Archive for May, 2011

Daca ar fi sa caut un titlu alternativ al acestui episod al notelor lui Gica Manescu el ar putea fi ‘Povestea a doua orase’ – titlu clasic care in acest caz se refera la cele doua orase intre care calatoreste de obicei Gica – Bat Yam-ul israelian in care locuieste si capitala Romaniei pe care o viziteaza des. De fapt in acest episod este mai mult vorba despre Bucuresti, unde Gica a petrecut recent cateva saptamani.
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M-am intors acum cateva zile, dela Bucuresti. Nu a fost concediu, nici vacanta, pe care le am in permanenta. Doar o schimbare de mediu si de cei cu care am venit in contact.

O umplere in buna masura, cu mai bine,  a sufletului, dorului si mai putina singuratate,  in care traiesc aici. Alte strazi, alte magazine, alte conditii de trai. Fara greutati de orientare si limba.

Cum medicul mi-a prescris doua actiuni importante pentru mentinere  in  stare fizica buna si necesare : bautul lichidelor in cantitati suficiente si mersul, cel putin  30 minute zilnic, l-am ascultat si depasesc cele 30 minute, cu inca altele similare.

Deci mergand si privind in  jur, indiferent unde, vad oameni, locuri, miscare, situatii diverse. Mintea le inregistreaza si le pot pune unele langa altele, scotandu-le  asemanarile sau deosebirile.  Avantaje sau nu, pentru mine, care ma bucura, ma necajesc, sau imi sunt indiferente. Am un  gand care se duce si la semenii mei, cei de fiecare zi, unde ma aflu, mai multa sau mai putina vreme.

sursa itp-mm.ro

Nu pot compara decat unde ma aflu, in bucati ale vietii : Bat Yam si Bucuresti. Cum e in  alte localitati stiu  sau presupun. Diferentele pot fi minore, ca oamenii sunt cam aceiasi. Ca Bucuresti este cam de 10 ori mai mare decat Bat Yam, ca suprafata, populatie si altele, se stie.

Incep cu o deosebire importanta  pentru mine, intre Israel si Romania si nu numai. Cum mare parte a vietii noastre, in tara stramosilor si intr-o democratie, recunoscuta, ne abatem de la regula de a suferi rigorile legilor religioase, pentru unii, printre care si eu. Nu se permit incinerari. Nu exiata crematorii  pentru oameni. Unuia care sufera de frig, i se refuza caldura postuma si toata “ceremonia“ nedorita.

Dar sa ma apropii de obisnuitele si nu  de  exceptii.

A viziona un  film  si a  asista la o piesa de teatru, pe care in urma cu ani  le “inghiteam “ cu bucurie si placere nu imi sunt tabu, dar nu pot ajunge la ele, sau semi-alfabetizarea care ma impiedica. Totusi cateva cuvinte importante, le-am prins de la inceput si mi-au usurat intelegera uneori . Dau cateva exemple : situatia, alternativa ,pompa s.a.

Am fost la o versiune  a “Scrisorii pierdute“ la sala “Radu Beligan “,  fostul teatru Alhambra, al anilor ante-belici. Este strada  care se numea (poate si azi)   Stavropoleos. Cu biserica si “ Carul cu bere”. In orasul vechi al Bucurestiului, refacut, reconstruit, unde, in  special seara, e un du-te vino, tineret si maturi, restaurante cu mese pe trotuare, anunturi in limbi diferite,  fara a mai gasi un loc, si de toate felurile.

source travelblog.org

In piesa respectiva, cum stim cu totii, Catavencu spune ca“ Industria Romaniei, e buna, productiva,  dar.. ea nu exista. Scriu eu : Salile de spectacole, concerte, adunari festive sunt frumoase, incapatoare, comode, aerul conditionat bine venit, dar … el nu exista.

Asa a fost anul trecut la Sala Palatului, anul asta la teatre. Specatorii isi mai fac vant in fata, miscand  ca un evantai, caietul-program.  N-a fost o placere pentru mine, avand din cand in cand, in fata ochilor,  miscarea ritimca stanga-dreapta, “a aducatorului de aer rece “

Parca Ben Gurion s-a inspirat de aici, cand tot Catavencu declara patetic “ La noi, negustorii sunt evrei. Falitii , tot evrei. Toate tarile, Franta, Italia,au falitii lor. Noi nu avem falitii nostri “.

Primul nostru Premier,  declarase  ca: ”trebuie sa ajungem sa avem prostituatele si hotii nostri“. Si s-a indeplinit. Doar suntem un popor deosebit.

source panoramio.com

La cinematografgul “ARO “- sala splendida, scaune confortabile, ecran urias, la ora 8 seara, aproape  20 de spectatori. la comedia americana , din mediul TV “ Morning glory “tradusa cu “ Matinal  cu scandal“. Protagonisti Diane Keaton, Rachel Mc Adams si Harrison Ford. Jocul minunat al actorilor si atmosfera americana.

A  plouat puternic, intr-o zi frumoasa.

Strazi pline cu apa, treceri de pe un  trotuar pe altul, cu ocolire, baltoace  in infundaturile de pe trotuare. Ca pe Balfour, in centrul Bat Yam-ului si in alte parti. Soarele cand vine, la noi mai repede,le usuca. Aici, se spune de “munca arabeasca“ a terasamentelor si strazilor. Acolo e a autohtonilor, dar facuta prost, platita pentru buna. Spaga a fost prea mica.

source gabrielursan.ro

Am vizitat o cunostinta in Drumul Taberii dar  in straduta ei pana la blocurile de apartamete era o mica Venetie pe care am ocolit-o.

Tinerii socotesc  simplitatea de a traversa strada pe unde nu e permis, de pe o parte pe alta. Pe Blv.LascarCatargiu (fost Ana Ipatescu), asa scrie si pe tablitele de strada, circulatie foarte mare si deasa. Autobuze si  automobile. Doi tineri – in jur de 20, s-au strecurat cu ochii la stanga, o pauza la mijloc si apoi cu ochii spre dreapta, pana au ajuns la tinta.

In Bat Yam, pe strada Ioseftal, de acum 2 ani, s-au facut pregatiri pentru viitorul tren. S-au micsorat trotuarele, s-au facut locuri libere pentru pietoni, iarba si flori, de o parte si alta a unui  gard metalic, despartitor, cam   de un metru inaltime. Trecerile de pietoni, la distante nu mari, dar cu semafoare. Nu odata, am vazut tineri, elevi si altii, fugind pana la gard, sarindu-l si ajungand dincolo. Tablii cu “Nu calcati pe iarba“ nu sunt. Sau chiar daca erau, tot nu le citeste nimeni.

source imemc.org

Un mod  de a matura unele strazi in Bucuresti, parca eram acasa. Muncitorul municipal, prost platit si plictisit, mai face curatenie “de ochii soacrei“. Daca poate, impinge cu matura depe trotuar,intr-o curte cu poarta deschisa,  tot  ce  aduna,  fara a le  lua cu lopata si azvarlite in carucior. Asa e pe Dorobanti, asa am vazut de cateva ori, pe strada Hashmonaim, cu multa circulatie, dar si porti deschse  la casele de acolo. Nimeni nu  a vorbit cu  celalalat, in legatura cu situatia asta. Am folosit, “situatia “ – un cuvant din limba ebraica.

Drumurile mele, in afara de plimbari, in 5 zile din saptamana, au fost cu taxiurile. La comanda, sosesc in  cateva minute pana la adresa data. Conducatori auto foarte buni, civilizati cu clientii si te duc la locul cerut, fara ocolisuri si fara vorbarie. Doar necesarele : pozitia scaunului, taria aerului conditionat, deschisul sau inchisul geamului.

Din Bat Yam , Tel Aviv, Natania, s.a. conducatorul auto devine “prietenul“ tau . Mai ales daca te asezi pe scaunul de langa el. Daca n-are o convorbire la celular cu cineva de acasa sau sa povesteasca unui prieten, ce a patit, te abordeaza. Unde pleci, daca esti spre aeroport cu un bagaj, daca ai mai fost, pe cine ai acolo?

source wikimania2011.wikimedia.org

Intr-un rand, m-a intrebat unul, ce profesie am si plictisit i-am spus “medic pensionar “,  si am facut-o cu mana mea, gasindu-mi beleaua. Obraznicia lui, fara margini. A sunat-o pe  mama lui, i-a cerut amanunte despre boala ei, si apoi m-a mitraliat pe mine cu intrebari, pe care le intelegeam pe jumatate si raspunsuri tot asa. Mama ramasese pe linie, si-i raporta, cat se putea. La coborare, am rasuflat usurat.

Biciclistii, au pe unele trotuare, in capitala Romaniei,  un  coridor al lor. Ele sunt bune, marcate, dar nu pot fi folosite decat partial si uneori de loc. Multi isi parcheaza masinile pe trotuar, chiar in miezul zilei si in special duminica sau sarbatori. Aici avem un punct in plus, ca la noi se face doar vineri seara pana sambata seara, sau de sarbatori. Biciclistii nu au nevoie de coridoare speciale. Ei  circula pe trotuare, fara a fi stingheriti decat de pietoni. Unii evita, in  felul asta, sensul unic al strazii.

Am  tras o spaima intr-o zi, cand am simtit o atingere a cotului stang . A trecut ca fulgerul, un biciclist care m-a atins cu cotul lui drept. Nu s-a imtamplat nimic. Doar spaima mea. Noroc de “prietenul“ nedespartit la drum, bastonul.

Suntem codasi la spatii verzi si adunatul deseurilor menajere.

Inteleg, tara mica, pustiu mare, secete, calduri, nu ploua. Plantarea unor padurici sau nasterea unor parculete cu jocuri de copii si cativa arbori e dificila, prost intretinute si din puietii plantati candva, se vad mai tarziu patrate de pamant unde fusesera locuri pentru  viitorii arbori  falnici.  Acum au devenit   scrumiere pentru fumatorii care au terminat tigara sau se azvarle bonuruile de la  case, nefolositoare dupa diverse targueli facute in drum.  Umbra e rara dar des cautata.

La noi, de curand s-au amplasat pe strazi colectoare de hartii. Pentru sticla si obiecte din  plastic, sunt doar pentru flacoane. Putine si rare.

In Bucuresti le vezi pretutindeni si locutorii le folosesc. Un merit de mentionat.

Tot aici, si nu numai a fost din totdeauna in programul orasenesc, dechiderea unor spatii verzi, cu o  flora variata si le admiram si  azi.

Am vizitat si  m-am plimbat prin Cismigiu, Parcul Carol, (fost temporar al “Libertatii“), al Circului. Mai sunt si altele – Tei, Lia Manoliu, etc.

source celendo.eu

Curatenia e de admirat, pe langa ingrijirea cu meticulozitate a plantatiilor, lacurilor, fantanilor arteziene si ale locurilor de destindere pentru adulti si copii.

O idee minunata a acelora ce au conceput si dat viata Parcului Circului, a fost ridicarea unor coline mici, artificiale si cu gazon de un verde incantator. Aleele parcurse, sunt la niveluri diferite si au cateva trepte largi, din piatra, intre ele. A te aseza la umbra unui arbore cu frunzis bogat, a citi sau a admira imprejurul, e o destindere si bine facere.

Pentru calatoria in autobuz, s-au  desfintat cozile de la soferul – taxator. Modelul, israelian, cu dexteritatea respectivului e de admirat, prin felul cum o face si porneste vehicului.

La Bucuresti , coada s-a mutat la niste ghisee prin oras, unde se cumpara biletele de autobuz si metrou. Ce stiam de pe vremuri, un  casier, langa usa din fund a autobuzului sau tramvaiului si iesirea prin  fata (unii spuneau “pe branci”), e amintire. Soferul tine volanul, picioarele pe pedale si cu mana dreapta deschide si inchide usile. N-are cu  cine si ce a vorbi. Doar un raspuns la o intrebare.

source bucuresti.tourneo.ro

Nu asculta muzica pe un ton obositor pentru multi si nedorit, nu-l intereseza ultimele stiri. Nimeni n-o cere pe Maria Tanase sau manele.

In Israel, indiferent unde, orice calator, e supus dorintei si placerilor soferului. Multora le place muzica arabeasca, numita “mediteraneana “ sau sunt interesati sa auda ce s-a intamplat in ultima ora. Cum in ultima vreme nu prea folosesc  mijloacele de calatorie in comun, sunt scutit.

Pentru sufletul meu, pentru memoria ce o pastrez si veneratia celor dragi, disparuti, am fost la Cimitirul Giurgiului, la mormantul mamei. De la  un functionar al Federatiei am primit – Parcela 1 A, randul 32, locul 12. Eram cu fiul meu, cu masina. Distante lungi, soare nimicitor. Am gasit parcela si am inceput sa numar randurile. La 32, nici un nume  cautat. Portarul,  pentru 5 lei, ne-a descurcat. Cine facuse numaratoarea,acum atatia ani, a procedat ca in scrierea ebraica.De la dreapta la stanga. Mormantul  cautat, era in   randul al treilea de la inceput. Multumiti, ne-am recules, mi-am sters lacrimile, am lasat florile si  am pus  pietricele, conform  traditiei. Cu bagare de seama, am calcat peste si intre buruienele, care ni se incolaceau, peste  incaltaminte.

Aici termin  ce am adunat pe niste notite si in minte. Pentru unii, sunt probabil cunoscute, fie acolo, fie aici. Ii plictisesc. Sa ma scuze si sa ramana pentru necunoscatori sau de  cei care nu au dat atentie sau sunt obisnuiti.

Gica,

Mai 2011.

For once the translation of the title works better than the name of the film itself. I did not like ‘Paam Haiti’ – the Hebrew name of Avi Nesher’s film which translates into ‘Once I Was’ – which says too little about the characters in the movie and the world they live in. ‘The Matchmaker’ while focusing only on the principal character catches the essential, as the best part in the film in my opinion is indeed the hero played by Adir Miller.

source http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/132201-ciff-2010-the-matchmaker-avi-nesher-2010

Yankele Bride is a Holocaust survivor who lives in the harbor area of the Israeli city of Haifa in 1968. This is the year after the victory of Israel in the Six Days War, maybe the best year in the history of the young country, although the clouds of the continuing conflict with the Arab countries around are often seen or heard in the headlines shouted by the boys selling newpapers (there were no TV news flashes then, at least not in Israel who was going to have its first TV station only one or two years later). However, the principal heroes of the film do not and cannot share the atmosphere of optimism around – they are Holocaust survivors who live in a country which was created to harbor them, but is unwilling or unable to cope with the horror, the pain, the shame of what they went through. The extraordinary person who is Yankele Bride tries to cure at least part of them, to find for them the peer souls, to heal by bringing love. It’s an extraordinary story, which unfortunately did not result into a good film – at least in my view.

(video source israelifilms)

Although not as succesful as Nesher’s previous film ‘Turn Left at the End of the World’ (that one had a fantastic title!) ‘The Matchmaker’ enjoyed a good reception in Israel. I confess I did not like it. I simply cannot cope with Nesher’s style which mixes moving stories with the traditional (and outdated IMO) style of film-making that was popular in the 70s and 80s in Israel. His usage of popular actors is a waste, and having the extraordinary Miller and the tragic act of Maya Dagan coexist with the unnecessary make-up applied to Dov Navon and the clowny act of Eli Yatzpan is a combination that simply does not work. The coming to age story while acted quite well by the younger actors was unclear and brought back forcefully memories of an older film of Nesher (Ha Lahaka – The Band) from the beginning of the 80. Nesher has problems in telling the story even with the help of off-screen comments. Emphasize was put on building the atmosphere of Haifa in the 60s and this succeeds pretty well, but other details are carelessly treated – the characters are supposed to speak Hebrew with a Romanian accent, but this not how Romanian accent sounds in Hebrew, and worst of all – a Jew from Iasi (Yassi) in Romania would have had close to zero chances to get into Auschwitz during the second world war where numbers where tattooed on the arms of the prisoners. Overall this film deals with an important theme and brings to screen interesting characters, but the realization is disappointing, and even Adir Miller’s impressing performance cannot save it from failure.

The American singer Rene Marie was the guest of the 7th concert in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which is having this year one of the best seasons I can remember. The increase in the number of concerts did not lead to a dilution in quality, quite the opposite, and led on the other side for more diversity and more genres and more new and surprising artists to be brought on stage for the audiences in Israel. This is great.

source http://renemarie.com/presskit/highres_9.jpg

Rene Marie is born in Virginia and the story of her life is quite interesting. She married young in a deep religious family belonging to the Jehova’s Wittnesses Christian denomination, and had little time to sing while she was raising he children. It was only after turning 40 that her elder son convinced her to take upon a singing career, but this cost her the marriage. Success was however almost immediate, as she got national and international recognition, awards and opportunities to perform at the some of the greatest festivals of jazz worldwide.

(video source ReneMarieGalax)

Rene Marie’s style and repertoire focuses on classical jazz, with elements of blues, soul, gospel, musicals and pop music. It’s not a singer that you would appreciate enough if you just listened to her CDs, you need to see her on stage. She has stamina and a very special human touch combined with a direct approach in talking to the audiences and singing for them. You feel that singing did not come easier for her, she may not be the most naturally gifted vocalist you met, but she has something deep inside that she wants to share and she does it in a vibrant manner.

(video source richmondjazzsociety)

The Israeli musicians who played with Rene Marie last Friday succeeded to form a coherent ensemble which resonated and amplified the American singer’s music. Koby Solomon is a balanced and professional clarinetist and saxophonist whose musical experience is felt and appreciated as soon as you hear him. Alon Tayar is a young pianist of talent that I wished would have dared more and I am sure that he will do it soon with excellent results. Rene Marie loves duet-ing with bass players and this allowed Assaf Hakhimi the opportunity to prove his skills. Shy Zalman was as always in a category of himself.

signing autographs on CDs after the concert

I bought a CD of her named Experiment in Truth which is a good introduction to her music. One can find here ‘Vertigo’ one of her best and well known songs, the pop-sounding and socially engaged ‘This is (not) a Protest Song’ and ‘O Nina’ – a tribute to Nina Simone, one of the inspiring figures for her career. However, trying to find the opportunity to listen to Rene Marie life is the best way to know her and her art.

The scene is all set for a great end of the European football season.

source http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/final/stadium/index.html

The arena is one of the greatest stadiums in the history of the sport, renovated a few years ago.

The teams are probably the best two teams in Europe this year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjSFVd5m2BQ

(video source TheCrustyAss)

On one side we have Manchester United – the club that dominated the last half of the century in the country of birth of the game. Under manager Alex Ferguson they have won every important title in the last decade, and they seem to be fighting only with their own glory and place in the history. Their offensive star Wayne Rooney overcame a period of eclipse and became again the amazing striker he can be, pocketing also an amazing contract during the season.

(video source LMProductions10)

On the other side we have Barcelona, the winner this year as in most of the previous years of the traditional rivalry with Real Madrid in Spain. Manager Pep Guardiola is one generation younger than Ferguson, but his name is as identified with his club as is the Scott’s name with United. The Catalan club overcame a financial crisis this year to achieve a splendid season, and their star Lionel Messi has already entered the gallery of the best players in the history of the game, and he is not yet 24.

I dare not make any prognostic, games at this level can end with any result, and I only wish that the match this evening will be at the height of the expectations.

I am no fan of ceremonies and speeches. The one yesterday was however one that I would not miss as the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzlya celebrated its 2010-2011 graduates. And two of the speeches at the rather long ceremony said things that really interested me and I will share them here.

Professor Uriel Reichman spoke about the history of the college that he founded in 1994. It’s a private college and no funding comes from the state budget. (for full disclosure the taxes we paid were approximately the double we would have paid in a state university). 1400 students graduated this year in one of the six schools specialized in law, computer sciences, business, economics, government and diplomacy, psychology. About a quarter of them come from other countries and more than half of those in the generation that graduated this year chose to make alyah and build their life in Israel. Approximately ten percent of the students who are coming from weaker economic families benefit from scholarships covering their studies. Combining the theoretic studies with the practical applications, encouraging free and independent thinking, creativity and personal initiative the college is today the best or among the best in all the fields it educates the students. I would add that the fact that the college is located in Herzlya transformed the city in many ways – some good, other like the increase in the cost of lodging not that good – but certainly they inject energy in the life of this northern neighbor of Tel Aviv.

The second speaker who impressed me was the head of the students union. I was expecting one of these speeches full of thanks for the professors, memories of the good time spent together and promises to meet in 10, 20 and 50 years. These were not completely absent, but there was also something else. The guy, towards his 30s, a man who like many other learned, worked, and went to the army service during his studies had his first daughter born a few weeks ago in the very hour when Israel transits from Memorial Day to Independence Day. He shared with the audience the feelings and wishes for his daughter – the dream to see her grow in a Jewish and democratic country, a homeland where any Jew can come at any time he decides to return and live in his country and where non-Jewish citizens can live their lives in full and equal rights, a country with recognized and safe borders, a country that is proud of what its citizens have achieved and standing in deeds by its moral principles, a country inspired by its history and tradition but where any man and woman can walk, dress and behave as they wish without interfering or imposing on the way other walk, dress and behave. A beautiful dream yet to become true that the graduates of this year will need to wok hard and sometimes fight to achieve.

And yes, I am the proud father of a BA graduate in Computer Sciences. Congratulations, son!

Do gods get old? Can gods get old? They probably cannot, it’s just us. They remain forever young (yes, this is a song title!) and when we count the passing of their years actually we count the passing of ours.

source last.fm

Today Bob Bylan turned 70. Bob Dylan the human, Bob Dylan the young boy from Minnesota who was dreaming to become a second Little Richard, who came to New York and sang in the Greenwich Village clubs, engaged in the protest movement of the 60s and became the icon of his generation, who almost never stopped during the last five decades to be a great poet, a great musician, a great conscience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zY_cM0_6vA

(video source ZIRROW035)

The impact that Bob Dylan’s music had on me and on many other young people who spent their best years on the bad side of the Iron Courtain was in many ways the same and in many ways different than the one it had on our colleagues of generation in the US or Western Europe. While the crowds were gathering at festivals in Newport or at the Isle of Wight (Dylan did not do Woodstock) and young people were protesting in the streets against the Vietnam war with his songs in mind, we were listening near the radio sets to the legendary DJ Cornel Chiriac’s broadcasts from Radio Free Europe where Cornel was telling us about the festivals or about the meeting of Dylan with Woodie Guthrie – his mentor in the young days. The most important thing is that from the ‘Metronom’ broadcasts we could hear his music and songs like ‘Blowing in the Wind’, ‘The Times they are a-Changin’ or ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ had a very different meaning and message that I am not sure that Dylan himself was ever aware.

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!

It is a remarkable coincidence that ‘The Human Scale’ written and acted on stage by the Pulitzer winner journalist Lawrence Wright from The New Yorker and brought to stage by director Oskar Eustis for the New York Public Theater was brought to Israel (at the Cameri Theater) exactly during these days when the Middle East is going through fast changes and when maybe the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a prisoner of Hamas for almost five years may hopefully be favorable solved. Wright starts his text from the fate of this soldier, and broadens the perspective to a discussion of what has been happening in Gaza and Israel in the last decade, getting back even to earlier stages of the conflict that impacts the region and the whole world for such a long time.

source http://www.publictheater.org/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,141/id,1013

It is difficult to characterize ‘The Human Scale’ as a theater play, it is more like a multimedia-supported lecture in the origins of the conflict in the Middle East and its political and human dimensions. It is written for American audiences, and these certainly have a different degree of familiarity and a different perspective than the Israeli ones. It is no entertainment, and yet both in New York (see the chronicle in The New York Times) and in Tel Aviv the audiences gave up a regular theater evening to come and listen and see, be informed and provoked on a political subject. For me as a local attendee there were no news in the information that the play brought, yet there was no dull moment either on the stage for the whole evening and hearing the perspective of the conflict seen and told once from the outside was refreshing.

(video source ThePublicTheater)

Presenting the play for Israeli (and later for Palestinian) audiences involves risks that the author and organizers of the tour were certainly aware. Despite the good intentions and the wide experience of the journalist, simplifications and errors could not be avoided. I will not list the things that enervated me, because I am sure that almost any local participant at the performance found a few of his own, whatever part of the conflict he is. The devil is in the details, and the complex situation in the area has many details and many devils. Overall the message however passed, and the thinking process about the value of human life and about the mirroring of the enemy in the behavior of each one of the parties in this long and painful conflict was triggered. The play asked some of the right and painful questions. I did not expect to hear answers here.

If the intent of the authors was to ask painful questions and generate debate, one such opportunity could have happened when at the end of the play last evening the audience was invited to stay for a panel discussion followed by a Q & A. Invited to the panel were the author / lecturer / actor Lawrence Wright and the director Oskar Eustis, and also an Israeli human rights activist, and Israel Harel, a founder of the settlers Gush Emunim movement and once a head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Unfortunately the moderator after letting the American guests say more or less what was expected from them to say, and the Israeli invitees on stage recite their gospels from the two sides of the Israeli political debate left too little time for the public and the real debate to happen, maybe becoming concerned when the questions from the audience became sharper and more direct than his own ones. True, the debate could have lasted the whole night and I am not sure that anybody would have moved one inch from his beliefs. The consolation is that such debates do not really need external catalyzers, as interesting as this event coming from New York because of the  different perspective, and they happen on daily basis in most of the Israeli press, media or in the street.

I spent last week a few days in Bilbao, my first time in this city. It was a business trip, and I had only a few hours to spare which I tried to use at best in order to get at least a taste of what is an interesting and beautiful city in an area of Europe which is certainly worth a longer trip and a vacation, to know and enjoy it. I hope to be back some day.

The first meeting with the city is with the airport designed by the famous Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s a doubled wing like structure, quite impressive seen for distance, less in the interior.

The city is a real playground of some of the world’s most famous architects. Since the 1980s the Basque Country is governed by an autonomous government which embarked in ambitious plans that changed the region and the city of Bilbao from a rusty industrial town to a vibrant European point of attraction for hi-tech and business, for art and international events. Here is the hotel where I stayed, the Melia (former Sheraton) designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Leggorreta.

From the hotel room I could see what is one of the characteristics of the city – the melding of old and new construction, the careful urban design and the insertion of modern art (especially sculptures) in one integral vision.

The next morning was Sunday and I used a few hours before the start of the convention to walk the area and reach the landmark of the city – the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The area was a former harbor terrain, by the river which is actually an estuary bringing ships from the Atlantic, an area which in the 70s had fallen in decay. It was redesigned and brought back in the circuit of the city life. The most recent Master Plan which gave the whole environment its look of today belongs to the Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid and was started in 2004. In the picture you can see one of the example of the renovation and recovery of the past periods in the history and architecture of Bilbao with the Universidad Literaria de Deusto, built in 1886-1887, the largest building in the 19th century Bilbao, designed by an architect with remarkable classic works in Madrid – Francisco de Cubas.

The newest addition is the Torre Iberdrolla 165 meters, a 41 stores office building designed by Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli.

Near-by the less daring by yet very interesting Biblioteca de la Universidad de Deusto – Rafael Moneo Vales, with slightly irregular lines, combining roundness and angles.

And then, I turned the river bend and I saw – one of these buildings I read so much about, I expected to see and visit for many years – Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao. It is impressing and I loved it, with the external titanium cover absorbing and reflecting light and colors from the sky and the city and integrating its folded surfaces into the landscape around.

I walked around it – one of the best views can be taken from the nearby bridge with the proenade on the water guarded by the out-of-this-world sculpture ‘Maman’ by Louis Bourgeois.

Huge and yet sweet and familiar Jeff Koon’s ‘Puppy’ guards the entrance to the museum.

source http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guggenheim_Museum_interior,_Bilbao,_July_2010_%2804%29.JPG

The space inside reminds to some extent the spiral structure of the Guggenheim in Manhattan. The feeling that the museum building is as much an object of art and an objective of the architect as the works of art that are being hosted by the museum cannot be escaped.

sourcehttp://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/visualarts/museums/NYT-StateofGuggenheim-Magazine-06-30-02.html

One of the permanent installments is Richard Serra’s ‘The Matter of Time’ - a series of labyrinths, walls and passages, made of the rusty iron materials that made the ships in the docks that formerly occupied the place where the museum is now located.

Balthus - 'The Street' - source http://www.guggenheim-bilbao.es/secciones/programacion_artistica/nombre_exposicion_imagenes.php?idioma=en&id_exposicion=138#activas

Two temporary exhibitions were open last Sunday. The one I spent most of the time (and which was closing that day) was ‘Chaos and Classicism: art in France, Italy, Germany and Spain, 1918-1936′, which started with a selection of Otto Dix’s sketches from the battlefields or representing the human aftermath of the First World War and ends with monumental Fascist dedicated to Mussolini or the preferred paintings hanging in one of Adolf Hitler’s offices. It was a very intriguing review of the other facet of the art between the two world wars, the one that opposed the innovation of the avangarde (although some of the surrealist and cubist artists also played with the concept).

(video source efeinternational)

The second, still open is ‘The Luminous Interval: The D. Daskalopoulous Collection’ - mix of large scale installments of contemporary art, of various tastes and trends – so I liked some more, some less.

Mona Hatoum’s ‘Current Disturbance’ which I had seen last year at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem was one of the works exposed – actually the first one just near the entrance as I entered the museum.

The audio-guide is very informative and included in the ticket price.

THE Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios on the site of the former Euskalduna Shipyard was the building that hosted the W3C standard meeting which I came for in Bilbao.

I had little time for the rest of the week. One evening I went out for a short walk to the center of the city and I took a few photos. here is how the city looks, combining churches and classical 19th century buildings with modern additions.

Another visual element are the metro entries named by the locals forestitos. In 1988 the city opened a bid for the design of the metro stations which was won by British architect Norman Foster.

The last day I used a couple of free hours to visit the Museum of Fine Arts located in the Dona Casilda Park – another combination of an old building with modern extensions, with a work by Serra in front of it. The permanent collection offers a solid path through the history of the local and European art.

source http://www.museobilbao.com/in/exposiciones/matta-1911-2011-164

I had much too little time for the two temporary exhibitions in the museum. One was dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Chilean artist Roberto Matta – creator of monumental art, inventor of imaginary words worth exploring.

(video source LookingForArsMundi)

The second belongs to local artist Daniel Tamayo.

Continui seria notelor de calatorie ale prietenilor mei care au ajuns in locuri la care eu deocamdata doar visez sa ajung cu insemnarile de calatorie (ea le numeste ‘note personale’) ale Marianei Gott-Shmilovitch care in aprilie a facut o calatorie in Sankt Peterburg si Moscova, calatorie la care noi din diverse motive nu ne-am putut alatura. Merita de ‘rasfoit’ si albumul de fotografii de la Picassa, pe blog am preluat doar cateva dintre fotografii.

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Aceste randuri nu se vor nici ghid turistic si nici reportaj. Le-as defini ‘impresii’, daca nu as fi citit diferite  texte descrise impropriu ca ‘impresii de calatorie’, care constituiau efectiv doar o (suplimentara?) documentatie despre locurile vizitate. Randurile de mai jos (si cele ce vor urma) sunt doar niste note personale scrise in fuga, nici macar nu indraznesc sa le numesc ‘Note de calatorie’. Caci sunt de fapt simple note de ‘senzatii’…

In noaptea in care am facut cunostinta cu Sankt Peterburg (in ruseste fara ‘s’, ca nu e ‘al lui Petru’, ni s-a explicat, ci orasul Sfantul Petru) n-am vazut, recunosc, din goana autocarului de la aeroport spre hotel, orasul denumit si ‘Venetia Nordului’. Am vazut doar strazi largi, cladiri impunatoare, unele statui (Lenin-ul obisnuit cu mana intinsa si sapcuta-i in mana… nu citisem oare ca toate statuile lui au fost daramate?) si blocuri ‘comuniste’… Si noapte. Mult intuneric.
La lumina (innourat-cenusie) a primei zile de plimbare prin oras, m-am indragostit. Iar. Si fara a stabili o ordine de prioritati in lista oraselor pe care le iubesc, St.Peterburg ocupa un loc de frunte.

Un ‘nu stiu ce’, atmosfera, canalele ‘venetiene’, istoria care tasneste din orice colt, spectacolul de folclor, Neva, catedralele, Petru I si Caterina II-a (cei Mari) si… Ermitajul si ’Lacul lebedelor’ in aceeasi zi, ultima zi a sejurului meu acolo, acea zi pe care n-o pot uita!

Cine poate rezista unei asemenea combinatii?


Dar sa le iau pe rand, iar cine are timp (si chef) poate rasfoi cele peste 200 de poze din albumul al carui link e atasat la sfarsitul textului * (asta dupa ce am redus mai mult de jumatate din fotografiile facute aproape fara discernamant in cele trei zile petrecute in acest oras), poze ce vor sa determine privitorii sa calatoreasca parca cu noi, pas cu pas.
Pe rand, deci… in ordinea cronologica a vizitei mele, caci nu vreau sa concurez Wikipedia, iar informatii despre populatie, economie, istoria orasului le veti gasi in mod foarte satisfacator la http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg , cel putin.

Inainte de toate, insa, nu pot sa nu amintesc si eu ca orasul (‘Leningrad’ il numesc aproape toti locuitorii cu care s-a intamplat sa vorbesc, de altfel regiunea din care face parte se numeste si astazi Leningrad) este asezat in delta raului Neva, include cateva insule (hotelul nostru era situat pe cea mai mare dintre ele, insula Vasilievski) si are parte, dupa cum se stie, de cateva luni (mai, iunie, iulie) de ‘nopti albe’, fiind situat langa Cercul Polar de nord. In aprilie nu au fost nopti albe, dar seara, la orele 21 era inca amurg, turul monumentelor luminate noaptea noi facandu-l de-abia dupa orele 22-23.

Fortareata “Petru si Paul” cu care am inceput vizita, dupa hoinareala pe unul dintre malurile Nevei admirand imaginile orasului impozant, nu impresioneaza in mod deosebit la prima vedere.

A fost  construita in scop de aparare, dar a fost folosita ca inchisoare politica inca de pe vremea tzarilor, iar cladirile colorate (galben si roz puternic), stradutele si piata mi-au amintit de castelul din Praga. Insa biserica ‘Petru si Paul’, din centrul fortaretei, schimba total atmosfera sobra. Nu mare, dar bogata in ornamente, nu impunatoare dar adapostind mormintele lui Petru cel Mare, al Caterinei I, sotia sa, al fiicei Elisabeth, al nepotului (de la alta fiica) Petru III si al sotiei sale, celebra Caterina II-a (cea Mare), constituie o bucatica de istorie, descoperita prin povestirile competentului nostru ghid. De altfel, din diferite locuri, din diferite puncte de vedere, ghidul s-a reintors, iar si iar, la dinastia tzarilor, astfel incat era imposibil sa nu retii interesantele informatii.

De la istoria lui Petru cel Mare (care construise orasul timp de vreo 10 ani la inceputul secolului 18 si in timpul acestei constructii au murit 100.000 oameni, da, o suta de mii!) am trecut brusc, facand o mica paranteza, la perioada revolutiei din 1917, vizitand apoi crucisatorul Aurora, ancorat pe Neva si inconjurat de zeci de dughene de ‘amintiri’, care mai de care specifice primului razboi mondial sau revolutiei bolsevice. Lovitura de tun de pe acest vas mi-o aminteam ca simbolica, dar inghesuiala zecilor de turisti care urca la bord m-a oprit s-o fac si eu, multumindu-ma cu fotografii  ale vasului (pe fondul modernei cladiri pe care se lafaia uriasa firma Samsung).


Si iar, Neva si sloiurile de gheata plutind, podurile (9 dintre ele se ridica noaptea, dupa ora 1, pentru a permite vaselor sa treaca, prilej de interes pentru turisti), bulevardul central Nevsky Prospekt si apoi celelalte trei catedrale (partial muzee) principale, inafara de ‘Petru si Paul’ : Biserica Mantuitorului insangerat (Church of the Savior on blood – singura cu turlele in stil pe care il cunoastem ca rusesc, caci Petru I interzisese construirea turlelor in forma de ‘ceapa’ – pur si simplu o splendoare…), catedrala Kazan, copiata dupa Basilica St.Petru din Vatican si cea mai mare, catedrala St. Isaac, cu una din cele mai mari cupole din lume, cea care se vede din orice punct de pe malul Nevei, a carei constructie a durat 40 de ani.


Si in tot acest timp, povestiri, informatii, istorie si arta – care daca ar fi fost numai pe jumatate atat de amanuntite, ar fi satisfacut un exigent turist – totul impletit cu umor (si ferma pastrare a disciplinei grupului), din partea ghidului nostru israelian.

Finalul primei zile in St. Peterburg l-a constituit bogatul spectacol de folclor pe care l-am vizionat la palatul Nikolae. Am fost primiti pe maiestuoasa scara de catre actori in costume de epoca si poate doar pozele sa redea bogatia culorilor, frumusetea costumelor, dar sigur nu pot reda muzica si talentul dansatorilor.

Satul tzarilor, Tsarskoye Selo, facand parte acum din orasul Puskin, din suburbiile St. Peterburg, a constituit tinta celei de-a doua zile a excursiei. Vizita la Peterhof, care fusese in program, a fost anulata, deoarece celebrele sale fantani, care constituiau principala atractie a palatului de vara a lui Petru I, nu functionau… Palatul baroc al Caterinei a II-a, insa, un adevarat Versailles, a compensat pe deplin. Nu numai bogatele si luxoasele incaperi ale palatului insusi, ci parcul imens, pavilioanele raspandite in diferite colturi ale sale, lacul… Superb. Placuta senzatie de a te plimba ‘cu Caterina’ de mana ore in sir…


Pe drumul de intoarcere spre hotel, ne-am oprit la Sinagoga de pe strada Lermontov din St. Peterburg, impresionanta prin arhitectura sa cu influente maure, construita la sfarsitul secolului 19. Desi erau prezenti cativa reprezentanti ai comunitatii evreiesti, ni s-a permis (si noua, femeilor) sa intram si sa fotografiem.


Turul monumentelor luminate noaptea nu m-a impresionat in aceeasi masura. Dar am vazut astfel si Catedrala Smolnai si Institutul cu acelasi nume, care o inconjoara, institut care a fost prima scoala pentru femei din Rusia. Aici isi stabilise Lenin sediul cartierului sau general in timpul revolutiei din 1917.

A treia si ultima zi a scurtei mele vizite in St. Peterburg a constituit culmea excursiei in Rusia, am intuit-o inca de pe atunci. O zi insorita, St. Peterburgul venetian, hoinareli pe stradute si  prin piete de fructe si legume, dispozitie personala excelenta si Ermitaj, in sfarsit Ermitaj! Palatul de iarna (de care am omis sa pomenesc, admirat cu o zi inainte doar pe dinafara, din impresionanta sa piata), Micul Ermitaj si Noul Ermitaj alcatuiesc complexul actual, in stiluri arhitectonice diferite.

Cum as putea povesti cate ceva din cele vazute? Sa relatez despre Leonardo, despre Rafael, Tizian? Despre impresionantele sali si bogatele colectii? Despre orele in sir petrecute acolo, despre din ce in ce mai putinele perechi care am ramas in preajma ghidului, netinand seama de oboseala, pana cand, in camerele rezervate impresionistilor, pana si ghidul ne-a lasat sa colindam singuri? (Pe-acolo reusisem sa ‘fur’ o fotografie cu ‘Eterna primavara’ a lui Rodin, potrivita cu cea din sufletul meu in acele momente…). Senzatii, spuneam. Senzatie de satisfactie? Putin spus. Nu, efectiv nu am cuvinte.

Si pe cand credeam ca nimic nu poate intrece acea senzatie, in aceeasi seara am vazut baletul ‘Lacul lebedelor’, cu una din trupele baletului Kirov, la Ermitaj Theatre. Sa nu declar aceasta zi ca fiind culmea excursiei, chiar daca spectacolul nu a avut loc la celebrul teatru Mariinsky, cum credeam, si pe care-l vazuseram in acea dupa-amiaza, doar pe dinafara ???
Chiar daca a fost ziua in care am facut cele mai putine fotografii.

Am mai omis in relatarea mea cateva palate, biserici si cladiri publice (Bursa, ca un impozant templu grecesc, Universitatea de stat de pe insula Vasilievski, Amiralitatea, statuia ecvestra a lui Petru cel Mare din piata Senatului) despre care ni s-a povestit, le-am vazut si le-am fotografiat si sunt sigura ca nici senzatiile mele nu le-am putut impartasi pe deplin, dar cat pot abuza de rabdarea cui a avut timpul si poate placerea de a citi pana aici?

Am parasit St. Peterburg in (foarte) zorii celei de-a patra zile in Rusia, plecand spre Moscova, unde asteptam intalnirea cu alte doua importante perioade din monumentala istorie a Rusiei (inafara de perioada tzarilor si a revolutiei bolsevice despre care St. Peterburg ne impartasise cu larghete) : Napoleon pe de o parte si al doilea razboi mondial si urmarile sale, pe de alta.

Moscova mea… va urma.

* https://picasaweb.google.com/mshmilovitch/RusiaApril2011StPeterburg#

Vladimir Weitraub continua sa ne impartaseasca impresii si fotografii din excursia facuta cu doua luni in urma in Mexic.

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Parcul Chapultepec (cunoscut si sub numele Bosque de Chapultepec) e cel mai mare parc din America Latina si unul din cele  mai mari parcuri urbane din lume (686ha), alaturi de Bois de Boulogne/Paris, Gradinile Imperiale/Tokio si Central Park/New York. Chapultepec inseamna in limba Nahuatl (cea mai vorbita limba intre dialectele indiene) – Dealul Lacustelor, dupa dealul din centrul sau. Pe langa parcul – padure, alte puncte de atractie sunt Parcul de distractii (ca Prater la Viena), Gradina Zoologica, Muzeul National de Istorie (in forma de cochilie de melc) si, desigur, Castilio – Castelul Chapultepec.

Un paianjen curios sa vada ce mai e pe afara!

Gradina zoologica este cea mai vizitata atractie a parcului; a fost inaugurata in 1924 si are cca. 2000 de animale din 200 de specii – cei mai celebrii sunt ursii Panda, pe care din pacate i-am prins la ”siesta”. Coltul insectelor e bine dotat; cortul fluturilor si speciile periculoase de paianjeni din … borcane.
Noi am pus accentul pe Castilio, fosta resedinta de vara a vice-regelui si mai apoi sediul preferat al Imparatului Maximilian, o figura tragica din istoria Mexicului.

Maximilien Ier du Mexique ou Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, prince impérial et archiduc d’Autriche, prince royal de Hongrie et de Bohême, né à Vienne (Autriche) le 6 juillet 1832 et mort à Querétaro (Mexique) le 19 juin 1867, était un membre de la famille impériale d’Autriche (maison de Lorraine) qui fut empereur du Mexique entre 1863 et 1867. Avec l’appui de Napoléon III et des conservateurs mexicains, il est couronné empereur du Mexique, le 10 avril 1864.

sursa - http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilien_Ier_du_Mexique

Destinul i-a fost tragic; in momentul cand a refuzat sa mai serveasca interesele franceze pentru a servi interesele noii sale patrii (Imperiul Mexican), Napoleon III i-a retras sprijinul. Mexicanii liberali, care l-au contesta de la bun inceput, l-au prins si executat.
Frescele din Castel oglindesc punctele principale din istoria Mexicului: Razboiul de independenta 1821 contra Spaniei (erou Miguel Hidalgo), primul presedinte indian Benito Juarez (1871-1872) si rascoala taraneasca condusa de Pacho Villa si Emiliano Zapata (era sa zic Emilian Pugaciov).

Benito Juárez; (March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872) nascut Pablo Benito Juárez García, a fost un  avocat şi politician mexican de neam Zapotec originar din statul Oaxaca , care a servit sub cinci mandate ca presedinte al Mexicului : ca interimar 1858/61 , 1861-1865, 1865-1867, 1867-1871 şi 1871-1872.  Benito Juárez a fost primul lider mexican care nu a avut un fond militar, şi, de asemenea, primul indigen pur- sânge care a condus ca preşedinte al Mexicului. El a rezistat ocupatiei franceze , a răsturnat Imperiul , a restaurat Republica şi a pus bazele modernizarii ţării.

Dupa el a urmat din nou un general, Porfirio Diaz care l-a “inlocuit” (cu forta) pe Juarez dar a continuat si dezvoltat modernizarea Mexicului.

Fatada castelului