Lisboa, Portugal. June 2012.
Fado. Translated into destiny and fate.
A music historically bound to Portuguese culture, Fado roots itself in the art of acoustic storytelling. I somehow found myself in a small neighborhood of Alfama located in the city of Lisbon. Searching through dimly lit streets dressed in cobblestone, we finally approached the doors of Senhor Vinho. A friend recommended this gem - a place where her family would trek to for an evening affair. We entered the Fado house and took our seats at a small table in the corner. Walking inside was like stepping into a grandmother’s memoir. The walls were lined with tile, adorned with a semblance of street lamps. A mix of old frames and decorative plates seemed to place me in the far ago decade of 1975- almost as if I had stumbled into the set of film. The lights quickly dimmed so that only three people were illuminated in the center of the room - two gentlemen sat perched with guitars, setting the backdrop for the tale to come. And a woman, dressed in black, with shawl draping tassels stood solitary.
The strings stroked a melody inviting her voice - and moments later the room was echoing with a crescendo. There is something quite beautiful about the power of the song - not understanding the language and letting the tones of the vocals and strings carry you through the story. Beams of hopefulness were juxtaposed with sorrow. A weight entrenched the artist as she clutched her body. The reverberations fought in dramatic conflict as the tempo shifted spontaneously. The vocalist harnessed empathy for her song. The room, still but simultaneously shaking with sound - seemed to capture the soul of the city.
I will go to back to Portugal one day. And sit in a Fado house. And disappear into Vielas de Alfama.
Food for the soul.
There’s something quite perfect about rainy days. The couch is intimately inviting. The splashing sound of water from car wheels echoes through the windows, balancing out the waves of steady rain. Green tea in the largest cup possible is just the right amount. And listening to Alabama Shakes makes me want evaporate into the verses.
1. A person who enjoys eating, and often eats too much.
2. A connoisseur of good food.
Top Left: Sushi Tacos at Samurai Mama, Brooklyn, NY.
Top Right: Alexis Deboschnek’s home-cooked beets, Brooklyn, NY.
Bottom Left: Mushroom Udon at Samurai Mama, Brooklyn, NY.
Bottom Right: Arroz con Mariscos, Peruvian Grill, Sarasota, FL.
New York. It’s chaotic and lively. Think express trains, flocks of tourists, the battalion of wall street climbers. Advertising. It’s stop motion on hyper speed. Collision and coalition of ideas or displaced and re-appropriated thoughts. These are two things I absolutely love… but sometimes they require 5 Hour Energy, 24 hours a day. So when our mental gears refuse to pause, we sometimes miss those small moments of joy.
I thought I’d share a few of my morsels I dug up today:
When your everyday subway ride transforms into an occasional music video. It only happens when shuffle is on it. A good song is looped in and 10 seconds later your foot is tapping like an old man from the 50’s. Soon, a shit grin takes over your face while people look at your like your crazed for actually smiling on a winter day in New York City. If you have that extra charm, you might be bobbing your head too. And well… when that happens…
Random acts of kindness. Just a small anecdote: It was one of those moments where you hear the train coming. Some surreal wind is blowing underground….which is only explicable by the physics of subway systems…and of course this dramatizes the moment. As if the sprint down the stairs is not enough, you look into your wallet only to take the gamble for which card out of the 7 cards is the one with fueled with money. Swipe. Empty. Swipe. Empty. Swipe. And fuck it. Decision: buy a new card. And then there’s 1 machine. A line of 8 people. And the chiming noise that tells you the subway doors are closing. And then there’s an MTA security guard. She comes through the emergency gates, and low and behold….holds the door open. “Come on through, you’ll be waiting in that line all day.” Just one sentence, made my day.
I believe that people who genuinely give lead happier, more fulfilling lives. A part of it may be explained by karma. But another part of it is just knowing that you were able to share something kind with someone else - and that in itself is a rewarding.
Singing in the shower. Cliche…yes, perhaps. But it’s that moment stripped of the fourth wall. Just you and no one else. Solace in the state of solitude and zero reservations.
Playing with Food. Not just for kids. Those entrepreneurial spirits pushing the food carts around Manhattan and Brooklyn have found the path to my heart by fashioning the “off-the-radar” foods. I mean, where would I be if it weren’t for the invention of AsiaDog - the Asian Inspired hot dog.
Not knowing the future. Because it teaches you how to live in the moment.
When a stranger smiles in the street. Because when living in a frenetic city like New York…people forget to take a moment just to smile.
“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
- Walter Bagehot
Next to an organic wine shop in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, you may stumble across an open door with concrete stairs. Might make you think twice about whether this is the donation-based studio you heard of… until you reach the top and are greeted with the potent smells of hipster body odors. Prepare to break a sweat before your first downward dog, because the air is already perspiring heat.
The 2pm saturday afternoon class was surprisingly not as crowded as anticipated - although that still doesn’t guarantee a foot in the face or happy babies colliding. My sentiments about this place are bittersweet. The flow makes me sweat and the triad of chair-sits are ultimately burning. The outbursts of orgasmic “H-A’s” are awkward yet guiltily pleasurable. Though for first-timers, it can be horrific and truthfully alarming. The day after is rewarding and the mental break from the world is a relief. The best is always last, as they end with a quote and the Tibetan singing bowl. I’ll leave you with today’s nugget of inspiration, a quote by Mother Teresa.
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
- Mother Teresa
Prints for Mercedes-Benz by Y&R, Tel Aviv.
Shot entirely on the Nokia N8 mobile phone. Winner of the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.
Nothing can bring peace but yourself.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds to be” - Abraham Lincoln
Woke up this morning, sun shining through window. Roused by the clanking of machinery outside. Nevertheless, the view from my window is still quaint despite the worksite where most likely a condo named something mundane like “The Brooklyn” will sprout up. I really love where I live.
A few exciting ventures of 2012 thus far:
Brooklyn Winery - For the past 5 months I have been telling myself that I would make the trek across the street to this urban winery. A few nights ago, the trek finally happened. Glad it did too because apparently upon first FourSquare check-in you receive 15% off your first glass of wine. We got a glass of a 2011 Viura from Spain and a bottle of the 2009 Malbec from Argentina. The Viura was a dark white and unlike any wine I’ve ever tasted. The Malbec definitely distinguished itself from other Malbecs I have tried. I’m no wine connoisseur but this charming little winery exceeded my expectations. I will need to venture back, as I intend to make my own wine next time.
Santigold at Music Hall of Williamsburg - Starting with the venue. A short 5 minute walk from my apartment and it also took me far to long to come explore. It’s a small yet appropriate music venue for the neighborhood. It has a basement bar and a balcony as well and of course music resonates throughout the entire building. Happy hour lasts till 9pm. Santigold was such a delight. The performance was worth way beyond the $25 ticket fee with her backup dancers performing the entire hour and a half set. She rocked some theatrical costumes and loved her crowd. Shows are always that much better when the artist is genuinely enthusiastic about performing. Moments later I found myself on stage dancing with Santigold herself and several other ecstatic fans. At one point the audience was even graced with a life size horse on stage (propped most likely by two people, madly sweating from within). The entire experience was just great.