Sunday, April 19, 2009

Architects for Architects

A Czech Architect friend once told me that the bottoms or street levels of buildings were designed to impress the investors whereas the tops of the building were designed to impress other Architects. Look up!!
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Here's a few photos from my local park here in mala strana. This whole area was one of the worst flooded back in 2003? The second picture is of one of the old mills on the Certovka stream (Kampa is actually an island) in which they run a really cool little cafe/bar called Mlejn. The third picture is of an old Estate that was probably part of a farm a few hundred years ago. During the summer the whole park is one big party full of students from around the world drinking wine and playing music into the night. Great place!

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Don't Ask Why

Wisely, a friend of mine once told me that to get along in this country it's better to just not ask why. Ok then I won't!
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This dog was intended to look mean but the Italian tourists keep rubbing his nose which has kinda taken the wiggle out of his stride.
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Fishing on the Vltava

An American friend has gone thru the rigmarole of getting a Czech fishing license. It's not like at home where you walk in, pay a few dollars and then go fishing. Here it is more like a dark chapter in a Kafka novel. One has to take a test among other things, to show that one knows how to tie a hook on a line and to choose the proper rod for the fish one wants to catch. That's the simple part. Getting all the stamps from the bureaucrats is where it gets exciting. Franz Joseph would be proud.

Frank Gehry's Dancing building in the background of the top picture
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Friday, April 17, 2009

South Fort George

This is the house I lived in when I was a kid from '67-71. We lived here for a few years. It was in a village called South Fort George on the west bank of the Fraser river just south of where it joins with the Nechako river. It was originally a Baptist church called St Stephens that was built just before the first great war and it was deconsecrated just after the war probably because there were no men any more. They all had died as soldiers for the colonial army at Flanders. My Mom bought the house for cheap, cut off the high church gable, put a normal roof on it and we lived there for a few years before we moved to Vancouver in 1971.

In the picture from the back you can see my sister Jo-Anne lookin out the window.

Barrandov Terraces

This neighborhood is named after Joachim Barrande, a French paleontologist who lived in Prague in the mid 19th century. In the the valleys around this hilltop he found all sorts of trilobites that matched ones found in England. He proposed the idea of stratigraphy whereby he traced geological bench-marks or certain event horizons for purposes of mapping.

Interesting is that he was an anti-Darwinist and supported the Catastrophe theory.

I tend to agree with the catastrophe theory especially with regard to my existence.

My pal lives in Prokopsky valley and still finds Trilobites to this day when diggin' up his carrots.

This building as well as the Barrandov Studios was built by the Havel family. Unknown to most is that Vaclav Havel, the dissident who became the President came from a very rich Czech family that had its fingers in projects all over town. It made for him a much better profile and platform from which to sing!

This old fantastic bar, pool and terrace is falling to pieces unfortunately even though it must've been something back in the day. The film studios up the road aren't doing much better because of the economic downturn and because the corrupt Czech government doesn't offer any tax breaks for the film industry. All the business is going to Hungary and Romania.

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Steve and Rhea

I met Steve and Rhea in my bar in Prague in the mid 90s. Steve ended up working for a Czech Architect friend of mine named Vitek Maslo who helped me open the bar in the first place. They left Prague eventually and now live back in New York where they have a company together; he is the Architect and Rhea is the interior designer. Here we are in some bar near HBGBs with Sadakat
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Sadakat and Glen in NYC

I met Sadakat Kadri in Prague in 1992 when he was writing the Cadogan Guide book to Prague. He ended up living for a few years there and we have stayed in touch ever since. I tracked him down in New York where he was researching his last book, "The Trial" which is a history of the criminal trial from Plato to OJ Simpson. Here we are in a bar near HBGB's which was closed. Now Sadakat is writing a book on the history of Sharia Law
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Arles Crazy House

This is the garden in the courtyard of the crazy house that Vincent had committed himself to.
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Van Gogh's Arles

I am standing in front of the Cafe that Vincent painted as you can see on the right. He had a few Absinthe in this place and then went home and lobbed off his ear. Poor guy. Women'll do that to ya!
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The Quay in Marseille

This is the main harbour in Marseille with all the yachts. All these photos are taken with an old crappy digi camera but its all we had at the time. Marseille was a fascinating city. I had heard my whole life to avoid Marseille because it was a port town and dirty etc but that is what probably lured me in and I wasn't disapointed. Our Hotel clerk was North African and took us out on the town one night. We got treated and fed like kings and in some really dodgey neighbourhoods.
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Oyster Feast

Here we are cooking fresh oysters over a grill on the kitchen floor of John Thompson's house in the south of France near Montpellier. John was one of the first cooks at Jo's Bar in 1992 or 93. Now he lives with his wife and kids near the ocean. This is a midnight cook-off. Filled up the kitchen with smoke. Was fantastic.
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Another Statue of Liberty

This one is on the town square in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer in the south of France near Marseille
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The Moors

One of the cool Moor influenced churches in Marseille
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The other WTC

This one's in Marseille
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Roughest Toughest Meanest Bar in Marseille

Me and Tim stopped in Marseiille on our way down to Barcelona for New Years in 2001. We wandered into an Irish pub on the Quay and asked the Scottish bartender where all of these supposed toughest bars in the world are that Marseille is famous for. He didn't know so he went into the kitchen and brought out a local French cook. We got out the map and he started circling them for us on the map. He said to us with a lowered voice, "whatever you do mes amis, do NOT go to THIS place!" Of course, we drank up our pints of Guiness and headed straight there. I thought, well I'm not much of a tourist but at least a scar of some sort from Marseille might do the trick. We walked into the roughest toughest meanest bar in Marseille and within minutes had made friends with the owner/bartender (see pic) and even got to go behind the bar and pull our own beers. We went in there every night and had a great time. It was a wierd place though. A lot of Foreign Legionnaires were drinking in there as well as sailors of all different colours and languages.

You should've seen the look on the cook's face when we came back to the Irish pub with these pictures.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Proof of Time Travel

I was looking at a site about a ghost town in British Columbia called Bralorne because I worked up there on a forest fire in the late 80s. I went thru the websites photo album to see if I recognised any of the buidings etc when I came across this picture. This is a group of people attending the re-opening of a bridge in 1940 that had been washed away by the river. Something about the pic seemed not right and then I realised that there is a guy who obviously was caught in a time-warp. You can see him there in the middle with the sunglasses. Ten minutes before this photo he was in a dance club in Manchester listening to the Happy Mondays