Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Le week-end et le ciel bleu

A lot bigger, cuter, and filled with more surprises that I expected, Lille just made me enjoy a perfect autumn weekend with a visit to three great museums (*), a Marché de Nöel, hot dogs and barbe à papa, pot au feu, Meert chocolate, and the loveliest communist café with a really nice honey beer.

Perfect and imperfect in magical proportion. I'm starting to think that might be true of all French cities. That balance between warm welcome and bluntly mockery, arrogant beauty and intermitent stench, between what is lovely and despicable, what makes them so unpredictable and therefore attractive. Or maybe I am the only one attracted by bipolarity. I'll start paying more attention to this.

Anyway, Lille je t'aime and I hope to visit you soon again! In the meantime, I promise to make a minimap of Lille very soon! (:


(*) The museums are posts to follow, but since I don't trust my posting-self anymore, just in case you want to look for more info, they are: La Maison de la Photographie, where there was a great Martin Parr exhibition; the LAM, Musée de l'art modern, l'art contemporaine et l'art brut in Villeneuve-d'Ascq & La Piscine, in Roubaix, one of the most amazing spaces for a museum I've seen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sometimes / Coincidencias

I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me...
Song of the Open Road
Walt Whitman.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bright On

                                          Another day chasing the Californian sun, this time in an Artic Pole excursion mode.                      Let the memories of this day last forever.

“Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatched—love for instance—we go on, in an orderly manner, to the next. ”

― Virginia Woolf, The Waves.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sólo termina de veras lo que recomienza cada mañana

Paris, Diciembre 2013.

   "Una de las veces en que se encontraron en el barrio latino, Pola estaba mirando la vereda y medio mundo miraba la vereda. Hubo que pararse y contemplar a Napoleón de perfil, al lado una excelente reproducción de Chartres, y un poco más lejos una yegua con su potrillo en un campo verde. Los autores eran dos muchachos rubios y una chica indochina. La caja de tizas estaba llena de monedas de diez y veinte francos. De cuando en cuando uno de los artistas se agachaba para perfeccionar algún detalle, y era fácil advertir que en ese momento aumentaba el número de dádivas.

    -Aplican el sistema Penélope, pero sin destejar antes -dijo Oliveira-. Esa señora, por ejemplo, no aflojó los cordones de la faltriquera hasta que la pequeña Tsong Tsong se tiró al suelo para retocar a la rubia de ojos azules. El trabajo los emociona, es un hecho.
    -¿Se llama Tsong Tsong? -preguntó Pola.
    -Qué sé yo. Tiene lindos tobillos.
    -Tanto trabajo y esta noche vendrán los barrenderos y se acabó.
    -Justamente ahí está lo bueno. De las tizas de colores como figura escatológica, tema de tesis. Si las barredoras municipales no acabaran con todo eso al amanecer, Tsong Tsong vendría en persona con un balde de agua. Sólo termina de veras lo que recomienza cada mañana. La gente echa monedas sin saber que la están estafando, porque en realidad estos cuadros no se han borrado nunca. Cambian de vereda o de color, pero ya están hechos en una mano, una caja de tizas, un astuto sistema de movimientos. En rigor, si uno de estos muchachos se pasara la mañana agitando los brazos en el aire, merecería diez francos con el mismo derecho que cuando dibuja a Napoleón. Pero necesitamos pruebas. Ahí están. Echales veinte francos, no seas tacaña."

Julio Cortázar
Rayuela / Hopscotch
Capítulo 64 (fragmento)

One of the times they had met in the Latin Quartier, pola was looking at the sidewalk, practically everybody was looking at the sidewalk. They had to stop and study the profile of Napoleon, alongside it an excellent reproduction of Chartres, and a little farther on, a mare and her foal in a green field. The artists were two blonde boys and an Indo-Chinese girl. The chalk box was full of ten- and twenty-franc pieces. From time to time one of the artists would crouch down to perfect some detail, and it was easy to see that at that instant the donations would increase.

    "They are using the Penelope system, but without unweaving first," Oliveira said. "That lady, for example, she didn't loosen her purse-strings until little Tsong Tsong got down on the ground to  retouch the blond with blue eyes. Work produces sentiment, it's a fact."
    "Is her name Tsong Tsong?" Pola asked.
    "How should I know. She has nice ankles."
    "So much work and tonight the women who sweep the streets will come and it's all over."
    "That's precisely why it's so good. Colored chalk as an eschatological pattern, the theme for a thesis. If the municipal water wagons didn't put an end to all of it at dawn, Tsong Tsong would come herself with a pail of water. The only thing that really ends is what starts over again in the morning. People throw coins without knowing that they're being cheated, because those pictures are really never erased. They may change sidewalks or colors, but they're already there in finished form in a hand, a box of chalk, a wise system of movements; if one of those boys were to spend the morning waving his arms around he would deserve ten francs just as much as when he draws Napoleon. But we want proofs. There they are. Give them twenty francs, don't be cheap."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kew Gardens

The begining of the Intoxication Season at Kew Gardens with the promise of discovering the stories of the mind altering plants, along with the "final countdown" feeling that we are experimenting these days brought me and my friends to visit for the first time the wonderful Kew Gardens.

I think we are going to remember this Sunday forever, because the place was absolutely magical and we were high in happiness and fresh oxygenated air,  amazed by cactus, orchids, algae (!) and by the wild fragment tropic contained in the Prince of Wales Conservatory; surprised by the discovery that the word "canvas" comes from "cannabis", and other fun facts of other fun plants; delighted because the Thames was shinny, the people were jogging, riding, standing paddling, sunbathing or drinking along the bankside, and because afterwards we had a delicious Sunday roast with an improvised whiskey tasting and because apparently it was the last warm, sunny day of the year... and we were in the best place to enjoy it!

Yes, I'm probably exaggerating, but as the song say: if you happy and you know it, clap your hands. Days like this don't happen often enough, so this is me clapping my hands and being grateful for such amazing weather, company and location.

If you have the chance of visiting Kew Gardens, please DO IT. You'll love it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Menorca I

Remembering in this grey, foggy and rainy London Monday morning, another grey morning (that soon turned out to be an amazing blue day) at the beautiful Menorca. This are the streets of Ciutadella, North East of Maó, the capital city of Menorca. It totally has a Venice vibe, don't you think?

Happy week everyone! x

PS. Photos are not amazing, they were taken with my iPhone as my LC-A broke in the trip :(

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Salt Water Escape

It's not the first time I share this Karen Blixen quote here in the blog, but after my brief holidays in Menorca, where I really felt cured by the sea, I think this is still the best caption.

The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.

Photos of this gorgeous Balearic island to follow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

100 Años de Julio Cortázar

Image via Club Cultura.

From the French version on El Perseguidor, allegedly Cortázar's favorite short story. Found in Paris.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Julio Cortázar, one of my favorite authors and I think one of my favorite people too. All social networks were flooded by images of his life and his universe, of links to articles, quotes and photos. Not very often being bombarded by an ton of copy/pasted words feels this good. In this case it did. I love to think about all this people all over the world thinking of him, remembering his words and looking for the right quote to share. Thousands of people, silly like esperanzas, with the technique of a fama (or a librarian, which I'm sure more often than not, people mistake one for the other), and of course the determined enthusiasm of a cronopio that wants to pay a little homage to the biggest cronopio of all.

I visited Cortázar in the Montparnasse cemetery a couple of days ago. This is something I like to do when I go to Paris. Is not about looking at his tomb and the little rocks that people put on top, along with letters, metro tickets and dry flowers. It's about the ritual. It's about walking around his neighborhood trying to recognize what is left of the Paris that he showed to me, the first Paris I ever met.

If is not at the Cemetery, I take a minute to go to Saint Germain Des Pres and visit the Old Navy, an easy-to-overlook café he used to write in, or wander around the Quartier Latin, thinking of the Serpent Club or Charlie Parker, or walk along the Rue Cambronne, close to where he shared an apartment with the eternal Maga. Cortázar is still very present in my mental map of Paris. Probably because in Paris I'm a tourist and all the streets and the metro and the little corner cafes are not poluted with too much reality. Paris is still a dream for me and Cortazar his wonderful narrator.

I am currently reading Rayuela in English. The book was a birthday present from my beloved friend Marie which waited quietly until it was meant to be read. I think now is the perfect time for reason that I am not even going to try to explain, because as Julio said, somewhere there is a rubbish bin where all the explanations rest.

Here is an extract of chapter 21:

"The same thing happens to everybody, the statue of Janus is a useful waste, the truth is that after forty years of age we have our real face on the back of our heads, looking desperately backwards. It is what in all truth is called a commonplace. You can't do anything about it, that's about the strenght of it, with the words that come twisting out from between the bored lips of one-faced adolescents. Surrounded by boys in baggy sweaters and delightfully funky girls in the smoke of the cafés-crème of Saint-Germain-des-Prés who read Durrell, Beauvoir, Duras, Douassot, Queneau, Sarraute, here I am a Frenchified Argentinian (horror of horrors), already beyond the adolescent vogue, the cool, with an Etes-vous fous? of René Crevel anachronistically in my hands, with the whole body of surrealism in my memory, with the mark of Antonin Artaud in my pelvis, with the Ionisations of Edgard Varèse in my ears, with Picasso in my eyes (but I seem to be a Mondrian, at least that's what I've been told).

  "Tu sèmes des syllabes pour récolter des étoiles," Crevel kids me.
  "One does what he can," I answer.
  "And that female, n'arrêtera-t-elle donc pas de socouer l'arbre à sanglots?"
  "You're unfair," I tell him. "She's just crying a little bit, it's little more than a complaint."

It is sad to reach the point in life where it's easier to open a book to page 96 and converse with the author, from café to grave, from boredom to suicide, while at the tables around people are talking about Algeria, Adenauer, Mijanou, Bardot, Guy Trébert, Sidney Bechet, Michel Butor, Nabokov, Zao-Wu-Ki, Luison Bobet, and in my country the boys do talk, what do the boys talk about in my country? I don't know any more, I'm so far away..."


A couple of articles, one in El Mundo (España): 100 años del cronopio mayor and another one in El País: Cortázar forastero.