La Condamine, Monaco, 02-Oct-2012

La Condamine, Monaco (Pic de Jour)

La Condamine, Monaco, 02-Oct-2012

Progress! I made some headway on packing today. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I ban myself from my computer for a few hours. But to sidestep withdrawal I did set aside about a half hour to go through a few small batches of photos.

This is from a few weeks ago, a quick late afternoon snap of Monaco’s La Condamine district, which overlooks the Principality’s landmark harbor. I like the feel in black & white, harkening back to the Monaco’s glory days. Despite outward appearances, locals know that those heady days are behind them and that re-invention is easier said than done.

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Maryse au Miroir ou le Temps Inalterable, Monaco

A Favorite Place, in Monaco (Pic de Jour)

Maryse au Miroir ou le Temps Inalterable, Monaco

It’s perversely early. It’s barely 6 a.m. as I’m typing this and I’ve already been up for more than two hours, needing to catch a 04:55 ride to the airport for a 06:50 flight. (Yes, that’s an early arrival to the airport for a flight out of Ljubljana, but I don’t make the shuttle schedules). Jake’s Sunday post theme email suggested that we identify a ‘Favorite Spot’ this week. Right now that would be my bed, but I know that doesn’t count. So instead I’ll try to think forward as I look back.

I’m heading to Monaco this morning for what will likely be the last time for quite some time. So it’s a good time to think back through a sleepy daze to what my favorite spot in the Principality might be. One place that I would like most of all to return to over the next few days.

Monaco’s a busy, ritzy glitzy place. Casinos, glamourous overpriced hotels and Michelin two-star restaurants aren’t my cup of green tea. Public parks are. One I kept finding myself drawn to again and again is St. Martin’s Garden, located on the southwest facing ridge of ‘The Rock’, next to the Oceanographic Museum and not far from the Palace. It’s home to the sculpture pictured above, Maryse au Miroir ou le Temps Inalterable, by Cyril de la Patelliere.

It’s where I wish I was right now. Napping on a bench. Maybe later.

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DCIM103GOPRO

How Fire was Discovered

Here’s one theory.

This is an 18-second look at Matter into Light: The Discovery of Fire, a 2011 installation by Marc Quinn at the Musée Océanographique de Monaco through October 15. It’s part of a larger exhibit of Quinn’s work entitled The Littoral Zone, a fun dialogue between science and art that fits quite nicely into the interior and exterior setting provided by the impressive 102-year-old cliff top museum.

I’ve visited Monaco numerous times over the past nine years, and returned here on at least half a dozen of those visits. There are two large exhibit halls on the second floor where the ornate wood and glass cabinets filled with large specimen jars that line the walls are illuminated by the ample Mediterranean sunlight. It reminds me of the scene where James Mason is working in his Edinburgh laboratory in Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Here’s another piece by Quinn, Coral Nervous Breakdown. Thoughts?

Coral nervous break down

Pics and video shot on July 21, 2012.

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Chanson pour Adam et Eve (Monaco Notebook III)

It was a simple plan: a quick stroll behind the Grand Casino Monte Carlo to snap a few photos of Botero‘s Adam and Eve, a sculpture with one of the Principality’s better southern facing views towards the Mediterranean. I wanted to use my GoPro to see how its extra wide angle would interact with the sculpture’s accentuated ultra wide curves.

I got there at the tail end of private wine and cheese tasting. Caterers were busy cleaning up the temporary Eden, wheeling around plastic tubs of dirty plates and silver trays heaped with wasted food. Then the soundtrack began, a scratchy chanson from the 1940s on a nearby radio. So instead of snapping a few pics, I switched to video mode and shot this little 90-second dance with the original sinners.

Does anyone know the name of the song? The singer?

Monaco, 22-Jul-2012

PS – I’m a big fan of Botero’s work and am looking forward to visiting his museum in Bogota sometime next year. Here’s a close up of Adam from a previous Monaco visit. Cool mustache, no?

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Congratulations, Minister N’Dour

This news planted a big smile on my face this morning. Youssou N’Dour, a man who helped expose me to some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard, has been named the Culture and Tourism minister in Senegal’s new government.

N’Dour, a Grammy-award winner and one of Africa’s most recognized artists, announced his candidacy for February’s presidential elections but his bid was rejected by the country’s constitutional council in late January. That decision, coupled with a ruling that allowed 85-year-old incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade to seek a controversial third term, fueled rising anger in the streets and sparked deadly riots. N’Dour quickly became a voice and face of the opposition and later threw his support behind former Prime Minister Macky Sall in the March run-off election again Wade. Tensions finally eased when Wade conceded defeat to Sall, who took 66 percent of the vote, just hours after the polls closed.

Like Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil, another of my early heroes in ‘World music‘, N’Dour opened my ears and eyes to an entirely new world of music, west African rhythms which themselves were the pivotal roots to so much of the music the world has enjoyed as a consequence of the African diaspora.

The shot above was taken at the Salle des Etoiles in Monaco in November 2009 when I finally got to see N’Dour perform live. He was singing this:

Here are a couple more shots from the same performance; nine in all are on my flickr stream here. To celebrate, I’ve changed the license to Creative Commons/Attribution 3.0, so you’re free to use them non-commercially. (With credit exactly as listed with photos, please.)

More from: [Daily Nation - Nairobi][BBC News - Africa][Africa Review]

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Monaco notebook.

I’ve visited Monaco in every season, and have to report that winters, even mild ones, are a fairly shitty time to visit. Especially when it’s raining.

Unless you’re insanely wealthy or overwhelmed by the desire to throw money away, there’s surprisingly little of interest to do in Monte Carlo. But if you happen to pop into the principality over the next few weeks, here are a few options I noted:

From the 17th to the 24th of the month, the circus is in town, formally known as the Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo. Everyone loves the circus, no?

Fernando Botero: Recent works, at the Marlborough Gallery. I was turned on to this famed Colombian artist last year, and was mildly upset that I missed this the other day. A few years ago Botero made waves with his graphic take on US-led torture at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison. Through 25-Jan.

I’ve been to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco a handful of times, and it’s always worth a visit. Located on “the rock” just a short stroll from the Palace grounds, it’s a stunning building, rising 279 feet above the sea. Prince Albert 1, the current Prince’s grandfather, was quite the navigator and explorer in his day, and much of what is in the museum was collected by him. The basement aquarium is home to 4000 species of fish. Admission 12.50 EUR.

And if you do well at the casinos, consider a helicopter tour of the Cote d’Azur: 60 EUR/10 minutes, 115 EUR/20 min, 150 EUR/30 min, per person (airport taxes not included).

Note about getting to and from: There is hourly bus service via Menton, France, with a handful of stops in Monaco to Nice Airport. (Mine yeterday was delayed due to landslides caused by the rain!), roughly 15 EUR one way. Note that a cab ride will cost between 80 and 100 EUR.

A few dozen pics are here.

monaco_rain, originally uploaded by pirano.

The carnival’s in town.

monaco-carnival06.jpgMONACO — Sprawled alongside the main harbor here this weekend, home to some of the world’s most extravagant yachts and in the shadow of Prince Albert’s palace, was this very ordinary carnival, enjoyed by very ordinary people. Just across the street is an ordinary chain grocery store where one could buy an extraordinary 1983 Petrus magnum for 4000 euros. 

Anyway, I’ve always been big on clowns. And I really got a kick out of the hanging giraffe.

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