Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cafe Terrace on Place Du Forum Arles at night

Ok back to art. The world is too depressing sometimes. Ah yes the Cafe Terrace on Place Du Forum Arles at night painted by Vincent Van Gogh.

Vince the crazy artist is one of the most famous painters in the world. But lets look at the "Cafe". I have read the reviewers who comment on the unique quick brush strokes, how he inspired impressionist painters.

He was a wild and really crazy guy, cutting off a bit of his ear after being upset with another artist Paul Gauguin. You would think that when he got pissed off he would have cut off Gauguin's ear. Eventually he committed suicide by shooting himself.

He was a religion teacher, prostitute consort, evangelist, as well as an artist.

Lets consider the art. Its good. The sidewalk is spectacular. The colours are just right. The people are ok. But the building is out of proportion it looks like it was stretched. Is it really a masterpiece- or is it a marketing job.

Vince averaged a painting every three days and created over 900. Sold one... Vince's widowed sister in law who got the paintings was a promotional genius... She talked about the legends, that he cut of his ear when really he sliced a little off the lobe. That he killed himself because the world would not recognize his genius when really he was just a nutcase and committed suicide. Today Vincent Van Gogh is a Dutch master. Significantly more than what he was when he was alive.

Nice painting...artist overrated - I think so... What do you think?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Cheering for Israel

It all seems so easy. Israel gives up land for peace. They take their citizens from the disputed towns by force and make them move so that a peace can be made with Palestine and Lebanon.
But there is no peace and and violence continues. So what choice do they have? "they" asked for it now...stealing two soldiers.

It is easy. We are predisposed to cheering for Israel as they have always been the underdog. A nation in the middle of enemies . We in the west have always been more comfortable with Isaac than with Ishmael. Hezbollah sounds like an evil group.

But its not that easy is it? In the first few days of bombing a Canadian family of 6 was killed by and Israeli bomb that flattened the building they were in. is true they were visiting relatives probably Hezbollah sympathizers. maybe.. I saw the essence of their affection and she looked like a very ancient grandmother overcome with grief .

There were over 11000 Canadians visiting relatives in the country albeit many with dual nationalities. All of the Lebanese people I know in Canada do not have an angry bone in their body. Arab or Christian they seem to be regular people with a strong sense of family, work ethic and moral standards. I would imagine that most of the people who have suffered in either Israel or Lebanon have little to do with the political or terrorist process.

It makes me feel a little guilty being so remote from the evil things in the world. Where the only real concern is the kids who have the wild party next door or the rattle in the wheel bearing on my truck.

The average person pays the price for poverty, violence, and political opportunism and it seems like it has always been so. They lose their power or their water or their loved ones or they can't go to work.

The answers are simple... eliminate poverty, have basic rule of law, have strong backlash against violence or carrying weapons, have a strong middle class, have basic fairness in government, have a strong education system

Its not easy or right or simple but it is disheartening. Kindness is our only hope.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rio De Janeiro Brazil

Yes the Hockeyman spent the last week in Brazil. I know you gasp and say"But..There's no hockey in Brazil" Au Contraire Mes amis.. I was in city called Sertzinthino and they are very proud of their roller hockey team. A couple of the guys from there play and told me next time we could get a game... I think from what I could make out its like classic roller skates not the more modern inline skates...

Brazil...what a place. ..... Beautiful beaches beautiful people.

The people there are incredibly kind, polite inherently good people. I went to several plants with some of the management and what struck me as most heartening was the smiles that came on the workers faces as the managers came into their area and said hello to them. The Brazilian handshake among men is a two handed affair. You shake with one hand and the other you pat the other person on the back or the side.. you do not power shake don't look the opposite straight in the eye, you smile... a heartfelt smile. Imagine... just crazy eh? It is weird after the north american experience to see the men kissing the women in the office. Its a two cheek affair but not a peck on the cheek.. you can hear real suction...

At one point we were headed to the flea market near the hotel and Eduardo our Brazilian friend told us that we have to bargain.... so I go to buy a t shirt... I try to bargain.... I tell them I am walking away... Eduardo says... come on 20 Reas is a good price these are poor people.... so I never bargained after that...

The next most interesting fact is how active they are as a nation. Even in the taxi from the airport in Rio on a Tuesday morning every playground was filled , then there were walkers and joggers and bike riders everywhere... beach volley ball and soccer on the beach are mainstays They are very very active as a nation

its just incredibly sad that security is such an issue... you need to watch everywhere...all of the office buildings have extensive security procedures.. I had my picture taken and recoded in four different offices. Even in a simpler quieter city like Araraquara (500K from Rio) all of the houses have big walls and spikes and barbed wire to deter bandits. So few middle class people live in houses- you have to live in an apartment for protection. I did go for a run on the beach at Copacabana at 6 am and I did walk down the strip at night.... but I sat with a guy from Edmonton and the same night three in his group had been held up at knifepoint on the same beach... Graffiti everywhere... I must have passed 6 police blitz locations at the side of the road on Friday.... each manned by men with automatic rifles.

I would love to go know more Portuguese and see more of the countryside - because the people are really really genuinely nice people, but Brazil is held back because security is such an issue....