Archive for December, 2011

I am using these days of vacation to catch back with a huge log of reading books and seeing films accumulated during the year. I will of course be able to clear up only a fraction of them. Among these are a few music documentary films, and the first one was Robert Muggee’s Gospel According to Al Green made in 1984.




This film is an interesting snapshot of a career that spins already for almost half a century. Born in Arkansas in 1946, Green made to himself a name since the mid-60s on the scene of soul music, which enjoyed a great success and was promoted widely, nationally in the US and internationally together with other trends (like pop, rock and folk) of the musical revolution of the ‘flower power’ generation.


(video source misclasicos)


Of the material available on youTube Take me to the River (one of the best known of his own compositions) seems a good example of the type of music Al Green was singing at that time – rhythmic, sensual, charismatic R&B and soul.


(video source jamaisledimanche)


And then, in 1974 the change happened. A personal life incident (described by Green in the documentary film in a different version than the one recorded by other sources like the Wikipedia entry dedicated to the singer) triggered a process of returning to religion, and in only a couple of year we see Green becoming a reverend and buying his own church (this is also described in the documentary).

More and more gospel takes precedence in his records and performances. From this period here is Jesus is Waiting, a fascinating rendition, about which I will quote two comments from youTube, which reflect the mix of spirituality and musical fascination that was felt by his fans and followers:

- as a lifetime atheist, this is the closest ive ever been to god

- That’s the sexiest Lords Prayer I have ever heard lol!

(video source eubank12)


The documentary itself includes testimonies by Al Green’s musical partners about his beginnings, about the road to success, and his transformation from a soul to a gospel artist. The musical parts are recorded in one of his performances at a military base, and in his own church in Memphis – and this is certainly the most interesting part, as it documents how music becomes part of the religious discourse and ceremonies, and how the word gospel truly merges and combines its two meanings.

From this period Amazing Grace is one of the good exemplifications.


(video source dtvmusic)


As I said the film was made in 1984, at a time when his life was mostly dedicated to religion and as a singer he was singing only gospel. More than a quarter of century later we know however that as his career continued, Green returned to some of his non-religious songs, in a tentative to regain some of the success of his younger years. Here he is still introduced as ‘reverend Al Green working the crowds in a televised show in 2010, singing one of his initial successes Let’s Stay Together (a love ballad), with a voice that sounds amazingly young.

The 1984 film catches Green at a point in his evolution, which did not follow exactly the expected track. Asked in the film how he sees his life and career 20 or 30 years later, he predicts an universal acceptance of the gospel, and him as a priest of it. It is however more to the non-religious soul music that he is still known today, while the religious fulfillment did not disappear but was pushed back more to the space of his private life.




As the whole Jewish world prepares to light tomorrow night the first candle of the Hanukkah festival, I searched the net as I always do for the traditional round of significant clips, songs, images related to the holiday to post on ‘The Catcher in the Sand’. It always is a rather easier task on Hanukkah than for many other holidays, as the positive and heroic message of this holiday translates in a lot of music and joy. So I decided to focus more the search this time and gather some of the more significant pieces of music created and posted in the last year in Jewish American and Israeli musical space. My findings were amazing. In two words – Hanukkah Rocks!


(video source westdawg63)


(video source MaccabeatsChannel)


My favorite holidays band are the Maccabeats – the chorus of the New York Yeshiva University. This was a great year for them with a performance at the White House praised by president Obama, the release of their first CD and a tour in Israel.


(video source einpratfountainheads)


The Ein Prat Fountainheads are a group of Israeli singers and dancers, students or graduates of the Israeli Academy for Leadership. Their life and studies are about ‘working to create a new Israeli-Jewish identity and building a strong and diverse community that celebrates Jewish life’.


(video source MatisyahuTVSME)


This was a year of changes also for the alternative and reggae singer Matisyahu, who recently announced that he gave up the Hassidic Jew appearance and mode of life in search for other forms of spirituality. Good luck to him – what is important is that he will keep doing good music.

To all my friends – Hag Hanukkah Sameakh!

Vaclav Havel died today, at the very time when the people in Eastern Europe celebrate 20 years since the empire of the Soviet Union fell apart. These are certainly not easy times, but there are very few people – I dare hope so at least – who regret the dismantling of Communism in Europe. And Havel, the playwright, the poet, the dissident, the first president of Czechoslovakia after it became free again was one of the people who made freedom and democracy in his country and in the Eastern Europe possible.




I envy the Czech people for many things and one of them is that their history of resistance to dictatorship 1n 1968 allowed them to transition to democracy in 1989 peacefully and in dignity, as no other nation in Eastern Europe could do better. This is due to people like Alexander Dubcek and Vaclav Havel.


(video source Tavaana2010)


Great men speak better in their own words. Here are a few memorable quotes from what Havel wrote and said (source –


Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.

(Letter to the downthrown Czechoslovak Communist Party chairman Alexander Dubček (August 1969))


If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.

(Open letter to Dr. Gustáv Husák, Communist President (8 April 1975))


Despite all the political misery I am confronted with every day, it still is my profound conviction that the very essence of politics is not dirty; dirt is brought in only by wicked people. I admit that this is an area of human activity where the temptation to advance through unfair actions may be stronger than elsewhere, and which thus makes higher demands on human integrity. But it is not true at all that a politician cannot do without lying or intriguing. That is sheer nonsense, often spread by those who want to discourage people from taking an interest in public affairs.

Of course, in politics, just as anywhere else in life, it is impossible and it would not be sensible always to say everything bluntly. Yet that does not mean one has to lie. What is needed here are tact, instinct and good taste.

(International Herald Tribune (29 October 1991))

The value of a cycle like the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is measured also in discovering and revealing to audiences less explored territories on the jazz planet. Austria is certainly a place appreciated for its huge musical tradition, but less associate with jazz. One more argument to appreciate the choice of bringing to Israel this week a young and tallented Austrian singer like Simone Kopmajer or Simone as she was presented to the Israeli audiences.




Simone Kopmajer was born in a family of musicians, and it looks like there were not too many doubts that music will be if not her profession at least the passion of her life. Some of the best moments in her show were when she was taking over some of the instrumental parts (blowing instruments especially) and rendering them in a way which was fully integrated into the musical logic of the songs, and also proved a good understanding of the specifics of the instruments whose sounds she was replicating.


(video source ivanpix)


I found on youTube a clip where she speaks about herself and also introduces a new album. The program in Tel Aviv was a compilation of songs ranging from pieces from the big American jazz and 20th century folk repertories, country music (one of her more recent discoveries and sources of inspiration), and up to contemporary pop. Each of these were processed in a classical vocal jazz manner, emphasizing the qualities of her voice and the talents of New-Yorker pianist John di Martino whose stage presence and musical personality would have been worth a concert of himself (the other two Austrian instrumentalists were unfortunately far behind).


(video source conecas1)


If there was something to object in the musical evening last night it was the sound which amplified the volume of the voice of Simone louder than necessary making it sometimes sound strident while pushing down the bass guitar of Herfried Knapp too almost inaudible levels. Simone herself visibly enjoyed the show, but played a little bit too much with the usual tricks of speaking a few words in the local language. I do not appreciate visiting musicians doing it more than once or twice an evening if at all – after all when I come to a jazz event speaking English is somehow part of the convention. However at the very final encore of the evening her rendering of an Israeli song was made in an almost perfect and clear Hebrew, another proof of the skills of a young singer with the potential to become a star shining from an unexpected corner of the jazz universe.

On one of the Internet discussion lists in Romanian that I am subscribed to, the subject of the identity of the Quebecois popped-up this week. This brought to my memory an evening spent this summer in the ‘Musee de la Civilisation’ in Quebec-City.




The occasion was the social event of the IETF-81 meeting that was hosted by the city.  Unfortunately, it was one of these trips which are more business than pleasure, so I skipped taking my camera. Yet, memories are still fresh for a few instant flashes backed-up by pictures and clips. Starting of course with the building which is designed to integrate well in the urban landscape of a city that cherishes its heritage but also expresses the ideas and motives of one of its architects, the Haifa-born Moshe Safdie (among other works of him I admired in the last few years – Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the international terminal at the Ben Gurion airport, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa).




The connection in memory was caused by the permanent exhibition Le Temps des Quebecois which allows for a historical journey through the history of North America viewed from the perspective of the French community. It was fascinating and I recommend the exhibition (as well as the whole museum) for history fanz like myself who happen to travel to Quebec. Many facts will be unknown for the majority of the visitors,  and the perspective on events we know and think we fully understand may be very different.


(video source AndreCaronCaron)


The museum also hosted another two temporary exhibitions. With Rome – De ses origines a la capitale de l’Italie which was organized in cooperation with some of the big museums in the Italian capital was much more familiar grounds for me from an historical point of view, and yet had a few very interesting pieces of information – for example about the period after the fall of the Roman empire and before the late Middle Ages when popes made of the Eternal City the non-contested capital of Catholicism when the city was reduced to the proportions of a small city or big village as many other around. Sic transit gloria mundi - the saying that has its origins in Rome had a special meaning in those times.


(video source bwhotelquebec)


Last I would mention is DIEU(X) – Mode d’emplois which brought together the mosaic of the principal religious faiths, their principles, their symbols and key practices. Certainly some superficiality cannot be avoided in one exhibition that gets together what is expressed in full museums and thousand of books, but the fact itself of bringing these under one roof, of having them co-exist one near the other and allow the visitors to meet and understand the basics of all is a beautiful idea. I wish this exhibition or a similar one be brought to the young people in Israel, so many of them ignoring almost anything about other faiths than Judaism. 

There are two historical and cultural objectives in Sicily that are an absolute must, places for which one must travel to Sicily, and if he is already on the island must not leave it without visiting them. I will write and post some pictures now about the first of them which is Valle dei Templi (Temples Valley), an archeological site located near the city of Agrigento in the South part of the island. The name of ‘valley’ is quite misleading, as we are talking actually about a thread of seven Greek temples located most of them on the top of a hill long of about two kilometers. This may be the most outstanding monument of the Greek antiquity after the Acropolis in Athens, and in any case the most fascinating of all I have had the luck to ever visit.



We entered through the Western gate, so the first temple that appeared to us was the Temple of Hera Lacinia (goddess protecting marriage and birth-giving). It was built in the 5th century BC and set to fire by the Carthaginians in 406BC. What is left today is the structure of columns (13 in length, 6 on width) which profiles an elegant silhouette visible from far away.


Tempio di Hera Lacinia


The big prize for anybody who visited Valle dei Templi during most of 2011 was the fact that the archeological site hosted an open air exhibition of the Polish monumental sculptor  Igor Mitoraj. His style and themes combine the classical techniques of sculpture with surrealistic influences, and the abrupt cuts and edges of his works suggest the work of time. They were a perfect complement of the ancient Greek ruins in the valley and as you will see in some of the following photos, the terrain looked in that sunny afternoon as a playground of the gods.




If you are to pick a time of the day for the visit late afternoon is probably the best bet. During summer it will spare you of some of the heat that must be scorching the whole area, especially as there is no place to hide from the Sun on the top of the hills. Later in the year (like in October when we visited) the sweetness of the sun in the final hours of the day envelops the area and the ruins seem to radiate warmness from within.


paleo-christian necropole


Another combination of art and antiquities that seem to belong to the imaginary spaces created by Dali or de Chirico. Entries to tombs in the necropolis dating from the late Roman and early-medieval era, identified as paleo-christian are flanked by two of the works of Mitoraj.




Tempio della Concordia


The Temple of Concordia is the best kept structure of the whole complex. The reason is that when Christianity became the official religion in the Roman empire (in the 4th century CE) it was transformed into a church. This led to works of maintenance and stegthening of the building to be conducted, but also for some of the characteristics of the original design (like the ‘pagan’ altar) to be removed or changed.




Another two of the Fascinating works of Mitoraj. The works are complex and there are are many details hidden by the larger structures (do you remember Dali’s drawers?) that become visible when you get near and walk around the works, but it is the game of forms and dimensions, of human and human-made forms that stays in memory.


villa Aurea


Villa Aurea is the place built by sir Alexander Hardcastle, one of the two personalities whose contributions were key in bringing out of the earth the monuments in the Temples Valley and pushing them into the cultural patrimony and later into the touristic circuits. Hardcastle, barely remembered today (the English version of wikipedia does not even have an entry for him) settled here in 1921 and between this time and 1933 brought an important contribution to the archeological discoveries and the recovery of the monuments which were still part covered under the hills. He followed in the tracks of Domenico Lo Faso Piertrasanta, who started the excavation and archeological works in the valley during the Napoleonic era.


Tempio di Zeus Olimpico


The end of the itinerary on descends at the Eastern edge of the hill towards the remains of the Temple of Zeus Olimpico. Built in 480BC to celebrate the victory over the Carthaginians and the taking back of Sicily by the Greeks, it was the largest of all in the complex. Little remains today of the original structure, but some of the huge pieces of statues or columns give a hit on the dimensions of the monument. Just a few pieces are left here of the toys of the Giant Gods.


(video source SicilyTravelNet)


I found on youTube a short film made at the installation of the exhibits of Igor Mitoraj – it will give you an idea about the dimensions and the immense skill of the sculptor whose works danced with the forms and shades of the ancient Greek Temples for almost the whole duration of the last year.



Un nou text semnat de Gica Manescu. Un nou si remarcabil fragment de amintiri.



In urma cu catva timp am scris despre gene, mosteniri, avantaje si cercetari. Norocul unora, ghinionul altora.

Deocamdata cunostintele sunt inca in faze inaintate de cercetari, dar limitate, insuficiente. Sunt agatate de cromozomii cunoscuti  in genetica, de mai multa vreme.

Nu intru in amanunte, dar voi scrie despre unele caracteristici ale mele, in  sanul familiei, comparandu-le intre ele, care mi-au dat  de gandit. Nu de azi, de ieri.

Se presupune ca acei din asa zisa “patura nobila“ a judaismului, cohanimii, din care fac parte, ar fi rude intre ei.

Dar in  cei 3000 de ani scursi, cu cine sunt sau am fost ruda? Nici nu cercetez, nu e foarte important, iau viata asa cum este si ma limitez la cele sigure si stiute.

Acum un an, find in  Bucuresti am plecat cu Dan, fiul meu, la Focsani, ca nu mai fusesem de cateva zeci de ani la mormantul tatei si al bunicilor. Pe mama, “o vizitasem“ la  Giurgiului, in Bucuresti.

Nu sunt om al religiei, dar sentimentele, amintirile si obligatiile morale pe care le-am avut si le am in memorie si inima parca ma imping s-o fac.

La mormantul bunicului Solomon, am citit ca e fiul lui Efraim Hacohen. Ca suntem cohanim stiam, dar nu ii stiam numele. De multe ori sedeam langa “granpa“ si el imi povestea ca dintre cei 3 nepoti eu eram cel mai curios si intrebam, voind sa stiu.

Prin astea m-am deosebit eu de sora si fratele meu.

Am aflat ca strabunicul meu era un evreu sarac, sot bun si devotat, linistit, om al religiei in comunitatea mica a evreilor din orasul muntean de la Milcov. Aducea fiecare banut sotiei care avea in grija 3 baieti si o fata. Era un functionar umil, la autoritatile oraseneti, ca un vames la trecerea spre si din Moldova. Uneltele lui de munca erau cele necesare scrisului si o stanga subtire din metal cu un carlig, sa poata agata eventuale foi de tutun, ascunse sub  coviltirul carutelor venite din Turcia. Ne-voind sa ia “bacsisul“ unui traficant, cinstea era mai presus decat multe, in  discutiile inflacarate, care au atras trecatori, turcul a scos un pistol si l-a ucis. Strabunica mea a aflat acasa si plangand a adunat copiii langa ea.

Ce s-a intamplat mai departe n-am aflat, ca nici bunicul nu-si mai amintea.

Mai tarziu, el a fost trimis la un unchi in Bucuresti care avea un atelier de reparat mobila. Era ca un chin, la cei 9–10 ani sa care pe umar un scaun, spre seara intunecoasa si cuprins de frica, la intoarcerea cu banii in buzunar. Fratele cel mare, avea 16 ani, era ca seful familiei si scotea o paine amara dintr-o pravalioara cu articole gospodaresti. Farfurii, linguri, candele, cani si alte mici ustensile. Celalat frate a fugit in Bulgaria de frica sa nu fie prins cu arcanul pentru militarie. I s-a pierdut urma.  Au ramas in mintea familiei doar numele si figura speriata.

sursa -,145777154,var,Focsani-Romania-Rathaus,language,E.html


In  1872 bunicul Solomon a deschis un magazin al lui, apoi s-a insurat cu o focseneanca  ceva mai instarita si a avut o fata si 2 baieti. Tatal meu a fost mezinul. Matusa n-a avut copii, iar unchiul meu, de care auzisem numai, a plecat in USA la inceputul secolului 20, dar dupa  2 ani a revenit acasa, bolnav de TBC, si cu toate ingrjirile posibile atunci, a parasit familia pentru o lume necunoscuta.

Dupa Primul Razboi Mondial bunicul a adaugat pe firma “& fiul”. Tata i-a devenit tovaras si au extins mult activitatile comerciale. Erau fruntasi in oras.

Fara scoala, doar Heiderul – scoala  cu caracter religios judaic – a invatat sa citeasca si sa scrie romaneste, a devenit un cetatean stimat si onorat de concetateni.

Activ in problemele de cult, a devenit ‘gabai’ – administrator – la Templul Coral. De Iom Kipur, ca un Cohen onorat, binecuvanta enoriasii.

A fost pentru mine, ca un intelept al trecutului. M-am atasat de el si atent, ascultam ce imi povestea

Ii erau dragi si ceilalti nepoti, si cadourile le primeam fara deosebire.

Si in familia noastra, am simtit caldura parintilor si bunatatea lor. Ne dadeau frau liber, dar sa fim harnici, sa stim ce e promisiunea care trebuie onorata, si intrebarile sa nu ramana fara raspuns. Punctualitatea era ce ne-a intrat in sange. In 17 ani de scoli, am intarziat o singura data, in  clasa II–a, ca am asteptat un prieten care voia sa ma insoteasca.

Nu i-am deziluzionat si am crescut in dragoste si stima reciproca. Parintii n-au precupetit nimic pentru noi.

Din copilarie deja, doream sa am niste trasaturi de comportare si apropiere de oameni, ca parintii si bunicii.

Intelegerea mai buna am avut-o in  adolescenta. Daca ar fi fost  posibile imagini, semne, indicii.etc. ale mele si ale fratilor mei, simultane, nu s-ar fi putut observa nici o deosebire. Identitate perfecta.




Fata de familie, prieteni, colegi sau egali,  subalterni dar si superiori.

Dar pe de alta parte, intuiam ca eu am in firea mea ceva deosebit fata de ei. Nu puteam preciza ce si in ce directie sau gandire. Am fost uimit,  cand in copilarie si adolescenta, am fost  cu alti copii sau prieteni si fara sa stim,  intr-un  focar de boala contagioasa.  Singurul ramas sanatos am fost eu. Imunitatea imi este crescuta.

Cititul era o pasiune a familiei si cartile erau totdeauna la capatai.

In activitatile casnice, gospodaresti, sora mea era ambidextra, eu fara deosebire, dar primul nascut, cu 4 ani mai in varsta, atat in casa cat si la condusul ocazional al unui automobil (desi avea permis si pentru camioane, obtinut de vreme indelungata) avea “doua maini stangi“. Dar la jocul de bridge, le folosea bine pe ambele.

In scoala primara am terminat cele 4 clase, cu premiul intai. Se auzeau unele voci care sustineau ca gratie tatalui meu, membru in conducerea Comunitatii, de care depindea si invatamantul. Am fost jignit la cei 11 ani ai mei. Am rugat-o pe mama sa-mi dea cateva  notiuni de franceza si in septembrie, am intrat in clasa I-a  la Liceul  “Unirea“. Am invatat, am avut note bune si l-am invins pe Ionescu Gheorghe, concurent ambitios. Am terminat cu premiul intai, am simtit o multumire si am fost  mandru ca am facut dovada cinstei si a corectitudinei.

In clasa II-a am fost bolnav, o nefrita si am lipsit mult de la scoala. Cu tratamente si dieta, mie, copilului caruia ii placeau mancarurile bine preparate, indiferent care, predominand carnea. Aveam permisiunea o data pe saptamana, sa mananc un sfert de pasare si nu eram pe locul meu la masa familiei. Eram singur, inainte  celorlalti. Supe de legume, gris, cartofi, macaroane, fructe. Vointa a avut succes si m-am vindecat .

N-am mai luat premii, nici n-am cautat, dar am fost  printre primii si am absolvit bacalaureatul in iunie 1934, avand ca Presedinte al comisiei, pe profesorul de filozofie Tudor Vianu

In  toamna am intrat la Facultatea de medicina din Iasi.

Mi-am dat seama ca am o inclinatie spre a scrie si am inceput cu poezii mici, continuand apoi cu povestiri, amintiri, scenete de spectacole ocazionale, neprofesioniste.

Am devenit in Israel si la Toronto, colaborator al unor publicatii in limba romana.

Apoi pentru mine,  au aparut listele internetice si m-am inhamat in ele.

La inceputul adolescentei am inteles ca atat bunicul cat si tata erau  in  afara de treburile lor comerciale si familiale preocupati si de cele orasenesti si ale Comunitatii evreesti.

Am aflat ca in 1916, cand trupele romane s-au retras pe frontul de la Marasesti, nemtii se apropiau de Focsani. La Milcov 3 cetateni de frunte, unul era bunicul meu, care stia un pic de germana, dar mai mult idis, au intampinat pe generalul Mackenzen si armata lui cu paine si sare si i-au condus in oras. Repartizati in cazarmile goale. Nostim a fost in 1918, cand ei au plecat si generalul,  comandantul trupelor romanesti revenite de pe front, a intrat in cazarma. Nemtii luasera ce era a lor.  Ce nou veniti, nu aveau oale de gatit mancarea cazona. Generalul s-a dus la magazinul bunicului, s-au salutat, ca vechi cunostinte si a comandat oalele cele mai mari. Dar magazinul era aproape gol, doar unele obiecte simple, necesare.

A oferit doar niste oale de nevoile nocturne, dar de dimensiuni , rar de gasit o persoana potrivita. Comandantul i-a multumit, niste miltari le-au luat, a platit si au plecat.

De la Dr. Zvi ben Dov (Pincu Zilberman), fost elev de al meu si care a studiat arhiva orasului pentru documentarea in istoria lui, publicand si cartea respectiva, am aflat ceva nou. Prin 1908, tatal meu, avea 23 ani, cu inca 2 prieteni, au dat viata, unei cantine, cu o masa calda, petru evreii saraci.

La sfarsitul anlor 20, s-a luptat pentru buna organizare a Comunitatii evreesti si sub Landau, a devenit Secretarul general, fac-totum-ul. Mai tarziu, cu farm. Freier, a intarit sectia Lojei Bnei Brit si apoi a Societatii de ajutor “Fraterna”.  Comitetele respective l-au ales Secretar general. Era  ocupat pana peste cap. Mai fusese numit jurat la Tribunal si tutorele a 4 copii ramasi orfani de tata la varste mici. Nu se plangea si era multumit de cele ce facea.

Noi il admiram si trageam invataturi.

Ma framantam ca in mintea mea, in  afara de scoala, joaca si lectura, imi treceau niste idei deosebite. Va dau doua exemple.

Prin 1931, aparusera pe piata romaneasca , “ Ghetare“, dulapase din lemn vopsit,  captusite cu tabla si un loc pentru ghiata. Favorabile pentru unele gospodarii care nu aveau beciuri, pivnite adanci si racoroase pentru pastrarea alimentelor vara.

Tata comandase si astepta livrarea. In ziua respectiva l-am rugat sa ma lase sa aranjez eu vitrina cu geam mare, spre strada pricipala.

A acceptat, am  cumparat un carton mare alb si un creion cu negru puternic.

Cu rigla si creionul simplu, am desenat un ghetar, putin din profil si am scris cu litere mari, in relief negru – AVEM GHETARE.

Lumea se oprea si devenea interesata.

Nu mult dupa asta Uzina electrica a fost capabila sa extinda electrificarea majortatii caselor din oras. Trebuiau lampi, cantitati mari. Tata le-a comandat si aranjatul vitrinei a fost sarcina mea. Am golit tot ce era in ea, am  rugat pe unul dintre salariati sa ma ajute, sa fixam niste polite pe pereti. De jos in sus, am pus o candela, ca opait, o lumanare intr-un  sfesnic din lut ars, o lampa mica cu petrol, una mai mare cu abatjour alb. Pe plafonul magazinului erau atarnate tot felul de lampi. Am  apropiat una cu doua brate, becurile aprinse – cineva facuse legatura cu electricitatea si prin deschizatura  din magazin a vitrinei se lumina totul in jur. Alta reclama n-a mai trebuit. Doar ea e sufletul comertului.

Ai mei au fost incantati si bunicul mi-a facut un cadou. Niste bani, pe care i-am pus  pe carnetul de economii. Cand intrasem in liceu, mi-a cumparat un  ceas Omega, pe care nici nu mai stiu cati ani l-am purtat.

Credeam  ca memoria mea e una normala. Daca recitam o poezie sau explicam ceva dascalilor, era ca am invatat.

Devenind student,  am aflat ca tratate sau manuale pentru specialitatile ce le vom  invata,  erau in numar, poate cat degetele unei maini.


sursa[email protected]/page5/


Majoritatea profesorilor cereau sa explicam din cele predate de ei. Deci cat mai multe de notat. Asa  am reusit sa scriu rapid, cu unele prescurtari ale cuvintelor, sa le inteleg la citire. Se adunau 2-3 caiete si inaintea unui examen le citeam. Am inteles ca am o iscusinta deosbita. Cu ochii, parca vedeam  paginile si unele schite. Cam  dupa doua lecturi, avem in minte, o buna parte din continut. Dupa a treia oara stiam totul pe din afara.

Am tras concluzia favorabila mie si am facut uz de ea.

Importanta mare a acestei insusiri am gasit-o cand m-am propus profesor de Stinte naturale la Liceul evreesc din  Focsani. Ultima data cand am invatat materia asta a fost in anii scolarizaraii liceale.

Am cumparat cele 8 manuale si dupa progamul scolar,  stiam zilele si clasele unde aveam orele mele. Seara de inainte, invatam materiile respective,   exersam cele 2-3 schite pentru desenul pe tabla si asta era. Creta si buretele umed cadeau in  sarcina elevilor.

Vorbeam curgator, fara sa ma uit pe vreo notita. Inainte ascultasem 2-3 elevi nu numai din predarea precedenta ci si din cea anterioara.

In cei 4 ani, cel mai greu a fost primul. Apoi aveam deja inmagazinate in memorie, multe din cele invatate pentru a doua oara in  viata mea.

Ce fel de dascal am fost? se pare ca bun. Eram prieten cu scolarii si ne stimam, la nivelurile respective.

Aici pun punct la povestirea lunga si detailata. Ma cunoasteti mai bine, si in adancime si va puneti poate aceiasi intrebare : Cum a fost posibil ?

Eu nu stiu si nici nu pot afla. Genele mele sunt cu mai multe radacini in cei 3000 de ani. Cu cine ma inrudesc?

Cate generatii au fost sarite sau active in transmiterea insusirilor deosebite? Ce forte m-au adus sa fiu cum sunt,  la cei  peste 95 ani.

Inchei cu ce a scris poetul:  “Nu cerceta aceste legi / Ca esti nebun de  le-ntelegi.”

Asa  ma comport.


Gica Manescu – Decembrie 2011

While some of my friends watched (and were delighted by) the latest movie of Almodovar the cinematheque in my village screened his second movie, made almost 30 years ago – ‘Labyrinth of Passion‘. A couple of months ago I had seen ‘Do You Remember Dolly Bell?’ (made one year earlier than the film of the Spaniard) the first film of Kusturica, now this one, and beyond the similarities of the game of identifying in early works the spark of genius of the later great movies there is also an abyssal difference between the two. While Kustirica’s movie show the restrains of the censorship his work was subjected to in the still-Communist Yugoslavia, Almodovar’s film shouts FREEDOM.




Indeed, Laberinto de pasiones is a film that could have been only in 1982 and in Spain. The young director seems to be drunken by the light and colors of a world that just woke up after several decades of dictatorship. His characters live in a Madrid that has become the heaven of all kinds of experiments – in music, in love, in the way people live. There is absolutely nothing that reminds the films of Carlos Saura or Bunuel, the film is made by a young director whose career started with the liberation of Spain, and who celebrates his freedom in making movies and experiments with characters and a social medium on the fringe.


(video source kevinwasi)


Did I already say that watching this film is fun? Just saying that one of the characters is the son of the Shah of (T)Iran who happens to be gay but then is ‘cured’ by a nymphomaniac named Sexilia – you already got a feeling of the material Almodovar plays with. He also crosses the line to play a gay punk singer in travesty (see above) in one of the several delicacies of the film. Sure, there is a lot of trash around, and not all of it is that original, but then you have Banderas playing a gay terrorist who falls for his target before knowing whom he gets in bed with. All the story is told with a kind of detachment that makes you feel the protective smile of the director when looking at his characters and actors.


(video source ea285)


No, this film is not a masterpiece, and if I had seen it by or close to the time it was made I am not sure whether I would have liked it, or identified the huge director Almodovar will become starting a few films later. If there is anything close in genre it is rather the low cost comedies that by that time I would have seen in Romania (later the boorekas movies in Israel). There is however in this film enough craziness and bluntness to break away from the crowd, and a hidden tear behind the laughs that I am pretty sure that could not have escaped me completely.

The last few decades of the 19th century in Italy must the time and the place for the fans of opera. Verdi was the national hero and his opera greater than life were making an international career after having brought up the spirits of the nation during the revolutionary years. Opera houses were built in all the important cities of Italy, and small companies were traveling to the most remote places making out of the genre a popular entertainment. In this atmosphere of effervescence a popular contest was hold in 1883, and then repeated a few years later for a one act popular opera inspired from the contemporary reality and easier to stage and perform for the wider audiences. The winner out of the 73 entries was ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ by Pietro Mascagni – a story of passion and revenge located in Sicily at Easter time.   I do not know if the composers and critics of the time were already using the term of verismo but the piece of the young composer was to become a representative creation of the genre, and one of the most popular pieces in the repertory of world opera.




Cavalleria Rusticana and its companion one act opera Pagliacci are the safe opening bet of the New Israeli Opera season. The production belongs to the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) in Madrid and directed by Giancarlo del Monaco. The musical direction in the Tel Aviv production belongs to the artistic director of the ensemble David Stern (the son of the famous violinist Isaac Stern) and I am sorry to say but the lack of discipline of the opera orchestra could be felt in the performance last night. Hopefully they will improve in coordination and accuracy, this was only the second or third performance.


(video source anisimovatatiana)


The star of the first part was without any doubt the Ukrainian soprano Tatiana Anisimova with a sensual and vibrant voice and dramatic presence on stage. You can see her above in a fragment of the Spanish version of the staging of the opera.


(video source Gabba02)


Here is another scene (the famous Easter procession) from a different performance of the opera, with Fiorenza Cossotto singing the role of Santuzza.




Since 1893 Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is paired with Cavalleria. The same themes of love, jealousy, treason, revenge are combined in a more sophisticated mix that adds the theme of the tragic dimension of the art of clowns – dear to Italian opera composers and later to film directors. While the musical quality of the performance in Tel Aviv was good, it was the staging of this second part that drew the attention. The theater in theater intrigue in the second act is well staged and acted, in a clear and eloquent manner, and the neo-realistic post WWII sets and costumes fit well the veristic idea. Israeli soprano Ira Bertman faces well the three Italian partners in the only feminine role of the opera. I can only wonder why the younger generation of Israeli singers includes so many young gifted female performers with no men showing up to match the feminine presence.


(video source tomfroekjaer)


(video source cronhole)


(video source Gabba02)


Vesti la giubba is the most famous area in Pagliacci, and one of the most popular pieces in the world opera repertory. I found on youTube a few wonderful interpretations, starting with Enrico Caruso’s three different recordings made more than one century ago until the ones from Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.