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“Between Ceausescu and Fidel” by Radu Polizu – Dictatorship wrapped in the sensuality of Cuba

New Meridian Arts and FlyingMonk Films are proud to announce the launch of a fascinating literary journey through today’s Cuba as discovered by an author and filmmaker who lived his youth in another Communist system, Ceausescu’s Romania, half a world away.

“When I planned to go to Cuba, I never thought even for moment that I would land in a place that resembled the world where I lived as a youth. In my mind, that type of world had vanished and been completely replaced by new heads of the same hydra, as authoritarian and inhumane, and labeled creatively for the new generations.
Probably because of this state of mind, my first contact with Cuba was shocking. Amusingly, Cuba unveiled my forgotten youth in Romania, with the entire repertoire of senseless propaganda based on the same script that had been written in Moscow a century ago, with the same people’s complete dismissal of the authority, and even identical in the long forgotten street sayings, replicated in a world decades apart.
But besides all this, I discovered Cuba as a fabulous live museum, a place where history was forced to halt for a moment and take a long and refreshing breath. The cars, the architecture, the people’s spirit, the lack of Internet and even their antiquated leaders looked like they all crept out from a time that refused to advance, a time that you may find only in the yellowed pages of old newspapers. I also witnessed Cuba waiting feverishly for President Obama’s visit, an unexpected visit for the Cubans but their greatest and only hope in the last 60 years. All these elements compose the effervescent charm of Cuba, a country that lives with fervor and passion in an incredibly uplifting atmosphere that transcends time and space. The phenomenal resilience of Cubans in their will to enjoy life to abandon, with music, dance and rum, in spite of their daily hardships, looking almost like a rebellion against their oppressive and inept government, form the core of all the stories I have written in this book.”

Radu Polizu aka FlyingMonk

The book is available on Amazon, (click here) or on FlyingMonk.com (click here)

A first reading from the book will happen on May 1 at 7:00 PM at KGB Bar in East Village – 85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, USA (map)

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Posted by on April 24, 2018 in Blog, Cuba, Romania

 

The Bridge

Sydney’s harbor seen from the Harbor Bridge pylon

Sydney’s harbor is dominated by the Harbor Bridge. It was built after many debates during the Great Depression keeping many people employed. It was inspired after Hell Gate Bridge in New York, the bridge that connects Queens to Randall’s island and it took about 60 years to be paid off.

Sydney’s harbor and the bridge access seen from the Harbor Bridge pylon

Anywhere you may go in downtown Sydney you’d see the bridge in each and every picture you may take. The walk on it is as popular as a walk on NYC’s Brooklyn Bridge and if you really want to get an edge of it, for a hefty price and dressed in a special suit you can escalate its top and admire the entire Sydney harbor unobstructed. More or less the same you can get if you escalate the 300 steps of its pylon but for a more reasonable entry fee.

Aboriginal on the Circular Quai, Sydney, Australia

It is hard to get close to the aboriginal culture in Australia. In all discussions we had and asked about this we got a sense of distance between the mainly white population and its original inhabitants. Glimpses of the traditional culture of Australia are everywhere, from the traditional dot paintings to the music instruments, the boomerangs and other objects but mostly they are commercialized by “white” galleries. We tried to understand by talking with the white locals what is the exact relationship with the aboriginals but few conversations were able to shed light on this tenuous situation. I don’t know if the aboriginals who were selling art on the Circular Quai were for real but they looked that were trying to capitalize on their culture.

Funerary totems in NSW Art Gallery

In any case the aboriginal art is present in all Australian Museums and represents one of the most interesting exhibits. Another aspect that stands out is the deep respect the Australians have for their veterans. The monuments that adorned their cities are just one aspect of this care and that is heavily backed by special clubs, events and a care for the health of these people. Anzac, stand for Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, and the monument in Sydneyis dedicated to the memory of those who fought and perished in the assault of the Gallipoli Peninsula in the First World War.

Anzac Memorial, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Beaches

Bondi Iceberg Pools, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

The most beautiful beach in Sydney is by far Bondi Beach. Large and skirting a long gulf, Bondi is the place to be if you want to be near the ocean. It even looks also like an old English sea resort with a beach pavilion in spite being just half an hour out of the city center.

Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

But the main attraction in Bondi is the 6 km walk around the ocean on beaches and promontories that give spectacular views over the green waters and the surfers spending their days in the water. The walk starts from Bondi and goes up the coats to the Bondi Iceberg, a set of pools built right a little bit on top of the ocean where you can swim protected of jelly fish in summers but still feel like you are in the ocean.

The pools at Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia

The walk continues even through a cemetery that holds the graves of the important personalities of the area overlooking picturesquely even from the graves the green waters behind and it follows the coast to Coogee where another pavilion from other times awaits for you with cold drinks.

The Gap in Watsons Bay, Sydney, Australia

Just another bus hop from Bondi is Watsons Bay with its famous Gap, the preferred suicide place on the coast. The whooping dropping cliffs are meeting the blue waters that splash in powerful waves the rock in a mesmerizing show of force. The entire area is fenced cautiously and watched by numerous cameras and help and support calling stations because an accidental, or intended, drop from the top means a sure death. A short walk from there through colorful flower bushes and other beaches may bring you to the end of the peninsula where a lighthouse stands. In the background you can see downtown Sydney that you’d reach by hoping a boat from the nearby harbor.

Hornby Lighthouse, in South Head, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Markets

The fish market, Sydney, Australia

Besides its animated center Sydney has several quaint neighborhoods with a laid back atmosphere in the spirit of Australia. Glebe is one of them with quiet alleys aligned with attached smaller houses and an intellectual feel given by the many bookstores. In Glebe live a lot of students that go to the close by University of Sydney. But to get there you pass by the spectacular fish market full of displays of fish and all sorts of marine life.

Anzac Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The market is right on the water and has a harbor of boats that come early in the morning with the catch of the day right near Anzac Bridge.

Victoria Building Gallery, Sydney, Australia

On a different note as the fish market are the covered city galleries, actual passages through buildings full of shops and restaurants, that crisscross many blocks in the center town. The most famous mall is the classy Queen Victoria building raised at the end of the 19th century whose through access is open all night in spite of the shops being closed. From its third floor is a impressive view of the the hustle and bustle that happen on the lower floors.

Victoria Building Gallery, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Sydney’s islands

Surfers on Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

For Aussies the beach is the haven and each and every time when they have a moment they go out to them. This in spite of the fact that the ozone layer, they say, is nonexistent in their part of the world and the skin cancer is more widespread that anywhere else. The beaches around Sydney are packed with all walks of lives. It is nice to see a group of small kids or pre-teens who all come by themselves and hang out at the beach or swim joyfully in the green seas. A short boat ride outside of Sydney is Manly Beach full of surfers of various ages.

To Sherry Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia

If you walk out of the Corso, the main street full of stores, towards the main beach and start walking to Sherry Beach you may encounter penguins on the cliffs not bothered by the snorkelers who come close to them.

Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Another boat hop from Sydney is Cockatoo Island, once a penal colony. The old convicts’ barracks and the isolation rooms can be visited also. But what makes for a spectacular visit is the post industrial landscape left behind by the old dockyard. After it was used as a penal colony the island became the main shipyard of Sydney and operated this way till 1991 when it was closed. Since than the island was left in disuse with large buildings full of equipment, with electric panels in place, large cranes, and presses, all looking that were shut down just very recently.

Cockatoo Island was the old shipyard of Sydney

This year the Cockatoo Island buildings were commissioned to host large works of art from the Sydney Biennial. The settings for such an event could not find a more spectacular venue that the post industrial landscape of the island.

Biennial at the Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

A large raft holding immigrants was displayed in one of the building in the part of the exhibit dedicated to migration. In another building surrounded by electrical panels looking almost ready to be turned on, on a screen was projected a video containing a huge eye in whose iris you could see images of bombing and nuclear explosion while in the adjacent room, that used to be probably welding place, a copy of the Big Boy, the atomic bomb deployed over Hiroshima, hanged from the ceiling looking like it was just finished to be crafted.

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

The Opera

Sydney Opera

When genius crosses path with a visionary politician miracles happen. This was in a way the story of Sydney Opera, whose architectural competition was started by the city’s mayor in 1956 following long debates in the city council for developing the harbor. The project proposed by an young Dane almost unknown was not even taken in consideration. But his luck turned when the famous architect Eero Saarinen joined the commission and his eyes fell on this overseen project. His insistence changed in a way the fate of a city and of the country when the architectural project of the Opera house was awarded to Join Utzon, the 38 year old from Denmark.

Sydney Opera

No matter how many images, videos, documentaries or features you may have seen about this impressive building it is a treat to be right near it and to walk around its platform following with your eyes the shapes of its shells profiled on the blue or dark sky.

Sydney Opera

It was for sure obvious for Saarinen who influenced the commission to chose this project that this building was way beyond its time when what was expected was practically a large beautiful box. In a way I parallel Utzon’s ideas with Gaudi’ Sagrada Familia and his concepts of architecture that were way beyond his time for the beginning of the 29th century.

The Opera’s shells

But the project implementation was a nightmare for the structural engineers as long as no real structural solution was offered. The debates kept going on and stalled the project till, again, Utzon’s genius came up with a partial spherical rib that would be manufactured off site as independent elements and assembled on site. The elements had a steel cable inside that would be tensed in location holding in the air the shells. These elements were meant to be left visible and create a rib structure that can be followed with the eyes till the top of the building offering a very pleasant look, in spite being made out of uncovered concrete.

Harbor Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The entire complex, the youngest building to be added to the UNESCO list of world heritage monument, is composed of three theaters and one opera house. The opera does not have indoor performances in the summer/fall but a special performance, this year of “La Boheme”, is staged right across the harbor, on a stage by the water that has in its background the Opera house and the Harbor Bridge. And for the show to be complete the performance is augmented by fireworks continued in the intermission over this spectacular background every night.

The fireworks, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Triennial

Yara River, Melbourne, Australia

The day was supposed to be rainy and it started already in the evening to be quite chilly. I was driven close to Melbourne by one of the friends and from there I took a commuter train, using my MyKy card, the card that gives you access to all transportation around Melbourne. The train ride and the look of the train stations reminded me of the London suburbs that I discovered way too many years ago. In a sense Australia preserves a reminiscence of Britain that you can see mainly in its suburbs but also in the way people act and dress in cities. The train chugged along and left me in Southern Cross station in Melbourne where for the second time in the entire trip I had to get cash in order to be able to store my luggage in the station’s lockers.

Triennial at the NGV, Melbourne, Australia

The Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria, the prime museum of contemporary art is a remarkable event that take advantage of the large spaces of the NGV building. Large spaces in the building accommodate large works of art that are mixed with videos, mixed media and interactive works.

Triennial at the NGV, Melbourne, Australia

Coming a little bit late and having to catch a flight to Sydney in the evening I did not have too much time to spend in the city but I still was able to take a quick tour through some landmarks that I missed the first day.

State Library, Melbourne, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2018 in Australia, Blog