Category Archives: Rant

Bored with barbed wire on the bridge. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, NSW, Australia. 2010

I bought a second hand Fuji S5 pro on ebay the other day, so I thought I’d wander around town and take some shots with it to see if everything was O.K. with it.

I’ve been feeling a bit low in energy lately so I figured I should get some exercise by walking from town hall to North Sydney, over the Sydney Harbour bridge. It’s not far, at only 4.5kms or just under 3 miles. Today was a warm sunny day and the views from the Harbour Bridge promised to be as beautiful as ever.

The road that goes over Sydney Harbour Bridge is about 50 metres or 160 feet above the water and because it is so high it was a popular spot to commit suicide, back in the 1930s during the depression, wire suicide barriers complete with barbed wire were installed in 1937 and have largely been a successful, if very ugly, solution.

Landmark structures like the Sydney Harbour bridge, not only attract the suicidal but also climbers.

 

Back when I used to rock climb in the early 1990s many of my climbing friends had climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was considered a doddle with spectacular views. In those days, the fine for climbing the bridge was only $200 and most of my friends climbed it at night and didn’t get caught. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was something I always wanted to do but unfortunately the fine went up to $1200 and that put me off. Nowadays the fine is $2200 and the bridge is covered with detection systems that make getting caught assured.

As much as I would’ve like to have climbed the bridge, I can understand why all the security has been stepped up and the fines increased. For example, years ago, my good friend Paul decided it would be a simply brilliant idea to climb the bridge with some friends after a heavy drinking session at a buck’s party. Needless to say, he fell off after only (and luckily) 5 meters (about 15feet), onto the railway tracks below, with his arm behind his back, smashing it so badly that his arm is now held together with about 6 steel bolts.

Thanks to all the recent terrorism around the world, there are now security guards and cameras all over the bridge as well.

 

Now, not only has photography been made difficult because of all the wire everywhere, there is the added paranoia of whether or not it’s considered a preliminary act of terrorism if one photographs any of these security measures, intentionally or not.

I guess me being a pasty white guy who doesn’t look like he’s from the middle east goes some way towards my cavities being left unprobed. After all the anti terrorism ads on TV, where people are encouraged to report suspicious activities, I wouldn’t recommend anyone who looks obviously middle eastern, take photos of anything other than the view from Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Because if the big brothers watching the security monitors thought some malicious reconnoitring was going on, it would be highly likely they’d get frog marched off by a nearby security guard, probably of middle eastern appearance (sometimes it seems like almost every second security guard in Sydney is from a Lebanese background), for a “chat” in an enclosed uncomfortable place.

All this talk about people of middle eastern appearance reminds me of once when my wife and I were at the airport about to go overseas, when a security guy asked for my wife to step out and be checked over with a hand held metal detector. Anyone who has met my wife, Engogirl will know she is the embodiment of sweetness and light and it’s obvious that she would’nt hurt a fly, never mind blow up an airplane full of people.

The security guard was so apologetic, saying that he had to pick people out at random. We told him we understood and that for appearance sake they can’t just pick on people of middle eastern appearance. He said, “you’re so right!” they get so mad, they just blow up!”…… “I mean … I mean, I mean, get so angry”. The poor guy was so flustered that he had said something that was accidentally so politically incorrect. We tried to reassure him that the situation was O.K. and we weren’t going to report him. Poor sod, what a crap job. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As for me, I wish everybody was thoroughly searched before they got on a plane, particularly one I was on.

While I acknowledge that the various security measures in place on the Harbour Bridge are necessary, I just wish the view wasn’t so obstructed. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a very popular tourist destination and many people walk across it to see the views. Surely in this day and age of the consciousness that cities should be beautiful places to live, rather than being purely functional money making machines, a more up to date and pleasing barrier could be erected on such an important landmark?

Carcassonne, Languedoc, France. 2009

Carcassonne looks like the sort of fortified town that I used to think only existed in children’s fairy tale books.

The old part of the town is like a vast sprawling medieval version of Gormenghast. Like most places that have castles in Europe, Carcassonne has been settled and fortified from pre-roman times. In it’s latest incarnation it’s a mix of a 12th century Cathar castle and later 19th century additions in a romantic vein.

Castles interest me far more than palaces because of their functional and defensive purposes as opposed to the later which are nothing more than vulgar displays of selfish cluelessness and naked greed.

Carcassonne was one of the last Carthar strongholds to fall during the Albigensian Crusade.

The Cathars were a religious Christians sect that was similar in belief to the Bogomils of Bulgaria. They believed that all matter was corrupt and the incorporeal human spirit was trapped in corrupt matter. The Cathars accepted that Jesus held the spirit of god but was not god itself because he was material and god was incorporeal. Basically all matter was created by a lesser corrupt deity (like satan) and the Cathar’s aim was to transcend the material much like the Buddhists.

As I’ve been writing this I found myself thinking about how Buddhists see the human body as a basically a sack of puss and guts to trot the spirit around in while we try and attain enlightenment, and we shouldn’t be too attached to pleasures of the fleshy vehicle we travel in.  These thoughts about these old French ideas of the corrupt nature of material life, remind me of a hilarious rabidly anti-French rant (life iz shit; get to know dis!) by Robin Williams.

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Needless to say, killing off a pesky papal legate by Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse (a cultured guy who was sympathetic to the Cathars) after he’d been excommunicated, was all the excuse that Pope Innocent  III (the Americans didn’t invent irony, the Catholics did) needed to call for a crusade against the Cathars.

Crusade is medieval code for “church sanctioned land grab”, peppered with a liberal dose of rape, plunder and extreme violence. Needless to say, such opportunities attract the worst kind of murderous people, that we nowadays call aristocrats. Probably the most infamous of these, outside of the holy lands (that distinction goes to Raynald of Châtillon), was Simon de Montfort and it was he that finally took Carcassonne after he participated in the massacre at Beziers where 20,000 Cathars were slaughtered. Thousands of people hoping for sanctuary in churches were locked inside and burnt to death. The infamous old quote by the papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, “Kill them all, God will recognize his own” is from the massacre at Beziers.

Knowing something of the crimes committed by Simon de Montfort, I found it surprising that his tombstone with his likeness on it is on display on one of the walls in the Basilica of Saint Nazaire in the old part of the town.

It strikes me as extremely odd that such a darkly evil person who had so many of the local’s ancestors brutally murdered, is accorded any kind of respect in a place that is supposed to be the house of a loving god. I think that tombstone should be laid flat, have the face removed and be used as a toilet set.

Naturally such a picturesque old town like Carcassonne attracts a lot of tourists, but we found that in the early autumn when we were there, the crowds weren’t so bad and we spent a whole day just wandering around the cobbled streets.

 

Of course cute touristy places like Carcassonne will be derided by those who see themselves as “travellers” (code for backpackers who think they are doing something original…… not!) but I’d say it has a lot to offer those with an interest in history and architecture.

As for those who consider themselves “travellers”, all I have to say to them is that, “if you want an authentic medieval experience for all your senses, check out the public toilets in Carcassonne”.

Because Carcassonne is an actual town, most of it is accessible at night so I’d also recommend having dinner there and wandering around at night.

A word of warning though, make sure if you are wanting to eat the local dish, cassoulet de canard (duck and bean stew), you don’t do what we did and eat at a place run by Moroccans.

To be honest, most of the time, I couldn’t care less where the cook’s ancestors came from, but what I didn’t realise was, that cassoulet de canard has pork in it and that being Moslems, the Moroccans don’t taste it as they make it, so of course it tasted awful. My wife has been permanently scarred by the experience and now refers to cassoulet de canard as lard stew and will never eat it again. Another thing about eating in a place run by Moslems is that they don’t drink wine and therefore can’t really make suggestions about what wine to drink with the same knowledge that a wine drinker can.

Until this experience, I’d never really thought about taking a person’s religious background into account before eating in their restaurant. It just goes to show how secular the little world I live in, is. I guess the lesson here is, that just because a restaurant looks like a traditional French restaurant and has traditional French food and wine on the menu doesn’t mean that their food is going to be automatically authentic.

All I can say, is that I wish I had a movie camera going when I called over our waitress to send back a bottle of wine that was very sour (yep, sour, not corked), and I suggested she have a taste for herself (as is customary in such cases). The look of disgust on her face was priceless but much to her credit the bottle was replaced by a different brand of equally nasty wine. Obviously the restaurant management don’t taste the wine before they buy it and their wine supplier is probably taking advantage of them.  It was such a pity because the staff at the restaurant were very nice people trying to make a living with products they had no idea about.

A catch 22 situation if I’ve ever seen one.

Anti fascist graffiti. Venice, Italy. 2009

I read with great amusement today about how Berlusconi’s nose was broken, plus two of his teeth knocked out, and the leader of the Lega Nord, Umberto Bossi described it as, “an act of terrorism”.

I find this news hilarious on a few levels.

First off Berlusconi has been riding roughshod over the law in Italy for years and is widely seen as very corrupt and in bed with the Mafia. So it comes as no surprise that old Silvio “has had it coming for some time”, and he should thank his lucky stars he wasn’t assassinated for the hubris he regularly displays. It always amazes me when I think about people like Berlusconi and how brazenly venial they are.

How can the populace be so stupid to vote for such despicable people?

The other thing that stuck me as funny was that Umberto Bossi, whose party supports Berlusconi, was so incensed at the attack.

The Lega Norda (Northern League in English) would like the Northern regions of Italy to separate from the south.

When I was in Verona and in Venice, I had some very interesting discussions with some locals and they told me what they thought about the Lega Norda.  Apparently there is a lot of dissatisfaction with how the north of Italy produces so much of the country’s economy and a lot of their taxes “disappear” into the south. To many (not all of course) the south is seen as irredeemably corrupt (the huge 2 year long garbage strike controlled by the Mafia in Naples was often mentioned) with the southerners portrayed as backward and untrustworthy. Of course such sentiments attract racists who are also keen to make sure that immigration is kept to an absolute minimum as well.

So on one hand you have a corrupt billionaire who is in cahoots with the Mafia and on the other hand we have a guy who says that the corrupt influences of the south like the Mafia are ruining the country and he wants his region to separate. It just serves as an example to me of how expedient some politicians are when it comes to power and staying in power.

Interestingly, the people I spoke to in the north didn’t like Berlusconi, the Mafia or the Lega Nord as they felt is was people like them who were ruining the country. I’m pretty sure they didn’t think it was just a southern phenomena.

When I was in Venice the son of the guy who owned the hotel was a law student. What a pleasure it was to talk about such matters with such an erudite and well informed person. We were basically told that the Lega Norda appealed to popularist sentiments but those in the know felt that it was a “Trojan horse” for Fascism.

Since Venice is a Lega Nord stronghold it wasn’t surprising to see graffiti like below in the working class areas around the arsenal.

  

Shrapnel damaged gate. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 2009

Every now and again I count my blessings.

I was born and live in a relatively rich and free country whose far seeing policy makers have recognised that multiculturalism is the best way forward to peaceful nationhood.

My recent trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina was a sad reminder of what a poisonous concept nationalism is.

Here in Australia there are those who feel that immigrants should become “Aussies”, which by their standards means Anglo-Celtic. The idea that new comers should assimilate is based on the erroneous idea that Aussies are white people of Anglo-Celtic descent. In fact the first Aussies were the aboriginals and what a lot of people don’t realise is that they weren’t a nation in the European sense, and in fact if cultural identity and language are the basis of our concept of nationhood, then Australia before European settlement was made up of about 260 countries.

Thanks to disease, slaughter and alcohol the Aborigines are no longer the dominant race in Australia. As the English repopulated Australia with their own kind, they came to think of it as theirs and that to be Australian was to be of Anglo-Celtic descent.

Eighteenth century attitudes of superiority and precedence coloured the way so-called “Aussies” saw themselves in relation to other people who didn’t come from the same background. Aborigines were marginalised to the extent that they weren’t even considered citizens in their own country until the late 1960s. Non-white races were discouraged to immigrate to Australia by the “white Australia policy” which was state sponsored racism that wasn’t done away with until 1975.

One of the arguments used by opponents of multiculturism is that they are afraid that “their way of life” which built our wonderful country was going to be swamped by “the yellow peril“; foreign ideas, customs and ideals which would lead to a fall in the quality of life as living standards and ethics went down the toilet. 

In my opinion, people come to Australia to embrace our way of life rather than to change it into what they left. I have quite a few friends of Asian descent and all of them are great consumers and supporters of the culture on offer here.

Back in the early 1970’s I left Australia because I hated it. I felt that is was a narrow minded red-neck backwater. I came back to Australia 11 years later in 1985 and I was amazed at the change.  In such a short time Australia had turned itself totally around. No longer was my country looking to the past for a vision of itself but forward into the future for a vision of what we could be.

Many of the changes that I saw could be directly attributed to foreign influences. Not only had Australia opened up its doors to people from all over the world, no matter what race, many Aussies had been overseas and brought back new ideas and tolerance with them.

What happened in Yugoslavia should stand as a warning to us all that being exclusive about who you want, based on race or creed,  in a society only leads to misery and weakness.

Multiculturism is just about doing the right thing, it’s also about doing the smart thing.

Are we having fun yet? Brugge, Belgium. 2009

Segways have never made any sense to me.

Years ago while I was waiting in line at Disneyworld’s (Florida) Space Mountain, I saw a display sponsored by RCA. As we waited on a “peoplemover” (Disneyspeak for conveyor belt) to get on the ride, we passed various windows that showed with the aid of Disney animatronics, RCA’s vision of the future.

It seemed to me that RCA thought that our future would be spent doing nothing but sitting down and pushing buttons. One display showed a housewife of the future sitting down looking at a video screen to see who was at the door that was just behind her. Another widow showed a kid doing some virtual skiing in front of a large TV screen. In short, RCA’s prescient view of the future showed us all using consumer goods to live more sedentary lives. I can remember thinking to myself that the future that the “imagineers” had conjured up for us looked very boring and unhealthy.

Although I’m loathe to say it, RCA was right in a lot ways and many of us can no longer have a good time without first spending some money to buy a device so we can “interface” with the physical world. It would seem that for many of us, if it hasn’t got a motor, lens, screen or wheels we don’t want to know about it. How many people have to buy a powerboat to enjoy the water, or a dirtbike to enjoy the bush?

To me, the product that epitomes this attitude is the Segway, which I’d like to nominate as one of the most pointless transportation devices ever devised.

Even though the streets of Brugge are cobblestoned, I think a much better way to work off all the chocolate that one eats when there, is to cycle.

Water is life. Segovia, Spain. 2009

This little water spigot has been the object of a lot of attention. Firstly its design lends itself so well to a bit of ribald fun and secondly there is the acknowledgement of the fact that it is so photogenic.

What I also find interesting is what I see as the subtext of a low regard for fresh water.

What I’m constantly amazed at when I’m out and about near waterways is how so many short sighted and selfish people think nothing about polluting them. I’m not just saying this about Spain, I’m talking about the world in general. It would seem that just about anywhere in the world, people take water for granted. Even people in places that don’t have much water will pollute it.

When we were in Mostar in Bosnia, we saw a guy with a stick flicking plastic waste that was caught up in some rocks located in the middle of a tributary stream, into the main stream. I guess he thought he was cleaning up the place and the river would take the rubbish away. He didn’t appear to have the slightest concern about the people down stream or the health of the waterway.

Time and time again, we hear on the TV about how countries like Israel are stealing water from other countries by pumping out their aquifers near the borders, or how Turkey’s dams are stopping Syria getting enough water.

Here in Australia there is huge cotton farm (Cubbie Station) up in Queensland that has no consideration for the people downstream and has basically cut off with a huge dam, the seasonal waters from the Murray Darling basin. Vast wetlands have been destroyed while many ancient little rivers have dried up, not to mention siltation, salination and decreasing water quality downstream. Adelaide’s tap water is the lowest quality water in any major city in Australia and it’s just about undrinkable because of all the bad water management occuring upstream.  

Cotton farming with its high use of fertilizer, insecticides and water in the area where Cubbie Station is located, shouldn’t in my mind, be called agribusiness, but rather, “a bloody-minded act of environmental vandalism”.

A few years ago I was at a Christmas party with some seriously rich people (with hundreds of millions to their name) and I was talking to them about the doing the right thing by the environment, and their response was, “the government should subsidise the private sector to make it worthwhile for business to clean up their act”.

Do these people come from some other planet? Do they think that the mess they make isn’t going to affect them and their offspring at some stage?

It just goes to show that the old question of, “if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” Is such a stupid proposition. I’m beginning to think that to be filthy rich, one doesn’t have to be that smart, just sociopathic.

A pox on all their houses!

The trouble with long distance air travel. Paris to Sydney. 2009

After the long flight back to Australia from France, we passed a Emirates airline billboard near the airport. As we sped by in our taxi homeward, I saw that the advertising slogan for the airline said something like, “Europe is almost as beautiful as the journey”.
  
My first thought at seeing the slogan was a very resounding, “BULLSHIT!”
 
Our flight back comprised of a  total 19 hours in the air and 2 and a half hours stop over in Singapore and after that long being cooped up  in cattle-class, I can definitively say, that unlike the pseudo philosophical “it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey” sentiments expressed on the billboard, flying long distances sucks! Unless one is rich and can afford first class or business class tickets, long haul flights are an exercise in a type of exquisite torture that combines uncomfortable cramped conditions and monotony, with the chance of a high speed, fiery, violent death.
 
Anyone who has read this blog over a period of time knows that I have a lot of goodwill towards the French, but my love of the French was sorely tested on the flight from Paris to Singapore.
 
Firstly the line to the check in at Paris for our flight on an Airbus A380 (largest passenger aircraft in the world that carries over 500 people) was obstructed and choked by a large group of French people on a tour.
 
For such a large aircraft as the Airbus A380, the line ups at check in can be very long, and everybody but them was lined up, but they insisted forming a large amorphous clump of well dressed stupidity that stood at the entrance to the check in without moving into the actual line. They weren’t moving forward and they weren’t allowing other people to move forward.
 
As the group was in a lump, there was no longer any order in the line and it was impossible for people wanting to check in to know where the line actually started. So Engogirl and I, with many other independent travellers formed up into a queue after the group. The line started to move into the nylon taped maze that is used in such situations and as we progressed, latecomers to the group started to passive aggressively try and push pass the rest of us who had been patiently waiting for the rest of their group to get their act’s together.
 
When I say “passive aggressively push past”, what I mean is that although there is an obvious line of people, the large group of late latecomers would wave at their friends, whilst making sure that they didn’t make eye contact with the people the were barging in front of. One or two people wanting to join their spouses or friends doesn’t bug me at all but when about 20 or 30 people try it on, it really gets on my wick and when I’m “pushed” in such cases, I always make it a point to “push back”. After a severl bunches of these French group members had weaselled their way past me, I blocked any further transgression of queue etiquette with my baggage trolley and faced off to the group and asked, “don’t you know what a line is?”
 
To which I was met with the kind of withering looks that the passive aggressive practice, and they ignored me as they kept trying to get around me. I stood my ground and told them to wait their turn.
 
One of the group members in the clot, tried to intervene with the startling logical argument of, “they’re with us”, as if that made all the difference in the world after so many people had already shown us how little they regarded anybody except them and their group.
 
I countered with, “there’s a line, and they can wait their turn”.
 
One of the group members started to go around sticking “La vache qui rit” (Laughing Cow) stickers on all the group members bag’s. I thought how apt, stickers for a cheese that is only surpassed by Velveeta in blandness, would be used by a tour group displaying a bovine herd mentality. As the members got their stickers on their bags it was as though they became aware of how big a group they were, and a few more people started to indicate with that the people who were trying to push in were with them.
 
By this time, even Engogirl who is a model of restraint and civility (concepts that I’ve only recently become aware of) spoke up and said, “but can’t you see there is a line?”, to which the passive aggressives still not wanting to make eye contact with me tried to push forward some more.
 
It was at this stage I used my black belt in communication and hit them and the group with a solid roundhouse, “fuck you!”
 
Finally I heard what I took to be the group leader (an alpha passive aggressive), unseen and hiding behind a wall of his minions, utter in the sort of unctious and wheedling voice that can control the sorts that go on tours, “is there a problem sir?”
 
To which he heard from me, “yes, there is a line here and I’m sick of so many people pushing past us”. There was no reply and after a few more minutes of our stalemate, a Singapore Airlines ground crew came up to us and undid the nylon tape that was being used to corral us towards the check in, saying “follow me”. He led us to the front of the queue just to get rid of us. Goes to show, that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and of course all the nice people behind us just had to put up with further pushing in.
 
What a pain in the butt!
 
When we got to our seats at the back of the plane it was obvious that we were seated amongst another large group of well dressed French tourists.
 
They all looked a bit older than me and it was obvious that most of them hadn’t travelled that much. The group was agog with excitement and they wouldn’t sit down out of the way as people were trying to get to their seats. Guys in their sixties who were probably the life of the party in their hey-day, where wandering around, “working the room”, getting in people’s way.
 
It was bedlam.
 
I expect better from the French , but the real truth be known, “clothes don’t maketh the man” and you can dress up a ignorant person from anywhere and they are still clueless no matter what striking figures they cut from a distance.
 
All through our leg from Paris to Singapore, the French tour group was like an excited class of school girls. They were up and down out of their seats, walking up and down the aisles, yelling across the middle seats to each other. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was being constantly hit by those raucous oafs as they partied up and down the isles I wouldn’t have minded. Even when there was turbulence, the determined socialisers continued to mingle with what seemed to be an attitude of “give me a party or give me death!”.
 
 
Both aisles were full of the noisy bastards for most of the flight. The only time they sat down was when the food was served. I spent half my flight with either a groin or butt near my face.
 
Over the years I’ve flown so much that I’ve seen what happens when a plane hits “clear air turbulence” and I’m one of those people who always has their seatbelt done up when flying. At least once or twice a year, here in Australia there are reports of people being hurt (usually, head, neck or back injuries) during flights going through rough turbulence because they haven’t been wearing their seatbelts (probably on the way to the toilets, I’d say).
 
It wasn’t just the constant jostling that was annoying it was also the state of the toilets after the superannuated  party animals had been in them. I’m not joking, they were always left in a mess and one occasion some bright spark thought it would be a great idea to piss all over the seat. I’m not talking a little sprinkle here, I’m talking, unload their whole cargo everywhere but in the toilet. I just couldn’t believe it and what made me really angry was that I knew that if I left in that state, people would think I’d done the dirty deed.
 
So I cleaned it up.
 
So much for the pleasures of flying!
 
As we disembarked in Singapore I was shocked at the mess of the place wherever the large French groups had been. It looked as though someone had emptied garbage cans all over, and there was a very distinct pattern formed by their litter.
 
A modern French midden if you will. 
 
What a bunch of peasants (even if they were wearing expensive clothing)! It just shows you can’t buy class, no matter what the advertising industry would have us believe.
 
The trip from Singapore to Australia was a complete contrast. It was a quietly civilised and orderly trip. When I was leaving I made a point of looking around the seats and floor and there was hardly any litter at all. Such a completely different attitude to flying couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated.
 
Lastly I’d like to say that Singapore airlines is a great airline and their staff are a bunch saints. 

Some feminine art from the Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France. 2009

Here are some images of art that I really liked from the exhibition of feminine art called “elles@centrepompidou” at the Centre Georges Pompidou that we went to yesterday.

Generally (this is were I whack the hornet’s nest), when ever I hear the term “feminist art”, I think about so many shows that I’ve seen that have been dominated with works dealing with, vaginas, blood and naked artists making statements about how they’re treated as sex objects. I’ve always had a problem with the notion of “feminist art” because I think that if we are all equal then it shouldn’t matter what sex a person is and their work should be judged on its own strengths and not the sex of its producer.

I’ve never liked the idea of victimhood from any group.

And before anyone gets full of righteous rage and wants to start jumping all over my case because I’m a middle aged white guy (the punching bag of choice by the world’s disaffected), all I have to say is, “try growing up as an overweight freckle faced red headed male”. I’ve never seen a poster of a guy like me on any teenage girl’s wall or my type described as the ideal, but yet life goes on and we can’t all be the focus of everyone’s desires and in control of the world.

Having had my little rant and bleat, there are of course many issues faced by women artists, like they are discriminated against and their work is often ignored. While at the exhibition, I gave myself the task of naming female artists and you know what, I could only name about five.

I hang my head in shame.

Having banged on about “feminist art”, the refreshing thing about the elles@centrepompidou exhibition was that the museum was displaying the feminine side of its own collections rather than making just a feminist statement.

The Guerilla Girls make plenty of salient points and combat discrimination with sharp wit and humor. No victimhood here just action.

Respect!

Alisa Andrasek’s “Biothing” is a beautiful tour de force of applied intelligence. 

 

Adaptive Agent Based Extreme Structures are created using a computer program, not unlike the one Engogirl uses in her work in Computational Fluid Dynamics. As a matter of fact my wife got very excited about Alisa Andrasek’s work and I’m sure that she’d like to meet her and play around with the software she uses.

Niki de Saint Phalle is someone I’ve been aware of for a while, and this work is quite different from most of her work that I’d seen before.

 

Kristin Backer’s “Passage at section K-P” (2004) acknowledges how structures are so dominant in the landscapes we now live in.

 

Lee Bontecou’s untitled work (1966) is about sitting on a jet airplane’s wing. I really loved this piece and it’s something that I’d like to own so I could look at it more often.

 

I’ve saved Helen Frankenthaler’s “Spring Bank” (1974) for last as it was the piece I liked the most.

Some interiors from the Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France. 2009

Engogirl and I went to the Centre Georges Pompidou today as an antidote to going to the Prado a few days ago. We just had to see something that was more expressive than the visual catalogues of possessions owned by the rich and powerful from years gone by, that makes up most of the Prado’s collection. Let’s not even talk about the mountain of stuff with the guy nailed to a cross and his bummed-out friends.

It was just the same thing over and over again.

I’ve never been a fan of the outside of the Pompidou center. It just looks like a industrial plant that has become a little shabby over the years, but some of the interiors are fun. There are sections of the restaurant on the top floor that look as though they were lifted straight out of Kubrick’s “2001,  A Space Odyssey” and then crossed with Roger Dean’s designs.

Although the price of the automatic machine produced coffee was scandalously high (a whole family in a developing country could be fed for a week, for what we paid for our two drinks), it was a pretty cool place to hang out in for a while, just to soak up the design ideas.

A short while after we finished our coffee, a staff member came by and sprayed scent on all the roses. No, it didn’t smell anything like roses but the roses themselves were real.

Go figure?

This next shot is of a little bar (not open at the time we were there) that was tucked away in a little bubble-like silver dome structure.

Around the corner from the bar are restrooms, which have to been seen to be believed.

The whole place was mirrored and you can have the dubious pleasure of watching yourself on the can from four different directions……..

nice!

Seeing and regarding. Acinipo, Spain. 2009

Whilst visiting the Roman ruins at Acinipo a donkey came up to my wife and I as we stood near an old carved block of stone.

Over the years I found that the equine species are a curious lot, and if you stand or sit still in a field for a while, they will, unbidden, come up to you. Which is something that those of you who wish to bridle a horse, that has been left alone in a paddock for a while, would do well to take note of.

The donkey was probably looking to be fed but we had no oats or grass to give it so it contented itself with a few pats, strokes and scratches. The old stone block we were standing by, had a few lines carved in its side and had perhaps at some time been the corner of a structure.

As I looked at the donkey and the stone I was reminded of something that I read once, “both monkeys and humans see the stars but only humans regard them”.

Looking into the donkey’s eyes I wondered what ideas, if any, rattled around in its head.

Eat,
sleep,
mate,
piss and shit.

Perhaps?

Of course the donkey didn’t know it grazed over an old Roman settlement that was created for retired soldiers who fought for Julius Caesar against the army of Pompeis’  sons or that the stone it stood next to was shaped by human hands two thousand years ago.

About 30 years ago I read “Fatu Hiva back to nature” by Thor Heyerdahl and I was struck by how he was a thinker who didn’t just look at things and walk on by.

In the early eighties I saw Thor Heyerdahl give a talk about his books and theories. Although some of Thor’s ideas have been shown to be wrong, I have an overwhelming respect for the man as a thinker and human being. I love the way how he spent his life and the way how he looked at things.

After the great man gave his talk I went to a bar with a friend and I can still remember all these years later, how I was struck by the scene that I was presented with as I walked in. In the darkened boozer I could see various guys with arms folded, beer in one hand leaning against the walls with a uniform countenance that seemed to bespeak, “come, let me fuck you”.

Eat,
sleep,
mate,
piss and shit.

As my step father Manfred would say, “sex and alcohol are a small man’s sunshine”.

Some people are like the monkeys that see the stars but don’t regard them. Monkeys skip over the ruins of great civilizations without giving the slightest thought about what they are passing over. It’s not that the stones of the ruins are human fashioned, it’s that to a monkey, all stones are more or less the same.

Monkeys, or donkeys for that matter, through no fault of their own, don’t know or even care where they are in the world or where they fit in. They just are, and from a Buddhist perspective that’s pretty close to being materially unattached and very much in the moment.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will have probably realized that I’m very pro, “be here now”, but I’d like to clarify my stance and say that a life lived without regarding what is around us, is a life that’s half lived. It’s almost a waste of being human.

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