This image is the door of a tomb in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. As mentioned below, I was there this past Wednesday, making the pilgrimage to Jim Morrison's grave. After communing with Jim's ghost, I wandered a while in the quiet cobblestone lanes of Père Lachaise. . . a pure pleasure anytime. It is a beautiful place by any standard. The late afternoon sun transformed this slightly rusty, weathered door into pure gold. .
It has been quite a while since a poem was posted in these pages. . . but it is not only about the photos and reflections, right ? If you take a look at Rebekah Westover's blog, which you can get to by clicking the link in the list of blogs I follow at upper right here, there is a sad story about all the rapes that are happening in the Congo. . . and about efforts being made to raise funds to bring relief to some of this agony. There are some stories that make one want to tear one's eyes out, for all the awful offense one's eyes can cause just by reading the daily news. Which reminded me of this piece written a few moons ago. . . . . .........True Believer . Homer Stern told me a story once About a man he met in Klamath Falls, Oregon one day. The man was on a bench in the city park With a message scrawled on the sidewalk In front of him in yellow chalk. It said, "Please help, I am blind." Homer sat down beside him And without beating around the bush Asked him what had happened to his eyes. The man answered directly: "I plucked them out. The Good Book says That if your eyes offend you You should pluck them out." Homer asked him how his eyes had offended him. He replied as follows: "I took a vacation once, In Europe, see, and it was the best time I ever had. Every place I went was more beautiful than the last. But then it was time to come home. My flight arrived in Newark, New Jersey. When I got out of the airport And startod looking around, My eyes started to pain me. When I couldn't take it any longer I plucked one of them out. Hurt like hell. But I done what the Good Book said. I got by alright on one eye until the day I went to see a film about Native Americans And what we immigrant Americans did to them. When I came out of the theatre I looked around. The Earth was paved as far as I could see. Nothing but cars. Popcorn and plastic in the lobby. The other eye had to go. It was offending me right and left. Everything I saw was an insult to the Earth. A doctor in the hospital asked me if I was crazy. And I said : No sir, I'm just a true believer." . .
Having just posted the decaying circus poster below here, and while still in the zebrology inspired trance state brought on by resurrecting ancient images of zebras, here are a couple more pieces from the Phillips Collection holdings . . . both are wall hangings that grace my bedroom walls. . . what could be better than waking to see zebras roaming the fading morning dreamscape ? May your days too be blessed by the presence of zads of zebras !
Faded and weather worn remains of public posters are sometimes a source of miraculous visions from the back of beyond. This decrepit decaying poster held magic for me. . . clowns ! zebras ! the circus is in town ! (photographed in July 1999 near Cahors, France)
Back in October in these blog pages, a piece under the title of "Found Art" shows a rather flat tricycle hanging on a door which I photographed in 1987 in Pennsylvania ; and which led to meeting someone who has been a friend ever since. In July, 1999 near Cahors, France, it was another tricycle hanging provocatively in view from the road as a sign of sorts that led me to stop and discover another artist. . . Bertrand Chenu, the keeper of the Museum of the Absurd, or in French, le Musée de l'insolite. An Ali Baba's cavern of the miraculous, the magnificent in the mundane, the immortal imagination of a true magician when it comes to taking objects from all walks of life and transforming them into unforgettable masterpieces of mythic proportions. Don't miss it ! And if you can't get there physically in the immediate future, at least take a look virtually on the Museum's website here. And thanks for that titanic tricycle Bertrand ! ! ! In my dreams I will be riding it through a starscape to the land where the wild things are. . . .
This past Wednesday we went into Paris and decided to take a stroll in the Père Lachaise Cemetery which is one of my favorite places. Although named "Père" ("father" in French) one could say, using the popular expression, that it is the mother of all cemeteries. In any case, it is one of the most incredible cemeteries in the world in its quiet beauty, the astonishing array of art forms in sculptures, mosaics, bas reliefs, inscriptions, its lovely trees and cobblestone paths, and in the high density of famous folks laid to rest there. . Not having done so for quite a few years, we decided to go visit Jim Morrison's tomb, which as you can read at considerable length on this web site, is one of the most visited sites in Paris. I can remember going there back in 1985 and again in 1986, and seeing his tomb, plus a large number of tombs around his, totally covered in graffiti of all descriptions and colors, as well as candles on all possible surfaces in the area, melted pools of wax that had run down tombstones, flowers galore, scraps of paper with poems and prayers covering his tomb like confetti, and young hippies who seemed to hang out there for hours on end. The alleys in the vicinity had all sorts of arrows or other signs scrawled in visible places to help you find your way to Jim's grave. . It has changed considerably since then. There is almost no graffiti visible anywhere, all the tombs in the area are spotlessly clean, and only a few mournful flowers adorned his plot. If you read the site (link above) there are security cameras now, anyone caught writing graffiti is fined, and the grave is cleaned daily of flowers and so forth. Nevertheless, despite the "clean" aura, which is far more respectful of the surrounding graves than previously, it is still a pilgrimage to make for anyone who loves the Doors music and/or who grew up steeped in the 1960's of American culture. . On our way to Jim's grave I saw only one small marking on a cobblestone showing the way. . .
Quite a few people had left flowers that day. . .
The quote in Greek on the plaque on his headstone has been interpreted in different ways depending on the website you visit. The site link above gives this explanation for "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy" : "Old Greek" TO THE DIVINE SPIRIT WITHIN HIMSELF. In "New Greek" it means HE CAUSED HIS OWN DEMONS.
And at the base of a tree growing close to Jim's grave the same pen that marked the cobblestone above had written this . . .
I mentioned not too far below in a piece with a dragon photo how much I love poems by Ogden Nash, that bring my childhood flooding back. Another of my absolute all time favorites, of which I still have a copy given to me in 1964 by my Aunt Jan and Uncle Mike when I was rather small still, is Maurice Sendak's classic work "Where the Wild Things Are". Every illustration in it abounds in pure rumpus-loving wonder. If this book is not already in your home, if you have children, or if you know someone who does and who doesn't have it already, or if you just love beautiful illustration work, well head for Amazon or wherever you buy your books, and pick up a copy soon. Hopefully all the new business the publisher will be getting as a result of this blog entry will help them forget to be mad at me for reproducing this one (just one) image from that lovely book. And if you want to see some other equally excellent illustration art, please take a look at Theo Ellsworth's blog by clicking here or by following the link I added on the right side here to "Thought Cloud Factory News". If you like Edward Gorey, MC Escher, Maurice Sendak, or John R. Neill (Oz books illustrator), I think there is a good chance that you will enjoy Theo's work also. . . so what are you waiting for. . . go take a look !
Driving in Paris yesterday on the way to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, we were stopped in traffic on the Rue des Orteaux when I noticed this scene on a dilapidated building front that was scheduled for demolition. Before we drove off again I just had a second to grap the camera and snap this shot. To understand why I did it, you'll have to go to Theo Ellsworth's blog and scroll down a few posts to the recent one titled "found art". If I hadn't just seen that little piece of magical blog writing, and the accompanying child's drawing, I might not even have noticed the drawing someone pasted in the middle of the door here. I didn't have any barking dogs coming at me, but there were a couple of people on the corner who looked like junkies that had me holding on to my camera out the car window for dear life. I liked the captions provided around the edge of this image also. . . "Eradication of Insalubrity" and "Live a safer daily life". And the texture on the door, of course. . .
Well, the first photos are back from the shop. . . the first of over 3700 negatives that have never been printed. Little by little in the coming months am going to be sending them off to the lab to be transformed into digital files. I was surprised at the quality, the images came back on average at about 4 to 5 Mo, which is fine for my current uses. So stay tuned, there will be more coming from that Pandorra's box. . . . I'm fairly certain that the door to my dream house in the woods might look something just like this. . .
There is a dream house Waiting in the woods When I can no longer Stand this present world I will go there And fix the roof, mend the walls Build a rocking chair for the porch Live there peacefully In quiet Far from the crowds Far from the maddening rushing about Until the end of my days. . . . And it looks something like this, my dream house in the woods. . . . .
As mentioned in the post just below this one, we set out for a two hour walk this afternoon, taking the long straight path which arrives in the dim distance here at the Apremont Polo fields, which are world renowned if you are into playing polo, or if your name is Prince Charles or some such. . .
You may have seen in the news recently stories about the two big storms that blew across France in late January and early February. In the south of France the wind blew at class 2 hurricane force. I hadn't thought the second storm across the northern part of France had done much damage until seeing these large advertisement signs for Jaeger-LeCoultre watches in ruins along the edge of the polo fields at Apremont.
I was backsliding again today. . . while out for a two hour hike this afternoon with my wife, I couldn't resist the urge to push open the ancient iron gates and step into an old cemetery in a little village that is about an hour's walk from where we live. And as is usually the case in old French cemeteries, there were some gems. . Take this heart, for example, in all my years of poking around in cemeteries, I've never seen one quite like this, and I thought the way the metal had weathered between copper-green and iron-rust was simply beautiful. The story it told of a man who had lost his 29 year old wife was heartbreaking. .
This open book, which was so small I could barely read it, measuring maybe 4 inches by 6 inches, was another "first" for me. Roughly translated it says : "The book of life is the supreme book, one cannot close it or open it by choice. One might like to return to the page where one was in love, but the page where one dies is already in one's fingers."
I loved the iron work around this circular metal plaque... .
This is another piece of the ceramic kitsch still visible on older tombs... see earlier posting with more examples of this funerary artform. . .
In the "faces from the past" category, I loved this gentleman's beard, and for your information, his family name was : PROOT (may he rest in peace)
This last portrait was so faded there was little left but a ghostly gaze from under a cap. . . .
True to my Zebrologist faith (well some people go for Scientology, so why not Zebrology ?) I put on my zebra t-shirt this morning. . . and will soon be taking it off again to go get my beauty sleep. In small print along the side it says "equus burchelli", you can find more nice zebra images by clicking that link. Anyway, this is one of my old favorite shirts, things seem to go right on days when it's on my back. . .
If you have read some of the earlier posts about zebras and zebrology in these pages, you will understand why I must continue to keep the zebra images coming. . . the winter is not over yet, and we still need that natural gas from Russia to keep flowing. This photo was taken by a gentleman named Ron Rowson, who I was unable to track down to ask permission to use this image here ; but I did purchase this postcard years ago, so hopefully he at least received some royalties. It was printed in Holland by a company called Art Unlimited Amsterdam. There are in fact rather alot of postcards in the Phillips Collection, that I've been squirreling away over the years. . . some more of them may surface in these pages sooner or later. . . it is a terrible thing, that jackdaw urge to continually collect.
On a trip to Ornans, France in September 1991, as mentioned below in reference to Gustave Courbet, I dawdled for days in the small villages just south of Ornans along the Loue River. At one spot there was an abandoned ceramic tile plant where an elderly couple was still living in the house on the property. And they had a 3 legged dog who was one of the nicest small collies I've ever met. Poor critter had lost a front leg chasing cars on the road, but didn't seem to be too slowed down by it, he just leaned a little to one side for balance. . .
And just above Ornans, at the top of the cliffs visible in Courbet's painting of the burial there, sits a small hamlet near the old chateau, where this boy was sitting on the steps in the company of a very plump looking chicken. . .
From one dead fish photo, to two dead cat images, we arrive here at three dead dogs. As stated below for the cat, I am also a dog lover, and can assure you that I find scenes like these profoundly distressing, and consider them a prophetic sign of our horribly hurried times. We rush, we rush, we rush, and heaven help the poor beast that should try to cross the road in front of our rushing automobiles. I took a trip down into West Virginia and Kentucky back in 1989, and came across these three dormant dogs along a relatively short stretch of highway all in one afternoon. I remember thinking at the time that there must be an incredible abundance of canines in that region, that three of them should wind up dead by the roadside on the same afternoon. . I know the subject of roadkill may not be pleasing to everyone, it goes hand in hand with our general approach to death. Death remains a pretty taboo subject for many people. As in the movie "Fight Club", rule number one is you don't talk about death... rule number two is you don't talk about death. But sooner or later everyone must come to terms with death. . . In the meanwhile, please think about driving just a little bit slower, to give the next beast that crosses your path just a little bit more of a chance to get out of your way. .
Walking in Paris, the City of Light, is always a fascinating experience, one never knows what one may stumble on. One day back in the Summer of 1986 I literally stumbled over a deceased, defunct cat that had come to rest at the foot of an advertising kiosk. I am a cat lover, we have two these days, so it was with infinite sadness that I photographed this pitiful black kitty who came to a sudden end on a Paris street. Knowing how Parisian people tend to drive, any animal loose in Paris had better be very alert and nimble to survive. Something struck me as terribly incongruous between this bedraggled feline cadaver and the posters for dance shows above it. . . I guess that's life in the big city. .
From Elk Creek Ranch in Wyoming, we are now heading into Elk Neck State Park on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. For a several years there, before I moved to France, a few of us (like the aforementioned Bob R.E.K. Wreck the painter & Jeff the boat builder) would head down to Elk Neck from time to time and spend the day roaming the woods and cliffs along the shore, and building bonfires on the beach when the sun started to get low in the sky. There is something primordially wild about Elk Neck that brings out the best in people, and we shared many a fine day down there totally forgetting about the industrialized wastelands that haunt our normal lives. . One day I photographed this dead fish that had washed up on the beach. . . his eye seemed like a black hole to me. . .
These photos from November, 1990 give an idea of what Autumn colors along the shore could do. . .
And at the end of the day followed the renowned Chesapeake Bay sunsets. . . which over the space of just a few minutes could go from blues and grays tinged with gold to pure molten fire. . . .
Last summer, in July 2008, our daughter Emilie had the wonderfully good fortune to have been able to spend a month at Elk Creek Ranch, which occupies a heavenly piece of land out between Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, and which gives teenagers the opportunity to live and work on a ranch, while discovering the incredible outdoors of northwestern Wyoming. After living the experience vicariously through Emilie, I would not hesitate to strongly recommend Elk Creek Ranch to anyone who has teenaged children whose horizons might benefit from a little broadening. This photograph of Emilie at Elk Creek was taken by Hap Ridgway, who is clearly a fine photographer, and is one of the key people making Elk Creek Ranch the incredible experience that it is for young people.
While travelling in Haiti in February, 1997 (Carnaval time !) I had the good fortune to visit the sculpture workshop in Petionville (above Port-au-Prince) of Francois Sanon, who does beautiful wood sculptures. The one he is holding in this photo, which I purchased, was about the smallest in size that he did, many in his shop were on a much bigger scale, and all carved out of beautiful tropical hardwoods. Although several websites on Google mention him, there does not, unfortunately, seem to be a site purely dedicated to his work. Someone should remedy that lack of information, for Francois Sanon is an important Haitian artist, and deserves wider recognition. .
The main reason we went to Haiti in 1997 was to visit Rudi Stern, who was making documentary films there at the time. Out on Rudi's terrace I photographed this painting he was working on, a self portrait. Rest in peace Rudi, we miss you. .
Its been a great weekend. . . On vacation as of Friday night, on Saturday afternoon I made an important discovery, well, important for me anyway. . . a local photo shop has a machine which allows them to convert negatives directly into digital image files. You may very fairly call me slow, or maybe I've just been too busy working these past several years, but although I had supposed such technology must be out there, I'd never actually looked into it. For a very modest fee they will give me ".jpg" files from my negatives. I recently sat down and started doing a catalog job on all of the negatives I have in archival plastic storage sheets, organizing them by year, and counting them ; the final tally was 3718 negatives accumulated over the years, the vast majority of which I have never printed anything from beyond a contact sheet, and then only for a small part of them. So I turned in the first batch to do a test with, and have high hopes that their machine is going to give reasonably high quality results. . So watch out, there may be another 3000 plus images coming your way via this blog in the near future ; many of which have never been seen even by me after the shutter clicked on the viewfinder image. The suspense is killing me ! And if you are enjoying this blog, well pass it on to a friend or two, or three, or ten . . . let's get that traffic feed monitor flapping with new flags ! . Then tonight, Sunday evening, we went out to a local Italian Restaurant and ate some excellent al Pesto Pasta. . . Yum ! . If you spend any amount of time at all wandering around France visiting churches, monasteries, convents, and the like, you will know that there are some stonecarving gems from the Middle Ages to be found if one hunts a little. These are two good examples from the archives. I liked the forked tongues. Are these images of investment bankers ?
In case any of you might have been wondering what author of these pages resembles, well, here I am, sitting on a bench on a bridge which has figured in a couple of color photos in earlier posts down below here somewhere. Way back near the start of this blog I posted a poem called "Between Two Islands", this bridge is not far from that place, somewhere in the vast marshlands of southern New Jersey. One of the most peaceful places in the world. . .
And this is again your author at a 1992 party, appearing in a painting that was produced by Bob Wreck (see earlier posts of some of his other paintings !) as a Halloween costume a few years previously. I forget whether he said if he had actually worn anything other than this painting as his costume for that Halloween party. . . again, it is not quite in the same league as the Venus de Milo or the Winged Victory of Samothrace ; but it is pure Bobzilla !
Well, I was bad last night and went out with a friend, another American living in France long term, to see some Rock and Roll music at a small venue in Pont St Maxence, a backwater old industrial town on the Oise River. On the lineup were two bands, the first of which is not totally unknown; "Tahiti 80", and the second, a group of younger guys billing themselves as "Stuck In The Sound". Both can be found on MySpace pages by googling their names. . This first picture is Tahiti 80, who put on a bright, upbeat show with tight playing and catchy riffs, and one long Santana inspired keyboard and rhythm section jam that had the audience jumping. . . good stuff and a good time. . .
This is Xavier Boyer, singer, guitar, and sometimes bass and keyboard player for Tahiti 80. . . thanks Xavier !
The second act, Stuck In The Sound, were louder, rowdier, more punk rock inspired, for what they may have lacked in melody, they made up for with sheer volume. . . another style entirely from Tahiti 80.
This mural artwork was on an interior wall just outside the concert hall in the Manekine cultural center in Pont St Maxence. Not sure exactly what kind of "culture" is being promoted here. . . but, whatever. . . the Venus de Milo it is not.
Two books of Owen's Photos are now available and can be seen in their entirety by clicking on the links that are in this post about them. Enjoy ! If you would like to order one, please drop me an e-mail to owenmart333 at gmail dot com
Owen's Photos Now For Sale on ImageKind
Image Kind Gallery
If you see a photo in this blog which you would like to have on a wall at home, just let me know and I will be happy to upload it to the ImageKind site where it can be purchased at the link above.
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A Small Show in Paris
Do Drop By : December 2011, Jan 2012, Click photo for info
Unless credited otherwise, all photos and text in this blog are original work protected by international intellectual property and copyright laws. Please ask for permission if you wish to use something.
Why ? Answer : Why not ? Originally from a foreign country, now French and living in France for the past 20 years. Am still adapting to culture shock. Frequently go out scouring the countryside, camera in hand, looking for my dream house, for my dreamtime, for my dreams.
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