Friday, September 25, 2009

sept 25th--the roman shade to caravaggio

Friday September 2009 25th,

The Roman shade is nothing like what we know in America. It is a solidly built enormous sheet of metal slats that one pulls up and down from inside the room, 6-10 inches inside the window depending on the thickness of the building. Here in the mckim white edificio, the windows are 8 feet high (our room 12-13 feet high?). the slats connected across the width with little bolts so that even closed a staccato tattoo of light marches across the wall with the sunrise. Exquisite tapestry of light that spreads slowly from 7 am to 7:30 am. Then you return to sleep if you don’t have your Italian lessons Mondays through Thursdays mornings! We love our class but will be glad to have our mornings back
You can pull up the shade all the way to reveal the mediterranean pine, animated trunks with flat tops, looking almost trimmed 40-50 feet above ground. In the doria pamphili park, the trees seem as if they are going to walk and follow you as in some children’s fantasy film by Peter Jackson.
Yesterday—was it yesterday? Perhaps wed we took a walk down to the farnese palace via the via giula, a lovely renaissance street with arch and rough fountain [I should find a way to accompany these blogs with fotos, eh?] and then on to campo d’fiore where people were selling flowers—not the usual food and meats by the time we got there…maybe after 3pm. Looked like a fantastic restaurant on the north east side of the square where ‘real’ Italians, not us tourists, expats, et al would go; failed to find the forno, an acclaimed bakery. We weren’t hungry —we are fed too much, two large meals a day, ala California nouvelle cuisine since the chef studied with alice waters of chez panisse (lala); Mona is terrific. But my stomach can’t quite take it day in and day out. Luckily they don’t feed us sat night nor all day Sunday. And I’ve taken to ordering the picnic lunch so I can be free to eat when I will ---but all is delicious. Never seen so many ways to cut up and marinate fennel.
I could go on about the food for sure: gelato- frutta de bosco, my favorite as it is raspberries blues and blackberries in a delicious sherberty mix. And definitely some places are better than others. I’ve had so so gelato and a magnificent one.
But enough of the edible.

Back to our walk — we went on to the piazza navona, which is a corruption of the word for piazza of struggle since it was initially a stadium. Something like 14 feet below is the original structure from the 2nd century where the gladiators fought and the chariots ran. We saw some clips from ben hur but the best were clips from a black and white version 1929 or 27 out of Hollywood, at a Fellow’s talk. The black and white was very beautiful and presumably the chariots were more authentic as well as more dangereous stunts!
From there we wandered wondered got lost and then found the santa francisca, in renovation on its façade with the three caravaggio of st. matthew’s martyrdom interior. I am learning more about Catholicism than I ever imagined— Magnificent paintings. the angel coming down on an elder st matthews is so suggestive, sensual, his curls almost covering his eyes and the s curve of the painting's structure energetic and clear. The work is modern in its power. Another painting has jesus and st peter on the right in clothes of their time pointing a finger (in the exact same image as michaelangelo’s hand of god at the Sistine chapel) at matthew who is a tax collector (!) and whose original name is Levi, his head down among 5 other characters at the left of the painting all in renaissance clothes. There is a sharp line of light coming in from right to left and the hand is in a shadow area, signifiying the separation of the secular and sacred. Very powerful particularly the detail of the young boy who is watching, perhaps 12. Caravaggio’s young boys are compelling to me so sensuous, their skin a realist marvel.
I bought a book at the church which spoke of c’s love of a woman but it seems to me though possible unlikely, or perhaps like Cellini, he is bisexual. Ah those greeks and romans! They had it all. C’s end was quite desperate however running from a third degree murder rap and dying of malaria on the coast just as the pope gave him dispensation to enter rome!
The melodrama of the past----I am finding it not unexpectedly in my script for shelley and his circle. I may need to revisit my ideas of melodrama and modernity, along with future studies of image and text. So much to do, perhaps enough time?

roma 9-22


The city on the hill with the clouds covering it grey and grey again and up top clouds
there is not a skyscraper in this city it is amazing a horizon of villas of pink and orange and tangerine and yellow and clay and ochre. And above the clouds are ripe breaking, a promise of a future sun.

my Italian is steadily improving. I make sentences and mix the feminine and masculine.
Did you know the words that represent feminine things are masculine and vice versa.
So really with an accent at end: como café, look masculine and are feminine. And various other plurals. Confuso but its fun too since we are building a vocabulary and structure. Doppo como despues…molto interssante

The characters of the folks are coming out—some annoying and others more and more endearing.
We cooked Sunday and indeed there are some great cooks here.
Stephen’s fantastic Italian cauliflower with onions garlic pignoli nuts and raisons.
Lauren’s lentils with parsley and shallots uncooked and red wine vinegar.
Uyum….am I eating too much? for sure. But trying to keep it all under control.
A bit difficil

Practiced yoga twice already in my heroic studio. Fun especially with another

John Guare arrived tonight and fun to see him and Adelaide kiss and snuggle. Why am I so touched by affection that is long built?
Like the quote from Willa Cather….a promise of kindness..

On the film front got out letters first emails, contacted Kodak and Matt made good connect with laboratorio. So cross fingers etc. Now more research, screen tests and buying of film. Will need to take out money domani.

Roma, the l7th of Sept

Thursday the 17th
Beginning Italian lessons and a visit to Villa Aurelia. Magnificent chandeliers and paved floors that are like fabulous geometric paintings.
Richard has agreed to be Byron and somehow thinking of him among the women, Michaelangelo like
Katherine agreeing too to be in it and Christina with the blue eyes and fabulous necklaces leaving too soon to make in it.

The rains keep coming like a curtain of sound a stream that is vertical intense and my cheeks are flavored with wine dripping past my bones
Too high too fast a walk down and up stairs more than once.
Everybody is nice
And comforting
Peter C the poet ends the night of artist presentations with a poem. Wonderful closure. The night was remarkable since the second night had both artists and political work: studies on walled cities, moving from early classical eras to the Romas (gypsies) today behind walls of plywood, Jerusalem included and our own Mexican border. Brilliant actually. Also studies of Libya and colonialism. Poor L saw the poem at end as the only thing describing male white folks! Truly odd reading of poetry. Well, there is always a conservative among the group and surprising one of the black women is also conservative economically: ie nothing will change, it is the Power. She is adamant as if saying something is so will make it so. Wish it were —
Charged ideas.
what else?
Traipsing back and forth for my "marko de bolla". How many times and at the post office in the morning so tired and the women working there white and lipsticked in their fashion. Quite nice though

sept 13th Roma

Sunday the 13th
Trastevere—the accent is on the second syllable, the word means across the tiber. We traveled through the park yesterday wanting a dirt bike.
Today we learn we can buy them at the flea market by the tiber so we rush out down the hill past via garibaldi and onto a series of stairs dirty dusty unmarked to find it. We travel down past underpants and bath mats made of plastic, fake leather raincoats and a couple of antique—brass bells and half mirrors, floral dresses and tiered plastic stackables. We reach the end and return but not before visiting Spaniards warn us to place our backpack in front.
Then we walk along the Tiber pee discretely into the grass with M facing the occasional Sunday fishermen hooking lines in the dirty tiber blocking their view of my squat.
Feeling much better we walk on see a couple embrace.

Onto the churches : the magnificent scultpture of st Cecilia bound in ropes presumably her body exhumed whole, her head removed and her crying out—singing for three days in pain—thus the patron of musicians. Strange logic of those catholic gods or rather the idea of god itself stupid for the humans who wish to be protected outside their own sensibilities. I too fall for the superstitions and dices the gods and wishes the wonders and lusts
We see three paintings, two of which are by Guido reni and I can’t tell which two! Since all three resemble his style.
And miss the fantastic frescos since the timing is not right.
The nuns are teaching others or correcting them and do not pause for us. 12:30 was the cut off time and I will need return.
We cross more streets beautiful doors and windows and roof gardens and the color pink and tan and orange and yellow. The mosaics in the floor are magnificient, rough and humble shaded and florid. Perhaps just dirty with time but flavored magnificence scumbled layered.
More roads and by ways and another church with roman columns out of scale marble with mosaics on the top exterior and then along the apex, music accompaninment out of a canned recording! The lights suddenly go out and we are left dreaming. I light a candle to my film.
Then through more markets and little pizza stands and dusty bars and watching mostly tourists eat since Italians would be home witht heir families at this hour on this day.
We find the steps we sidestep rain and sun—the beauty of this city mild colorful magnificent—and climb clearly up easily simply home to the 30 foot heroic space where I will make the best film of my life yes!

sept 12th from Roma

Sept 12

mis amicas i amicos

buona sera!
i am here jetlagged and astonished, in what is a five star hotel with fantastic food up on monteverde---as green as that sounds, the top of the janiculum—one of the oldest hills
next door to their central park which is the villa doria pamphili where garibaldi fought the french (and lost) in 1849 attempting to create the italian republic. plaques to the dead ragazzi abound as do statues on tops of buildings reaching into blue skies
packing was harder than the trip. the weather has been fantastic-warm in sun, cool in shade, cooler at night and today at 6pm we had rain-- a lively drenching.
the morning after we arrived there was a film shoot out the window complete with women in polka dotted dresses and shiny cars pulling out and in. the carabinieri protecting us and the embassys dotted up and down the road we live on.
galileo presumably worked in one of the houses on the grounds and the food (2x a day) is all organic chez panisse style so definitely italian nouvelle.
there are pieces of statuary among the colonnades and a fountain spouting continuously from cherubim's head.
my studio is 30 feet high--'heroic' says one of the fellows, so i begin imagining my film here....light, site, faces...all the while
meeting various artists and scholars, many from nyc who know some of my pals.
but we shopped today for food so i am living here definitivo.
will be on skype shortly so can call you for free and you all can reach me at the following numbers and addresses:
hope to hear from you and more to come
for now
much love