Archive for October, 2009

Paint

October 30, 2009

Can’t be all work and no play on these trips, so after the conference ended I joined Christoph and Riccarda for tour around what’s open of the Rijksmuseum, Some days you want Van Gogh, but today it was Rembrandt I was craving, and I was not disappointed. As dark and smooth as Dove chocolate, Rembrandt’s paintings crawl out of the murky edges, gradually filling in until he finds his center, imbued with unearthly light. It may be just a portrait of Dutch burghers, or the Nightwatch, or a commissioned portrait of some self-important notable, or his own endearing self-portraits, but the dude knew his paint, and made faces luminous.

Willem Heda has got to be the still life artist of the millennium – a table full of random shiny objects, each reflecting the all the others perfectly and subtly. And the brushwork on some of the trees in the landscape series, and the ships with sails flying in the naval depictions.

But in the end, I have to go back and stand in front of the ruffled collars and their faces, unafraid of wrinkles or of character, and certainly not flattering, but suffused with an illumination that is simultaneously profound and oblique, single-pointed yet permeating capable of ignoring or simply implying whole stories and areas of the canvas while bringing one telling detail so the fore with no more than a prick of photons. Rembrandt – it’s more than a toothpaste.

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Lost walk

October 30, 2009

After dinner with a friend, I decide to walk back from downtown to my hotel at the Vondelpaark (pronounced fondle-park and apparently, according the number of used ‘Charles River Whitefish’ in the bushes, living up to its name).

We had eaten very hot Thai in a funky dive downtown, and my first few streets were very much the red-light district. In the outer reaches of canals, the women are older and blousy and heartbreaking in that they are still in the red-lit windows. The girls downtown are much hotter, in studded bras and butt-floss, crooking you in with the finger of one hand, while they talk on their cell phones with the other. Nearly 40 years ago when I was here, I was too naive and scared to take them up on their offer, but now – however much I know about feminism and equal opportunity – I cannot see these girls as anything other than my potential daughters – what if Misty took a turn here? Ay-yi! After a while I cannot even look any more, these hopeful faces atop the black-lighted perfect bodies – it’s all incest and incestuous, and I strike out up a main canal with my blinkers on.

It is not more than 3 miles, I would say, but Amsterdam is so curvy and confusing and (I have noticed this in the woods as well) I have a tendency to veer to the left. Thus, while it seemed I was crossing the canals in the right order, etc, I was actually headed over to east Amsterdam, and when I found myself bordering an industrial district, I realized I had gone badly wrong.

It took me two hours to get home (and I have foresworn the ‘coffeeshops’ after my one encounter with the GMO hybrid carefully cultivated weed they purvey here, so being loaded was not the reason). I don’t usually get lost; it is in fact hard for me to get lost, but this city leaves me wondering whether I should be going this way or that way down a main road I encounter, and a bus map on a signpost orients me enough to get me near. Finally I recognize the National Theater and wend my way successfully to my hotel and gratefully to my bed.

A few other rolfers we happened to meet at the restaurant were on their way to a sex show. Apparently they watched several couple make love. How boring could that be? The mechanics of lovemaking can be acrobatic or interesting, but hardly erotic or edifying. Or am I just too old? or too snuggly comfortable in the depth of gentle connection that characterizes Quan’s and my leftover steam from the volcano of our earlier days? I find it all a little sad, a little amusing, a little despairing, and not at all attractive. I have become adamant about fidelity (more to oneself than the other person) in my older years, but it is without prudery or moral ascendency, but simply as an expression of inner integrity. May writing this not bring me to the fall that goeth after pride.

FRC Day 2: Series: Sliding and Sticking

October 28, 2009

Here are some highlights from Day 2, though the coup de grace on the old anatomy was delivered by Jaap van der Wal, but more on him later.

The theme of the day was the sideways connections of the fascia within the muscle. Jst how does the muscle convey its force to the fascia and vice versa?

Carla Stecco of the famous Stecco family started the day by tracing the ‘trellis’ (I would say onion bag) arrangement of the fascia at rest, with additional ‘crimping’ in the tissue. Dense irregular tissue is not ‘irregular’ at all, but has a variety of directions at very precise angles for dealing with the forces. What slides, and what is fixed?

How much is the thoracolumbar fascia a sense organ and how much a force transmitter? asks Jonas Tesarz.

Jean_Paul Delage, working with Guimberteau, shows the cells in the paratendon (what we used to think of as the sheath).

Peter Purslow showed great pictures of the honeycomb of the endomysium, showing the same angle of fibers Stecco described, which go longitudinal when the muscle is stretched, and go circumferential when the muscle is contracted. Interestingly, while the endomysium is well-equiped to transmit force, the perimysium – which is continuous with the epimysium – is poorly constructed to transmit force – so what it is for?

Amsterdam

October 28, 2009

Although I think of myself as moderately well-traveled, I realize with surprise that the last time I was in this city rescued from the sea was 1970.  I was in Venice in 1984, and have recently been in St Petersburg, so I am familiar with canals, but Amsterdam has a unique feel – all the houseboats and sails seen through buildings.  I have been in and out of Schipol but that doesn’t count – except seeing the tulip fields from above, that was cool – swaths of yellow or red or pink..

But now the train is rocking gently along the bank above the waterway toward the central station.  The rain has followed me from New York and the wet streets are speckled with yellow leaves after the technique of Seurat.  Tiny cars crawl over the bridges, and the pretty girls and serious, quiet men go about their business in this live-and-let-live town.

Coffeeshop

October 27, 2009

When in Rome… Gathered up in a group of Canadians, I’m hanging on the back side of a bicycle, tootling around the canals in search of night life. The difficulty of getting people motivated goes up geometrically as the number of people goes up arithmetically, so indecision was reigning and my ass was getting sorer so I made an executive decision for ‘Kelim’, a Turkish restaurant.

After patliçan and lamb, we slide over the road to a ‘coffeeshop’.

Having not been in Amsterdam for nearly 40 years, how could I expect it to be the same? There’s a menu of various kinds of weed and hash, along with papers, tobacco, and raspberry leaf for those allergic to tobacco. They even sell perfectly rolled joints for those with fumbly fingers. One of my companions is an expert, and negotiates our way through the various choices of afghani or moroccan or these crystals or that White Widow whiff.

One or two hits later I am floored by this strong European stuff and have to quit this hole in the wall dive with its loser patrons and stale air to walk it off on the streets. Predictably, my companion and I got lost and ended up on a several hour walk through Amsterdam – catching up, solving the problems of the world, gossiping, and laughing our heads off but shaking them at the poor sad women who sit in the windows overlooking the canals until a man comes in and they close the curtain,

We finally make it back through the winding park to the hotel, on the ground again. Once was great, but now let’s refocus on the task at hand.

Pumpkinfest

October 16, 2009

I am not given to local festivals or local theater.  In theory I support them, so I am reluctant to say this, but in practice they are excruciatingly insupportable.  And I have been a participant, most recently in the Oyster Festival that, in my father’s name, raises money to support education about the river on which we live.  All great, and you can catch up with friends too, whom you ought to have seen but oddly haven’t for a couple of years.  It’s actually sitting through a warbling production of Guys and Dolls in this day and age when Marlon Brando or Nathan Lane are available at the push of a button.  The live part simply doesn’t make up for the lack of practice part.

But the other day, the time and tide were right for a trip upriver.  We call it a river, even though I essentially live on a very slim 12-mile bay – completely sea water, flushed 90% each 24 hours by the two tides.  Usually I head down, toward the sea, as that is where the wind is.  But today’s west wind blows over water and fields alike, and I know it won’t run out.  It takes me just over an hour to twist my way six miles up to Damariscotta, hard over some of the time, belting on a beam reach past Glidden Ledges and the oyster farms my father spawned.

Past the tricky final mud flats and into Damariscotta Harbor, I made it onto a mooring and rowed ashore for the Pumpkinfest.  By then it was four pm and the crowd was thinning out in the late afternoon chill, but I walked around to get a snack and see the carved pumpkins.  The largest pumpkin was there too, a huge if slightly deflated 1210-pound monster (“Ooh,” quipped an English voice beside me. “that’s as big as two Americans!”).

It was just before five when I set sail again, laying off from the mooring to get some speed, but then laying back for a run down river.  The shadow of the earth began to gather in the east, and I rounded the turn to home (Soup!) in a chill and gathering gloom.  It was a treat though – such clear air when it blows from the west – and as the sun went down it shone up for a moment, and there was a red-hot skillet under the cast iron clouds.