THIS SECTION IS UNDER RECONSTRUCTION
THE WHOLE STORY - from Cannes to Amsterdam, May – July, 2007
(Being Loren’s Postcards from Europe 2007.)
Thurs, May 17 - Cannes, France
Can't tell you how happy i am to send this note - trying two days to get email working from this laptop. so, down to business.
For the record, today is Thursday. In left Monday, arrived Tuesday - tired but otherwise OK, maybe 2 -4 hours sleep a night since last week - last night a full 8! Wednesday very busy getting everything set up - my films were incorrectly loaded in the computer here and had to get them reloaded - fortunately a willing, responsible person in charge.
Yes, the festival is a cross between Hollywood glitz, Euro glamour and Las Vegas trade show. Anyone can make a film, the money is in the distribution and that's what this place is all about: trying to get attention to get distribution. Plastic and metal tents line an otherwise gorgeous waterfront, bumper to bumper mega-yachts backed up to the docks, set for parties - giga-yachts anchored offshore.
I stumbled out into Opening Night red carpet ceremonies to see Wong Kar Wai, Jude Law & Nora Jones ascend the stairs for the opening premiere of "My Blueberry Nights." Deepa Metha arrived in ancient colonial steam carriage of some sort. You're reminded they're normal humans who sometimes look fragile and terribly uncomfortable at being made the spectacle - something like deer in the car's headlights - so they develop weird personas to explain it all.
I'm going to meet an LA friend of Penelope's for coffee.
Salut, a bientot, loren
Venus and the tiniest sliver moon follow a setting sun West over a row of palm trees lining the seafront boulevard, Croisette. I'm parked on a beach chaise with a fleece blanket and my laptop in front of a giant screen over the bay. Tonight's "Cinema de la plage" of classic Palmes d'Or is "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" - 1964 by Jaques Demy. A DJ named Fred Elalouf spins original sound tracks from Bollywood for the early crowd. My warm meal for the day was a chicken panini here in the chair.
Saw two films earlier today. One a muddy Estonian docu/drama about a man who let his son commit suicide called Magnus. Skip it! The second was a great doc: "Terror's Advocat" about French lawyer Jacques Verges who defended Djamila Brouhired, of the Algerian Resistance - complimenting the picture from "Battle of Algiers" and "Z." He went on to defend Palestinian and Badder Meinhof “terrorists,” as well.
Two more: "Les Chansons D'Amour" is a musical, metrosexual ménage a cinq with a dead Juliet a third of the way in. The other, ""Boarding Gate" could have been skipped...a non-relevant sex/criminal intrigue the world needs less of. Only thing, it stars Asia Argento who's in two other films here, as well - this year’s new hottie, kind of a ravenous Ellen Barkin.
Missed the final train back to Nice last midnight and was forced to hang with Brits beach partying until 5AM. Aarrrgh! Thursday spent three hours retracing train rides when I realized almost to Cannes that my festival badge, without which you get nowhere, was back in my "hotel" at Nice. So, beside plans, there's plenty of time spent making up for mistakes.
Today I mean to catch Michael Moore's new one "Sicko" abt health care denial systems. Another on my list is "Mister Lonely," made in Paris by Bolinas kid Harmony Korine (born ''73). Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" set in Porland, screens Tuesday.
Off to the races....Loren
Several days ago I met a lady on the train from Nice headed for the festival – Jacqueline Zana-Victor is Chargee des Affaires
Culturelles in the Mayor's office of the Paris 13th arrondissement, and we reconnected in line for a screening. She wears neon pink, blue and green plastic glasses, has wild brillo hair and
arranges cultural festivals so she gets to take regular trips to Italy, etc. We were joined for dinner by two of her friends – lady psychiatrists just returned from Milano convention - at
Poco Loco, a back street creole restaurant with yummmmy Caribe food. Not long after we sat down, Ken Burns and a lady sauntered by - never can think of that question you always wanted to ask the guy
when you have a straight, clean shot at him like that! Just as well - I don't know a filmmaker that thinks he is a filmmaker.
Gus Van Sant’s "Paranoid Park" - not a knock out - bit of an adult version of a kid flic - set in Portland’s E. Burnside Skateboard Park - a mystery, then a moral dilemma. Wang Kar Wai's director of photography brings in great cinematography. Worth seeing but not his best.
Melting in the sun, in line for Harmony Korine's "Mister Lonely", a Belgian next to me seemed to know a lot about Korine's ventures: says he wrote script for Larry Clark's "Kids", and his own films "Gummo" and "Julien Donkey Boy". Spent early life in Nashville after born in Bolinas, hippie communes somewhere along the way.
Now having seen, it pushes the fantastic as divers impersonators get together in a Scottish commune to recognize and respect the characters they manifest, centered around the Mr. Lonely/Michael Jackson guy and a Marilyn Monroe. Meanwhile Werner Herzog plays a jungle missionary whose nuns discover skydiving for God. OK its very funny and poignant and playful and sad and joyous and silly and pathetic and heartful. Its the freshest film I've seen so far. See it for yourself. Harmony IS a Bolinas kid who has lots of European attention and support.
Still can't get my cell phone messages so if you left one, I didn't get it yet. If important call during daylight (europ) or email
More later, a bientot
"Calle Santa Fe" is 2h43m documentary about/by Carmen Castillo, comrade and partner of Chilean revolutionary Miguel Enriquez, killed by police in 1974. After Pinoche coup in 1975 many survivors exiled. Her film summarizes the resistance, torture, disappearances and eventual return of many. It is a powerfully moving film, brought tears several times. This is a must see when it hits the States. Especially for yu, Jesus, who already knows more of the story, but to fill us in!
I don't get to see the BIG films in the Red Carpet theater but gossip seems bet for Palm d'Or "No Country For Old Men" USA -
another border sheriff’s tale, drug smuggling - you know all the real shit hollywood dreams up - by the Coen Brothers. Glad at least it isn't Tarrentino's Death Proof. Angelina Jolie appears in
A Mighty Heart abt journalist Daniel Pearl murdered last year in Pakistan. There's a real difference between emotional exaggerations of Hwood and depictions in the
independent/resistance-view documentaries shown here.
Yesterday saw "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - awkward title for a beautiful film (may change before US release) is one of best here! American director Julian Schnabel's story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of French fashion magazine Elle, who, at the age of 43, was disabled by a massive stroke in his brain stem. Despite his disability, Bauby wrote his memoirs by blinking his left eye in an alphabet code. The film is not tedious, as I expected - beautifully done from point-of-view inside the thinking head, to usual flashbacks, recollections and outside shots. It’s humorous, pathetic, beautiful and keeps moving. One of the year's best (along with the next....
The other great film I saw today was "Alexandra" about a Russian Grandmother's visit to her grandson, Rus military officer, stationed at a Chechnyan outpost. Entirely in olive drab sepia tones - grime and loss of humanity in the soldiers, their longing to make contact with her, her unwillingness to follow rules comments on the futility and stupidity of that (and all) war without attacking that conflict itself. Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya renders a strong, loving, unemotional babushka who wanders into town to make friends with Chech women. Well worth seeing!
Have witnessed several dozen short films in various venues including the Director's Series, Short Film Corner and 6 x chosen young directors on State of the World (pretty depressing,) only a few there I liked.
These folks in Cannes may be into movies but they're not into communication. Stood, again, 30 minutes in melting sun only to find theater was filled half hour before. Door/gate guys seem to have little interest in anything going on around them - just doing their job and it isn't you they're working for.
Tomorrow is official last day of fest, a few wraps on Sunday. Time to wash clothes, figure my next move.
Yachts Ready to Party
Jacqueline Zana-Victor (a
Le Palais de Festivals Pavillions along the beach
Things Eaten in Restaurants:
pizza fruits de mer (seafood pizza)
linguini aux fruits de mer
rizotto fruits de mer
salade grande w/ mesculin, tomato, saumon fume, cervette, et poisson
bouillabaisse (seafood stew)
lapin et pomme de terre (rabbit, baked w/ potatoes.)
tons of chicken (occasional fish) pannini
petit dejeuner (OJ, cafe, pain, croissant, confiture)
glace (ice cream - its 90' here)
l'eau minerale gaz
I meet old friend BoreRat come to help understand French language. He’s arrive other day help train language American speakers.
He says “Perhaps most powerful word in French is also one of the shortest and is, most often, silent! It is not even listed in the dictionary or phrase books. It has immense meaning, is used often, but is almost never taught in language class. I will teach you this word.”
“pewh” (spelling is somewhat variable) has at least three different uses, usually to negate, disagree with and/or show contempt for something said or done. It is basically pronounced with minimal sound - like the way one blows out a match to teach kids the letter “P” – a simple puff of the lips, known as a bi-labial, unvoiced explicative. What follows determines the meaning and intent of the pewh-er.
The most common use is in conversation when the other says something that you disagree with or disdain. You puff your lips a little fuller before releasing, a little more explosive release, with scrunched-up eyes. This means that the other is full of shit. Conversely, you can soften the eye scrunch a little, substituting empathy, to show that you, too, agree with the disdain or negation the other is expressing – you both think the subject is full of shit. Handy, huh?
Second meaning, when there is no one else around: you do something like attempt to hang up your coat and it falls on the floor. You “pewh,” this time lightly, with resignation and weariness. This means that no matter how hard you try the universe will screw it up. You dump your purse: pewh. You forget your keys: pewh. A shrug of the shoulders and flick of the head often helps. Life is an uphill battle and you’ve just taken another step downhill. Sexy women do it out of the side of their mouth!
Finally, its most abrupt expression - often gaining a voice – the “h” is kind of grunted. It means you, the conversational other, are the most contemptible person ever and you can go to hell. Something like the American middle finger or the Italian grand arm gesture. The more outrageous the idea is to the pewh-er, s/he may hold the lips longer before release, puffing up like a blow fish, and releasing it in the direction of the conversant, to express greater disdain. Subtle arm motion, head jerks, shoulder shrugs and facial distortions add flavor and particular meaning to one’s use. Though this can end a conversation, it customarily does not and more argumentation can continue, the other being satisfied with their expression, things can move on to other topics.
As you can see, this one simple word can be used in so many different ways with such verbal efficiency, it is no wonder so many French people use it so often. I’m sure you now can think of many ways to use this new French word yourself. Practice occasionally in front mirror and you be will French speaking no time. Thanks my new friend BoreRat.
The joints closing down, gotta send and run
Au revoir till next stop.
Guess what! Today is a national holiday in France, too (nobody told me what.) ((So your card will be one day later, Lois.))
Sunday, all 22 films in competition were re-shown - so I was able to see four more - and the awards were presented. I missed the winners by a mile and everybody else did too. Obviously the jury was quite an independent mind, un-influenced by the public gossip press which we got.
I finally saw the Coen Brothers murder spectacular "No Country For Old Men", Wang Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights", Emir Kusturica's "Promise Me This" and James Gray's "We Own The Night." All extremely well made but added nothing, nothing, nothing to understanding or enlightenment.
I propose a film in which the Coen Brothers, their writers and producers, are murdered, over and over again, by all the victims of their movies in equally gruesome ways. Some thought Javier Bardem should get Best Actor for the evilest bad guy ever; Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson were good too. It's powerful, engrossing, well made and everybody gets slaughtered, so if you don't want the ultimate macho blood movie where only evil remains at the end - skip it. It's like, you watch it on the expectation the good guys will survive in the end - and they don't. And the only reason you stay is you don't know that. And that's the Coen's gift to you, their audience. (OK, this is my first take on it.)
Wang wrote MBN, which seems odd, since it's so American, about unrequited love including the film-length one between Nora and Jude, and a long road trip across America. I mean the story's been done so many times and W brings nothing new to either the story or it’s telling. Cinematographically it’s beautiful, especially the ice cream melting down over the blueberry pie and I even like Jude Law now - but Palme D'Or, non!
“We Own The Night” is an NYPD movie about a family of cops, including papa Robt Duvall, verses a Russian drug mafia, owners of the nightclub wch errant son, Joaquin Phoenix, manages. Again exciting and intriguing but you can see something close to this every night on American TV so why bring it here???
Finally, Kusturika. Think the three stooges and their relatives in Serbia. Silly, slapstick, lewd, puerile, funny, some heart, young love, old grandpas, guns, animal sex, church jokes - I'm sure, full of biting commentary and revelation about Serb customs and traditions (if you just knew what they were.) Even so, you'll probably laugh all the way through it. The music is terrific.
The Palme d'Or went to Romanian, Cristian Mungui, for "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 days." An abortion drama bout two college girls, set in Bucharest. (Didn't see it!)
The Grande Prix went to a Japanese film, Mogari No Mori (The Mourning Forest) by femme director Naomi Kawase. It didn't screen until 10PM of the last night; since I usually can't see these films until the next day I missed it as did most others. A car accident in the country forces an old man and his nurse into a "journey of discovery" for two exhausting days in the forest until they arrive at the old man's wife's tomb. (so says the catalogue.)
Gus Van Sant got a special award for "Paranoid Park"; "Persepolis" an popular animated cartoon/true story of director Marjane Satrapi's own life in war torn Iran and exile to Austria - got a prize ; "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" - still my favorite - got best director... (or something - I read this morning's paper in French so some of it slipped by me!!! If they'd just stick with the present tense... There were others but can't remember them now either. It'll all be in your papers, anyhow.)
I did get to see another film Saturday night: "California Dreaming" by another Romanian, Cristian Nemescu, that I highly recommend. Americans arrive in a small Romanian village when, during the 1999 war in Kosovo, a local station master/crook holds up a train carrying NATO gear for the war. The sidetracked American Marine escort becomes involved in local politics, girls and mobsterism while waiting to be released. Great performances, bitter truths about "the Americans are coming."
Baring any more surprises, that wraps the 60th Cannes Festival de Film for me. I made a few contacts to discuss film teaching gigs and one Norwegian journalist doing a doc on Allen Ginzburg who's interested in AG footage. (see, Europeans really are more interested in American culture than we are.) And one buddhist, LA scriptwriter dressed in Central American clothing.
Oh, almost forgot! Saturday, Nice, was in the laundromat when eye caught flash quick of Huichol Maarakame (Mexican shaman in full dress with hat and embroidered shirts) riding down the street in the passenger's seat of a Land Rover! I ran out to confirm my amazement; mex/huicholita woman in back, driven by latino, younger, contemporary dude. They pulled off in traffic as I saluted: Huichols in Nice! Long way from Sierra Madre.
--------------------------Dosvidania, Au Revoir, Auf Weidersein, Ciao, Hasta Luego, Sayonara, Aloha, Bye.--------------------
Thursday, May 31
and it's still Nice - least expensive to stay and all of Riviera readily accessible by train. Yesterday, hopped one for Saint Raphael (that's an E with 2 dots over it, pron: rah-fai-ell, for you Marin Co. folks) and the beach, Frejus-plage, half way to St. Tropez. If you want a spectacular bike ride, or motorcycle or car, take this route from Cannes - La Napoule west! (see photos that follow.)
Small inlets and wealthy hamlets dot the azure (blue is NOT right) coast - low, red basalt cliffs remind Big Sur, a dramatic rocky Esterel Massif, monument, rising inland. Villas in pink stucco wear terracotta roofs with tree-shaded patio, cluster on ledges, frequent blue swimming pool, sailboat in marina cove - like many small Carmels. The road winds gently through all this, minimal up-and-down; bistros and snack shacks peppered along the course with patios and tables jutting over the cliff. You can stop many places and walk down to your own private cove or sandy beach for the day. I've encountered bikes carried onto trains hereabouts, or you can probably rent them in La Napoule. Distance, about 20 miles to St Raphael.
SR is a vacation town with magnificent old cathedral, casino, marinas, lots of sandy beaches, beach bars/restaurants, and a real, functioning, fish market at the docks. Found a least-expensive hotel, centra-ville, for $55/night middle season, in case you’re planning. Beyond here, the train heads inland for 60 miles to Toulon so If you want to continue to St. Tropez, you must take a bus - or ride your bike another 20 miles of gorgeous coast!
The beach was great, my first day of relaxation since a week before I left Eugene. The water cool since the storm last weekend (lots of cloud, wind and waves, little rain) churned up the colder depths. Finished off the day with seafood paella at beachside restaurant, before training 1 hour back to Nice. Today, going the other way to Monaco. Why? Because i've never been there and there it is. Contemplating a week retreat soon at Plum Village near Bergerac & Bordeaux. Hear TNH is gone to Vietnam and Germany.
Friday, 1 June -
OK Monaco was a bust - it rained in paradise, hard, while they're picking up the pieces of the Grande Prix from the day before. Then train electricity went down on the Nice return so we stood/sat in station with about a thousand others for and hour and a half - but it was dry. You know, travel could actually be fun if you didn't have to wait, walk, retrace, stand, pack, arrange, carry, walk, go back...so much! Best image: brand new driver with brand new Ferrari and hot babe, exiting F dealership in Monaco - probably a $million in other auto's right there on the apron. Or the Lambourgini.
Monaco Harbor Loren, Casino Monte Carlo Old Harbor, Nice
Monaco My Boat,
Cannes Party, German Film Pavilion
Since it rains, you go to museums: Matisse and Archeological atop the hill were good bet. Then MAMAC, Musee d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain by the old port, full of American originals Rivers, Indiana's LOVE and others, Rauschenbergs, Warhols, etc. Best discoveries were French Mme. Nikki De Saint Phalle, paramour of Jean Tinguely (died ~2002), Yves Klein, locally born genius, and Ben of the Ecole De Nice. Great museum with fantastic roof-top deck. Then it rained some more.
Nikki De Saint Phalle Dragon, MAMAC Court Yard Old Church, Nice
a bientot, or as they say here: bonne weekend.
Monday, 11 June, Paris
I've been in Paris one week, now. Trying to set up showing in London for next week, contact other Euro's I know, go to retreat in Plum Village following week. (pics follow)
My friend Jacqueline (from Cannes) - who is busy most days till 10 or 11PM preparing for La Semaine d'Italie, starting June 21 - has given me a key, use of her spare room and the generosity to come and go as I please. Jacq is an international congress all by herself - Tunis born of Jewish parents, migrated to Nice, then Paris. She is the Cultural Chargee des Affaires for the 13th district (an elected office) and seems to know everyone. The 13th mairie (mayor's/ municiple building) is at Place dÍtalie -home to, surprise, lots of Italians.
I don't go a block (more about that word later) without finding a restaurant I want to eat. Just across the street is a sweet little Marocain, Le Ouarzazate, where we had amazing chicken Tajines and couscous the other night! I've found two Tibetan restaurants and numerous North African, Turkish, Indian, Roumanian, Hungarian besides. There's a brasserie on every corner.
I'm also amazed at the ancient architecture hereabouts. The stone walls that are exposed when a neighboring building has been removed, piled beautifully six stories high, looks like it would topple in the next tremor - except it was built about 1066. I've attached some pix: St Etiennes church atop Rue Mouefftard built in 1492 when Columbus, looking for India, bumped into America. Atop Montmartre, I discovered Chez Eugene (Parisians not to be able to pronounce You-Gene) in Place du Tertre, across from a building 40 years past its 600th birthday. And closer to Sacre Coeur, another church started in 1146, when America was still hogans and pueblos!
But finding your way around is another matter. The other day I visited the world-famous Cinematheque Francaise, at # 51 Bercy. No easy task for us Americans. Probably because the streets intersect six at a time and run in all directions, the American concept of the "Block" just doesn't work here. "How many blocks to ...?" will get you nothing but blank stares. "How far?", "Pas loin" (not far) "deux, trois du rue"; "Which direction?", "Tout droit" (just ahead); "Where is it?" "A droite" (to the right.) Sounds like it’s just around the corner, right, you're practically there. Get ready for a looooong walk!
Now, here's the trick. In America "block" is more or less a regular distance, the houses numbered "logically" with the 100's in the first block, 200's next block, etc. So you know if you have to go 2 blocks or 10. Not here! Evidently, these houses were invented before numbers, and numbers are a retro-fit, just like the plumbing. So not every building is numbered! You can walk half a "block" and not find a number. The numbers that may be across the street have nothing to do with the numbers (that are missing) on this side, other than they're odd or even. And when you find the number you seek on a house, there may be six of them! Go figure!
So I find # 81 Bercy and figure I'm almost there. It's a weird neighborhood of Rose Garden-like sports arena half covered in grass, anonymous business and apartment buildings paralleling the rail tracks from Lyon. I walk what I consider a long block, where I can barely see building # 81. Most of the buildings are not numbered but when I manage to locate the next one, it's 61. OK, I'm going in the right direction - I hope I don't have to go to the bathroom before I get there. I keep walking. Finally, another block later, I find # 51! Great, except it’s a blank wall. Helpful arrows send you along a plaza to a park at the "rear" of the building, and there it is, the entrance! [as far as the Cinematheque goes, i'd say it's lost its luster since the Henri Langlois days: cold, faux-bauhaus, one-time-modern architecture, glassed-in displays of film memorabilia, historical fragments are interesting but lonely and pedantic, like a curio shop inside a bibliotheque.]
Yesterday, I'm supposed to meet Jacqueline at 45 rue Lepic, up on Montmartre. As I get close I notice a sign on a building stating Vincent Van Gogh and Theo had lived here, 54 r. Lepic. I'm enchanted - I join the tourists snapping pictures. #45 should come before #54 but it hasn't. I keep walking. Half a "block" later I finally see #45! Then another. And then another #45. Then another, then another, then another. Six #45's in the same block! Shops, empty storefronts, craftsmen studios, service entrances, garages - all numbered #45. OK, I am confused. How does anyone deliver something around here? I find the shop by sign and go in. The lady offers that probably once it was just one big location and later was divided up but by then everything else hand already been numbered, so they all had to be #45. Made perfect french to me.
But the magic works the other way, too. Jacqueline had arranged tickets to hear an Italian chanteuse at the old Theatre du Rond-Point on des Champs Elysees. Adriana Asti is short, wears a tuxido and greatly resembles Guilette Masina. She sings in Italian about streets of Milan and reads interstices in French, accompanied by excellent piano, cellist and clarinet. She is in her 70's and acted in "Rocco and His Brothers" for Visconti, then Pasolini, Bertolucci, De Sica & Bunuel. She is charming and professionally at ease to a small house of about 50 seated in this close, little theater. Most of the audience are Italian, it seems. And Jacqueline knows a bunch, including the director.
Outside, we cross the street and I'm struck by an odd feeling of familiarity. I recognize the stores, like I've been here before. Now I remember the scenes from, I believe, Bertolucci's "After The Revolution" ??? where the two women go shopping at high-end stores along the avenue C.E. Wow! Then I notice the street is named Avenue Montaigne, the name of the film I just saw a month before leaving Eugene. Cecile de France as a cafe waitress working opposite the theater, auction house and concert hall. We walk past an auction house, a theater and on to an Alsacian restaurant where I have salmon, pike & smoked haddock in cream sauce w/ white potatoes, on bed of sauerkraut, and a beer. Jacqueline has lobster and wine. We bask in the hubbub of it all and then head back on the metro.
Following night, Jacqueline hosts a dinner of her Italian/Parisian friends to which I am invited. I sit - smiling, ignorant but interested - as one conversation in Italian crosses the table with another in French. I recognize a word in either language about every 30 seconds. Once in awhile they stop, utter something in English to cordially include me, and go on heatedly discussing French/Italian cinema/politics (its almost always one of the two.) I include a pic of gorgeous Carla, gay Angelo, Jacqueline and Denise. Carla is Sardinian, 41, single and vacationing here in a studio apartment rented for 1600E per month ($2160.US) I ask her how she likes the men she's been meeting. Not too well, she says, they just offer to fly her to New York in their jets but she doesn't like Saudi Arabians.
Walking down from Montmartre I stop at a bar from which sounds electric guitar, in front of the little park at metro Abyssess, to have a beer and rest. The band is singing solid versions of American 60's electric rock, switching leads and instruments, until the harmonica player shows up, then switch to blues, until the horn player shows up, then switch to hot Delta boogie, then take a break. All French, not an American gene among them. Better done than one normally finds in America, not since maybe the old days at Smiley's in Bolinas.
Carla, Angelo, Jacqueline, Denise
Friday 15, June
Last Friday I went to my favorite tango club, Bistro Latin, 20 r.d. Temple. It is half the size of just the Eugene dance floor, but this includes the tables and band. Cozy. Danced with several - all good follows, quick & light. I seem to pick younger women because they're inherently more forgiving of me, who probably resembles their grandfather. Older women maybe less tolerant and more likely to show their true opinion of my dancing. Had a wonderful time with a Romanian, one Avignon angel just returned from 5 mo. study in Finland and one Parisian. Blissed, I limped home on the metro.
Today I went to the Musee d'Orsay, struck by the classic Van Gogh's, Renoir's, Monet's and Lautrec's - unfortunately, some of which
are purposely under-lighted to preserve their media. Next week starts a summer show, From Cezanne To Picasso. Some anticipated part of the hall is always under remodel - this year the
architecture section, last time Rembrant/Flemish at the Louvre, and you know they pen it the day after you leave. The d'Orsay photography section is great - early treats of street
life, portraiture and landscape - the best sense of place, custom and character today of nineteenth century fore-bears, especially even the artists themselves and who's work depicts it
View Across Paris From D’Orsay to Sacre Coeur
Speaking of old: in Nice the paleontology museum is built on a site now 26 meters above sea level (~80 ft. - note: global cooling!) that was excavated from 380,000 !! year old hunting camp then a sea shore. One of earliest human/use of fire sites in Europe: pole shelter, fire pits, foot print, mammoth-, bird-, rabbit bones, stone choppers galore. That's a few more an~os than Fort Rock Cave, now, isn't it?
Have video/film show set in London next Wednesday, June 20th, at no.w.here - lab, a film center and exhibition loft in Bethnal Green (?wherever that is?), a round trip scheduled Monday-Thursday on EuroStar. Friday I'm booked into Plum Village for a weeklong retreat. Silence is all you hear from me then. Meanwhile, keep you apprised of this scene as it unfolds.
Thanks to Martin MacClain we have additional info on Harmony Korine - definitely a Bolinas kid:
Browse the sidebars to get other Korine scenes.
Light Reading Series 7
April – November 2007
316-318 Bethnal Green Road
20th June 2007
American film and video artist Loren Sears will show and discuss a selection of his early work, including the “Haight-Ashbury Quartet”, at Light Reading on June 20th at 7pm.
Each of the four films in the quartet, which dates from 1967 to 1971, is a personal documentary that uses superimposition and complex (home made) optical printing to portray private and communal life in San Francisco’s hippie centre. They include footage of the legendary Gathering of the Tribes at Golden Gate Park, Allen Ginzberg, Timothy Leary, the Grateful Dead and the Diggers. On the fortieth anniversary of the ‘Summer of Love’, Sears made new digital transfers of the films and presented them at the Cannes Film Festival and market earlier this year.
Loren Sears began making film in 1965 and was a founding member of Canyon Cinema (which remains one of the oldest surviving film co-operatives) and manager of Canyon Cinematheque in San Francisco; an innovator in film and video technology; artist-in-residence at KQED-TV in San Francisco; and helped to build the production departments for both the Public Cable Access Center and KLSR-TV in Eugene, Oregon.
As one of the first West Coast artists to begin using video in the late 1960s, Sears was cited by Gene Youngblood, in his seminal book “Expanded Cinema”, as one of the foremost innovators in the field for the psychedelic video mixes he created at KQED’s experimental video laboratory. Between 1972-74, Sears lived and traveled in a van outfitted for video production, shooting personal journals and initiating community video projects. At Light Reading, he will also screen “The Pacific Lake, Tribal Vision” as an example of his work from this period.
Light Reading is an on-going series of critical dialogues that engage artists, writers and curators in conversation around a selected artist’s body of work. To be included on the mailing list for future events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets are £4 if pre-booked or £5 on the door, places are limited so booking is essential.
Please RSVP to James at email@example.com or call 0207 372 3925.
Light Reading is held at:
316 318 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 0AG
Tuesday, June 19:
Hopped the Eurostar connection to London yesterday to find weather similar to Paris: uncertain clouds, some rain, some sun - can't make up its mind, but the temp. is fine and nobody gets terribly wet. Besides the uneventful ride, first noticed: I almost understand the people giving me directions; prices are twice as high; food is way different.
Breakfast was an adventure of egg, ham, sausage, beans, chip (fries) and coffee. The sausage resembled a hot dog and tasted a little like Spam, the beans were Campbell's, half the plate was french fries. Called the All Day Breakfast, it was the smallest combo offered on the menu @ L3.90 ($7.80) The coffee latte' was good, for a change.
If the Dollar/Euro exchange rate wasn't bad enough (1.35) try the Dollar/Pound ($/L) at 2! While things seem normally priced at L3.50, L6.0 & L15, its really $7 for the coffee, $12 for the burger & $30 for the entre'. One bus ride is L2 or $4, one 'tube' ride cost me $8! If you're looking to maximize your travel dollar, not London. Starbucks coffee is around $6, and they have wireless internet from TMobile you can pay to use!
The bus ride from Waterloo Station to Victoria was spectacular - over Westminster Bridge, past the 315' Ferris Wheel, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace - half my sight seeing right there on a short city bus ride. After recovering, I made it out to Piccadilly Circus, close by, and to Soho for sights and meal. People still smoke here in bars and restaurants, but July 1st. indoor public smoking goes illegal! Listening, France?
Later today I meet my friends and go over the American/European technical hookups for the showing tomorrow. Think I'll hop the sightseeing bus again.
Friday, June 22
The showing in London was gratifying - a room full of interested, informed younger (who isn't) people, most of whom weren't born when these films were made. All were interested in the milieu because London had its own scene in the 60's that was a different legend to them, and had mostly been stuffed with the Beatles/sex/drugs/rock themes of the popular media. Most were artists of one kind or another, mostly film. Afterwards, we retired to a local pub for more talk and beers. They appreciated singly most Marty MacClain's rap throughout The Pacific Lake - they were impressed with his presentation, thinking him quite a philosopher. I also cut an extensive interview for Mark Webber's project on early American avant-garde cinema, recalling all kinds of memories from early Canyon Cinema/SF days.
I took the bus tour and river float and hardly moved from the seat. England is QUAINT: Horse soldier formations negotiating through traffic with mounted police escort. Major part of its historical identity is war, battle, officer stuff (Churchill, Wellington...) and of course Shakespeare, Johnson, Darwin, Chaucer, Purcell, ... Strange to be identified with such a long time on such a small island. (America reversed) Houses, castles, manors, wealth, property - it seems wealth is the ultimate virtue, here. If you've got that it doesn't really matter what else you do.
I'm sitting in the Paris/Montparnasse train station killing three hours before my Plum Village TGV, eating an indian pizza and drinking a Heineken, before going into vegetarian/tea retreat week. Heavy baggage and mental absences have led to several minor losses lately, including my address book with a small note for emergency bank/credit card numbers and my favorite pencil. Control (keeping it together) versus loosing it (attention & identity lapses.)
Sunday, June 24
Plum Village is quiet now. Most of the monks and nuns are off with Thich Nhat Hanh in Germany but all expected back Monday or Tuesday. As opposed to the hundreds I expected, there are few of us here now. Only 8 or 9 others arrived for the week with me last Friday. So we, along with a dozen others here for a month or more, and the core crowd of 20 monks, are all that are here. We have had lots of room and attention. July 7 starts the weeks long Summer Retreat which will see the hundreds file through in every configuration. We get up at 5:15AM for 5:45 meditation, 7:00 breakfast, 9:00 work 'meditation', ... not too hard, really. Three meals a day of exotic food I can't pass by means I way over eat at these retreats - learning to take less than my eyes want.
I am staying at Upper Hamlet, home to TNH and the monks, as well as single males and some fem. visitors. There is also a nearby teenage/twenties hamlet just down hill from UH. Lower Hamlet is 5km, home to twice as many nuns, visiting single women and some married couples. Saturday, Lower Hamlet hosted an open house for all their French neighbors and the rest of us. Another, 25 km away, New Hamlet hosted the Sunday dharma talk, walking med, lunch, dharma discussion - an all day affair after b'fast here. There are several other places around that become short term retreats for mid-summer multitudes, empty rest of year. The countryside is, again, like the Loraine Valley nr. Eugene minus the big conifers - except the King Estates here actually are king estates with authentic castles, 500 yo stone, timber and tile masterworks. Even the farmhouses and barns are magnificent.
Monday, June 25
Today is Lazy Day at PV and outside of meals, no schedule. Some of us have taken off for Eymet (a-may) 11km away. Medieval Fr. farm town wrapped around small square and fountain, modernized with restaurants, internet cafe (!!!!! w/ WiFi that works!!!!), patisserie, etc. Several times in the last 1000 years the English have ruled the town. The ancient and modern are incorporated here curious ways - add the brown robed Buddhists up the road and it’s quite a carnival. Outside town, it’s family farm country with fields of wheat, veggies, sunflower, corn, grapes, fruit. It's wheat-cutting time here, sunflowers yet to blossom, grapes setting-on hoping they'll get the sun they want out of this wet summer. Did I mention it's raining again today?
An interesting physical dance group here from Denmark is doing research for a performance/play they are developing for children, among other things, about presence.
Gary Palen Thich Nhat Hanh Our Group minus myself Spanish Sister
Eymet East from Plum Village Me & Eric (from Denmark) in Eymet
Tuesday, Wednesday Plum Village returned to "normal" with daily med, eat, work, med, work, eat, sleep. Beside the peaceful and mindful space maintained here for personal work, the sharing of dharma, the collective, is the other important part of practice. You discover brother/sisterhood with persons you'd never otherwise know intimately - and the importance of each other in seeing our selves clearly. Eventually, we are led to realizations about our manner and personalities we might never otherwise question (see pic.)
Thay returned Wednesday, and Thursday gave a dharma talk and lunch at our hamlet for all the others. He resembles his photos, videos, though seeming tired after 2 weeks in Germany. The talk was basic Buddhism on suffering, with emphasis on suicide, probably for the 30 or 40 youth who've been at their own retreat downhill. As always, Thay was calm, gentle but firm, the talk was simple and clear with fresh insights into appreciating the basic postulates of Buddha. Later he led a walking meditation (see picture) and lunch for 200.
Leaving was hard because you realize that in the "outside" world you'll almost never again encounter a space so pure for spiritual penetration, clear of distraction, noise and marketed delusion. You go tiptoeing quietly so the ever present monster of consumption won't find you
I am again in the material world. Yesterday, everyone not essential to preparation for the coming Summer Retreat left. I am in
Bergerac (pics below) a small town maybe 20 km up the Dordogne river valley from Plum Ville, headed into the heart (or maybe womb) of early humanity: la Vezere river valley wherein lie the caves
of Lascaux and Les Eyzies. There has been a human inhabitation here for some 400,000 years! I want to visit it. A couple train rides later, I'll tell you what I find.
ON THE PATH TO LASCAUX
An incredible journey today from Bergerac by train to Le Buisson, then another to Les Eyzies (layz-aze-eaz).
Unfortunately public transportation ends there and you’re still 25 km from the painted cave at Lascaux.
Fortunately, you could spend days around Les Eyzies – there are half dozen sites near here including one in town – well, towering over the whole town – that dates back 38,000 yrs!
Plenty of camping and hotels nearby.
Or go on to Montignac by thumb.
Between these two towns stretches the Valee de La Vezere river where western Homo Sapiens were first known to inhabit and flourish up to the present. You have to come here! These are the prettiest two towns you’ll ever see!
First thing in town from a lonely, separated train station is the Hotel Cro-Magnon
Didn’t see any 38,000 year old people hanging around the lobby but they may have been out hunting
I chose to hop my thumb, throw myself at the mercy of the French driver and
see how far I get. 20 minutes later I have a new Range Rover driven by Peter Chatwick and his Dutch wife, Anki (sp?) from Harlem, Netherlands, who just bought an old place outside Montignac and are fixing it up.
Peter’s a Brit, worked in San Diego, TV production, etc for
Hitched the remaining 5km to the Lascaux site, after 15 minutes, with a charming, friendly, 50-ish French woman who didn’t speak a word of English. Together we mumbled, laughed and signed our way into a brief friendship before she dropped me at the gate to Lascaux..
Lascaux – continued
Knott’s Berry Farm, interpretive center with no pictures allowed - a nice, well-informed man takes us English-speakers on a guided tour of the underground reproduction of the caves and paintings.
It is an exact replica of the main cave tunnels and chambers (to within 5 mm we are told) executed with the same pigments and application techniques for the paintings.
Incredible that 17,000 years ago these people invented interior decorating, finger painting, paintbrushes, oil lamps, and cartoon animation – not to mention whatever religious, spiritual or magical voodoo they were into. In flickering wick-light, the paintings even move!
My thought is…they were eating mushrooms – had to be. There’s a sense of humor about their depictions, over-paintings, and collages that accompanies magnificent, fantacistic characterizations of animals – no humans or other figures, birds, insects, objects or designs – just bison, bull, horse, reindeer, ibex, a few instances elsewhere of salmon.
These guys and/or gals had a thing for the biggies and they seemed to be tripping on it. Hang the smaller stuff.
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