Posts Tagged ‘flaneur’

Three hours in New York City in December. Some flânerie and a visit to one excellent bookstore. A dose of “cityness”.

New York has been called the capital of the twentieth century and an architectural battleground. Here are some of the stories I found at Rizzoli.

The playful books of architectural sketches (i also found this and this at the Museum of Contemporary Art store in the airport) reminded me that flawless execution is not as important as

1) discovering your own graphic “voice”


2) developing the trust, consistency and playfulness needed to making it heard.

Other books looked as delicious as desserts in a literature bakery.

That’s what a book is, a single serving of story and ideas you can carry with you and devote yourself to, like listening with intention to one speaker. Attention is, after all, the best form of generosity.

Sometimes the tabs of my internet browser become a cacophony. Sure all of the books of Rizzoli, William Stout and Hennessey + Ingalls too, could be contained in a thumb drive. But what those people that consider bookstores obsolete don’t understand that bookstores are not just purveyor of books: they curate selection, there is a mind at work.. one that reads and knows about books. Perusing books on Amazon versus holding these portable maps in our hands is the difference between buying produce at a Walmart superstore or handpicking heirloom tomatoes in a farmers’ market. Bookstore owners are the farmers of knowledge. Once bookstores are gone from a city, soon will civitas and intellectual discourse [see San Diego. the only one of the major 6 cities in US without a bookstore… panem ( or rather vinum) et circensis is what fuels downtown.. when it should be the arts and local businesses.]Books like these in your satchel could make the difference between being a tourist or being a pilgrim, and inspire to sketch the city playfully.

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We are the Stargazers,
We are the Memorykeepers

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
the nightwalkers
the moonseekers
we are the solitude dwellers
we pause, head lifted to look at clouds
moving fast through the night skies
like steam raising from hot coffee
in a makeshift cafe.

[ stop looking at your phone
and look at the stars ]

We are impractical madness.
We are the timeconjurers,
propelled through dark hours
chasing follies
– we pause to take photographs when we’re late; we always answer the muse
and she comes at the most inopportune moments.
We are the harbingers,
we are the jesters.
We sit on street corners in the cold, listening to the banter of clochards.
Our hands hurt
we write poems no-one will read.

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
we are the storytellers.
We are the art warriors,
we battle against the loss of words,
which come unexpected and vanish so quickly, like the tendrils of love in the morning.

We fight against time which consumes.
We succeed – and steal one verse or image from the frenetic chasm.
We indulge in vain attempts to capture stars.

We are the dreamers,
we are the songcollectors
we are the last romantics.
Our job is to always have innocent eyes.
We are the wanderers.
Our job is to remember and coalesce.
We preserve life’s gossamer fragments of beauty, we keep them like strands of lights in a jar.

We are the butterflies,
we are the petal priests,
we run red lights.

We wander at night and are consumed by fire.
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

San Diego. January 18, 2016

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These Rocks Were Put Together By Cats {American Officer}

These Rocks Were Put Together By Cats {American Flag}

Bobby Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Bobby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Decoupage: A technique were text is disassembled and reassembled, leading to new interpretation. Used by David Bowie to compose lyrics.
. …

Love in the Morning

By Annie Finch

Morning’s a new bird
stirring against me
out of a quiet nest,
coming to flight—

breath-filling body,

clean as clear water,

kindling companion,

mystery and mountain,

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Shift #5

Ali Liebegott

for Seamus Heaney



a box of coconut water
two cans of coconut milk

so many looking for help

some people care when a poet dies

a poem is a conscience
a report card, a confession:

today my lies were a motor that spun the Earth

how can you get truth from a hill
when I am the continent that drifts?

how can I taste what I’m mourning
when soon everything will be salt from the sea?


—8/30/13, Register 6
1 PM—5:15 p.m.

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For many travelers, Paris is Parisland. Here’s the Eiffel Tower. Let’s take aboat ride along the Seine. Ah, the Champs Elysees. Five museums on the list —
let’s whip through them. And, late at night, we’ve got to find that nightclub where the girls kick up their …heels.

Others — that’s my brood and me — go to Paris for the quiet. We sit in cafes for hours. We settle on parkbenches. We take long walks on nearly empty streets. It’s still Parisland, just another kind: an open-air library, a set for dreaming, an urban pillow for outdoor naps.

From a review of Quiet Corners of Paris

Here is a curated list for the flaneur/flaneuse to pack on your messenger bag.

And here, more on the The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

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Entry for ONE LIFE | An International Photography Competition.

I decided to participate ( characteristically last-minute) to ONE LIFE, an international photography competition, in the ‘City Imagery’ category.

Click here (or on the image above) to see the entry at a higher resolution and, if you like what you see, vote and share my photograph.

The prize is $10,000 or a trip around the world. Guess what I would pick.

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Updated March 15


Homeless man reading. March 11, 2011.

For about a year, I have been lackadaisically documenting street conditions in San Diego.
The paranoia towards publicly shared space, the  ordinances (no sitting allowed, no loitering), the lack of benches. Downtown San Diego is the antithesis of porosity, a built environment that refuses to be interacted with. We purchase community: getting out your billfold is the only way to experience publicness. Ok. So there is Seaport Village…but that is not the streets….urban San Diego.

On the street of the America’s Finest City on any given night you find first and third world country sharing the sidewalk (sorry am I being un-PC? I meant developing country.)

I refrained from taking photos of homeless people until now, out of respect. But yesterday I learned that politeness can be the opposite of sincerity.
The work of an artist/flaneur is (also) to look at things most people gloss over, or willingly ignore. We are walking bookmarks. So tonight I asked this man what he was reading. ‘Science fiction’ he said. ‘It was originally published in 1952.’

:: :: ::
Later on that evening

Yoga class having come and gone (again), I will take a page from Neruda the Brazilian writer Martha Medeiros and stop going home the same route. I will sit for an apple mint sheesha (hookah, as it’s known here) and purchase me some people time.

:: :: ::
Later on that week….

This is ‘Dies Slowly’ or ‘Muere Lentamente’, a poem misattributed to Pablo Neruda, from the original ‘A Morte Devagar’ by Martha Medeiros:

The poem and the English version which follows – and which I slightly modified – come from this blog

Muere lentamente quien se transforma en esclavo del hábito, repitiendo todos los días los mismos trayectos, quien no cambia de marca, no arriesga vestir un color nuevo y nole habla a quien no conoce.

Muere lentamente quien evita una pasión, quien prefiere el negro sobre blanco y los puntos sobres las “ies” a un remolino de emociones, justamente las que rescatan el brillo de los ojos, sonrisas delos bostezos, corazones a los tropiezos y sentimientos.

Muere lentamente quien no voltea la mesa cuando está infeliz en el trabajo, quien no arriesga lo cierto por lo incierto para ir detrás de un sueño, quien no se permite porlo menos una vez en la vida, huir de los consejos sensatos.

Muere lentamente quien no viaja, quien no lee, quien no oye música, quien no encuentra gracia en sí mismo.

Muere lentamente quien destruye su amor propio, quien nose deja ayudar.

Muere lentamente quien pasa los días quejándose de sumala suerte o de la lluvia incesante.

Muere lentamente quien abandona un proyecto antes deiniciarlo, no preguntando de un asunto que desconoce o norespondiendo cuando le indagan sobre algo que sabe.

Evitemos la muerte en suaves cuotas, recordando siempre que estar vivo exige un esfuerzo mucho mayor que elsimple hecho de respirar.

Solamente la ardiente paciencia hará que conquistemos una espléndida felicidad.

He dies a slow death who becomes a slave to habit, repeating everyday the same paths, who doesn’t change the mark he leaves, won’t risk wearing a new color, nor talk to people he doesn’t know.

He dies a slow death who avoids passion, who prefers black to white and dotted i’s over a whirlwind of emotions,especially those that make the eyes sparkle , rescue smiles from yawns, hearts clumsy with feelings.

He dies a slow death who doesn’t upend the table when he is unhappy at work, who won’t risk a sure thing for the uncertainty behind a dream, who won’t allow himself, at least once in his life, to flee from sensible advice.

He dies a slow death who doesn’t travel, nor read, nor hear music, who doesn’t laugh at himself.

He dies a slow death who destroys self-love, who won’t let himself be helped.

He dies a slow death who spends his days complaining of his bad luck or of the neverending rain.

He dies a slow death who quits a project before starting it, not asking about what he doesn’t know, or not answering when asked about something he does know.

Let us avoid death in gentle doses, remembering always that being alive demands an effort much greater than the simple act of breathing.

Only burning patience will allow us to conquer
a splendid happiness.

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