28
Mar 07

no matter where you go, there you are


I think a lot about the concept of placeness, and what differentiates one location on the planet from another, beyond what you can see. Isn’t it interesting that in certain places you can sense stories humming in undertones? And that the spaces in which we move, physically, effect our activities and emotions and aspirations in radically different ways, via so many variables: geographical location, physical and natural features, human culture, history and migration, climate, pollution, design … and many more?

Some physical places look mundane, but have witnessed horrors and can make you shiver just to enter them. Some places make you feel elated and free.

Mazra'ih
moss-covered wall
Originally uploaded by .Leili.

Some crowded, whirring places simultaneously press on your soul, and awaken creativity. If there is no personal space for you in the crowd, in order to survive, you might have to make psychic space and distance around you.

matatus
Kampala Old Taxi Park (Matatu Park)
Originally uploaded by Kattaka.

Boston Symphony Hall

In addition to these physical features, it seems that each place could also be said to have a spiritual history – a history of human relationships, advancement, interactions, choices, conflicts, innovations, struggles and love.

I went the other day to Boston Symphony Hall. We saw Fidelio with the amazing Christine Brewer in the Leonore/Fidelio role. Symphony Hall really has placeness. I grew up hearing stories about music heard in that place, towering musical figures encountered in that place. The building even had a role in my parents’ marriage.

So what constitutes “placeness” for you? What locations stay with you, and why? Do these places look unassuming, or might the uninitiated be able to tell that there is something special about that place from just a glance? Are your thoughts about placeness connected to ideas about home?

22
Mar 07

Where do birds go to die?


Originally uploaded by ardour.

I find this picture by Yoav very beautiful. It reminds me of something that has bothered me for some time, and for which no one has yet supplied an answer that makes sense:

Although we see and hear many birds each day, why do we almost never see dead birds? I have seen hundreds of thousands of birds in my life. I am even one of those nerds who seeks them out. Yet I have only seen a tiny number of dead birds in my life. In Haifa, yes: I understand that there are ravening feral cats everywhere, and “being eaten” has got to explain the phenomenon, at least partially. But what about all the other places? How could street animals and/or wildlife possibly get to all the millions of birds who die each day without me seeing any evidence? It’s not like I don’t look around, either.

What’s your theory?


Roses in the heart of New York City.
Originally uploaded by .Leili.

In a related question, I am wondering what happens to all the flowers that are grown and cut and shipped and bunched and displayed in a streetside stand for myriad purposes — apologies, love, restitution, thanks — and go unclaimed? Do all those potential emotions wind up wilted and unexpressed in the dumpster at the back alley?


19
Mar 07

Tundric adventure

Morningside Park
Morningside Park.

On Friday, I had to get from the upper west side of Manhattan down to the UN, over to Brooklyn, and back, and happened to pick a miserable, urban ice storm in which to do it. In addition to subways, that’s about 40 blocks of outdoor walking. I had not come to the City with the right gear, either (dramatically incorrect footwear, no hat, flimsy umbrella). I felt, as I often do these days, culturally ill-equipped for my re-entry into US society — Martian, even — as though I have never had to be out in snow before and could think only of the 78 varieties of coconut that grow in my fictitious backyard.

eighth of a block took 25 minutes

As I walked down 42nd Street, I couldn’t help but notice that my face was being bombarded with tiny stinging ice pellets (Mum helpfully pointed out that said pellets are called “rime,” but the fact that they have a name that appears in 19th-century poetry does not excuse their behavior).

stationary bus

As we stepped gingerly through the gunmetal slush, trying to find a bus – any bus – to catch, a recent transplant from Canadia confessed to me that she had dismissed that morning’s severe weather warning as the paranoia of wimpy Americans. Then she got to work, and started noticing colleagues arriving at the office covered in, well – rime. With wet feet. And then she realized her only shoes were buttery-soft leather flats. I should add that the addition of ziploc bags used as socks did not help (is that some sort of Canadian trick?). The one who fared best among us was, interestingly, from Perth, and had never been in such weather in her life. She was wise enough to have invested in granny boots at the first signs of winter.

10
Mar 07

What’s new, Lash LaRue?

So, lucky me! Lash came to visit.

lion

It was great to see him, though surreal, because it’s been months, and many farewells, and thousands of miles, and … thousands of degrees, besides. We walked around Boston in freezing ridiculous weather, and snapped some photos.

The Pru

The light was very New England – I would even venture to say that it was very Bostonian. I don’t know, however, if I have a leg to stand on when I assert that Boston has its own light. It may just be superstition. People say the Caribbean has its own light. The Mediterranean. The American southwest.

And Boston: something about the brick against the blue cold sky, and the silver shine that glints off bare urban twigs – for me it is iconic. I was eager to see how a Canadian eye-lens would see all of this, and of course I was not disappointed. But you can’t see them because he hasn’t put them up on his Flickr yet.

Here are a few from that day. Because I like taking pictures too, Mr. Professional Photo Person. If ONLY I had a better camera I could take photos just. like. you. <wink>

window reflections

back bay boston

09
Mar 07

Who I met on my walk …

seal pup

… We stopped to chat for a while. He was lolling about by the incoming tide. Because he didn’t seem to be making his way back into the water, and because there were no other seals lolling about in the vicinity, we thought he might be ill and waited while a man called the New England Aquarium for help. Apparently seals “look abandoned” while their mothers leave to seek food for them. No, I don’t know how to tell the difference between seals that look abandoned owing to the lunch issue, and those that really are abandoned.

Later, I was asked what there is to discuss with a seal. It went something like this:

Me: What are you doing here? I’m cold. Are you?
Furry Creature: (flappity flap)
Me: I see your family also makes you go out in the tundric wind in the middle of winter.
F.C.: (disarming seal-grin)
Me: You have a coat on, but still. Is your mother getting you lunch? Are you lost?
F.C.: (flap flap flap)

Am I wrong, or is it kind’ve unusal to come across a seal during a mundane walk?


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