Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Light of Marseille

I made a promise to keep moving forward, to keep a focus on beauty and good. So while my heart is most certainly reeling from the horrible explosions in Boston and now Texas, I will clutch on to that promise like a rope of peace. I know that so many of you are struggling to do the same, each in your own way.

My first instinct was to share a little light and there is nothing petite about la lumière de Marseille. "Why is it so bright?" I asked Remi as we walked along the Quai de la Joliette. "The sea acts like a giant reflector," he responded. "It bounces the sun up and out." And while it was nearly blinding, it was ultimately illuminating, pulling apart the contrasts with gentle fingers. I wanted to capture it all, like a child jumping at melting snowflakes. But we were late, so late to see the amazing Koudelka exhibition at La Vieille Charité that there was not a moment to lose. So I literally took most of these photos while walking, nary a pause. 

Afterwards, we made a long loop back to where we were parked and still I was snapping practically non-stop. "Do you really find that interesting?" Remi asked, not unkindly, at one point while I was photographing a stop light backed against blue office windows. Yes, I did. I do. 

Bright light shine and show the way, propel us forward, just like the light of Marseille, out of our collective darkness. 

I just want to add one thing that surprised me in the responses to my previous post. It is funny, this internet world. Our personalities shine through our words and reactions distinctly even with the distance. I think that you all know how grateful I am that so many of you are loyal visitors and commenters. I light up each time I see what I could call "your familiar faces." 

And so I was amazed, truly, to discover that so very many of you are from Boston. So many, it is incredible. And I just want to say that each and every one of you, while different in many ways, have one quality that unites you: a big heart, a generous spirit. Each and every one. That says so much doesn't it? It gives me hope for Boston and beyond.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trying to understand

... But I am not arriving this time.

And I am sad and scared and angry to say "this time"... Lost in dismay at the frequency of horror in our society...

Is our world breaking?

I am sending Love and Prayers, the only antidote I know.

Many thanks to Jeanne at Collage of Life for her most recent post. I found some peace in reading it and if you are so inclined, you can find it here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Culture run to Marseille

Yesterday was belle bleu bling of the rub your eyes in Loony Tunes disbelief variety. "Let's go to Marseille," Remi tossed out just as the coffee was kicking in. "Where did that come from?" I wondered. "We never go to Marseille." Have you heard its reputation? If rumours were to be believed you could not cross the street without being blind-sided and mugged then trampled over by vagrants.

Now, you would think that with our travelling experience, we would know better than to listen to les préjugés défavorables. Alas, um, nope. I believed the hype. Me, who used to walk home past Show World in Time Square at 3AM with nary a wrinkle of fear.

So it was with triple delight that I opened up my eyes to a vibrant, fascinating city. And there was nothing random about it, Remi had a plan. He always does.

Our destination? La Vieille Charité. Built in the 17th century, it was as an almshouse for the poor that, while sounding like a refuge, was essentially a prison for beggars not to mention a workhouse for children. In 1760, there were over one thousand residents. After the French Revolution, it was taken over by the homeless and fell into disrepair. 

It was the influential Minister of Culture André Malraux who spear-headed the movement to restore the facility to its former Baroque glory, a process which would take over sixteen years.

Today, the Vieille Charité is home to several museums and is a thriving cultural centre.

There is nothing like ART to shake away the sadness of the past now is there?

With the light ping-ponging off the warmed up stone, we felt nothing but light, happiness...

...and inspiration breaking through and through and through. How it does.

The absolute main reason for our visit was a last dash to see the exhibition "Vestiges" by famed Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka. From 1991-2012 he voyaged across nineteen countries around the Mediterranean to document the remains of the Roman and Greek archeological sites.

The result of his journey is absolutely stunning. Remi and I were both left breathless.
Unfortunately, I couldn't take any photos in the exhibition itself, so please enjoy by clicking here to have an inkling. Gorgeous.

However, photography was allowed in the other temporary exhibition, The Treasury of Marseille, which featured 29 relics from the Greek National Treasury that had never been seen outside of their home country as well as a gorgeous 3D representation of the original temple at Delphi in which they were housed.

Admittedly, I was less drawn to the delicate fragments than to the bolder ideas, the colors and fluidity of the son et lumière, the sound and lighting special effects of which the French are true specialists.

Whoever thought up having clouds blow across the roof of the chapel has my dear gratitude. I was transfixed...

...and left dreaming of what it was like to be an explorer then...

...and happy, very much so, to be an explorer now. 

Both exhibitions are a part of Marseille-Provence 2013, where the city and the surrounding region (including Arles!) have been declared the European Capital of Culture. There is so much more to see and I will look forward to taking in all that I can and hopefully bringing you along for the ride...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Cleaning

"Where were you again?" "We were in the Upper Luberon. Where it becomes the Alpes de Haute Provence." "And what did you do there exactly?"... "Rrrrien." With a rolled 'r' for effect. 

Nothing. We did nothing. Or next to it. Because I do count a good deal cooking and reading, walking and looking. A lot of looking. Kind of like spring cleaning for the mind. That seeing without the machine whirring behind it.

So I don't have dramatic stories to tell because I wasn't spinning them. If anything I was unspooling the thread. Leaving it like a trail behind me. Step back, step back, gently, quietly.

Did we have a wonderful time? We did. And did the puppers? They did too.

More soon once I organize my click-clacks but for now, why don't you take a seat on the moss covered bench in the clearing of a forest?

It will do you good, I promise.

Good to go, good to be Home.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Locks and Bones

Hello there! We are still, amazingly, in the Luberon and thanks to the generosity of our wonderful hosts (more about them later), will stay a few days extra. This land tends to hold on to us, our visit last September stretched similarly.

So, I will send off a bit of Arles, which is only an hour and a half drive away but yet is so far, far from this mountainous slow waltzing of day into night into...Always in travelling, we have the time to ponder what holds us back, how we put on a good front, what propels us forward. Our locks and bones. Sometimes symbols, physically literal and known to shake like a baby's rattle...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Detroit Urbana, Sam's Pawn Shop

"Our greatest challenge." 

There are so many questions that come to mind when mulling over that phrase. And I certainly don't have any answers. But I wonder if these photos of Sam's Pawn Shop on Michigan Avenue in Detroit conjure the essence of a major problem, that of the alienating and elongating distance between the have's and the have not's in our world. What is the fuel for that fire?

How can we put it out?

Today's post was my contribution to the monthly By Invitation Only series. To see the other responses, please click here.