vendredi 31 décembre 2010

Welcome 2011!

I was just thinking, I should write one more post for The Bridge before the end of 2010 and before the beginning of 2011. And yes, it has been decided without much thinking that something like it deserves to be done at this moment and time that I'm writing this - 9:55 PM local time - as a courtesy to all of us.

And this is it.

It's very good to finish a year and start a new one with a bang. Right?

First of all I want to thank Sophie for being such a terrific partner in the execution of this experiment and I want to thank all of our followers as well and all of our readers that are not our followers for supporting and standing behind us all the way since the beginning of this bridge.

So far it has been a great honor and pleasure for me to contribute with this project. I must say that there were a lot of things that I wouldn't have done if it was not because they'd ended up in a post in The Bridge. Let me add that it was always a joy, it was a lot of enthusiasm that I felt doing those things; I never thought about the plan, our plannings as if it was a hard thing to do or a burden, a task that had to be carried out. But quite the contrary. Because The Bridge has been more than a blog for us, it has been a way to experience life like it is and beyond; it has been a way for us to go out and discover things and later transforming, translating those things into words..and into The Bridge.

Right now I don't know what the future of The Bridge holds but I look forward to bring again some more highlights of the way I see life, my 'uninteresting' life, the things that interest me here in NY in 2011.

One thing won't change though and that is my search for all things harmonious, all things beautiful, that old idea of beauty and symmetry that should be present in all of us for making our existence meaningful, valuable and livable altogether.
Interesting that recently I hosted a famous Latin American novelist and while we traveled the city she was discovering and complaining about all the bad things of NY. Dozens of things and for me none of those things she was pointing at really bothered me at all even if I had to concede that she was right most of the time.

Maybe I am an insensitive person! No, no, I prefer to think that I'm more interested in discovering the good side of life, the good side of New York than the bad, the ugly side of anything. The same with the world. Because there's enough sadness, enough pain, a lot of unhappiness, why should I focus myself in bringing out more of the same?
That's what differentiates Fernando from the rest. He's trying to bring an alternate way to see things, to counterbalance what is obvious in this world: the big mess. So I prefer not to see certain things, not to speak in a certain way, and to avoid people or stuff that is distasteful to my senses.

I'm more willing to focus myself in other matters, other issues, other ideas. For example: the idea of beauty seduces me. And let me explain a little bit. You don't have to be beautiful to appreciate things that look, sound or smell beautiful. In fact since we don't make ourselves, so there's no merit or discredit for possessing or not some of the features we find in things that are (or we think they are) beautiful. What is remarkable, however, is our interest to cultivate, to have the ability to appreciate everything that looks good to the eyes and ears, that looks good to the heart or the mind. What is important then is to have the beauty inside, to have the capacity to if not producing something that is beautiful, at least internalize the mechanisms that allow us to appreciate what is magnificent, fascinating, admirable.

That should be one of my New Year's top resolutions for 2011: to continue looking for beautifulness in all the big and little things life bring to us and trying to avoid at all costs the ugly or misery part of life that is always lurking behind our backs. Not very different from the previous one. Not very different from any other year. Because our priorities in life don't really change that much for the passing of one year to the next.., to the next but for other reasons..

         Far away and from the distance the Empire State building wearing blue and white colors the night of December 5th.

mercredi 1 décembre 2010

¡Feliz Cumpleaños 'Bu'!

New York City, Saturday, 27th of November 2010.

It's the following morning after a night of unrestricted liberties at home. Letting myself go freely has its consequences that I have to pay today as a result of experiencing too much of Jameson induced good feelings.

As you can imagine the brain doesn't respond easily to the commands coming from the mind. Neither its counterpart, the body, can work its way out of its sluggishness. Both the body and the mind are trying hard to find the spark that would set them in motion just for facing the light challenges of an worry free day like it is the beginning of the weekend.

But suddenly the woes start eventually to fade. A couple of  SMS had the power to shake things up. All the lassitude of the world leaves way to some clear path of action that was not so clear just moments ago.

Exactly between 11:06 and 11:16 AM:

"In one hour? Nice hot drink. What do you think?"

"One and a half! If you mean chocolate or tea or coffee"     ...

 .... "One and a half then," .....

That was it. That was the most important part of the exchange that provided the leverage I desperately needed to jump start my day and after a very hot shower I was more than ready to move around and go out and encounter the world. That meant not staying at home and instead walking from my house for ten minutes in the direction to the Yankee Stadium, home of the most successful Pro-team in the world but not to see the Yankees or anything related to sports but to the Hard Rock Cafe branch inside the Stadium. They must have something hot in there.

As soon as I leave the house I'm welcomed by very strong winds that make the cold feel really cold. It's not a joke, a slap in my face is how it feels like but I don't complain. It's true that those winds get through my 4 layers of clothing (which resulted insufficient for the occasion) and pierce my body but they make me feel alive too.

Around 1:00 PM, I'm already at the counter of the Hard Rock Cafe. Only coffee I can ask to the young lady that is serving me on the other side of it; no chocolate, no tea as I'd have preferred. You know, coffee is the first thing useful I make in my mornings and today was not the day I was going to miss it. This is one of these days I need it the most.
Anyway, just regular American coffee is what she has, not a fancy one like that showing in the menu, but it is hot and meets all the requirements I had agreed to share with Sophie! So, I go for it, not once but twice with a refill that the lady pleasantly offered herself to bring.

A couple of sips of my second coffee and I want to trade it for a beer. I'm just listening to Paul McCartney on the many screens of the bar..., Bob Marley follows Paul.

People come and go on my right side of the counter. Others occupy tables to my left. Entire families or just couples rejoice themselves taking turns and pictures around a huge guitar behind the reception desk on the right side of the door.

The tourists: I like them, I like to see the excitement reflected on their faces. They're in the Hard Rock Cafe. Not any Hard Rock but the one at the Yankee Stadium, the home of the mighty Yankees of New York. I envy this people because I don't have what they have: I left my emotions behind....I'm now a local guy who can't feel what they feel and has to relive the experiences through their eyes. They have to live and show their feelings so I can live and experience them as well.

Oh gosh! What a complication of life!

What is not a complication for me is to find a reason to trade the coffee for a beer or for something else, something stronger or much more 'poisonous' as you may be tempted to think. Here I have to confess that I can spend days and weeks without drinking anything besides water but once I start it's easy for me to continue for days or weeks as well.

Last week the Irish coffee opened the gates, Thursday was Thanksgiving day in the United States, a special holiday where people show their appreciation emptying the merchandise in the Liquor Stores and I was not the exception. I just followed the trend.

Yesterday was Friday and today the 27 of November it's Pichiplayas or Bu's Birthday. How could you not celebrate? Even if you were not in the mood you put yourself there. And now I'm just not ordering a beer but a Mojito because that goes much better with the lively spirit of this beautiful Spaniard that today celebrates her 19th birthday.

However I think one Mojito is not enough so I'm asking for a second one because the occasion is perfect to recognize how important it is to count on her in our lives, the enchanting and always cheerful friend who day and night makes our life less stressful with all her charm.

If you don't believe me just take a look at her here!

Isn't she like the sunshine? Or like the sunrise and easy as a Sun-day morning? I won't get upset if you want to compare her with a full moon in the middle of the sky at midnight.

For me, however, the most important thing I admire in her it's that at her tiny age she's like one of us, a real person, curious and thirsty of knowledge, looking for wisdom, meaning or answers to life questions with always a smile in her face, always... Add just her love for music and you just have the complete package.

"Another Mojito, please"  She really deserves that in her name I drink this third one!

Yeah! For her, in her name, we wish her a very Happy Birthday (Dear B......)!

Cheers Sophie! ...And thanks!

mercredi 24 novembre 2010

Whipped (c/d)ream.

Saturday, November 2oth 9:15 p.m. local time.

*Stabs the round middle button with left thumb.*


(Hurry down Bailey's, so that i can speak freely...)

I'm amazed: everything around me is neat. I might as well be there for real. But where is 'there' exactly?
I'm in a forest, a very dark one. The soil under my feet is damp, i slide on the dead leaves and dive slowly into the mud with each step. The silence around is thick, almost tangible. I find myself in front of four large steps of stone, leading to another path: it looks easier to walk up there, so i climb the high steps and enter a part of the forest where the trees seem to tower higher, though more distant from one another. The soil is still very slippery, i try hard not to but i eventually fall. I'm so exhausted that i decide to stay on the ground, my hands are coverd in mud, leaves are sticking to my knees and elbows. I give up. I'm crying uncontrollably and would like to think about nice and brighter things, but i seem to be unable to do so. All my senses are awake, i'm very tense and while i'm trying to cheer up, two very soft arms seem to fold around my shoulders. I don't know whether i ought to be afraid of them, whether i should resist or let myself go to their grip. I wait.
It might be hours later, or only a few seconds, i feel trust the way i've never felt it before: not the one that is usually linked to self-confidence, but the unquestionable trust one can feel when aware that nothing worse could possibly happen. I trust these arms. Suddenly, two hands slip under my own shaking arms and i know i have to let them take the full control of my weak body. They lift me up back to my unsteady feet and something like a rush of air pushes me in the back. I'm running now, ignoring my tired feet, my sore knees, i can barely see where i'm going: my eyes are so filled with tears that all i can see are more and more patches of distorted light. I'm running like a lunatic or so i believe, when i come to realize that i am no longer treading on the ground: i seem to have been lifted above it and my feet don't even touch it most of the time, though i'm still running.
I don't like being carried, so i make myself as heavy as possible: the threat of the trees above is too frightening and i know that if i rise to high above the ground i will hit them and fall back. Somehow, my thoughts seem to have escaped from my head, because i see the trees disappear one by one. I have no more excuse to stay on the firm ground: i now am in a large field, misty and foggy, but luminous as the surface of the Moon. If i wanted to fly now, i could but the hands have disappeared and i'm running alone. The only way is to disconnect my brain from any practical thoughts, then maybe i will be able to fly for good.
I don't care where i put my feet, i don't even notice the ground. I don't mind the icy cold. All my thoughts are located somewhere between that cloud, right in front of me and the deep bottom of my heart. Maybe if i follow the thread linking them?
I feel free here, safely hidden in the fog, scattered amongst the tiny drops of mist. Not a soul can see me, i won't look ridiculous if i attempt to fly and fall. An everything around me looks unrealistic, and in the same time more than reality itself... I look once more up at the cloud: faces i like, love and adore are hidden there, faces i know i shall loose forever if i don't reach them in time.
The edge of the cliff: now is the time. I grab the imaginary thread and keep running, increase speed and jump.

I'm high enough now to ignore whether the air shaking my hair is there because of the speed of my flight, or bcause i'm simply falling fast.
I don't care: i surrender again, happily this time, i could die there in the middle of the clouds, alone amongst those faces i adore. Alone. But am i?

*A shaking right index pushes the middle button once more*


Oh dear. It's the last time i do that with three Irish Cream Coffees running in my blood! I already knew it agreed too much with me, the mix of music and alcohol and had the power to take me very very far away from where my body was, but i had no idea it could make me so febrile when i was safely at home and surrounded by familiar things, furniture and lights.

Should i blame the Irish for this, or maybe the very deep impact of things that happened earlier in the evening and that split my soul open like a fresh knife cut? I choose to blame the Irish because i know what is it that guided my hand.

Erwann and i shared the first drinks. A drop of bitter caramel, Bailey's, coffee, whipped cream on top, the whole covered in elvish dust (most commonly called 'spice' or simply cinnamon, but it sounds more exotic and less Herbertian like this) and a straw. It makes a very sweet drink, but extremely treacherous as well... You'd have guessed, reading that bunch of dreamy-comatic nonsense!

Fernando and i had the choice between staying home and going out. I don't know any irish pub in Paris that makes Irish-Cream coffees, and i'm not that fond of plain 'irish' ones (i love Bailey's but am not very fond of whiskey, unless it's very good whiskey, which is not that easy to find in random bars especially when you're as rich as i am!). Had i gone out, i would probably have chosen to drink a couple of large pints of Guinness, one of my favourite beers. I would also have been able to take a few pictures of a nice place in Paris and allowed you to visit it with me, but as i had visited nice places the day before and intended to introduce them anyway, i thought i might as well stay at home, wearing a warm and cosy jumper and having fun with my drinks.

What is the point of The Bridge if you are to visit my flat only!?

That's why, on Friday, i took you with me in two places i thought you would find nice.

In the afternoon, i went to the Cluny Abbey, a beautiful medieval construction with its garden, located right in the middle of Paris. A bit of an Alien amongst the cars and buildings, only sheltered from the XXIst century by a metal enclosure. I'm not going to linger on it, because i will come back to it in a longer post, entirely dedicated to medieval arts and illuminations, but i thought funny to mention it when Fernando had almost visited the Middle-Ages himself a few days ago.

The second place i went to will be more developped though. Not the place itself, but what i did there. Actually, what i dit was quite easy: i just had to sit, open my eyes and ears and let them be filled up to the brim by what was around.

I attended Bach's Magnificat and Cantatas in a Church of the First Arrondissement. The Collegium Vocale ensemble (choir, soloists and orchestra), and its belgian director, Philippe Herreweghe, were celebrating their fortieth anniversary.

Saint-Roch's Church, a pearl of baroque architecture, was the perfect location for such a delightful program. I was maybe seated a bit too far from the ensemble to fully enjoy all the nuances of the music: it's common knowledge that Bach's precision is most impressive, but in the same time, the slightly clouded texture of the sound fitted perfectly my dreamy mood. It's a shame that i was there alone: it's always a bit frustrating to have to keep your joy to yourself after a concert. I used to value that more than anything else, but back then i had not yet met anyone able to enjoy this music almost as much as me...

Anyway! Bach's Magnificat, very nicely directed by a joyous conductor, a couple of very talented singers (not all of them though, at least, they were not loud enough for me to hear and appreciate them properly), a beautiful church, Russian Illuminations from Cluny still drawing golden patterns in my head: i can't wait until the next time i'll be here with you (for today, Harry Potter will be followed by a visit of the Palais de la Découverte, and i'm almost certain that you will be happy to visit it with me)!

Flattr this

mardi 23 novembre 2010

A Saturday filled with Irish Coffee, Two Italian songs and Jameson w/ Red Bull

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 in The Bronx, N.Y.

It's 4:24 PM in New York City and I just ordered an Irish Coffee in The Rambling House, my favorite Irish bar not only in The Bronx where Rambling House is but in the whole New York city (not that I know all the Irish bars in NY but they're almost the same and they all open very early). Everything is set up the way it should be. We are in an Irish kind of mood for drinks but we're going to listen two non Irish songs.

Earlier, Sophie had the courtesy to provide the songs to us (Monteverdi): Cosi Sik d'un chiara fonte and Hor che'l ciel e La Terra, both sung by Le Poème Harmonique. Strange thing though how they sound here in the middle of all this people talking and the loud music from the speakers. I must look strange to those around me while I do my thing connecting the earpieces to my smart Android phone and putting them into my ears. But maybe they're not paying any attention at all and it's just me thinking they must be looking at me. Anyway, I'm not paying attention to anyone. How could I know for sure if they're interested in me and the things I'm doing?

It helps to feel comfortable being in a place where you are recognized. The male bartender just did that with me. I used to sell Red Bull to them not too long ago. That's why I know the bar very well . That's how it became one of my favorites to go anytime I feel the desire to alter my senses with some drinks.

I'm sitting at the counter which is like an ellipse circling the bar in the center of everything. It is full of people. There are almost not empty places. Most of them are drinking Budweiser, an american beer brand, a few are having Heineken and one or two are drinking Guinness. I was expecting more loyalty and sort of attachment for the Irish brands.

About my coffee I'd say it's delicious, prepared the Irish way topped with cream, you can feel the distinctive flavors melting in your mouth: the whiskey on one side and the bitterness of the hot coffee on the other. I don't know why I think of this like some kind of a poison. Also, that this should be the perfect way to swallow it if you ever have the necessity to do it. Once you take your first sip you're entering into another territory.

A little pause to listen to the music.
One interesting thing about it and is amazing..., even if I hadn't heard these songs before or that the Poème Harmonique was the ensemble in charge of the performance, I would invariably recognize the voice of Claire Lefiliâtre..., but I have to admit, I can not concentrate here. I can't listen to the music well even if I'm trying hard not to pay attention to all the noise around me. I should listen to the noise then... But no, it's interesting the contrast; it's like one cancelling the other and the result I get somehow produces some calming effect in myself.

We shouldn't forget that we're in the Rambling House. People come here exactly to do that: to ramble.
One interesting thing about the places you go in New York city, specially in the boroughs (counties) is that they cater to the local population in their neighborhoods. It exists some kind of separation as well between the people that inhabit them. Some neighborhoods are almost exclusively Jamaican, others Dominican, or Italian, Africans, portorican, and so and so. In the area I'm in now, there are only Irish people and you can tell that in the Rambling House all patrons have that background. I'm the exception, the only Latino (Hispanic) sitting here.

I don't know how they see me but I'm accustomed and I enjoy to cross barriers, boundaries and cultures. I can say that I like the little adjustments you have to make to ease the uncomfortability of going to places different than the ones you're suppose to go because that's where you belong. It's like entering into a different world when you go from one place to the other to see what happens...There are though some fears you have to overcome when you cross some invisible boundaries that are there even if you don't want to see them.

Now I'm indecisive. I don't know if I ask for another Irish coffee or I switch to Jameson with Red Bull. The music is over again after repeating the songs two times. Ok, I'll go for the Jameson! As long as it is Irish there's not problem. In the end it's almost the same. Jameson it's a very recognizable Irish whiskey and the main ingredients in Red Bull are derived from coffee... Pretty woman on Rambling House speakers... and back to my ear plugs where I'm going to let the music continue to play: Claire Lefilliâtre and six Spanish songs from Manuel de Falla....

And I don't want to write anymore! Looks like I am very thirsty... I Just want to do what I do best which in this case is enjoying the drink, observing people and guessing what they are feeling or thinking based on what their expressions and their body language show....And I think I'll need more than this...., but not too much maybe another one (don't forget: drinking and driving in NY don't mix, neither in the USA, nor anywhere).

samedi 20 novembre 2010

A walk to the Middle ages?

Not exactly but as close as one can be when you don't have a time machine.

It's twelve O'clock local time on this Saturday 13th of November 2010 and I still don't know where I'm going to be in order to have something interesting to say when in an hour or so I meet Sophie as we had agreed 2 or 3 days earlier.

You already know the funny thing about our meetings. She's in Paris (most of the time) and I'm in New York. It's not a virtual encounter. We don't use computers. Only in one occasion I texted her from my phone in the middle of a night outing. And for me it works the same or better as if I were in a regular one with another pal of my daily or weekly routines. Hadn't we scheduled this meeting this Saturday at 5:00 PM GMT, I wouldn't be thinking on doing anything remarkable.

It's getting late and I have to rush my shower before going out because I don't want to be home when the one o'clock hour arrives. And the hot shower gives me the answer where I should go: The Cloisters. And this is odd because I used to work in this neighborhood marketing State sponsored health insurance programs (the same way you market the salvation of the souls) when I moved to NY but until today, until now, I haven't decided to find out what was in there. The signs are everywhere, how to get to The Cloisters. The A train takes you there, the same do the M4 buses. The museum, because that's what The Cloisters is, it's enclosed in the middle of a beautiful park (Fort Tryon) surrounded by an extension of Broadway by the East, the Henry Hudson parkway and the Hudson River by the west and from the hill you can clearly see not very far a nice view of the George Washington Bridge connecting New York with New Jersey.

But as it always happens, you tend to visit those places that are closer to your heart or your mind, and these are not necessarily the ones closer to you physically. Curiosity is always a good drive that inspires you to do things but having to work always drains your limited resources of energy. At the end of the day after you are done with your job, one way to regain that energy lost, is putting some comfortable distance from all the things associated with work. And so went The Cloisters a few minutes.

The truth is also that the state of my affections are closer now to visiting and admiring these kind of places than they were before and had I gone there 10 years ago I wouldn't have appreciate it as much I think I can now.

It's 12:49 PM the time and it's Vivaldi playing on the radio. If music like this doesn't put you in a good mood, I don't know which would really ever do.

The time has just arrived and so did I to the Fort Tryon Park. This is a beautiful and gorgeous day in NYC. Excellent day to feast the eyes with all the good things that autumn brings: just incredible blue skies, nature blossoms with one of her best cards presenting incredible patterns of colors; you get almost paralyzed for witnessing such an amazing and awesome spectacle of full beauty in all its splendorous display.

The entry to the park couldn't be more auspicious. Intimately you know that every step you've done so far has been worthy when you get to read what is in the next picture:

I could go on and on expressing the delight for the discovery of such a lovely place Fort Tryon is but words are insufficient, images are more appropriate for describing the pleasure for being there. Let's see!

Here I have to admit that I was not interested at all for getting to my final destination: The cloisters. Hesitant but happy for the results I've gotten so far, I walked in the direction of the building where the promise was I was going to encounter some treasures from the middle ages. Before let's take a look at what a Cloister is according to Wikipedia.

This is the picture of the exterior. Again, a beautiful blue sky makes an excellent contrast against the darkness provided by the shadows of the building (this take is from the east side).

And here I just realized it is not a good idea, it's a bad combination trying to put together the content of what is inside this building with the amazingness of the fall as it just unravels outside, in Fort Tryon Park.

mardi 16 novembre 2010

Liar, Liar

Saturday, November 13th, Paris, 11 a.m. local time

True fact: I set my alarm for 5:3o p.m., to make sure i will be ready at 6 to start writing my post for The Bridge.

And now, i am going to tell you two stories, one is true, the other is true as well but happened (or will happen) at some other point of the Time-Space continuum (Doctor Who addiction is bad), and it will be up to you to find out which happened on Saturday, November the 13th, 2o1o, in this dimension.
Fernando, of course, has more pieces of information than you, reader, and he will know straight away, but don't worry my dear friend, you can still play with the answer at the bottom of the post!

1st story. 5:3o p.m., i hear the song Dead Duck by Emiliana Torrini emerging louder and louder from my bedroom. I am in the kitchen, washing the dishes and cleaning up a bit, waiting for my hair-dryer to cool down before the second round: my hair is still a bit wet around the neck and i would not want to go out like that and risk a cold (my reserves of rum are running low and i would not be able to make a decent grog with what is left of it). It's an old hair-dryer which tends to stop now and then without any apparent reason, and the only remedy is to wait for it to wake up again from its electric slumber. I rush towards my phone tu turn the alarm off and free the poor Duck from its slow agony, dry my messy hair, put my black hooded cloak on and leave the flat, not quite sure yet of my destination.

It's almost dark already, but as the clouds are high and the streets crowded with people, it gives the false impression that it's still quite early in the afternoon. Where do i want to go? I'm a bit cold, a bit hungry, a bit wet around the ankles already (it's been raining all day and my trousers' legs are too long). I know the perfect place: it's risky, because i don't reckon there will be any room left, especially for a tall lonely nutter in a cloak, but as i very much want one, i shall try to find a table at the Café de la Paix, facing the Opera, for a thick and steaming hot chocolate. If i'm lucky, they'll still have a cosy seat in a corner and will be happy to hide me there instead of having me standing in the queue right in the middle of the Café with that threatening elvish attitude (6.10 feet, 6.25 with my heeled and laced boots, all dressed in black, an odd extra-long plait hanging from under a bunch of hair which certainly means i belong to a cult of baby-eaters: i'd scare myself!). Le Café de la Paix is an excellent choice, not because it is, but because the idea of sipping this chocolate has entered my brain and it would be extremely hard to remove it now, it!

Twenty minutes later, 6 p.m. local time, i am the lucky owner of the very exact corner table i had pictured in my head. The waiter, a tall and dark man in his forties, takes my order with a smile. It's Paris, when you sit ina Café here, you are used to being addressed without the faintest smile by waiters. They usually give you a 'qu'est-ce qu'il vous fallait?' in a slightlty annoyed tone, while busying themselves like over-excited ants, swiftly cleaning the table, rearranging the menu and (you can tell from the way they look at you -or precisely don't) half-hoping you would change your mind and leave straight away. Either he has seen my cloak and tries to sound casual while repressing a giggle, either he was given orders about being extremely friendly to anyone about to spend a minimum of twelve euros in a hot chocolate, i don't know: but he is smiling and even seems pleased to be here. Could it be that he IS friendly after all? I mean: for real? When in doubt, i always chose to avoid paranoia and believe the best. It makes me feel cheerful.
The fantastic smell of freshly baked bread is tickling my nostrils: by a pillar next to me, a large square basket is displaying a very appetizing selection of small breads. I look away from it and start spying on my neighbours.
Couples barely talking to one another are sipping white wine from the tip of their lips, two men in dark grey suits compare the data on their laptops, which seems to be digging a deep wrinkle on their foreheads, and on the other corner of the room, a lady dressed in black and red is pretending to read Proust with a cup of tea and a chocolate éclair (i know she was pretending, because she didn't turn one single page during the whole hour i spent there). I can't help wondering if i'm being that much of a cliché myself, sitting alone in here. I see my reflection from the window and decide that no: i look much more like an alien. It's not because of my funny haircut, my boots and my cheap clothes, but because i seem to be the only person actually here.
The two businessmen are still in their office, the couples are as far from the Café as they are from one another, each of them plunged in its very own thoughts in which their significant other is very not significant at all. As for the lady, she does most definitely belong to a novel herself, and is not here because she likes tea and chocolate éclairs, but because she enjoys the idea of her self, in the Café de la Paix, having a tea and a chocolate éclair whilst reading Proust. For a moment, i started to laugh aloud at a silly idea that crossed my mind: i wanted to put my cloak on again, pretend it were a super-hero cape and fly across the room to rescue the poor chocolate eclair lying here, so unnoticed, so unloved, and remind it of its true purpose in life: being enjoyed by a greedy and hungry mouth!
Being an Alien is easy, it starts with loving this hot chocolate: and that's why i'm here with my Moleskine and that's also why i brought my eyes, and my nose: because i wanted to see things around me, to smell the small breads and the expensive fragrances in the gentlemen's and ladies' surrounding bubble of air, and because i wanted to be here. But Parisians are like that, a lot, especially when you pick them up in a posh place like that: they prefer 'pretending' than 'being'. It's a shame. But the true victim, here, is the poor chocolate éclair...

2nd story. 7:55 p.m. Elodie is standing in the kitchen making her second roll of Maki with great concentration and care, the way i taught her. I'm looking at her from the sofa, very pleased to see that she is such a brilliant pupil and Maki-lady (i couldn't say Sushi-man, could i?!). While eating a chunk of fresh mango, she tells me 'hey, you didn't hear about Fernando for your café yet?'
Bl***y f***ing hell!
I had set the damn alarm! How come it has not been ringing!? And then i remember: shortly after 6, but at the time completely unaware of the hour, i had set my alarm for it to ring after the first step of preparation of the sticky rice, and it had not rung then because (i noticed later) i had set the alarm well but not turned it on! I went on with my rice, setting the alarm every ten minutes to follow the very strict recipe, sitting from time to time with Elodie to watch bits of Equilibrium ans i had completely forgotten about The Bridge!
It is a fact: i have a very poor memory, and it's often playing tricks on me. I don't remember what i did the day before, i even forget about the day, i mix Fridays and Saturdays, believe i can go out for some shopping and suddenly realize it's Sunday and every shop is closed. Of course, having a night job doesn't help: going to bed when the Sun is still asleep and waking up with the
Moon tends to complicate things a bit... I keep track of the time and of my appointments by setting alarms and scheduling e-mails and very often forget most of my plans.
It' a poor excuse, especially since i had been waiting for this new appointment with Fernando so badly, but the blame is to be put on the fact that it was a very unusual week-end for me, as i had retired from Friday to Sunday afternoon to a quiet and cosy bubble after a long and busy month.
But back to the '6 p.m.', as the point of it all is, in the end, to say what i was doing then, if i remember well, between 6 and 7, we went out to the shop for stuff to put in the Maki, we came back, chose a film, and i started to prepare the rice. And that was it. Not very exciting from the outside, but not unlike the best parts of life: you have to live it to know how unique and pleasant it really is!
But if you are looking for a very exciting and promising story of some interest for you, maybe you'll be pleased to know that i recently purchased a card allowing me to visit Le Palais de la Découverte as much as i want to (and trust me: i very much want to!). Next thing planned: the Planetarium! And i'll take you with me...

Epilogue: This is how my stories end! I don't know whether it is so important to know which truly happenend, but if you want to play, you will find the solution here!

Good Luck, and see you next week!

Flattr this

samedi 13 novembre 2010

Let's be ourselves again

(This post is a reaction to the previous one)

Come on! We all know that the stuff that is easy to do can create some sort of habit too. A good one? No exactly, but of the bad kind, more likely. It's like the food, if it tastes good you're going to like it and you're going to want more and more and that's how you get heavy and overweight. Yes, like the food in McDonald's. Nobody can deny that even if it is "cheap", it tastes good. Sometimes very good but look around, don't go much further, the people outside, at the lines, on the tables, they all have some extra pounds.

And it all happens because we want to make things easy, actually, too easy and because we sometimes are lazy. No, that's not true, not all of us are that lazy. Not all of us want Facebook to do all the hard work of making things that easy in terms of how friendships are created or made.

Instant gratification is good up to a certain extent but we want more. We want to be free people again and not being enslaved to technology or any kind of social platform. We want the platform to serve us not us living to serve the will of those minds deciding how, what and when we should connect to other people.

What if I don't want to communicate with some of them? In the no virtual life people don't pay attention to some details. They/we just assume we/they are just busy doing other things. Looking to the other side it's just polite. These powerful softwares, they do just the opposite. They expose us, we can become rude without warnings. Those subtle strategies that we used to rely on the regular world are not longer valid in the virtual one.

But like these people behind those powerful tools, we have brains too. The same way we got engaged, we can disengage as well, but not completely. Like it was said before we need them to serve us. For example, we want our friends to know when there's a new post. They can ignore us like most of them do but at least they know what they are ignoring..

Hopefully in the following days there's going to be stuff in the pipeline that we'll be posting there, whatever the use we decide we're going to give to those posts..., for our delight, at least. I, myself, enjoy doing it. It gives me an extra pleasure and some extra-meaning that is absent if I'm not doing it for the sake of sharing it.

Ah! Let's not forget that we understand why it's much easier to ignore blogs and posts like these in general..., and I don't blame anybody for doing it!

Oh well! Let's just be ourselves!

mercredi 10 novembre 2010

Ô Sing to me of the Time, Muse!

Wednesday, November the Tenth, 4 a.m. local time... important decision is taken.

'I shall no longer dwell in, on and upon Facebook.'

Which means:

more time to write
+more time to read
+more time to draw
+more time to learn
=more time to live



Quod Erat Demonstandum

vendredi 5 novembre 2010

Back from Pitchipoï


(*takes a deep breath*)

My dear friends, potential readers and last but not least, my dear Fernando,

I hope you are comfortably seated and strongly advise you to find a little fluffy carpet on which your wrist could lay while your finger will interminably be rolling the wheel of your mouse downwards. Before even plumping the cushion on your chair (yes you will probably need a cushion to avoid stiffness in the back), may i suggest you to turn the kettle on and while the water boils, grab some chocolate of your favourite shade of brown, put a bag of tea (black for the brave ones) into a large and thick mug and put some un-disturbing music on (like the tunes you can hear in elevators or waiting rooms). Finally, make sure you've put your glasses / lenses on or screwed your eyeballs into their sockets.

You're going to need those eyes, survival supplies and limbs of yours if you want to be able to make it through the upcoming post which, you'd have guessed by now, will be extremely long.

My apologies in advance for that, but i've got a great deal of catching-up to do.

I may not have written much for the past few weeks but my Blackberry was with me all the time and its camera almost never went off. The story I’m going to tell you is absolutely uninteresting for its biggest part, but I’ve made sure to incrust a few hyperlinks to the evoked topics. If you don’t feel like reading the lot, just click on the links and just look at the pictures, I won’t complain!

But enough with the introduction, and let's go.

Everything started on Tuesday, October 19th.

I had decided to go to the cinema to see Gilles Paquet-Brenner's film Elle S'Appelait Sarah, based on the novel written by Tatiana de Rosnay, about The Vel d'Hiv Roundup in 1942.

It was due at twelve in a theater nearby so i watched The Secret of Kells to prevent myself from falling asleep. My head was still full of Celtic knots and cute kittens when i headed towards the cinema. I emerged from the dark room two hours later swallowing my tears as well as i could and had made up my mind that i had to buy a couple of books about this horrible episode of the Parisian History, which i did straight away before eventually heading back to my flat for some sleep.

The following night, due to the fresh memories of the day and to a letter i desperately wanted to answer, i could not focus on the text i had to write about the legend of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. I hurriedly scribbled a few lines in a notebook and spent the rest of the night wandering on Facebook. It was past five a.m. when i started to prepare the breakfast and as i was doing so i felt something sliding alonk my neck and arm. I grabbed it with a start before it could reach the floor and stood there in shock: for the first time in seven years, my necklace had fallen. I had removed it twice only since the first time i had tied it around my neck with its moonstone orb hanging from it. Once, three years ago, to add a tiny silver pentagram and a second time last year, for a silver birthday pendant given by Elodie (...). I could not pull my senses back together (you can easily imagine how intense had been the past few days for me to react that way because of a simple necklace): it clearly was a very, very bad omen. I clumsily finished to prepare the breakfast and went back to my desk, staring vacantly in front of me, frightened that my phone would ring to announce me that something bad had happened to someone i love (always filled with cheerful thinking, that's me! :D )

But no sign of any tragedy...

...until Wednesday, 2oth, the day i learnt that i might soon find myself unemployed.

Tragedy...tragedy...well. Not exactly, first because it was still unsure whether the hotel was indeed going to be sold and its employees fired, and second because i cannot pull myself to thinking that leaving this job would actually be such a painful experience! But here the thought was and it left me unquiet for the whole day, picturing myself homeless and chased by the police and trying to focus on far too many things while i was still completely obsessed by this letter i had to answer to. Ciao Arianna and Theseus, goodbye rewriting of my résumé, farewell Ô Tanizaki recueil! And hello unquiet thoughts! It could not last any longer, this lack of productivity was about to kill me! Paper in one hand, pen in the other, i started answering feverishly the obsessive letter just mentioned, to end up completely drained and exhausted but absolutely euphoric as well. Glad to be freed from this and already eager to receive an answer to this still unsent envelope i thought i'd better take my mind off it. Funny how easy it was, now, to focus on any and everything else!

The notebook was back in my hand, i tore most of its pages and re-read the root document i had been given. The emptiness in my mind was ready to give a cosy welcome to brand new word-equations and sentences. I wrote and wrote and wrote until there was no word left in my fingers.

The following day, my very good friend Annie came from Brussels where she had purchased a few naughty sweets and biscuits for me and we spent most of the week-end doing stupid but essential things together, joined Sunday by Axelle, whom i no longer need to introduce.

When Annie left on Monday though, my head had swam back to WWII and i thought better to try and avoid further thinking on the topic, frightened that I might feel depressed again. Tanizaki’s brilliant short stories succeeded in making a diversion until Wednesday 27th. Exhausted but eager to see the exhibition about the French writer Irene Némirovsky I was very curious about, I crossed Paris from the hotel to a narrow street in the 4th arrondissement in which is hidden the majestic and austere Mémorial de la Shoah I had already visited once last year.

My credit card melted down at the Memorial’s bookshop (and I barely exaggerate: literally, it came out burning hot from the machine!). I had lunch with my friend Karine I had not seen for a long while and the latter vividly recommended that I went to the exhibition France 15oo that was taking place at Le Grand Palais. I agreed with myself that I would go with Marc my colleague and friend (no: friend and THEN colleague) and Marco, my Belgian alter ego who would arrive the following Friday. I did not feel brave enough to face the queue on my own!

On Thursday night, thanks to the good care of a splendid Moon, I started typing the adventures of Ariadne and Theseus and finished the following morning, half drowned in the fourth helping of Starbucks Coffee. I went back home and tidied up my flat to welcome the long-awaited Marco. My head was still extremely busy with the Vel d’Hiv’ Roundup and the atrocities committed by the French police and government but I’ll dwell on that in another post (another side of Paris that has to be shown, not a bright one, but it is part of it and tells a lot about what Paris is), in which you'll learn what 'Pitchipoï' is, too. Marco’s train was late (it is a diplomatic way to say that he had missed his train because he mistook the arrival and departure times!), so I had a couple of glasses of wine on my own (oh please, everybody does that! … hum, you don’t?...) and tried to expel the ants burbling in my brains to focus on being cheerful and welcoming.

The week-end flied away very quickly, with Marc, Marco, Samuel and Emmanuel, the five of us happily talking in the vapours of rum exhaled by the delicious hot chocolates and Baba-au-rhum purchased from Fauchon. We had planned to see an exhibition but arrived too late and as we were due at a bar later, Babas were from far the best option to kill time!

Paris is fantastic! From one place to another you see it’s face change radically. We left the posh Madeleine for Pigalle where a small bar lost in a deserted street welcomed us. The bar owner wanted to sell it and we were there as potential buyers. Well. The very professional Samuel and Marc were there for that, but as for me I was far too focused on enjoying the most perfect Bloody Mary I had ever had the chance to drink to care about anything else! (Ugly glass, but great taste!)

As I went to the toilets to wash my sticky hands, I saw a panel emblazoned with the odd figure of a curious Minotaur, half bull, half Alice reminding me that I had not quite finished my story with Theseus. I say it casually, but at the time, Vodka playing its role, I was convinced that it was a sign from the great Goddess and felt guilty about having abandoned the last part of my writings.

In the end, the bar was too small for us, but paradoxically, the drinks were probably a bit too large and we headed towards Le Troisième Lieu pacing slightly oddly (even hopping, from time to time, no comment).

Sunday came and went, Marco, Marc, Erwann and I gathered around a nice dinner, joined by our Alison (ha! it was maybe not nice at all, but as I was the cook, I’m not going to compromise myself by saying so!). We celebrated a mix of Alison’s unbirthday, Halloween, and Samhain for me. When it was time to go to bed, Marco made me watch the pilot of a terrific TV series called FlashForward and I stayed up watching it until 1o the next morning without even noticing it (oooh, one more, just another one, the last one now, ooh! I can’t stop THERE!...).

Monday was the day dedicated to France 15oo, Marco and I burst into the hotel as knights in suit or armour to free Marc from his duties and as were waiting for him to finish we rummaged amongst a few flyers, hoping to find a few more nice things to do, but we were interrupted by a flamboyant blue old 2CV converted to the noble cause of tourism, and forgot about the rest. France 15oo is a very nice exhibition indeed, just as Karine had said. I fell in love once again with the semi-divine virtuosity shown in the old books and their illuminations.

Wednesday, before plunging into five more Babas-au-rhum, the boys and i discovered the mysteries of the old Inca civilization, or at least its treasures, as the lack of explanations in the exhibition left us quite frustrated. How would YOU feel when presented to fifty strings all attached to another and displayed as sun beams, you were told that it was supposed to be a ‘mnemotechnic tool’. Stop. No clue about how the hell it could possibly work, if the knots were supposed to mean something specific, who was meant to use it! I definitely intend to discover more about this curious thing, but would have enjoyed to know it straight away in a short explanation neighbouring the thing itself! Anyway, the jewellery was worth spending two hours there. The mummy shown in the last room was quite impressive as well and took me back to my youth with Tintin and Rascar Capac. Nice also was this aspect of the Aztec cosmogony saying that the whole of humanity was born from three eggs: a golden one (gold was thought to be the sweat of the Sun-god!), from which were born the male representatives of the nobility, a silver one containing their wives (silver was linked to the Moon) and a last one made of copper, containing the rest of humanity. The Incas were clever: Moon is a Lady, Brits, Saxons, enough please with this ‘Mister-Moon’ nonsense!

... And here we are. Friday morning, Marco left yesterday and I hurried to download all the pictures, already planning to write the longest post ever about these incredible last two weeks…

I forgot to mention a second mystic sign: a book for children about the legend of Theseus in the Pinacothèque’s bookstore! I understand what it means... It means that I have to go back to my routine and try to improve it a bit. More writing, more drawing, more reading, more cinema, more exhibitions, concerts, learning and more real life (less facebook would be great as well).

Before leaving the hotel today, I was told the ‘fresh news’. Yes, the hotel is sold.

Unemployed soon?

That, for sure, is a sign, my necklace falling was maybe not really a bad omen...

Résumé will be back on the tracks tomorrow, but today’s plan is REST: Flash Forward is waiting for me.

And I’ll be back to you, with this Vel d’Hiv’s story, quite soon: this post was meant to be very long because i thought of including it but really, i much rather have 'Vodka' as the only allusion to Poland today.

Until then...

mardi 2 novembre 2010

Life is a river

New York, November first, 2010.

Life never stops, that's a sure thing! If reading these words provoke resonance in your head, listen carefully then because..., nothing, these are just simple words.

Today was a very cool day in NY. Well, not that cold but considering that 3 days ago temperature felt like it was almost spring-time or the beginning of the summer, a drop of almost 40 degrees (°F) surely makes you feel as if you've been taken to the North Pole or the Antarctica.

The cold is good to cool off the mind nonetheless. Suddenly you see things with much more precision and accuracy. You can appreciate much better other stuff as well. How 14 ounces of  hot coffee make your body and your stomach feel warm and perfect it's just a pretty good example. Substitutions are allowed and more than one would agree that boiling water with added cocoa-chocolate powder will make us feel like the chosen people or to make it simpler, like this time at 9:43 PM in New York, a bag of chamomile in hot water produce the same effect, elevating us above the misery of the harsh weather.

Gosh!, things are so easy to understand when they are away from us: if temperature is hot you just go and take a cool beverage or a cold beer. I bet you, you immediately feel relieved. Do the opposite when the opposite occurs. So easy to do.

I wish I could be so clever when I'm dealing with other stuff, like those inside us, our stuff. I just don't understand why is that if I buy a ticket more than a month ago I've got to be late having all the time of the world to arrive not one hour but 2 in advance if needed. It was only ten minutes but the sensation of failure goes well beyond those ten.

That happened to me last Friday the 29th of October when I went to see Christina Pluhar, Philippe Jaroussky and their ensemble L'Arpeggiata at Carnegie Hall. Isn't that unforgivable? The first time I'm going to see them and I got there late.

No excuses. I didn't have a valid one unless I admit that maybe I like the rush of my adrenaline circulating inside my body and not for giving it a good use because running nor jumping is permitted, just to feel its power unleashed irrigating my veins and cooking myself in its juices.

Thank god I didn't miss much of the show, because the spectacle was so high level, so excellent. What a performer Jaroussky is! Very soon I forgot my lateness and those encores (after the original program) were just amazing. He, Jaroussky, dances, he even sang a popular song in Spanish; I definitely had/have problems trying to define how the performance of the whole group could be framed or encased in. It was so eclectic and original, mixing the mysticism of Monteverdi with some Italian dances and the percussion, oh my god, that guy (David Mayoral) is incredible.

Even though all the performers were just well above average, I have to single out Veronika Skuplik the one with the Baroque Violin. Not because she's sublime with the violin, and she is excellent, so delightful. What a display of energy! But what caught my attention in particular was the way she tries to connect not only with the other members of the group but with the public too. She's very into it: scanning people in the audience, making eye contact, smiling and almost cheer-leading. For me this was just over the top... Had I had the chance I'd propose to her on the spot.

Of course that'd mean changing my preferences in life which still at this point are to live it interestingly instead of happily . Why? because I'm not convinced yet that happiness could not become a routine and routine sounds to me like monotony, oh, that kills me, but this is material to speculate in another post.

I think life could be understood as some kind of a river that we have to cross it over the best we can; and like any river is better to go through it using the underlying current in your favor. Certainly L'Arpeggiata helps a lot to the purposes of crossing it properly. We absolutely made the most of it that night letting ourselves be guided by their gentle push and favorable winds of their enchanting crew.

Right now I'm just looking forward to have another night like that one... I'll keep you posted!

mardi 19 octobre 2010

The Price of Happiness in New York

"Being happy in Paris implies knowing its emergency exits" said Sophie to conclude one of her first posts here in The Bridge.

In contrast I'd say that for being happy or at least not insane in New York it'd mean filtering out all the "noise", and I mean tons of it that you undoubtedly will encounter in the city mixed with plenty of other unpleasant things. And by "noise" I don't mean exclusively the honking of the million vehicles or the loud high pitch sound of the sirens coming out from emergency vehicles or the police. Noise is also all that movement that you don't understand, that revolves around you like a swarm. You don't know what purpose it serves or where it leads you to. You only know it's conspicuous and threatens to swallow you in its whirl.

Just for surviving you need to do the filtering. The opportunities for trying to do just that really abound: you only need to have a very good disposition to learn all what it takes to block out the things that doesn't fit well with your way of seeing the world. In fact it helps if you don't have any particular way of seeing it. With practice and raising the tolerance bar you'd get accustomed to anything.

One thing worries me though. It's the risk of becoming too insensitive to what's happening around me or maybe worst, the risk of becoming a hypocrite capable of experiencing sublime feelings for certain things and at the same time being dead and deaf to others that are supposed to move me or at least have feelings for them.

Again, trying to find the perfect balance is perhaps the key to succeed not only in life but in everything indeed. Did Sophie suggest something like that as well, in her previous post? I don't really remember with clarity but if not, I'm very close to it, I think. I only have to scroll down the bar on the right side to re-read...

Well, you're going to forgive me but in the process of re-reading Sophie's post there's something in there that doesn't feel quite right for me and I can't help not commenting on it. She beats herself up a little bit for 'deserting' these pages for a little time; breaking the routine according to her is bad...

And I don't agree: that's it. The general purpose of this bridge is overall to reflect life as it is in any part of the world where we find ourselves. Having fun doing it is also a major factor of the experience. But here, I prefer to bring the words of Tavi Gevinson, a precocious teenager of 14 years old (that we both, Sophie and I, know quite well) who at her tender age has the wisdom to inspire not only me or Penelope Trunk (another one of my idols) but a legion of 50,000 more other people who are her readers.

Look Sophie what she says in this post when she reasons why she's not going to write very often due to her multiple obligations in school and elsewhere: "My policy on being my own boss for this blog is that I don't post if I don't feel like it. It feels contrived and boring and chore-like, and my other policy is that I'll stop once this feels like a chore. So posts are about to get rather spotty". 

That should be enough to make my point... It's fair to say that I sufficiently agree with Tavi and let's not forget we were talking about those filters.  

In order to live a peaceful life in New York you have to be blind to a lot of things. In reality, you have to shut down most of your senses, the smell in particular. In some places is either the marijuana smoke that pervade the streets or the sewage that invade your nostrils. 

It's your choice though. If you decide to see the bad things there are a million of them, the city turns insupportable and you have to leave if you want to live... 

But there are plenty of other options that even though entail risks like the ones mentioned before, they could provide the opportunity to live a pleasant life in the big Metropolis. 

If you choose that late one, then you'd better start living in a state of altered consciousness where you feel only those things you want to feel. One of the better ways you could use to get there it's music, it's through art, and like this last Thursday October the 13th you have to make some sacrifices. It was the Season opener of the Trinity Church Choir in Wall Street (what a paradox: greed and goodness or good and evil, all in the same street!).

It was raining that day. No, no,  it was pouring..., it could had been very cold too for the beginning of Autumn, but nobody was caring. In such high states of the brain where the expectations of rewards are running very high, people didn't/don't feel anything. 

The choir, the soloists, the musicians of the orchestra with their conductor didn't leave room for any disappointments.

For those of you who are brave enough, this is the whole concert...