Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunil's India - Part 2

DSCN8257Sunil traveled all over India in March - I did the same seven years ago... I continue to relive the vast 'otherness' of that many colored place, the sensory absorption of an explosion of color, smell, and taste, the splendor, the squalor, and the endless, endless people in this land of over 1.1 billion... 

As mentioned last week Dehli is several cities in one - the government area looks like Pell Mell & Whitehall in London, there are ultra-modern buildings but also vast ramshackle houses and open-air markets that go on forever.. A Hyundai must share the road with motorcycles, minibikes, rickshaws, oxcarts, and countless wandering cows.....

Sunil's first picture is Humayun's Tomb, a spectacular triumph of symmetric design, which looks nearly the same from every side... and, indeed, I spent 90 minutes staring at it from every possible angle...

Indian Railways isn't state-of-the-art, but it does go nearly everywhere... 
Sunil: "Sweepers help keep the place clean"

Sunil: 'People hanging out waiting for their train...'

Sunil: "This cow seems to say 'Why isn't anyone helping me?' " : - ) 
Could the cow be bored with browsing English-language best-sellers?

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Milk! A Man And An Era

Many Americans, even gay Americans, don't know who Harvey Milk was. After seeing 'Milk' on Thanksgiving I suspect that will change very soon, as the movie's high quality and critical accolades will surely result in awards and widespread distribution by Oscar time. And America will learn how this charismatic, lovely, messy, ebullient man pushed gay rights to a new level, in 1970s San Francisco, at the eventual cost of his life. They'll be reminded that it wasn't so long ago that gay people were mistreated, vilified, and ostracized, and that in much of America 'it just wasn't talked about.' They may also be reminded that we gays haven't yet won the battle of full societal enfranchisement and acceptance....

I thought 'Milk' was great. Focusing on Harvey Milk's from 1970-1978, when this gay New York transplant, appalled by police harassment of San Francisco's sizeable gay community, began to fight back. He wound up both launching his own political career and giving a huge boost to the then-embryonic gay rights movement.  Gus Van Sandt's moving film so vividly recreates this era, my teen years, that chills ran up my spine watching it.  He used actual news footage of both the movement, its enemies led by Anita Bryant, and many journalists and politicians of the day.  Young-un's may learn who Walter Cronkite was.   The movie is unflinching about sex and love between men and shows us Milk's relationships, the good, the bad, and the sad.   But it underscores the courage and pluck of people of the first gay people - in world history -  to stand up and demand their rights...

Oscar quality acting abounds in this film, led by Sean Penn in the title role.  Here's Penn today and Harvey Milk in the 1970s; Diego Luna (of 'Y Tu Mama Tambien,'), who plays Milk's lover Jack Lira, and Lira himself...
HM Penn MilkHM Luna Lira

Emile Hirsch (left) plays gay activist Cleve Jones (right),
while Josh Brolin (left) plays the disturbed Dan White, a failed politician who ulitmately assassinated Milk....

HM Emile Hirsch Cleve JonesHM Brolin White

Here's the preview

Drink ticket from Ice Palace 57, circa 1979... this is a gay disco I frequented as a late teen...

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Crustulum Ergo Sum

That's Latin for 'I cook, therefore I am,' if this is true, than I'm not nearly 'am' as much as one should be 'am',
but for Thanksgiving I broke out the 'am' and the recipe book and made a decidedly non-turkey dinner for my friend Gene...  

Here's my old blue looseleaf with recipes I clipped from the newspapers back in the 80s, pre-Internet, when one did such things.

The menu with Chicken Breasts with Carrots and Ginger in a light cream sauce, accompanied by Double-Strength Beef Rice, a tangy salad, and brussels sprouts cooked to the consistency of mashed potatoes.. Gene baked an apple pie. SInce I stupid failed failed to take photos, I'll have to show you my dirty dishes as proof of the feast... I bought this lovely tableware in Turkey back in early 2002...

The recipe for
my main dish...

After dinner we saw 'Milk,' the excellent new film, set in 70s San Francisco, which recreates the life and times of pioneer gay politician/activist Harvey Milk and the early days of the gay civil rights movement.. A movie review is coming shortly. In the meantime, here's a vintage photo of Milk at SF's 1978 Gay Pride Parade..

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Meal by Bart Bland...

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

21 Bridges

...link Manhattan to the world. This includes 4 rail-only bridges and one closed-down bridge, pictured left, Highbridge, which is Manhattan's oldest surviving bridge, built in 1848!

This 120 foot bridge links the Manhattan at West 173rd St to the Bronx, and was originally built as part of the Croton Aqueduct, which carried water from the Croton River to the thirsty urb until 1917.

I just learned the bridge will reopen to pedestrians in 2009 after a $20 million renovation in complete, making the bridge safe again.

15 of Manhattan's 21 bridges cross the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx. Four cross the East River, and you can all name those, and only one, the GWB, links Manhattan's western shore to New Jersey across the Hudson. I first learned of the Harlem River bridges decades ago on the Circle Line.. I hope one day to see some of them in person...

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Shower of Audience Art Criticism

Three grumpy movie critics peeing into a urinal. There's an SNL sketch in here somewhere. After seeing 'Synechdoche New York' last night, while waiting to relief myself, a peeing man grumbled 'did anyone like that incomprehensible film?' and two adjacent peeing men assented with monosyllables.. It reminded me of that Mel Brooks 'History of The World' gag from the Stone Age of the very first artist finishing a cave painting and the very first art critic peeing on it. : - ) More about 'Synechdoche' later this week - it's Charlie Kaufman's most challenging and ambitious work to date, by far. Not everyone's cup of Darjeeling, but I found it be stimulating and thought-provoking...


What does 'Synedoche' mean aside from twist on Schenectady, where the film begins..  I had to look it up on Wikipedia..  It is a figure of speech in which...

1) a term denoting a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing; or
       Example 'His parents bought him a new set of wheels.'
2) a term denoting a thing (a 'whole') is used to refer to part of it; or
       Example: 'Use your head (brain) to figure it out'
3) a term denoting a specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class; or
       Example: 'Could you pass me a Kleenex? (facial tissue)'
4) a term denoting a general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class; or
5) a term denoting a material is used to refer to an object composed of that material.
     Example: 'Those are some nice threads (clothes). - also 'roof' for 'house, 'ivories' for piano keys...

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Monday, November 24, 2008

His Reverie

This week's Song/Video is a slice of 60s garage retro, 'Your Reverie,' from San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Kelley Stoltz.

He's been working away for ten years and seven albums, when a good review drew me to 'Reverie,' with its organ effects and staccato bounce, like something I once heard while riding a tricycle...

Here's the groovy and animated video clip for 'Your Reverie':

He's not kidding about being influenced by the Beach Boys as well as Velvet Underground, as we can see in 2006's sweet 'Ever Thought Of Coming Back'.. Not a bad video considering it was produced by a friend on a shoestring budget..

Cartoons du Jour:

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Special Is Starting: Sunil's India

DSCN8257For the next two months, every Sunday my good friend Sunil Roopchand will lead us by the hand through vast, colorful India, as he revisits the high points of his March 2008 epic journey of exploration in the land of his ancestors!

Most Indian journeys begin and end in the country's largest and most important city, Mumbai, known for centuries as Bombay until the Indian government restored an ancient name to delete vestiges of colonial rule... Here's
a great William Safire column about how the press digests such name changes....

1. View of Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai... In central Mumbai, along a strip of Indian Ocean, sits the city's most famous public beach. "By day, it's a sleepy hangout with many snoozing under the shade of its stunted trees; but in the evening it's more like a carnival, pony rides, astrologers, monkey shows, and gymnasts passing around the hat. A row of bhelpuri stands hawk Mumbai's most popular snack: crisp puffed rice and semolina doused in pungent chutneys, all scooped up with a flat, fried puri"

2. Sunil: "Usually the poem says
the woman who lived in a shoe had many children, but in this case it was a family from Bengal, all nicely dressed, at the park in Mumbai"

3. Sunil: "In India one can
walk among gods and here it was Hanuman, son of the Wind God.."

4. In Delhi, the Jama Masjid, or Friday Mosque, the city's largest and most important. Delhi's landmarks are mostly Moslem in origin, as the city was never under Hindu rule until 1947 - it passed directly from the Moslem Moguls to the British Raj...
Sunil: "These guys weren't mosks but were give robes as they were wearing shorts." Visitors to mosques must not show much skin - immodesty in a mosque just isn't done....

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

When? When? When?

I'm impatient for the opening of the first section of
The High Line, an beautiful park project being built on an old elevated rail line running along 10th Avenue for thirty blocks or so..

I've been meaning to find out, via Google, just when this would occur. This was not as easy as I imagined. This isn't telegraphed on the Friends of the High Line web page or
construction blog. Wikipedia says late 2008 for Phase 1, and late 2009 for Phase 2, quoting a NYT article dated June 25, 2008. It's clearly not going to be ready for late 2008, or the news of an impending ribbon-cutting would be omnipresent... If anyone has heard more about this topic, please let me know!

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Tomorrow we have something really special for you!

As for today's, it's sunny but frigid - not the best weather for gallery hopping, but I haven't done it in so long, and it'll be good to hang out with Karen and Donna. I just have to dress very, very warmly....

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It's c-c-c-cold here.... lows in the low 20s, icy winds... and dark... I'm so happy to have a nice, warm bed. Just got back (I'm writing this late Friday) from Italian dinner with Fernando & Sunil at Cola's, my first Italian meal in a while... We're still in the glow of the Obama win...  I'll be posting here and there all weekend...

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Friday, November 21, 2008

This Is Not A Christmas Tale

It's 'Great Film Season' at your local theater, providing some consolation for cold, darkness, and economic distress... Hollywood is trotting out its finest for the award season.. But there are some non-American treasures among the riches, which have washed up on our shore just when we need them. Last Saturday my friend Steve N and I saw 'A Christmas Tale,' not at all a holiday movie, but a tale of family conflicts and tensions, some decades old, which just happens to take place around the holidays. 

Arnaud Desplechin is the brilliant director, the same who gave us 2004's thought-provoking 'King and Queens.' I was embarrassed not to recognize Catherine Deneuve playing the lead matriarch, stricken with leukemia, who's hoping for a compatible bone marrow donor among her king. Poignantly, this woman lost her eldest son to leukemia 40 years ago, when he was just 6. This tragedy has marked everyone is a family brimming with memorable, finely-etched characters given virtuoso performances by the talented cast. Devoid of cliché, the film riveting despite its 2 1/2 hour length, mostly because the viewer is very engaged by the characters..

Catch it in-theater if you can; Netflix-queue it if you can't... It'll stay with you long after the final credits, I promise...

Check out the trailer for a taste....

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wild Wild Life

More Central America pictures from Erik. What have we got here on our nighttime nature walk through Costa Rica's cloud forest?

Iguana stampede!

It's symbiosis!

I love this shot - the blue almost looks like moss, until you realize it's the twilight sky.. Took me a while

Now the green phantom is trapped - nowhere to run/fly/slither to...

Not the most flattering picture of me, but this captures our many 8-hour drives from one region to the next, in a van, departing at dawn, many snoozing, me listening to audiobooks or music on my iPod...

Here's a better picture of me sitting through two rainy days on otherwise heavenly Omatepe Island in Lake Nicaragua..


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Echoes of History

IMG_0569Central America in the 1980s was a low point of the Cold War, and not a shining moment for the USA - to fight the leftists, good and bad, at all costs, we allied ourselves with hoodlums, tyrants, and goons.. And it came on the heels of a 150 years of boorish, selfish, short-sighted US behavior in the region.. Today, happily, democracy and pluralism reign in nearly all of Latin America - which in some cases has resulted in the legitimate return to office of our former leftist 'rogues,' now older and wiser, including Alain Garcia of Peru and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Here's an Ortega poster honoring 1930s progressive icon, Carlos Sandino, for whom the Sandinistas were named - it says loosely translated 'Sandino: we're fulfilling (your dream, vision)' - Ortega 07

Another Ortega poster, with Ortega himself. 'Translation: Up With The Poor of The World!' By the way, two more 80s/90s 'comeback' Presidents recently elected to non-consecutive terms are centrists Oscar Arias of Costa Rica and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic.

Central America moves forward slowly, but the eradication of extreme poverty has a long way to go, as this picture attests...

Is it 2008 here, or 1808? Hard to tell sometimes when you're in Granada, Nicaragua being guided by the incomparable Gioconda..

I'm fascinated by Gioconda, and Erik teases me that I'm in love with her. Is this the gay man's version of a straight man's '
man-crush' - ie non-sexual infatuation...

Food on the run, served in pink tin foil? My memories are vague, but those are my hairy arms and the edges of Gioconda's frilly dress, so it must have been on the way to an outlying Volcano near Granada...

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Endless Central America

I continue to drag out my Volcano Trail Tale... We were about 85% done, about to show a very rainy arrival on the steep sloping cobblestone streets of Copan Ruinas.. But we'll push that back a few days because.... I've now gone through Erik's photos - Erik is my close friend from Boston who accompanied me on that isthmic odyssey... Let's start with a picture of me in front of our Antigua, Guatemala inn!

Coati mundi in Costa Rica.. Aren't they adorable?

This is an amazing photo by Erik! - look at the color contrasts - it looks like a mix of color and black and white - here we are whiling away the rainy hours on Omatepe Island in Lake Nicaragua

A cool Canadian traveling companion surrounded by Costa Rican Youth...

This isn't me, but I really did this! I flew above the cloud forest canopy of Costa Rica on a zipline!

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