I can’t bring myself to post a photograph, so here is an orange singing the Habanera from Carmen.
Trump is patriarchy unbuttoned, paunchy, in a baggy suit, with his hair oozing and his lips flapping and his face squinching into clownish expressions of mockery and rage and self-congratulation. He picked as a running mate buttoned-up patriarchy, the lean, crop-haired, perpetually tense Mike Pence, who actually has experience in government, signing eight anti-abortion bills in his four years as governor of Indiana, and going after Planned Parenthood the way Trump went after hapless beauty queens. The Republican platform was, as usual, keen to gut reproductive rights and pretty much any rights that appertained to people who weren’t straight, or male, or white.
Misogyny was everywhere. It came from the right and the left, and Clinton was its bull’s-eye, but it spilled over to women across the political spectrum. Early on some of Trump’s fury focused on the Fox presenter Megyn Kelly, who had questioned him about his derogatory comments about other women’s appearance. He made the bizarre statement on CNN that ‘you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.’ He also denigrated his opponents’ wives and the businesswoman Carly Fiorina’s face; he obligingly attacked Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, in a flurry of middle-of-the-night tweets after Clinton baited him about his treatment of her; he attacked the women who accused him of assaulting them after the grab-them-by-the-pussy tape was released.
Record levels of snow fell over Europe, blanketing the continent, closing the Bosphorus to shipping and causing flight cancellations. In Istanbul, homeless people and stray animals were rounded up and taken to shelters. In Cappadocia, the snow heightened the extraterrestrial feel of the landscape. It makes me think of Arrakis with snow instead of sand, and the fairy chimneys as frozen sandworms.
It was supposed to be our last day in Turkey. In the morning we went up in a hot air balloon for spectacular views of Cappadocia.
To no one’s surprise, the airport was snowed in and our afternoon flight back to Istanbul was cancelled.
These clever cats live at the Nevsehir airport, where there are warm spots to huddle in and people to give them food. I had taken to carrying cheese and cold cuts from the breakfast buffet for the critters I met.
The safest way to get back to Istanbul was by land. So the next day we drove ten hours from Goreme to Istanbul, with pit stops every two or three hours. Turn a setback into an adventure! I must’ve seen every public WC and convenience store in Anatolia.
Throughout this unexpected development, the center of calm and efficiency was our tour guide, Arif Yasa. Not only is Arif super-knowledgeable about Turkish history, culture, and cuisine, he is also extremely kind and patient. You try being in charge of ten Pinoys, each with specific requirements, and maintain your sanity.
If you’re going to Turkey, one of the smartest things you can do is get Arif to be your guide. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By 8pm we were having dinner at a mall in Istanbul, by 10 we were at the airport. Almost the minute I strapped myself into my seat, I was asleep.
Notes on travelling to Turkey and elsewhere
1. The news is scary, so it’s natural to hesitate about going there. In the aftermath of the nightclub shooting, security has been tightened in Istanbul and people have been warned to avoid crowded places. At no time during our eight-day trip did I feel unsafe. Not to belittle the problem, but there is an upside to this: fewer tourists. You can hear yourself think.
Listen, the whole world looks like Children of Men (the Alfonso Cuaron movie) now. Are you going to hide, or are you going to get out there and live?
2. Always have travel insurance, even if it’s not required when getting your visa. Shit happens. Best to be prepared.
3. If you’re going to a cold country, Uniqlo is your friend. When I was packing for the trip it occurred to me that my ten-year-old winter coat could use reinforcements. I stocked up on Uniqlo sweaters and Heattech shirts, and they saved me from hypothermia when the mercury dropped.
4. How can you see the world when you’re perpetually checking your phones and tablets? Disconnect. It’s mostly chaos and idiocy anyway, and you do not need minute-by-minute updates. Enjoy the silence. Get reacquainted with yourself.
While I defrost my extremities, enjoy this camp classic from Turkey, one of the most bizarre movies ever made: The Man Who Saves The World a.k.a. Turkish Star Wars.
For great Turkish films, check out Yol (The Road), Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, or Winter Sleep.
Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
is not art.
Translated by Robert Hass
Despite the name there is nothing sinister about the Byzantine church carved into the soft rock. The church is called that because it’s not exposed to direct light, sparing the frescoes from serious damage.
I was wearing four layers of clothes and an overcoat. This cat was taking a stroll in the snow. He accepted some cheese and cold cuts, and a hug.
This shop owner at the Spice Market lured us in by shouting, “Philippines! I’m a friend of Edu Manzano!” He sells this amazing winter tea with eucalyptus.
I’m in Istanbul for filming. Yeah, I won’t use the other verb. After the coup attempt and the terror attacks, the city feels melancholy and antsy. But it’s still gorgeous. There are fewer people about, but traffic is still heavy.
Again I’m impressed at the number of big, fluffy, friendly cats and dogs on the streets. Our guide explained that the strays are tagged, neutered and vaccinated, then returned to their neighborhoods where the residents feed and look after them.
Royd misses his beagle.
You can measure the humanity of a society by the way they treat their stray cats and dogs.
If people are hungry and desperate, I would understand if they killed dogs for food. But killing a dog for onscreen entertainment, even if it claims to be art with a message, is wrong.
Killing dogs is wrong. And killing people is wrong. It’s not an either/or. And it’s a reflection on our society that it has come to this.
Off to work. I leave you with this mountain of baklava.
Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg is on weekends at the old Williamsburg Savings Bank Clocktower in Fort Greene. I want to live there.
It’s like entering a bank vault and emerging in your childhood. It was perfect flea market weather: one degree Celsius, and the wind could take your face off.
I resisted the mind-boggling array of vintage eyeglasses, concert T-shirts and other clothes, vinyl records, magazines and games.
But not the necklace with a plastic dragon pendant.
The vendors sell all the stuff you’ve thrown out over the years and now want to get back. It’s not really the stuff you want, you know, it’s the past. When you look back you realize those were the good times, but you were too busy waiting for the future to arrive.
You can buy back your childhood. An attractive proposition, since the future circa 2016 has been a whopping disappointment. Sure, there are new toys, but you want the things that were around when you were a kid.
Did anybody save their pins, T-shirts and stuff from the street parliament years, 1983-1986? Show us.
Photos of the library, building and cafe from themorgan.org.
Carmen invited me to a three-martini lunch at the Morgan Library. A year like this calls for regular doses of alcohol as a survival mechanism, so I said yes.
The Morgan Library houses the impressive collection of Pierpont Morgan. Listen, if you’re going to be a robber baron, the least you can do is leave a spectacular library.
The library is pretty much the way it was in Morgan’s time, but the building has been renovated by Renzo Piano.
It feels a little jarring to step out of the exhibit of Charlotte Bronte’s papers and into this. One is expecting Thornfield Hall, mud and howling wind.
Carmen, a tech consultant, started Whisky and Books, which pairs books with whisky and meets every month to discuss. This month’s pairing: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Bruichladdich X4+3. What a great idea, we should do this in Manila. Noel and I have long planned a Silence of the Lambs dinner with a good chianti (and fava beans).
I associate martini lunches with this scene from Mad Men. (Coincidentally, I have a ticket to The Front Page starring Nathan Lane and John Slattery.) We did not remake this, probably because I did not eat a bucket of oysters.
As long as we were pleasantly tipsy we visited an altar to literature and drink: The Algonquin Hotel, where Dorothy Parker et al held court at the Round Table.
The Algonquin is now ruled by the imperious Matilda, third of her name.