Simurgh – Ancient Persian Myth Brought to Life

Persian Myth Brought to Life in Foligno, Italy

Twice a year the City of Foligno celebrates it’s hallmark event, the Giostra della Quintana, which is a spectacular competition. Wikipedia explains it this way:

Actually the knights are 10, each representing a quarter of the Town. Rushing at gallop, they have to spear 3 rings having smaller size at each carousel. The rings are hanging from a rotating statue representing Mars the “Lord of War” from the ancient classic memories. The statue is in oak, the original dates back to 1613 (17th century), it holds a shield with the symbol of Foligno and on the straight arm are hanging the rings to spear.

During the events period, a number of happenings involve the whole town. A parade takes place with 800 characters dressed in original-like precious dresses: a historically documented walk in the town during the day before the Ring Joust.

This last weekend was filled with activity here in Foligno and, frankly, it’s hard for me to describe how the city is transformed with thousands of people in the streets. It’s a sight to behold. I’ll share more about the Giostra in my next post. For now I’d like to share a show that happened this last Friday in Foligno’s main square.

It was a modern presentation of an ancient Persian mythical bird called Simurgh. This production was performed by Teatro del Venti. It was fantastic. Here’s a short clip from the show:

This was only the beginning to a great weekend here in our new home. Just wait, there’s more!

A Stunning Tapestry of Birds

My Mid-19th Century Chinese Silk Tapestry of Birds

P1060499

Here are some pictures of a 19th Century Silk Chinese Tapestry that was given to my grandmother by her employer who was an herb doctor in San Francisco. I thought it would be nice to share this family heirloom with you. I hope you enjoy it.

P1060503

Below are some pictures of individual parts of the tapestry. There is some incredibly intricate stitching in this tapestry. I’ve had a number of people ask me whether or not I have the tapestry displayed at home. Unfortunately, I keep it locked away because it’s too delicate to hang and several preservationists have told me that UV light will fade the brilliant colors. For now, I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Some Brief Thoughts About Kurt Vonnegut

 “Some of the nonsense was evil”

The line above is taken from the beginning of Kurt Vonnegut’s wonderfully bizarre novel “Breakfast of Champions” in which he is describing the “cleverness” of our founding fathers who liked to conceal great crimes through a special sort of aristocratic poetry…..Kurt Vonnegut had an incredibly perceptive mind about such things. It’s no wonder then that many of his books have been banned in public schools and his works criticized as “inappropriate” and vile. This means, of course, that he should be read by the very children from whom the censors would shelter his works.

The reason I’ve been thinking about Kurt Vonnegut is due to an article I read on the Huffington Post yesterday. It’s about a letter Vonnegut sent to the school board of Drake High School, ND back in October of 1973 after those numb-skulls had voted to ban his book, “Slaughterhouse Five.” I encourage you all to read the post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/kurt-vonnegut-letter-to-drake-high-school_n_1392557.html . One particular section of the letter is worth quoting because Vonnegut comes right out and asserts his bragging rights as a citizen and author. Check this out:

“I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. They have all turned out well. Two of them are farmers. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer.”

The truth is: EVERYONE who goes to school in this country should  read Slaughterhouse Five. If they don’t, then they don’t deserve the diploma they receive at the end of high school. Another truth is that Mark Twain was correct when he famously wrote:

“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.”

 

“What John and I Loved” – A Chat with Sir Paul McCartney

From Major to Minor Key – Kisses On the Bottom

If there was ever a metaphor for our lives, it’s Paul McCartney’s observation that going from major to minor key “changes the whole mood of things.” During this wonderful interview by NPR’s Terry Gross, Sir Paul McCartney I was absolutely enthralled by his charm, generosity and humor. Even though this interview revolves around McCartney’s new album, “Kisses on the Bottom,” McCartney is sitting at the piano in his studio in England and literally paints musical pictures from his days as a Beatle as well as his interpretations of his father’s favorite music. I promise, you’ll really enjoy this interview. Just click on the picture to hear the show: