Sunday, November 25, 2007
window and falls for its charm. The entire city wants so hard to be
seen and enjoyed. There is so much ma's tu vue in its locals but it
is not the same self obsessed snobbery one finds in Milan, London or
any other big city. I mean there is plenty of that as well but there
is a plus laking elswere. In Paris people like to watch as well. It
becomes an elegant dialogue instead of solipsistic and narcissistic
monologues. Were else are all the wicker chairs on terraces turned
theater like towards the street? Being seen and watched is part of
the game. So, women are naturally coquette regardless of their age
and beauty. Men are charmers and politeness often turns into flattery
and what French call draguee. Here everybody does it. Even the
emigrant North African kid with his bright white trainers or the East
European semi-thug with his gold chain over his turtleneck. Here
also snobbery gets a certain panache. Maybe it is just me that is
more generous with a city were everybody speaks French and were women
wear tightly wrapped and short raincoats over legs in slick black
stockings and high heels. And were else on a casual Friday night
drinking in a bar one should not the least be surprised at having the
place (Mathi's Bar) taken over by a merry group of women and men in
pompadour period costumes and matching manners. It is a tough city
were no one should venture without a bit of frenzy, insanity or
accompanied by a willing partner. Solitude in Paris must be hard.
Love and passion are not the city's real currency but lust and
enjoyment. Joie de vivre! Love and passion are private matters for
witch Paris and most Parisians have little curiosity and interest.
Exploring life's finer things from food to sex is the code they abide
to. And who could blame them. What can be wrong in this ultimately
decadent world (ours not just Paris) in drinking champagne on top of
the bed at 4:00 in the morning. Paris is a city where not only
reality is better then the clishe it represents but where one can
enjoy the clishes without any feeling of guilt. In Paris it not in
bad taste to fell good. In Paris one should not mix politics and
pleasure and hence even extreme leftists can write books about the
true democracy of the orgasm or the haute cuisine. Or maybe it is
just not a good idea for someone to read Michele Onfray and drink
expensive champagne or have breakfast at 12:00 at Cafe de Flore in
Saint Germain. Ok, I admit a general strike hitting the Paris metro
on a freezing weekend and a bit of high life may confuse my personal
political outlook temporarily as it may influence my social morals.
But this is in Paris were I am a mere traveller. From biblical times
the traveller is forgiven in his traspasses. Paris is the city were
the true pleasure of life and the art of looking are exercised with
gusto. Hence the French obsession with photography. Their love affair
with the camera is greater then with any other art. It serves this
frenesie and forces contact and simultaneity like no other art form.
It is a truly perverse art were one can be both participant and
creator. This year's edition of Paris Photo was even bigger and
better then the previous ones. I got lost in the kilometers of its
cimaises and booths of hundreds of galleries. On the Quay Branley the
omonimous Museum shows a number of great young photographers form
around the world. I dare to say that as an exhibition it was even
better then the mixtum compositum of Paris Photo. Under the dual
influence of ecstatic Paris and tons of great photography I did not
resist the temptation ... Or is all it that champagne?
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Been away for a while mostly because a decision taken some time ago to shift the content of diplomatic cafe from image to text. This in turn has made me doubt if I can find the reasons to regularly inflict the pain of yet another rant to the blogosphere. Thus no new pics and no text either ... that tels you something about the determination to change. Right now I have a few days so I hope I will do something about it.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
This is part of a series of images taken while on lunch break. The spot is one that I often go to. Besides having a gloriously good pizza - but that is different story that I will tell another day - it always has interesting people. Some that I know others that just happen to be there. In the neighbourhood of Place Chatelaine it is the better part of the young side if Brussels. Lively and casual it is littered with small restaurants - some really good others just nice - and most of the crowd seams carefree. Today six youngsters and their mothers took over the entire place - not so difficult as it is the size of my office. There was so much joy and passion in their play, smiles, shiny eyes. They ate their pizzas, fought over deserts and just did what children do. There was no nervous shouting, not stress, just pure simple daily joy. It is of course not always so simple but today it looked like it and I have the proof. As there was a spot-light just over their table, the light created this magic colour contrasting the greyish light of Brussels. This particular image looks cinematographic. It has a story to tell. A good one. I have an entire series including some nice portraits about to go up on my Flickr and Picasa pages.
This is not my title. A friend of mine, while dining at Chez Oki - a French Japanese Fusion place that everybody loves and I have definitely mixed feelings about - noted this picture in my camera and pointed out that the sky looks just like the sky of Magritte's paintings. How true! Never again Brussels, its lights, its dark blue skies after long days of rain, its contrast trees and art nouveau buildings looked so surreal. The photography above may just as well be called "this is not a tree" or "Ceci nes't pas un arbre". One's life in the city flows with apparent coherence and sense but when you stop it is not even a rat race, it is just a parallel reality where nothing "really is" it is just "represented". On a different note, this may just be my own projection as I decided I live a non-life. I exist and experience but it is a plasticky, artificial reality. Or so it seams at times ...
So this entry is an homage to Magritte and Surrealism, to Brussels and its Expat Purgatory providing for a comfortable Limbo.
Monday, March 05, 2007
A favourite hangout for the coffee loving expat community in BXL. The Mediterranean extraction, all Abraham's children, are naturally overrepresented as are the Balkans. I am there all the time. There are several pics on this blog to back this statement. It used to have a smoky side that now disappeared thanks to the new Belgian law banning smoking completely in places where food is served. Thus images like this one are more frequent.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Unter den Linden at midnight. It is the only place to be in Berlin on the new year's eve! Germany takes over the presidency of the EU. Romania and Bulgaria join the Union ... Fire flows from ontop of the Brandenburg Gate and te fireworks lit the sky.
In the 90's it used to be a famous squat. Artists mostly lived there but also the usual floatsome that they breed. Drugs alcohol and sex abounded. It was seedy, dangerous and dirty but alive. Today is a cheesy, dirty and touristy bar, cinema and artists' den. Dirt seams to be the mainstay and the apparent eternal nature of the building itself, It is huge! Those of us that are more familiar with the remnants of communism and the attitude it left behind perfectly understand the concept. Equally I understand the attraction of the place to western tourists and teenagers but for me it is just a pathetic reminder of things we left behind. All this veneration of fake socializmus is boring. There is by the way an incredible number of pro communism signs in Berlin. Trust me they have nothing to do with leftism but everything with the superficiality of packed ideas and ready made slogans. There are comparatively fewer signs denouncing Nazism. I hate that people forget the issues that were really at stake in divided Berlin. Clichés instead of ideas and slogans instead of books and articles. It is of course easier to be" radical" in Berlin by putting up a flag and a silly slogan on the destructiveness of capitalism instead of actually doing something or voting as a matter of fact. But then again ... all this maintains an aura that diminished once Berlin was united and stopped representing the free world facing dictatorship.