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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Places’

The Marquis de Sade and the Borgias: now sexing up the museums of Paris

October 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, History, Places 4 Comments →

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The Borgia exhibit at the Musee Maillol doesn’t have an English text, but everything is familiar because we’d seen the TV show The Borgias. The museum exhibition is the prestigious historical tie-in to the TV show, except that the real Borgias and their associates, as painted by artists from the Renaissance, were not as beautiful as the actors. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are mentioned in the title, but they are barely represented; however, there’s a display of costumes from the series. Tsk, tsk, how commercial. It’s almost American.

Affiche-Sade

The same could be said of Sade: Attacking the Sun at the Musee d’Orsay which, judging from the crowd waiting to get in, is a blockbuster. The show is massive, and the pieces impressive on their own—the Rodins are especially awesome—but their connection to the writings of the mad Marquis are tenuous at best. (Have you tried reading Justine or 120 Days of Sodom? We recommend them for insomniacs. Take two pages every night and you will sleep like the dead. However, our friend recommends his Philosophy in the Boudoir as “charming”.)

The curators imply that every major artist from the 19th century onwards was secretly influenced by Sade. The influence must’ve been so secret, the artists weren’t aware of it. Fine, the Surrealists championed Sade, so they should be there, but anything sexual or violent in the work of Goya, Gericault, Ingres, Rodin, Picasso, Munch is presented as proof of this influence: “It’s obvious!”

What is most obvious is that museum curators, like filmmakers, appreciate the uses of shock value. If you promise the audience decadence and depravity, they will come. The innermost room of the Sade show is called The Chamber of Perversions, and the fact that the viewer can come away unshocked is perhaps the most shocking thing of all.

See their NSFW exhibition trailer.

In the cemetery where Truffaut lies buried

October 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, History, Movies, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →

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There’s a Francois Truffaut exposition and retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Patrick Modiano (whose books are in every bookshop window, taunting us), it exists to make people who don’t speak French feel bad. “But we’ve seen The 400 Blows lots of times, we already know the plot, so we can watch it anyway,” we consoled ourself. But The 400 Blows and the Antoine Doinel movies aren’t showing this week. Noooo!

In the meantime we visited Truffaut’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. We’re staying at our friend’s apartment, which is within spitting distance of Sacre Coeur, but only if you’re on the hill or if you’re an Olympic-level projectile spitter.

van gogh

On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother, Theo. (There’s a plaque on the side of the building.) Sad story. In your lifetime your devoted brother, an art dealer, can’t sell any of your work, and then after your death your paintings go for zillions.

Still, the letters the brothers wrote to each other are wonderful. Read them. Vincent not only had the eye, he had the ear as well. One of them.

map

The map at the cemetery entrance lists the famous dead on the premises: Theophile Gautier, Edgar Degas, Hector Berlioz, Edmond Goncourt and so on. Even if we have no sense of direction, we couldn’t miss Truffaut’s grave.

truffaut

Visitors leave their metro tickets on it. The Last Metro, get it? Granted, it is easier than leaving 400 Blows or a piano player with a bullet through him.

cemetery

We like cemeteries, they’re quiet. A fat stray cat walked in front of us, but refused to be photographed.

* * * * *

prince
Cat of the Day: Prince, of the Del Fierro-Bouyers.Tried to eat our cake because it had lots of butter.

The hearty quiche and the saucy menu

October 28, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Food, Language, Places, Traveling 12 Comments →

stairs

We expected to pass out any minute from jet lag, so we had dinner in the neighborhood. Our friend took us to a restaurant called L’été en pente douce. Meaning “Summer on a gentle slope”—slope, as in the side of the hill, which requires climbing these stairs. (A second flight of stairs takes you to the basilica of Sacre Coeur. A week or so of this and we should have quads of steel.)

l'ete

The restaurant serves a very good quiche, which is a meal in itself. We had champagne, this being our welcome dinner. A glass of champagne is only slightly costlier than 6 ounces of Coke. Around here Coke is more expensive than the house wine, so have the wine.

Even before the quiche arrived, we were royally entertained by the menu, in French and English versions.

ass of summer

According to various translation apps, the title means “the pot-gossip of summer” or “the pewter-pot summer”, but according to a native it could also be interpreted as “the ass of summer”.

personal of room

The translations, though perhaps overly literal, sound very grand. The French menu even asks: “Do you have an emptiness?” Why do restaurants back home never ask us existential questions?

dry so very dry

Who could resist “a dry wine, so very dry for a muscat that it causes raised eyebrows among wine connoisseurs”?

We were so fascinated by the menu that we had to ask for a copy. The waiter feigned hurt and said, “If you’re just going to laugh at it…” but we assured him that it was the laughter of genuine admiration. The menu doesn’t just offer specials, it proposes them. (“We are the only restaurant to offer this” becomes “We are the unique restaurant to propose this.”)

montmartre cat

Outside, a cat waited to be served.

In case you’ve decided to panic, don’t.

October 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Places, Traveling 1 Comment →

saffy
Who takes care of the cats when we are away? They have a catsitter.

We know that our readers are from the school of overthinking, so this is to assure you that we have not

(a) Had a neurological event
(b) Had an electrolyte imbalance that might lead to a medical drama or fanciful interpretation
(c) Been in a motorcycle crash due to the foolhardy behavior that comes from exposure to the clever cat poop parasite toxoplasma gondii

We just got off the plane in Paris after 17 hours in the air (and 5 in airports, including almost getting left behind in Abu Dhabi).

For the next couple of weeks we’re coming to you live from Paris and Vienna.

Later.

“Purpose of travel”

October 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →

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Our real answers to the “Purpose of travel” item in the visa application form

1. Amok prevention. We love living here, but this city keeps pushing and pushing and pushing us and if we do not take a break we will snap. Take this morning. Please. In sane traffic, it would take us no more than ten minutes to get to the embassy for our appointment. This morning it took us an hour and a half, and the only reason the taxi driver agreed to drive us was because we bribed him. (Yeah there are taxi apps. Same principle: They’ll drive you if you’re willing to pay more. And the “kontrata” system is now legitimized as “tips”. In effect we are incentivizing asshole behavior, but people just want to get home safely and with the least aggravation.)

2. Sanity maintenance. We are very, very, very, very, very tired. We haven’t had a proper vacation in years. All our trips have been work assignments. In fact the last real vacation we had—”real” meaning we could do whatever we wanted and we didn’t have to say nice things about the trip sponsor or shut up when something went wrong—was eight years ago, in the same place.

2rueCazotte

3. Perspective. We love our country when we’re somewhere else and can think about it objectively.

4. The horror of sameness. We need to feel like an alien in an alien land. It makes us think better. Here we only feel like a freak. A bored, enervated freak.

5. The comfort of being in a place where people read books on the train—good books—and cafes give prizes to the best novels written on the premises.

What we wrote on the visa form

Tourism

A Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

September 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places No Comments →

met open

We spent a few hours at the Met Open 2014, a benefit exhibition on contemporary art. Five eminent curators selected 208 artworks focusing on abstraction, painting, seriality, pop culture, myth and symbolism.

langenegger
Robert Langenegger

abaya
Leo Abaya

de guzman
Jaime De Guzman

vinluan
Paulo Vinluan

abueva
Napoleon Abueva

The five pieces shown above are among the artworks for sale. Proceeds will support the museum’s education and exhibition programs. Met Open 2014 opened today and will run until Saturday, 4 October 2014.

At the second floor galleries is the survey, The Philippine Contemporary Art Exhibition: To Scale the Past and the Possible.

junyee
Junyee

feleo
Roberto Feleo

eustaquio
Patricia Eustaquio

ossorio
Alfonso Osorio

barredo
Gabriel Barredo

tapaya
Rodel Tapaya

esquillo
Alfred Esquillo

jumalon
Winner Jumalon

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is at the Bangko Sentral complex on Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 530pm. Entrance fee: Php100 for adults and students, Php80 for senior citizens. Visit www.metmuseum.ph or call (02)7087828 for more information.