Hell-O-Whiny & Hollow Weiner

CAN ‘SANITY’ BE RESTORED AGAINST THOSE HALLOWEEN-WORTHY  ‘FOX’ HORROR MASKS?

Tomorrow, October 30th, 2010, at noon the Jon Stewart-and-Stephen Colbert -organized Rally to Restore Sanity will commence. Alas, by the time I checked on the free buses, they were full and all the commercial buses  and trains had sold-out tickets. I’d have attended the gathering more to get a first-hand view and because I think that quite a few American late-night comedians have far greater wit, intelligence and rational wisdom than most news channels in the US, and especially far higher IQs and healthier mental  capacities than the psychopathic escaped loonies who inhabit the Fox news desks.

The Rally to Restore Sanity started in jest as a counter-rally to the one that Fox  show anchor – the rabid, clinically narcissistic-and-borderline-patient Glenn Beck – had called in DC earlier which he termed as the Rally to restore Honor. (You see, Beck in his vitriolic rage had misspelled ‘Horror’.) Anyhoo – if you are not convinced about the IQ levels of the self-aggrandizing neo-Nazi tactics of recovered-drug-addict-turned-Mormon-turned-paranoid-power-addict-cult-leader Beck and the other shady characters that dominate Fox news and its massive outreach, see for yourself in this  BBC say-it-as-it-is Charlie Brooker analysis:

Believe it or not, Charlie hasn’t included the most nauseating and hate-mongering clips of Reily and Beck.

Fox news is insanely popular in the Southern states, and in my two years in Florida, the angriest people I came across, religiously followed it. These were the same ones who worshiped Bush  Jr. and had supported the Fox-news-led infamous Florida recount that had stolen Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential win and inserted Bush into the White House in what would become eight years of economic, military, environmental and greed-and-war-infested horrors and financial debts leading to the Great Recession – the legacy of which the world is still recovering from, and for which President Obama is still trying to clean up the mess.

Fox-news-supporting groups of course call intellectuals and the east-coast intelligentsia as ‘elitists’ and non-right-wingers as “commies.” Now, I’m no “Commie” (although I do have a socialist chip from my mother’s side of the family, and without name dropping, the only ‘hint’ I’ll give is that that ‘chip’ in both Sweden and Britain contains the name ‘Palme’. But they were good socialist leaders.) Instead, I do believe that the benefits of democracy and capitalism – HEALTHY and ETHICAL capitalism, that is – are far better than what other regimes have  achieved. I do not believe in the Either-Or extreme views of both extreme capitalism or extreme socialism as being sustainable alternatives, but hope that in a just world a healthy balance between capitalism and socialism can exist, and where respect for environmental and ecological health holds the strongest foundation.

I also believe that any system devoid of truth and health at its roots will ultimately rot and that such systems cause incalculable damage to people’s minds and a nation’s objectivity. And the rabid rantings of the Fox -trot Trio are most certainly unhealthy and hate-mongering propaganda. They like burying objective facts, exaggerating emotions, convert feelings-to-facts and display rage-fits like irrational people suffering from borderline personality disorder (not much unlike the rants of Khrushchev & Stalin – the real commies, and not much unlike the gesticulations of Hitler – the fascist.  Not surprisingly, in pure borderline disorder ‘projection’ the very qualities they themselves possess, i.e. behaving like the power-hungry Stalin and the hate-hungry Hitler are the qualities the Fox news trio of Hannity-Beck-Reily venomously attribute to Obama. In fact Glenn Beck alarmingly thoroughly studied both Hitler’s works and Mormonism. It shows. It shows. Don’t let his baby-face fool you. This man is a clinical narcissist and although I’m a US resident, the day he and the other giddy-girl Palin come to power, I’m moving to Canada. The way I see it – I’d rather freeze my arse in a Canadian winter than be ruled by arses in some future Palin-Beck cuckoo-land.)

Last week, on a stroll in mid-town Manhattan I saw some Green Party activists peacefully protest outside the Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue. They also distributed fliers with actual quotes that the ‘stars’ of Fox had ranted on TV and radio – an unbelievable array of racist, homophobic, unscientific, uninhibited, rather pathetic, hate-filled quotes that I have decided not to waste time typing and giving space or breath more than they already occupy on air. Instead, I’m enclosing photos I took of some of the activists who voiced their concern against the Foxists:

A protester holds a banner in front of New York’s Fox News headquarter

A peaceful protest against Fox news media on the Avenue of the Americas, NYC Oct 23, 2010.

Protest against Fox news’ hate-mongering

Due to President Obama’s paternal Black ancestery, Fox news has always resorted to racist rants against him and other people of color.

A protester against Fox News’ rabid rants hold up a poster. Avenue of the Americas, NYC, Oct 23, 2010

Truly, sometimes I wish the sound engineers and cameramen at Fox, would just walk out as the Becks, Hannities and Reily’s go on air. Then we’d see if their rants and attention-craving hatred is possible without the devices invented by the REAL brains of the world – the men who invented the microphone, the camera, studio lights, television monitors or the satellites that relay their bile-bearing babble. I’d like to see how the Becks of the world can exist without the science-loving, peace-loving inventors of the world – the ones they call the ‘left-wing elitists’ – the ones whose inventions of telecommunications and electronics they rely on as they preach their Mormonsim and hatred of humanity disguised as ‘love for their countrymen’ not much different than the fake ideologies of ‘country love’ preached by Stalin and Hitler. The only ‘good’ is that the trio are still comparatively (but only comparatively) harmless and civilized than radical head-chopping Islamic militants – who I may add, are also extremists and not representative of  the majority of followers of that religion.

But then, head-chopping is not this trio’s style, really. Head-numbing is more like it.

Here’s hoping that Stewart’s Rally goes on peacefully and sanely. Why is it necessary? Probably most because in an orgy of political correctness, the only ones making noise are always the irrational, the angry and the extremists. And the voices of rationality and sanity are often drowned in the cacophony of crap. On that last bit, I read on a CNN report that that indeed might become the only  ‘issue’ in the Rally to Restore Sanity:

But things could turn to insanity when it comes to the bathroom situation.

Rally organizers are having trouble finding portable toilets for those attending, WTOP.com reports. Their event occurs the day before the Marine Corps Marathon, and organizers of that event have locked the 800 they have rented until Sunday morning.

– CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/10/29/sanity.rally/index.html?hpt=Sbin)

Hmmm. Hopefully things will be solved to find a sanitary solution to a Sanity rally. But hey! At least it doesn’t stink like Beck’s verbal farts. Darn – if they had only invented Pepto-Bismal* for verbal (and mental) diarrhea. I’d have sent him a lifetime’s supply. Maybe the “elitist, left-wing commies” at Harvard and MIT and Cornell Med should invent some ;-)

*Beckto-Dismal – a pill to prevent paranoid irrational on-camera rantings and severe attention-seeking ploys resorting to lies, hatred and psychological projection, a condition that seems to afflict Glenn Beck (Hollow Weiner), Bill O Reily (Hell-O-Whiny) and other clinical narcissists and cult leaders and their followers and those who don’t need  masks for Halloween.

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Why Glenn Beck IS dangerous: I’m not alone in my comparisons of Beck’s strategies akin to Hitler and Stalin. Today I found many European publications have already noted the similarities, considering Europe is far more sensitive to the signs that shook it. An Economist article showing just how dangerous Beck really is : Pass this on folks. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/10/his_struggle

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Need a sane healthy laugh? A fellow wordpress blogger has made an extensive list of the witty signs that actual attendees of the ‘Sanity Rally’ carried….what a relief to see some real sane wit and humour ‘stead of the paranoia promoted by Beck’s ‘Horror Rally’! http://rallythecause.com/2010/10/31/rally-to-restore-sanity-fear-colbert-stewart-signs/

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Once in a lifetime

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”

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That it will never come again

Is what makes life so sweet.

Believing what you don’t believe

Does not exhilarate.

– Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

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New York. 20. 10. 2010. If you ever get a chance, please take the Amtrak train from Montreal to New York in mid-October. It is certainly one of the most picturesque and magical rides you will ever take in this lifetime (or $ 60 well spent) – it is literally like winding through a painting enriched by spectacular fall colours and the breath-taking beauty of Lake Champlain along the shoreline of which and the Adirondack mountains the tracks traverse by. A long ride, but one that leaves you fulfilled and overwhelmed by the gorgeousness of nature’s colours and serenity; and the fragile-but-oh-so-beautiful gift of human life. As I’ve oft-repeated, it is one of those journeys that is a reminder once again that “We all have the right to feel sad at times, but we do not have the right to feel ungrateful.” Because, compared to what luck could have handed us, we are so, so fortunate………

The sweetness of life comes from days lived well, with the decision to follow the best of  rational ethics and integrity one is possible of practicing; of acts of love and kindness to others without losing wisdom or the logic to analyse and create and to think independently and not fall prey to hypocrites; the sweetness of life comes from the knowledge that at the end of each day the only person you need to stand before and answer to is your own conscience; to look back at a life led without hypocrisy, where you adhere to integrity if only for your own sake; and to know before you fall asleep each night that you have never knowingly hurt anyone for it takes very little to be kind, to think before you speak; to know that we are so lucky in comparison to far larger problems, injustices and sadness in the world and therefore to complain a little less and at times, a lot less; to know the truth of global realities and the reality of our own  strengths and weaknesses; to give a thank-you to the inventors and minds which made our infrastructures and taken-for-granted comforts possible; to thank the hearts of the gentle souls amongst us who are capable of healthy love; and to always remember that because life comes, but only once, to make the most of it.

Trust me on this one, for I’m on my fifth life now through four brushes with death in my past, and every day lived reminds me of life’s sweetness. We go through trials and troubles, fight back or climb out of abysses, but at the end it is only those who love the gift of Life and the responsibility of integrity and authenticity that gift entails, who know the pleasure of the sweetest of slumbers: the true exhilaration of a clear conscience and a life led without regrets. And with the strength to take full responsibility for every action you have committed or will commit once you have left the realm of childhood. The peace of mind for staying on-track on that one single choice? Priceless.

A typical view from the Montreal-New York train in Autumn. (photo by Kevin Ebi. livingwildnreness.com)

The Montreal to New York Amtrak route

Bicycle Alert: On the topic of land travel, check out the tales of an interesting and friendly young Franco-Swiss adventurer I met in Old Montreal who has been traveling along various continents of the world since the age of 32 on his bicycle for the last several years. He had just finished a tour across Central and South Asia and was setting off across America. Marco Ausderau : http://acrosscontinents.ch/Navigation/histoire-d-un-reve?set_language=fr&cl=fr

One of  the quotes that inspired him to embark on this long journey is Antoine de St. Exupery’s words: “Fait de ta vie un rêve et de ton rêve une réalité.”

Memories of Montreal – un petit film

Montreal, Canada. 10-10-’10. I have been busy with my travels these past  several days and shall be traveling for a few more to come…..and Internet access has been sporadic and minuscule, at best. One of the joys of traveling and reconnecting with old friends and places in general is the humane factor of touch, sight, sound and smell which the virtual world, no matter how rich it can be, can never equal. The virtual at the end, serves only as the medium – the conduit through which the essence of the real can be captured only in bits and pieces on a two-dimensional plane.

So until I find the time to write a more reflective or analytical post, I’m re-posting an older article and video which had been, in essence, a quick ode to a city that has always remained dear to my  heart. On this trip, as I packed up the remnants of my existence here and found closure on many levels, I understood with some poignancy that it was indeed “Goodbye Montreal” and “Hello New York” for good. Time flies, people change, precocious girls we knew from our work days get married, have children; men we knew who carried an intense fire for living look beaten and broken in the grind of work life and compromises….those who thought they would live a ‘James Bond’ existence wake up to a reality of  ‘The Office’ (ah! mid-life crisis, or should I say mid-life acceptance, for many a man.)  A girl who was a sworn spinster is now married in a big Greek wedding with a baby on the way. A good architect friend who had the worst year of his life in 2008, is now not only on his best year but has become a successful theatre-actor on the side. Another who I thought would forever remain timid and servile has broken free and has his own firm.  A man who I thought had crazy intensity  ended up truly being intensely mentally crazy when I saw him again after two years. A girl I thought would never lose her integrity, I found, has now sold her soul in the name of society’s cliched definition of success……

We meet many, we lose a few, we remain static with some, we grow for, with and at times, away from others.  And for some like myself, sometimes looking back I have to confess (as a private joke that a few friends will understand) by fluke, I certainly was ‘Saved by the Bell’  in October 2008 in Montreal. Had it not been so, I certainly might not have perhaps found myself in Cambridge and subsequently in New York City. Thank you, Antonio Stradivari!

Life goes on, time never waits and all that is left behind are memories…….Yet for some places and people looking back at them never quite brings clarity – like looking at one’s past and hoping to get a balanced vision – yet instead it feels akin to when you open an old book and find inside its pages a pressed exotic flower from long ago and its faint scents and faded colours prevent detached objectivity.

But: We move on, thus. We must. We look back – sometimes with 20-20 vision, and at times with visions still blurred and foggy. Yet we move on. Or at least try our best. Or hobble on. Or, if we are lucky, sail smoothly away.

And oh yes – one more thing – xkcd-style. Just for the heck of it (or maybe it’s just all these cafes selling baguettes here.)  Either way:

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MÉMOIRES DE MON MONTRÉAL

(originally posted on May 25, 2010)

This is a short and quick film I made to capture some moments at my favourite city where I lived and worked for many years as an architect. I made this to celebrate both Montreal’s unique poignancy AND vibrancy.

Location: The film is based on my photographs through my years in Montreal. The apartment featured is on Ridgewood Avenue where my balcony and windows opened out into the forest of the Mont Royal Summit, behind the gigantic St. Joseph’s Oratory featured both in the early part and in the closing shot of the film. The ‘summit forest’ is the highest point of the city at the bifurcating median of the eastern traditionally ‘French side’ from the western ‘English side’ though of course in reality the city is entirely mixed and diverse. My apartment’s location enabled an incomparable view of the surroundings as well as the seasonal changes of the magnificent trees in its forested backyard. I lived in two different apartments over the years on the same street though I lived in other areas of the city as well, including the Plateau Mont Royal neighbourhood, in downtown Montreal, on the east side near the Village and also in the historic suburb of Vieux Longueuil. I’ve had 7 addresses during my years in the city.

The office featured in the film is of my architecture mentor Dan Hanganu on Rue Dizier.  Its arched windows looked out into the art galleries of Rue St. Paul. The three friends in the ‘four architects’ photo are Anca, Lucia and Athena (and no, we are quite the opposite of the self-absorbed, shoe-crazy, man-hungry, navel-gazing ‘sex and the city’ hyper-materialistic girls.) I met them while working at the historic multi-disciplinary and multi-national architecture firm Le Groupe Arcop one of whose founding fathers had a fellowship in his name at McGill university which I had been awarded more than a decade ago, not knowing then that some day I would go on to work at the firm he had founded. There are other pictures here of friends who are dear to me. I have added quite a few well-known streets and landmarks of the city as well as those places that are personally meaningful and memorable.

The repetition of the sunflowers in the clip is not just a reminder of the lively kiosks and flower shops dotted around the town (and the little herb and flower corner of my balcony), but also a representation of the human potential and inclination to seek and search for joy in life despite how gray the skies may become at times and…….well, because sunflowers are my favourite blossoms. I always say that no matter how sad a moment may be, looking at a ‘happy sunflower’ brings back the smile on my face. They just seem to be such sprightly optimistic flowers, following the light of the sun….

Music: The featured musical pieces on this video are ‘Oblivion’ (violin – Joshua Bell; bandoneon – Carel Kraayenhof) & ‘All of Me’ by Jazz great Lester Young (tenor sax), Teddy Wilson (piano), Jo Jones (drums), Gene Ramey (bass). Since I wanted to capture the paradoxical ‘poignant joyousness’ of the city, the first half of the film includes a heartfelt piece ‘Oblivion’ played by the versatile virtuoso Bell (whose movie The Red Violin’s ending culminates in this city and who I met in Montreal, so I thought it would be appropriate to place his rendition.) The second half of the film picks up the tempo, rhythm and joie-de-vivre unique to this belle ville and reminiscent in a very jolly 1950s tune ‘All of Me’ (composed by Gerald Marks & Seymour Simons) played by the jazz legend  Lester Young – which captures the spirit of the famous International Jazz Festival that Montreal hosts every summer and also the ambiance of its many cafes, clubs, youth culture, its ‘book capital’ status and bicycle and pedestrian-friendly street life.

Additional photography: Almost all the photographs used here are my own. The ‘night vision’ shots though hazy, I felt captured the lights, music and movement better of the city’s nightlife and festivals than clean ‘perfect’ ones taken with a camera stand. There are around 5 pictures featured here taken from Montreal tourism. And out of the total 160 photographs used here – 12 are from the collections of two friends who are extremely talented professionals and have their own studios and should be credited – Jessica Petunia and Robin Cerutti who are both Montreal residents

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/jessicapetunia/popular-interesting/

http://robincerutti.com/

The music in the video is beautiful when heard through the right speakers since a tiny mono speaker of a laptop cannot do justice to a big jazz band nor to a 1713 Stradivarius.

This is just a little personal ode to a city that has meant so much in my life and where, in many ways, an integral part of my mind, heart, soul and body will always remain, always belong, and live on through its multifarious memories.

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Renoir in the Fall

Fall in Quebec is a lovely time – a riot of red, yellow, orange, gold, green and brown mixed with yellow-gray skies and the crisp Autumn air. I find myself back again for a brief visit to my favourite North American city – Montreal. As I walk along familiar streets, tempting smells and the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal with its splendid art galleries, I am reminded how the colours of paintings have often inspired other media artists – especially film makers, interior designers, dance and theatre  set designers, costume designers and even musicians.

Did you know that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet had said that he was inspired by the works of Brazilian painter Juarez Machado to select his predominant red-green-yellow palette with spots of sporadic blue for his picturesque movie Amelie?

Still from the carnival ride of “Amelie”

The rooms from Jean-Pierre jeunet’s film “Amelie.” The director said that he was inspired by the colour palette of paintings of Brazilian painter Juarez Machado.

I was just gazing at the paintings of Renoir at an art gallery. Pierre-August Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919), as we all know is  one of the pioneers of the Impressionist style of painting. At his time he, along with Claude Monet, Pissarro and Sisley had formed a radical group of young artists to create a new style as a departure from previous academic techniques. The strokes and paint details were soft, overlapped, merged and diffused to give a dreamy style capturing the ‘essence’ of the subjects. Black was avoided and shadows were shown by mixing complementary colours. Impressionist classical music which developed in the late nineteenth century, seen in the works of Ravel and Debussy, captured that same light, feathery and dream-like quality. Renoir’s paintings are particularly noted for their vibrant and saturated colours, depictions of lively gatherings and soft portraits and nudes of women. His work is very rich in its capture of warmth and softness. Even after developing rheumatoid arthritis in 1892, Renoir continued to paint and produced several thousands of paintings in his lifetime.

Click on any of the paintings below to start a slideshow.

While soaking in the colours and compositions of Renoir, I was reminded of this scene I saw on youtube – a scene from the old musical GiGi, set in the early 1900s in Paris – that seemed remarkably like a Renoir painting breathed life into. I am not into musicals (find them too schmaltzy and boring at times, though for some of them, the set designs and costumes are worth watching). GiGi, alongwith My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music were however some of my grandmother’s favourites, so I remember the Christmas vacations when she’d play videos of them for us. I do not remember much of GiGi except the colours – and when I looked at Quebec’s autumn colours and the paintings in galleries in Rue St. Paul and some prints of the vibrant colours of Renoir’s work – I recalled this scene from that film. See for yourself (albeit this particular scene was placed more for its sound quality). But doesn’t it look like a Renoir painting come to life?

(When you full screen the above scene from the movie GiGi, it literally looks like the colours and characters of a Renoir painting has come to life. Try it!)


For the works and biography of Juarez Machado:

http://www.jmachado.com/

For the complete works and biography of Pierre-August Renoir:

http://www.renoirgallery.com/gallery.asp?id=54