My little piece of the Schwarzwald

What a beautiful day! I’m feeling sickly, so I took a nap. This was my view when I got up – there on the horizon, the Schwarzwald! This afternoon if I feel up to it I’m going on a wine tasting, but I predict more napping. And I’m reading a detective novelette (yes, it’s a graded reader with quizzes at the back, but hey!). I’m going for unstressful.

No TSA waiver for you!

“We have one boat. It’s pulled by two mules. On a good day they might go 2 miles per hour,” said Sarah B. Hays, the park’s director of operations.
The park’s two-mile canal does not pass any military bases, nuclear power plants or other sensitive facilities. And, park officials say, the mules could be considered weapons of mass destruction only if they were aimed at something resembling food.

Still, the operators count as “mariners” and need criminal background checks.

Your Federal Government at work.

Generationed Gapped Again


So I’m sitting here reading blogs and kind of half-heartedly studying German nouns and across the common room all the young-end-of-their-20s girls go Ohhh-ah-oh — They took the credit for your second symphony or some reasonable facsimile thereof for non-native speakers who are, after all, singing THIRTY YEARS after the release date.
Gosh I’m feeling middle aged.
I realized this year that I can say things like “I was last there 25 years ago” while referring to something I did while in graduate school.
Well, there you go. In the immortal words of Gregory of Tours, Things keep happening – some of them good, some of them bad.

Off Duty Hexen


Off Duty Hexen

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Busy Hexen deserve a rest!

Today was the big parade here – Rosenmontag. Wikipedia assures me the “rosen” part is not rose but run, but I think I’ll ask someone tomorrow.

The parade went on for hours – lots of groups of fools and such, lots of bands. Have you heard the Macarena lately? I heard it twice today.

Midcentury Modern in Weil am Rhein

I went to the Vitra Design Museum yesterday and I have no photos to show for it! I had something on my Nikon misset and all the photos were tragically underexposed. So the Vitra Design Museum itself is a Frank Gehry, the building they intend to move into to in 2009 is a Herzog & de Meuron, they had up a big exhibition of George Nelson furniture, and I got nothing.
Alas. I’ll go back in better weather and without a cough – maybe in March.
We went on to Basel next (about 10 minutes further south on the regional line) and spent the afternoon. I got a couple of alright interiors at the Grossmünster and then after that the setting seemed to resolve itself. I dunno! Go look at Flickr if you want to see what little I got.
Urgh.
AND I think I’m starting my usual winter ick. Bronchial mess. So I’m staying home, doing a lot of German, and drinking tea today.
When in Switzerland, though – buy Ricola!

Fasnet!




Photographers at work

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Fasnet is the Alemannische version of what English speakers might know better as Fastnacht – or Carnival! The official Narrenfest, Feast of Fools, kicked off today at the Rathaus. Click and see the pictures!

There were lots of Fools in different companies, including families of Fools. I drank Gluhwein. There was a long proclamation poem. Bands played unfamiliar instruments. Over and over again the platform party shouted out “Narri!” The crowd and I resonded “Narro!” The Burgomeister passed out free wine!

All in all I feel like the Carnival parade next week will be a lot of fun.

Haus zum Walfisch – Erasmus Lived Here

Erasmus Lived Here – the emendation in the inscription text makes me feel better. If you know that everyone on the street could correct everything you say if they took the time it’s affirming to see one of them make a monumental mistake. Look closely at the 1 in 1531!

A working theory of youth music preferences

We all know they like LOUD. I’m beginning to think that partial English speakers – those who can carry on a fine conversation in English but claim they don’t know English well – prefer singers who enunciate clearly. I’ve never heard so much Barry Manilow this century as I have the last 2 weeks – and I’ve heard Leo Sayer songs twice – once drifting out of University buildings.
You may be able to tell I’m trying to find a way to be amused by living in what amounts to a dorm.

How to sell old books inside the law

Have you read about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, passed to keep us safe from lead paint on toys and such? Talk about unintended consequences! Evidently book dealers – both those selling used books for children to read or collectibles for grown ups to hoard – are supposed to test their wares for lead. Here’s a reasonably detailed explanation.
No one can afford to do that!
Jeff Sypeck points out a Canon Law precedent for evading this bit of congressional whimsy.

Years ago, while researching a now-dated piece for Salon, I learned that even though the sale of first-class relics–i.e., actual bits of saints’ bodies–is prohibited by canon law, it’s fine to sell a reliquary and then throw in the relic as a “gift.”
The charming dishonesty of this loophole notwithstanding, rare book dealers can learn a few tricks from latter-day simoniacs. If, for example, I were selling a $4,800 signed, first-edition set of The Chronicles of Prydain, I’d update my listing to reflect post-CPSIA reality: that the lucky buyer who agrees to pay $4,800 for a lovely (if slightly used) cardstock Amazon.com bookmark will also receive a rare set of autographed novels–an elaborate bookmark-holder offered purely as a gift.

I like the idea!

Hot Spots of the 50s and 60s

The Kunsthaus in Zürich mounted a big and quite good show: Hot Spots. Rio de Janeiro / Milano – Torino / Los Angeles 1956 – 1969. They had lots of good things in the American section; I liked the Ruscha picture (one of the giant gas stations) and the art books best in the Los Angeles section. I want a copy of Every Building on Sunset Strip, if anyone’s starting his Christmas shopping. It’s a linear piece – a long fold out with an absence running down the center to represent the street, houses and businesses flopped out on either side. You can see a version here – click and scroll (it’s an interesting article). I myself am reminded much less of “art” than a piece of real cartography I blogged about some time ago, a fold out map of the Hudson River for mid-19th C steamer passagers to Albany from New York City. The engraver set views of both banks of the Hudson on either side of the long page – the east side pointing down, the west side pointing up (if that makes sense). I can’t find an image of it, but I saw it mounted on a long wall at the Museum of the New-York Historical Society.
The museum also had a brilliant touch-screen version of three other artist books from Ruscha – flippable! On the other hand, Sam Francis should sue over the hanging of his painting.
The objects I liked best over all were some great hanging sculptures by a Brazilian artist, Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980). Of course there were no photographs allowed and of course I can’t find any on the web – they were angular objects – some X-shaped, some, some simpler, with thickness produced in interesting ways by layering wood and pulling apart the layers. They don’t photograph well, but you can see some here. You really have to be able to move around them to see what’s going on. This photo of one at the Tate gives an idea of what he’s up to, but it’s not monochrome (or as close to monochrome) as the ones in Zürich. I liked them a lot – and I don’t like minimalist things much.
The Italian section was long on Arte Povera, which I never like much. There were a lot of Lucio Fontana cut canvases – enough of them that the schtick of “cutting through the picture plane to see what’s beyond” got really old. On the other hand, there was a spatial installation created originally for Documenta 4 in 1968 – it was a white maze of walls with a cut canvas at its heart. That worked as more than just an idea. I also liked seeing something I’d read about, some Giovanni Colombo kinetic pieces playing with the idea of gridding in paintings and sculpture – the grids literally shifted (they were made of elastic bands or metal rods and moved). That was fun, but pretty gimmicky.
All in all a show worth seeing.