Monthly Archives: March 2008

Big Dipper revived!

Big Dipper - Supercluster

I happened upon this news tonight just through random browsing, but it makes my day. The collected works of the Boston band Big Dipper are being released as a 3 CD set called Supercluster. I saw them a number of times in the ’87-’88 timeframe, and have long enjoyed two of their records, ‘Heavens’ and ‘Craps’ (unfortunately the ‘major label’ debut ‘Slam’ was their undoing). The set includes tracks recorded for a never released follow-up to Slam.

You can check out a few songs on the MySpace page.

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Flowers and snow!

Flowers and snow

We’ve been having some unseasonably cold weather, and snow’s been in the air a few times. But my flowers are holding up very well!

Flowers bloom

Decorated buildings

Horse head

The photo above is from Antwerp, the one below from Barcelona.

Plane Ship Car

Some books I've found

I first learned of Javier Marías and ‘Your Face Tomorrow’ in a TLS year’s best wrap up, and it took me awhile to track down these volumes, but I did find them in Barcelona.

Your Face Tomorrow - Javier Marias

It’s a three volume work, and so far the first two volumes have appeared in translation; I expect the third will come out late this year. It took me a little while to get into the first book; the narrator is in no hurry, he ruminates on conversations, on memories, on his passing thoughts. But in the end there’s little that’s not here for a reason. The narrator meets a rather mysterious character who employs him to study people and report back what he notices. In fact very little happens in the first volume, it’s all setup for later. I’m now midway through the second volume, Dance and Dream, and it appears that virtually the whole book concerns a night out at a London disco, where the narrator finds out quite a bit more about the exact nature of his work, witnessing a violent act after losing track of an important client’s wife.

Here’s a good article on Marías, “Face in the shadows” by Susan Irvine in the Financial Times back in Oct 2007.

Here’s another rather mysterious book I found in Brussels, on the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco.

Of Games - Gabriel Orozco

The book was published in conjunction with a show in Dublin in 2003, and includes pictures of many of Orozco’s pieces, which are often somewhat sculptural in nature, along with a text that I can barely follow on the game-like and symmetrical nature of Orozco’s work. Here’s a sample page with photo and diagram.

Of Games - Gabriel Orozco

Rebirth

Easter flowers in Utrecht

Easter Sunday, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, marks the rebirth of springtime.  Here in the Netherlands the flowers are blooming, despite some chilly weather lately.  I suggest it’s a good time to reconnect with the world of plants, which provide nourishment and beauty and shade and so much more.

Street art from Barcelona

Barcelona grate art

One of the things I noticed in Barcelona were the paintings that become visible when stores and cafes pull down their grates after closing hours.  Here are a few I liked.

Barcelona grate art

Barcelona grate art

Barcelona grate art

Generally I didn’t see a lot of random graffiti in Barcelona.  In Brussels, however, there’s plenty of crap graffiti which gives the city a pretty shabby feel.

A bit more Gaudi – La Pedreda

Gaudi's La Pedreda

Here are some shots of the apartment building that Gaudi designed and built from scratch, featuring a steel frame that the outer stone facing is simply bolted onto.  Just a few blocks from Casa Battlo.  The last time I was in Barcelona this was a sooty, decaying building, but it’s been all cleaned up and fixed up, with one apartment on the fourth floor open to see what the interior is like.

La Pedreda

This last one is a shot of a balcony on one of the interior airshafts.

La Pedreda - balcony

Around Barcelona

A few shots from my wanderings around town:

 

More from Casa Battlo

Front of Casa Battlo

Here are a few more shots from my visit to the Gaudi building Casa Battlo.  Some say the place is inspired by Jules Verne, and one does sometimes feel that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea feeling.

 

Barcelona

Curt atop Casa Battlo

Last weekend I made a quick trip down to Barcelona. I was there back in 1984, and things do seem to have changed a bit; I think the Olympics in 1992 got a lot of things built. But I was most interested in some of the slightly older sights, such as the Casa Battlo, a building (re)designed by Antonio Gaudi about 100 years ago. Above I’m up on the roof.  Below are a few shots of and inside the apartment building.

 

Casa Battlo was an existing building that was renovated, both exterior and interior, by Gaudi.

Casa Battlo

Ceiling of the front room - Casa Battlo

An interior window at Battlo