Toledo: The Air is Different There

Some places are great because of the people. Others because of the history. And still others for their natural beauty. There is a smaller subset of places that are great because of the light and air. St. Petersburg is one of these places. The light there is unique. Toledo is  another. There is something about the dry air and hot sun that sticks in  your mind. You should go, at least once. And while you are there, check out the El Greco’s. He was Greek (from Crete, then under the control of Venice), but I guess you know that. And he was a highly unusual artist. He did stuff like this back in the 16th century

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I liked this quote from Wikipedia

El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional schoo

Mastery: Teaching Simplicity

Part of living a great life is seeing what is essential. You might ask, “why is this so difficult?” It is a good question. The answer is that humans tend to hold on to lots and lots of stuff in their minds because at least some of this stuff might be useful some day.  Holding on to lots of stuff obscures what is essential and what is just clutter. So we need to re-learn this. And Apple does this teaching at “Apple University” They use Picasso’s bull!

Stories: The Tainted Zen Master

“Joshu Sasaki was born into a farming family near Sendai, in northern Japan, on April 1, 1907. He became a Zen Buddhist novice at 14, schooled in the 13th-century disciplinary traditions of Rinzai”. After the war he came to America and reached a half million zen enthusiasts.  Errr … but it seems that the great master of Rinzai had a dark side as well. That part of his story has come out now that he passed on stuck in my mind! It feels like the beginning of a novel. Here he is

Berlin: Remembering Studio Yva

After the first great war, Weimar era Berlin generated lots of buzz. And among the exciting artists who were working there at that time was a young photographer who called herself Yva. She did fashion shoots that had an edge . She explored her artistic imagination and inspired a new feminine identity.  Helmut Newton worked as her apprentice for two years. Sadly, Yva and her studio were obliterated by the Nazis. But we can and should remember how exciting those early days were when she blazed a trail.  Dazed tells the story rather well. Here is one of her works

William Powell and Sipping Champagne for the First Time

Reader Alert! I am hopelessly addicted to classic Hollywood films. Especially from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Aren’t you?

When asked what it was like to talk with Roosevelt , Churchill said “It was like sipping champagne for the first time – every time..”  Now that is charm! They say that Jack Kennedy  also could be extremely charming when he wanted to be.   But what did this charm look like?

Look no further than William Powell , Who? Sadly, many young folks don’t know who Powell was. He was  a Hollywood film star whose golden years were in the 1930’s.  And Powell was quite the charmer.  He made lots of films, so you might ask which Powell film to watch in order to first catch the magic? I would check out  “The Thin Man“.

I saw it again last night on the William Powell film festival at  TCM and It was like sipping champagne for the first time – every time!  The film started a series that featured a magical romance between Powell  (playing detective Nick Charles) and the lovely Myrna Loy.  An odd tidbit. The film producers first thought that  Myrna Loy was too sexy for the part of Mrs. Charles! Oh! And for me, the clincher is that it stars a doggie too! Asta, the wonder dog!