I love taking pictures of distinctive manhole covers whenever I see them in my travels. I guess you might expect the ones in the Canary Islands to be a bit, well, tropical.
June 29, 2015
OK, I admit it. One of the reasons I love where I live is the rich diversity of ethnicities in my neighborhood. And every year, I look forward to the Grecian Festival put on by Taxiarchae/Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, a short walk from my house. Pastries galore. And Greek dinner items served up by smiling ladies, happy to be volunteering for their church community. But without a doubt, the jewel in the festival's culinary crown is the gyro sandwich that they sell. So good. I'm glad I got a chance to have one this year. And I'm so glad that there was no line when I arrived yesterday mid-afternoon. Because everyone was talking about how packed the festival had been the night before, how long the gyro line had been, people happily waiting over an hour for a sandwich. That good. Here's mine.
June 27, 2015
I am always horrified when I think of strangers to Boston arriving at Logan Airport, picking up a rental car and then trying to navigate not only the confusing streets but also some of the rudest drivers on the planet. Then I saw this sign as we were leaving the port area of this fabled city. Imagine arriving here with no knowledge of French much less Arabic.
June 26, 2015
Don't you think that Soberano is an odd name to give a whiskey? Whatever. This seemed the right photo for me to post as I've been soberano (sobrio, actually) for 33 years today. (To see how moist and toxic I looked on June 26, 1982, click here.)
June 25, 2015
Dr. Blake loves Lisbon. So it's no accident that this photo, taken as we were sailing downriver toward the Atlantic and off to Morocco, is a bit blurry and wistful. Or maybe he's relieved that our tall sails cleared the bridge just moments before. They almost didn't because we got a late start and just caught the unforgiving tides right with only inches to spare.
June 24, 2015
Off of Rossio, one of the main squares in Lisbon, there is a tiny storefront (about the width of two or three doors) where one can buy the regional cherry liqueur specialty, ginjinha, in tiny plastic cups. You can enjoy it neat or with a cherry or two in it. I've never tried it; I'm told it burns. For me, the attraction of the place is the people who hang out there. Here are some of them. One of the great thrills of travel for me is the realization that the world is much, much bigger than where I happen to live. Why, even the languages on the wall behind these men (all of which translate into: Lisbon, City of Tolerance) remind me of all the places I still have to visit.
June 23, 2015
Tonight, as midnight approaches, thousands of Puerto Ricans and their friends will prepare to jump into the sea (or a nearby lake or even a bathtub.) Tonight is La Noche de San Juan, the eve of the feast of St. John, and Latin people all over the world mark the event in various ways: with bonfires, special menus and the aforementioned dousings. Here's a shot, taken just after midnight and just before the cops arrived to chase us away. Pete, Daniel, Evelyna Jolie and Edmundo were just some of our midnight party on Gloucester's Niles Beach. Following tradition, they'd waited until 12, then thrown in, in order, flowers (for love), fruit (for health) and coins (for prosperity). And then, because he is St. John the Baptist, we throw in ourselves. Backwards. Seven times. Probably a good thing I don't expect to be near a beach with these friends of mine tonight.
June 22, 2015
When our boat docked in Casablanca, we hot-footed it to the train station and headed to Rabat, the nation's capital, one hour away. And weren't we glad we did. Few tourists. Not one beggar or "guide" approached us. A terrific lunch which got us hooked on chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons. And a great market where you could buy your own olives from this vendor and make that tagine at home.
June 21, 2015
June 20, 2015
June 19, 2015
Readers of this blog know that I've never met a market I didn't like. Especially in Europe. Especially in Spain. Here's some of the beautiful produce on display in the central market of Cádiz. My brother calls these "ugly tomatoes" and grows them in his New Jersey garden. And while New Jersey tomatoes are among the best in the world, give me Cádiz, por favor.
June 18, 2015
June 17, 2015
Dr. Blake is not the fan of flea markets that I can sometimes be. So it was with some hesitation that he humored me on this Sunday afternoon in the south of Spain. However, when I gravitated toward this cumbersome and highly breakable religious item, he began vibrating like a tuning fork and simply repeated over and over, "No. No. No. No." It remained in Valencia.
June 16, 2015
June 15, 2015
How cool does my friend Chris look here? I was so happy that he was among the guests at a wedding party this past weekend because I never get to spend enough time with him. (He'd just returned from two weeks in Brazil as part of a class he was taking toward his MBA.) I call Chris my "Andy Warhol friend" because we both share a fascination with that artist. He seems much too young to be in the Warhol cult, but be that as it may. A few years ago, realizing that he would appreciate it as much as I did for so many years, I gave him my autographed (Warhol and Viva!) copy of 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' album, signed the first time I met the artist and his film star in 1969. I was right; it now occupies a place of honor in his home. Since then, we've also become "bicycle light" friends, sharing any information about ways to over-illuminate our bikes to make them look like Las Vegas on wheels as we pedal and twinkle around Boston.
June 14, 2015
This is about as Southwest as my home gets here in New England. My friend Donna encouraged me to take this picture. She also told me that her sister Mary, a loyal reader of this blog, likes all the "semi-famous" references to celebrities. So, Mary, here are some of the people I've either worked with, became friends with, seen on the street, or at least met at one time or another: Vincent Price, Mia Farrow, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Federico Fellini, Anthony Perkins, Jane Fonda, Melina Mercouri, Robert De Niro, Michael York, Jim Henson, Lynn Redgrave, Mary Martin, Perry Como, Lauren Bacall, Barbra Streisand, Angela Lansbury, Jane Alexander, Julia Child, Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jerome Robbins, John Denver, Mary Fratto, Diana Rigg, Coral Browne, John Waters, Dick Clark, Joan Rivers, Sammy Davis, Liza Minnelli, Helen Hayes, Hermione Gingold, Beatrice Lillie, Mary Travers, Estelle Parsons, The Andrews Sisters, Martin Scorsese, Mister Rogers, Kathleen Turner, Daniel J. Travanti, James Taylor, Bobby Short, Hugh Jackman, Peter Allen, Andy Warhol. Stop me when you've had enough.
June 13, 2015
The boys of summer. One of them, front and center, is having a wedding party today on a boat in Boston harbor, and I'm happily invited. Rob and Floyd (alas, not pictured) got married last New Year's Eve, but Rob's mother, when she learned on December 30 that her son was to be married the next day, freaked out because she couldn't throw a big wedding for her first-born. The solution: today's party. All best wishes to everyone. I haven't been to a wedding (except my own) in decades, much less a reception. What do I wear?
June 12, 2015
June 11, 2015
I'm not sure what kind of hydrangea this is, but I suspect that it came from the Little Shop of Horrors, so complete is its aggressive takeover of the entire back wall of my house. Beautiful and lush, yes. But also a bit scary. It has recently made inroads around to the side of my house, growing over windows, too. Each time I make an attempt to cut it back, I'm reminded how popular it is with the local bee population.
June 10, 2015
I love it when I'm watching a movie and a location appears that I recognize from my travels. For example: Last weekend, Jay and I were watching Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive with the remarkable Tilda Swinton. She plays a vampire who lives in the medina of Tangier. At one point, as she's traveling home from the airport in a taxi (at night, naturally), the camera catches this movie theater for just a moment and I recognized it from our brief stop in this evocative five years ago. (For a reverse experience -- seeking out a movie theater that I'd seen in a film -- click here.)
June 9, 2015
This tiny island town was the last stop on our Black Sea cruise. And what was most remarkable, I thought, was that it contained the ruins of some 40 small churches. Like this one here, being explored gingerly by one of the many, many tourists enjoying the sights on a Sunday afternoon.
June 8, 2015
Somewhere? Well, with paintings like this, and unmarked slides from almost 30 years ago, it could be anywhere. My friend Simon was here recently and, in the course of one of the conversations with him that I value so much, he asked me, "Do you believe in saints?" This led to a lighthearted but earnest discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of growing up Catholic. The benefits I am happy about? Good handwriting and an ability to recognize saints and religious iconography in paintings like this.
June 7, 2015
When I visited my friend Nick's relatives in their town outside Avellino, I was happy to see that a little bit of American culture had eeked its way between Pasquale's barbershop and the death notices there at the bottom. Star 80: Bob Fosse's film about Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten's affair with director Peter Bogdanovitch and subsequent murder by her manipulative and sleazy husband played by Eric Roberts. I saw it stateside and never bought Mariel Hemingway as a bunny. (When I returned to Grottaminarda with Nick in 1988, the film that was showing was David Mamet's House of Games. A step up?)
June 6, 2015
My father declined to visit Ireland's famous cliffs that rise above the turbulent Atlantic below. Probably a good thing, too, for he would have been terrified to see that there are no guard rails of any kind separating the visitors from the stoney edge. There is a small sign that reads "Please Do Not Go Beyond This Point," which people routinely ignore. And while there are no official records kept, locals say that ten to fifteen deaths (some deliberate, some not) occur annually.
June 5, 2015
Ha ha ha. I blame my insouciance here on the photographer, my late friend Dali with whom I visited the Eternal Città for the first time in 1980. We were forever taking jumping pictures and "fashion photos" like this one. I do notice, though, that I've tied my recently purchased sweater in the style that many Romans had adopted that year.
June 4, 2015
I suspect that 23 years ago, the marriage-equality referendum that won an overwhelming majority of votes in Ireland last month may not have found such favor. But then again, how different the American perspective would have been back then, too. Seen here, yours truly viewed through a "window" of one of the many stone houses that dot this windy seaside spot. I never would have thought, at the time, that 21 years later I'd be married, too, thanks to the 2013 SCOTUS decision.
June 3, 2015
I took this photo in San Francisco's Chinatown on my first trip to SFO in 1980. But it always reminds me of the shiatsu massage I went for on my most recent trip there in 2006. A young Asian woman asked me to unrobe (shiatsu is traditionally done clothed) and get under a sheet, face down, on the table. When she returned to the room, she straddled me on the table and asked, "How much pleasure you want?" I was a bit taken aback. Unlike Cleopatra's clients who sign up for "The Egyptian Way to Relaxation," this was not what I had intended. It was only when I calmed down that I realized that I had misheard her, owing to her accent. What she had actually asked was, "How much pressure you want?" Things went smoothly after that.
June 2, 2015
Each year there are several groups of Hibernians that march in my town's Memorial Day parade, some from MA, some from NH. This year our parade took place on the day after Ireland's jubilant referendum approving marriage equality. I so wanted to ask these paraders (especially given their position on "justice for all") what their take on the historic approval might have been.
June 1, 2015
This is my favorite pizza place in Rome. Pizzeria da Pasquale. Every day there would be scooters parked in front while dozens of teenagers would be lined up at the counter to buy their pizza cut into various sized slices and priced by weight. It was here that I bought a 2' x 1.5' piece of potato pizza that I smuggled home in my luggage the next day to Cambridge so that Jay could try it. And it was not that long ago that I was able to introduce Jay to Rome and to the pleasures of eating potato pizza in situ at da Pasquale. Worth the trip and worth the wait.