Tag Archives: Travel

Vitoshka lies in the sun

A day of catching up with a long walk along the promenade with the rest of Sofia on a Sunday afternoon. Mount Vitoshka, a big slumbering blue ahead of me as I go in search of the 13 Hundred Years Monument. it also fell victim to badly mixed concrete and is mainly armature now and bears a nickname that makes those who know it giggle and claim they cannot tell me what it means, but this it is nicknamed Continue reading

The theater and its double

Saturday in Plovdiv: art festival, cobblestones, Armenian food, churches, mosque, cats, stray dog, and brides everywhere. In the ancient Roman theater a bride poses both for camera and video, her image enlarged and projected in the center screen like an enormous gladiator queen.

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Kievski Kotlet on Solaris

City GardenVerlängerter, a long coffee, with Milena at the cafe at the Red House Center for Culture and Debate. Talk of authors, New York, Archipelago, artists, spoke of a painter now using urine instead of paint. Noon at the Sofia City Art Gallery with Maria. Sitting in the City Garden behind the hotel drinking tonic water on ice. I relish talking about New York. Continue reading

Here there be dragons

In the entrance a banshee screams into her cell phone. Her cries echo down the stone staircase and through the catacombs where the eyes of stoic saints stare out sadly from under their heavy lids. With bags and circles under dark eyes, they look as if they have stared for ages and that they long for sleep. Continue reading

Mixed metaphors at a reading

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After two introductions, the poet at last stands at the podium. The literati mostly listen, sometimes whisper, while others trace illuminati in the dust of the marble windowsills. His voice echoes down the long hall of the National Library, each phrase runs downhill, poetry is partially music after all, so that much I get out of it. But there are other distractions; like in a film of a ghost story the whispers rise behind me, a persistent sibilant accompaniment that dies down at the end of each line and rises again along with the reader. The whispers are all consonants, and hint at meaning, but I understand nothing. Continue reading

When the sun shone brightest

over the Balkan Mountains

over the Balkan Mountains

“Traveling is real. Opening the door to all fears is real, even if what comes before and what comes after, the motives and the consequences, are not. To tell the truth I can’t figure out how it is that people can make the decision to travel. Maybe it would be helpful to to study the work of those Japanese poets who trekked from landscape to landscape finding subjects for their somewhat incoherent compositions. Continue reading

Postcard from Florence

For a tourist, Italy can seem as overexposed as a sunset; every view recognized in postcard after postcard. Writing seems as redundant as any visual document.  Others have described these narrow streets, these views, the moods, the weather, as well or better.  The Brownings lived here amongst others, but perhaps more familiar to me is E.M. Forster’s Room with a View. I feel sympathetic to Lucy Honeychurch, who, on seeing the Cockney Signora, the pensione dining room full of her countrymen and the painting of the Queen hung next to the schedule for the English church, wonders if she has, in fact, left England?  Continue reading

Postcard from Venice

Giudecca

Postcard from Venice

I had meant to write. I have a whole stack of postcards – even a pack I bought at a church that had obviously been taken in the early 1950’s – full of strong jawed gondoliers assertively clutching their oars and gazing over the Grand Canal like the early explorers must have looked out over the Grand Canyon. But, alas, here I am back in NYC and the postcards are still blank.

A week goes quickly. And if one vacations with David there seems to be an endless number of churches – especially in Venice, where there are an endless number of churches. Out early, we would walk all day and into the night, with momentary pauses on benches, in cafes, in churches, museums and trattorias. Not surprising, a lot of time was spent circuitously navigating between benches, cafes, churches, trattorias… One is never exactly lost, but is often unable to achieve the desired destination with any kind of speed or accuracy. In the pauses I had – generally sitting on a pew in one or another of the churches, I would jot down thoughts geared towards a single portrait of the city – but I find the jottings as diverse as the routes we took each day. So uncollated they will remain. Many other impressions are too vague even to jot down and I suppose they will stay or disappear in the random logic of remembrance since I cannot give them form on the page.

A lot of Venice is O’ so scenic and packed with tourists – but like other parts of Italy the tourists seem to stay on the same 3 streets – leaving the rest basically empty. One knows and one gets the feeling even without knowing the fact that not many people actually live in Venice anymore. It is cleaned up. I realized looking at the Prendergast in Italy exhibition at the Guggenheim that something of the essence is no longer. There was a dirtiness of the sort depicted in the Naturalism of 19th century novels that the Carnevale was in opposition to and also celebrated, the economic and class systems which it could briefly supplant. Masks… Lanterns…Lace…Glass… an incandescence which needed night and faded with the day. A Venice like the paintings of Vanity where an shriveled and painted old woman gazes at her young self in the mirror. Present day Venice has had a bit or work done, her skin stretched into something more artificial, less true to either maid or the mask. Continue reading