virgin-review-8-620x413
Israel's niece is getting married in the California wine country in February. We both wanted to go if we could travel inexpensively. Nothing was quite low enough the few times I checked. But last night when Virgin suddenly had $132 one-ways from DFW to SFO, I pounced: $550 for two roundtrips from DFW to SFO with $24 of travel insurance thrown in. I'm using frequent flyer miles for my commute flights to Dallas, so .5K is the total for 6 flights. Not too bad.
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I was off work from Christmas Day to January 5th. I had been plagued with a skin disorder for a little over two months. A dermatologist put me on Prednisone three days before Christmas Eve, and it was a relief! to get back to normal. I spent Christmas day and most of the weekend in Fort Worth, then flew back home to quickly play a service, then packed & flew to San Francisco for a week of just walking around. I implored Israel to come with me but he was determined to use the time (re)photographing New Mexico. My guess is that I walked about 12 - 15 miles a day. I only used the rental car on two days. I used the transit system intermittently. I tried to see a movie every day. Lots of art. Good food. Nice drafts all over town in San Francisco. I even managed to have a little fun.

Museums: Hopper in Dallas, the new Piano Pavilion @ the Kimbell, the vapid Mexican show @ the Modern in Fort Worth, the charming Lobel show @ the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Anders Zorn and Matisse @ the Legion of Honor, and most spectacularly - the Hockney and Bulgari shows @ the de Young. If you have a chance to see them, you should not pass it up!

Movies:
Dallas: American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis. Fort Worth: The Wolf of Wall Street. San Francisco: Reaching for the Moon, Her, Breakfast at Tiffany's (@ the Castro), The Past, Raising Arizona (@ the Castro), Blue is the warmest color.

A flickr set.
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...the road was denied me by a curse that made me stray...
Doch ach! den Weg des Heiles nie zu finden, in pfadlosen Irren trieb ein wilder Fluch mich umher.

Last May, [livejournal.com profile] muckefuck surprised me with a text message enquiring if I was coming to Bear Pride. I had flight reservations but wasn't sure my annual trip was possible this year. I did express a desire to visit Chicago sometime during the Lyric Opera's season, inspired partly by his regular opera reviews. Later this fall, it was slim pickings when I was scrambling at the last minute to find some remnant of the Wagner bicentennial. Only two events left - both new productions of Parsifal, one in London, one in Chicago. So I opted for Chicago and made some reservations.

And surprisingly it all came about and we went to the opera together. It was a pleasure to be in [livejournal.com profile] muckefuck's affable company, to be in his civilized home, to meet the warm & thoughtful people in his life, and to ramble around on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

About the Parsifal production, I can only say how much it moved me. The staging was a little too eclectic for my taste, but it played its part to set afloat the Medieval tale with its most sublime music.

A flickr set from the weekend.
On my trip this year, I was casual about taking pictures. At times I seemed to forget the camera altogether. I used my iPad a little more as a camera. On one of the rides on Tram 28 in Lisbon, I did get the camera out and shoot every couple of seconds as I was going from the edge of the Alfama back to the central part of town. It then occurred to me to use the video - and so I made a few videos of the rest of the ride. I did not shoot anything past the Estrela gardens.

Now that I have looked at them, I wish I had been more systematic and had videotaped the entire ride on Eléctrico 28, including through the Alfama.

I strung the stills & the videos together in iMovie. It does give a little flavor of Lisbon - which of course is a wonderful city!




Chicago San Francisco

For one, when I was searching in March, I couldn't find anything acceptably priced to Chicago, and by chance stumbled across a Virgin America special roundtrip for 2 to San Francisco for less than .5K.


And maybe I needed a break. The only thing 'bear' I've done in six years is return to Chicago on Memorial Day weekend. I certainly missed! the hugs and catch-up from the guys. But each year I find myself rethinking my continued patronage. And it's not like I wasn't around bearish guys at all. In fact I saw a couple of them from my past. They had been transformed of course (in the city of transformations).


I used to average two visits each year. The past five years or so, that's come down to one.


The first book I picked up was Rebecca Solnit's Infinite City - a great companion for a long weekend. It could have been 2 or 3 times its size and been even better.


Flying Virgin was good. But I was saddened when I transversed three quarters of the plane to the john and discovered only one other person besides myself engaged with print media.


I reluctantly gave up Siegfried on Sunday afternoon, for more flâneur-rambling-time with Israel. I think it was worth it.

Reading about Levine's resignation as conductor of the Boston S.O., I found this:


News is also beginning to filter in about how the Boston Symphony Orchestra is solving its conducting problems for March.

The big, unfortunate, maddeningly disappointing news is that Mauricio Pollini apparently has the flu… This must be a rather recent problem, given his London recitals, but it is sufficient for him to cancel his performances of Mozart and Schoenberg next week.

In a way, that’s not that bad a thing – though I’m looking longingly at my ticket. That programme is replaced by Peter Serkin playing Bartók’s third piano concerto, accompanied by Roberto Abbado. The other pieces are the bill are unsurprisingly symphonic warhorses: Haydn’s 93rd, and Beethoven’s 5th.


Guess I won't be going to Boston. I don't feel like flying half way across the country to hear Bartók IIIP (lovely piece though it is) and Beethoven V.

             


I think I'm going to try to hear Pollini play Opus 42 with the BSO in March. I just bought a plane ticket.





 


Movies: The King's Speech, The Tempest, Howl x 2, Black Swan
On DVD: The Last Picture Show
Art: Mayan art @ the Kimbell, Salvator Rosa at the Kimbell, Latin American art @ MFA-Houston, Kurt Schwitters @ the Menil x 2, and others
Books: Michel Houellebecq: The Elementary Particles, Edward Said: Music at the Limits
& throughout the week poems by San Juan de la Cruz, Heinrich Heine, Emily Dickinson

I ran into the beefy cop one last time at the Houston gaybucks before we headed out. When we stepped outside, I mentioned to Israel that he was smiling at me. Oh he was stumbling over himself to smile at you, he said. (Why is it that these rare moments come always at the most inconvenient times?)

On the plane from DAL to AMA Monday morning, I boarded and sat toward the back. At the last minute the plane filled up with a Colorado hockey team. They filled most of the remaining seats at the back. I was surrounded on all sides. They fell into deep sleep en masse within five minutes of takeoff.

Portugal

Oct. 18th, 2010 12:14 am


Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça
 
Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça

Our Portugal trip was smaller in scope than what initially seemed possible. Bound in the north by Coimbra and in the south by Lisbon, we didn't venture into the Alentejo or to the region north of the Douro river. We certainly didn't have time to cross into Spain. The magnificent monuments in central Portugal were the keystones of our trip: the Cistercian monastery at Alcobaça, the high Gothic monastery at Batalha, and the castle and round church of the Knights Templar in Tomar and its monastery. Nave, chapels, cloisters, & grounds was a recurring pattern of our trip. We spent a day or so in both Coimbra and Óbidos and most of both weekends in Lisbon. In Lisbon, we stayed in a wacky little hotel in the Bairro Alto - the perfect point from which to explore the city, and ended most every day at the Pavilhão Chinês.

The Portuguese roads were nowhere as bad as advertised, but the drivers lived up to their reputation. They drove with the speed and impatience of western Americans but on much smaller and trickier roads - which was a little surprising because both of us felt the Portuguese in general had a natural reserve and a rather quiet nature. (In a restaurant in Barcelona after we returned, we noticed a marked difference in decibels.)

In all, I found Portugal to be wonderfully dreamy. On the misty day we walked up the hill to the castle in Tomar, I could swear you could see a Templar knight riding out of the distant forest on a steed. The central part where we were was a beautiful, green, forested, semi-mountainous region marked with small towns - each which seemed to have its own castle. The food was uniformly good, whether in a recommended restaurant or a humble bar. The people were attractive and friendly, with that touch of reserve. In Tomar, Stephen spoke to an interesting couple of older Spanish lesbians. One of them confessed that she was addicted to Portugal. We understood what she meant.

On the last Saturday evening we attended a concert by the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, an early music group I had never heard in person. They played the Prague Symphony, a Haydn symphony, La Poule, and a Mozart piano concerto, K. 503, with Andreas Staier on the pianoforte. The next evening they played the Mozart Requiem and K. 550. Unfortunately it conflicted with our flight.

I regret I didn't have time to look up the LJ guys in Barcelona - I was basically there for only a day. Next time I will.


Portugal

Sep. 11th, 2010 11:12 am

I have been saving my vacations days all year. (I get 20, I have taken 5.) The plan was to go to Spain & France - spend a week mainly in Galicia with my friend Stephen, then a week in Paris, etc. on my own. We decided several weeks ago to fly from BCN to LIS, rent a car, and drive up to Galicia, then back for a weekend in Lisbon.

But the plan morphed.

We both began to think why not just spend the entire week in Portugal - which neither of us have visited. Also, some extra expenses this year (new car, much needed house repairs) plus general uneasiness made me rethink spending €€€ on a second week. Even though the boss cleared me for two weeks, I made a reservation to arrive in BCN on Friday, October 1, and depart on Monday, October 10. (Of course I'll leave open an impulsive option to extend my stay a few days.) We will fly to Lisbon on Saturday and spend the next week mainly in Portugal. (If we get close to the Spanish border in the vicinity of Salamanca or Zamora, my car may not be able to resist - those are two places I really want to see.)

If you know Portugal and have an opinion about what to see or what to avoid, I'm all ears.


IsraelIsrael went with me this year to B.P. for Memorial Day Weekend. We had a good time together, and I usually acceded to his desire for less rather than more contact with the group - though we did manage a few encounters. One I still can feel was the prolonged bear-hugs I received from a studly midwesterner at Steamworks. His embraces combined with the very hot water had a chiropractic effect.
 
I had the pleasure of meeting the affable [livejournal.com profile] muckefuck, who was warmer than I expected. With Albrecht Dürer hair, a serious demeanor, and a sense of drama he could easily nab the part of the Paschal Lamb Himself at Oberammergau. It was also nice to meet [livejournal.com profile] aadroma.
 
The Art Institute had a Matisse exhibition which we saw both Friday and Monday. I'm glad we went back. Besides being quietly radiant, it had a subtle organization that I was only cognizant of the second time through. I think the idea was to showcase the A.I.'s large Bathers of 1913-1917 with work that might have logically led up to its painting. It was a successful plan. Matisse repeated not only pictorial composition, but grouping, models, patterns, and colors from one work to another - obsessing over the same material till he had reduced the composition to a few elegant but crucial lines, and the colors to their fundamental essence. The Bathers was hung toward the end of the exhibition. The first painting was a small Cézanne that Matisse had acquired in 1899 at great personal cost. It was also a scene of bathers. Walking through the many paintings, sculptures, and drawings between the two, it was easy to see the powerful effect this small Cézanne had on Matisse and how many of his most celebrated paintings from 1900 thru 1920 are its direct progeny. The exhibition extended the scope to other themes also suggested by the Bathers. I think it was one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a long time. It didn't have the gross and draining blockbuster effect, yet at the same time was not trifling by any means. Each piece was placed with great sensitivity to context, yet nothing seemed forced.


Millennium Park

I am always nostalgic when I have to leave Chicago. I think it is my favorite American city.
ah Chicago, you know how to eat

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

NYC & Lulu

May. 20th, 2010 04:48 am













About NYC, I guess we never get enough. Highlights? the dinner at Dovetail, chasing down J. Mehretu, and all of the long & wonderful conversations with my best friend Glenda - she was there being interviewed by the Soros Foundation - almost routine for her.

About Lulu, it was stunningly beautiful - breathtaking. At least the music. The production was from 1977 and it showed. But the music transcended that. For me, it is the most powerful & most brilliant opera written in the XXth century.

1st Sunday off since January.
In DFW with Israel.
 
Saw lots of art.
Liked best a small drawing by Charles Sheeler.
Warhol - the last Decade really sucked.
 
Beer on Sunday afternoon.
 
 
 
 



After Christmas
I went to Fort Worth, to Houston,
 
 
 
 








 
 
 
and to San Francisco.








      
 
Lots of time to walk around,
to think,
 
and just do nothing.
 
 









albuquerque & santa fe for the weekend

j & j

Aug. 13th, 2009 10:54 am


Last night, I went to see Julie & Julia.My thoughts... )

I went to Albuquerque & Santa Fe for a quickie trip on Sunday - back late Tuesday night. Before the internet, before bears, before I had income to spare, I went to New Mexico religiously. First to Santa Fe - for the mountains & hiking, for friends, for the opera, for the food, etc. Then later to Albuquerque, while my friend Philip was in residency and fellowship there. Somehow, my road trips to anywhere have been gradually replaced by flights - thus my travel to the land of enchantment has greatly diminished.

I went this time for a day and a half of an organ convention (in both cities), and to have lunch and catch up with Jo. The organ events were surprisingly good: 4 organ recitals and 3 choral concerts. Daniel Roth played Sunday evening at the Episcopal cathedral in Albuquerque. Quite stunning. After the intermission, he concluded with the Widor 'Symphonie Romane'. The thought of sitting through a composition like this in my 20s would have had me bolting - a piece so clearly belonging to the aesthetics of the late 19th century. But somehow now, I can listen to something like this and become quite involved - granted it requires a truly gifted and amazing musician, and an amazing instrument and acoustic environment. But if everything lines up, like it did here, it can take your breath away. All of the other recitalists (including Stephen Tharp) were excellent. Of the choral groups, I enjoyed De Profundis the best. They were probably the most amateur of the 3 groups, but the easy rapport they had with each other, the lovely blended sound they made, and the very sensitive and intelligent program they sang moved them to the top of the list.

I miss New Mexico. I miss Larry's Hats in Albuquerque, I miss green chile being an option on every menu. I miss the mountain pastures. I miss the small funky towns that seem lost in time. I miss the harrowing 2-lane-blacktop drive back to Texas on Highway 104 - the way it slowly descends from the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the plains, the ways the skies change over and over, the way the dramatic thunder storms quickly rise and fade.

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