Monday, February 20, 2006
Constantly under construction Place Flagey is for years now an ugly place. The exception is the magnificent Radio House http://www.flagey.be/flagey.htm an Art Deco monument inside and out. A cultural hub for music of all kinds and cinema lovers it is a must on the city agenda. It also houses Cafe Belga another Brussels fixture.
Housed in the eerily Art Deco Radio House that came in time to be now as Flagey, cafe Belga is a Brussels day and night fixture, first to open and last to close this hangout place provides for the most divers of crowds http://www.cafebelga.be/. From alcoholics to students, media people and international beauties, euro-crowd and all the mix of the day. I belive cocktails are rather lousy despite what other people say on the subject so this is a beer and wine place, and mostly a talking place. Whether after a concert at Studio 4 or after a great film night at the Museum of Cinema housed in the same building, or just passing by if you are in need for a talk this is a place to be. This is what New York Times has to say about it:Cafe Belga, in an ocean-linerish Art Deco building, is making waves among Brussels' beautiful people. Sip a cocktail or mint tea amid the swanky interior or sit outside and gaze at the swans on the Ixelles ponds. -Fodor's
In no other city in Northern Europe would anybody be bother with tables outside in February. Still, probably due to the high alcohol content of Belgian beer nobody finds it outrageous and often people will stay late at night at the terraces. In Saint Gery they have gas heaters under the marquis but here in Flagey one has to relay on strong beer or cheep red.
One cannot shop in Brussels at night. You did not do your groceries in time by Saturday you are busted. There goes your dinner, fancy brunch with old friends, TV dinner, fresh snack, or nibbling in front of the computer. I rarely lived in a city with less all night stores and less option in midnight fancy/healthy snacks. As usually most seam prepared to sell a large quantity of soft drinks and liquors, lots of sugary crap and crisps but comparatively little food. There are however a few notable and striking exceptions. For example, this place just a step away from Place Saint Gery. As most others is owned and operated by a middle eastern family and seams to be open at all times including on weekends. Unlike most it really caters an incredible array of fresh food, vegetables and fruit. But also numerous goodies for traditional cooking. I made a habit to stop by to watch the store at night with its light and stands and colours. It makes a striking combination with Baraca the Brazilian themed bar just in front. Bar hopping between Mapa Mundo, Zebra, Baraca and Roi de Belges is a nice change of scenery. To much to drink. Stop by for pita bred, cheez, olives, dates, oranges and fresh mint and lemons for breakfast.
We all have to get through various passages in life. Various minor or major crisis hit at most innocuous, or on the contrary at highly predictable times. Sometimes nothing in particular seems to bring them about. One fine day you just wake up to discover that your life is in bad need of repair. This may mean your relationships, your self confidence, your goals, your body, etc.. Sometimes what all is really about is an uncertainty, a desire, an urge to change, to switch direction. For many of us is an emptiness or feeling of desolation and solitude mostly self inflicted. On other occasions is a lack of purpose and consequently of intensity and passion. I will not venture in exploring the causes for my personal case. I relegate that to more private environments and media. I prefer this entry to be about the passages.
So one fine day suddenly or not you find yourself amid scaffolding. You have two options, take the plunge and make it a project as my American friends would call it or an experience as my French ones would, or resist the change and try to conserve certainty, illusions and memories however uncomfortable or miserable they are. Either way one can learn to appreciate the process. I have come to recognise the inevitability of passages and the inner scaffolding and mess that comes with personal change. Whether in order to salvage and restore or burn down and rebuild one can find tremendous joy in the passage. But when in such states one should wear big yellow and red signs reading 'Under Construction' and additional warnings for others as ' please wear protection gear at all times on this site'. It is so easy for us to think everybody must be a part of that construction site and actually contribute, enjoy and what not. I came to find these times necessary and useful. What was hared was to learn to enjoy the passage with its sinuous descent into darkness, uncertainty and uneasy feeling. Also I still grapple with the best way to avoid my own construction sites becoming a nightmare for neighbours and bypasses of every kind. I am getting better at it with age. I believe so at least some may strongly disagree but then have you ever seen a site without some form of discontentment.
Take the plunge, put on the hard hat and the yellow overall and start working on your next passage towards your new old life. And document it for further use!
And this is Brussels's own version of 'Flatiron building' via my car's rain spotted windshield. I just noticed that at wide aperture this lens show serious distortion. This area of the city, twice inevitable part of my daily routine, is bourgeois and comfortable. It was a rather stupid mistake to have chosen an apartment here and for a almost a year now I am thinking about moving out. This is a nice part of town but is so very boring. Nothing much to see around and the only real advantage being the closeness of parks. That being said, it only matters in the summer given Brussels's dreadful weather. Compared to Matonge, Saint Gilles, parts of Ixelles and Place Chatelaine this is really bad. I wish I knew that two years ago when looking for a place. Neighbourhood is important. This one does not represent me and I do not feel at home. It is pretentious and lacklustre behind its turn of the century (that is XIX turning XX) facades. I would willingly give up the ample space of my current apartment for the high ceilings and nice streets of Louise area.