romALIVE 17: “Once upon a time. . . “

The holy father really got people out of their seats.

I am not a religious person, nor ever been mistaken as one. I don’t like dogma in any dish it comes in. I don’t like the meanness religiousness can sometimes take on. But I am not against religiosity, nor people who profess and show real religious conviction.

He is a resourceful and interesting man, in some ways worldly and cloistered.

This is my third time at St. Peters, and I finally am able to put it into words. I know about the pomp and ceremony, the tradition as well. This is a modern man, compared to some earlier popes. He is not one of position and power. Which is what makes him so attractive. And it is so different from how I feel about St. Peter’s church.

The one piece of art for me there that has a beautiful feeling.

There are many beautiful churches throughout the world. There are many beautiful churches in Rome, but this is not one of them. Bernini and anyone else who worked on this thing got so carried away, they lost the religiosity. There are signs of real feeling but they are few and far in between. Yes, it is a beautiful dome. Yes, the altar is exquisite. There is a ton of gold leaf. Raphael’s Transfiguration is there, a copy, eaten up by the overbearing scale. But it is all pomp. And perhaps no pope.

This is another one of those rare pieces.

Ancient Rome via Cinecittà

Set from The Borgias

What I am saying is make-believe should take on a different level. That afternoon of the same day, we travelled to the Cinecittà studios for a tour of another kind. Mussolini was instrumental in devising a modern movie studio, where he could deliver “his” message like a genie in a bottle. After the period of the white telephone films, and neo-realist discontent and defeat of Il Duce, Cinecittà went on to be the place for Americans to go for big extravaganza productions. Followed by Fellini, and modern Italian film.

Remember Anita’s Vatican dress?

It was great being at that studio for a tour, great seeing that it is alive and kicking today, a place where Americans, like Scorsese, go to deliver extravaganza’s like the Gangs of New York. If I need to be in make believe, this one makes me happier.

romALIVE 17: My Life in Ruins

A visit to Pompeii on day 5. The culprit, mass killer Vesuvio burned alive thousands!

The beautiful intact centaur and mosaic floor.

A prosperous coastal city, today it is the excavation point off the train. “Get your tickets, no lines to wait on!” When a simple walk to the entrance would have shown you this is not the Vatican Musei! Hucksters will greet you on site in Italy, try to avoid them! A guide, or an audioguide would have been helpful if you needed to see everything. But what you will see is a well laid out city pretty much on an orthographic grid.

You can see the good relationship of scale to people, very human.

The living and working space were integrated. You lived close to your neighbor, and it reminded me of Machu Picchu. The roofs of the structures are gone, there are lots of open spaces. There are civic spaces. Being of Greek origin meant something to the Romans, and the town, it was said was laid out by Greeks. It is a vision for anyone interested in city planning, how spaces were intergrated and how people might have lived their life. It was not confusing like Rome can be, for there is no coexisting of the present.

Stepping stones for when streets were flooded to clean.

Someones’ back yard with a grape vineyard.

An oven in a shop area.

Was this the way water was dispersed, there were several of these.

That beautiful way they grasped the human body.

I had wished there was more of this visible.

There are things you will not see, or can’t get to easily. There are maps with street names, but onsite these names are not listed. A bunch of kids sat on a wall near the atruim of one house I was in, the tour guide went nuts, and she said they would be closing because too many people were in the structure. Several things I looked for were locked up. Still even if you see only a little, it is all amazing.

We had a brief visit in the Lupanare, the ancient whorehouse. It had McDonald type menus on the walls (above). The concrete bed and pillow (below) made someones’ dreams come true.

Much of the interest in Rome is the things that were. We come to see the Foro, Colloseo, Vaticani, even Cinecittà. Our world of today is a vehicle we use to pass through yesterdays. To walk the streets of Pompeii, to sit in the Colloseo, to visit the Villa Guilia is to step into someone else’s time.

For a mere 35 euro train ride, 2 euro local ride and 13 euro admission, it was an easy day. It was interesting to contrast Napoli to Rome and to enjoy the beautiful weather which no one on the earth can argue with. This must have brought these peoples to this place overlooking the sea. You can also find the little old Italian ladies I remember as a kid, who still are here and are very willing to help when you are in a spot. These matrons of old Rome, who felt responsibility a duty and a pride.

Sfogliatella from Napoli and a Roman McDonald’s cappuccino is not a life in ruins.

romALIVE17: Day 4

Nighttime changes everything, even this icing cake confection.

A day of exploration of the Via Appia Antica, an ancient roadway, while exploring the possibilities of public transportation Rome. The Romans seem to enjoy these days with much passion, being out late into the evening. The cool evening weather contrasted with that of the hot, sunny day it followed.

Along Via Appia Antica, the great old road from Rome to Naples, still exists stones from the Ancient Romans. These stones and the Vespa being something new.

What you fail to think about, is on this road, still are things like a parish priest and Saturday duties among the catacombs.

This is where it actually begins, we saw it above, on the wall which separated Rome from the barbarians.

The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, are incredible for scale. Check out the size of human to wall.

Many sights during the evening strolls.




RomAlive17: Ritorno

This little trolley was part of our morning commute on a third beautiful Roman day.

This is a return to a known city, and one as I remember thinking as I left, was that you could spend a month here and still find things to see. Rome, like New York, is alive and moving.  The people are living, knowing, yet moving forward not victim to their history. This time I notice other things, I did not notice in the trips before. And Rome is sitting mid-century, not grappling with catching up. Present and past co-exist.

Sometime images convey the spirit of a summer.

Out of Time at the Contemporary

I loved seeing this.

Many types of passions.

From Day 1 on, tourists one and all.

A race at the square which really is of of the people.




’17seattleLIVE: Day 4/5 fun

Henry Gallery, right now, has a terrific and eye-opener of photography and the impact on Chuck Close’s work

Henry Gallery sits right on the University of Washington campus, it has a better put together show of Chuck Close and his work for $10, then shelling out over $25 at the SAM, for a show that seems made of attractive recyclables.

One thing you won’t be disappointed at SAM is the Pacific Native craft, which is beautiful and displayed well.

Visiting the goofy Troll in Fremont won’t cost you anything but bus fare. You can even stop and get a look at one of those Socialist Realist things they did back in the USSR, etc. long ago. As quick as you can say Putin, you’ll get your jollies back in the USSR and you can stop around the corner and get some dumplings at Tsars.

Time spent at the Seattle Japanese Garden is fun, and quite beautiful 

 For nothing you can also go around the Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail

Have bubble tea and pastry in Chinatown

Or a burgher and shake at Dick’s

Or a new ride on the old monorail

Or a look at Jimi


’17seattleLIVE: Day 3

Capitol Hill light rail station, part of the recent expansion of the line.

Seattle is not a brand new city, but an upwardly mobile one. Its industries are new and hip, and it shows those signs in downtown and places like Capitol Hill of a new wealth. The parts of the city I saw were full of small modern, restaurants and businesses, where young people, especially professionals, would generate to. New cities have interesting and fun things, generally with the vision that these will move on to even newer, better and more useful things in the future.  But like other places like Washington and Orlando, there is a small army of homeless lurking in the shadows. These are victims of the new economy, over the past 30+ years. Unlike some other cities, people are both aware of this and compassionate.

We start our morning at Volunteer Park, our restaurant once a neighborhood storefront.

We had come to see the Asian Art Museum, but it was closed for renovation.

Charles Gould was the architect for what was then, the Seattle Museum of Fine Arts. Today it was closed and waiting for a new reopening in 2019. It is now know as the Asian Art Museum, and looked to me reminiscent of the de Young in San Francisco, or the Moderne in Paris. It sits in Volunteer Park, a lovely set of walkways and lush green areas, bordered by old school mansions in one area and a cemetery that features Bruce and Brandon Lee. Gould also had a hand in the park.

Black Sun is a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi, Space Needle in background.

      Volunteer Park is in dedication of the Volunteer army of the Spanish American War. Marker and old water tower from 1906.

The main collection is mostly minor masters set floor to ceiling much like the old Salons. Copyist painting is going on by artists on the floor of the gallery.

The Frye Museum is small, but a good size exhibit area. They had a show on Alexander Archipenko.  Internationally known, Archipenko was interesting for his sculptures of female forms back in the 20s. There is another small one of pen drawings by local Jim Woodring called The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept, What seemed like a gimmick in the right person’s hands actually became some lovely drawings.

The giant pen and Jim Woodring’s The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept

The large library downtown, almost futuristic.