Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flickr Barcelona!

Dear Reader,
Thanks for taking the time to check out our travels to Spain.  We had a blast!  All the poetry was wonderful, but it meant nothing without the music.  Please follow the link on the right for Flickr Pics.  Happy Travels Everyone.

The Long Slow Siesta of Lorca's Gypsy Ballads

“Fly, moon, moon, moon,
For if the gypsies come
They’ll make rings
And white necklaces
Out of your heart…
Child, let me dance!
When the gypsies come
They’ll find you on the anvil

With your little eyes closed.”  -Lorca, Ballad of the Moon, Moon

I emptied myself in Spain.
“Open to my ancient fingers

The blue rose of your belly.”  -Lorca, Preciosa and the Air

Felt luscious moss seep into my brain root.
“Green as I would have you green.
Green wind.  Green branches
The boat on the sea
And the horse in the mountains.
With a shadow around her waist
She dreams on her railing
Green flesh, green hair,

With eyes of cold silver.  –Lorca, Ballad of the Sleepwalker

Eyes softly closed in the fading sunlight and drifted on masts of grass.
“Beyond the brambles,
The bulrushes, and the hawthorns,
I made her mat of hair

Hollow the muddy bank.”  -Lorca, The Faithless Wife

No thoughts... in fact, I didn't think at all.  How nice that is to not think.
“The church growls in the distance
Like a bear on its back.
How well she embroiders!

With such grace!  -Lorca, the Gypsy Nun

Wandered streets at midnight, followed wafting music around corners, discovered the blue light of dawn... Old friends, those are for sure... so nice to know they haven't forgotten me.
“Handsome reed of a boy,
Wide shoulders, slender body
Skin like a midnight apple,
Sad mouth and large eyes,

Nerves of hot silver…”  -Lorca, San Gabriel

Sleep.  Sweet afternoon sleep.  What else are summers for.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guernica Salt & Pepper Shakers at the Museu Picasso

"Art is a lie that makes us realize truth..."  -Pablo Picasso
Up early before the flight back to Paris, we made one more stop:  The Museu Picasso in the El Ravel District.
The museum, open Tuesdays to Sundays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., houses over 4,000 of the artists works in five different medieval palaces.
Get there early, as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the queue winds around the block.
Eight year old Rebekah said:  "Cubism looks like a bunch of puzzle pieces mashed on the floor."
Big sister Xian explained she too had had a "Blue Period."
No one asked the amazing street performer for his thoughts.
I purchased a Guernica salt & pepper shaker set (shrieking woman looking upward holding dead child & accompanying confused bovine) and couldn't resist another set of the luscious Les Demoiselles D'avignon who have always looked like Simpson characters to me.  (I mean... who has two sets of Pablo Picasso salt & pepper shakers?  You can keep the medieval castles... sheesh!).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios

 Hello, I’m the mother of the notorious Crossroads Killer.  When my son comes home after one of his famous crimes, his clothes are just filthy.”  -Pepa

In the Parc de la Barceloneta, we sat beneath trees sipping cold drinks and watching the people pass.
 “How many men have you had to forget? 
As many as the women you remember.”  -Pepa

One woman was saying to this man who held her hand, "The first time I saw you, I hated your guts instantly.  Just hated your face, hated your voice, hated your nose.  I never had such an intense reaction."
 “You could have killed yourself?”  -Pepa
“That was the idea, I’m desperate!”   -Candela
“So am I, but I don’t jump off terraces.”  -Pepa

Another woman was pondering aloud if jellyfish had souls...
 “I didn’t know where to go.  I couldn’t face my folks.  It’s bad enough that I became a model.”  -Candela

Still another woman was smoking and talking about her shoes, how the cost in Europe was so expensive and no one appreciates how much her shoes cost back home, and how personal she takes that.  Why can't more people recognize her sacrifice in footwear.
“That lady is dangerous.”  -Pepa
“No lady’s dangerous if you know how to handle her.”  -Cabbie

Then this woman came to our table and warned us about gypsies.  How we always had to be on guard.  They'd work in teams, distract you with one, steal you blind with another.  Pick a pocket.  Swipe a camera.  Watch out, the gypsies were trash.  I sat and watched and listened to all these women, sipped my drink, and watched some more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson Witchcraft / Othello, Act I, sc iii

 "Her father loved me, oft invited me,
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year-  the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days
To the very moment that he bade me tell it..."  Othello.  Act I, sc. iii

(Othello, the Moor, explains how Desdemona came to love him.  Her father has accused him of using witchcraft.)
"Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field, 
Of hair breadth scapes i'th 'imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the  insolent foe
And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels' history,
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven..."  -Othello.  Act I, sc. iii

(The pictures above and below are from The Cathedral of Barcelona in the old Gothic district.  There was a concert and old men and women were dancing)
"It was my hint to speak-  such was my process-
And of the cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders.  This to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house affairs would draw her thence,
Which ever as she could with haste dispath
She'd come again, and with her greedy ear
Devour up my discourses."  -Othello .  Act I, sc. iii

(Artists were making bubbles in the sky for children to catch and street musicians strummed tunes)
 "Which, I observing,
Took once a pliant hour and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard
But not inventively.  I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffered."  -Othello.  Act I, sc. iii

(I love these lines from Othello, the trials and adventures we live through, how we choose to tell them... perhaps just to one person... and how those stories make love for the world)
"My story being done
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful.
She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man.  She
Thanked me.
And bad me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her.  Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had passed
And I loved her that she did not pity them."  -Othello.  Act I, sc. iii

(I also chose Othello for Ferguson, MO, because ... I just can't watch it.  I'm overcome by this event...and this passage...Othello accused of witchcraft when really... really... he was the most amazing of men.  He keeps his hope because his belief in this love.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ferguson Riots / After You, My Dear Alphonse

Mrs. Wilson was just taking the gingerbread out of the oven when she heard Johnny outside talking to someone.  “Johnny,” she called, “you’re late.  Come in and get your lunch.”   -Shirley Jackson

You can never tell me, that what we do doesn't matter.
Johnny came in after her, slowly, “Mother,” he said, “I brought Boyd home for lunch with me.” -Shirley Jackson

That the very notion of:  "Those that cannot do anything this."
As she turned to show Boyd were to sit, she saw he was a Negro boy, smaller than Johnny but about the same age.  His arms were loaded with split kindling wood.  “Where’ll I put this stuff, Johnny?”  he asked.
Mrs. Wilson turned to Johnny.  “Johnny,” she said, “what did you make Boyd do?  What is that wood?”
“Dead Japanese,” Johnny said mildly.  “We stand them in the ground and run over them with tanks.”  -Shirley Jackson

And what is this... this thing we do?  Standing in front of a room full of young people with wild eyes staring at the wide world with absolute mistrust and forlorn.  What a daunting task!
“Johnny,” Mrs. Wilson said, “go on and eat your lunch.”
“Sure,” Johnny said.  He held out the dish of scrambled eggs to Boyd.  “After you, my dear Alphonse.”  -Shirley Jackson

Pouring out hearts.  Pushing for clarity... for meaning...for tolerance... for understanding.
“Boyd wants to grow up and be a big strong man so he can work hard,” Mrs. Wilson said.  “I’ll bet Boyd’s father eats stewed tomatoes.”
“My father eats anything he wants to,” Boyd said.
“So does mine,” Johnny said.  “Sometimes he doesn’t eat hardly anything.  He’s a little guy, though.  Wouldn’t hurt a flea.”
“Mine’s a little guy too,”  Boyd said.  -Shirley Jackson

Sometimes the best teaching is about prevention, about caution... in this one time in life before it's too late.
“I’ll bet he’s strong, though,” Mrs. Wilson said.  She hesitated.  “Does he… work?”
“Sure,” Johnny said.  “Boyd’s father works in a factory.”
“There, you see?  Mrs. Wilson said.  “And he certainly has to be strong to do that-  all that lifting and carrying at a factory.”
“Boyd’s father doesn’t have to,” Johnny said.  “He’s a foreman.”  -Shirley Jackson

And the world swallows you whole.
“What about all your other brothers and sisters?  I guess all of you want to make just as much of yourselves as you can.”
“There’s only me and Jean,” Boyd said.  “I don’t know yet what I want to be when I grow up.”
“We’re going to be tank drivers, Boyd and me,” Johnny said.”  -Shirley Jackson

Watching the Ferguson Riots... ruminating on abuses of power, crackdowns, military presence to preserve peace.
Mrs. Wilson took a deep breath.  “Boyd,” she said.  Both boys turned to her.  “Boyd, Johnny has some suits that are a little too small for him, and a winter coat.  It’s not new, of course, but there’s lot of wear in it still.  And I have a few dresses that your mother or sister could probably use.  Your mother can make them over into lots of things for all of you, and I’d be happy to give them to you…”  Her voice trailed off as she saw Boyd’s puzzled expression.
“But I have plenty of clothes, thank you.” He said.  “And I don’t think my mother knows how to sew very well, and anyway I guess we buy about everything we need…”  -Shirley Jackson

Maybe I'm a fool, an absolute fool...but I still believe in art, that stories can heal, help make sense, that sometimes the clearest most logical thing to sit down in a quiet place... and read.
Mrs. Wilson lifted the plate of gingerbread off the table as Boyd was about to take another piece.  “There are many little boys like you, Boyd, who would be grateful for the clothes someone was kind enough to give them.”  -Shirley Jackson

I know the world burns around us... that people have zero patience, that rage simmers just beneath the surface in a continually bubbling modern cauldron.
“Is your mother still mad?”  Mrs. Wilson heard Boyd ask in a low voice.
“I don’t know,” Johnny said.  “She’s screwy sometimes.”
“So’s mine,” Boyd said.  He hesitated.
“After you, my dear Alphonse.”   -Shirley Jackson

That's why...sometimes, just having kids read a little Shirley Jackson... might make a difference.

*Shirley Jackson's My Dear Alphonse was first printed in The New Yorker magazine in 1943.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dead Poets

I have this memory of my brother Grant and I growing up on the farm in Colton when there was nothing to do in the summer but watch the slow descent of the sun across the tall fields of golden grass and wait in the heat for darkness to come so we could camp out on the deck and watch the stars explode in our faraway eyes. On Fridays, we used to drive the old rickety pick-up down Beavercreek Road to the Town Center to sit in the air-conditioned theaters and watch movies. Once a week, just something to break up the monotony of our Oregon lives slowly slipping away. I don't recall many of those nights, stopping at Burgerville for cold shakes or racing up 10 o'clock hill with the lights off under a glowing moon, I don't particularly remember any of the movies we saw either except for one: Good Morning, Vietnam. Watching Robin Williams holler and scream into the microphone made us laugh harder than we'd ever laughed before. I think what made it worse was that we were both trying not to laugh, cool high-school kids in the town without their parents, but that movie made our guts burst. I'd never laughed harder at anything. I thought the theater ushers were going to kick us out, but they were in stitches too. Every person in the theater was doubled-over in the aisles. When I could finally breathe though, one thing came into focus. Here was a guy, standing in a classroom, speaking to people that would never and could never truly understand him. Try as he might, pour all of his love and passion out, it was a total lost cause. To my surprise, the scene at the end when Airman Cronauer is playing baseball with his students, smiling and waving them home in the soft summer light, I found myself bawling. In between all that pain and joy and laughter and sorrow, there was life.  It was a fun ride home, Grant and I trying to recite the lines back hopelessly, just laughing with the windows down and that sweet Oregon night air cooling our skin. I had no idea what my life would be then. I just knew I wanted it all.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Salvador Dali Riding a Rhinoceros at the Mariscco Café

 “I don’t do drugs.  I am drugs!”  -Salvador Dali

Out in Barcelona’s Plaza Reial at the Mariscco Café…
 “An elegant woman is a woman who despises you…and has no hair under her arms.”  -Salvador Dali

Made famous a hundred years ago as the Educational Museum of Natural Science and Taxidermy frequented by Picasso and Miro.
 “What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.”  -Salvador Dali

Once, in 1960, Salvador Dali dissected the head of a bull here while toasting Ava Gardner…
 “The only difference between me and a madman is I’m not mad.”  -Salvador Dali

Later he rode a stuffed baby rhinoceros beneath the palms of the square to the delight of the children.
“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what is considers to be shackles limiting our vision.”-Salvador Dali

A life sized mannequin of him sits in black coat elevated above the salon.
“There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”  -Salvador Dali

He would have loved it.

A Night in the Plaza Reial

Young Belgium couple next to our table argued the whole meal.  Boy lunging forward, fists banging on the white cloth.  Girl sitting back coolly, long pulls on her cigarette billowing in twilight smoke.
Red sangria spilt.  Waiters called over.  A fistfight ensued with ripped cuffs and shirts untucked.  The girl laughed herself horse as the boy and waiter tussled on the stones.
Across the plaza a group of street dancers leapt and twirled and balanced on their heads.  My daughters bought whizzing rockets that shot into the air from rubber bands.
We sat back.  Dug in.  Ordered desert.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Watching the World Cup Final in Barcelona / Not Thinking About the Pocketbook Bottom Line

The game ended at 3 a.m.  Nobody left.  We all stayed.
 I hear this pundit phrase everyday:   “The bottom line is: change will not happen until it hits them in the pocketbook."

Nobody has a problem with Donald Sterling until the investors pull out.  Nobody makes Daniel Snyder change the name of his team until fans protest and stop buying season tickets.  Ray Rice is applauded as courageous for giving a press conference after beating his wife in an elevator and accepting a paltry two-game NFL suspension.  Kevin Durrant doesn’t play for USA in FIBA World Cup because he signs with Under Armour for 325 million.  Chuck Knoblauch’s uniform retirement ceremony is postponed because he’s arrested for smashing his ex-wife’s head into a wall and throwing a humidifier at her.  Jim Irsay is praised for handing out $100 dollar bills after being arrested for drunk driving and possession of a controlled substance.  Mark Cuban uses Paul George’s gruesome injury to protest not getting a return investment on his possessions participating in IOC / FIBA events.   Raymond Felton is traded to Denver and given a new start after four game suspension for felony gun possession.   Greg Oden remains a hot free-agent after posting 10K bond after being arrested for domestic violence.  There's a price on everything, isn't there?

The Helmet of Mambrino

 “In the course of the altercation, among other things the barber said, ‘Gentlemen, this pack-saddle is mine as surely as I owe God a death…if it does not fit like a glove, call me a rascal; and what is more, the same day I was robbed of this, they robbed me likewise of a new brass basin, never yet handselled, that would fetch a crown any day.’”  -Cervantes, Don Quixote.   Chap.  XLIV

I never shave when I travel.  Scruffy neck and scratchy cheeks.  I throw a long brimmed hat over my eyes and head out into the unknown.  Camping on the Great Wall, crossing Siberia by train, riding motorbikes through Sumatra,  kicking sand in the Rub al-Khali… I’ve been around.  I like the way the world's untrodden paths feel under my knicked-up boots.
 “’I can give no explanation except the usual one, that such transformations will take place in adventures of chivalry… run Sancho my son, and fetch hither the helmet which this good fellow calls a basin.’”  -Cervantes, Don Quixote.    Chapt XLIV

Of course, there’s another reason for looking like a hot disheveled mess.  Part of travel is not only seeing the world through your own eyes, watching foreign people, seeing how they live, what they value, and assimilating that into your own life… but also witnessing how you're treated as a guest.   I’ve seen it firsthand, arriving by chauffeured driver with brand-name luggage, I’m treated as a VIP.  Conversely, stumbling out of the bush with a tattered rucksack and clothes ripped at the seams, I’m eyeballed with skepticism and paranoia.  I like this balance.  I think traveling unshaven and rough around the edges gives me a better perspective…or maybe I’m just a lazy slob.  Probably the latter.     
 “’There is no doubt of that,’ said Sancho… ‘when he let loose those unlucky men in chains; and if had not been for this basin-helmet he would have come over well that time, for there was plenty of stone-throwing in that affair.’”   -Cervantes, Don Quixote.   Chapt XLIV

I felt this way trekking through Spain.  The Catalonian sun seems to sprout golden facial hair soft as a Mediterranean breeze.  I carried around a copy of Cervantes with me (total Hartenstein geek out!) and ruminated upon one adventure of intrepid hero Don Quixote where a hapless barber is caught in the rain and to protect his bald dome he clapped a wash basin on his head that Don Quixote insists is the Helmet of Mambrino, a mythical crown of pure gold that renders the wearer invulnerable.  (Charlemagne chased its glory, and it was procured by Gradasso, King of Sericane who was robbed of it by Orlando Furioso, who slew him at Barcelona.)  Of course, the helmet is nothing more than a chamber pot…but to Quixote, it is the embodiment of chivalry itself.
 “’May I never share heaven,’ said the poor barber, ‘if your worships are not all mistaken.’”    -Cervantes, Don Quixote.   Chapt XLV

I love this imagery.  It’s the things we live for, the small codes of armor we carry everyday silently for ourselves that others may or may not understand.
“To which Don Quixote very deliberately and phlegmatically replied, ‘Fair damsel, at this present moment your request is inopportune, for I am debarred from involving myself in any adventure until I have brought to a happy conclusion one to which my word has pledged me…’”     -Cervantes, Don Quixote.   Chapt XLV

Chivalry isn't dead.  As are the errant adventures of  secret knights and silly fools around us.  It's a quest, make it yours alone.