Archive for November, 2012

Quote of the day: WRITING

November 4, 2012


I still find that I censor myself for whatever reason – maybe it’s too personal, too risky, something you think might get a bad review. I do a lot of talking to myself when I’m writing – usually I have a separate document open on my computer which is just my internal monologue about what the play is about, what the characters are doing, or just frustrated self-criticism. I find that helps because when I’m forcing myself to type every thought I have, no matter how insignificant or banal, then suddenly I’m not deciding what to type, I’m just recording thoughts. Again, it’s about getting out of my own way.

— playwright Samuel D. Hunter, interview by Caridad Svich in American Theatre

Photo diary: last day in Rio

November 3, 2012

After Sao Paulo, I’d planned to spend a couple of days in Florianopolis (known as Floripa to Brazilians). But I seriously misunderstood the place — I somehow thought it was a small walkable town, like Provincetown. Instead, it’s a huge island, like Maui or Madeira. I wasn’t prepared to navigate it by car, so after staying one night at the lovely but eerily empty Hotel Maria do Mar (with a quick trip to Praia Galheta), I cut my visit short…

and headed back to Rio de Janeiro, where the clouds had parted and it was sunny beach weather at last!

Since I’d already poked around Ipanema and Leblon plenty, I took my friend Wolfie’s advice and checked out the Santa Teresa neighborhood, which began with a steep climb…

and ended at Parque das Ruinas, a former society mansion with spectacular 360-degree views of Rio from the middle of the city

(Travel life these days is full of people taking pictures of themselves in picturesque settings.)

Santa Teresa is a rather beautiful neighborhood, said to be inhabited by artists and galleries

I was picturing something like Soho or Williamsburg. Instead, it’s more like Montmartre in Paris — a mixture of funky and genteel.

And like Montmartre’s adjacent neighborhood Pigalle, down the hill from Santa Teresa lies Lapa, which is funky mixed with slightly grubby/scary

I was forewarned to be very careful in Rio and Sao Paulo because of the crime rate. In the event, I wasn’t too scared. I witnessed plenty of policemen on the street in both cities, which was rather reassuring. And many private homes in middle-class neighborhoods have private security. Plus, I’m a veteran New Yorker and know how to comport myself with common sense.

Wolfie also recommended a visit to the Carmen Miranda Museum. Who would have guessed it would be hidden inside this plain ugly bunker, deserted in the midst of a bayside playground?

The museum itself is a sad affair, no bigger than a lobby, to which only a pitiful trickle of gringos make tracks. Yes, you can see displays of Carmen Miranda’s outrageous costumes and her shoes (apparently, she was the first to wear wooden platforms)…

watch videos of her admirably vivacious/campy performances and read the remarkably matter-of-fact chronology of her life (I didn’t realize she followed the typical tragic diva drugs/drink/early death trajectory). But you will have a lot more fun taking a virtual tour of the museum online here:

Everywhere I went in Brazil, I made it a point to take local transportation — subways and buses. This sign struck me as a commentary on the demeanor of Brazilian men more than anything else.

Not that I have anything against Brazilian men…

I spent some of my last hours in country enjoying the landscape on Ipanema Beach.









Quote of the day: DEPRESSION

November 3, 2012


Depression is a great mystery. I’ve talked with a number of experts, and they all say that there’s much we don’t know about it. People will often say, “I just can’t understand why so-and-so committed suicide,” but I think perhaps I do: depression is utterly exhausting, and he or she needed the rest. What I don’t understand is why some people survive depression and thrive on the other side of that darkness. That’s the real mystery.

Paradoxically, to survive depression you have to give yourself over to it. You have to embrace the darkness, or enter into the darkness, or let yourself become the darkness, and try not to judge yourself for it. You also have to try as much as possible to honor whatever small signs of progress might come as you work your way through that darkness, or as it works its way through you.

The second and third times I was depressed, I kept a journal. At the start of each day I’d write the date, and under it I’d list two or three tiny signs of progress, like “Got up at 10:00 this morning,” instead of 10:30. Or “Took a ten-minute bike ride today,” instead of staying in my room all day. That journal, which I kept for several months, helped me see that I was making progress – but not by the standards I too often use to measure progress now, when I might want to write a bestseller or give a speech that brings people to their feet. In depression you have to follow William Stafford’s advice: asked how he managed to write a poem every day, he said, “Easy. I lowered my standards.” [Laughs]

— Parker J. Palmer, interviewed in The Sun

Photo diary: however, like Venice, Sao Paulo hosts a biennial art show

November 3, 2012

Two sculptures by Greek artist Savvas Christodoulides — (left) “It Was All He Could Do to Keep from Crying” and “I Have Got Something to Say to You (Girl with Bubblegum)”

Peruvian photographer Edi Hirose is my kind of guy — he likes photographing urban ruins…

and he made a series of pictures of cemeteries, not all of them as monumental as this Gursky-like piece

Icelandic conceptual artist Hreinn Fridfinnsson is very handsome but his work was too twee for my taste

Venezuelan artist Eduardo Gil was a revelation to me — this spiral installation featured a series of newspaper front pages from the last century and a half that add up to “A Brief History of the End of War”

Then there was this tongue-in-cheek installation with a dozen or so mattresses

I was also fascinated by the large billboard/mural installations by a German artist who calls himself Kriwet

Among the handful of American artists was Elaine Reichek, some of whose embroidered works I’d seen before at the Whitney Biennial

and Moyra Davey (Canadian born, lives in New York), a woman after my own heart who photographs her shelves full of books and LPs

But the major discovery for me was a Brazilian artist named Arthur Bispo do Rosario, who got the largest amount of floor space and number of pieces in the biennial


Given his circumstances, his output was extraordinary. He made all kinds of embroidered tapestries, sculptures, and Rauschenberg-like constructions. This was one of my favorites.

This was the 30th biennial in Sao Paulo, and the (murky/pretentious) title was “The Imminence of Poetics.”




Photo diary: Sao Paulo is not Venice

November 3, 2012


The third-largest city in the world (after Tokyo and Mexico City), Sao Paulo is a sprawling, chaotic metropolis that reminds me of New York and Rome in that it’s impossible to conquer immediately. Beauty and squalor exist cheek-by-jowl.

Placa Republica

across the street from the park

the Jardims district by night



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