Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Venetian Altane On a Cloudy Day

With the Rialto Bridge just below and a view of San Marco in the distance, these are classic Venetian altane, and are also (not surprisingly) tourist rentals (taken November 19, 2018)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Sleeping Hard, Rialto

26 May 2018, midnight: even in the fantasy-land and playground that is Venice, with mainland kids coming into the city on weekends to drink and urinate in the calli and vomit, social reality sometimes intrudes.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Boys of Summer, Al Bacan

As our son starts school today in Toronto and summer officially comes to a close for him (and us), here's an image of him and his friends during the height of summer taken at il bacan, the sandbank extending eastwards off Sant' Erasmo, on 27 July 2021


Saturday, August 28, 2021

New Tech, Old Lagoon, or, Solar Panel, Sunlight

This is perhaps one of the least photogenic views of the cemetery island's church of San Michele that is possible, and yet... (taken 13 October 2018)

Friday, August 20, 2021

Waterside Music (Though Not in Venice)


We're still so tangled up in getting settled here in Toronto, that I've still had no time to think of Venice, nor even access photos from earlier in the summer in Venice that I might like to post, nor to really reply to comments. 

But I wanted to share this short clip from Monday evening captured with my wife's smart phone in the park on Kew Beach, on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Earlier in the evening were were walking down a busy street and were surprised to see a guy pedaling a bicycle in the bike lane and pulling a cart behind him with what looked to be a little baby grand piano built into it (what's the proper term for a grand-piano-shaped instrument smaller than a baby grand? A new-born grand? A preemie grand?).

We remarked upon it, but it flashed past without us having much time to make much sense of what we saw, nor even begin to imagine where he might be going.

Then about an hour later we encountered the same guy and same piano, as you can see and hear above.  Though the audio, alas, includes as much of a neighboring conversation on a nearby park bench as it does music.

We were only taking a very brief break from errands and so I didn't go close enough to see if he was playing for tips or just for the pleasure of it (though from a distance it appeared to be the latter).   

Saturday, August 7, 2021

180 Degrees of the Grand Canal As Mirror--and An Update

The kind of calm on the Grand Canal that one hopes never to see again: 5 April 2020 during the first lockdown

No, I've not stopped doing this blog, I just haven't had any time to give to it during our long, complicated, and on-going move from Venice to Toronto. 

By this time we'd hoped/planned to be getting settled into a new home, but the apartment in Toronto we rented months ago from a distance turned out, in person, to be no place we could really live. So we are still in a transitional stage, still living mostly out of our suitcases, and once again looking for another home. 

In the meantime, both Toronto and Venice--and any place with any sense (which, alas, leaves out a dismayingly large percentage of my native land)--are doing what they can to fend off or contain a potential fourth wave of Covid infections. 

The surface of Grand Canal so calm as to be mirror-like (as seen in the panorama above) is a rare and wonderful sight, but one that I hope no one will be seeing again because of a pandemic. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Late Night Along the Grand Canal

12 July 2021

I haven't ended this blog yet, I just haven't had any time to post anything, or even think of posting anything, as we continue to be in the midst of a multi-stage move. We're presently in Brooklyn; by next week we should be in Toronto. 

I suspect that getting to Toronto will at least give me a chance to think a bit more clearly about Venice than I've been able to for at least 2 years. Though I could be wrong about that. In any case, a recent image from this summer...

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Last Evening In Boat, This Evening

 

I have no time to write about this now, no time even to reply to the very kind comments people have left, though I will do both in a few days, I think, but we made out last outing in our boat this evening, and this evening, like most evenings in Venice--whether it's your last, first, or somewhere in-between--did not disappoint. 

Then our ride was over and we peeled our targhe (basically an adhesive license plate number, starting with the letters LV, if you do not use your boat for business purposes) from our boat, buttoned up its cover, and left it in its mooring place where its new owner will officially take possession of it tomorrow.

We fly out of Venice on Friday--the first time we've left the lagoon at all, really, in nearly two years. An uninterrupted stay in Venice that, I will tell you right now, neither I nor anyone else I've spoken to would recommend. Even the most Venetian of Venetians reply to that idea with one word: pesante. Meaning, literally, heavy, but with a strong suggestion of unhealthiness about it in this context, for the body, mind, and spirit. But that's a topic for another time.

For now (and maybe not just for now) the image is enough. I need to get back to preparing to live somewhere other than Venice for the first time since 1 November 2010. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

High Art: Capturing Giovanni Bellini's Pala Barbarigo in Murano, This Morning

A photographer stands upon a ladder to focus and trigger the shutter of his camera--itself positioned upon a very tall tripod, two of whose legs are just visible to either side of the central column--in the church of San Pietro Martire in Murano.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

As Tourists Return to Venice, We Prepare to Leave It

Duck lips have returned to Venice
 

As the swallows famously return to San Capistrano in California, so duck lips (rather then ducks themselves) have returned to Venice with the return of tourists to Venice.

This particular and now nearly universal set of the face, a particular aesthetic of beauty created by the technology of our digital and disembodied age (an effect and even a type of technology predicted nearly 100 years ago by Paul Valéry in his remarkable essay "The Conquest of Ubiquity"), and held only so long as required to snap a selfie, is one of the things whose absence during the long touristic lull of the pandemic can only fully be appreciated with its reappearance afterwards.

But while tourists return to Venice we, after living here full-time for more than a decade, are planning to move to Toronto, with a departure from Venice in mid-July.

This is a move that's been long in the works, but one that I haven't wanted to mention in the blog as, not least of all, it's not something I've wanted (or want) to write much about. Writing, no matter how one tries (with varying degrees of success) to disguise it, inevitably brings with it certain demands of form and, at least, if only to a limited degree, of coherence (achieved or attempted). 

"To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up," a character remarks in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, and when it comes to this move I've had no interest in writing about it in either a "natural" (ie, casual) way, nor a more formal one. Both of which would, like all forms of writing, begin to shape my thoughts in ways having more to do with the demands of the medium than I'd prefer.

For now I can only say that having watched our son grow from a not-quite-yet-three-old American child upon our arrival on November 1, 2010, to a bi-lingual, bi-cultural, but very Venetian 13 year old, it seemed time return to North America for at least a few years. To be closer to family again, and to the culture in which both my wife and I are at home, as we will never be in Venice. 

Despite the international festivals it hosts (the Biennales of Art, Architecture, Film, Dance, etc) the subject when one is in Venice can only inevitably be Venice itself. 

It is a city long defined by its own self-regard, in which visitors willingly (even rapturously) join, as they almost can't help but do in such a beautiful, storied place--and in which the city's economy has long relied upon them doing. 

But I find it increasingly difficult to form any clear opinions on Venice. For myself at least, any worthwhile attempts at reflection seem possible only outside the hall of mirrors that the city is, and has long been. 

The only way to think about a subject, I suspect, is at least for a time not to think about it at all. Not to think, that is, in the conscious sense of the city as an unceasing object of interest or focus or investigation.

As I've written this blog over the last decade I've found myself putting more space between the subject matter of the blog and my actual lived experience. More and more of what I post has been images I've snapped in the course of going about my daily life, the incidental and brief rather than the extended subject of thought (such as, for example, an earlier post about Ruskin inspired by something seen on the way to bringing my son to kindergarten). 

In any case, I'm presently so swamped by the complicated logistics of our move that I have no idea at all about what I am doing or will do with this blog. I have a lot of recent photos I've been remiss in not posting. I have ideas about re-posting certain older posts, or posting for the first time photos taken a few years back but never posted. 

I think I'll keep the blog going until I get to a place--namely Toronto--where I can perhaps have the time to properly bring it to some kind of close. I can't see that being anytime before the fall.

In the meantime, I'll post current photos and identify them as such, or older photos with the date they were taken. I don't think I'll have much or any time to add any or much text. But beyond this at the moment I find it impossible to say....


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

On The Publication Day of CIAO, SANDRO!, A Look Back at Its Real-life Inspiration

 

 

Today is the publication day of my children's picture book Ciao, Sandro!, featuring illustrations by Luciano Lozano, so it seemed like a good time to remember the adventurous real life dog who inspired the book, who was indeed named Sandro (as is my son, which is actually why I didn't change the dog's name for the book), and who did in fact know how to take vaporetti all around the lagoon by himself

The real-life Sandro died just short of his 19th birthday two years ago. His fictionalized version can now be found for sale online and/or in your local bookstore--as well as in Venice's own Libreria Marco Polo (the international publication date is June 10).

 



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Leave-Taking (Yesterday Evening)

With a flip of the middle finger and a swig from a bottle of white wine, she's off.... Now that's the way to say good-bye!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Place In the Sun

Evelyn Waugh, among many others, wrote that Venice is best approached from the sea--but that was well before ever-more-gargantuan cruise ships started arriving in the lagoon in disturbing and damaging numbers. A water taxi from the airport--or, for that matter, an Alilaguna waterbus--is a pretty nice way of arriving, too.




Sunday, May 9, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021

Perspectival (3 Images)

Since Covid arrived in Venice this is the view from the small courtyard that has served in lieu of my primary care physician's usual (indoor) waiting room; I wouldn't change a thing about it (the view, that is).

 


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Water Music: Sunlight Off the Grand Canal

 

As everyone knows water is everywhere in Venice, even (as has been often noted) reflected on its ceilings and walls.

For those who have never seen this phenomenon, or for those who miss seeing it in person, the five minute video above shows light reflected off the Grand Canal playing upon an 18th century fresco of Venus and Aeneas attributed, at least by some, to Pietro Antonio Novelli and Davide Rossi. It makes me think, however, of the freschi in the Sala della Musica of the Ospedaletto by Jacopo Guarana and Agostino Mengozzi Colonna, but what do I know? I should do some research into this....

As there wasn't much in the way of sound to this clip aside from the annoying sound of the camera itself doing I don't know what, I've added a song by the remarkable 17th century Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi--yes, a woman composer, who "published eight volumes of her own music during her lifetime," giving her "more music in print than any other composer of the era."
 
The song is "Per Un Bacio Che Rubbai," performed by soprano Marta Almajano and musicians Luca Pianca and Vittorio Ghielmi from their album Per Un Bacio: Cantatas and Madrigals of 17th Century Italy (Harmonia Mundi Iberica, 2005). 

It's best listened to with headphones.
 
(Video recorded 16 April 2021, 7 am)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Seven Portraits, B.C. (Before Covid)

Spring Rain, 5 April 2019


27 October 2015
 

Giudecca, 2 September 2015
 


Venice, Sant' Elena, 6 September 2015 (the multi-talented Lisa E. Harris, a featured performer in the 2015 Venice Biennale, whose impromptu performance of "Devil Moon" on the Grand Canal you can find here, and whose website is worth a good look)
 

Festa della Santa Maria della Salute, 21 November 2013

6 April 2013 (Santa Maria Novella Station, Florence, if I remember correctly)
 

8 March 2019 (and even further from Venice than Florence: Des Moines, Iowa)