Friday, 31 July 2009

Breaking the Looking Glass.

I can't wait for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to come out. Burton seems to have snatched the fantastical, strange and surreal world of Alice right out of our imaginations and brought it to life through design. I'm a huge fan of the classic, so I am really curious to see another side to Alice - life as a deranged adult in 3D (who wouldn't be after that experience?). 2010 is just a year away - scary actually.

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said, “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Top summer reads

What is more synonymous with vacations than reading? Long train journeys, from NYC to Morocco, hazy beach days and Sunday patio outings (lazy I know), have provided the perfect backdrop for jumping into someone else's world. Characters worth escaping into can be found here:

The History of Love. Extremely moving and funny story about how love can help us endure; how just a taste of it can be used to create memories that last a lifetime. This is a journey that connects a diverse and interesting cast of characters - united by love lost. I don't want to give too much away. Get it, read it. It's great. Written by Nicole Krauss, who is married to Jonathan Safran Foer.

Half a Yellow Sun. These characters are so vibrant, so visceral, real, flawed, human, beautiful, you easily walked through their doors and find it hard to lift your head from the pages. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes us to Nigeria during the Biafra War in the 1960's as it grapples with its history, identity and future. I listened to Nigerian funk for days after reading this. Highly absorbing.

The Gargoyle. Weird but enthralling read/ride. Wacked-out ex-porn star gets into a car accident that changes his life. Meets woman who believes they were lovers in 1300. A real page-turner and good story. Andrew Davidson's first book.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

In black and white...

I was on a cleaning mission today. A proper full-fledged dust o'thon. I went through old papers, clothes and found things I have been looking for but, of course, placed them somewhere that I had long forgotten. I'm far from finished, but it felt good to get started. Ever since I came back from holiday, I've felt so lethargic, like I'm not half as productive as I should be. Anyway found an old Metro clipping I saved of an Obama campaign poster pre-election. The imagery and copy are arresting. Message received.

Let the issues be the issue

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The scent of engaging copy

I went to pick-up some muesli bread (evidence below), an almond croissant and individual-sized blueberry cheesecake today at my favorite bakery in Angel. When I got home I thumped the bag on the table (forgetting of course about the fragility of decorated desserts) and noticed a quirky and interesting thought about the word bread printed in baby blue on the white plastic bag (I even mouthed the word a couple of times). Nice copy on a plastic bag (now they just need to print messages on reusable fabric bags and we have a winner).

Monday, 27 July 2009

Virgin Media Fantastic Journey

Virgin Media's first mobile phone TV advert in 3 years did not disappoint. I love the art direction, concept and mood. Everything was put together in such a way as to entice and entrance, so that you feel like you're on the ride too. Love the use of Mazzy Star. RKCR Y&R turned a mundane trip into a fantastic voyage.

The heart of an artichoke

Ivory meat curves into a yogic pose
stark, full and delicate
the feast sits in the middle.
Layers fold into one another,
a tight, perfunctory embrace
devoid of intent,
steadied with resolve.
Glowing, it glares, dares you to find
the spark stuck underneath metal hoods.
Tips pointed, painful pricks greet the touch
hands grope in the dark
searching for flesh treasures in twilight rooms
that move with a heated turbulence
rocking adult cradles, shaking lost figures
reciting old spelling bees and Hamlet's first sonnet.
how it all fades and shivers,
objects closer than they may appear.
People rummage through heaps of dirty laundry
striped boxers, white tube socks and navy v-neck shirts
climb into the air
frozen like Bird's eye green peas
caught in movement, hovering above
while the search for the center
continues below.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

When pigs fly...

"There are two men here for you". Those words woke me out of a deep morning slumber after being in Morocco for 6 days. It felt like a practical joke I couldn't wrap my head around that early in the day. But no, there really were two men in suits on a dry, 35 degree morning at my in-laws' doorstep in Morocco. Who even had my in-laws' address? The Ministry of Health did.

There was a confirmed case of swine flu (now officially called H1-N1, since pigs are out of the picture) on the plane en route to Casablanca from London. Luckily, the compromised individual was not sitting near me, as the two rows in front and behind the person were getting treatment for the flu. Since 6 days had passed, I was 85% in the clear and I had a 15% chance of developing symptoms. The men from the Ministry got my address from the customs form I filled out (my grandmother-in-law lived in Meknes, 4.5 hours away from Casablanca). They surveyed me for 4 days, calling everyday to ask how I felt and to see if there was any change in my condition. Apparently they monitored everyone who was on that flight.

Impressive and kinda creepy.

The Royal Treatment

Besides luxurious hammams and exotic riyads, there is no better way to feel like royalty than going to a Moroccan wedding dressed in traditional garb. I love caftans - they're so elegant and regal; and they come in so many styles and colors (of course a hefty price-tag is also attached). My first caftan purchase below.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Under the shade of scotch-whiskey

Instead of making you sick with pictures of a perfect, almost translucent blue sea and sandy beaches, I'm bringing you some twisted hilarity on a beach in a Muslim country.

Sidebar: Handing out branded umbrellas for free to the beach umbrella renters would be a great way to spread the word and help the local economy.

Fuzzy feelings in the commercial air...

So the focus may not on the Hippie version of peace and love, but it is certainly on the happy and uplifting. Dancing babies, floating condoms and loose beat box lips dominated French TV in Morocco.

I personally don't get why the sight of a condom would excite people and the beat box commercial was superb, until the ending - it just became too obvious and over-done. I love how Evian provided background 'interviews' with the dancing stars, and their strapline, Live Young (I can imagine how this concept can be extended and wonder what their agency will do next? Hopefully not dancing puppies;).

Friday, 24 July 2009

Moroccan foodie hit list

There are some things I missed about London while in Morocco: cool breeze (a warm gust of air is not refreshing in the slightest when it's 45 degrees out), water that doesn't make your hair feel like it's been coated with a strange kind of wax which gives you the Straw man look and a few other seemingly petty things.

Now back in the Queen's land, I miss Moroccan breakfast and fruit juices most of all. Harsha, semolina bread, Miloui, layers of crunchy dough, Milles trous (Thousand holes/pancakes), Corn Harsha - all served with honey - dates, black wrinkly olives and Amalou - an almond, honey and argan oil butter. Everything is homemade of course, so I can't read the break-down of ingredients and fat, which allows me to enjoy with no guilt or reflections on butter quantities.

A French Presence

While staying in Casablanca at my aunt-in-law's house, which incidentally was right across the street from Clinique des Fleurs (The Flower Clinic), I nestled in and watched some telly while eating butter cookies that crumble in your hands and drinking freshly made panache juice (a bit of this and that - strawberries, bananas, avocado, mango, OJ, etc). I realized that the French presence remains, although viewed mostly as a wonderful complement rather than the main course, culturally.

So apparently the French are hooked on Secret Story, a reality show a la Big Brother, except everyone has a secret and the objective is for other people to figure out just what that is...They are also not immune to plastic surgery Hollywood style, as of course, one of the characters is a blond with immense breasts.

While watching the French version of mind-numbing television, I came across this funny ad for McVitie's Biscuits. A great example of the British selling to the French in a self-depreciating, but extremely humorous and actually quite accurate portrayal of Brits viewed through a French lens...

Tangine-kissed Reflections

Just got back from Morocco. It was a fantastic trip and hard to document, given the heavy focus on family and weddings. Rather than the home movie version of my voyage, the next few posts detail my general observations on the incongruous and interesting discoveries or reflections on Morocco. The first is the presence of dates. Dates to celebrate life events - weddings, births, baptisms - dates stuffed with almonds, walnuts and dates paired with milk. The sweet stickiness of dates peppered my stay in Morocco and sustained the vegetarian in me. On a side note, my husband's grandmother told him I would be an 'inexpensive' wife since I didn't eat meat. My husband muttered in English that she didn't know the price of organic vegetables. The sustainability of dates.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Tagines, Kaftans & Camels...

...I'm off to Morocco for a couple of weeks. Biting off the summer in small bite size adventures. Be back in a few. Enjoy the season of barbecues, Wimbledon, coconut scents and warm breezes.

Imagery courtesy of Rosie Hardy

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Street Signs (last of Big Apple reflections)

New York City buildings can make arresting community art projects. Walking down a multitude of city streets is like perusing the scenery at a vibrant gallery. I often stumble upon collages of art on brick, concrete or steel walls. Artists leave their mark, and create just to create, while using the city's furnishing as their canvas. It's the ultimate release - giving up pieces of creations to the public, so they can deface, reconstruct and leave pieces of their own expressions, adding to its beauty. It reminds me of how Tibetan monks must feel while they make sand mandalas. They create simply to be in the process of creation, not wedded to the outcome, and releasing energy into the world (or my father building sand castles at Coney Island beach). I've been enraptured by these pieces, and attempted to capture their power and expression in a black and white photography series I did while at the School of Visual Arts (see snapshot below).

During my whirlwind trip to NYC, I came across this one on Orchard Street in LES. Perhaps I'll start hunting for some in London (and I don't mean Banksy).

Friday, 3 July 2009

Summer Blockbuster (errr...)

What if a group of passionate film buffs got together to remake classic movies targeted at a very specific audience? You'd get the Superman of Malegaon. It took a village in India to produce a comedic version of Superman in their local dialect replete with local references and jokes. The making of the film was fueled by people's passion for something different than loom-weaving which was the main means of making a living in this town. It gave people a chance to be a part of something different. They worked on this because they wanted to create something that would make people laugh. I loved it. It was touching and hilarious.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Light streams into Brooklyn windows...

I had three revelations in NYC:

1. There is no such thing as home. Home is transportable - clouds, communities, patterns. When habits and behaviors are disrupted, which in turn changes routine, output and environment, I think we miss 'home', that place of comforting, familiar rhythm.

2. I don't want to move back to NYC. I don't know if it was the weather in London which was sunny and gorgeous while it rained in NYC for almost two weeks straight, but when I returned to London. I found myself really appreciating it. Perhaps it had something to do with the calm streets filled with hidden cultural treasures. London might not be forever, but it's perfect for right now.

3. People remember the person you were, often not recognizing who you are now - which causes a strange disjunction. Construction is constant. I had to re-build impressions of self and refresh connections.