Sunday, August 24, 2008
Here are two journals from two trips, each a fortnight, taken a while back. The journeys occured in dissimilar places, and they were taken for different reasons. I typed them up (with only light editing) from handwritten entries written in a little notebook. Always interesting to land somewhere new and find out what happens.
And a photo of the facade of the Hollywood Theatre in Portland OR during the HPL Film Festival, which I took a few years back... Appropriately atmospheric cloud background.
Two weeks in Norway and Two Weeks in Shanghai
by Jonathan Falk
June 10 2003 Oslo airport to Skien train Graffitti on a few overpasses ravines & fir trees used homey feeling of the trains like Japan very rolling rugged grueling plane flight with screaming kids
June 11 2003 midnight sun 8:00 pm looking out on curious grey light that will give way to grey twilight white nights
R. took me on walk today through downtown Skien statue of Ibsen up to ruins of Romanesque Church with deep crypt, crumbling cement being replaced large bluffs green trim vertical -- boarded houses firewalls
Went to Ibsen's boyhood farmhouse dark attic of wild duck
mystical onna no hito
walked to bronze age rock carvings, at the edge of a forest, with four-spoked wheels cut into vertical rock ship symbols topped with curling lines worn almost flat got caught in the harshest rain I've ever seen solid water, back to sun now old farm tools wooden rake, steps & double core elevated pillars rich poetic visons, narrow roads jet lag
back here with H. & R.
12 June 2003 Skien, Norway Went to collection of old farm houses in Skien today. Sod and trees on roofs widowmaker climb of stairs from central Skien seagulls. I am silent in shops, can't respond to questions.
Charming older lady shewed us house from 1815. tapestries, cast iron stoves cast iron tombstones Norwegian. slept sitting up rose room, lumber painted with roses, dark-reeking attic lice, she picked at her skin to illustrate wood buildings elevated, windowless mud-daubed reconstruction of reed and woven hazel hut rain showers & sun
Ibsen's furniture, faded velvet Empire style (Napoleon) The park is called brekkepark
Written on Lyngor Island, South Norway Surrounded by the eerie torn wail of seabirds on the skerries
thinking of Elena for some reason
last night R. & I drank gin & tonics at Moen campground near Risor until we were babbling; I saw Odin in the woods later punctuated by the cries of swans & unknown howls from the woods, as the eldritch twilight pulsed beyond the inlets, swans cutting the water with a weird sound from their wings
fish soup across the bay, rich full of seafood
solid rock coastline faces me, on a rock island where houses are cut into the rock, vertical clapboards, & plain gables
spent time in Risor yesterday, walking on the waterfront, Chinese food, omosiroi onna no hito
went on a walk to the center of the island, lichen and pine on broad slopes of rock sat by aquarium while R. painted watercolors.
man in wheelchair called R. over, then told him it smells like mackarel
saw old man in robe on path on this carless island, inhabited once by shipbuilders
In Risor, houses perched on incredible huge rocks, churches, steep narrow roads, some for bikes only very narrow scary road to get to place where we could take water taxi, R. driving the car to go home. Lovecraftian Nantucket feel on this island. barely slept a wink in the light, cold and mosquitoes
16 June 2003 Written on the Oslo-Bergen train in the drammen foothills firs rushing past, don't know what FJORDS to expect
Today went to Oslo for 1st time on train, R. seeing me off annoying morgenlandische onna no hito chirping a few seats back to a blonde Norse dude both speaking Norwegian
Yesterday R. & I went from Moen campground to ARENDAL neoclassical paint-veneered houses on steep winding streets, brick alleys giving way to views of gambrel roofs. Old 1815 radhus (townhouse) occupying a soaring amount of white space. many old houses perched on rocks of course. Stopped at incredible Romanesque ruins at Bamble, new neo Gothic church standing near turf-topped roofless nave, ancient stones jagged in the wilderness which once was. R & I talking & milling about. took ferry to Tromoy, not too remarkable, went past some steep roads to a gravel road which shewed a good view of Arendal, massed roofs & spire
The islands of Hisoy & Tromoy across the channel provide a tree & roof-studded view. We sat in an alley & exchanged anecdotes of my robe-wearing dad "You beast" he called R. in 1981 drunk & lying on the couch, waking up once in a while in Corbett. Good vista of the different neighborhoods of Arendal from above the narrow steep street, houses perched at different levels
17 June 2003 On top of Mt. Floyen, Bergen Norway Looking out onto the North Sea somewhere a low hot sun at 9:38 pm. Sharp rooftops, glacier-molded hills, many waterways, steep drop. Been walking twelve hours. Ate at a Kurdish diner, lamb, rice, fries & pita. Saw Bryggen waterfront, dense angles sagging into each other, threading crooked alleys like Nosferatu, sharp angles. Went to Bergen museum, showing plague masks, archaelogical digs showing 12th c. wooden foundations, rune sticks faded. Up funicular railway steep to here. Guy snoring like a buzzsaw in hostel. Saw Mariakirke, medieval twin towers & high tiny windows, from the 12th Century, cracked stones, cast iron graves out front. bought goods at Viking gallery from morgenlandische onna no hito, Odin & c. Hanseatic upper floors of Bryggen, peaked gables. Watched a band play marches & Beatles medley in town center, clarinets & sexy sax players in black, also young girls dancing to music. Boys in break dance competition. Kurdish music ululating while I ate there a bunch of Kurds (I think) talking loudly in Arabic or whatever. Also came across Rosenkranztarnet, and Hakonshallen, next to each other, with their massive lofty walls. H. 13th century and Ros. a collaboration, mediaeval, grey, & faced with massive stones.
The resistance Theta museum wouldn't let me in though.
Now I'm up here.
20 June 2003 Terrible day -- couldn't find lodging in Oslo & ended up staying at the train station. Tried to sleep on a bench (some others were trying the same thing) but got rousted by some security guards. Sat outside on a bench then saw two drunk young kids fighting two security guards; then a brawl ensued, finally one kid got pushed down the stairs. They handcuffed him, and he screamed in pain, while the other one circled around, yelling in Norwegian & fighting. Finally the police showed up, talked to them all, then let them go.
3:30 am -- Been up almost 24 hours, walked probably 20 miles or more
Saw Akershus Castle & Fortress crypts of kings cool & formal in a crypt behind a gate. Also after the fight heard a car crash, & several police cars shewed up close by.
People pouring by all night -- don't the Norse ever sleep? castle -- guide in period dress, huge halls, painted windows went to 6 museums!
Norwegian resistance radio clipped to dentures, Narvik, concentration camps
can't even describe what I've been through in Norway -- a lifetime in less than two weeks. Last day in Bergen saw Hanseatic museum beds with sliding doors to lock apprentices in dark corridors, varnished sloping floors from Dutch 44 explosion. ledger books, dried king cod mummies hanging
Saw Bryggen's melting angles, rain storm came in from North sea, walked out to a point, a park. Went to Fantoft Stave Church, rebuilt, tight joined wood inside, windowless wishing stone on side, shewed to me by a friendly Norwegian guide. Spoke with him some time about language usw. Starting to get quite light at 3:45 am now. Farewell to Bergen's beautiful hills! Also: Viking ship museum, was captivated by representation of man's head on Viking cart burial ships are huge, bigger than I realized, one for sailing, the other ceremonial. ceremonial wagon with animal interweave panels, textiles. Went to Folkesmuseum & lingered a long time, endless black barns, mills, houses with galleries & medieval design, smoke vents, turf roofs with grass growing, & GOL STAVE KIRKE smelling of ancient wood, black & sloping inside, the witchcraft of gables angling sharply outside -- incredible! Went to Fram ship mueum, milled around in the sturdy hold and deck, instruments etc., of the reinforced bulk of the ship. saw a folk music ensemble in bunad playing a huge triangular bass, zithers, medieval horns, singing & so on.
Ate at a clip joint Chinese restaurant walked around "downtown" back from Bygdoy on ferry
21 June 2003 Trondheim This, the furthest North I have ever been in my life is also the longest day of the year; although I can't see the sun. Can definitely feel the "Northern" air in the bird's flight against a tenuous wall of clouds cooler than Oslo. Yesterday walked to Gustav Vigeland Park in Oslo. Was looking at the huge human figure statue, against a dramatic lighted sky, when some youths who had been yelling on a hilltop, came down & one said something to me in Norsk. I said "Snakker du Engelsk?" (Do you speak English?), told him I was Russian, & he said you can't fool Norwegians. Very drunk. Then he tossed my bag, & I ran & got it to pick it up. Then he grabbed my chips & the bag broke, & he said, look at your hamburger. When I started to go, he shoved me hard, & I started to run, saying "I'm OK." They continued yelling after me, but only followed a short way. I called the police, a big blond guy & quiet guy with short hair picked me up & drove me back through the park & all through its many roads, but they'd disappeared.
Then I spent a couple hours in the seething hordes on Karl Johans Gate, watching Africans, Middle Easterners, Norwegians etc. A juggler who make risque jokes & juggled a chainsaw & flaming torches, British. A mime in a gown & wig, on a pedestal, with classical music. roma fiddlers with lined faces streetcar
Went to the Munch museum in the am on the subway. crucifixion, vampire, sun, brushstrokes
Today here (Trondheim) saw Nidaros Cathedral, with the revelation of its sculpture-decked western wall, rose window, & the aged stones of the Archbishop's house next door. Military museum with swords of Vikings, Krag rifles, Resistance Museum, Quisling & commando raids & Nazi & anti-Nazi propaganda. Widowmaker kill walk to hostel
6-22 2003 Writing this overlooking harbor in Trondheim Fjord, lots of boats & Munkholmen Island. Looks romantic & mysterious from a distance, but, up close there's not much too it -- a few old buildings & forts with small windows & loud people & families. Channel with seaweed beautiful rich fjord waters paved out to infinitude, gulls howling, ferry.
Went to Kristiansten Festning early, a defence against Swedes, then used by the Nazis as "prison & execution ground"
Munkenholm, jewel-like in the ribbons of water, Nidaros green & spiny in the struts of the town
Sunken places running in the fortress ground wings with metal doors & windows, high star-shaped defensive wall of old stone. Some old guy popped out of a building & asked me something in Norwegian today. He figured out I spoke English, & asked me "What day is it?" & "What time is it?" Went to seafaring fart museum, navigation instruments, turtle mummy, diary of a privateer, old ship models.
Saw weird Fata Morgana rainbow above St. Olav on his massive column late last night
Saw hospitalkirken from 1705 also, smelling of red paint, octagonal, old 19th C. rows of wood houses
23 June 2003 last full day in Norway.
Writing this by some stone Gothic building in E. Trondheim -- I don't know what it is -- university? Uneventful day, had trouble finding Volksmuseum & finally gave up as it got too late. Got on wrong bus, toward Heimdall in the woods. Bought a weird shamanic pipe from a Peruvian, with a horn stem & face half Indian & half hawk
Some bum asked me for crowns in English, heroin addict
Saw ruined church foundation & skeletons in library, Olavkirken
Day of things unrealized & frustrations
Munkholmen (island) in Trondheim reminds me of Bocklin's Isle of the Dead
Some Iranian guy at burger stand was friendly but complained about "Axis of Evil" as if I were responsible for that label
birds crying in vaults above Var Frue Kirke St Mary's Church big convenience chain is NARVESEN
24 June 2003
Still stuck here in Trondheim
I got a reservation for a sleeper from Bergen to Oslo, not Trondheim to Oslo, through a slip
Now I'm FUCKED
I've got to stay up all night here with no place to sleep, & may or may not make my fucking flight
crazy guy with a ponytail was yelling & gesticulating outside the station
24 June Frankfurt Germany Much less strict than Norway
don't have to watch your back
29 June Oregon Stayed out on street on Frankfurt, migrating from rioters at bars to a place I could lie down on a busy street, down to Main & orange cathedrals & swans at dawn
Thai restaurant & asking & getting answers auf Deutsch
March 11 2004 Shanghai China horrible jet lag slept all day Walked in coruscation of Bund & Pudong, neon shattering the fog & rolex watches
We ate dinner
tofu & beef & beer
March 11 2004 Walk on Huahai Rd. in Shanghai today, jet lag letting up a little. Dangerous crossing streets. Saw only one other Caucasian. Pagoda atop new girdered building. Sky crowded with cranes & gigantic gilt facades. Amazingly, I didn't get lost. Bought beef jerky & Vitamin C drink. motor scooters on streets, bikes towing cardboard in trailers, construction work with no warning signs, jackhammers & fresh-poured steps. tiny fruit stands, moulding staircases outside dingy homes grey walls of shrubberies
22 March 2004 Betrunken, W. & I ate meat & mushrooms dropped into rolling water, spicy sauce, surrounded by Chinese, back on subway, constructed street.
3-13-04 Went back to the columns & friezes of the Bund w/ W., & the Pudongho across the river, massive struts of sheer buildings. We went to Yu Yuan (outdoor market & gardens) with tight balconies or mildewed facades, traditional buildings incredibly packed crowds. Ate dumplings in wicker baskets, spicy soup. dense alleys full of shops w/ fans & wooden combs & traditional instruments. Went to Shanghai Museum, curled filigree of bronze, scroll paintings, Bodhisattvas & calligraphy
Ate at Lushun style restaurant near here, beer, dumplings fried pork
15 March. Went to Jing' an temple with W., with the temples elephant gables and softly glowing gables & eaves. Came across a ceremony with chanting monks in orange robes, shaven heads, keening amplified, soft cadence of drum beats. Smooth lines of large statues, offerings in shrines. Ate udon stew, seaweed.
Then wandered below huge neon blinking sign of cigarette smoking woman, no yielding to pedestrians. Met woman from New Orleans teaching here w/Chinese boyfriend, who led me to an internet cafe high in a building. Wandered the nite streets a bit, home in cab.
Went to mart full of Rolex/dvd/ software "salesmen"
feel a little under the weather
17 March 2004 -- Went to Sun Yat Sen's residence, down Huahai Road. Smell of ancient furniture, looked at sculpted garden filled with wind & monsoon. Accords with Communists & Nationalists. Then W. & I went to restaurant w/ Filipino bar band.
3-18-04 Went to Oriental Pearl Tower. Saw Bund backed by jagged waves of crystal skylines, teardropped in Pudong & across the river.
Took light show of Bund Tourist Tunnel, fiber optics bursting surrealistically. Walked up Nanjing to People's Square, took cab long way back. Cold wind tonight.
3-19-2004 Went to Museum of Sex Culture. Stone dildoes, pillow books, sex chairs, banana carved into a penis, foot binding, etc. Then back in taxi, through hordes of motorcycles & bicycles, leaning facades of open stands. Then W. & I went for Szechwan tofu & beef, on sizzling platter.
3-28-2004 Went to Jade Buddha temple via subway on March 22. Incense lighted in pots in courtyard at Jade Buddha
dark inside, robed sakyamuni
white gloss of jade
Posted by Jonathan at 1:40 AM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Gurdjieff country over there in the Caucasus is certainly cooking...
August 6: the date on which Hiroshima was bombed. I once read a diary my grandfather kept ( unfortunately, the diary seems to have disappeared, probably lost during one of my father's moves). In August 1945 there was an entry stating simply "The US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, today." (Or something like that). That was it -- no reflection or commentary. There were long gaps between entries, sometimes several months or even years.
Once I met a Japanese guy, who, when I asked him where he was from, replied, "Hiroshima -- you know, A-bomb!" Point your attention to the elephant in the room right away...
Dream of watering intricate parterres at my old house...
Posted by Jonathan at 1:57 AM
Sunday, August 3, 2008
of course, the Laurence Olivier character in Marathon Man is a thinly veiled version of Dr. Josef Mengele, the death camp doctor. Read a biography of Mengele a few years ago, Mengele: The Complete Story, by Gerald L. Posner & John Ware... Strikes right at what people will do given the opportunity, the years of hiding in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil after the war, the essence of evil... And the Boys from Brazil portrays Mengele as a sort of campy superman. Ironically, both films came out around the end of his life.
Just read The Voyage of King Euvoran by the great Clark Ashton Smith, powerful use of both coined and real, exotic words.
Posted by Jonathan at 2:02 AM