Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi

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Following up on my friend Lisa‘s suggestion, I created a Best-of page for this site today. It’s been long overdue and has been on my mind since right about the time I snapped this photo of the mausoleum of Vietnamese revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi back in October 2010.

I included a link to a post about my visit to the massive mausoleum, I Wanted to Visit Ho Chi Minh Today, But he Wasn’t There, on that Best-of/Start page, which led to this one’s selection as today’s Pic du Jour, the 412th straight.

So where was he? My visit coincided with his embalmed body’s ten-week respite and annual maintenance trip to Moscow. The facelift is generally scheduled between September and mid-December, so if seeing his body is high on your bucket list, plan accordingly.

Three more photos are in the original post. More from my 2010 visit to Vietnam can be found here.

 

 

The Irresistible Creepiness Of Urs Fischer’s Lamp Bear

Urs Fischer's Lamp Bear in the Duty-free hall at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

Urs Fischer’s Lamp Bear in the Duty-free hall at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

The first thing you’ll notice after clearing immigration in the recently-opened Hamad International Airport in Doha is Lamp Bear, a 23-foot (7m) high canary yellow bronze sculpture that takes pride of place in the center of the massive duty-free hall.

Tipping the scales at about 35,000 pounds (15,875 kg), it was bought at a Christie’s auction last year by a member of the Qatari royal family for a cool $6.8 million (€6 million) and placed here, according to rumors that will never be substantiated, because the contemporary art-hoarding Al-Thani family simply didn’t have room for it elsewhere.

Urs Fischer's Lamp Bear in Doha's Hamad International Airport

Urs Fischer’s Lamp Bear in Doha’s Hamad International Airport

According to the piece’s caretakers, Qatar Museums:

It’s a playful piece that humanises the space around it and reminds travellers of childhood or precious objects from home.

Christie’s meanwhile describes the piece as one that

brightly celebrates the objects that define a young child’s life. Fischer realized this striking sculpture on a monumental scale, combining a canary yellow teddy bear, everyone’s cherished childhood keepsake, with a bedroom desk lamp. The lamp neatly bisects the bear, casting a shadow over its face, while a forlorn black button eye peers out from underneath. The bear’s inanimate body flops forward, lovingly care worn, resting against the support of the lamp stand.

Its creepiness has also terrified small children who refuse to go near it.

Urs Fischer's Lamp Bear in Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

Urs Fischer’s Lamp Bear in Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

Continue reading…

Gwen Stefani In Doha: A Mini-Gallery In 8 Images

Gwen Stefani in Doha 6

And the Doha pop parade goes on.

Two nights after Pharrell Williams made an appearance, organizers of the World Handball Championships gave the post-match stage last night (24 Jan) to Grammy award winner Gwen Stefani.

I’m down for the count with an annoying bout of bronchitis so only stayed long enough to listen to the first two songs. I’m not a big fan, but did enjoy and appreciate the dancers. Although her performance  was brief, it was the No Doubt vocalist’s first solo concert since 2009.

I processed eight shots today between naps, coughing fits, cups of tea and bowls of soup, some in monochrome and a few in color. I like the black and white better. You? Seven more are below.

From earlier in the week: check out the Pharrell Williams gallery here, another with Qatari pop singer Fahad Al Kubaisi, and another with Iraqi singer singer Kadim Al Sahir.

 

Gwen Stefani in Doha 7 Gwen Stefani in Doha 5 Gwen Stefani in Doha 4 Gwen Stefani in Doha 3 Gwen Stefani in Doha 2 Gwen Stefani in Doha 1

Gwen Stefani's shoes in Doha, January 2015

Gwen Stefani’s shoes in Doha, January 2015

 

Pharrell Williams in Doha 3

Pharrell Williams in Doha, And Live Earth II

The unlikely Doha pop parade continues.

Organizers of the World Handball Championships here in Qatar flew in Pharrell Williams for a 40-minute concert held last night at the recently-minted Lusail Arena. The 15,000-seat venue was packed and yes, everyone did leave happy.

Williams arrived directly from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he joined former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to announce the second round of ‘Live Earth’ concerts to he held in June.

According to Gore and Kevin Wall, who co-founded the Live Earth event in 2007, and Williams, who serves as the event’s creative director, more than 100 artists will perform across seven continents during the June 18 event which they hope will become the largest global climate campaign in history.

The concerts are slated for New York City, South Africa, Australia, China, Brazil, Antarctica and Paris, the setting for next December’s climate conference. Apart from the locales, few details were announced. Williams only said:

“Instead of just having people perform, we literally are going to have humanity harmonize all at once.”

An intro video for the event is here. And the Guardian has an extensive write-up as well.

The July 7, 2007 event, Live Earth: The Concerts For a Climate in Crisis, was held in Sydney, Johannesburg, New Jersey, Rio de Janeiro, Antarctica, Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, London, Hamburg, Washington DC and Rome. Williams performed on the Rio stage.

As for the Doha performance, the seven-time Grammy award winner spent most of the time with his back to the press area –the only place I had access to– so bear that in mind when browsing the gallery below.

Enjoy!

Pharrell Williams in Doha 6 Pharrell Williams in Doha 5 Pharrell Williams in Doha 7 Pharrell Williams in Doha 1 Pharrell Williams in Doha 4 Pharrell Williams in Doha 2 Pharrell Williams in Doha 8 Pharrell Williams in Doha 9

 

 

Fahad Al Kubaisi 1

Fahad Al Kubaisi In Doha

I didn’t expect this week to evolve into somewhat of a Parade of Middle Eastern pop stars, but sometimes you just have to play with the cards you’re dealt.

Pop parades don’t happen too often on Piran Café — you’re more likely to come across a post with photos from a South American presidential election inauguration parade — so why not?

This is Fahad Al Kubaisi, a popular Qatari pop singer who performed after last night’s World Handball Championship matches at Dusail Arena in Doha. The 33-year-old, who is well established in the region, has several records and a music soundtrack to his credit.

The music? Not my particular cup of green tea, but the crowd liked him. I much preferred the traditional style of Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir a few nights ago.

Four more images below. Enjoy!

 

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi Singer Kadim Al Sahir In Doha – An 11-Image Gallery

Here’s a small gallery of images from last night’s Doha appearance by Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir, one of the most popular and widely respected singers in the Arab world.

Most appealing about the performance was what I’d call his authentic, or traditional style, which largely eschews the tendency towards electronics and modern synthesization that ruins the vast majority of Arabic and Middle Eastern pop music today. Instead Al Sahir relies upon classical orchestral accompaniments –mostly strings and percussion— and traditional regional instruments and melodies.

Born in Mosul in 1957, Al Sahir —his name also appears as Kazem, Kadhem and Kathem and his family name as Saher, El Saher and Al Saher— recorded his first album in 1984 and has since released 21 more. According to his wiki bio –and local colleagues as well– his repertoire consists mostly of romantic ballads, but has made room for some political work as well.

I can generally only take the melancholic melodies of “typical” Arabic music in very short bursts, so was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed and appreciated this 30-minute set as much as I did.

El Sahir left Iraq in the early 1990s after the first Gulf War and has lived in most Arab countries, along with Paris, since. In 2011 UNICEF named him a goodwill ambassador for Iraq, resulting in his first visit to his homeland in 14 years.  Here’s a brief Al Jazeera report on that return.

Last night’s concert was sponsored by organizers of the Men’s Handball World Championship that is currently underway in the Qatari capital, with more performances on the way. Appearances by Pharrell Williams (22 January) and Gwen Stefani (24 January) have already been announced.

Enjoy.

 

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir in Doha. Jan 2015.

 

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