São Paulo Sonidos #1 – John Coltrane – My Favorite Things

It’s none too original to link the sound of jazz to an uber urban setting like the one here in São Paulo. In much the same way, the idea of a Sunday morning run in the city’s major park was less than unique, and shared by numerous others who arrived from various locales to Parque Iberapuera.  Unlike path running along the Potomac, which tends to bore me with its ordered vistas, navigating the jigsaw of São Paulo’s streets provided an opportunity to get lost (I did) and discover small delights like a Sunday feria on a closed off street.

The trilling notes of John Coltrane’s saxophone in this take on My Favorite Things match the sidewalks cracked by immense tree roots, the etchings of gravel beneath my shoes, and the scrape of pull-along shopping carts on the pavement. Even on an early Sunday morning here, it’s hectic just beneath the surface.

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A Slow-Moving Orgy

Choriqueso at Polvo’s. Green Chili Pork taco and the Democrat at Torchy’s Tacos. Micheladas (made w/Negra Modelo, of course) at multiple locations. Uchi sushi. Nepali noodle salad at Farm to Market. Sweet potato fries at Freddie’s. A BBQ pork sandwich with jalapenos.  Home Slice pizza. Those lovely rosemary and salt bagels w/cream cheese in the mornings at Once Over. A slow-moving orgy.

Thanks Austin.

A Last Walk in Firenze

Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace a loz cerezos.

This is what is written slightly above eye-level in a narrow street in Firenze.  Pablo Neruda.  All quiet and cobblestone in the dark winter months here, a city of trapezoids and rectangles and of course, Brunelleschi.  Warmth and spring seem distant.  I wish to do with you what Spring does to the cherry trees.

Behind the desk at the hotel, as I gather myself for the walk, is Gurpreet.  From the country.  Hair well-oiled and pulled back, but no turban.  Maybe they are not ready for that here, yet.   I look at him and want to ask, are you that guy from — ?  He looks at me the same way.  Neither of us is that guy.

In the Piazza della Signoria Cellini’s Perseus raises Medusa’s head.  In the darkness the bronze contrasts sharply with the larger, reflective, marble statues, most of large men, uncircumcised, with power contained elsewhere in their thighs, fingers, and torsos.

Near the Uffizi, a young American with a guitar, a voice like Jackson Browne, and a girlfriend.  A folk song.  Had he chosen a better location, he would not need the amplifier.  Back to a night over a decade gone, at a corner of an empty piazza in Venezia, listening to two young students of jazz, one holding an upright bass and the other a saxophone.  Such music under the same blue-black sky!

Portraits of the baby Jesus always with an aged face, often a likeness of a patron or person of prestige.  Not symbolism nor enlightenment, but man’s narcissism, characterizes the Italian Renaissance.

In a modern lounge bar called Oibo, the realization it is time to put the modern lounge bar to death.  With a flourish, the bartender (“save water, drink champagne” says his t-shirt) shows off a long, triangular bottle.  A boutique vodka.  He says it is called Pinky and that it is very strong.

It is the freshness of the pasta and the mannered, acceptable portions.  All pasta should be eaten in a room with dark wooden beams that complement the color of wine barrels.

Modernity is seeing the portals high up on the Duomo and thinking instantly of the Death Star.

This will be the last visit.  A 2009 dirge.  Listen here.

Moments of Big Smokiness

It is difficult, in a year, to come anywhere close to comprehension of a city like London.  At best you perhaps start to understand why it has enthralled so many before you.  London is a city built on narrative and meta-narrative.  I suppose the same could be said about British society.  That narrative was the cornerstone of their colonialism, and if I can remove myself from the weight of that empire for a second, I have to say that they are pretty good at it.  So in that spirit, now ten days removed from the Big Smoke, I’ll be adding some thoughts on particular moments in London.