, feet

Adolph Menzel, Fuss des Künstlers (1876)
Ricard Avedon, Rudolf Nureyev, dance, "en pointe" (1967)

Fussverrenkungen (2010)

Eberle & Eisfeld, Füsse des Künstlers Unthan (?)

December 17, 2010

Wartime books (1944-1945)

Nothing as disgusting as war. I had never thought about it, but obviously it also has an impact in books: "Books are weapons in the war of ideas".

December 16, 2010

Valentín García Yebra

Valentín García Yebra passed away last Monday.

He was a philologist and translator, who became 25 years ago member of the Real Academia Española de la Lengua. As far as I know, he started translating from German (Gertrud von Le Fort), later he translated also from Latin, Greek, Portuguese, Italian and French. His edition of Aristotle's Metaphysics is still the best one in Spanish.

Funny thing is that, being an ultra catholic who even worked for Franco's censorship, he translated one of those books praised by ultra Catholics: Charles Moeller's Littérature du XXe siècle et christianisme. As it happens, the book gained big interest in the conservative sphere because Moeller was the only one reading and commenting forbidden authors. García Yebra's translation of the book was read both by Catholics as well as by non-Catholics because that was the only access to forbidden literature in Franco's Spain.

El Blog de la Redacción de Letras Libres publica hoy una notita necrológica.

December 15, 2010

TV face

"Just before dawn Richard had got out of bed and moved towards the bathroom with unusually intense disquiet. Sure enough, his face was the shape of a television" (Martin Amis, The Information).

Those two lines reminded me of these pictures by Friedlander and Weegee, whose name reminds me always of Twiggy and a nice picture I saw in this book, but I couldn't find online. At least I found another pic of Twiggy by famous photographer Bert Stern.

Weegee, Spacepatrol

Lee Friedlander, Florida

Bert Stern, Twiggy 

December 14, 2010

The richest calamity in the world

When I left last Sunday the Blockbuster, a very old indigenous woman asked me if I wanted to buy a chewing gum. "No, thanks". I felt bad and asked my little brother to go back to her and give her some money. It was very cold, it was late, she was alone. And through the warm window of my car I could see her not reacting to my brother. He then told me that she was sleeping... while standing.

I just get angry when I see these poor people looking for a living while Mexico "shows off" with Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world. And unfortunately, a big calamity for Mexico, since he has shown poor interest for poverty in the country. He doesn't care of Mexico, he cares of his wallet.  He is now getting control over Ciudad Juárez (water supply, highways, bridges, estate), instead of helping solving security problems, for instance. And since he also partially controls the New York Times, they say nothing about it.

Yesterday, I had to wait more than half an hour, so I found shelter in a bakery, El Globo. I was reading, but it was impossible not the overhear a conversation between the manager and her supervisor next to me. She was complaining that the air conditioning is way too cold, specially in winter, and that all of them are forced to wear jackets at work. Not only that, but also that all of them are getting sick, and they still have to work, and customers complain because a sick baker means a sick bread-eater. The supervisor just repeated over and over again: "Well, dress up warmer". But after ten minutes, he accepted that workers from other El Globo bakeries are also rather unhappy with their jobs, etc.

Eating bread, drinking water, driving on the highway, using the phone... whatever you do in nowadays Mexico, you are making Slim richer. He laughs and shows us his middle finger! How can we stop him?

December 10, 2010

"As cool as Behlín": Young, wild and free

Zürich-based duo "Boy" street-performing As cool as Behlín, good pop by cute Valeska Steiner.

December 8, 2010

Nouvelle scène

I love French music (and this neck), I follow daily Filles Sourires and every now and then other music blogs specialized in French music. Today, DIE ZEIT publishes an interesting text on nouvelle scène. I cannot agree with this guy in everything he writes and he is also missing some crucial names, but still I want to draw attention on his piece, which starts with a very stimulating idea:

"Die Sprache ist das impressionistischste aller Instrumente. Es reicht ein Wort, seine Andeutung, bisweilen gar dessen Erwartung. Ein paar Brocken Arabisch, und die Flughafensicherung meldet Alarmstufe drei. Zwei Silben aus Holland, und wir fühlen uns benebelt. Etwas Kiswahili, und unser Helfersyndrom erwacht. Nirgends aber schaltet die Assoziation schneller auf Automatik als beim Lieblingsnachbarn: Ein Hauch Französisch, und alles wird Musik".


Foto: Vanessa Paradis

December 7, 2010

Vargas Llosa in Stockholm

Vargas Llosa gave a speech today prior to the Nobel Prize ceremony, and he also talked about his wife. I wish I could be sooo in love with my girl after so many decades:

"El Perú es Patricia, la prima de naricita respingada y carácter indomable con la que tuve la fortuna de casarme hace 45 años y que todavía soporta las manías, neurosis y rabietas que me ayudan a escribir. Sin ella mi vida se hubiera disuelto hace tiempo en un torbellino caótico y no hubieran nacido Álvaro, Gonzalo, Morgana ni los seis nietos que nos prolongan y alegran la existencia. Ella hace todo y todo lo hace bien. Resuelve los problemas, administra la economía, pone orden en el caos, mantiene a raya a los periodistas y a los intrusos, defiende mi tiempo, decide las citas y los viajes, hace y deshace las maletas, y es tan generosa que, hasta cuando cree que me riñe, me hace el mejor de los elogios: Mario, para lo único que tú sirves es para escribir".

December 6, 2010

Those tragic last years

The woman was getting sicker and sicker. Because he loved her, he took her to Florence, a more friendly place for her health, and took care of her, until she eventually died. Then he came back to his old place and got a new house. He became bitter, even irascible.

Secretaries are supposed to keep secrets. His secretary's secret was her love for him. She managed to get rid of the sick daughter who was now occupying most of his attention: she put pressure on him, till he decided to put the daughter in a sanatorium. But he was not in love with her, and the relationship did not developed from the desk to the bed. Soon he realized her motives, fired her, and the sick daughter came back home.

But she was hurt and angry on her father. The relationship was hard. Soon after, she had one of those terrible epilepsy attacks while taking a bath on Christmas Eve. She drowned.

He was devastated: the death of his wife was still present, and this was the second of three daughters who had passed away. Four months later, he also died.

There is a single clip of the family, shot by Thomas Alva Edison himself, who visited them short before the tragic accident of the daughter. She is sitting in front of him drinking tea.


December 5, 2010

Russian charm

Today I attended a tennis match between Sharapova and Zvonareva. Maria is really tall and powerful, Vera is very fast. Sharapova won, and that encouraged even more the wolf-whistling.

I got lucky and got a first-row ticket, and was able to see Sharapova quite close. Despite being so tall and having a huge back, she looks cute and feminine, has delicate features and eyes. She is charming.

No idea what is going on with these pretty girls, but as Adriana Lima, she is also getting married to a Serb.

(Here, an old sosias: Caravaggio/Sharapova)

December 3, 2010

Mark Twain dixit

The more I read Mark Twain, the more I admire him, in many different senses!

In 1876, a couple visited him and his wife, and they had dinner together. The woman invited wrote on her diary, quoting him:

"Every man feels that his experience is unlike that of anybody else and therefore he should write it down -- he finds also that everybody else has thought and felt on some points precisely as he has done before, and therefore he should write it down".

Exactly! Nothing else to add!


A cool video clip by Twin Shadow with a lot of graffiti, including Banksy in Israel.

And this is a new graffiti I found in the Quartier Latin last weekend, sort of the tree-version of the Great Wave.

December 2, 2010

Technology & Entertainment

Nothing like tech to entertain yourself after crossing Germany by train. We had -9ºC yesterday and today in Berlin, my 4am train was canceled, the next train delayed, the next one didn't leave me at the airport, no S-Bahn coming, took a taxi. They had mercy of me and I managed to take my plane.

Now I am in Houston and just logged in on Veetle and I am waiting for the Final Game Rayados vs. Santos. Mark Twain and Martin Amis can wait.

At Montparnasse

I spent last weekend in Paris and at some point I found myself alone in the train station of Montparnasse. It was freaking cold, Monday, most of the museums were closed, my family was already gone and my friends were at the office working. Suddenly, an illumination! Serge Gainsbourg is buried in Montparnasse. So I went to visit him. His tomb is full of souvenirs, plants, metro tickets, cigarettes, teddy bears. I wonder what would Charlotte feel when she goes there to visit her father, if she ever goes.

I was touched by some kisses on the grave of (Paul Sartre and) Simone de Beauvoir. I was unable to find Camile Saint-Saëns and Marguerite Duras. I was not expecting Porfirio Díaz. Samuel Beckett is rather alone. While I was looking for Man Ray, an old man and two young girls asked me if I was Italian because of my accent while speaking French. They were those kind of people -- like me -- who do grave tourism with their camera at hand.

And I found Cortázar as well, together with his love Carol Dunlop. That is a name I fall in love with when I heard it the first time, as I fall in love recently with two other names: Eliette (von Karajan's wife) and Constanza. Some names are just pure femininity.

The last tomb of my tour was Jean Seberg's, another girl impossible not to fall in love with. Poor girl. And tomorrow is Jean Luc Godard's 80th anniversary. I will definitely watch again A bout de souffle!