Monday, 31 May 2010

Rome-ing, part 3 and probably the last part

Some points that fall halfway between full-on columns and copout bullet points:

  • Clay's Rule of Travel #4: Always give yourself a reason to come back. You'll never see everything you've planned to, no matter how carefully you plan. And making a list of the things you want to go back to next time makes a place more your own.
  • Thoughts on Landsdowne upon seeing the Coliseum: If you're opposed to the project because you're not into sports, then you're missing the point. The Coliseum was a meeting point and focus for all of Roman life, not just the bloodsports. Ottawa needs this focal point. Or, more precisely, Ottawa needs this focal point if it wants to be about something more than being "nice" or "at least not Toronto." It's also important to focus on the "all" part. Meaning ALL of Ottawa. Other parts of the city must step up to make this project work. OC Transpo. the NCC. Ottawa residents themselves must all extend their perspectives beyond the boundaries of their nieghbourhoods. Yes, the processes that got us here was probably flawed. But that debate is over now. Landsdowne is a chance for Ottawa to step up as a city and assert a new identity. Then again, if all we're worried about is parking, then perhaps we'll get the Landsdowne we deserve. And we'll continue to play out the string as Toronto's country cousin.
  • Why did I respond this way? I've seen big buildings before, but these struck me like no others. I think I know why - simple forms - rows and columns - repeated. There's no fussiness to distract. No gilding of lillies. The simplicity and repetition draw you in. 
  • Once you can express a preference for a specific thing over another, similar thing - either of which things some people work their entire lives for but never see, then you know how truly lucky you are. Example: "I really like Roman ruins. But the ones in Arles don't even compare to the ones in Rome."
  • Clay's rule of travel #1: You are not special. Specifically, to the multitudes of tour guides, ticket sellers and bored security guards, you are not special. You are in line at the Louvre, shuffling through the Prado and gawking at St. Peter's for exactly the same reasons as everyone else. To the less-scrupulous tour operators and pickpockets, moreover, you're simply an easy mark.  However, that doesn't mean your own experiences will not be special. Or unique. Or incredibly powerful for you. We all want to travel to see and to learn. That's the first step and we all have to start somewhere. What we get out of travel depends in large part on what we bring to it. Start with an open mind. It will lead you to the truly wonderful places.
  • Ah yes, the romantic allure of the European sidewalk cafe, where the actual coffee will cost you $4.50 and the experience of drinking it will last all of 38 seconds. You want another? $4.50, please.
  • In Canada, the things you need to be open are usually open when you need them to be open. In Europe, some of the things you need to be open are open only on some days, some of the time, depending.
  • North America is obsessed with perfect and complete. In Europe, imperfect and unfinished is a way of life. Notre Dame took a century to build. Folks here have learned to be patient.
  • They were French, and they were having The Argument. You know, The Argument Every French Couple in the Movies Has to Show How Uptight we North Americans all are. 
  • Now she's sitting down. He's standing. Looks like a standoff. Why is she with this dork?
  • 10 PRINT "Hey look, a church!" 20 GOTO 10. RUN.
  • 10 PRINT "Stand right, walk left." 20 GOTO 10. RUN
  • In Rome I saw more Corvettes than Ferraris. Explain.
  • Ok. It's the same distance to the Metro as to the cab stand. Cabs: expensive, possible nausea. Metro: Cheap, possible nausea. Plus chance to walk past new Ferrari. Ok, Metro wins.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rome-ing, part 2

In which our host keeps a running tab of his thoughts during this year's Champions League Final:

First Half:
  • In Rome there are sports and there are bars. Yet there are no sports bars. 
  • I've yet to see a Bayern kit that doesn't look dorky.
  • More people here now. This is good. This is perfect.
  • I can just sit back and enjoy the game, safe in the knowledge that Chelsea won the domestic double and ManU won SFA.
  • K. Kickoff. Inter looks composed. Bayern looks jittery.
  • Wow. We really, really overparent back home. To my now-conditioned eyes, EU parents look almost criminally negligent. Where's the bag? Where's all the stuff? You can't go out with a kid without stuff, can you?
  • How nice not to hear Don Cherry.
  • 14:16 - ok, both sides settling down now.
  • Lots. Of. Diving. jeez loueez.
  • Europe still runs on people.
  • Well, I always do get kinda sick when I travel. Perhaps a week of 16-hour days has something to do with it?
  • Why is the announcer calling them "Bayern Monaco?"
  • Arjen Robben has explosive quickness.
  • Robben vs. Sneijder is a key matchup, methinks. Just better be sure they don't injure each other before the World Cup.
  • Wow. Bayern sure are an ugly bunch.
  • I think I'm going to start writing in all caps and serif fonts. I'm starting to like it.
  • Bayern is dominating possession by 2/3 but not doing much with the ball. "keep away! keep away!"
  • Poor dogs. Wonder if they ever get to walk on grass in this town.
  • Lots of shots for Bayern, none of them tough.
  • Replay: perfect first touch from the goal kick. Perfect angle on the pass. Perfect finish. No chance for Butt.
  • Inter wants more now. You can feel it.
  • Odd that people see this as a "Germany vs Italy" thing. I mean, the "German" team is coached by a Dutchman and their star player is French. The "Italian" team is coached by a Portuguese who's on record as hating the Italian soccer establishment, and their star striker is from Cameroon.
  • Inter is moving it well. They've got the angles down. Mourinho really has them in a groove. Bayern by comparison is boring. They've gotta come up with something soon or it's all gonna be over. They really, really miss Ribery.
  • How about that. Christophe Lambert makes wine.
  • A lot has changed in Europe in the last 20 years. Not the music, though. That still sucks.
  • Hmmm...there are no direct routes back to the hotel. Or to anywhere else, for that matter.
  • Funny ad for a GPS: A very old, very tired stork flying around with a very old man. 
Second Half
  • Wow. The runway at the Madrid stadium has granite filigreed walls. These are the new cathedrals, people. Logos the new iconography.
  • Chance for Bayern. Well, ok, that was something. But they still look unsure. Lots of "i got it, you take it" going on.
  • So, if Inter does take it, do we have to add an asterisk? *Yah, but without Ribery it was easy...
  • Do peanuts count as dinner?
  • Where's my autographed copy of Fabrizio's Return? I think I lent it out and it never came back.
  • Another easy one for Julio Cesar. Well, at least Bayern are trying.
  • Ok. Now that was close.
  • These are really crappy napkins.
  • Getting sleepy. 
  • GOAAAALLLLL! Milito di nuovo!
  • Made them look very foolish.
  • Some American teens behind me are trying to figure out their Euros. Guys, it's simple: the bigger the bill, the more beer it will buy.
  • Nearly 4 days in Rome and I haven't seen one backpack. Bless.
  • 76th minute: Robben still playing like he cares, but I think his supporting cast has checked out.
  • Olic coming out. There's the white flag right there.
  • Quit complaining, van Brommel. You know your cleats were up.
  • Inter playing with purpose. Bayern is just passing it around.
  • 86th minute. Bayern gets it into the 18-yard box, Inter calmly removes it.
  • Possession time: Bayern - 69 percent. Astounding. Yet nothing to show for it. Paging Monsieur Ribery....
  • 91st minute: Enter Materazzi. You could say i have mixed feelings about seeing him win.
  • final whistle. The Special One is now ever more Special. Now. Where can I find a cab?


I used this particular Moleskine and a smaller, softcover variant on the trip to Rome. It was the same one I used in London a while back and the same one I used at last year's TIFF festival. I travel with a Moleskine mainly because they're indestructible and fast and only partly because they're cool. They're also efficient: little elastic-y bit keeps loose bits of paper tucked neatly in there, and the sewn-in bookmark brings me instantly to where I need to be.

I used them a lot both during the conferences I was there to cover and to keep track of various thoughts. It was pen and paper, text only. Blazingly fast. I can't even imagine trying to do what I did over there with an iPhone. All that shuttling between applications? Typing with one finger?

No thanks.

Moleskine, baby.


So, herewith are some of those scribbles thus rendered into the not not nearly as elegant HTML. I can't call them "random," as they're all to do with Rome and my experiences there, but I'm not going to force them into a narrative. Make of that what you will. 

Here goes:

  • Nuns on the subway! Nuns on the subway! DA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA Nuns on the subway!
  • Raphael - sad eyes looking straight at you through the centuries.
  • Writing human stories in the skies. Try to understand it all.
  • Even cappucino in a plastic cup tastes better after a trip to the Sistine Chapel.
  • Anyone who thought "Inferno" was a work of ficition has never had to travel in Rome by subway.
  • I like Coke cans in Italy. They're tall and skinny. Just like me!
  • A4. Fucking hell. How can paper be sexy? Well, it is based on the Golden Section, so there.
  • It's not that these clothes are "nicer" than what we can buy in Canada. It's like they're woven from some alternate, parallel strand of fashion DNA. 
  • I've finally found a way to wear this shirt that doesn't make me regret buying it.
  • Europeans have mastered the art of "fall out of bed" sexy. In Canada we just look sloppy.
  • Oh, cool - there's one of those spring water fountains. Fuck. Why did I throw out my water bottle?
  • Dr. Myerson, I presume?
  • Projecting the appearance of competence will take you nearly as far as the real thing. 
  • This is my gift to you. Soon I will be gone. Too soon, they will write. What will you leave for them to remember you by?
  • I miss ambient coffee.
  • In Europe, work never seems the most important thing. Especially at work.
  • Why is he playing "El Condor Pasa?"
  • Ok. Now I'm hungry.
  • Rome is a great locale to help you understand the new world of business. It's noisy, it's crowded, everybody's moving in every direction at once, you're getting bumped from all sides and nothing makes any sense.
  • I think i've consumed enough carbs to last the rest of this and at least two subsequent decades.
  • Why yes, I'll have the tiramisu.
  • Oh Fiat, Oh Peugeot, when are you coming to visit our streets?
More coming, but this was a start.