Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category

Hot New Editions of 5 of my Novels

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

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

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.

Budapest / Vienna #1

Sylvia and I took a trip to Budapest to visit our daughter Georgia, who’s living there for two years with her husband Courtney and their two kids. Courtney is teaching English there, and Georgia’s still running her graphic design biz from afar. Sylvia’s family comes from Hungary, and I’ve been there two or three times before, but not for about ten years. It was fun to go back there. Such a different part of the world. We stayed in a nice hotel, the Art’otel, with a room overloking the fabled Danube. The first day I had jetlag, and woke up to this view outiside my window. Those are the Hungarian Parliament buildings. Kind of shading into the East a little bit here. I didn’t even tweak those colors, believe it or not. That’s how they came up.

Budapest is, in a way, two cities: Buda and Pest. Buda is the more residential side. Our hotel was there, and above it is a hill with the old “var” or castle. Hungarian words aren’t at all like any romance language words you know. Near the Var is an incredibly deocorated church of St. Matthias. This is the tile floor. Very Escher.

The church was rebuilt/redecorated after the war, and there’s a bit of a modernist feel. I dig this crow with a ring. Has a real fairy tale feel to it. I want to write a story involving this crow.

In one corner the church has an odd, off-center oculus window, with seething decoration all around. Like a math construction in the non-Euclidean plane. Hungarians are known for their mathematical abilities, you understand.

Out with Georgia and the two grandkids, we had hot dogs in this very peaceful little square called, I think, Corvina Ter. Thick green grass. A resident bum who was there every day, smoking cigarettes, his skin a dark rich shade, not unhappy looking.

The street near the Corvina Ter was paved with yellow bricks. Awesome plays of light and pastels on the Budapest buildings’ walls.

A lone bicycle chained up. I thought of Atget or Brassai. That European shadow-play photo thing.

A sphinx by the square, she looks kind of modern, like maybe a social worker of some kind. “Please answer these questions or I’ll kill you.”

When I get into it with my camera and I’m in an interesting new place like this little square, I can find dozens of things to shoot. Here’s a homemade bit of heraldry, like a coat of arms, over the door of a massivley baroque house. If this photo doesn’t quite have the presence of some of the others, it’s because I shot it with an iPhone 6 instead of my preferred Fujifilm X 100T…which, however, I don’t always have on me.

Always great to get a clear shot of bicycle shadows on the road near dawn.

Going into town on the Pest side, we passed a night club that seemed to be devoted to mocking, or being nostalgic for, the old Red days.

Came across a museum about writers, they had a show on a Hungarian writer I hadn’t heard of. We didn’t go in, although I like the idea of there being such museums, and I loved the pink and yellow colors on the walls.

I’m always interested in the concept of those evil pigs who turn against their fellows and work as pork butchers. A very sinister examplar here. The food in the place looked delicious. I’m a pig chef myself, I guess, since I think of my totem animal as the pig, and I do like to eat pig meat. I wrote a story “The Men in the Back Room at the Country Club” a few years ago that includes a pig chef type character—only he’s cooking humans for alien invaders. You can read it online. Really this story should be made into a movie along the lines of American Graffiti—it’s about a last night of high-school.

We passed through the church where my wife’s parents were married. So calm in there, a Lutheran church, less decorated than the Catholic ones, but with quite an intricate altar painting. Touring Europe I always like going into a church and sitting in a pew. Good way to rest, and to tune in on the Cosmic Vibe, and to see ineresting architecture and art.

We had lunch one day in a cafe on the enormous square in front of the Parliament building. I dug the lazy-tongs contraption holding up the awning. Exceedingly hot day. Not much air-conditioning in Hungary, which is kind of relaxing, once you accept the fact.

Another shot from near the Corvina Ter behind our hotel. I was waking up very early, due to jet lag, and I’d take a little walk in the morning. The windows here are sized in such a way as to give a “forced persepctive” effect like on a stage set. Sorry about it being out of focus, I guess I rushed the shot. If a photo is far enough out of focus, you can’t fix that in Photoshop or in (my usual editor) Lightroom. So then you say the photo is atomspheric…or like an antique postcard.

Our tram stop had a view of a great Art Deco building with a vivacious tree. I liked the pattern of the balcony railing supports in particular. More to come…

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