|VIRGIN AND CHILD, c. 1125-50|
LOMBARDY, ITALY; LIMESTONE
BOSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
photo: Sharon Mollerus
What little I know of popular culture, and even of other people’s blogs, comes from friends, links people send me, serendipity. I have plenty of time where I “wander,” literally and figuratively, but the wandering is always with a purpose. I don’t ever just while away an afternoon doing nothing, even if I’m “doing nothing.” So one of the nice things about being away from L.A. is that little chunks of time open up where I am able to wander the internet a bit more than I usually do.
To wit, a friend sent me a photo of the Virgin and Child, no attribution, that we both liked because, unlike so many Madonna and Child statues, Mary and the kid actually looked complex and real. So I started googling and learned fairly quickly that the statue was in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and next thing I knew I’d happened upon a blog called Studio and Garden, which is written by a visual artist named Altoon Sultan who lives in Vermont, and next thing after that I was scrolling through post after post, fascinated.
|SOAP DISH AND SCRUBBER|
photo: Altoon Sultan
I was captivated by a book of Tantric paintings she recently described.
(SANSKRIT FOR "ETERNAL PROCREATIVE GERM":
I IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT "BLEEDING HEART OF CHRIST")
FROM TANTRA SONG: TANTRIC PAINTING FROM RAJASTHAN...
Altoon lives the life a teeny part of me has always thought I should live, or might have lived if I’d stayed in New England: in a country farmhouse, with a fireplace, many birdfeeders, and a big old-fashioned kitchen. It’s not that I have no capacity to learn practical skills like splitting wood or digging a garden; it’s that experience has shown after an hour or so I want to lie down and read, or make a cup of coffee and gaze out the window, and that while I love fingerling potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and exotic strains of arugula as much as the next person, really when push comes to shove, I am just as glad to buy them at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market or for that matter, the 99-Cent Only store on Sunset Boulevard and Micheltorena.
Also, I like to have a center. I like to have a place in the middle—a downtown, a teeming hub—that I can walk away from. I like to have something to push against. Every time I go back to New Hampshire (my homeland), for the first couple of days I think, I love it here! I could live here! I should move back! And then around Day Four something kicks in: the feeling I had as a kid of being trapped, of wanting to kick out the traces, of longing to live among people who are openly ruining themselves, or committing crimes, or engaged in some kind of desperately compulsive music or art; around Day Four, I'm consumed by existential nostalgia for a land where I have never lived, and am never going to live, yet seem to have spent my life looking for...
Still, I loved meandering around Altoon’s blog. She’s a wonderful writer, she has a wonderful eye, and if you have a blog yourself, you know the almost maniacal energy/drive/love required to post every other day.
I may have been inspired by Altoon’s blog to look for a picture of Siros, Greece, where I spent several extremely hazy weeks drinking retsina at the High Life Café during the late 1970’s. Because I then stumbled upon another blog called piran café: a trampfest.
|photo: pirancafe.com |
"08-Sep-2007, Zurich. A very hard call. For the time being I’m going with this shot, mainly because it was something that I clearly wasn’t expecting. I was simply hoping to get a quick snap of the woman on a cigarette break, and then remember being a bit upset when the car drove by. I couldn’t have planned the positioning if I tried."
Now this guy is a completely different animal than Altoon: a journalist who lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia (I enjoyed learning where that was, and riffling through photos of Piran, which is a seaside city that looks kind of scruffy and divine), and at the time (back in January) I discovered him had just quit smoking, and who jets, rides, walks, and tramps about the world with another kind of beautiful eye: for the offbeat, the violent, the politically unrestive, the urban (and occasionally the pastoral), the paradoxical.
From his "About" page:
There is no real Piran Café, nor is this one located in Piran, the millennium-old Adriatic seaside city that rests at the tip of a peninsula at the easternmost edge of Slovenia. This one is actually sits in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, some 130 kms from Piran. I once seriously considered opening a café in a relatively quiet seaside setting, where I would graciously host weary travelers, underemployed artists and musicians, poets, priests, prisoners and politicians, and other voices of desperate illumination. That real Piran Café is now the destination.
Based in Ljubljana, I travel quite a bit as a reporter, primarily around Europe. But you won’t find anything remotely related to my professional life here. Cafés are necessary escapes and roadside rest stops. My passions include travel, art, design, innovation, photography, museums, wine and sushi. Politics usually lurk nearby. More recently, I’ve taken a keen interest to issues of migration and immigration, particularly in Europe. When they and I cross paths, those are some of the things you’ll find here. And plenty of personal bookmarks on wide-ranging topics that happen to fall within the wide parameters of my obsessions at any given time.
Sample posts: “First Photos of China’s 298-Million-Year-Old Buried Forest,” “Daegu [South Korea] Notebook,” “On Cultivating a Sense of Humility While On the Road,” and “Agent Orange’s Golden Anniversary” in which Bob R. (that's as far as he identifies himself) visited and took photos of the children who live at Lang Hoa Binh Than Xuan, an orphanage, school and clinic in Hanoi set up specifically for victims of Agent Orange. He’s also a great videographer ( samples here include "Sarajevo Siege Tour," "Rabat Quickie," "Feeding Time," "Holy Saturday," and "ego trip (Train II"...)
This is another type of life I “might” have lived or have liked to live except for the fact that constant travel would unsettle me to the point of psychosis. But I love to read about other people’s travels and this guy totally gets what is interesting, what is corrupt, what is beautiful, what is human. And again, to keep a blog like that up and running takes a tremendous amount of labor, thought, and heart.
WOMAN IN BOMBED-OUT ATHEN
PHOTO BY BOB R.'S FRIEND
VALIA CARMONDS CIRCA DEC. 11, 2008 [SEE POST]
THAT PURPLE SCARF SAYS EVERYTHING.
If we are lucky, we all find our way to the incessantly unfolding life that is tailor-made for us.