24 hours to 2016

December 30, 2015

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By the time I post this there will be 24 hours to the end of 2015.  Not sure what kind of year it was.  I remember being cold.  I remember being hot.  I remember not having a lira.  I remember making money.  It seems it was a slow descent from February until about mid summer, then slowly it got better and better.  Now I have a new mattress, a heater, a job, money for food and a gig.

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I also go this new camera.  I love this thing and what I can do with it.  I got my beautiful guitar that I hardly play enough.  I live in a mystical place, in a chaotic place, in a constantly changing place.

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New year… resolutions, decisions, plans, direction.  I have been shunning any sort of planning since 2010.  I think I will make some for this year.  Maybe do some radical things in my life.   I know I want to go to North America in 2016.  I want to fix my bike, see friends, ride.

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I also would like to do something about my “financial home” improve some of my skills.  Ideally I’d like to do some touring, I’d like to have some creative output, I confess to not having written one song this year.  Not one.

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Maybe I should move around more…  I don’t need to be glued to one spot and I’ve done too much of that.  I have not left Istanbul since mid January.

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One other thing that really rolls in my mind is what can I do with my life  that would make others happy, stronger, better.  How can I be part of making a better world.  I wish to be creative but sometimes it seems so pointless.  Maybe I should join some sort of “help” project somewhere. Save the world (!)  Teaching is cool that way, you feel that you can really give something to someone.

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Yeah… 2015 it was full of challenges.  I’m thankful for those who were near and really were there for me.  And I’m thankful for Mom who saved my butt a few times.  Thankful for the ride, I don’t understand it, most of the time it is much more about taking those curves gracefully than ever assuming I have any mastery of the whole thing.

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Much love.
Passion.
Vision.
Peace… all over to everyone, Peace with others, be it in a traffic jam or at the cash register at the supermarket or over geopolitical maneuverings.
Joy.  In everything.
Simplicity.
Patience.
And again, Love.

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I saw my friend Majid play on the street. Majid is from Iran, he’s been here a few times, we played together at Atolye Kuledibi. He was playing by Galata Tower with someone on accordion, an effects pedal that takes the place of drums for him. He was wearing a big colorful poncho that gave him the air of a romantic gypsy. He was playing his Paul Reed Smith guitar, eyes closed, emotions shaping his face. I made sure he didn’t see me. I figured that if he didn’t let me know he was here, he didn’t really care seeing me. I wanted to capture a good photo without him seeing me. I took some pictures then walked away. The pictures didn’t turn out so well but here is one.

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Tuesday I went to Migros the grocery store, I saw my friend Ozkan, he said he was looking for something for breakfast, he had been practicing, he had headphones on, listening to music. When is the last time I practiced? That night I was playing at Jurnal, some musician friends walked in, they had been working on new songs they said. I felt so un-musician. I have not written a song in … so long. Murat came to see me play, he said he would like to play with me and drums and keyboards… play some sort of avant-gard music, with more aggressive rhythms. Yeah I would like this, in principle, I would like this very much, but will I be able to do anything? Last night I pulled the guitar out of the case, I couldn’t feel any music.

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No inspiration. Yet if you’d ask me what my wish would be, it would be to be able to tour and sing and play all over. It is a contradiction.

But at least I have my little camera with which I can be creative. The hunt for the images is addictive. The subject : Istanbul is inexhaustible. I actually have a deep longing to create… right now I often feel images, colors, things on the edge of my mind, teasing, asking me to hear, see, execute them, but too easily these days I obey the law of least effort and end up wasting my time on a lot of useless things online.

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Maybe it’s an incubation period. So many things are rolling in my mind… I feel a desire to draw, a desire to make videos for my songs. I started courses in web programming, web design, I want to study grammar, write better, I’m reading Zola and that literature is blowing my mind… the writing, the eloquence… But when my time comes, nothing is there. I’m not angry or frustrated about it… just kind of perplexed.

But don’t go thinking life is dreadful because of this, life is incredibly sweet these days in the way that everything seems infused of beauty and grace and wonder. I look around and cannot stop the awe. The colors, the shapes, the motion. Everywhere I look there is history, impossible juxtapositions of architecture, necessity and history. We’ve been blessed with a lot of sunshine this fall, it’s warm, there has not been the endless rains yet and the warmth, the gold of the light is impossibly beautiful. I am awed.

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I feel very grateful too these days. I have food, warmth, lots of love in my life, I live in an amazing city. A Canadian friend recently asked me: When will you come back? How long will you stay? Why do you stay? What about the political situation? Will you ever come back? I had no answers. I have no answers. There is a way of life here that is so unlike North America, I fear I would be at odds if I came back. Here you don’t live to make money, you live life. Here I have so little but I have so much. Last time I went to Los Angeles I was dismayed to really grasp how much my friends were rushing like mad every minute of the day, not having time for what matters, just keeping the wheels of the corporate machine rolling. Here I can live and not even know my home address for months on end. Different worlds. At the same time, some things have proven really difficult to achieve, to even think of making an album project or concert for example, people commit then flake out regularly or the opposite is that they become overbearing, treating me like a child, which I definitely am not anymore. I think the language and cultural barriers have something to do with this, I will keep on dreaming, maybe the will, the connections and the stars will align. In the mean time I am accumulating images, videos, experiences, something might arise out of the entropy.

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The job is good albeit exhausting on the week ends. I love my co-workers. I love the students, I love the feeling of being able to give them something. I now work 3 days a week and it’s as much as I am willing to do. Saturday and Sunday I have two days with 10 classes each in a row. It is gruesome. So much noise, The kids are lawless and filled to the gills with sugar. They are so loud my skin almost lifts, my ears hurt and my whole being is in shock and asks for mercy. After ten classes I just am fried… but it pays the bills now so I’m going along but also looking around for new opportunities, it appears that I could find work that could easily pay twice as much. If that happened, I could maybe then “finance” an album project? How cool would that be!

I keep on. Life is beautiful I am immensely grateful I love you all. I wish you the best Christmas, New Year’s day and the best year so far in your life for 2016. For this earth I wish for Peace. Love. The end of all wars. The atonement of the dictators and mad men, the rising of the consciounesses towards light, understanding, empathy and kindness.

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Night Walk in Rainy Istanbul

December 16, 2015

Oh the night…  Left home after spending about 5, 6 hours on the computer, first re-installing programs, then studying Javascript.  I sure am not an ace at that, but I’m starting to get the gist.

Outside, it was cold, winter is just about here, but I’ve got my “Canadian Hat” so all is good, I’m warm I have gloves and I am ready.  All I got with me is my keys, a little money “’cause you never know” and my camera.

Istanbul has many faces, as I walk they appear, one after another, eras, empires, economies, nature and man.  They all mix to make this city as chaotic and as unpredictable as can be.

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This is my bus stop when I go to the school, it’s right across the Haliç or the Golden Horn as it is known.

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The sun just set, the sky is giving me its sweet blues and I walk on.  I have to be careful, it’s slippery.  Everyone rushes around, end of day go, go, go.  I get across the boulevard to head towards Galata.  But first there is the Şişhane Metro station.  I am in love with all those textures found on the road and sidewalks, they motion and dance as we rush by.

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Heading towards Galata, there is building, I don’t know its history but it is amazing, they have just uncovered it a couple of months ago… it’s magnificent, there is still construction going on, we cannot see the bottom part yet, but the upper floors are just beautiful.

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I pass Galata without taking photos, there is too much light actually, this street is a ‘light district’ they sell everything from lamps, bulbs, wire, switches, indoor-outdoor, anything for lighting is here, so the street is flooded by thousands of watts at this time, not good for my night shots

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Stairs, they are not just any stairs, they are the Camondo Family’s stairs.

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And of course I have to take a photo of a 2 wheeled vehicle..

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OK he is blurry but this is one of the many who pull these gigantic two wheeled carts, they recycle: plastic, cardboard they go all over the city with these, I hear they make good money, I need to get a good shot of one of those..  He walking by one of the famous banks on Bankalar Caddesi. (with the blue lights) this was the Ottoman bank, where the Sultan had his money.

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Karaköy, towards Galata Bridge on the way to the old city.

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On the bridge there are always fishermen, I wouldn’t eat the fish… but they do fish them…  in the back Yeni Cami.

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Drop of water on the lens, lights, on the “other side”

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Here the tram, ferries all converge, people, people everywhere

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The colors got my eye… a man and a cart and so many colors

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A tree…

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The dark side of Yeni Cami…

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the back side of Yeni Cami…

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back across to Karakoy, Galata Tower ..well.. towering.. in the back.

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Parked directly on the bridge, likely one of the fishermen’s steady steed

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that stuff in the air are seagulls, it’s right next to the fish market and they are about to get a snack.

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During the day this is the “painting supplies” area. At night, it’s dead quiet.

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Many of the upper floors are abandoned, left standing until they rot from the top down.  So the roof leaks, you move down to the next floor below, until it’s inhabitable.

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OK, I’m not sure why but I really like this…

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More of “paint row at night”

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yeah right…  crazy no?  there is a shop in the bottom.  This building is so old…  standing there…

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Like a movie set…

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And by the way, that is not Photoshopped, it is just what the camera and I can do with the light.

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Karaköy Kahvesi

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too cool no?

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Now starting to look like a horror movie set

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Woooaaaahhhh

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Light at the end of the tunnel?

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Or just cars racing by

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back up towards Galata

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angles and shades and bars

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magic land

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And back to my tower then the battery ran out of juice.

I hope you enjoyed your night walk in Istanbul.

A sort of prayer

December 4, 2015

I have this huge feeling in my heart right now :  how gorgeous, precious, amazing it all is.

A intuition about of the unfathomable strength of fragility.  A sense that power lies in ephemera.

The love of a friend, the kind eye of a dog, the light on an object, the cold biting your hand.

The immense idiocy of our world leaders now leaves me breathless and absolutely unable to accept, let alone understand, the destruction they all seek.  Following that, the begetting of the rabid hatred and violence their followers are willing to inflict while feeling absolutely righteous.

This all seems …  hallucinatory.  We’re dreaming right?  It all is so inconceivable: all this grossness, it has to be a dream, or rather a nightmare.  Can we be so impossibly, naturally ugly and blind, unfeeling, devoid of empathy that we can knowingly endorse those acts of war and terror without a twinge of guilt?   Without a speck of compassion?  Without immediately all rise in defiance against such primitive, despotic actions?

Witnessing this downward-spiraling excesses of human ignominies gives me an unquenchable thirst for beauty, spirit,colors, tastes, love, and the magic that is present at every instant.   In all honesty, I cannot truly “understand” any of what is going on now.  Yes I see, I apprehend the facts, but the absurdity and the nonsense of it all, that, I cannot grasp on any level.  It is insanity.

….

“Look up…”

“Ah, there it is… the light, the flight of a bird, the wildness of the wind.”

Oh Earth, Oh Trees, Oh Horses…
Oh Love, Oh laughter, Oh Life…
Allow me to embrace you
and be imbued of the light,
the Wisdom of the Source.
Let me close my eyes
and peacefully leg go
of the Fear and Worry and Horror
In the Knowledge that you,
not the Ego of men
rule our destinies.

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Suleyman’s mosque beyond the Golden Horn

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Winter radius

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A shy one

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Family

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The hidden mosque

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Windows

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I must keep in mind that all the acts of madness are shown in the media, and that if all things are considered, if we are a few billion people on this earth, then, we can likely not be wrong by concluding that the majority of people are doing good things, or at least not doing bad things.

A bomb exploded in Istanbul yesterday, in some ways that’s business as usual. Then I just read that a couple dozen of people or so were killed by shooters with AK-47 in San Bernardino yesterday that took place in a center for children with disabilities… We are not required to evaluate and give a degree of badness… bad is bad.

As my awesome friend Forrest would say: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck… it’s too much. But before blaming anyone, I believe the first step to be taken is to stop yourself for a second and calm the fire that is rising, be it fueled by fear, anger, hatred, discomfort, frustration. We must freeze those before they come to pollute everything. Some famous guy said famously: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” .the only change I would make is the “her” part for “him/her” just to be fair.

practice forgiveness for everything. Practice gratefulness for everything. It will literally change your mind.

The bomb you ask? All is fine. It was a mighty boom. I knew it was something serious… for those who know Istanbul it was in Bayrampasa and was heard all the way across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy. I got many messages on FB, I appreciate the sentiments, but in all truth, nowhere is safe on this earth and all we truly have is the very moment of the very now.

So today, after work, I decided to walk again, but this time all the way from Gaziosmanpasa to my home, that is 10.3 KM. I find that walking makes me less tired than getting on that bus…

Oh and how can I forget! With the help of a friend I bought a mattress… OH MY GOD.. I basically had BAD sleep since I moved here. First the mattress was OK, but then it kind of just dissolved and I was so in pain… I started sleeping on the couch which was only marginally better. I was hurting everywhere. Got the new bed last Thursday, it took about 4 nights for my body to really realize amd convince itself that it didn’t have to fight the surface it was lying on and finally let go. I am SO thankful for this mattress. Maybe that too has something to do with feeling stronger these last few days…

So yeah.. I walked back tonight and once again had the camera and experimented. The air was full of humidity, light fog that the camera just transformed into light..

this was before I left, from my window...

this was before I left, from my window…

Homemade tree protection

Homemade tree protection

Motorcycle shop in the night

Motorcycle shop in the night

the eerie sight of an empty play ground in the night

the eerie sight of an empty play ground in the night

the hospital and gate in the night

the hospital and gate in the night

gate in front of the hospital's garden

gate in front of the hospital’s garden

illuminated by fog night trees

illuminated by fog night trees

homes in Balat with neverending traffic passing by

homes in Balat

the Thieves church under renovations, also in Balat

the Thieves church under renovations, also in Balat

the subway's bridge in the distance

the subway’s bridge in the distance

Portside man made Monster like contraption

Portside man made Monster like contraption

Stairs and lines and vectors

Stairs and lines and vectors

Looking back

Looking back

lines, curves, water, city

lines, curves, water, city

remnant of the past

remnant of the past

on the boulevard

on the boulevard

more dwellings

more dwellings

down in the tea house

down in the tea house

My Street

My Street

going upstairs

going upstairs