Sunday, November 14, 2010



So I return October 29th through November 9th for my show at Cinoteca, The National Archive at wondrous Sala Trevi, a gem of a modern theatre hung over a 2000 year old ruin and continuously running water. The Roman aquifer astonishes me: this many years through drought and sun! My friend, the poet Benoît Gréan picks me up at Fiumicino and we drive to the Academy where I see Lauren Kinnee, last year's Fellow at the Gate—she shouts: its just like last year, i feel at home. And where Kathryn Moore (last year's two-year fellow as well) leaves me a key for Cryptoporticus piano room so that i have an 'office' from which to work. I leave my tech suitcase there to be joined the next day with film camera and video—and we go up to Benoît's delightful apartment overlooking the Piazza di Santa Maria Chiesa in Trastevere.

I sleep two hours and then B. hustles me over to Sala Trevi where we watch a B comedy in Italian. I hear more Italian in these 11 days than I will have the last 11 months up at the Academy. By the end of the week i can understand the slower speakers round a lunch table. Marvelous!

The city is familiar to walk in. Still turns and walls I don't recognize but a certain kind of 'there i have been' and there and there, ecco la. We end the night with dinner for 10 at the fabulous house of Francisco in Trastevere (all the artists seem to live here on the climbing quiet(er) hill west of the river. Francisco comes from Palermo and he sold a house there to buy this apartment loaded with art. Francisco does costumes for the opera and there is a German editor here as well, an Italian philosopher and a colleague of F. who was assistant costume designer for Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Very nice crowd and certo, a fantastic 7 course meal! Including pate and orecchie (little ears) pasta made with nuts since it is autumn. We are happily stuffed, i nearly asleep but by being forced to stay up i am instantly over jet lag and with the help of Melatonin, sleep each night (until the end— but more on that).

Next day I climb to the Academy (intending to hit every stair up from Trastevere and indeed i do over the next 11 days) to meet Mary Doyle my marvelous assistant with camera and we plug everything in and talk, plan and organize. Having the basement room is a godsend as is access to the web in the Salone. Benoît's web access is acting up so Mary comes back with me to help Benoît's set up and yes she can solve it—better and quicker than the endless help line phone calls he was making. We are due for dinner at Annie's, a French literature professor. Somewhat like Henry James, Benoît has dinner engagements 3 or 4 times a week. Tall, skinny, birdlike, everyone likes to cook for him! Another 7 course meal, this time a pasta with a bit of hot pepper and a marvelous veal en daube--perhaps the best i have every eaten. Gelato for dessert after wonderful salad and once again we are able to stroll home, stopping on route through Trastevere to look at for-rent posters since B. has to move from his delightful rookery come spring.

Sunday i show up at the Academy to record Kathryn on piano. She tires after a while and the sun is lost since the rains have come —it is November—how could i have forgotten? i build a fire with help of Lauren and her new beau Sam, so get that scene with more closeups. Which is wonderful—I needed it. I stay for Sunday dinner though it is just Kathryn and me— we get to gab and she shows me the wonderful book that inspired her by her professor at U of Virginia---must get title.......beautifully produced like an art book. She makes a great soup which is perfect for the chill.

Monday it is rainy again for the Day of the Dead. We make plans and then stay home. Benoît cooks up some fresh ravioli and salad and finally at 3...the days are going dark. Daylight savings went away--[why? why?!] —we go to Verano on the east side of Rome, the big cemetery. On the day of the dead, families bring flowers. Lauren Sunstein, my friend from the last year (whose mother remarkably wrote one of the major books on Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley and our paths crossed by chance) says she goes the next day and it is touching as every stone is covered in flowers. Today in the rain, the dark blacks of stones we wandered among a few folks, many flowers. Above there is a section that is not laid out square but with round buildings and paths round them and reminded my of nothing so much as the Etruscan tombs at Cerveteri. Beautiful and not so beautiful sculpture, fascist period architecture and statuary , many gorgeous sleeping (!) men and painted poignant portraits that reminded me of Russian tombs. All this construction, the futile attempt to save humans from 'oblivion'. That taking care of the dead is a first sign of civilization both makes sense and not to me, or perhaps the largeness of this memoriam is what does NOT make sense. It is a last illusion—to make death look like life under the guise of giving the dead a welcome. Dead is like a period at the end of the sentence. It does not need a hat.

We stop by Lauren's on the way home and find she knows some of the people that Benoît knows. Once again we discover the boheme of Rome are a small(ish) crowd, and or that artists conjoin. That night we go out with Florantin and Siruda—the name of some epic poem or opera? Norwegian crossed with French lyric perhaps? Florantin is past colleague of Benoît and Siruda his Tajikistan wife. Very nice people with energy that was more than i had seen at the dinners——was it the dinners were more formal? Or what Benoît sometimes says about Italy all together: that it is tired? Florantin works for the World Bank (boo) and does good things (cuts through red tape, yea) and had an enthusiasm. also two children so that Siruda's energy was a bit different. We have delicious fish meal, we all eat way too much. Home again through Trastevere looking for B's new home.

Tuesday we go to Bormarzo. Takes a while to get out of the city; the traffic is immense, noisy. B is still on long weekend off, weather grey and not for shooting though rain is holding off and in the country the trees are lushly yellow, the sun shines weakly from behind, there is an immanence of light along the forest . The parqui di mostri is a l6th century folly, a testament to love: when Giulia Farnese died, her husband Prince Pier Francesco Orsini called upon architect Pirro Ligorio to create a "Villa of Wonders" in homage to her. (Orsini was called upon to complete St. Peters in Rome after Michelangelo died, and built the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, so he was no weekend tinkerer, to be sure.) Like some fairy tale come true—out of the stones in the forest come a whales mouth, a turtle bigger than a garden house, two giants fighting, a mouth of a monster like a grotesque Halloween stone pumpkin, a salone lined with giant pinecones and acorns (loved that). Quite beautiful and strange, mythology alive or rather illustrated. Could not take out tripod so shot with canon and we will see (this is my current mantra).

On way back we head off to Chia to search for Pasolini's Tower. We spot it in the distance and walk towards it but are almost immediately sidetracked by a stream and l5th century stone mills fallen apart but you can still see where the water has been forced into a smaller channel to build up pressure. We get lost we climb. We are not wearing hiking clothes nor shoes but we move forward. B. has laid out the challenge and of course i follow. At one point we say we hope we dont have to go back the same way as we have been climbing and it is getting dark and then we run into a metal locked door. We turn round and retrace our steps appreciating still the wildness the water--muddy grey dun colored seasonal. We find another path back off the road this one dryer faster how did we miss it? And again a locked metal wall. I get up on B's head but there is nothing to be seen . Pasolini has protected his privacy well.

We head on to Viterbo hoping to do a terme, or bath, but in the fast approaching dark we miss it and go on back to the city for a restaurant that Fellini loved. We have chestnut soup it is in season and buy 'dead fingers' the cookies only made this time of year at a lovely Forno. On our way back , B can't read the signs well. I read them for him but we get lost and at one point we are circling a traffic circle multiple times, like something out of Jacques Tati's films. It is hysterical, we can't stop laughing. We ask directions a few times and B says yes, drives out and then is again completely lost. Even i can understand the directions but they still don't always make sense or rather, we can't remember, rather than ask to write them down, B does not want to be impolite! So struck i am by this/his craziness, we laugh and laugh. Another adventure.

I must continue this later as i have a show for tonight, so soon miei amici, a presto

Monday, September 13, 2010

l'ultimo messaggio ultimo

September 11th, 2010

Okay this is the last last last message for my Rome blog. I return home to NYC September 9th, 2010 exactly 12 months to the day, leaving September 9, 2009. I have been in Nova Scotia since August 4th,

where the world was another kind of fantasy—apart from Rome but gorgeous. Here below aand above are some fotos of Nova amazement. and Mt. Desert as well—for the swimmers among you.
The ocean got warm the last two weeks and the air hot—Nova Scotians say 'blistering' but to New Yorkers and Romans, "hot" in sun is accurate.
so much so we go from one entrance to the sea to the next—adventureland in the north atlantic. spectacular. for a moment you almost can imagine it is tropical....
then Boston for 'orientation' via Maine (see below), then up to Vermont for Labor Day weekend, then first week of school. Now home finally.

As Benoit writes: "Trying not to sink and stay open to new proposals."

Indeed. AAR becomes even more remarkable, paradisical in memory and surely divine in comparison to working for a living. No surprise there even as I feel in transition very floaty and not down to earth yet. I don't want to "come down."

New York is glorious. Today like 9 years ago, a cloudless blue sky: heat building in the day, cool enough for a jacket at night. My apartment is strange homey odd familiar noisy sunny gritty fabulous plants blossoming tropistically and a double

rainbow in Vermont as closing dollop to my international and national travels.

Just back so I am still seeing drs (routine checkups et al) and unpacking. In Rosebay, I got to string together dailies (from film) and think it is going to work—very emotional with a strong narrative arc [which I will confuse of course]. we will see. I received in mail today a cd from the composer Alessandro Alessandrani [the italian composer whom i met that last day before leaving Rome who worked with Moricone]. Such a whirlwind that month, this last year, everything. Great great visions in my head: Italy and rome and Florence and naples and procida and Sicily and cairo. Mind changing.

Boxes arrived easily and whole. For anyone at AAR this is the way to go. Painfully confusing but then again easy once you know the routine. Very cheap.

Saw art and films at PS 1 on Saturday and then out with a friend for vegetarian meal. Still spoiled by Mona and her crew at the AAR though; nothing compares. Sunday to see Henry's film at Anthology: wild 'document' of John Zorn's collaboration with Richard Foreman. Sound was held back and beautiful silent opening. Nice to see and to see friends there: Bruce and Sally, Peggy and Keith, Nada and Adeena.

I just bought ticket to return to Rome to shoot pickups, get my camera, figure out lab and see friends and visit Sienna. I am excited. Feels great to return to a place I know that remains expansive and gorgeous. My memory that the weather will still be beautiful and a bit cool.

RE the film, haven't gotten to edit in last two weeks, since leaving Nova Scotia, what with travel, taxes and teaching. The three Ts! As I was closing out my time there, I had begun to put words onto the image and it seems clear it needs voiceover for some of the words. I have to find a logic, a theoretical base, for which is which. One line for history? One for emotion? One for observation? One for questions? This will be interesting, challenging and likely tough —it is really a crux of the film's structure.

Yael comes next week and we will have a day working and Gisburg just skyped to talk about China film and upcoming mix—so we are slowly very slowly picking up steam. [Henry saw me on bike and thought I was driving very slow! Probably was, both to look around and because my city bike is a junker!)

More to do regarding drs and bills and taxes. Commuting and feeling poorer than last year even with our tiny stipend! How can that be?

The question of the last two weeks: how is memory different from, better than photos, or is it? Does one feel more accurate? More dense? More personal? The question is of course one of technology. Technology increasing our memory sites, jogging memory we might say, but then again what have we lost 'taking' the pictures in the moment from the moment, and then again how has the brain changed in its reliance on those small black boxes we call cameras. All this seems highly relevant as I charge through my brain for images of the last months and scour the photos I have made. A very different set of sites/sights greets me in these dual un parallel processes. If not absolutely different, certainly the sense of the streets, the darkness, the smells and placement of bodies in space. What Henry's montage erased in his piece on Foreman/Zorn; the cutting dissembled space. Not a critique of the film but a recognition that there are alternative visions. And the ways to see are multiple

A good end there then.

Many thanks to you who read. Please let me know who you are and for now—

molti abbracci
ai miei amici
con amore


Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21 Rosebay

August 21 Rosebay

Henry suggested I keep writing as I look at footage from THE PURSUIT and comment on it. In last few days I have been transferring video footage to computer. What I find: the sheer beauty intense density of light saturation color. The footage is marvelous, the cold of February matched in video and film. But will they match? This is the unanswered question. The Glen Gould checkmate of: what is the pulse? If you start with one (ie cinema), can you switch (to video) and even more irregularly can you switch back (to cinema)?

In NYC for only four days. Walking through Thompkins Sq park seeing beautiful black men on bikes who if even poor, move as they own the world. No one black in Italy moves the same (nor in the south USA either for that matter). Equally new: encountering kids with orange hair or the crazy bums talking to themselves. i buy food at italian delis, bresaola and melon at the open market and rucola and cheese and raviola and coffee at the great shop where they speak italian and sell bread puglia style.
As if to remember.

This evening (August 1, 2010) i was working on single screen version for festivals of l'impero invertito. I will call it by english name: hacking empire. challenging fun crazy to try to do in 4 days midst doctors appointments and banking and friends and unpacking and repacking. I fall asleep at 9pm, wake up thinking it is morning and it is midnight, mezzo notte.
Will drive up wed morning to Nova Scotia with Sean, long time friend. it is long drive. two days of 7/8 hours each day. we will stay overnight with friends in bar harbor. perhaps watch moon, definitely the stars---sweeping them from the water..... into our mouths

Here in Nova Scotia we finally arrive: another land of fantasy, amazing beaches, blue sky, big shimmering green hummingbirds flit round red monardia in my garden which has grown extremely. the garden altogether is fantastical, fantasia-like or as a neighbor says "over the top".
Arrived last night (8-5-10) after two days of heavy driving with stop-over for home made huckleberry pie and homemade pizza at Steve and Judy's house on Mt. Desert. italia is following me...

Saturday 8-7-10: i biked to the ocean today, went swimming (my baptism) in the ponds right in front of the shoreline (swimming, you can hear the waves crash) so delicious. The pond changes every year and this year the most: the result is the water is fine. Almost a mile swimming in and out. A dr. here says my finger has begun to form 'granulation' tissue but not yet skin. So not so great to get wet but i must swim!
The finger , or rather wound, remains still in my way, still looks like a war wound, but does not hurt. How crazy that this happened?! still a 'surprise.'

In this wild wind and breezy leaves accompanied by big blooming hydrangea, completely country, the bay opens up surprising with its fine row of boats, small and occasionally bigger ones. In the distance multi-sailed barks hazy. So different from Italy, so much space, wide open and large scale. What it does to people.....? Perhaps makes them less communal, with more sense of individual 'grit'?

any way
Rose Bay is one of those special spaces, glorious, resonant, radiant—i am smiling the whole time.

8-13-10 here is sunny as i lick my finger of insect spray... in advance of garden work. half truck load of mulch just delivered and perseid meteor last
while lying on beach with 4 planets bright in sky. some were explosive long tail streaking and staying for a while. unusual. beautiful.
clear sky now
and though i am wearing sweat shirt and jeans, they will come off later when we swim.
this is the life
as i sleep and read...previously junky detective novels (of inspector montalbano in Sicily to clear /fog my mind nicely), now "no mischief"--Alistair Macleod—quite wonderful writing—sentimental yet marvelous sound of languages and landscape — gaelic in the mix. we in America are such mongrels.
our allegiances broken
in advance
is it from that we take our freedoms? •

Thursday last: 8-19-10 we swam in ocean for half hour— it was so warm. You could see 20 or 30 feet underwater--clear alive ocean—exhilarating! I am still smiling in the laughing of it.

Additional good news re well: final conclusion deduction to note after three drill estimates, one excavator: do nothing.
Sounds good to me.

Re school/real world: I have to leave early to get to school for one day of admin and presentation; they call it orientation. Somehow I knew this year would be tough. To my credit, the dean called the next day and said my classes were filled and demand so high we need put in a new film one class. This is only to the good. Talked to Greg Thursday, our area manager, lovely powerful optimistic and hopeful. I am back at work....

the single channel piece HACKING EMPIRE Sean considers one of my best. It is odd indeed. I am struck again and again with how odd my work is lately. Like I am changed and my work is operating on another channel. One I don’t really know.

House here is great quite beautiful —bathroom one of my fave rooms ever (which never before) ditto bedrooms and garden now—suddenly—with mature trees

I ramble but is there another path?
The fish slip the clouds move and and under the sea there are patterns of dark that are made by shadow of waves on water. This unceasing invisible movement we seek as cause. Life— it moves without you.
Coraggio and abbraccio ensieme

Sunday, August 1, 2010

la settimana scorsa. 1° agosto 2010

August 1, 2010

Back in NYC. Finally slept 9 hours. Sky pink and blue and famous on arrival. Resembling a Renaissance painting as if to say we are still in Rome, but the sound and look of the streets are my city—grimy, red brick, no motorinos! My house is lovely, still cluttered with sublet's things since she is staying through August while I travel to Nova Scotia, but cool and light and home. Lana my grad student picked me up in Newark with my car, all restored with new front brakes and tires and clean inside—still needs outside wash yes! It is 5am my body time before I go to sleep.

This last ten days have been immense. I have crowded so much into them of Italy's food and beaches and people.

Back on Monday the 19th from Ireland and still with cold the next two days, finally getting antibiotic but still feeling under the weather. Beginning to pack. I cry sobbing hysterically reading from a book of mine from decades ago: From Solids—seeing its prescience. …strangely.

On Thursday 22nd, we go to Capocotta for the last time---the days are blurring for me. It is lovely as ever. Great swimming down the shoreline.

That evening, I meet B outside his house in the piazza to attend public boxing match opposite the Ponte Sisto Bridge in Trastevere.

Starts with teenage boys and then girls and then a bit older. Quite unbloody yet with crowd yelling, 300 people perhaps, there is a throwback to gladiator fights and one can hear the mob, il bruto Romano. We climb back up the hill behind the Spanish academy—the stairs a marvel always.

I have been on most of them but to remember all the ins and outs and turns and wonders. As we come up and it is a hot night…. I am barely wearing clothes… we hear music. Turns out fest at Spanish academy of Cape Verde musicians. The Spanish I can understand, the Portuguese no. We sit collapsed in heat enjoy the a capella singing and then turn in, walking past our Fountain.

Friday night we go to the opera at baths of Caracalla: Aida. Beautiful settings and clouds and nearly full moon came up for last two acts when 'bad' things begin to happen!

Costumes very nice and music lovely, but too many set pieces. Enjoyed most the moon and the balletic dancing that interrupted / introduced the acts. Went from 9pm through 12:15….too too too long. B commented that the crowd's response was tepid. But for me it was and had an excitement. We will see if any of the Canon shooting (my little still camera) will work in the film. The Shelleys had one period when they socialized so this would be for that time of their lives. Of course Aida is created after their lives—end of the19th c— another neologism or error for this work of "determined amateurism".

Saturday I continue to pack, perhaps cry then? The days are blurring indeed. There is an iron chef contest among the kitchen interns. magnificent invention on the theme of 'celery'. funny and wonderful food, as usual. my pals--Michel who played Frankenstein's monster and Sophie won!

Sunday we leave for Procida. Taxi to Termini, fast train to Naples, taxi to ferry terminal, ferry to Procida. Lovely to be on a boat on water. Clouds great, Vesuvius strong in distance, double humped, as Capri and Ischia come into view. Plus Mt. Procida, which is on the mainland facing the island. We get off and wonder if I will recognize Patrick Huber who invited us. I do! He is blonder and with his wife, as tall and slim as he with two kids. The town and island are less touristy than the others off Naples' coast.

A port with colored houses, steep walk -- into their rented apt. 3 bedrooms, living room dining room, two bathrooms kitchen and multiple terraces plus roof. Plus beautiful original tiled floors that are exquisitely hand-painted. The place abandoned for years. They are Swiss and decided to take time off, have their girls learn Italian and here they are. Christine, the wife, has a sister who lives in Procida so there were particulars to their reasoning. They make us feel at home and Patrick, kids and we go swimming, knock the roman dust off so to speak. We climb down and then up, we visit buildings above us, until 15 years ago a prison--in Mussolini's time, Communists jailed here—why the island is less developed with tourist trade than the others, more Italians living there: fisherman and their families. Il Postino was shot here and there are remnants from the film in various places. The harbor full and at dusk, all the boats leave to go back to Naples. I didn't have my camera with me sadly: white streaks in the water tiny punctuations on the ocean surface, determined engines returning tracing a line etched in space. Beautiful under the setting sun. Spectacular views and as we swam, the clouds gathered threatened retreated. Christine cooked for us—sardines with pasta—delicious and tomatoes from their garden…nearly an acre below.

The next day we went off on a long walk to find another beach. We traipsed the length—too much traffic on narrow roads, found a nice beach and then moved out to find a space that had fewer people. The swimming was cleaner and the ports empty of boats since it was Monday. We bought lemon cookies, lemons the feast of the islands gardens. The streets walled but behind them endless gardens so that from above the buildings line the streets as walls to the gardens behind. We head for the roof at dusk— moon is full, pink blue skies—and celebrate B's birthday with champagne. Only---Christine picks out the wrong bottle so no Veuve Clicquot but rather an other. I didn't realize. B only when he began to drink. Here's hoping Christine and Patrick drink the bottle on a special occasion in the future. Then to dinner down by another port--most delicious barbecued grilled polpo fantastico taste and on to fireworks. There was a saint's day at Ischia so we tumble over to an unbuilt house of a friend and watch. They are spectacular if too far away really. I had hoped for them to be right over us but no. Just the moon rising rising rising—

The next day another beach and swimming before we leave. This time one with spectacular rocks. Again great swimming and talk and reading day. I am working on translating B's book of poems into English and though I have the sound my French is nearly non-existent so even with web aids I get things wrong. It will work though and on train home---we catch ferry taxi, slower train in reverse movement—finish going over text or nearly so. The train home is slower but lovelier actually. With compartments like in a Hitchcock film. You can turn out lights and lie down, put your head in your friend's lap and rest. The sun is setting and together b and I face the dusk, the melancholic dusk that saddens both of us when alone. The hardest time of day. Beautiful together.

We both feel as if we have been away a month. The strangeness of the place, the closure sealed it and changed time.

I leave B and go to my room and the incidente happens! In a spaced daze I chop off my finger in the Roman shade! I hardly feel it. I guess shock sets in immediately. I thought I had pinched it only but no it is a raw bloody mess, as if an arm had come off. It is right there but the piece of tip of my right forefinger but I am in shock drifting down the stairs crying softly help me I cut my finger off. The blood on the steps was perfectly round red enamel and stayed for two days. Pina takes me to hospital on isola, the oldest hospital in Rome. The surgeon sees me quite fast and says the tip off is too small to sew on and in fact I was in too much shock to bring it. I find it on return--white dead a small clove of garlic yet skin. Takes too long to get shots in my butt: one of painkiller, one antibiotic. Have prescription and very nice surgeon. Dr Daffino who married a New Yorker so spoke English, some irony regarding his wife who is currently in Florida with his children (!)

Next day is two days before leaving. I pack with Mary Doyle my assistant who is back and B comes to drive us to post office to do media mail which is crazy Italian bureaucracy (not all romantic Roman beaches). She had checked the day before but gotten wrong info. So one post office east of Termini in traffic then another post for stamps then another and waiting an hour and we are first in line. Acccck !!! get stamps and back to first post for final success.

B takes me to different hospital to change bandage later that afternoon…quick quick quick. The people there say it will grow back but not completely…so ugly ugly ugly. Really don't like what it looks like—a piece of meat!

Treat Mary and B to prosecco in garden. The light is magnificent.

Next day we are off to Alessandro Allessandroni near Bagnaia towards Viterbo. It takes a while to get there, as the traffic to get out of city, like NY, is bad. Then we find the place. Thanks to B who is a spectacularly safe and efficient driver and knows all regarding Italian addresses---those mysterious non contiguous numbers. We phone and connect and drive through gates. Meet Alessandro and his assistant whose name I missed—together we look at some of my work. I believe they are freaked by the fragmentation but later at lunch they begin to talk about its unusual originality and how they collect interesting people who do interesting things and I think how similarly Cy Twombly was quiet when he saw my work and then gave me respect. The originality and power reads to artists of originality and power and instead of jealousy and meanness, they perform some kind of recognition towards me. Very gratifying…..and Alessandro is giving me permission to use his work, will send cds to my home in NY! Oddly it turns out the wife Margaret Bourke Clarke is a photographer whose book on the nbele I adore, mark up and have studied. She was surprised I didn't look her name up but between l'incidente and packing, not a surprise. Yet now I am fans of two here!

We proceed to lunch my favorite— melon with bresaola and rucola and cheese plus pasta and coffee. Later b says were we to bring dessert? He knows the politesse of Italia so well.

We leave at 3:30 and realize we can't get back to Rome for Dr. surgeon who leaves at 4:30 from outpatient clinic, so we go to villa Lante which is nearby and see the fountains and the frescos and have a last Italian gelato and return to sit in garden at AAR before dinner and go over last of B's poetry and have dinner—not as good as I would wish and it feels like 10 little Indians since the group is small and somewhat dispirited in feeling whereas B and I are tired but radiant with all the last week.

The next day after little sleep I pack realize I need one more mailing of papers I can't fit in my suitcases, will be overweight otherwise, and b comes to accompany me to airport. We say goodbye, B cries he tells me later and I leave amazed my two bags weighed exactly 46 kilos and I take off--the video screens says we are above the Tyrrhenian sea and I see blue and white clouds and I can't believe this year is over.

I am Roman I feel. I live in Europe but I don’t and another life awaits me across the Atlantic
Molti molti ringraziamenti a tutti che rendano questo anno fantastico.
Tutto e Roma siete caro a me.
Tutto l'amore

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010

Hot and hotter. Just back from Ireland which was cool cooler coolest. Green fields topped with clouds etched in black, ranging from white to dark grey. Shetland ponies and the most delicate chestnut horses along with black/white cows and sheep---all in high contrast to Rome's terra cotta burning! I wore all my sweaters for many of the days I was there, the poetry room particularly cold with sitting.

First though to go backwards, last Monday was it just the 12th? I rented a sailboat out of Ostia /Fumicino for the shoot as my 'free' boat never happened. Went with crew of two—Benoit as my Shelley stand-in (!) and Stefano from the Academy as the cabin boy, Eugenio g. who was the real captain will have to stand for Edward Williams who captained Shelley's boat. They all went down in a storm off Leirici. We had no storm however! It was sunny hot, but lovely on the ocean. After initial shooting, the light staying put at top of the day, we drank prosecco and ate Panini and afterwards, watermelon, diving off the boat into 83 meters deep of water while the captain tacked round us! Later we went in again in shallower water, anchored. As the sun began setting I started shooting again, catching the silhouettes of the 'crew'— abstractions, the water. Few clouds to speak of but hopefully the severity of the light, the black silhouettes, chasing the sun will work. I see the results tomorrow when I pick up from lab.

The day after sail, I trucked over to lab to drop off 'dailies' and then back to pack. By evening I knew I was sick which I still am—with cold? Sinus infection? Not sure—but had to go on. So I did.

Wed I fly out of Fiumicino reading roberto boleano's amuletto which is marvelous.
so much about history and love and living inside desire. the clouds out the window ecstatic caverns at the bottom of the world above ours. I talk to my fellow passengers: a black man Maximillian of the church about to fast for a month on a isle off ireland's coast and a woman named Martina—her father wanted a boy—so she says she doesn't even have her own name. i tell them i don't believe in god, i believe in the infinite. the words roll off my mind...i think mind rather than tongue..and i can tell they think i have no faith. i say god is inside us and she Martina says we could talk about this for hours. but i don't want to . god seems so much less to me. the world so much more

from boleano--i use this blog as an excuse to savour him, to share him:
"its all in the nerves. the nerves that tense and relax as you approach the edges of companionship and love. the razor sharp edges of companionship and love.

"His forehead was broad, but it didn't have the sort of breadth that suggests intelligence or sound judgement; it had the breadth of a battlefield, and the battle had been lost, to judge from the rest of his face: thin lank hair falling over his ears, a skull more like a dented bowl than a noble dome, light eyes staring at me with a mixture of suspicion and boredom. in spite of everything, i found him attractive (i'm a born optimist).

[hope you laugh at that last one. i did aloud]
"Tears, how many nights have i spent pondering them, to come to such meager conclusions."

We land in Dublin. Dobz, a lovely guy with big head of black dreads picks me up in his new Volkswagon sedan and drives me to Cork. The vista of the fields and the clouds and the cooling were marvelous.

The show is in an old tram station, large and voluminous, the screen nearly 12 feet high and just as wide. Grand as is the audience: 200-300 people. everyone surprised at the high turnout: artists, filmmakers, poets, critics, curators. Drinks first and films when the sky got dark enough--the ceiling skylit. Audience didn't laugh as much as i would though one woman later when i mentioned same, said "there was momentum in the row" (fabulously flat description i think)—this at a point in my film MIRROR WORLD when the vagina speaks—its very very funny, a slap in the face to Lacan which no one has to think of, just this gorgeous hairy slit mumbling...and then LIGATURES, the most recent, very simple but it almost made me cry—so profoundly about desire and mirroring.

People seemed to appreciate the work and kept in next five days appearing out of the woodwork: like the clerk at the food coop serving me suddenly whispering how much he liked the films or the Italian couple at another event not recognizing me and when hearing my name saying how much they enjoyed them.

Meanwhile, my nose is dripping yellow phlegm, heavier and heavier. Disgusting yes. Despite hot toddy and hot bath and lots of lemon and water. It is a full-fledged summer cold and everyone says it is harder to dispel. but dispel it i must so i am on benydril and vitamin c and sleeping alot in cool air with sun peering out from under clouds---it is all grey and greeny and silvery. exquisite little town of Cork, important port when under English rule. With a river at the center--actually the river splits so the downtown is an island.

Next day I give my reading. Feel good about it though an odd mix of readers: the first quite traditional, then me who I thought was strong, then a performer type from Cambridge. Solid all together. The readings got off to a slow start with the earlier one Thursday but they seem to be steadily improving.

Friday morning Dobz takes me out of town, tooling around the west coast of Ireland and stepping into the ocean there,

Cold clear and reminiscent of nova scotia which I miss---people are writing me to get on up there! Then we locate a fantastic restaurant since the Celtic Tiger of the past few years has way improved irish food. And I have the best prawns, really small lobsters I have ever had at an adorable place Dillons in seaside village of Timoleague. All go there please. You will have great food

That evening we meet up with Maggie O Sullivan who arrives who is amazing and I have been a fan for decades. Now talking and sharing. It was sweet, she in red with green bag and I in green with red bag. We were inverse twins. That Friday night we jump off in crazy taxi with driver who doesn't know cork to "couscous" at the cricket club (!) which had 30 poets reading 5 minutes a piece. It was odd and marvelous with one thinking repeatedly now why don't I try that in my poetry! Lovely and fun.
Saturday morning I go with Dobz and his girlfriend to row in a currachs. Which is an Old style irish rowing boat for the high seas. Four rowers rowing sticks (like big toothpicks) in a tar shell round wood ribs. We went down river---Cork is the venice of ireland or was— stepped back before the currents could catch us, stopped for coffee/tea and i got to row on return. Hard to get "in tune" but i did, you just follow the back before you. Nice to move the body for sure after all this traveling and sniffling.

More poetry again with Americans on that night. Mixed I thought but really enjoyed jean day's new book. Inspiring in its perfect control and jumpy observations. Not sensual particularly but controlled and ready with an earned calm.
That night at Trevor Joyce's place,

lined with books and poets and poetry—time for intimate conversations over poetics of poetry and film. Good conversation, then out at 1:30am onto rainy streets over cobblestones with black figures sliding through against the stone walls of the houses. A bit like Watts out of Beckett which has a scene here in Cork!

Last day a reading with irish language untranslated, wonderful slithery sounds, lots of a's and i's and then three young Cambridge boys: each good and each revelatory of their own space so there was a slice of sameness with all the differences already in place: the earnest quiet politico talking about Palestine, the gay boy dropping in and out of sex, the always jumpy one talking about topical events and California.

Off on afternoon train through gorgeous Ireland to Dublin where picked up by Aoife, pronounced eefa, a form of eve, who plys me with food —gorgeous —and takes me to Odessa Club which has an odd porno feel with its black leather and curtains. A small crowd watches, particularly fond of newest work, for which I am pleased. Next day still sick (stinks) and we tour galleries then on to airport for easy ride home. I get three seats (lucky me) and sink into dozing with snuffles.

B picks me up at airport (so kind) and takes me to dinner at biondo tevere, a Roman restaurant with a terrace over the river, then home to hot room at academy. I wake three times to shower before finally getting sleep and then up. We hope to go to procida; will hear later in the week.

Keep posted.
baci a tutti gli miei amici

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10th In Heat

July 10th, 2010

Still hot, I wake at 4am and put on light clothes to walk out to my studio, circle in a daze midst cooling breezes and return to sleep heavily, dreaming, my feet at bed's head pressed against cooler wood.

Summer is here and I am still going into water alternate days like the rest of Roma! Capocotta yesterday with B. and tomorrow with L. to outdoor pool. This is the life. Though the heat is calling me eagerly back to Nova Scotia....

Little birds drop into the coffee bar this morning, looking for crumbs, magical—like a painting— unafraid hopping. The city under heat and one does not willingly descend until dark.

Please note: The photos here are from Naples. Perhaps the marble statues can cool our hot skin?!

Yet i am still working. At the baths of Caracalla last weekend, I get thrown out when Michele (a student at Cinecitta) and I unwrap too slowly his professional tripod. We had been sitting there for two hours waiting for the light to improve. Two workers came out on a motorized golf cart and said they would call the police if we did not stop. Of course we closed up. I had only shot a minute unfortunately, gulls wheeling and screaming above the amazingly high walls. The baths are the model for Grand Central and the old Penn Station. So intense this huge block of buildings for Romans to bathe—men and women at different times. Hot and cold water pumped in from below. Elegant, immense.

The night before i had filmed off a motorino the city walls nearby with my still camera on video setting. I am going to try on serious motorcycle some late night dollies (moving shots to all you non-film types).

On similar foray, I have tried to locate a sailboat that can host a film shoot upcoming—my last big shoot for the Shelley film. A friend's boat fell through so I am renting for 300 Euros (!) one out of Fiumocino—the river near Ostia that goes out to the sea. Benoit will drive us and be a "stand-in " for Shelley since my Fellows—those Bressonian characters—cannot give me more time. Che peccato! Stefano a young filmmaker who works at the Academy and loved my work: he wrote me so beautifully: Your works are quite brilliant, ironic, sensual and fun (which are the adjectives that I personally use to describe the life that I wish). He comes to help out and perhaps be another "stand in" for Shelley's friend who dies with him on the boat almost 200 years ago.
We were to go to Porto Ercole, but this is actually easier if not as beautiful.

Previously Benoit has been driving me irregularly to the ocean early in the mornings and one time, on the way back he took me to Ostia Antica which was fabulous--- an abandoned city that at one point housed 80,000 people, excavated from the silt of the Tiber. Magnificent black and white mosaics--one sees from where Mussolini period mosaics are influenced (foro italico etc). There was a wonderful house of Cupid with patterned marble floor, a favorite sculpture of male and female embracing, a "sailor's bar" (!)complete with marble counter and private terrace, baths and storehouses, even a synagogue that i did not quite get to. it was hot and B was waiting reading in the shade. Another day he took me to Pliny's summer palace. More ruined, in between river and sea with b/w mosaic baths down a baked road. We are both slim enough to slip through the fence.

Benoit is a poet, whom I met when he came to Cryptoporticus show. He knows Kathleen Fraser—such a small world of international artists and serendipity! He has given me his books written in French and since we have been having such a nice time together, and inspired by my friend Christina who translated Russian texts, learning the language as she went along—I turned my hand to translating his book. It was amazing--intense and challenging, fun. B. thought i captured excellently the feel, rhythm, sound of it all. Such a wonderful way to understand another's inner life. I am thinking perhaps for Burning Deck to publish in the future....?

Meanwhile the menu has changed. We are now into green figs, fresh ricotta cheese and prosciutto. Spectacular and a rare (here at the Academy at least) fish meal yesterday with mussels and pasta, octopus salad as starter. How much i will miss this is un- imaginable!

What else? so much—Lauren picked me up on her scooter last Friday (after beach morning) to go to cafe jazz. We saw a wonderful band playing Cole Porter songs among other big band specialities in the open air . I have been invited to island—Procida— off coast of Naples by Swiss curator and will go there for long weekday or weekend hopefully before returning to USA. Two young women have interviewed me loving MIRRORWORLDS at the Santo Spirito in May. They came with others to look at work one, no two, weeks ago.

On Wednesday i finally went to Cinecitta. A friend of Peruvian origin who works in the archie there, Irela, got me in and through a number of odd concurrences I ended up with a pass, my camera and alone. It was miraculous. I was able to crawl over sets, fall through a destroyed stair even (!)—unhurt— and film wherever I went. The minute Irela showed up, the cops showed as well. We met up with some Montreal film historians who were somewhat jealous and even possessive that I was able to shoot while they with far more "professional" equipment were kept away. Ahhhh the advantage of the "amateur'.

Not least, I get a note back from Alessandro Alessandroni who is a composer who worked with Enio Morricone and who did soundtrack for Lady Frankenstein. I had written him to see if he would do soundtrack for my film. He wrote back! from Namibia and invited me to his country place to show him dvds to possibly compose for my film. I had to postpone returning home a couple of days as he was arriving in Italy the day I was flying out. An expensive plane switch but i had to try. Wish me luck!

The heat makes it so i can only work in front of a fan. Too hot hot hot but not as hot as NYC has been i understand. And luckily for me I go to ireland for 5 days next week (after sailboat shoot) as the heat shoots up over 100 here. I have a conference in Cork, with a show in Dublin. Looking forward to that as I have never been in Ireland and Kenny G. set this up saying the folks are wonderful.

So much excitement and writing this lets me see more clearly how exceptional this year has been, the days and weeks and months, so gloriously full and adventuresome. Perhaps one more posting before the end....?