Berlin, Germany is a living, well kept up ode to Grecian architecture, Roman and other ancient world antiquities, classical treasures in sumptuous museums, 19th century design and art, classical music, coffeehouses, bookshops, culture, beauty, ideals, dark history, fresh hopes, and a detached but genial air keeping time with efficiency. The architecture and the antiquities in the museums are seductive and worth the visit! What a charming and fascinating city!!!
What if a girl met a boy online and they talked and talked and talked in a series of messages and photos and videos but never on the telephone or face to face?
What if a girl did this over and over again with a few boys over a few years, searching for herself in someone else, in a series of misconnections, and connections, oft times shallow, but at times seemingly, beautifully deep? What is real and what is artifice – between two people who “feel” they “know” each other intensely – for awhile? When is the exact moment the lines blur and fantasy and reality become too entangled? Where do you escape the escape when it grows too real, and therefore, too untenable?
What if a girl made a little “story” about a dead girl who rhetorically tweets a boy 3000 miles away from the tomb, and he doesn’t even know she is gone?
This is from a series I worked on and wrote two years ago (2014)
I caught a ridiculously photogenic couple in Rome taking a selfie together on the pincian hill at sunset, with cupolas and Saint Peter’s behind them. Oh, to be young and beautiful and in love in Roma, what many in this world wouldn’t give for it. If only, I think to myself…
Persimmon trees bearing fruit with a view.
A little ruin and a little Renaissance (and rococo).
Dance of the tourists on the Villa Borghese’s Pincio overlooking the Piazza del Popolo.
A kissing dove and pigeon. White doves always strike me as a symbol of Ancient Rome, much like olive trees.
I like watching the beauty of Rome unfold before other people.
The endless flow of Roman water over stone and newly fallen leaves.
There’s always a sense of play and humor in the Villa Borghese park, especially in the Pincian hill section.
Walking along the Appian Way one is reminded why Rome will always be the eternal city, winter, spring, summer or autumn.
I write to you from Italy. It’s where I belong, if I belong anywhere in this world. I should be writing this in Italian, that beautiful language… the language of Dante, and poetry, and of the maestros, but I’ve mastered one language only, English. Mastered it with the devotion of a life long lover who never grows bored. Such is my devotion to Italia itself. To the stories of Italy, to the soil, the sun, the gleaming stripped marble of ruins, the art, the hum of life for centuries still playing in stone.
Love and Italy are entwined for me. But love for a place feels less dangerous than love for another soul. What is it about love more than any other sensation or state that makes it worth dying for for nearly everybody? Is it the intoxication? Is it that danger of falling; first in love, —the surrender of giving oneself so completely to another, and then, —the alluring danger of falling into disrepute and disintegration?
(‘before sunrise’ trilogy film still)
You’ll never have nowhere to go, I heard in a song once. That’s the other thing about love too, isn’t it? If you are my fail safe, I’ll be your home. We’ll never have nowhere to go, we’ll never be quite alone, never be utterly lost in the world with our pieces of love tethered to an anchor. Love gives you the buoyancy of floating, even at the end of a rope. The deeper the love, the deeper the water, the longer the line, the sweeter the kiss, the saltier the tears. The deeper the knife plunge. Something like that.
Loving is swimming that feels like floating, falling that feels like flying, until loving feels like drowning when there’s still a spark in the brain and air in the lungs, — quickly quickly at first, then slower, slower so there’s a flicker of hope, until the last tick tick tock of blue veins and dark arterial blood, and with the sounds of a few trite memories, voices of ghosts before you’ve forgotten, —then the spark is faltering again, then flickering out, the air is now escaping, —then, at once — nothing.
Keats said, “Love is my religion; I could die for it.” Not for religion, not for country, not for god or even one’s soul, but for love itself, that fickle slow dying and quickening and petering out and rushing back and dissolving of self, that is worth dying for, each and every time.
We hope for one great love in life, but perhaps there is a beauty in a few great loves, slipped into and out of like different characters? Multiple loves for multiple lives.
That’s what we have, you and I, isn’t it? We fall in and out of love, in and out of each other? We hunt and repel, we submerge together, and reemerge on opposite sides, —we crash back into, then back away, sometimes we look away when speaking…
Tell me when does love stagnate? When the newness of sex becomes too familiar or the nuances of our narratives loses their mystery? When we lose ourselves a little too much to capture the other, and no longer “get each other?” When the brains soften followed by the body?
I fear I’ll never feel that with Italy, my love will never die for its myths and beauty. I’ll always return to its warmth, its reminder of death, and of the temporary. My love for you also feels endless, for it is already a ruin we revisit, happily, to hold onto the dust a little longer, to declare we were once here, to hope when we’re carrion our love will find itself in the hum pressed into stone too.
There’s old Winston Churchill watching Big Ben, in Westminster, London, in March 2014.
An anglophile’s dream: the omnipresent iconic red telephone box.
Wandering around Portobello Road, in the Notting Hill neighborhood.
The street art / grafitti is like The Sex Pistols and the Bbc all rolled into one.
Tea at Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s house was quite amusing.
Enjoyed searching for british china tea cups and white darjeeling on a half deserted faire.
Making the pilgrimage to John Keats house at Hampstead Heath, London, after years of visiting the flat he died in, and laying flowers at his grave, in Rome.
A room with a view…over the Thames, I was always excited to wake up to (and to raise my glass to) Big Ben.
Saw the beautiful La Boheme set in 1940s Paris at the Royal Albert Hall.
From the window of “221 b Baker Street, London
From the beautiful garden of John Keats home, where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne and wrote some of his greatest poems.
From the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. I do love a cloister.
You have no idea how deep my anglophilia goes because I am always going on about Italy but these signs gave me a profound joy.
This sign is so British it hurts.
One of those moments in London an American or most foreigners savor.
Down the cloistered hall… like a dream of English classics, literary characters dancing in my head, London, a city looming in my brain of larger than life characters and eccentric, wonderful stories and frightful tales.
The heartbreakingly beautiful dream of Italy view from my dreamy Sorrento hotel room terrazzo.
Walking along the Appian Way on a quiet, car-free Sunday in Rome or along the Renaissance Via Guilia, I am forever excited and in awe over the small beauties and signs of the ancient world in this magical, mysterious city open-armed to the world.
The architecture and cafes are familiar but I feel and live Rome anew each visit. There’s always something new to discover or a passion to stumble onto. Life is in the moment. It is heavy with the past, it is so alive it smacks of the future, but it is so wildly, lightly felt in the now, in the moment, Rome is like dreaming awake, feeling everything. Everything!
Finding new off the beaten path cafes was a big favorite of mine in Italy this year. Always in search of the quiet moments and the hidden corners of Rome. This cafe was in Trastevere where you can sit and sip espresso and gaze at a Baroque Madonna painted onto a church exterior wall.
I love the Eternal City because it has so many layers of history and love and unknown stories and marks of time and beauty in decay and new life bursting forth in a macabre, colored, brilliant celebration in Roman life today.
Took a boat around my favorite island and swam in the Tyrrhenian sea on Capri, a place which invokes everything beautiful, lush and ancient about Southern Italy. There’s nothing quite like it.
Returned to a lot of the same pleasures of the past, freshly squeezed oranges and lemons, under the Italian sun, by a Neapolitan woman who sings all day as she flitters around her Kiosk on the gorgeous Via Tragara.
A return to Pompeii, the fascinating buried city with Vesuvius watchful in the distance.
Meeting new friends abroad 🙂
Long walks soaking in the sun and the past.
Architectural details in half-obscured gardens of small villa art museums (full of amazing Renaissance, ancient and baroque Italian art)!
Being the foreigner in a city you fall into like a comfortable affair.
The moments you can’t anticipate but happen upon in the most beautiful of happenstances.
My favorite spot on earth for the golden hour, on the Pincian Hill in Rome. This is before the view of the Popolo.
A typical Roman street, wrapped into the mystery of fragments and pieces of history.
The beauty of being overwhelmed in Rome.
Cafe life in Italy, a class of wine or a coffee, a little treat, there is nothing like it. Another layered moment captured, to be savored and remembered palpably.
On every wall there is a reminder of death and a reminder of love, the eternal kind, of love that lasts, and of life in the hand too.
Rome, a city to return to, one that keeps its shutters open to the world, long enough for an unforgettable peek.
Since that first moment I arrived there, now, and always, for Roma.
For traveling, for seeing the world, for meeting new people, and for being at home in the world.
Here’s to 2014… and here is a cheers to 2015 and a new year of adventure and experience and chasing beauty!
Throw your guidebooks to the side (after you’ve seen the major sights) and get a little lost for an afternoon in Rome.
Side step vespas and taxis and pilgrims and other tourists behind maps, and get lost for a while.
Do as the Romans do.
Bow in and out of the slants of sunlight and vespas, use sounds of water fountains and laughter as your navigation.
An off the beaten path is not merely a passage but a rite and a full circle.
When walking in Rome you are witness to the many passions of people in a cacophony of color and sound and motion.
Roma begins to makes sense to you as you feel follow its rhythm; it is foreign and antique and familiar all at once.
Rome is history in the bones of the city stirring the blood.
Roma changes you.
What could I suggest to you but to drink in the sublime here?
See the city for the thousands of layers rather than one wild jumble.
Beauty is on display, oh yes, —but so is reflection of the human and the divine in every corner.
The celebration of the individual is found even in the smallest of details in Rome.
Art is a living thing.
The story of mankind is in a treasured relic, and in a sip of espresso, and in a stolen kiss.
Life is found in another language where the words are less important than the feelings they conjur in us all in the moment.
Rome is the tug of a heartbeat in a pulse before the veil falls over you.
Rome is a reminder of death that is very much a reminder to live! To live now!!
The old Greek section of Napoli, Italy is a recurring fascination of mine.
A closed boulangerie with a broom leaning against the store front. Painted pastoral scenes on plates. Rusted piping and peeling posters. Grafitti in bright colors.
Caffe chairs sprinkled throughout the back streets of Spaccanapoli.
The sun finds it way though the velvet black shadows. Posters advertise operas I won’t get to see. Padre Pio forever in the background, his face found in taxi cabs, on walls, in churches, in caffes.
Hanging bronze dyed pasta, bufalo mozzarella from campania, rows of inviting rum-soaked baba cakes filled with rummy yellow cream, tiny wild strawberries, Sfogliatelle.
Two “lovers” embracing in front of an iconic “second hand shop” full of Neapolitan treasures overseen by a curious little dog.
The simple cafe tables and chairs in front of artisan shops and caffes with a sculpture of an old man in the background.
Every day life in an alleyway; people, a truck delivering goods, empty vegetable and fruit crates, the golden mustard apartments and hanging laundry.
A baroque awning, layers of brick from different centuries, buildings and façades built on top of each other, a neapolitan girl on her mobile, another caffe beckoning the passersby.
Hanging fruit and ripe red campania tomatoes and an early pasieggetta.
I love the corners and crevices and surprising bursts of yellow in between the rust.
Ancient pillars in residential neighborhoods, forming millennia old foundations.
Another beautiful church front and a charming caffe.
The quintessential graffiti of Naples, as ancient as the tags and scribblings on Pompeiian walls.
The old guard and the ‘new art’.
Bursts of color and brightness and the scent of glorious coffee floating in the air at every turn.
More graffiti, and the vespas and cars and Neapolitans seem all the more nonchalant about it.
I always seem to find the caffes… I always feel like I’m on some unspoken mission to drink the best coffee.
A whole street filled with beautiful second hand and rare book shops and musical instruments and conservatories. I never wanted to leave.
When the little girl walked by I knew I had to capture her in that moment of contrasts and colors.
A gorgeously appointed restaurant, intimate, and romantic in a baroque neapolitan way. I could have lingered for hours with a glass of nero d’avola and flirted but I had less than a day to shoot Naples because of all the rain prior to this day.
This is a wider shot of the restaurant. It looks like an opening to another, older world. I told you it was beautiful.
Stunning churches, colorful architecture, dark and ancient looking alleyways filled with street theatre and trash on the street… the extremes of modern Napoli.
There is so much to see, just to read on the walls.
I like when the grafitti becomes art.
Even the scribbles are a crying out and bleed every color onto wood and stone and brick.
Back to this fellow. I remember his likeness on other walls on other visits to Naples.
The priest or monk, grafitti iconography and protest.
I found this hollowed out frame and the lettering (name of the one time King) very delicate and beautiful looking.
Mirrors and antiques and the scrawlings every where.
A delightful music shop.
I know Napoli isn’t for everyone. I know street grafitti on historical buildings can be a bit of a shock. But once you visit Naples a few times and fall into the rhythm of the city and of its people, the fright wears off and you begin to see the color is all the more bright in contrast to the shadows. If you are like me and find beauty in decaying things and centuries of history piled up on top of each other, you may just find yourself falling in love with the heart stealer of baroque Napoli.
All photographs shot on portra 400 and 800 – 35mm film.