“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Oh how I wish I were on a pink boat in the South China Sea, instead of making Power Point slides!)
(Koh Samet, Thailand; April 2011)
“Let’s go to the cocktail party at the Jewel Box”, my friends said. “Free drinks if you see a five-minute film? Great deal”, I replied. And there was valet parking, and willow-wispy artsy chic ladies mingling with smartly cut young men. And champagne and laughter under the stars next to a sparkly glowy ruby cube.
Just before midnight we walked inside and up flights of depressing concrete stairs, and into a world of an endless, deep red sunset. The air vibrated with a deep bass hum and a soulful crying tune. Bubbles and chatter waned away as we dove into shadows and loneliness. Slowly, slowly, a raven-haired woman appeared in front of us, floating mid-air without a single thread of clothing, carrying the sorrows of every grieving mother in the world in her eyes. Some years back she made so many people cry by just a silent stare across a table. This time she did it through the silver screen.
And I could not help but feel we had only seen the beginning and that it was all our hearts could handle.
(‘A portrait of Marina Abramovic’ by Matthu Placek screened at Art Basel in Miami Beach; Florida, USA; December 2013)
I like the USA, and I respect the USA. And oh! how much some things about the USA irritate me. Good examples are the amount of red color used in street advertising, and the two kinds of advertising during Good Morning America: cancer drugs and life insurance. Both types of commercials usually show a green park or meadow with a happily married couple are taking a stroll, with children, grandchildren, and a golden retriever prancing about. Add a soft filter for idyll enhanced.
I digress: the photograph above shows a basketball match; more specifically, Miami Heat against Detroit Pistons. Apologies, and to the point: during a game spiced with dramatic video backdrop, hero music, pyrotechnics, and a seriously warped commentator, how can the players concentrate? And is this a game, or a game sugar-coated into an action movie with heroes on both sides, and no bad guys? How much does the game weigh in the adrenaline rush of the spectator, and how much the sugar-coating?
Perhaps it is all irrelevant: all sport is business, and all business is show business. And boy, do the Americans know show business.
(Miami, Florida, USA; December 2013)
How lovely the sun feels on my skin, tortured by the December chills back home. How gorgeously turquoise the water is, and how white and fine the sand on the beach. And how eerily quiet the ocean is: flip-flip-flip little wavelets grace the edge of the dry sand as the tide rises. A thought gently nudges the back of my head until I lift it out into the light: “This is the Atlantic ocean, and Cuba is the next piece of land, far in the distance”, it says. “So where is the surf?”
Indeed. The little timid wavelets do not even pretend to be a surf. The mighty Atlantic is showing off its force several miles seaward, at the great Florida reef, which stills every swell wishing to pass through. There is no surfing in the Keys because there is no surf. And where there is no surf there are no waves breaking rock into beach sand. Bahia Honda key is the only proper, naturally sandy beach and here I am, smack in the middle of a pocket-size paradise.
The quiet flip-flip-flip calling of the waves is irresistible. I roll up my jeans, never-minding they will get soaked anyway, and wade out thigh-high into the endlessly blue, endlessly shallow, liquid sunlight.
(Florida Keys, USA; December 2013)
The Dublin face of the Celtic Tiger is still impressive even if the stripes have temporarily faded. The congregation of half-empty, glitzy, glass-steel-strict-design apartment buildings at the docks cast a glow of once-high hopes of masses of wealthy young and hip people moving in for a fortune. Considering the size of Ireland and its population, the calculations must have been a teensy bit on the optimistic side. One cannot help but wonder how much the apartments were supposed to sell for, or how many real estate development companies lost their lives in the downfall of the economy. Or how many families lost their dinner on the table because mommy’s or daddy’s dreams did not pay off.
For a working weekend visitor, what is gone is gone. Taking the docklands at face value, the excellent service, interesting design, and wonderful spa of the Marker hotel on the docks is a good consolation. But what’s with the neon lights everywhere?
(Dublin, Ireland; November 2013)