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Gloucester & NYC

October 23rd, 2016

So Sylvia and I went back East to attend the wedding of Celia, the daughter of my old pal an comrade in arms Gregory Gibson. Before the wedding we looked around the port a little. A seagull the size of a chicken.

Gotta have a lobster-related photo, right? I like his rope antennae.

And, as always, I look at the reflections on gently undulating harbor water in fascination. I used to say those would be hard to paint, before I knew how to paint a little bit, but now I know it’s not that hard to paint these lively globbers, although it helps to have a photo to work from, as imagination tends to be not quite wild and gnarly enough to generate those natural shapes.

Speaking of painting, my old friend and college-days hero Barry Feldman was at the wedding too. He’s very much a painter, it’s pretty much all he’s done for his entire life, and I’m talking about the last fifty years.

Unfortunately, hardly any of Barry’s work is online, but here’s an image of one of his recent works. (Copyright (C) 2016 Barry Feldman, all rights reserved.) Barry spent the last three years creating fourteen oil on canvas, 125 x 175 cm, paintings based on the backgrounds of various paintings by the 17th century painter Poussin—the series is called “Poussin: Restructured.” Shown below is the Poussin orignal that was the basis for the painting above.

Barry empties out the stage and brings us into the space. His version has his characteristic Cezanne shimmer, an airy open scale, clean edges, and a vibrant palette. Delicious. In person Barry has an unsettling, gnomic quality, but he paints like an angel. A humble laborer in the fields of the Art. Redeemed by the Muse. I really hope his latest batch gets a good show in a great gallery or museum. I know of two other paintings by Barry online. One is here with a bio note, and the other is in Gregory Gibson’s “Bookman’s Log.”

Here’s a photo of Greg himself, at the wedding, kind of grumbling about the vastness of the event, but also enjoying himself in a big way. The two modes are not mutually exclusive.

In Gloucester, we stayed at the Vista Motel, which is on Good Harbor Beach on Cape Anne. I recognized the shape of the island off the beach, it’s called Salt Island. And this flipped me back into a night when I visited Greg alone. He was living in a basement apartment on Webster St., a vet of the Navy now, this would have been around 1971 0r 72, I’d just gotten my Ph.D. in math. Greg and I stayed up all night drinking and smoking pot. At one point Greg was shaking and said he was anxious about freaking out and I pointed out that he was just cold, and that all he needed to do was to put on a thick sweater, and this worked, and Greg said I was a genius. We stayed with the program and in fact stayed up till dawn, and walked across the low-tide strait to Salt Island. And when we got back to shore, and the sun was rising, and we were walking along the beach, with the ocean waves roaring incessantly in my ears along with the buzz of being so ecstatically high, and the seagulls cawing, and Greg’s kind visage and friendly voice next to me, and I thought, “I’ll always remember this moment, this is how it will feel to be in paradise.” On Mount Parnassus.

So it was a real kick to see Salt Island from the Vista Motel. I’d kind of forgotten about it in the intervening years.

After the wedding we took the train from Boston to NYC, which was exciting, and went to a hotel we like, the Library Hotel near the main NYC library, the one by Bryant park with the lions. As usual I walked over to the Chrysler Building to check out the lobby…I love that Deco stuff. Got a nice shot of a man framed in the door.

Always good to see the hip, fashionable NY women.

At one point we were walking along Madison Ave in the 50s or 60s and spotted this Anya Hindmarch “Space Invaders” purse, retailing for something like $2K. Really nice leather and craftsmanship. But I to think that a woman who could afford this purse would probably only use it for a couple of weeks…until all her friends had seen it…and then move on.

For a change of pace we hit the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum on Fifth up near 91st street. They had a nice little show about three women doing fiber art with scraps or selvages. Love this scrap-built curtain over a window in one of the richly paneled Andrew-Carnegie’s-house-type rooms.

Fab breakfast nook in the museum with a curved glass ceiling. The reflections. Travelling in a time capsule.

A room of Tiffany lamps, including this “turtle back” number.

And a “modern” Olivetti typewriter poster. My first typewriter was a flattened down Olivetti portable. I’d write my pastiche poems on it, and my school papers, and my short stories…like one about a guy who dies in a car crash the night of his high-school graduation…not that I was fated to get off the hook that easily, no man, I had half a century and more to go.

The design museum had this room where you could draw a pattern on a screen, and the machinery would project the image onto the walls in wallpaper-like repetitions. As I often do, I drew a curious cow.

Exciting in Manhattan just to see so many people, and so many different kinds of people. I like this lady’s shadow behind her. It was really hot while we were there, almost eighty, in October. Global warming seems to be coming on a lot faster than we expected.

Another spot we love visiting is Strand Books on Broadway below Union Square. “18 miles of books” they claim. I always find books that are perfect for me here…and these are books I’d never heard of. I bought a book on type design, and wrote down the name of more books on a scrap of paper that I lost. I’m utterly unable to keep track of scraps of paper or of receipts on the road. I saw a new book by Roger Penrose I’m curious about “Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe,” also a bio of Diane Arbus, also a new big book by Andy Goldsworthy called “Ephemeral Art” and on the cover he’s throwing a kelp strand into the air, and the 3D tangle squiggle of the long stalk in the air is the ephemeral art. So cool.

I’m going to order the Penrose, even though I well know that I’ll never manage to read it, any more that I read the others, but maybe this time I’ll get smart.

Strand Books has a dollar bin outside. And passers-by. Kind of flinching at my camera. I was using my nice little Fujifilm digital X100t with the fixed 22 mm lens for most of these pix.

Nice, nice wrought or cast iron grill inside a building, nice shot with the stairs, and I took the image into Lightroom as I always do, and tilted it (“It’s not tilted” says Gary Winogrand in my head), and used the “Clarity” slider to pop the reflections harder.

Mandatory shot of the crosswalks from our sixth-floor window. “Don’t lean out so far!” says Sylvia.

I like these “Googly balls” that are gross adhesive soft plastic in wild colors with flashing light pods inside. And this one is a new level…the old ones were “hairy” spheres but this one is fractalized with tendrils, got it at a shop inside Grand Central Station, and dangled it in our window. Such beauty, and fine “bokeh” with the background out of focus.

Blue shoes, and how.

An eco-art street-theater routine in front of the library. The people in white coveralls were making little fenced-off areas and sprinkling the little pens with artificial green grass. Something to do with suburbia.

In the NY public library, always great to poke around these hallowed super-heavy-stone spaces, Cyclopean in scale. Dig the Big Book in the library on the one hand and the blooming, buzzing city world outside. “Can I look it up?”

They’d renovated the Rose Reading Room on the 3rd floor, with its really charming four sky panels on the ceiling. I’d like to do a painting like this, maybe I’ll give it a try.

Noticed some nice old election buttons in the NY Library. “I’ll be my ass on Willkie,” yeah.

My lit agent John Silbersack met me for lunch at his Manhattan club, the Century Club. You have to wear a tie there, I think. So I donned my wedding suit and Ray-Bans.

Here’s John S. after our lunch. He always wears a bow-tie. A nice guy. He thinks we have a shot at selling my new “Million Mile Road Trip” to an SF or YA publisher, but it’s not a sure thing, as the gamut of acceptable types of SF titles continues to contract.

At certain risk to life and limb, I rented a CitiBike from one of the numerous automated stands, $12 for half an hour, and rode East on 41st street to the UN building. I’d hoped to reach the water over there, but they’ve got that FDR drive. This zoomed-in view of the UN and Brooklyn, it looks like an old-time SF magazine cover.

The canyons of New York City are exciting…not something you see in other cities.

A microgrocer tending his push-cart store’s supplies.

Nice brick deco decoration on the building across 41st St. from our room. We could look at some office workers in there too. One lady was there every day from about 7 to 5, moving around mounds of white sheets of paper on her desk. A very Franz Kafka Workman’s Insurance Company Of Prague type job.

We got together with our college friend Roger Shatzkin and looked at the new Whitney down in Chelsea. Sylvia and I were there last year, but it seemed like a whole different museum, with practically all the things on display being different this time. A really rich collection.

They have a patio cafe on the 8th floor, and more patio on the 7th and 6th. Awesome building, fairly utilitarian, but really well arranged. Dig this sculpture sitting on one of the benches. A scary mermaid, kind of, or maybe a zombie corpse. She has shells on her body, and that lipstick job, what a mess.

Glorious sky over the Whitney and Jersey. Such an uplifting public space.

The theme of the main show was “Portraits,” and here’s Edward Hopper’s portrait of himself. I like his hat. He always looks pretty serious. The space in his paintings has this gelatinous feel.

Mysterious woman wearing a long T-shirt as a minidress, and holding the museum map over her lower face the whole time, and with a Chrissie Hynde hair-do. Later I saw her leaving with a really fat forty-year-old guy, also in a T-shirt. Ah, the artistic demimonde.

This well-dressed elderly man walked up to me in the Whitney and pointed at my Fujifilm camera and said, “I owned that company!” Meaning the Fuji camera company. I told Roger about this, and he was impressed. I went over the the man and asked if I could take his photo. He pointed at my camera and exclaimed, “I owned that company.” So now I’m having doubts. The man’s chic and wealthy wife or female companion steps in to correct him. “No, dear, it was Leica that you owned.” Who knows…

I know it’s fairly cheap to be photographing works of art…fish in a barrel…but here’s an odd sculpture on one of the patio/balconies with a good view of Manhattan. A work in the Juxtapoz style, kind of cheesy really, but it’s very well executed and somewhat sinister.

One last art photo, Sylvia in front of Andy Warhol’s 1963 “Ethel Scull 36 Times,” based on about 300 Times Square photo-booth shots that her and Andy made while Andy was telling her jokes.

A street photography shot of two guys on 14th Street studying a smart phone. I like the “saint lighting” on the one guy.

Sylvia and me near the Whitney. I’m wearing one of her father’s old hats.

We got together with our cinematographer friend Eddie Marritz as well. Nice to laugh with friends from…50 years ago, yeah. Back then we were too young to take life seriously, now we’re too old to take life seriously. I guess maybe there were some serious patches in the middle and, okay, I guess health problems are supposed to be serious, but never mind. Today is all we ever have. And it’s a good today when you’re with dear friends.

We went out to Bryant Park, looking at the great mid-town buildings over the patch of green. This is the Radiator Building. The style is said to be “Gothic Deco.” And it looks like a radiator, awesome.

I’ve seen this inflatable rat in New York before. Some guys cart it around and inflate in in front of any building where the construction workers are having a fight with the contractors. Everyone likes the rat.

The performers in the subway stations can be awesome. This guy, by the Lexington line at Grand Central, was playing B.B. King “The Thrill Is Gone.” Wonderful voice and rich guitar sound. Note that the frame of the guitar is empty, it’s a sketch of a guitar.

The next day Sylvia and I went to the old Whitney building, on Madison Ave near now called the “Met-Breuer” after the architect Breuer who made it…such an ugly, cold, unpleasant, “brutalist” building. They had a show of Dianne Arbus photos from the start of her career, like 1956-1962, when she was using a 35 mm camera instead of a Rolleiflex, and I was eager to see them. The show was disappointing, on the whole. The old photos seemed technically flawed (on purpose?), that is, out of focus and underexposed, most of them, and not printed with her later skill.

A nice thing about the show was that, as well as the early works, they had a complete set of the famous “boxed set” of ten photos that Arbus was working on at the time of her death in 1971. These are from the late sixties, mostly. The one shown above is “‘King and queen of the senior citizen dance, N.Y., 1970.”

Looking at this one with Sylvia, I said, “This my nightmare of what our fiftieth wedding anniversary party will be like.”

“Better if it’s like that one,” she joked, pointing to the photo below.

This one is “Retired man and his wife at home in a nudist camp one morning, N.J, 1963.”

The museum also had a Paul Klee show, nothing much, although I did like this little image of a pig labeled with German for “Good Roast.” The pig’s mouth is good.

A Mad Ave shoe store. I like that cushion.

For our last museum we hit the Met, they had a Max Beckmann show. Here’s a detail showing Beckman as a “bad” school-boy, holding his drawing of a naked woman. R. Crumb once did a self-portrait like this.

Fabulous African masks in the Met. The one on the left, it just couldn’t be better. And I like the “pursuing” bit of mask on the right.

Winding it up, here’s a bronze griffin from an ancient Greek punch bowl. Always so mind-opening to realize that thousands of years ago people were just as smart and artistic as we are now. Making beautiful things to express their feelings and dreams. Long may we wave.

Well, almost all of us. Great fun seeing the daily headlines on the New York Post. So vigorous and New-York-ish.

Hot New Editions of 5 of my Novels

October 4th, 2016

I republished five of my older titles this week, polishing them up and adding new author notes—see the five covers below. Priced to sell: $2 ebooks and $12 paperbacks! Just scroll down this page and click on one of the covers to buy a Kindle or a paperback from Amazon.

Once again, that’s $2 ebooks and $12 paperbacks! You can also find Kindle, EPUB, and paperback buy links on my Transreal Books page.

Go get ’em.

Budapest / Vienna #3

October 3rd, 2016

So now I’m getting back to our trip to Budapest and Vienna. This is the Vienna part.

The cathedral is all bumpy like drip castle at the beach. The story is that Sylvia’s great-grandfather designed the stripes in the tiling of the cathedral roof.

Vienna’s really deluxe and classic in most of the downtown. Imposing buildings at every turn. Dig this fountain with the naiad (or whatever) holding the eternally gushing clam.

Statues up along the balustrade of a giant building, maybe one of the castles. Like sharpshooter feds at the big DC marches we’d go on during the ‘Nam war. Love those clouds.

Plenty of buskers in Vienna, playing, like really high-level Mozart sonatas. Music hath charms to tame the wild Rancid fan.

We made two visits to the KHM or Kunsthistorisches Museum or Art Historical Museum. They have a big stash of paintings by Peter Bruegel the Elder, my main man. I wrote the story of his life as a novel some years ago, a novel, As Above, So Below. You can find my booklength “Notes” for the book on the book’s home page as well.

This painting here isn’t a Bruegel, it’s a Rubens, called “Head of Medusa.” Severed head, done by Perseus as I recall. Supposedly Rubens didn’t paint the snakes himself, he called in a subcontractor artist, a special snake man.

I love the wild old Victorian-type art halls where they squeeze in paintings by all the 2nd and 3rd raters. The jumble bargain bin rising to the—oh wow—heavily enhanced coffer ceiling.

Great savage crocodile with some water babies. How exotic and strange the African animals are, even now. I think maybe this one was by Rubens too.

Bushes outside the KHM, when I see these bushes, I’m excited, like I’m on the verge of artistic ecstasy. I visited this museum about seven times while working on As Above, So Below.

Daughter Georgia was with us for the first two days in Vienna and I got her to come see the Bruegels with us. She really appreciated the KHM—she was, after all, an art history major. It wasn’t even especially crowded in there. With “Peasant Wedding” in the background. Like a whole novel in a frame. Great to be there with Sylvia and Georgia.

The KHM collection includes one of my very favorite Bruegel paintings of all, the “Hunters in the Snow.” Here’s a detail. The tired hunters, looks like they only got one animal, maybe a fox. All the emotions and feelings in those dogs. The little puppy-like one on the right floundering through the snow to be as fast as the others, and dog on his left checking him out. The one on the upper left weary and damp. That curled Borzoi tail of the one dog at the lower left who’s sniffing the other dog. . The image is like a teleportation gate, if I look at it for awhile I can go into the painting. Which is in fact the technique that I used for writing my Bruegel novel. I went into 15 or so of his paintings and lived in each of them for awhile, and wrote a chapter for each painting about what I saw while I lived inside it.

We got tired every day pounding the pavement, the weariness grew greater every day. So nice to go back to the room and put up our legs.

Starting out the day, interesting to see regular Viennese doing their jobs. Carpentry.

Lavishly decorated biking sign.

Eternal construction projects on the big Hofburg palace. Like the Germans, the Austrians never tire of retrofitting their architectural treasures.

I love walking around with my camera and seeing pictures. In this one I like how the untrimmed shoots are sticking out of the evergreen tree, and I like the 3D space curve of the hose. And of course the massive stone walls and the heavy iron grate. And the shadow of the prickly evergreen on the right.

Wrought iron can be fairly aggro.

Sylvia’s brother Henry met up with us in Vienna, and we ended up on some old library inside the Hofburg palace, lots of leather-bound books that you can’t imagine any of the aristos ever read, and this one really Big Book.

So classic, this old library, with the big marble statues, and the baroque encrustations on the ceiling, like mussels all over a wharf piling. And all them books.

Talk about encrustations, how about this giant gold ball atop the Hofburg gate. Maybe that’s the sun and those ladies are rolling it along?

Even the chains are intense and heavy-duty and bronze in Vienna.

Just to get off the beaten track I dragged Sylvia and Henry to the museum of the Globes. Like map globes. This thing here is kind of an orrery, like you use to demonstrate the motions of the planets and the moons. But this one is especially designed for explaining the phases of the moon. I think the candle in the middle is the Sun, but there’s an extra mirror on the right to, like, focus the Sun’s light more intensely.

The Magnificent Seven Plus One. Great globes of history. Actually these ones don’t look super old. On some of the really old ones, they have, like, California completely wrong, as nobody had ever made it there from Europe.

I can’t believe how old I look anymore. Mad scientist holed up in the Globe Museum.

Luscious wrought iron, enhanced by its shadows. It’s better to skew some photos, you catch the perspective better. People used to ask the street photographer Garry Winogrand about his photos being off-kilter and he’d flatly say, “They aren’t tilted.”

Awesome Art Nouveau poster for the Secession building erected for counter-academic art around 1903. So Fillmore West, too. Isn’t it time for Art Nouveau to circle round again?

I’m such a Bruegel fanatic that I made sure we stayed in a hotel only a block away from the big KHM museum where the Master’s works reside. Good view of the place from our attic-level window. Casing the joint. The “Hunters in the Snow” shall be mine!

Cool Deco style china closet by the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workplaces) of, I dunno, maybe the 1920s. The shadows make the shot.

Dig the 3/4 moon in the reflecting pool. Near a big church whose name I forget, across the big “Ring” road from the Mozart concert hall where they have the special concert on New Year’s Day every year and you can watch it on TV. The do shows every day for tourists too. If the show is for tourists, the musicians put on Mozart outfits. Obviously if you’re a local you don’t want to see the concerts where the musicians wear costumes. But they play just as well either way.

Some good action on this wall. I always love the deadly lightning-bolt warning signs. Plus the Picasso-like sketch on the fuse box. And the big flowing red tag with kind of a Sanskrit feel to it.

Over the door of the Secession building. Like I already said, it’s so Sixties, echoing from the Tens.

Drab subway hall with a nice curve to it.

And below, amid the Hephaestean clangor, the men are repairing the escalator. Seems like it would be hard to do.

Another dose of Baroque schmaltz. I like the rococo decorations right inside the window frame up at the top. And this church had a good-ceiling dome paintings. The gods glancing down at us, not all that concerned with what we’re up to. Like café society habitues noticing the rabble on the street.

Thanks to Tweeting about my progress, I connected with one of my readers, a lawyer in a great old office near the cathedral, Karl Arlamovsky, a good guy.

I like this shot, with the man exiting the corridor to the cathedral square. The Luxarado sign makes a good balance.

Women on the subway escalator. The hair of the woman on the right seems very fairy-tale.

Another great graffito. I like that ends in the question mark. And the window with the interesting stuff in it, like the half-head, and the reflection in the wiggly old windowpane glass.

This is me in a great Vienna cafe called the Central. I had this great pastry called “Mohr im Hemd,” warm chocolate cake with a “shirt” of whipped cream and ice cream.
One of my main goals in life had been to eat this treat again—I’d had it Vienna about fifteen years earlier. Can you believe the ceiling? For awhile in the 50s the place was a bank, what a waste. But then it went back to being a café. They say that both Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud used to hang out here in the early 1900s.

So back to the KHM, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Art-Historical Museum. Behold a drinking horn, perched playfully like a puppy on his little legs. “Ready for a run, Master?”

Here I am with another of my favorite Peter Bruegel paintings, “The Conversion of the Apostle Saul.” Wonderful deep sky in this painting. As I mentioned I have a “Notes on Bruegel” document online as a PDF, I put it together while working my novel about Peter, and if you scroll down through the doc, you’ll find I have fairly detailed notes on each of the Mater’s 50 known paintings.

A detail from “The Battle of Carnival and Lent.” The beggars are great, so passionate. And the thin, mean pig or varken as you say in Dutch. And the little guy in the motley outfit of stripes and red. It just doesn’t get any better than Bruegel. And, since you ask, his name should not be pronounced “Broygel,” nor should it be spelled Breughel. He spelled it Bruegel, and his Belgian countrymen pronounce his name “Broogel,” with maybe a bit of a throat-clearing sound on the g, but never mind the throat-clearing, just say Broogel. Like bagel with roo inside. And I’m Roo.

This detail from “Peasant Dance” knocks me out. The guy on the right, he’s, like, drunk who’s worshipfully intently into what the musician is doing, like Jack Kerouac staring up at a sax player, or like a guy my age fixating on Keith Richards onstage. And the musician himself, whoah.

Quirky parting shot from the KHM museum…we noticed a little group going around, getting a docent-led tour, and the guide is…transgender, in full drag, rich with voice modulations and flamboyant gestures. The guide’s herd of tourists, they were, like, enthralled. And Bruegel was glad.

Our last night in Vienna, we got together with this cool countercultural agitator Konrad Becker, over the years he got me invited to Vienna twice for paying gigs, his politics are, like, complex literary criticism of our seeming reality…more info at his World-Information Institute page. He guided us to a hipster café on the old city wall. Right when we saw Konrad he was really into the new Pokemon Go game…he was walking all around Vienna playing it, and meeting lots of people at favored Pokemon swarming spots in parks.

Wonderful cities, Budapest and Vienna. I was sorry to leave.

Budapest / Vienna #2

September 14th, 2016

There’s a big island called Margaret Island, or Margitsziget, in the Danube at the northern side of Budapest. Once of its features is an amazing fountain, which is accompanied by recorded music several times an hour. Hungarians are very clever people, and the fountain design is fairly awesome. I thought of 3-D mathematical Lissajous curves.

For most of this vacation I wore a new pair of Mephisto Shark sandals, very comfortable. As has been my fashion-insensitive custom for going on forty years, I often wore my sandals with patterned socks. Mais oui!

The busses, trains, and trams work really well in Budapest, as in the rest of Europe. One of those things that America should have mastered by now, but for some reason hasn’t. Like making good bread and good butter and serving good meat in restaurants. We saw some interesting people on the trams, like this woman (on the right) with her son, who was busy trying to burst a make-shift balloon made of an inflated latex glove. The tough-looking woman was on her cell phone the whole time, talking Hungarian of course.

Yet another shot from Corvin Ter. Love these bent bollards.

Georgia, Courney, and kids took us around in Pest one day, in a funkier, more night-life-loving neighborhood. I liked this drip of white paint on the dark sidewalk. A mystery arrow.

The dead and live vines on this wall caught my eye. Spreading fractal zones of influence. I usuall do my best to crop out images of automobiles from my photos. Somehow cars are almost always mundane and boring.

We made our way to one of our children’s favorite places in Budapest, the Szimpla Farmers Cafe, which could also be termed a “ruin bar,” that is, a multi-room hangout/nightclub carved out of a more or less uninhabited building, including an open courtyard. Graffiti on nearly every surface. I spotted myself in a mirror here.

Naturaly Erno Rubik is a Hungarian folk hero for his famous Rubik’s Cube. The Szimpla ventilation system incorporates a painted sheet-metal model of the Cube. This image was out of focus, so I applied an “oil paint” filter to it, giving it a nice look. Like a graffiti image of the actual photo.

A pure image of Szimpla graffiti, including deep grooves scratched into the plaster wall. Gorgeous. Georgia and Courtney told us that, at night, young women walk the rooms of Szimpla with huge trays of giant, raw, peeled carrots for sale as snacks. SO non-American. Love it.

From Szimpla we moved on to a nice cafe reatuarant in a different courtyard. I was struck by the beauty of a waiting toilet paper roll in its immaculate Euro surroundings.

The cafe’s decor style was, basically, “random colors for the hell of it.” But the colors had approcimately the same brightness, and the merge worked well.

Some awesome wrought iron deco-style street lamps outside, and some deco-style apartment buildings as well. Something I always like in Manhattan is the presence of the 1920s – 1940s style skyscrapers. Budapest has an even broader palette of architectural sytles. A lot of the city was badly bombed in WWII, but interesting swaths survived…and a number of structures were rebuilt.

Dig this slackadelic op-art candy-cane-bridge table-top in an inner-city Budapest cafe called the Akvarium Klub. A flat reflecting pool lies above the underground club’s roof. The grandkids and I had the delight of seeing any angry security guard chase off some rowdy young women who were wading in the pool, with some danger of falling through into the Klub along with a million gallons of tepid Hammond microorganism-laden water. We kids and I got away with wading at the edge.

Our biggest water-fun day was at the Gellert Hotel on the Buda side. A venerable old spa with amazing set of tiled thermal baths beneath it, all in Art Nouveau style, and the baths going up to 38 degrees Celsius, which is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t get any shots in there, but here’s a picture of the concrete bank of the Danube just outside. Nice graffiti. Budapest is honeycombed with hot springs—which may have been one of the reasons the Turks invaded so often over the centuries. There’s a spot in this concrete wall where the hot springs bubble through, and Gerogia said she saw a guy washing himself in them, and he said something like, “Poor man’s Gellert.”

Looking out at the Danube from our Art’otel windows one afternoon Sylvia and I saw these far-out patches of light on the river. The sun was setting behind us, and the light was bouncing off a building’s windows and onto the water. Nature’s mindbogglingly intricate computations.

Simple pleasures. A plus sign on a worn bit of concrete with a fence atop.

After about six days in Budapest, we went on to Vienna—and I’ll post the Vienna images in follow-up posts. Sticking to Hungary for now, after Vienna we returned to Budapest and went on to a small Hungarian country town called Eger, known for their vinyards. Some of Sylvia’s many Hungarian relatives were having a family reunion in a country inn there. The guy in this picture is playing a cimbalom, an unfamiliar (to me) instrument that’s popular in Hungary. Kind of like a piano or dulcimer in terms of having stretched strings, but they guy was playing it by hammering the strings with some soft sticks. An Eger band. The guy playing the violin was the group’s front man, a character. Whenever I’d start to take a group picture of my family, the guy with the violin would push forward to get into the family picture, standing in the back row with the others.

This is me at the big reunion, kicking back beneath an arbor of wine vines with dangling bunches of grapes, and after a meal featuring, among other delights, a very fine Weiner schnitzel, a.k.a. “Bechsi szelet” (Vienna slice). I’d foudn a semi-decent shirt for the event. After nearly two weeks, I’d pretty much stopped trying to categorize my meager stash of garments as “clen” or “dirty,” it was more a matter of which one I hadn’t actually worn for a few days.

There’s a certain sense of a middle Eastern influence in Hungary. We even found a minaret in Eger, although it was smaller than it looks in this photo, we walked to it and it wasn’t all that far away. A partly crumbling tower with serious fist-sized chunks of stone at its base. No American-style warning signs though. More like—figure it out for yourself. Love this twilight view. Here again I used an iPhone 6 rather than my heavy-duty Fujiflim X100T, so the image is bit grainier than I’d like. But very myserious and enticing. What would it be like to move to Eger?

The wall of an old castle looms above Eger. Dig the patchwork of roofs and walls and sky. Love it.

We hit a big cathedral or basilicum in downtown Eger. Classic Euro scene here of a marble statue against trees. You can’t see in this photo, but in the parking lot down there, some of the locals were having a car festival, celebrating some kind of really tiny car, like Fiats or Ladas or some such. As opposed to the populuxe Detroit rides you might see at a California car fair.

We walked to a food market out last evening in Budapest, passed this delightfully decript “Window Door — Make Repair — Joiner” shop. No time for his own windows and door…

With a magnificent peeling wall. Next installment will be on our days in Vienna.

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