Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sunburst emphasizes weird activities

Brighton Beach--disposable towels after a swim.

Outside my window here in nyc

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dear all, I am leaving Tangier on Monday and arriving in New York Tuesday afternoon. This does not mean that the TangierTelegram can no longer exist, just that it will have a new home-base. I hope to see you all in a different kind of spice market: New York in the fall.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Huge ugly billboard They placed in the Grand Socco a week before the King came to Tangier. Within three days of complaining to high-ups, and with the King coming, the billboard was gone AND the dirty fenced in Grand Socco was transformed with flowers, new benches, and open lawns (see below.) That's what a monarchy can do.

The turn-out for the marching band, and the King eventually, we think. I didn't see him, but a friend of a friend saw him. Wait, did you see him? No, did you? No. Hmmm. From the roof of our apartment building.

The Cinema, all dressed up for the King's arrival.

The king's arrival makes everything nice. I saw him cruising through the grand socco in a convertible. Sidi moulay abalazis driving. Only caught the back of his head, but everyone chanted "Long live the King." By the time that chant started he had already sped off. Porsches move fast. (Notice missing billboard. The work of a little influence here on the Grand Socco.)

The King's doppleganger holds his place until he decides to make the scene.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A ten meter drop. Robert belly-flops, the kids chuckle until he swims around the corner. I jump, go in a little crooked, get a little slap flat between my collarbone and neck. When I come up--complete silence. That was nothing I thought, I'm ok. Somebody said "you know they're in awe because girls only jump from here once a year."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The gnawa at dar gnawa.

Back in Morocco. In the medina, a hammam says ladies to the left, gentlemen to the right.

Apartment climbers at the Kharms Festival in St. Petersburg. The law of the masses, everything starts with one and ends in a million-one is not a number, two is the first number (--in terms of homeland, if you have one, you don�t think about it. It is just obvious. One is inside and everything else is outside. If you don�t have one, you have a number-two, or even four. In kharms, numbers are like quality, not quantity. Cannot turn one number into another, there is no math.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My Trip Back to the Ostensible Homelands, Latvia (where I'd only been in stories) and Russia: A work in progress

0:00:15 --We received our first zapreshenia ("forbidden") 15 seconds after setting foot in the airport. There was a woman who looked like Paris Hilton holding a sign for Mr. Smith. She was quite impressive, as the man manning the check-in counter at the gate recognized too, and he took a picture of her, she posed. Charles wanted a picture too, he pulled out his camera and attempted a covert shot, but the same man of the counter saw and wagged his finger at him. First forbidden warning: accomplished.

0:01:00--As we turned the corner a few corridors down from our gate, a balcony looked over a throng of people, vaguely organized into three parts, or lines, five people wide and about 40 people long. I wagged my vestiginous tale bone in excitement, our first unbelievable line, and not more than 1 minute after leaving the plane. St. Petersburg was already more than I could have hoped for.

Independence Day Parade

Riga, Latvia, 2005

This is where mom got the idea "wearing flowers in your hair." A peace sign pin given to mom by boy on train passing through to Moscow was mom's most prized posession for a long time, then she gave it to a boy who liked her and she never saw it again. Fatalistic and pleased walking past the Daugavpils train station.

wait for me!

Hooters-little farming complexes owned by one family-Soviets tried to do away with them-they consisted of house, barn, for animals, barn for hay, tractors, garage, wells. The farms here have the biggest haystacks in any country I've been in because they pile the hay on wooden skeletons-that have a hole in the middle. Mom says people sleep, eat, and make love in them, and why not?

A survey asked all high school aged Latvians, "What is the most important thing to you?" The majority said "to be Latvian."

futurist folklore and buildings

Everyone thought Charles was Russian.

The young barge driver on the ferry boat being pelted by wind and the rain under slicker, a pointy dog face, like in Heart of a Dog, and pimply too, looked no happier or under less duress than a military boat admiral during WWI. And yet he was just on the Neva with a bunch of tourists. Some of the more narrow canals seemed to cause him stress and required intense concentration.

At the hermitage I am most interested in the state rooms #s 190-176 on the second floor and 381-339, 20th century with some byzantium (I think) inbetween. I get lost, however, in the Italian and Flemish sections, definitely worth seeing, before I find my way. In the end I see most of the museum I think. I saw the room where the bolsheviks assassinated the family and then held their own meeting: The small dining room. After they had done away with the last remaining royalty, they invited a congress of proletariat from all over the country to a meeting in the palace to celebrate the coup. To show their disgust for the monarchy's taste in art and luxury, they used all the ceramics and bathtubs in the palace as urinals and toilets. All the large groups were walking in one direction. A man in a corner with an easle was copying a flemish bouquet.
Most of all, I remember that in the white and rosy room the ivory �vase� doesn't hold water.

fitness theater

Razve eto-zhe mozhno?-Ticket lady on the train when I put my feet on the seats.

Shampoo costs $1. Beauty products and services are cheap. No wonder all the girls are beautiful. Cigarettes also cost $1.50. No wonder half of the men have grey skin. Russians are of two extremes, either fanatics about exercise and going to the gym, or total drunks.

Curious grandmas falling a la Kharms for his 100th birthday. A curious grandma leans out the window; no one could have planned it better.

KGB-Klubs Golden Bonus. I guess they believe it’s been long enough and is now far enough away to joke.

Sunday Swing St. Pete's

In church, like in Morocco, the ladies are covered with a headscarf. They wait in a long line to kiss the icon (in times of plagues it Catherine the great tried to outlaw kissing the icon, and people thought she was doing it to be evil and rub salt into a wound�sick and unable to pray to get better too!) They also put a square the size of a postcard with the same icon�s image up to the icon, as if to let the icon kiss herself. Sometimes they kneel.

Religion is alive and well here after communism. Some things about national identity never change. When I was here 6 years ago there was no line to see Lenin in Red Square.

So is asking money for honey.

The time I saw someone drown outside Yusupov Palace, I had just finished telling the story of Rasputin to some visitors. First they tried to poison him, but he had already been feeding himself poison little by little to build up an immunity. Then they shot him, but he still survived. Finally they took him outside and drowned him in the canal. I finished the account of the drawn out death of the Tsaritsa's bewitching hope and saviour, and we walked outside, into the never-dying sunlight of the St. Petersburg summer. It had been 5 years since I was there last. There, on the canal, I saw the police dragging the soaking body out of the water. I glued my mouth shut, you see, I though I had made the story come true. I walked ahead quickly. I don't think my visitors saw, and I never told them. I only tell you, now.

Oh yes, Jurmala, land of stories, land of my childhood---no that was Cape Cod. Land of dachas, land of policemen, popping out from around corners to give you fines for riding bicycles on pedestrian sidewalks.

crapiva, a reminder: you'd better behave.

click on this, see what your kid is up to.

In Latvia they would say Idyem v peryed k komunismy (Forward to Communism!) Meanwhile they held their thumb between their pointer and middle finger, and their hand clutched in a fist (to mean an adament no), a snickering, opposition of the idea. In Latvia they considered what they had socialism. Everywhere they were promising that after five years, or some foreseeable date, they could do away with money and they would have real communism.

the beach at jurmala on a weekday

dad's old summer house

I'm trying to figure out the data you asked me, I'm not sure, but it could be that Grandpa Alexander started his voyage about 1928-1929, stayed for about two years. His Odyssey was very romantic. On the way the team of sailors went on a strike. Twice they left the ship. First time Alexander found
himself in India. At that time India was under England. The vice king of India was sir Victor Sassoun (Jewish). He got a liking to the tall skinny guy, Alexander, and even gave him a very precious gift, a white suit privately tailored, from the best fabric. Alexander was elated, feeling like a prince in the suit. He went out to the street, walked along the boulevard, when he came to an intersection an Indian boy came running around the corner and bumped into Alexander, leaving ten black fingerprints on his gorgeous white suit. I think, you already guessed, the suit was ruined, there was no such thing as cleaning at that time. Alexander could never recover from the shock. The favor of the vice - king saved Alexander from being jailed as a spy, the chief officer in the police strongly suspected him.
The second time Alexander arrived to Australia, Sidney. He found good friends in
Latvian community, stayed with them for about 2.5 years, then he decided to return
to Riga, to serve the obligatory two years in the regular army.
To be continued. Take care, hope you'll come home soon. Love, Grandma.

Dear Grandma,
That's a really interesting story. I didn't know grandpa went to India. I don't believe that they didn't have good enough cleaning methods, though. That's really the climax of the story?

pine trees die hard. Boston's got pines.

spread eagle, the adolescent years

green seagrass, yellow sun

grandma, exactly. I thought she was in the states?

big fish little fish, and hop on pop

dad's soviet version of the firebird.

Twelve out of 14 suitcases my parents brought to America were books. They got robbed in Rome, but no one took their books so it turned into 12 out of 13 suitcases. One of the books was Elvis' biography. The American army wanted to know about the Soviet army, which my father served in for years, so they said, "Tell us about the Soviet Army and you can have anything you want, just name it." Dad asked for a biography of Elvis. The last time they came to speak with him, they presented him with a cheap paperback.

Dad used to love the imagery of St. George slaying the dragon until he understood that he was the dragon.

On the train, mathematical persuasions and a sailor who is so drunk he might as well still be walking on the boat. Dad whips out a strange expression, "The best pears in the forest will go to the wolves."

Dad went to the aviation school, he also makes zen rock sculptures in our backyard. He refused to set foot in Russia again for confidential reasons.

the train to jurmala

blueberries, blackberries, chanterelles, red current, wild strawberries oh my.

Used to have a furnace stove clad with white tiles in the middle of a room. The tiles were held together by a brown clay that contained calcium. I imagine the color of the white tiles were the attracting force and the smell of the clay sealed the deal. Mom had a calcium deficiency and often in the summer she sat next to the cool stove and licked the clay.

picking pickles