December 23rd, 2008
I’ve been reading this extremely entertaining book about V.S. Naipaul—The world is what it is—and realizing more and more how his anger towards banality, mediocrity and simple pettiness of people makes sense (of course he is obviously not a nice man). I have written about him before and my interest in him was sharpened after I read in the BBC about this biography of his being published without him changing a word of it. Now, that’s courage…
A good article about the book and the five years it took Patrick French to write it was published in The Nation ; a fascinating glimpse of the mind of the “supreme egotist”.
I find Naipaul’s banter with Derek Walcott amusing; read about it in The Telegraph.
Two Nobel Laureates from the West Indies fighting like children—cute!
Ian Buruma describes him well: “Naipaul’s voice, which some younger writers are tempted to mimic, cannot be defined by citing his opinions on race, the colonial experience, India, literature, or anything else. His views are frequently designed to shock and outrage.”
Cynicism (at its best) jumps at you from every page of French’s book and Sir Vidia’s lucid prose has kept me awake all last week. I empathize when he says: “my life is too short, I can’t listen to banality”.
Like Naipaul, I have refused to engage in wishful thinking all my life and if this makes me a cynic, be it! “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”
added on 12/23/08—I keep looking for him—just read James Wood’s article, Wonder and Wounded: He is socially successful but deliberately friendless, an empire of one: “At school I had only admirers; I had no friends.”
added on 12/27/08—”Artists cannot claim immunity from decency.” Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
I agree to a certain point with her but I don’t believe that artists should be judged by their personality (ies)—Picasso must have been an impossible man with his lovers but I can’t deny his art…
Is Naipaul “mad, bad and dangerous to know” like Lord Byron was? Read this very good article in Times by Magnus Linklater.
December 20th, 2008
Guess what we all got from Santa Claus this year?
It’s been a horrendous holiday season and my images below illustrate the Christmas mood of Rodeo Drive:
The real estate market is so bad, they are giving away whole buildings!
The haute couture has a small “sale” sign but no buyers…
The Christmas decorations are as gorgeous as ever but with no money to spend, people are just not in the mood,
and the Cinderella slipper has to wait for a better (non-bankrupt) prince.
The doormen at Prada are waiting in vain too— the headless/moneyless client is entrapped in Koolhaas’ quirky cell:
Last year’s night version of this was way more cheerful…
Africa’s still bleeding in spite of De Beers pretty windows:
An exercise in futility if you ask me but Harry Winston is still showing off its ridiculous necklaces.
The poinsettias are effortlessly beautiful and everywhere—they keep bringing a smile to my face without costing an arm and a leg.
An espresso and the man of the year to wrap up the day.
It looks like we’re going to have to take Einstein’s advice, whether we like it or not: “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
November 9th, 2008
Yes he did it! What a collective sigh of relief, what a huge smile on the face of the earth and how very scary to be President Obama in today’s world…
I had fun with Sky Gilbar’s beautiful photos of Obama (above and below).
These are some of the pictures of Obama that I like best.
I teared up reading Nancy Gibbs’ article: “Some Princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope. Barack Obama never talks about how people see him: I’m not the one making history, he said every chance he got. You are. Yet as he looked out Tuesday night through the bulletproof glass, in a park named for a Civil War general, he had to see the truth on people’s faces. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he liked to say, but people were waiting for him, waiting for someone to finish what a King began.”
Writers say it so much better than us mere mortals; take a look at Judith Warner’s piece here and Frank Rich’s here. Come on people, don’t be lazy! These are exciting times—good and bad—and history doesn’t forgive apathy…
I took this picture of my TV while watching the biography of my favorite American President, John Adams who said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
Obama’s election made me forget my agreement with Plato‘s view on Democracy…
September 8th, 2008
I am a bibliophile and not ashamed to admit it! I love good books, and as much as I read online, paper and ink remain sacred to me. My love for books is thanks to my father’s great library of classics.
I went to the Los Angeles Central Library looking for some books and I couldn’t resist taking these pictures and sharing them with you. This library burnt in 1986—something about burning books fills me up with utter sadness and an enormous sense of loss (remember Fahrenheit 451?)
To see the most beautiful libraries of the world visit this site. We need these in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.
The books that were somewhat burnt yet still salvageable are so fragile that they have to be kept in special boxes. You can still see the black soot on them:
You can’t check out the more damaged ones because of their fragility like this one:
The good news is that there are thousands of wonderful and “healthy” books in this library and the reading rooms are very pleasant.
This is one book I have promised myself to read one day:
But who has the courage to even contemplate these ones:
“Kertész’s images celebrate the power and pleasure of this solitary activity and capture the deeply personal, yet universal moment of reading. This poetic book that has long been out of print is even more compelling today in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.”
Even if Jeff Gomez argues that we are at a Gutenbergian moment, in which writers, publishers and readers must make the jump from paper to the more fluid territory of the screen, I can’t imagine being without the smell and the feel of paper.
I still print everything serious that I want to read because staring at my screen bothers my eyes.
“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” Alfred Whitney
Speaking of great photographers, I went to Melvin Sokolsky’s opening night last thursday at Fahey/Klein Gallery. I’ve had the privilege of taking a “Master Class” at UCLA with him some years ago. His pictures have remained as fresh as the day he took them and unbruised by time.
September 1st, 2008
I woke up this morning with the news of Sarah Palin’s 17 year old unwed daughter being 5 months pregnant! I must be dreaming – this is the stuff bad Hollywood movies are made of: an evangelical, (almost) beauty queen of a small Alaskan town, with five children, a four year college degree in journalism, and an anti-choice/anti-evolution/pro oil drilling agenda is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the the United States of America! Only in Hollywood my friends…
Do I look stupid to you people? Do we, as women, look so clueless to you republicans that you imagine us all voting for a woman only because of her gender? This is as valid as me voting for Ahmadinejad for the sole reason that he’s born persian!
Palin went through with her fifth pregnancy knowing that her child will have Down Syndrome. I have a nephew with this problem and I know how heartbreaking it is for the parents and the siblings…To insist in bringing a child like this to the world is selfish and insane.
Palin is an avid member of the NRA—Natonal Rifle Association— which makes her the dream candidate for the republican ticket. She’s too damned young and inexperienced to be the vice president of this country. Read this article and this one to have some fun with this issue. Here are some interesting opinions about this whole affair.
Unless Obama (aka the Dark Knight) messes up really bad from here to November, I don’t see how he can lose…
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” Aldous Huxley
July 28th, 2008
The Desert Garden at the Huntington’s was in full bloom and I couldn’t resist sharing these beautiful images with you. First some gorgeous Echeveria succulents:
They have fleshy leaves with small delicate flowers like these:
These are called black succulents and are truly magnificent:
Agave (of the tequila fame) , Aloe and Cactus are all members of the succulent family—the cactus having more prickles than others. They are water-retaining plants. Just look at this gorgeous queen victoria agave:
and this pretty pink flower of another agave plant.
This one had small blue and red blossoms.
You all know this more common succulent: the creeping ice plant.
This desert garden is nearly 100 years old and has more than 3,000 species of desert plants. Let’s go to the thorny cacti now; you don’t want to get lost on this road on a dark night!
I loved these peach hued blossoms on this prickly pear cactus,
they turn yellow when they open.
This is a more dramatic version of the same plant—it almost looked like under water coral…
Cactus is an oxymoron to me. How can a plant with fleshy leaves and prickles that repel you have such brilliant and intensely colored flowers? It rejects you and invites you at the same time…
A closer look,
and the piece de resistance: the red flower cactus.
This young gardener was busy the whole time that I was visiting the gardens.
“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.” Lou Erickson
July 20th, 2008
The fact that this latest batman is not cracking jokes like George Clooney’s gay version—with Robin—makes it easier to imagine a darker villain for the story. Christopher Nolan (of the Memento fame) has done a great job in these two last movies about the comic book franchise.
Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer were good as the dark prince but Christian Bale remains the best of the crop and Clooney the absolute worst. He should really stick to his Cary Grant roles. Take a look at the different batmen here.
What I have always liked about Batman is that he’s not a super-hero with funny super powers like the Spiderman, the creepy Superman or that idiot Hulk! I liked the Iron man for the same reason. The engineer in me cringes every time I have to watch a scientifically impossible film. Even though I am a serious Trekkie, I have never been a fan of the Star Wars. The whole mythology and mentor/princess/father/son bit turns me off. Dune has the same effect on me…
You don’t want to hear about my childhood crush on Mister Spock so I am going back to my ratman. Last week I had to ask a rat-man to secure my house from an epidemic of rats in Brentwood/Bel Air area…Bats are not rodents by the way and are genetically closer to us humans.
“Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected. In this case, I should think interesting would suffice.” Spock
July 13th, 2008
I would like to share my last trip to this beautiful city with you. I stayed in this fabulous hotel where everything but the view to the river was red (my favorite color)
these exquisite chandeliers are the pride and joy of the Czech Republic.
this is the view from my room:
and this one
First the sun was shining,
then it was raining like hell,
and then this amazing double rainbow; talking about a room with a view…
Prague is a city of posters,
and the capital of caryatids! Paris will never get close to these gorgeous men and women.
these two weren’t talking to each other:
but these two were – for an eternity.
I woke up at 6 in the morning and took the tramway to Charles bridge – the only time in the day that it’s a bit quiet. Cities are majestic in the morning blue hour.
The astronomical clock is the main tourist attraction.
Speaking of Kafka, he’s omnipresent:
and here and everywhere…
Beautiful city/people/pastries/absinthe (I brought some mean ones back to L.A.)
All and all, the Czech republic has shown gargantuan progress in a few years since the fall of communism – if only it stayed as inexpensive as the first time I visited…
“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us” Franz Kafka
April 27th, 2008
I fell in love with the above painting when I first got introduced to Verlinde’s work in Paris. We all know hollow people, lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance – we have all met shallow people lacking in depth of thought, or feeling. In Persian we call them “hollow drums”: noisy but empty.
Thanks to the internet we can know of something without really knowing about it. We used to have to read, to see, to hear something in order to be able to talk about it but not anymore folks! everybody’s an expert.
I’ve been wanting to talk about V.S. Naipaul for the longest time. Every time that somebody tries to eat up my life/time, I remember the writer’s fabulous statement reported on BBC: “my life is too short, I can’t listen to banality”.
Staying with the trompe l’oeil of Verlinde and Poirier, take a look at this very clever ad:
You can see the rest of these very funny ads here.
Today is my blog’s first anniversary! If you like what you see, please subscribe.
March 17th, 2008
Happy New Year to all of you hamvatans! These are some pictures of the ghost of Nowruz past and present. I remember new shoes, the intoxicating scent of hyacinths, the goldfish and the mint bills – and of course the sound of naghareh when the year changes.
No Ruz is the day when life’s glory is celebrated; it usually occurs on March 21st or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. It’s a feast of renewal and freshness – No (new) Ruz (day).
It has often been suggested that the famous Persepolis Complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Noruz by Darius the Great (522 -485 BC). It is celebrated in other countries as well as Iran. Tajikistan is one of them.
In spite of trying hard, the islamic republic of Iran has not been able to erase this semi-pagan spring festival; they have tried to replace Zarathustra‘s spring equinox celebration with the muslim eyds to no avail.
The original haft sheen or seven sh‘s were: Sharab (wine), Shekar (sugar), Sham (Candle), Shir (milk), Sharbat (Sherbet), Shaneh (comb), Shahd (nectar) but they were replaced by seven S’s to eliminate sharab (wine) after the arab conquest.
The haft seen is made of:
Sabzeh – wheat or lentil sprouts growing in a dish symbolizing rebirth
Samanu – pudding made of wheat symbolizing wealth
Senjed – dried fruit of Jujube tree symbolizing love
Seer – garlic symbolizing medicine
Seeb – apples symbolizing beauty and health
Somaq – sumac berries symbolizing the sun
Serkeh – vinegar symbolizing age
Sonbol – hyacinth flower symbolizing the arrival of spring
Sekkeh – gold coins symbolizing prosperity and wealth
Too much information, wouldn’t you say?
آمد بهار ای دوستان منزل سوی بستان کنیم
گرد غریبان چمن خیزید تا جولان کنیم
امروز چون زنبورها پران شویم از گل به گل
تا در عسل خان جهان شش گوشه آبادان کنیم
آمد رسولی از چمن کاین طبل را پنهان مزن
ما طبل خان عشق را از نعره ها ویران کنیم
بشنو سماع آسمان خیزید ای دیوانگان
جانم فدای عاشقان امروز جان افشان کنیم
آتش در این عالم زنیم وین چرخ را برهم زنیم
وین عقل پابرجای را چون خویش سرگردان کنیم
کوبیم ما بی پا و سر گه پای میدان گاه سر
ما کی به فرمان خودیم تا این کنیم و آن کنیم
نی نی چو چوگانیم ما در دست شه گردان شده
تا صد هزاران گوی را در پای شه غلطان کنیم
خامش کنیم و خامشی هم مایه دیوانگیست
این عقل باشد کآتشی در پنبه پنهان کنیم
To hear my good friend (Houri)’s voice accompanying the preparation of haft-seen, click on the view here.
About the seven sh’s, somebody mentioned the omnipresent SHAHNAMEH on the Norouz spread and I have to agree – the Great Book‘s almost always been on mine even now that it’s become the tame haft-seen. For some comic book version (for the heavy readers) check this site out.
My Nowruz 1390 (2011) here
For Nowruz 1389 (2010) go here
for Nowruz 1388 (2009) go here