Tag Archives | John D.C. Masters

Paris…

It’s all bullet points this week…

–I arrived here last Friday evening, in time for a nice dinner with my friend and her mother.  Saturday was sunny and hot, so we strolled around town for a bit.  Checked into the Jardin du Luxembourg (along with almost everyone else in Paris) and saw a lovely impressionist exhibit in the Musée.  Superbe!

–Wifi access in Paris is terrible.  The Greeks are years ahead of the French in this respect.  As a result, I am posting this from the safe, American confines of the Hyatt Regency in the lobby lounge.  I feel like I am in a de facto embassy.  The signal is crisp and brisk, the coffee fine.  In the background a pianist is noodling “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Not my favorite noodle.  Now that tune from “Cats.’  Is that a Lloyd-Webber construct?  May his fingers wither…

–Sunday was cloudy and cool and the Jardin de Bagatelle was all but empty.  Lovely, really lovely.  Shot a roll of film along it’s green anhttp://johndcmasters.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=thesis-optionsd quiet paths.  Dinner at home that night.

–Monday was the Louvre.  Big place.  Lots of art.  Mobs of people.  Tough to navigate, but we managed to see all the important stuff…almost–skipped the Middle Ages.  Everyone was gathered around the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo…No one upstairs in the 16th-18th century Flanders/Belgium exhibit.  We had the place all but to ourselves.  That precious Vermeer seamstress…Always nice to know there are better works in the museum than La Gioconda and the Venus.  Really, there are.  Many more.  Dinner that night at Le Dôme.  Table side service and bouillabaisse.  Superb!  It was a rainy night in Paris and we had fish soup.  Nothing better.

–Today was Musée d’Orsay and, I must admit, I enjoyed it more than the Louvre.  Smaller, but loads to see.  Dinner tonight was at Bistrot du Parc, down the street from my friend’s house in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

–To be honest, I am saturated right now with art, so tomorrow we will have a day outside.   It is supposed to be sunny…the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, walking the Champs Elysées…shopping for charcuterie and cheese to “bring back” to Greece.  Mussels, salad and tarte “Grand-mêre” on the menu at home for tomorrow evening.

 

Mona-Lisa

 

–Thursday night I head back to Greece and work–my own as well as the labors of others.

–JDCM

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“…the streets of Rome…”

“Well the streets of Rome
are filled with rubble;
ancient footprints are everywhere.
You almost feel like you’re seeing double
on a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs.
Gotta hurry on back to my hotel room
where I got me a date with Botticelli’s niece.
She promised that she’d be right there with me
when I paint my masterpiece.”
 

That song kept running through my head last weekend.  It began Sunday morning as I left Pistoia and here, in Athens on a warm Wednesday afternoon,  it still echoes…

Thank you Mr. Zimmerman, for the ear-worm

In any case, I left Pistoia with a scratchy throat and by that night I was slightly feverish, congested, et al…I am dubbing this ailment the Tuscan Plague since it attacked all my friends as well.  Each seems to have had some variation on the virus, all miserable.  I killed mine with plenty of bed-rest, warmth and the miracle of modern pharma.  Arriving in Athens this morning I am much improved.  I am also relieved to be back in Greece.  I need the local soul food.

Rome was lovely despite my ague.  I was able to visit the Museo Massimo and gaze upon the precious and lovely Roman frescos; I wandered through the Galleria Borghese and marveled at the Bernini sculptures, frozen motion and pliant, soft marble.  How did he do that?  Truly a high point in sculpture–a divine concoction of craft, skill, artistry, aesthetics, hard work and obsessive compulsive desire for perfection.  Some would say “madness”…”insanity.”

I ate some glorious grub as well.  Roman stuff…fried artichokes, sweetbreads, lemon pasta…Very fancy by Greek standards.  Foreign food.  Western.  Give meat on a stick, tomatoes and capers slathered in olive oil and a plate of fried sardines.

Good to be back in the East.

–JDCM

 
 
 
 
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Departures and arrivals…

The crowds have thinned out on Paros.   The roads have become less treacherous and the island is, once again, for those of us who live here.  There is a collective sigh of relief.  I have been biking well, using my new Boardman road bike and loving it.  In a recent post I stated that I wanted to ride at least 125km per week.  I have done that in three days.  I will have to up the ante.  Maybe 200km?  Easy-peasey.  My mountain biking has been vigorous and rugged.  As it should be.

I continue to build a solid portfolio of 35mm portrait pieces for my exhibit scheduled in the fall of 2015.  I think I also have enough ‘cafe-Cafe‘ images for the small show I hope to hang in November.  Now all I have to do is print, matte and frame 12 images. This will begin in October, when I return…

I am leaving for Italy tomorrow.  It will be a short trip, only a couple of weeks, and I will hook up with friends and colleagues for some art, art history and good eats.  I am all but packed with only my shaving kit to stuff in my rucksack.  My camera bag is ready, awaiting my laptop and assorted odds and ends.  I am only bringing two cameras: my trusty, well-used Canon G11 point-and-shoot and the small Pentax 35mm I bought from a friend last July when I was back in America.  I will bring the 50mm and 135mm lenses.  I have been having fun with this little machine and so it feels good to continue the joy.

Cavafy’s poetry continues to inspire and fill me with emotion…

Return

Return often and take hold of me,
cherished sensation, return and take hold of me–
when the body’s memory awakens.
and past desire again runs through the blood;
when the lips and skin remember,
and the hands feel as though they touch again.
 
Return often and take hold of me at night,
when the lips and skin remember.
 

–JDCM

 

 

 

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Cavafy on the beach…

–A friend recently presented me with a small collection of C. P. Cavafy’s poetry.  I am familiar with his work, but not so much with those collected in this small, beautiful anthology.

–Today we lay on the beach on Andiparos.  Waves lapped at the rocks; birds sang in the dry, hot September air; we swam, ate lunch.  We read Cavafy to each other.  I was particularly moved by his poem ‘Ithaca’, written in 1911.   It is of leaving and arriving, the maturation of the soul and that this is all we may wish for as our journeys continue.

–We all come to places, places we have read about in books, or perhaps overheard–they are awed, exotic hushed whipsers.  We all leave these places, hopefully taking with us what we have been given, what we can carry, gifts from Phoenecians…

                      Ithaca

As you set out bound for Ithaca
hope that the journey is a long one,
full of adventures, full of learning.
Of the Laestrygonians and Cyclopes,
of wrathful Poseidon have no fear,
you’ll never meet suchlike on your journey,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if noble
sentiment grips your body and spirit.
You’ll never encounter raging Poseidon,
Laestrygonians and Cyclopes,
unless you bear them in your soul,
unless your soul sets them before you.
 
Hope that the journey is a long one.
That the summer morns be many
when with what delight, what joy
you enter harbours hitherto unseen;
that you stop at Phoenecian markets,
and acquire fine merchandise,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and all kinds of heady perfumes,
as many heady perfumes as you can;
that you visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from the erudite.
 
Always keep Ithaca in mind.
To arrive there is your destination.
But in no way rush the voyage.
Better for it to last many years;
and for you to berth on the isle an old man,
rich with all you gained on the journey,
without expecting Ithaca to give you riches.
 
Ithaca gave you the wonderful voyage.
Without her you would not have set out on your way.
Yet she has nothing more to give you.
 
And though you may find her wanting, Ithaca has not
                                                                            deceived you.
Wise as you’ve become, with so much experience,
already you’ll have understood what these Ithacas mean.
 
C.P. Cavafy, 1911
 

I will continue reading Cavafy.  I fall into his words, as one falls into a conversation.

–JDCM

 
 
 
 

 

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In the shift…

–The August crowds have departed and it is almost September.  The summer is slipping away (has slipped away), a tide across the sand.  The light has shifted.  It is no longer the July glare.  Delicate clouds mute the summer fierceness.  Autumn approaches.  Today it is windy and cooler.  A meltemi eases fevered brows.  A scirocco will present itself midweek.  The breeze will drop to almost nothing.

–All the forecasts point to the possibility of a light shower this week.  Whether this will happen on Paros or another nearby island is never certain.  I shall just have to wait and see.

–The mountain bike race on Andiparos has been cancelled.  The next event I can participate in is the race on Naxos, at the end of October.  That’s OK, although I was looking forward to Andiparos.

–In a couple of weeks I head off to Italy to visit with friends, eat some steak Florentine, and allow the Renaissance to inspire my eye.

–My portrait work continues.  I would like to shoot and develop a couple of rolls of 35mm before I head to Italia.

–I continue my biking.  I need to pump up the kilometers a bit.  Now that it is cooler and there are fewer cars, this is easier.  I pay the final installment on my road bike tomorrow. Then I can begin that dynamic routine.  200 km a week total with both bikes.  That is all I ask…

–JDCM

 

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Paros, Athens, Amsterdam…

I have been back in Greece since…August 1st? July 31st?…It feels blurry…I remember a 27 hour travel day: cars, planes, boats…my body temperature shocked from a cool New York July 70F to a sweltering Athens August 38C…dehydrated, jet-lagged, sleep-deprived.   I experienced daily periods of vertigo and lightheadedness for almost a full week.  Water, sports drinks, sleep and more water…7 days later I was 100% and feeling fine.  A friend believes I may have picked up a mild virus during a leg.  Perhaps.  At least it wasn’t my suspected Google-diagnosed brain tumor or West Nile Virus.

Paros has been jammed with tourists, as it always is this time of year.  Too much, really, for me to handle.  I found the best thing to do is bike early in the morning, go swimming, have coffee, check email and make sure it is all done by ten in the morning, then hide in my apartment until a reasonable hour, like 19:00 hours…we dine late, 22:00 or even later…

I left Paros last night (this morning?) at 01:30 on the Blue Star Naxos.  The large ferry was mobbed with Athenians returning home after the religious holiday (The Ascension of the Virgin Mary) and we docked just a couple of hours ago.  While on the dock, weaving through the crowds, I heard an American voice say, “How can this be so stressful?  I thought Greece was laid back…”  Ah, yes, the great illusion…

I was tired so I took a cab to the Attalos Hotel, my oasis.  While my room is not ready yet, I am out of the chaos and look forward to snoozing most of the day away on cool sheets.

I am en route to Amsterdam, NL for the week.  My little scheme is to visit some top-notch museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, Rembrandt House, Modern Art), eat some Indonesian food and visit some good friends outside of the city during the weekend.  Pretty simple.  Then back to Greece and Paros for the very end of August and most of September…

–JDCM

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Traveling…again…

–I leave Paros tomorrow for Athens.  From Athens I fly to the USA via Vienna.  This is my usual route.  If all goes well I will be at my mother’s house in upstate New York in time for dinner Sunday night.  I will stay three weeks, then return to Greece, and Paros, on August 1st, just in time for a friend’s watercolor exhibit.

–I have much on my mind.  Distance will allow me some perspective.

— When I return to Paros I have my work cut out for me:  I need to start house-hunting in earnest.  I have been told that August is the time to do this.  I will also take possession of my road bike, a different animal from the mountain bike.  So I will have two bikes.  It is similar to having pets. I need a new space.  Ideally I am looking for something with a small terrace where I can store the bikes and an extra, small room where I can keep my photography gear.  Currently these fill my living room.

–While I am out of town a close friend is housesitting for me.  She leaves on July 21st so at least my flat will be occupied and used for the next couple of weeks.  It will be good to keep it aired out.  She’s a peach!  Thanks JR!

–Before I know it September will be here.  I will finally (!) begin Greek language lessons.  I have been here too long to know so little.  I am embarrassed.  There is a 25km mountain bike race on nearby Andiparos in which I would like to compete.  I also have my own photography to work on.  I am working towards a small solo show in November.

–Lots of thinking, lots of action.  At night the wheels spin in my head, clanking about like rusty, broken gears.  Sleep can be difficult.

–JDCM

 

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European relief, directional aids and new courses…

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene I was unsure as to the status of my flight to Italy.  Thankfully Air France did not cancel the flight, the weather cleared overnight and I flew out of JFK without mishap  or delay.  My hat is off to the staff at that illustrious airport and the fine job they did Monday August 29, 2011.

I arrived in Florence around 9:00 hours and had to wait a few hours until my room was ready.  The Hotel Orto di Medici was kind enough to let me sleep on a couch in the day room until 14:00 when I could check in.  A simple but clean room was presented to me and a crawled into the sack for some more shuteye.  That evening I walked around and found a decent trattoria: carpaccio with spicy arugula, baked beans with garlic and tomatoes and fried rabbit reminded me that I was no longer in America and safe and happy here in Europe, a place I seem to be calling home more often than not.  The next morning I awoke very early and took a dimly-lit walk through the empty streets, down to the River Arno and onto the Ponte Vecchio, devoid of tourists and closed for the night.  It was lovely.  The street cleaners went about their business as I strolled about, buying off the jet-lag and getting my bearings.  My internal compass is more-or-less realigned.  I returned to the hotel, snoozed for a couple of hours and woke up to one of the better continental breakfasts I have had.  The salami and mortadella were excellent, the cappuccino was tasty and they even had rice cakes as a choice over than toast.  I ate well, knowing that my day trip to Fiesole would burn off the calories.  I took the bus to Fiesole and walked around the Roman and Etruscan ruins virtually alone–after another cappuccino.  I came back to Florence by lunchtime and made my way from the Piazza San Marco to the San Croce area and visited the Museo Galileo, which is also called the Science Museum.  Wonderful, really fantastic.  Measuring devices of all types, styles, eras and functions were on display, most collected by the di Medici family over the centuries.  I was hit by an understanding of the nature of man, or of at least intelligent man.  We are born to measure, to divine distances and directions, pressures and quantities physical and ephemeral.  My common metaphor of the sailor’s compass is held up by the cases of quadrants, octants, sundials, Jacobs staffs, clocks and globes of any and seemingly all varieties.  I am inspired.

Today is Thursday, September 1.  I am meeting some spiritual friends for coffee and conversation at 13:30.  Before that I hope to beat some of the crowds to the Palazzo Pitti and then head to the Museo Zoologico la Specola.  In the afternoon My day is free to wander.  I would like to avoid the crowds for an hour or so and then come back to the hotel for a short siesta.  Then I’ll pack my bags.  Tomorrow I head to Pistoia, the Villa Rospigliosi and the Aegean Center.  First, however, I am meeting up with a fellow student at the train station, which leaves me with Friday morning free before I check out and dump my bags (carefully re-packed) at the left-luggage office, Firenze Santa Maria Novello.  I can only imagine what awaits me…

JDCM

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