Richibi’s Weblog

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Category: from my correspondence

a reader writes‏

"November" - Eugène Leroy

November (1988)

Eugène Leroy

_________

a reader writes about Coming to
New York – John Updike
“,
my last
weblog entry

kurtnemes
October 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Nice post. Yours is a[s] poetic as Updike’s. Do you live there now? My wife and I spend June of 2013 in the Village and June of 2015 in Beacon, NY. When in NYC I always feel more alive, and it’s because of the frying bacon cheek-by-jowl with the Flat Iron Bldg, the Whitney, Union Square, Grand Central Station.

when my reply to him became too long,
and a paean to Vancouver, I thought I’d
make my tribute more formal, include it
in my main text, I hope you enjoy it

while I lived in Toronto, Kurt, ’68 – ’82, New York was my playground, Toronto, the Good, was still coming out of its WASP insularity, fun was a dirty word – when I moved to Vancouver, the only thing I missed, I used to always say, was civilization, or, interchangeably, New York

Vancouver has grown, of course, since then, but it still isn’t New York, we have no theatre to speak of, no competing orchestras, a modest art scene, thanks to, especially, significant art exhibitions on occasion, and here and there an errant, inspired, flower – the recital society, however, has been impressive, with a catalogue of international names visiting often

for Vancouver is indeed beautiful, breathtakingly so, right now the autumn colours are bold, bright, infinitely remarkable, enough to make you believe in God/dess

also the mountains make a splendid backdrop

thanks for the likeness to John Updike, a shot in the arm for someone who thinks he might be a poet

Richard

psst: Kurt has a blog with noteworthy
information about, esoteric even,
Classical music – check him out

thanks Kurt

“fried bread” – me

  "Two Pieces of Bread Expressing the Sentiment of Love" - Salvador Dali

Two Pieces of Bread Expressing the Sentiment of Love (1940)

Salvador Dali

_____

for my mom, who wanted the recipe

fried bread

to

1 1/2 cups of flour, pick a flour, any
flour

add

1/2 tsp salt, and
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

I would think that eliminating salt
would give you merely a blander
bread, therefore salt is not
essential

and not adding baking powder
would simply produce a flatter
fry, therefore, theoretically, also
optional, but I’ve yet to test
these suppositions

though the recipe calls for 1 cup of
warm water, I’ve found that so much
water added to 1 and 1/2 cups of
flour makes the dough too limp and
unmanageable, so I recommend

1/2 cup of warm water

though water density, hard, soft,
probably depends on where you live

knead in more water by degrees if
your dough remains too dry

I also added

1/4 cup of grated Romano cheese, and
1 ample tbsp of fresh thyme

to the mix last night, though I’d
considered fresh basil, let it rise 20
minutes in a warm spot under a dry
cloth while I watched Sweden win
Eurovision 2015 from Vienna, rolled
out circles between two sides of a
piece of sealing wrap, folded over,
with extra flour between if needed,
the wrap helps to not make a mess
of your counter, made three large
rounds of dough out of my mix for
hearty slices, though less robust
portions would be, I’m sure, just
fine

fried each patty in up to

1/4 cup of oil, avocado had been
recommended, also coconut or
grape seed since, but I introduced
it only as needed not to overwhelm
either myself or the pan

flipped the cake once when the
top was becoming plump and
seemed to be breathing, when
the underside had become
golden brown

let the other side fry till equally
crusty and golden

had some last night with
Kaiserschinken, Kaiser’s ham,
and a firm Italian cheese,
Parrano Robusto

also a glass of cheap white wine

delicious

Richard

Mary MacMullen – a trooper‏

Mary MacMullen

Mary writes

“Hello friends,

I’m backpacking around Bali for a month on my own and am blogging about it. I didn’t think I would be back in Asia just 2 months after returning from Cambodia but here I am!

If you are interested in reading about my trip, which is being posted in The Province Newspaper online, here it is;

http://blogs.theprovince.com/author/travellingmom1951/

Cheers!
Mary

Sent from my iPad”

Mary and I met about 40 years ago, when
Mary, Gary and I happened upon each
other, each on our own individual
missions, of exploring the German city
of Mainz, a length of it along the Rhine,
up front from the riverside hotel where
our crews stayed, we hadn’t known
each other before then

the sun was out, we were young, others
with us preferred to go have breakfast,
we opted for a cruise up the river

we got to Rüdesheim and Bingen, one
across the water from the other, we had
dinner in one, celebrated Oktoberfest
in the other, sitting across from three
older ladies who couldn’t speak a word
of English so we had to make do with
my meagre then German and singing
along with the other beer drinkers in
the full and boisterous hall

what an event

the ladies ended up walking us to our
last train home, all of us soulfully
singing “Happy Birthday to You”,
cause that’s all the ladies knew how
to sing in English

later we partied in the lounge on the top
floor of our hotel, the three of us dancing
up a storm on an otherwise quiet evening,
keeping the band alive, we were intrepid
and joyous, playing duly in the fields of
a not unapproving Lord

the next day our flight was delayed,
three hours, surely only through the
intercession of that same benevolent
heaven

Mary has done, and is now continuing,
an exploration of Southeast Asia,
remarkably, on her own, first Cambodia,
now Bali, read all about it in her blog,
it’s riveting, you’ll want to be also 63,
already or all over again

her blog is wonderful for even just its
pictures, bright, sun-filled, glorious, but
she writes also like a trooper, you’ll be
completely enthralled, inspired

bookmark her site, she’s got a lot more
coming, to be dooby sure

Richard

to my boyfriend in Mexico

"Window with Doves" - Gino Severini

Window with Doves (c.1931)

Gino Severini

________

I thought I’d watch a movie but these
songs of tortured love took over and
I can’t stop

here’s a song that defines my
Guadalajara trip, when Carlos, I think,
waiting for me in my hotel room,
sitting on the bed under a springtime
painting on the wall above it, asked,
may I kiss you, outside the
bougainvillea were blooming as they
do there in spring, I said yes

later on I found out about chicken
mole, a wonderful Spanish dish

everywhere then the song had
invaded the city, Nana Mouskouri
was singing it

Julio Iglesias seems to have made
sure of that

love

me

a merely theoretical dilemma, a poem


Albrecht Dûrer - "Apollo and Diana(" (1502)

Apollo and Diana (1502)

Albrecht Dürer

________

in the tradition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
a forthright, personal poem

a merely theoretical dilemma

yesterday, I had lunch with Vickie,
she said she admired our relationship,
despite the fact, which I’d interjected,
that there was no sex

she didn’t find that unacceptable

I found her concern more personal,
revealing, than strictly theoretical

then gave up the improbable
thought

I dream, however, ever, Apollo, and
irrepressibly, of your genitals,
knowing that your spawn would
transform me, ineradicably, into
a constellation, its crystallization
our progeny, into immortal stars

but that would mean leaving you,
Apollo, behind

could I, would I, do that

love

me

my reply to BookInhabiter, a.k.a. Brain

a reader writes

“Hello Richard,
Recently I’ve been watching up on many dance competitions. I knew of the existence of piano competitions but never thought that they would be filmed. I must listen to the top contenders. How did you hear about this competition?”

here is my, admittedly extended, answer, with pertinent links

Richard

_____________


I haven’t missed So You Think You
Can Dance
“,
Brain, for 11 years, so
we’ve probably been watching the
same “many dance competitions”

“piano competitions” aren’t much
different, just another art, judged
here by professionals throughout,
rather than entire publics

the competitions are fierce, to a
person the competitors are world
class

the music is often sublime, utterly
transcendent, though more rigorously
intellectual than popcorn – pace
Mozart – this puts some people off

much as you probably find covers of
songs you like, I go out looking for
sonatas, string quartets, concerti I
already know of and admire, I check
out the big names, Chopin, Beethoven,
Rachmaninov, see what might be up

the Internet abounds with nearly
anything you might want to find, the
only obstacle is the quality

the Van Cliburn competition, from
Houston, was dreadful, enough to
put me off it, but looking for musical
counterparts to pieces of interest, I
found the Rubinstein one in Tel
Aviv
offering sterling performances

I quickly flew across the globe,
virtually, of course, speaking

the experience has been well worth
it, I heard miracles of music, haven’t
had so much fun since reading Proust,
in French of course, but you must
understand I’m an inveterate egghead,
totally chronic

this week I started Edward Gibbon’s
The Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire”
, text and, to my delight,
audiotape, its reader is extraordinary

check out the Chopin Competition
for, up to this point anyway in my
investigation, only Chopin, but he’ll
do for a significant while, his music
is consistently breathtaking

I’ll also check out the Russian
Tchaikovsky Competition, which Van
Cliburn made famous for us in the late
50’s
, by winning it, despite the rancours
of the Cold War, with a still paramount
rendition of Tchaikovsky’s own
monumental First Concerto

wow, I’ve been hooked ever since

thanks for stopping by my blog, Brain,
you’ll find, incidentally, a lot of excellent
performances highlighted there, several
of the best, in fact, from the most recent
Rubinstein Competition
, none of which,
to my utter consternation, managed to
win

other recommendations follow, check
it out

I think your blog is wonderful, keep
it up

Richard

Saint Apollonia


"Saint Apollonia" - Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Apollonia (1636)

Francisco de Zurbarán

___________

who ‘s Saint Apollonia, I asked my dentist
when he suggested I call on her to intercede
in this present mortification, I was sitting in
his chair undergoing treatment for a painful
abscess for which he’d aligned already
several instruments along my lower lip

the patron saint of toothaches, he replied,
as though she were a fairy

who knew, I marvelled, I’d only ever heard
of Saint Jude otherwise, patron saint of
lost causes, memorably

you must’ve been raised Catholic, I
interjected, Protestants don’t have
saints

yes, he stated, suggesting the shared
impact of an, however privately
relinquished, or distant, religion,
upbringing

he didn’t know about her time or place,
and counseled I should look into it

who wouldn’t

principally she lived in Alexandria, her
name alone could have given that away,
if Greeks had become Christian anywhere
it would’ve been in Alexandria then, 250,
a city close to the Christian source,
Palestine, and teeming with international
attention, though ruled long by Greeks,
you’ll remember Cleopatra had been of
Greek origin

in a wave of atrocities perpetrated by
Alexandrian mobs, unleashed during
commemorative festivities – see, for
instance, the Vancouver hockey game
riots to compare – roused by prophecies
of ill winds towards their city, set upon
Christians to appease their more raucous
gods, among them Apollonia

in Vancouver she was London Drugs
and the Bay

they pulled out her teeth, one by one,
which is why she’s represented with
pincers
, that done they threatened to
burn her alive should she not repeat
their profanities

she jumped, instead, herself, onto the
pyre

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I exclaimed, quite,
quite uncharacteristically, but only other
too objectionable imprecations could’ve
reflected the extent of my consternation,
after that, I thought, what’s an abscess

later I brought him gratefully a bottle of
fine wine, to the fortified gate, however,
of his impervious secretary, though
serenely be she ever smiling, for having
tended with speed and alacrity to my
distress, however unworthy it may
have been of beatification

a French wine or a Marilyn Merlot, Napa
Valley, I had to ponder, bought both,
couldn’t resist, kept for myself, however,
not to render the choice to the intermediate
secretary, the Marilyn, my more familiar, and
headier, saint

cheers

Richard

yesterday – December 28,2006

           Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, 1657

                                Johannes Vermeer

                                    (1632-1675)

             ______________________________________

these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while
please enjoy 
             
                       _______________________
December 28, 2006
                                                                                                                                                                  yesterday for the first time it snowed, as I left the apartment a light but steady moisture began to fall that I suspected might be more than rain, sure enough by the time I´d walked the several minutes to the number 8 which would take me to the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, in the Zwinger, snowflakes swirled about us like whirling dervishes, light in the flustered air and as merry and playful as the season 
I hopped the Strassenbahn, the tram, which sleekly sailed us along to, then a short length of, the river, which was shrouded there by thickets of trees, but as we turned onto the bridge, the Augustusbrücke, the stately steeples and spires of the Altstadt appeared magically transformed into the enchanted setting of a fairy tale, sprinkled with the dancing fairy dust of the very Brothers Grimm
I got off beside the Catholic Cathedral, St Trinitatis, built in 1738 to 1755, heavy with age, light with spirit, its saints and significant clergy standing watch along the balustrade that lined and determined its roof, surely the bells were ringing but I can´t say for certain, the music was all in my eyes
across the cobblestone square before the Semperoper – the Opera House that Gottfried Semper built between 1838 and 1841, rebuilt from 1871 to 1878 by his son after it burned down in ´69 – people were scurrying about, taking pictures, catching their own trains, while flanking the building´s entrance Goethe and Schiller stood watch, impervious and staunch, beneath the steady and playful flakes, they bore the white frost upon their shoulders and pates with patience and resignation
further along the walls but protected by the shelter of each their private stone niche, Sophocles and Shakespeare to one side, Euripides and Molière on the other, sat soberly watching, unruffled, the snow fall
next door the Zwinger warmly awaited, I checked my coat and scarves with the hat check girl I´ve befriended there, she eagerly announced to the others that I was her friend, I´m sure I smiled and blushed, then made my way to the section I was exploring that day
of the many paintings in a room I always choose the one that I would like to take away more than any of the others, that way I need to examine them all, sometimes even closely
yesterday I quickly passed on a Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, “Venus, Bacchus and Ceres”, all heavy-haunched and cornucopian, a bird concert complete with sheet music in the trees by a Melchior de Hondecoeter no less, I spent some time with Mathias Stom´s “Old lady with a Candle”, which seemed to owe a lot to Rembrandt or he to him, with Jakob Isaacksz Ruisdael´s “The Hunt”, a dark but stirring landscape with a huge tree dominating the centre and reflected subtly in a river that rippled at its root, a deer was trying to flee across the foreground hunters approaching
a couple of Vermeers were of consequence, one, “The Procuress”, a madam in other words, accepting guilders from a group of men, one of them being so bold as to fondle her breast, left me surprised at so untypical a work of his, but another of a girl reading a letter at a window, replete with his tapestries and textures and a more modest and composed young woman intent on the message that she held, was nearly my first choice, her soft reflection in the open latticed windowpane was genius
 
but a Salomon de Bray, a name unknown to me, had painted in the mid sixteen-hundreds a young man with a crown, but of black roses, the youth could not have been very old, an open mouth spoke of being still eager and curious, age shuts men up and makes them open up only to declare, propound, pontificate
he´d turned to one side so that his neck was lithe and swift, probably alert to a sudden sound, a staff he held in strong but still supple hands suggested he was a wanderer or a shepherd
a white undershirt was mostly buttoned up but a string had not been tied at its neck, its either ends hung loose above another darker red shirt, equally not quite fully buttoned, there was no suggestion of a breast but only the soft spread of the clavicles
I would´ve taken him home
the crown of roses of course sported thorns in fresh, clean, but unguarded hair, the reference was unmistakable
                                                                                                                                                                    from a window I watched the thick snow still fall, the ground was covered, but left were the precise lines of the pristine architecture under the icing that outlined its edges
the sages and the deities at the Zwingers own many parapets looked timelessly, unswervingly, on
                 __________________________________________                                                                                 
though the Old Masters Picture Gallery, die Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, will not allow transfer of their artworks to personal blogs, their entire collection is available through their own website, which I’ve linked you to here, click “Online-Gallery” at the home page, there under Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister click “motivliste anzeigen“, “show collection“, make your way through the 64 “Seiten, “pages“, of masterworks
thoroughly enjoy
                                                                                                                                                                  yours in timeless art                                                                                                                                                                   richibi
                                                                                                                   __________________________________     

C*r*s*mas greetings from Dresden, December 24, 2006

Bellotto Bernardo - Dresden Elbufer

    View of Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe with  Augustus Bridge

                                                        (1748)                      

                                                 Bernardo Bellotto

                                                      1720 – 1780

                          _________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy

                        _______________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       December 24, 2006

through the good graces of a dear friend, a lady I met last year, my teacher in German at the Goethe-Institut, I´ve been afforded the wonderful opportunity of spending the next several weeks, while she is away with her family in their hideaway in rural Belgium, here in shimmering Dresden, the jewel, I´m sure, of central Europe, I´d already rendered her the use of my own apartment in Vancouver when in September she came to visit and I could use my mom´s place while she was away touring for most of the month the Iberian peninsula, Spain, Portugal, as well as, across the strait, Morrocco

Dresden celebrated its eight hundredth anniversary this year and, though its buildings don´t date back that far, much of it has worn its architectural robes several centuries, the Zwinger, Dresden´s answer to Versailles, was built from 1609 to 1611, I was yesterday informed as I marvelled at the Bernardo Bellottos, Canaletto the Younger, the Elder´s nephew, who was court painter there, I believe I understood through a charming attendant´s perhaps too rapid German, and whose views of the city then were as detailed and precise as his uncle’s famous masterpieces of Venice, their styles are indeed so similar that until recently I´d believed, to my great embarrassment when I found out they were not, that they were one and the same, that the uncle had spent time in both Dresden and Warsaw, which he had not, the nephew rather had, I inadvertently discovered in a book I read on Dresden that cleared everything up, the one had superseded the other, channelled him there, more darkly perhaps due to those cities’ darker tones, but not at all less brilliantly 

not only the Canalettos of course but many other masters adorn the Zwinger, the city´s most sumptuous art museum, the Madonna of the Sistine Chapel of Raphael (which you’ll find below) with its couple of attendant cherubs for instance holds a place of the highest honour, and during the past couple of days I took in a wonderful exhibition of Cranachs there, both the Elder and the Younger, was mightily impressed by the latter´s “Adam” and “Eve”, which tall, naked, and still innocent beneath their modest leafy branches, graced either side of a doorway that led onward through a row of precisely positioned doors partitioning a long narrow corridor into a series of smaller rooms that seemed infinite, like a mirror reflecting itself in a mirror, in a rich burgundy throughout

but on the opposite side in the next room behind the “Eve”, a demure and elegant St Catherine stood large as life leaning upon her eponymous wheel while before her she held upright a heraldic sword whose blade rested on the pebbled ground, a work of the Elder Cranach

her medieval robes were golden, as was her headdress and hair, a prim plaited bodice attested to both her youth and modesty, her eyes shy and discreet gazed softly on the beholder and upon, as in all timeless art, I´m sure, infinity

I would´ve taken her with me but am caught up in the fleeting here and now

Dresden itself is of course much reconstructed after the scandal of its destruction, quite equal I would think to the ravages of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its center lies across the Elbe, the river that runs through the town, from the Neustadt, the New City, so called already several centuries ago

in the Altstadt, the Old City, there along the river´s opposite bank beyond the several bridges, are the exquisite Baroque structures, churches and palaces and stately buildings, that make up her glory

in the evening as the city lights are reflected in the meandering river the shimmering city achieves the quality of high art, a tribute through the ages to the very best in culture and civilization

it hasn´t snowed here yet, already on December the 24th, Christmas won´t, it appears, be white, it´ll nevertheless be for me quite special as is evident I´m sure in my attitude of awestruck reverence

may it be as well for you, may it be happy, healthy and thoroughly blessed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     with all my heart

Richard

            

 

                            _______________________________________

in defense of an intractable idiom

a friend wrote: 

        ” ‘…in unforgettable spades’? “, about my “April Showers” text, which you can find below

         ‘ Words chosen in innocence or humour? ‘, he asks

                     __________________________

I reply:

neither innocent, dear Ted, nor humourous, just inadvertent, I let myself be ruled by my enthusiasm for the punchy and precise idiom   
 
even as I watched the movie I felt shame for a place, a country, that could’ve inspired such a situation
 
transformed by Al Jolson however into a glorious tribute no less to still so beleaguered a people, imitation being of course the surest and sincerest form of flattery

I think Al Jolson helped put their art on the map, up from the cotton fields and speakeasies to which it’d been relegated, if not other countries, other even continents
 
he was great back then, this movie inspired even a sequel, nominated also for Oscars, winning a couple even for the first, one for of course its irresistible, unforgettable music

thanks to Black America

                                                                                                                                                                         thank you Black America

                                                                                                                                 sincerely

Richard

 

        ______________________________________