LONDON – SOHO
Thankfully, treated to an uneventful trip to Waterloo Station, I hit the tube for the last leg to Oxford Street. I paid five quid for an eight minute ride. Time to get a metro card! After setting up my gear in my new room, and securing the reserved bunk that some wanker tried to steal from me, I made a beeline for the Vision Express on Oxford Street.
Hoping to rendezvous with my newly lensed Hugo Boss frames I ran afoul of over perfumed piece of luncheon meat with hair containing too much product, and an over worked cut that made him look a bit of a ponce. That was neither here or there, but locating my glasses, in his hands, seemed to require the assistance of Sherlock Holmes. Instead of just calling the branch where I placed my order, he did all manner of everything but. When he finally contacted them as per my original instructions, his inquiry required an addition wait.
I buggered off to a sporting goods store to check out shoes so the thing could work itself out, and I could escape the stench of his overbearing cologne. It would have been obnoxious in a Carnaby Street boutique, but it was totally inappropriate in an optometry setting. Seriously, how are people supposed get an accurate eye test if their eyes are watering profusely?
Upon my return, my glasses had been located within the store. An uncomprehendable explanation was proffered, but I couldn’t have cared less. The main thing is that the yammering, odiferous fashionista had been replaced by a pleasant young lady, who unlike her colleague, did not smell like a French whore. My last experience with new lenses was far from satisfactory, so I was a little nervous as to the results of my latest purchase. This London branch had been eroding my confidence since I first walked into the place.
Thankfully my fears were unfounded, and once again I could see properly. Street signs were crisp and clear and my world was born anew.
Now onto fun and games in London. Tonight I meet up with a friend I made last year in the French countryside where we had a volunteer gig in the tiny town of Brossac. We are off to Amy Winehouse’s old stomping grounds here in Soho to catch some Jazz, Funk and Soul after a little French cuisine for old times sake. Who really needs an excuse for onion soup au gratin in cold weather.
In the next few days I’ll also be checking out Tate Modern Picasso exhibit, going to a show in the Theater District, and finishing up with a night at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club before taking the train to Paris. In the grand scheme of things, it’s worth finding a 350 pound woman in your bunk (see Liverpool in previous post) every now and then if you get to enjoy life like this.
JAZZ AFTER DARK – This is Amy Winehouse’s favorite hangout in Soho. She would come and party, listen to music and perform on occasion. She even stopped by the week before she died. The performer on stage managed a quality interpretation of Amy’s powerful and moving hit, “Back in Black”. Jazz After Dark is really hallowed space for her fans. It was clearly a place she could come and feel comfortable and escape the oppressive fame that drove her to an early grave. The poor thing tried to take shelter in relationships with damaged junkies who just helped to drag her down even faster. Hers is such a tragic story of looking for love and oblivion in booze, drugs and strung out guys.
On a lighter note here I am with my friend, Amy Wells, one of the lovely girls that I met in Brossac last year, while we were all doing a volunteer gig in France. I felt bad that she had to travel 45 minutes in to the heart of London to see me, but it also felt nice knowing that she felt it was worth the effort in lieu of the fact she had to teach in the morning. Thanks for that, Amy.
AMY & AMY
MINI CHINATOWN – OFF LEICESTER SQUARE
After walking Amy to the underground, I started walking down this street, got a craving for Chinese food and immediately stopped and satisfied it.
TATE MODERN MUSEUM
GIANT SWINGING BALL
Salvador DALÍ – Metamorphosis of Narcissus – 1937
According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Unable to embrace the watery image, he pined away, and the gods immortalized him as a flower. Dalí shows this metamorphosis by doubling a crouching figure by the lake with a hand clutching an egg, from which the narcissus flower sprouts.
Salvador DALÍ – Lobster Telephone – 1936
In the early 1930’s, Dalí promoted the idea of the surrealist object, of which this is a classic example. The surrealists valued the mysterious and provocative effect of such unexpected conjunctions. Dalí, in particular, believed that his objects could reveal the secret desires of the unconscious. Lobsters and telephones had strong sexual connotations for him, and he drew a close analogy between food and sex. He made Lobster Telephone for Edward James, the British collector who was the most active patron of surrealist artists in the 1930’s.
René MAGRITTE – The Annunciation – 1930
Jan SCHOONHOVEN – R69-26 – 1969
Having experimented with several different artistic styles, in 1960 Schoonhoven began to make white reliefs with geometrical structures. He experimented with light, form, and volume in these meticulously made works. He worked in the Dutch civil service, making art at the evening and weekend, but still played a major role in the European art scene.
Gunther UECKER – White Field – 1964
Uecker bagan to make reliefs using nails in the late 1950s. The white composition allows the nails to create patterns of shadow across the surface, responding to the light in the room but also seeming to change in relation to the viewer’s own position. Uecker was a member of Zero, and artists’ group that aimed to establish a new beginning in art and culture: the name relates to the last point in a countdown before a rocket is launched.
VASARELY, Victor – Supernovae – 1959-61
Vasarely was one of the first artists to propose an explicitly ‘optical’ style of painting, inspired by geometric abstraction and cubism’s distortions of space and perspective. He believed that the illusion of movement in two dimensions was a kind of physical motion in its own right. The black and white paintings which he made in the 1950s grew out of his experiments with transparent screens painted with geometric patterns and layered in order to produce high-contrast images that appeared to move with the viewer.
SOBRINO, Francisco – Indefinite Spaces – 1963
Sobrino left Spain for Buenos Aires in 1949, where he came into contact with the artists of the Arte Concreto-Invención. He then moved to Paris in 1958, where he became one of the founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visual (GRAV) in 1960. This is also when he started making sculptures out of simple geometric forms, cut from tinted transparent plastic sheets, and arranged in regular structures. The effects of combination and layering deliberately make it difficult to determine the position of each shape in space and in relation to each other.
ROTHKO, Mark – 1950’s
I just love experiencing this sculpture and it’s mélange of dueling sound.
ABAKANOWICZ, Magdalena – Embryology – 1978-80
PICASSO, Pablo – Seated Woman by a Window – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Head of a Woman – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Head of a Woman – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – The Yellow Belt – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Reading – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Woman in a Red Armchair – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Nude, Green Leaves and Bust – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Nude in a Black Armchair – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – The Mirror – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Girl before a Mirror – 1932
Contrary to popular myth, it is unclear how much time Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter actually spent together across 1932. Even less is known about Walter’s presence in Picasso’s studio as he was not in the habit of painting from live models. Walter described their relationship thus: “My life was always secret with him, calm and quiet, and we didn’t say anything to anyone and were happy like that. That was enough for us. I was smothered with love and kisses and jealousy and admiration. Happy, can I put it better than that?”
PICASSO, Pablo – Reclining Nude -1932
PICASSO, Pablo – Woman in the Garden – 1929-30
Pablo PICASSO – The Three Dancers – 1925
The jagged forms of Three Dancers convey an explosion of energy. The image is laden with Picasso’s personal recollections of a triangular affair, which resulted in the heart-broken suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. Love, sex and death are linked in an ecstatic dance. The left-hand dancer in particular seems possessed by an uncontrolled Dionysian frenzy. Her face relates to a mask from Torres Strait, New Guinea, owned by the artist and points to Picasso’s association of ‘primitive’ forms with expressiveness and sexuality.
PICASSO, Pablo – Nude in front of a Mirror – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – The Rescue – 1933
PICASSO, Pablo – Sleeping Nude with Blond Hair – 1932
PICASSO, Pablo – The Rescue – 1932
POST EXHIBIT PASTRY
PAUL – Abricot Anglaise – March 8, 2018 – Edible Art
RENEWABLE IS UNSTOPPABLE – Want to find out what the world thinks of us? Look no farther than than the London Underground. This ad speaks loud and clear.
A PERFECT SYMBOL FOR OUR NATIONAL DISGRACE – Emblematic of the world’s antipathy for our dear leader.
ronnie scott’s – the best jazz club in London – one of the best in the world
Audible Art – Waiting for the inevitably awesome show.
KYLE EASTWOOD BAND – Bass player and son of Clint, Kyle Eastwood has been performing for fifteen years, and Ronnie Scott’s is his favorite place to perform. They were truly outstanding, and played an extensive repertoire of their own material with a couple of standards thrown in for good measure.
ANN SUMMERS – One of many upscale Soho sex boutiques featuring elegant accoutrement and accessories for enhancing erotic encounters.
LEGO STORE – Classic British Phone Box
LEGO STORE – Big Ben – Big Ben is actually the name of the bell and not the clock.
FISH & CHIPS – One more British classic with mushy peas. This is plaice and chips in light batter.
CARNABY STREET – FASHION CENTRAL
MY GENERATION – MICHAEL CAINE
DUFFY – Elle – Avenger Girl – 1964
LATEGAN – Twiggy and Mary Quant – 1960’s
What would a Sixties exhibition be without the Beatles?
TWO FISTED BUBBLE GUNS – My granddaughter would go wild in this place.
STEIFF – Picking out another quality stuffed bear for my new granddaughter, Aria who will arrive at the end of March. This time, I went for a panda since I am going to see the pandas in China this year and high contrast toys are good with newborns.
Hamleys is one of the only world class toy stores left since FAO Schwartz in NYC closed in 2015. They offer toys for children of all ages, and I mean all ages. Evidently, there are plans to reopen at the end of 2018. Probably the thing that ran them into the ground was the fact that Toys R Us had acquired them. Toys ‘R’ Us sold the venerable retailer to ThreeSixty Group in October 2016 so hopefully they won’t run them into the ground as well. If they do, I’ve always got Hamleys for grandchild goodies.
I ran around all over creation looking at the shops of Soho, Carnaby and Regent Street, and managed to avoid squandering my travel funds. I limited my London purchases to picking up a few toys for my grandchildren back at Hamleys.
CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS – The queue ran the length of the block and would have taken an hour and a half to reach the entrance. I don’t do ponderous lines so I’ll have to catch it my next visit. This is one of the benefits of international vagabondery. No need to desperately cram everything into one trip.
A short walk in the park seemed a better option.
The building in the background has ivy all over it in the summer where they housed the secret service in WWII. The ivy helped to camouflage the building during the blitz. It is also the place where Ian Fleming worked during the war, and where he derived the inspiration for the James Bond novels.
Sri Lankan demonstrators are upset about something regarding imaginary beings. It seems that the majority Buddhist population is targeting the Muslim community in a most non-Buddhist like fashion by burning mosques and engaging in other violence.
Things are rapidly getting out of hand as sectarian violence escalates once again showcases the absurdity and deleterious effects of organized religion on the human mind. How much damage must be caused by delusional people with this sort of self-imposed mental illness, before we as a species, reject this nonsense in lieu of rational thought.
All of this religion based pathology and unrest throughout the world begs the question, “Why do we still accept, and engage in these damaging beliefs?” Is all of the violence and conflict worth the temporary relief from existential crises, only to inevitably plunge ourselves into calamity? Will true believers still feel the trade-off is worthwhile, when we find ourself in a nuclear war because the USA’s chain of command is filled with those who yearn to be with Jesus in the afterlife? The majority of the world’s population are members of death cults that value the afterlife more than life itself. This is antithetical to man’s survival and is clearly a serious as serious a threat as global warming and nuclear weapons themselves.
TIBET’S UPSET TOO – Rightfully so. It seems Tibetan Buddhists are a little more well behaved than their Sri Lankan counterparts. Proper Buddhism as taught by the Buddha was a philosophy and not a religion, and didn’t involve people believing in imaginary beings or Lamas. It was quite pure and free of the pernicious elements of traditional religions, but leave it to adherents seeking power to screw up a good thing.
“THE UNDERGROUND” MINI PHOTO ESSAY
underground #1 – welcome to the machine
underground #2 – jagged edge
underground #3 – nexus of steel and concrete
HOLLISTER, John – Non-Smokin’ Hot – 2018
NOT ALL WORKS OF ART ARE AT THE TATE MODERN MUSEUM
ONE WAS STANDING OUTSIDE THE “W” WEARING BLACK POLKA DOTS, JEANS, AND AN IRRESISTABLE POSE. I MAY NOT BE IN THE MARKET FOR A GIRLFRIEND, BUT I HAVEN’T GONE BLIND. JUST SO YOU KNOW THAT I AM NOT CREEPING PEOPLE OUT, MY CAMERA IS EQUIPPED WITH A PIVOTING VIEWFINDER WHICH CAN BE LOOKED DOWN AT SO PHOTOS CAN BE TAKEN RELATIVELY UNDETECTED. THIS COMES IN HANDY IN MUSEUMS WHERE PHOTOGRAPHY IS FORBIDDEN OR FOR THE OCCASIONAL CANDID SHOT.