I've frequently heard it said that Hallowe'en is "the gay holiday." Really? Well, let's just view that as a compliment and move on. What I love most about Hallowe'en is that it seems to unleash a lot of imaginative decorating ideas that some might find inappropriate at other times of year. Like this one that I pass on my running route (love the little raven on the steps) and smile every time I see it. Hmmm, maybe it is the gay holiday.
October 30, 2015
I'm not a big fan of "church." But I am a big fan of "church bazaar." Especially if it's the annual one at St. James Armenian Church just down the hill from me. And especially if I can go TWICE on opening day. Early with my friend Donna to scout the "Attic Treasures" and to get first shot at the pastry table (where I picked up an apricot/pineapple square and a cream kadayif, plus some hummus and tabbouleh.) At dinner time, I returned with my friends Lisa (née Hagopian, who kindly took this photo) and Jeff to cruise the pastry offerings again (more hummus and tabbouleh -- SO good--, some baklava, a nut kadayif) and to chow down on a lamb/losh kebab combo platter. We circled the room MANY times before we were able to negotiate three seats together. The Armenian woman next to me instructed us on authentic cooking ways, while she disabused me of the notion that the Armenian nickname a neighbor had given me 15 years ago ("Amanoush") meant "Sweetie Pie." When I asked her what it actually meant, she said, "It's something you don't want to say." Yikes!
October 29, 2015
There were an awful lot of Brits here in this beach town on the island of Malta. Both vacationers and ex-pat residents. And I couldn't help but wonder if a certain amount of Northern European fussiness may have come with them. Witness this somewhat scolding sign on a wall outside an English-language school I passed as I was walking along the seaside promenade. Not even a "please." Really.
October 28, 2015
There's an awful lot of restoration going on here in Sliema, a ferry ride across the bay from the capital city of Valletta. And an awful lot of tattoos, too. Here's a lovely example of both that I chanced upon as I was headed to a meeting in this sunny and warm seaside resort.
October 27, 2015
We're not fans of organized tours, but the group excursion to Agrigento's Valley of the Temples was included as our cruise's "private event" so we went along. The temples, of course, are beautiful. The guide, of course, would not shut up. And I sure wished that the guard rails hadn't prevented us from climbing up to the columns to be photographed like Isadora Duncan at the portal of the Parthenon.
October 26, 2015
We only had a few hours in this Sicilian city, so we decided to check out the Teatro Massimo (as shown) and, naturally, an outdoor market. Why the Teatro Massimo? So that we could be photographed on the steps where the finale of The Godfather, Part III takes place, of course. (I'm sure the guard at the top of the steps has seen hundreds of tourists come to this same spot for the very same reason. If it had not been raining, I would have fallen onto the steps as Al Pacino did at the end of the film. Next time.)
October 25, 2015
October 24, 2015
When I saw the sign for this "House of Ice Cream," I had lovely visions of vast assortments of gelato in many, many flavors. Alas, another case of unrealistic expectations. Instead, the standard half dozen, including stracciatella (chocolate chip) and a few alarmingly neon choices (one of which matched the outdoor tables and chairs.) We opted not to indulge.
October 23, 2015
October 22, 2015
I include this photo for two reasons. One is to show an example of a street sign in Maltese, the official language of the country. (The second official language is, mercifully, English.) And also because I snapped this shot with my best friend in mind, an old baker himself. No names, please.
October 21, 2015
Every building in this Maltese fortress town is golden. Made from local limestone over the centuries. Really spectacular at sunset when the whole place takes on a rosy glow. Oh, and there are stairs everywhere. Limestone and marble stairs to get from the port (sea level), to the fortified city above. And then once you get up there, be ready to encounter even more...just like this couple did as they misread their map, made a wrong turn and wound up with a few dozen more steps than they'd bargained for.
October 20, 2015
October 19, 2015
I've been in some really gussied-up churches in my travels. But nothing approaches the over-the-top, golden splendor of this Co-cathedral of St. John. Because it's Malta's top tourist attraction, we got there early and as soon as the doors opened, I headed straight for the small room at the back to spend some solo time with two Caravaggios I'd never seen before. (More on this later.) Afterwards, as the tour groups slow-poked their way through the aisles, I was able to stroll around and take in much of the baroque bling. The photo above doesn't even approach the overwhelming amount of sparkling decor that's been layered and layered on this joint. (Note the Maltese crosses within the panel on the right.)
October 18, 2015
October 17, 2015
During the record snowfalls of the past few winters, our town has contracted with plowing companies, many of whom have other responsibilities (landscaping, fencing, etc.) during the milder months. I suspect they are paid by the number of pass-bys they make or by the hour, because they come by our street with alarming frequency, usually after I've just shoveled out my driveway to the street, and usually plowing mountains of compacted snow back into my cleared driveway. Repeatedly. The worst offender is the driver of a truck owned by The Fence Man. So is it right (or healthy) for me to fuel my resentment against this provocateur each time I see a sign for his company embellishing his handiwork?.
October 16, 2015
Yes, yes. There is a little Evita in all of us, no? So when I saw this balcony and its double staircase at the University of Catania two weeks ago, I couldn't help myself. Not a single Sicilian blinked or even paid attention. Much less cried.
October 15, 2015
This is for my beloved friend Mike, the super-talented designer I had the pleasure of working with at the most respected name in sound. Mike has been Miss Day's biggest fan for years now, championing her talent (such as it is) when others might tend to dismiss her as, oh, a lightweight. This photo was taken 20 years before I met Mike, but I always think of him when I see it. (Click here to see Mike himself as he kneels before another D.Day landmark.)
October 14, 2015
I'm guessing this is Salzburg, but it could be any number of stops we made on our Luxembourg-Germany-Austria school trip during Easter vacation. I was teaching at Union Catholic Boys High School in Scotch Plains, NJ, had a flexible schedule and was friendly with the German teacher, so I was asked to be one of the chaperones. Fine with me. Shortly after our return, the German teacher vanished amid rumors of, shall we say, untoward behavior during the trip. Still, we knew none of that during our tour, which was fun and allowed me to visit places I might never have seen on my own.
October 13, 2015
October 12, 2015
As I was taking a long walk on the outskirts of Dublin, I came across this small alley in which someone had set up shop. As you can see, the offerings were religious in nature, not a surprise in Ireland. I passed this emporium by but stopped later at a yard sale I happened upon. I bought a potato masher. Also not a surprise in Ireland.
October 11, 2015
Everywhere you look in Venice, you see beauty. Like here, looking from the Piazza San Marco across the lagoon toward the Isle of San Giorgio. Of course, it helps if you're taking your picture on Ektachrome slide film with its propensity toward blue...and it's the end of the day, close to sunset.
October 10, 2015
October 9, 2015
October 8, 2015
October 7, 2015
And they are favolosi, too, these porcini in one of Milan's many open markets. (When I was searching through my bookshelves for an Italian dictionary the other day, I came across a book titled, 'How to Say "Fabulous!" in 8 Different Languages: A Travel Guide for Gay Men.' Personally, I don't use the word, but the book, stereotype-packed as it is, still offers some amusement. For example, I opened to a page where "Is there a flea market near here?" was translated.)
October 6, 2015
Even in this most holy of cities in Italy, nothing could shake the irreverence out of my friend Dali, seen here "prarying" before the church of this city's revered patron saint. Probably just a coincidence, but Dali lost her charm bracelet (pictured) shortly after this picture was taken. Just saying.
October 5, 2015
I used to joke that if you walked along a street in any Italian city, you'd pass a bar, a sweater store, a pastry shop, a church, a bar, a sweater store, etc. In Ireland, the sequence is a bit different: a pub, a shrine, a pub, a shrine, etc.
October 4, 2015
October 3, 2015
Italians, it seems, have long been fascinated by Hollywood. And vice versa. Here's a four-up of posters for a language school in Rome that I saw on my first visit there. Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ingrid Bergman. Real Hollywood.
October 2, 2015
I look at this photo from 35 years ago and remember my first trip to Rome with my late friend Dali. The photo was shot on film, long before digital. And the memory has a lovely, slightly fuzzy, old-world quality to it, too. (If all goes as planned, Dr. B and I should be back in the Eternal Città today.)