The World As Solo
The Artists Voyage...Leaving Home 1995-97
There comes a time in ones life where one has to make a decision. The life lived as normal or one that is exceptional. Many people are convinced of the ordinary, and reject the concept at its instigation of any place that is better than...home.
Home is where the heart is.
There is no place like home.
Just take me home...
I was living in Phoenix Arizona. Life was good, fair in the most part, but breaking the barrier of indecision.
Receptions were sometimes as lonely as sin.
Is it wrong to bend the perceptions, a single man, not attached to ask one simple question "Is this working for me?"
My own home was my own, a closed sanctuary where I had measured each day by its coming. It was a house in a gated community of the metaphor of beige locker room whose owners never appeared beyond the threshold of their own sanctuaries and gazed through the peepholes on their mahogany front doors, through the brush of their back yard jungles, the landscapes imported, the signs said “Luxury was here...”
The house numbers large, enameled on stone markers, testaments to the closed, private and gated life, supposed to indicate status.
On one day one would see Cadillac s and Jaguars rolling past, the garage doors open and the owners drive in closing the doors behind them in a mystery that was supposed to indicate their appearance as being something special.
I had lived in my place a year and a half, purchasing it from a CEO of a corporation that had him relocate. I got a good price, the only possession he had was an exercise machine in the middle of the living room, a suitcase at the door. It was an easy sell. I liked the space, for me it was what I thought I deserved, a large Master Bedroom giving way to a sunken fireplace and matrix of different walls that lead to different rooms; a study for my books and a large back yard for my regal German shepherd Dante.
I didn’t know my neighbors in any sense of the word beyond complaint.
Dante would get out of the backyard and go and visit the neighbors, and they would fear the large but playful dog who could jump a fence, open up the sliding glass door or had the unique talent of opening up knobbed doors.
The neighbors would have visits from him running about or the dog knocking at their front doors. A talented animal, this behavior didn’t go over well no matter how friendly the dog would be or neighborly I would be.
“Pets have to be contained...”
Rule No 345 of the CC& Rs
But it was not this...
In the two and a half years I lived at the residence I didn’t know one neighbor Fact.
When I moved in I went door to door in “How do you do’s...” only to be met by the gray faced, sour and the people that I thought were hiding out from the law.
Actually my next door neighbor was the law, so I thought.
Inviting me over for a scotch and soda around his nice pool, he showed me his certificates and gave stories of his police accolades I told him only a bit of my life; an artist, a word I could get in just as much as edgewise except for some suspicion.
He was a higher level cop, a chief of police; not to bear status, but I felt in some way I was safe here. His wife was a beautiful young lady, he her protectorate.
I felt intimidated, perhaps justifiably so; he always had a sidearm available for inspection, a small caliber strapped to his side.
Over the months the life with the next door neighbors grew uncomfortable in essence to the knowledge held therein.
She was a real estate salesperson. I was away much of the time. Sometimes I would rent the house short-term; but unlikely to sell it. Nevertheless there were weekly visits from her in these regards as well as brochures left on my doorstep, he name glaring at me from some glossy colored sales sheet.
Then there was the knock on the door from other real estate people offering their services.
One day I went out to a nice dinner on a solo venture, alone at a fine restaurant in the neighborhood She was sitting at the next table. The fellow she was with introduced himself in an awkward sense, the neighbor nervous about a discovery that I did not really want to make; this was not her husband... per say.
When her husband was away this fellow would be seen at her house. You could hear the arguments when he arrived back. One time her husband cornered me outside my house, gave me a firm handshake and asked if I had seen anyone else at their house...aka another man.
My gated community was Patton Place.
I felt like an ownership guest rather than a happy homeowner.
‘No communication’ seemed a general rule in the community although it was not listed in the CC&R’s. Complaints were however. There were the complaints about having my garage filled with paintings, that I parked outside my house, or that a slight bit of oil was leaking from my car. I never forget an argument with a neighbor over a small dot of oil on my driveway. I’m not talking about a slick but a small drop of oil. I was read the rules and regulations, the venomous CC& Rs and was forced to steam clean the driveway rather as a matter of annoyance. Unfortunately these annoyances would come in numbers. If the Gardner broke all the sprinkler heads in my front yard with his ride on mower there would be a geyser. I would be forced to buy all new heads. This was not just a one time affair, it was constant, feeling that the ‘association’ was out to get me.
Then there were the people who would find their way into my backyard.
I am a social person but this became ridiculous.
First it was a guy in a blue suit who was looking for the electrical meter and then it was some kind of inspector doing a survey of piping and routing. My dog would bark and then I received a letter from the commission for a noise ordinance.
Tell me: When does a dog not bark when someone is wandering through the property and looking through the sliding glass door?
Then it was the planting and seeding commission that would drop by and invite themselves into my back yard. The dog had the person up against the wall on one event that was quite embarrassing..although ole Dante would never bite, he could scare he hell out of a trespasser
And then the citation: That my plants in the back of my house weren’t in keeping with regulations and the CC&Rs...Rule 23-3940. I only planted Oleanders but received a lecture about poisonous plants.
The nonsense went on and on until I felt I was living in nothing but a guided cage.
I really did not want to know the neighbors and wanted to live quietly there without disturbance, but unfortunately not without interruption.
I would practice the piano in the afternoon and evenings on my baby grand. I was far enough from other buildings to not be heard...noise ordinance 23-462L was slipped under my front door. I am a classical pianist. I could bet a thousand dollars that no one in the neighborhood knew what classical piano was or possibly learn 1/97 of the notes that I was practicing and playing.
I had to practice at Arizona State music school, locking myself away with a paper over the window sometimes. There I never received an inquiry or complaint only some compliments at times from foreign graduate students.
In short this entire issue of living in what was considered a safe environment was bringing itself to a head. It was an elitist environment rather feeling like a cell than a home. I was looking for options each day as to how to cure the conditions.
The urban blight of a place called Phoenix may be a paradise to someone from Zimbabwe. Nice landscaping with a sense of desert emptiness was getting to me. I had beautiful landscaping around my home, tropical and flowing. There were artifices and waterfalls maintained by Hilton. On the other side of the boulevard, before the gates closed, a busy cacophony of nagging traffic, pin-eyed people with their problems and a dialectic with a vision of their outfits, profit margins and everything less to do with life than life.
It was a Gray-Scape out there. I liked returning home. But this was not home as it was a lonely place, a temple to myself in respects. I had no visitors and few friends in this landscape.
Relationships were dizzying and not necessarily complimentary. I met few with similar viewpoints if at all.
Dating was a nightmare.
There were more young ladies with problems than one would want, if one wanted the list that came with them.
One young lady thought of herself a matchmaker. I was her pray, a gallon of gasoline. Now one knows what happens with the mixture of her choices and my own.
A series of short-term nightmare possibilities occurred
There was Helga, an artist who commandeered, a nice looking but disabling vampire in fishnets.
There was Anna, a beautiful young lady from California who prided wallet over anything regarding a relationship, her piercing diamonds the key to her soul, her disposition as deep as shallow waters, an eye-catcher for a next-year divorce.
There was Mindy, an artist who was wild and high strung, egocentric and problem teased.
Now starts a list of teasers: Nicole, Vanessa, Audrey, Tess, Marni, Angela, Stephanie, Anna (II) and Colleen. There was Nancy, Liza, Maureen, Jacky and Jackie II..Jackie III and heaven help me Jacklyn IV. Suzy followed in sequence...Suzanne, Susan two.
Did I have to go through the black-phone book?
No. As often times a meeting for coffee was enough!
These were dates, matches if I wished for future forest fires.
I am a kind man. Gentleness and sweetness as well as kindness are first priorities. Looks? Well I was in my early 30’s, but too alert.
I wanted to meet that someone, that special someone who was kind, considerate and not bullish. I had all that it took for a kind, gentle relationship to grow and blossom, but in Phoenix, all I found were troubled possibilities...it was depressing.
I learned to study Plato, and embarked on a deep study of Platonism eventually as a safety switch.
Yeah Gods an little fishes..if one were to be involved here.
Christ save their soul from the number of problems if I were to accept these young ladies in my life.
Marriage material, none in the sense of longevity although some thought we looked good together, yet I was hopeful.
I made few friends, most of them co-pathetic, sincere and accepting of who I was, in an equal coordinate of mutual respect and compassion.
Life was lonesome in a very real sense. My professional phone bill was capping 700 dollars a month at times on an outreach dynamic. The projects I was involved with seemed big, somewhat wide-eyed, and fruitful. I was busy creating, making music, recording, doing art and everything in my studio. I traveled to New York City, Toronto, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver and many places in my professional circuit as an artist. Unfortunately I did not come back with a pile of reviews in newspapers to spread the articles, but it remained on a steady up, up...and up! I was invited to Italy, Netherlands, and had contacts in France. These places I knew from past travels and memories of good days back in the 80’s did kind of reach a point where I was looking to the promise of possibly returning, taking up these possibilities in a return. The art world was stiff in competition in New York but I was gathering steam in a new contract in New York, sealed for five years.
Every single journal of contemporary art was talking about the new and lesser tried aspects of European art as well as growth there.
I heard about Berlin, the art scene there, St Peters burg, Estonia and then...Prague. I had visited these places in the past and there were times when I just wanted to return, I freezing myself from the aspect of indulgence to keep a solitary home/studio...here in Phoenix.
One may be reminded, for most Americans one does not step out...over there.. without some reason. For most these reasons are a vacation or to see the sites. On each return to Phoenix after a successful trip to another place I felt the harness of this place growing. It began to feel like a leash, the master being not so good in providing happiness for his animal.
I often went camping on weekends with my dog and sat over a forest fire wondering what was next, and fate revealing to me my options, whether I would accept them..a maybe.
One time up in Sedona, (a place I loved to go to get out from Phoenix) I made a venture to change my environment and move. I found a great condominium at a fair price that had just been built. I thought surely that this environment may be encouraging, the economy seemingly strong and the future fresh, I made a bid on this three thousand foot condo that was a cinch to sell, if needed, the valuations of property going up and up...seeing in my eyes possibilities of profit.
Over a several day stay Sedona and the proposed condo in Oak Creek did not seem like the way I should be going.
Somehow the town of Sedona seemed to have a cloak over it as though it was pushing me away. It was an air that one feels deep, and if managed warns between illusion of a place and reality. However ‘fun’ it seemed in Sedona there was the feeling of dread between the squeezes and hugs, the happy smiley and somehow fluffy people that seemed artificial.
I had an exhibition up there and there was so little interest. It was a group show in which I lost a few hundred in framing and delivery. The atmosphere was nice, but seemed at once artificial. All I had to do was to sign the papers for ownership at this point and I could move out of the city, sell my property in Phoenix...and things would change.
I did not do it, some entity knocked the pen from my hand.
I returned and lived the summer out, receiving many letters again from abroad as well as a possible exhibition which I took into consideration, sent out the materials, and received honor of an award in Cambridge, and exhibition for modern art, a silver medal, parchment and another...as recipient of world honor awards in the spirit of Gainsborough etc. It made me happy to be part of international things.
The award made it to the Arizona Republic..in part, but not in whole.
To be recognized in England is good I said to myself!
To b recognized should be the total aim of an artist who, at this point had already exhibited in New York in solo shows as well as abroad..a welcome feather in my cap.
But it was not “Arizona”.
Heaven help me, I was so proud of my achievement, just in that sense, and this should be rightly so.
It was however taken as a blowing thud on a dead pan so to speak...a thud.
The arts are not really appreciated here I felt, and it was rather dishonest of me to keep alluding to possibilities in the area when so little was happening.
The small group shows were tinder offered by Phoenix art groups. Gallery shows were a week visit, sometimes selling a piece, but awkward and in competition with the BFA’s or other local artists who thought my work expressed more in European terms..not in American originals, the flowers, picture post-card variety or gum-ball abstracts that surrounded me seemed at no end.
And then there were the serious artists in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
It was a difference between thoroughbreds and quarter horses so to speak, but we did have our conversations, and it did seem between us we did agree.
The channels kept widening in this area. On each turn of the screw there were those good artists and those who propped themselves up as so.
Its hard do disagree when some lady, the wife of a CEO of some major corporation gets a show after getting her degree, her work as sticky as Caro syrup, and then there are those who steam to this experience, knowing the inside gallery gambit is five to eight-thousand dollars for the exhibit!
Nevertheless this is the game, whether one likes it or not.
Even my exhibit in England with transport cost didn’t come to five-hundred dollars!
During this time, I felt to bow out of the exhibit game and teach if the position was offered me.
I had all the experience and degrees at that point. I never liked the feeling of stables and stable territory of galleries but would much rather teach...since my background should have released content in this matter, but the label of ‘artist’ somehow gives one another impression.
The award was not one of those that one could easily put in the closet...it was permanent, and somehow other artists don’t necessarily like this kind of definition, moreover they loath it in envy and jealousy. Now I was dealing with the aspect of looking onward, and dead and dreaded silence to the atmosphere which had become Phoenix.
I returned home to this place. In the winters it was nice from the weather standpoint, the summers...forget it!
I eventually came to the fact that one has to make ones own way and not lean on relationships, nor be really trusting in others for one to come through.
Some one from a beautiful town in Eastern Europe may find Phoenix a blight of gray impending buildings, set on edge in a corporate world that is about as amusing and really gainful as a trip to a military barracks, so a library as such, of what is so common,redundant and meaningless as the focus of contemporary society.
"Is this setting beneficial for me?" is another question.
“In what way would it be beneficial for me”, could perhaps be another question.
Despite the involves semantics, in theoretic game chase, on several different levels of the psych one only comes to a conclusion in the final analysis.
Our world is function after function, as almost grilled into command key prompts of a computerized episode and program. What could add meaning to this life? A degree in computer program will provide status, not necessarily money. The logic one learns counting rows of numbers does not make a mathematician, neither doses the scribble of one page of text or fifty make one a great author. This is the parameter.
"Could I grow from a new encounter and changed parameter outside the business city?"
I lived in Tempe Arizona and later had a place in Phoenix. The months were slow after I graduated with my MFA May 1992), other rigorous study in my field, completed my exhibitions in New York only to return home to Arizona and find that there was really much lacking in my life.
The atmosphere for the greater consistency were students, many of whom would not take serious study of their disciplines at any greater attention than they would take the study for a drivers license, perhaps even less. Expensive and time consuming degrees in business and the sciences, engineering and other studies were reached under the auspices of minimum requirements rule for the most part, calling in many respects ASU as being a party school during this time. One rarely had serious discussions on any subject here now, remembering Columbia Graduate school and other schools in New York where students studies would often be all consuming, interests in the subject brought to the maximum, and a broad spectrum of details in generalist viewpoints brought into most discussion from philosophy to the sciences as well as rhetoric. Watching ball games and futile television shows was never introduced into universities where the rigors of study, interests were focused and debates were expected on every end to an end result in a focused acknowledgment of degrees met.
Tempe was a fashion and letters set. If one guises the degree of MBA candidate they were more apt to gain attention than engineering. A person with such standing as studying medicine may get a little more attention still because of the potential amount of money they could make in such a field. Such is the fashion set! Gone with conversations, especially about arts, music or philosophy...even sciences! Football, basketball and baseball were in, parties were going, and the other people who set aside at work on deep rooted projects, or even books, artists with their work, seemed to be like trying to gain conversation about royal banquets in the starved areas of Africa. It constituted the most boring unfocused life if I began my decent into it. My own personal work as an artist,creator and thinker was consuming, but tithe this to the corporate society that was eminent in Phoenix, and via the programming in Tempe and one was out of conversation in Tempe, except for having a job, talking about golden routes of money and building the gilded and spectacular embassies of capitalism that were thoroughly indoctrinated into nearly everyone’s mind, this was a must. Nothing just finished was congruent with achievement. Every big episode and pumped up journey was emphasized in remark and debate to others who would trump one if lip service was allowed. Up..up..up! This was the tabernacle of a success template which one was to follow. If one had a million dollars it was invest able and one could hear about this matrix swinging about as a cat by its tail at coffee shops. If one had an exhibition the paintings would hang there unnoticed except for a very few conscious individuals whose thought perception were that the walls were blank.
The computer culture was just beginning in 1994 and not everyone had a laptop. People with laptops were starting to stir talk about the culture and receive the latest implant of new technology, totally absent the basis of thought as to what in the world was going to go on the computer. Novel ideas were abundant among the hall of electricity which hallmarks the early computer age. There were people wandering around selling their new concepts, handing out a new age integration into something called ‘websites’ which were guaranteed to be better for business than those who had photocopied cards or flyers on a new vehicle called ‘internet’, which was talked about but not readily available.
I was there in this culture. It was a necessity to have knowledge of technology that was going to be the future. Of course I knew about the internet in 1982 as being the new frontier, then a difficult to read, awkward assembly of lines in something called “internet” and email. When I first saw internet I was discouraged entirely as to what it could do, but thinking in advance I realized if the technology reached a certain point this new matrix would be fantastic and indeed a call to a dynamic new possibility. In 1993 I first went online and realized the possibilities, and was wary.
As an artist even though having successful exhibitions I felt I was an outsider in Arizona.
This wasn’t the most cultured area of the world. Arizona was positively nothing like New York, seeming at times having a very thick artifice of promise with no actual potential.
I had my trim of a following, a couple of students whom I would meet for piano lessons, but not much more even though a one page article in the local paper was take out in advertisement trying to bolster interest. Trim it was, but neat it was not. I did a class at a local library for three hours a weekend. It had a thin attendance of Saturday flower and hobby painters. I was edgy to get something better going where the students would be better and actually listen to the projects I had conceived and was teaching them. Things like drawing, perspective, color, light, shape and form were absolutely foreign to these students. The projects I gave them were beneficial. Unfortunately most came to collect in a place called an art class to paint from their photographs and aspire to a critique at the end of the session, smile at each other and go away. Input was not really appreciated. Some in the class called themselves ‘professional artists’ their lauds being the State fair painting ribbon and high school certificates. I was different and it was difficult to get information in their ears even though I did hand outs out of pocket for what was then a position where I actually was payed for the gas to come to the art session and earned little else but the factor of having something to put on my resume which was already filled with things that they could onlydream about, but scoffed if I really did. This was the nature of Arizona and too much was really left as an open shell left to be filled.
I was needing an additional uplift, wings to fly in a manner of speaking. Of course the culture demanded this as fact, not matter of speaking, which often was a disturbing shake up.
During this period I was looking elsewhere and upward sending out my resumes in a military style. My living room felt like a military command post with blackboard and map of possibilities.
Letters and packets, videos and slides went out in numbers of 100, scarce a return even though the so-called self addressed envelope was included. I received letters of interest and possibilities. I received denials from posts because of lack of high-school teaching credentials, in states over there...Alabama, Florida and others which presumed I was an in-state subject.
I applied for the paperwork and classes for all known resources and certificates for teaching, as well as took classes at Arizona State in such only to find the parchment and certificate their right in my hand bringing little meaning because there were not that many open jobs to teach art in Arizona. I was proactive and at the same time sent out to Universities and colleges across the United States for augmented study, post-graduate school in which I found myself given the possibility of attaining the dynamics of an MBA, professional degree from at least 10 major institutions which provided access to such. My interests were in art. I loaded myself into the interest of such advanced exposure to a PhD in advanced study as a possibility since the MFA, a terminal degree seemed passed up by some organizations or in a sphere of ethereal silence to a empty over-qualification, or under-qualification recognizing a PhD which did not exist, the MFA being the letters of simple and final study in the arts. I was accepted by Harvard, by Northwestern and a long range interest a letter came through from Oxford in the UK for hyperventilating advanced study only to finally come to my senses, knowing the knowledge I had and the resources I had built up making a commitment to study on my own and later be picked up by an international program vested in my interest of teaching and research.
In fact at this time too much was lacking here, seeming the sarcasm of social culture being more of a paper funnel than actual exposure to education in a dynamic paper chase.
I had taken a day job processing procedural checklists at the Nyme Corporation. The job was a white shirt and tie job. Polished shoes and a good hand to make, read, process and distribute papers were the name of the game. I had gotten this job by getting angry at one point during an interview, being tortured by the interviewer with a guise and corporate folly over my qualifications, and produced my original parchment and recommendations. I was insistent, the interviewer not knowing how to process me, I was taken in an official room, given a firm handshake and set up with a basic position immediately although on an hour-hour basis.
Nyme was a computer, industrial and technical company growing on the ranks of a National company.
It was really a newbie and start up, a branch out and reconstruction of several defunct companies that were looking for new life in the paper hanging jungle. They needed me to do office work without any official status, but one pending, maybe in the foggy, fringe filled corporate details of plaques laid on the wall...Quality awards, 500 Best, Up and Coming Fortune Magazine etc etc.
The large gray building with florescent light and white walls became a day home, the red stripe running down the corridors of gray polished floors, black desks, corporate logos and relative interference with imagination, seemed almost a nightmare to my individual function.
Right off the bat I knew I was in the corporate game of, right parted haircuts, memos, paper ephemera, pens and paper clips as well as the corporate handbook which dissolved in my fingertips to a novel of dos and don’t as well as requirements for adjunct service to the organization. It was a job. Maybe the time would teach me something. Maybe the pay would add up. The first week I was given details as to products sold by the company of interest to the employees...insurance after 6 months, resources for discounts for contract individuals as well as a jury of responsibilities, inner laws of violation which would lead to immediate termination.
The pay was nominal, and the work almost excruciating working in a cubical set aside from the rest, my eyes tired from the victual of process and procedure that makes an office day into a sheet of paper, wrapped around and spun out the machine, chopped up and the next day beginning.
Oh there was pay, but not what one should expect. The work week was 40 hours of attempted sodomy by virtue of paper tigers spun my way. Nyme Corporation was a cheap company that made rules and regulations, the bosses a syndicate of low-level thieves out to bend the workers pocketbooks to their own wage charts. There were suits and ties and shiny shoes and nylons and proper dress. There was a witch who towered over the administration who was caught up in her love of paperwork, paper clips and dull trudge. She would visit, demand her attention to the people working under her and bore them with her instructions to make added waste of company time. Her nose was high in the air her MBA being in international finance, each worker being noted that she was summa cum lauda in her class...and the had been vice-president of some company at one time or another. The system was hers. Well worn out bureaucrats, such of myself were plenty there, and tired by the half-day and worn out by the end, all to come to the junction of specific ledgers and time sheets that were common time and had to me met..tardy.
I came in there for my own personal reasons, to get a job, and make my mortgage or rent. I walked out with about the amount of money to pay for a half eaten sandwich and bottle of water, never mind the mortgage! Of course there was no complaint, nor could there ever be. The rules and regulations regarding any complaint could be exercised in immediate termination..as per my situation, paid for play in the jungle of streams of paperwork flying. One mishandled word would mean one is fired from the job, sort of like a charge of resisting arrest to what could be freedom, which no one there really wanted nor did they have. Regulations in the corporate handbook stipulated: Personal relationships in the corporation were to be, and encourage in a strict business.
Rule (34) Stipulated: I was not to talk about my wage or pay at any time during my employment and that this was a discreet matter.
Rule (72) Permitted me to be called in at any time I was needed, and on Saturday, my day of rest, I was called in 2 hours in advance for extra work, still paid on ordinary basis...not overtime, as stipulated in Rule (98)
This was a closed cage of egos beyond egos, paper trails and input-output. This was my job, a place where I could purge in a bag at the ethics which I saw happening, yet I kept my nose clean and lips silent...
I saw the inherent qualities of pure greed on the parts of most becoming a meandering Golum.
During these times I often shuddered to think how society was beginning to set itself up for a New Age, a imperceptible chasm in the new age of electronics, now just beginning to cut itself off from real communications.
There was a sterile emptiness beginning to fill peoples faces, through their persona, the radiance of personality just becoming a monoculture, a culture where people are separated and indistinct, one-size-fits all...
Life was not simple in one manner. I did have large investments and they went up, and crossways. With each distinct move I felt cautioned to the next investment, if it was viable or if it was a pumped up balloon. I watched real estate lift and tremendous greed takeover, the eyes changing as stiff competition began to outsource and resource other parts of the country and the world. The indistinct course of life was feeling shut-off from any form of liberalism and augmented a creepy and un-nerving new sense of conservatism which looked liberal on the outside, but was on the inside like a thick hemorrhoid, painful to some, unliberating and work fastidious. It saddened me as to what was being preached and the discourses of a New World as well as a New Age, without fundamental principles. I heard the preachers in the streets warning the young about such temptations, and vices, evils within our civilization. This was only unheard rhetoric for this age. Seemingly they had to go through it in order to learn, the swift pumping up of all resources to sift off all possible greed to maintain their tabernacles in this era to see the end result, when the chickens come home to roost.
No one was aware, nor could you make them aware of things around them that were happening.
The world of this setting was set on its vanity, greed, fashion and image. Now to take this away?
No this wouldn’t happen, not now. It was beyond repair and that train of greed, delusion just seemed to get faster and faster down the rails towards a precipice that one could feel, that was distinct. How, When and Where was of no point of interest in the “here”, the middle 90’s. Those communication challenges seemed to form an oblique over nearly everyone, everything to a session of artless, mechanism like behavior. For this area, at least, one could go a day without conversation with another human and perhaps even longer on a similar bent. The 80’s and the great build up to this seemed as a reason, but to what might happen in this culture in the future would be a guess that would be learned then.
I left the corporate job and did other things to fill my time. Good marks on my resume really weren’t needed although the spin of simpletons, that “thus and such” on ones resume might be a good punch, I was not falling for this anymore.
I had done more than most in my life thus far. I hired PR agents to get things on the right track and had exhibitions galore and sold work until there was a general feeling that all I was doing is biding time and taming vanity with work shipped all over the states with sales here and there, promotional efforts through the Lions Clubs being one venture, the Phoenix Central Artists being another venture entirely on an appearance by appearance show roster with no advertising.
There was not the provision for better work, or opportunity for real growth beyond making money and more money, piling it up, saving it and willing tomorrow. (which some say is the only perception in life...that one must maintain in life being the single success...to make money) This is a rationale, a reason, and often constitutes ones sole purpose for life...This is normal, the general, and approved as well as the mode upon which most people adjust themselves for the rest of their years until the end.
I had some good successes in New York City. They didn’t translate into much in Arizona very well, although I do remember someone calling me all the way down the street, coming to me to remember my big solo show in New York.
The world is a small place.
One may feel as though they would have, but no matter what I did or what organization I had been part of, or what show I had invested my time and work in during these years, it seemed to scour out in the essence of normality as an existence we all must maintain.
I was sending letters out and getting responses an received a great number of encouraging letters for my projects...all but in Arizona. It seemed like there was positively nothing to bite down on and I had to work, keep busy, do my music and art for this was an intrinsic part of me.
Offers came from Europe. Some of them were pretty hard to refuse. A number of them spoke of the Netherlands, France, Italy and cultural action in Central Europe that caught my attention.
At least it was something...and not nothing...I had seen some months of arbitrary 'work a day' scenarios which included everything from substitute teaching, to process serving, office work to sales and light industry (of which Motorola had me a monitor in one of their plants...a desk job that looked good but was part time-I dressed in Black and White with a tie) but positively nothing in art except for a few exhibitions in the Phoenix Valley that were small and poorly attended. So my options were set in gear.
I had seen it all here. If I stayed and did not explore any options I would be a desiccated mind in a seemingly mindless cacophony
There came a series of events that happened to me that made me think what value life should represent. They were hard things and began to reveal what happiness should be rather than is.
Should it be the work-a-day? Office or clerical? Or should I be formed into a businessman member of the Union suit club, selling out peoples properties, taking no liability, or conscience and leaving that to the afterlife? Should I be the creative artist making art, learning from ones environment and expressing it, or perhaps someday write a book or books on life, beauty or even one on poetry This was called ‘indulgence’ by some. I still hear those words ringing as traitor to our world, the world of money, power and commerce...but it was my world. I had my projects and with those projects over the past year I had learned a great deal.
...putting it all aside.
The World As Solo...
I leased out my house to a CEO of some major corporation as a corporate vacation unit on a one-year grant. This was the best thing that I felt I could have done.
When I started this adventure, I was sure that there would be other travelers along the way, people who were passing the same posts in the road and friendships along the way made.
Its not everyone who would embark upon a World as Solo without friend or companion to travel with. That this may be an encounter and a self building part of my life was a sure thing.
The Ten Thousand Miles ahead...
I found myself traveling as an adventurer, traveling the roads where I traveled the last time again. There was Thailand and adventures to come. There was a boat that sank with nearly a thousand on board-but only one casualty. My arrival in Koa Samui and other islands of the archipelagos, traveling from village to village on a hunch of a new adventure, seeing art and meeting artisans from cultures far away.. There are stories of anxiety, sadness, and hope as well as the adventure that takes one to small remote places untouched by civilization...
Things to come...
I booked a round-the-world ticket from San Francisco, after visiting my relatives in Tiberon. It was a bet, and gamble, test and conviction on my part to do the world as solo. and put myself to I made hard contacts for my art from a list of artists and dealers in Europe before my arrival, a hope of making an interesting and profitable trip from the side of an artist.
The motors roared, as I took off from Oakland on a flight to New York and then London. Heathrow London, was a separating point with a one day stay before taking the bus to Gatwick, the continental airline which would take me on to Amsterdam.
Arriving in the Netherlands I rested for a time in Amsterdam to cure myself from jet lag, the often awesome travel- burden of Americans that usually takes a week or two to cure.
From Schripol I took the train in from the airport and was greeted by Kim, a wonderful young lady I had met the year before in London. She had invited me to stay in Amsterdam and had arranged a room at her apartment for a couple of days as well as a Pension along the canal where I could relax and meet with some associates that were preparing a possibility for an exhibit.
It was an wonderful visit. During the day we would go and see the major museums and remark about Rembrandt or Van Gogh and then visit the smaller galleries along the sides of the main square only to step into a small bistro midday or in the evening to partake in the local acts. I became rather comfortable with Kim and the walks and strolls through the city and park, remembering well setting up my studio easel to paint outdoors on several occasions during my visit. And of course I was encouraged to take my pieces in for exhibition as Kim was known throughout the local art scene as something of a connoisseur. I think she treated me to just about everything and introduced me to a small dinner club where I took the stage for two nights in a classical mini concert..ordering anything I wanted on the menu as my reward. People were genuine and I was offered more than once to stay in Amsterdam during my visit. On one such occasion we went to the Dusty Bricker Hause to meet some of her colleagues and soon departed to a club where we talked travels for the course of an evening. I had set myself to go to St. Petersburg and had a ticket in hand for my departure in several days. Over the course of an evening I was somehow dissuaded by the travel and my imagination was set towards...Prague. Why Prague when I was hoping to travel to St. Petersburg? I even had a lady who was going to set me in a position immediately upon my arrival there to teach English at some small school and later travel to Latvia (a days or so travel from St. Petersburg by train), where her friend offered me her house to live and stay as long as suitable...free of charge for painting lessons. I had been to Latvia and Estonia but for a short time back in 1980. It had changed over the course of time and I was assured it was much better now. Images of cold and dark Soviet State gave way to new parameters for many. A new spring was beginning, optimism at its core. My memories of our meeting and a piece of paper listing my contacts were at hand in my travel case. Of course it was the last year when I traveled through to London that all of these things were set up. London was a setting, Oxford Circus at night and Piccadilly where I met Russians and Latvians who were encouraging and most hospitable with their invitations for the next years travels. I had made plans...but there was a sudden and undeliberate shift of destinations that came to pass in a matter of hours like it was predestined. Somehow I found myself changing my itinerary. How would all of this pan out? Russia and Latvia were somehow set-up for my travel and Prague had just been something of an illusion...but memory did have its way of travel long ago and interest in returning. I stayed awake the night talking and re-planning my tour, first to stay in Prague and then to see how this would come to pass for the future. (I could always go to Russia...so it seemed) I changed my ticket very quickly the next day and was on my way.
What was initially a route to the far eastern part of Europe when my interests waned upon my arrival in Prague (Czech Republic), how the course of fate can be formed in one night. It was during the late summer and it was very warm. I said goodby to Kim and was on my way two days later on Slaftwagen (Sleep Wagon). The first class trains air conditioner had been broken and the windows were wide open as we passed through Germany via Dresden. The air was sticky and foreigners not used to the rough and ready seemed full of complaints. One British lady was trying to demand a refund and another Eastern European was trying to calm her. An argument broke out over surcharges on the train and she finally broke free into insults and demands for western standards. Some back packers stood in the isles and fixed and arranged their gear. The train was crowded from Plzen on up, and I sat there with remembered from long ago of train trips in Eastern Europe and how thing had changed out on the landscape now moving before my eyes. There were lots of memories of the travels previous, of the former Czechoslovakia, Poland and the DDR. I remembered too my travels in Russia by train. The landscape before me echoed my memories some time ago before it was free to travel here, before the restrictions were lifted, when the German and Eastern European officers would march up and down the isles of the train demanding visas and passports and doing the “control” routine that seemed itself from the 1930's. “Passport! Passport!” the high tipped register would come along, click ones ticket followed by the military, badged representative.. “Stamp!. . Stamp!” , the grenza laid eyes straight forward glaring would always instill a memory when I came back this way.
I arrived in Prague slightly after mid-day, the exact time wasn’t really clear as I was tired and worn by the trip as well as the transfer of luggage. I had remembered the terminal. Somehow the gray and red pin-striping provoked memory in a backlash of familiarity to a time quite long ago. It had not changed.
Back during the late 70’s I traveled here by rail from Vienna and made a transfer through the city by cab in the middle of the night. Now I had arrived in Prague for a time, exactly how long was unsure at this point. The Halavni Nadrazi was a matrix of many people going all different directions, my suitcases and easel at my side in the venture. I stood still looked up and followed the signs towards the accommodations office. What came next was a shelter-skelter matrix of trying to interpret the accent and language, my needs, a room and service. I had a reservation at a large hotel for the night paying a fee at the terminal. Just outside the accommodations office I ran into a tall man with a long face who beckoned me as a tourist.
“I make you a deal..” he spoke forward, “you cancel reservation and I have good place for you..best price.. four star hotel, accommodations and breakfast for eighteen dollars per night..”
I immediately turned the other way thinking it was some kind of scam, when he grabbed my attention with a brochure of the Hotel Grand Europa which he held in his hand. I was intrigued and he told me I could check it out in a humorous quip of English against Czech with a book handed to me at that point...”Czech it Out!”
I laughed and he helped me with my bags to a car and took me to the Europa hotel only blocks away. “You will like this, my friend..four star, quality price...very luxurious hotel!” he exclaimed. We did the booking of the room in the Mezzanine of the hotel and then he took me to the front desk to receive my key. He told me about himself, a Czech tour guide by the name of Voitec who had interest in eventually going to America, but he wanted to know more about the country...he exclaimed.
It was a nice conversation and soon he took me to my room off the mezzanine, down a long corridor to a long and very tall room with blue walls and four beds, a seperate television room next door.
This reminded me of old Soviet times in the style, very clean, old and extremely neat.
Unfortunately the bed left something to be desired as I sat on it, the sheets thick and starched, the springs hard and having no give. “Dont worry my friend...” Voitec explained, “you have a better room tomorrow..”
I wound down, took a nap to relieve myself from jet-lag and slept very comfortably.
The evening came on and I decided to take a walk to see a bit of Prague, walking out on the street and heading towards the new clock tower that was at the end of the long stretch of Wenseslas Square. I stopped took some sweets from a vendor selling some rolls and coffee to bring some energy. I looked up to measure my distance too and from myself as well as the distance I had traveled.
Prague, I was here.
The first night I walked to the old town, Starometska grabbing an expensive bite to eat at a restaurant readied and billed for tourists. I made my circle up and around with my first view of Charles Bridge and the center of Prague which were mile of streets matrixed around one another to form a maze. I got lost. My Czech was nil, and people sent me all different directions to appeal to a confusion that I found out later was a nature of Prague that I had to deal with.
I was a mile from the center walking along the river down towards the steep hills of Vsherad.
It was coming on ten pm from the clock when I figured the dark Prague streets were a little too much to handle in one evening.
Gradually I found instructions back to Wenseslas square getting a tour along the way and arriving at the Europa again.
My first impression was a beautiful city that was even more than I could possibly imagine. So many sight to see, places to go...exactly the kind of place I was thinking about living.
The key words, “It was such a foreign atmosphere to my homeland..”
Where does one embark on a residence, and how does it approach one. These simple questions were deep and intense thoughts over the several nights I spent alone in inquiry the first several days of my arrival in Prague. I hit the books and tried to speak Czech out of a book, “Czech for Foreigners”. At least I could say I tried, my accents were wrong, but it was an attempt.
I went out during the day, got my bearings in the cultural world, seeing all the museums and landscapes that my new home would have. Was this going to reach clarity, a life in a foreign land? I did not know. I met foreigners who could tell me, offer me ideas, and locals who could spell it out for me and perhaps assist in my stay.
The first week was crucial in a dizzying world of the foreigner arriving in Prague.
There was a world that was sweet to me in ways that could not be found in other places as well as a world not clearly understood.
This was my initial trip to Czech. Somehow some memories returned to me from travels in the way back machine of my mind. I had traveled to Prague before on route to Poland in the 1980's, this I remember. It was midnight and we had to change trains and take a car across town in the middle of the night for the international sleep wagon,"Wagon Lit", "Schlaftwagen" to Krakow...aka the Fredrick Chopin. At that time I had figured I would return to Prague and retain these memories for my life. Prague was magic even long ago, and now I had returned...on a dream from long ago guided to me by one score I had in my possession that I had practiced over the course of many years on piano, "The Prague Concerto" Op 99 by Dimtry Kabalevsky. From the artist...this was perhaps a subliminal inspiration, Prague-Praha, the music and the appetite for culture, an old and driven culture that was hard and at the same time soft to the advent of the modern age.
Praha, the land of Bohemia, the artists Alphonse Mucha and writers Kafka and many others. History was here, not where I had come from. Each stone had a human story upon it as the name Praha meant "threshold" or a "portal". This was a thousand old city and one of hundreds of legends and ghosts. It was a city of dreams and spires as well as a darkness so profound that the legend of Faust could be written easily from the parapets that surrounded the old town square, the clock drifting time at bay in a procession of life upon life whom this clock face encountered.
I would return the next year after being drawn back to the Czech Republic for many more months that would turn into years.
I met a fellow who let rooms at some hotel. He was a gregarious fellow with an rather animated sense of doing business. “Five Star Hotel...”Grand Europa”...Best Price for you!”
I stayed in the Hotel Grand Europa- (Pictured Above) In a studio off the Mezzanine floor for many months...
So needless to say I took up the offer as I was tired. He was a fellow who asked my business and came across with much inquiry. “Ah the arts!” he expressed. “ You might be interested that they are filming an American film at the Europa..this is why I give you a special price...” Oh I took it all in an envelope of experiences at that point. Sure enough they were making a film then at the Europa. This was a grand old hotel filled with nostalgia and ornament. They had a self-styled restaurant that was patterned after the “Titanic” downstairs...assured all original since the hotel was one of the most splendid in Prague for many years in old times. There were long wires and scaffolds and cords as well as cast and camera about the hotel. I kind of rolled my eyes. Oh my gosh...I thought to myself...Hollywood is here and with it some “noise” also. I didn't know until later that they were filming the first in a series of Mission Impossible at the Europa at that time. My room was large and open yet almost sterile with little plaster sconces that still remained from the Victorian era which still remained. Huge old puffy chairs were adorning the sitting rooms as well as ornamented curtains from the former Soviet era. There were no televisions and only a small radio which didn't really work...piped music that was sent in to each room over two selections of channels. I changed from upstairs to downstairs in the next week. What seemed like a suite became a large multifaceted room, and vice versa only to find my domain down one long corridor taking a left...down another corridor and another left and there was my resting point in Studio 10. The hotel was mostly closed because of all the movie equipment that had moved in. I came in contact with some of the Americans who worked on the set and were staying at the Europa. Perhaps they had some work I thought to myself as some sort of extra, and so it came to pass...nothing big mind you but moving around, side shots and silhouettes if needed, over a course of two days as an extra with other extras on the sets around Prague. “Could I put this in my portfolio?” I said to myself. I had done this before and it just seemed always amidst the list of things done during the course of my life...rather things forgotten, like being on the sets in Tucson, New York or Hawaii, when I lived there for Magnum PI and Bay Watch etc etc. I think what was made of it was literally nothing in the final analysis...maybe a few dollars for extra work, hardly claiming a name on credits or anything but the briefest form of a contract with my name, (show up here...) and walking back and forth etc etc. (I think all extras have found themselves in this particular category of unknown actors or players) In Prague it was with a little agency who gathered extras and a few koruna (Czech Currency). I had heard that Leon Tolstoy (the writer) as well as other notables once did this at one time as well as numerous others. Sometimes being an extra was a little source of income, and every little bit helped in the final analysis. My introduction to Czech was initially very interesting, Profound and intriguing, an old world in the new sense of the word.
The Inner Musical World
The first week in Prague I met an older man in his sixties by the name of Sovoda I had been interested in cultural contacts and wandered into this gallery with a large assortment of fine art, some rather fantastic done by Russian, Bulgarian, Polish and Eastern European painters.
One one such occasion I noticed he had a grand piano in the back of his gallery. I had the use of a gallery piano in the Zal or the Salon of the Hotel Europa when needed. But this was infrequent and had a heavy door and cloak over the piano which resisted the sound coming from it to disturb the other guests of the hotel, whom in first respect to the hotel was primary. I had looked elsewhere but was not particularly connected with venues, scenes or people yet.
Sovoda was my first contact and then they began to stack up one upon another as conditions changed.
I was so intrigued about this particular piano that Sovoda had in the back of his gallery. (I think it was on the second meeting with Sovoda) He had it covered with a thick richly ornamented, brightly colored cloth of Bulgarian Origin. I commented on the instrument and he gave me a brief history of the Petra that graced the back corner of the gallery. It used to be at the National Opera House he said, and then it was the cross' the street at the......where many pianists played it very well.
Sovoda was an archetype of old Central Europe, tight in his virtues and distilled in his ways of culture. I later knew a little more about him as we began to converse, and tell each other about our backgrounds. Most interesting varieties of conversations spilled forth at this level. I was a most apt listener to his delivery...
With a Germanic glare in his eye he cautioned me not to play if I couldn't play, and slowly lifted the lid as if a prized possession (which it was) He asked if I played and began to remove the ornamented embellished cover to the early 20th century concert grand which seemed to be in perfect tune but heavy in action.
It was tuned precisely at all times, I had wondered why.
Sovoda had a long history and it was beginning to be revealed on our first meetings.
I played for him some Liszt, being light on the action. He screamed,”Thats a percussion instrument!”
He commented about a "pianoforte" to be played and not caressed or teased, "Into it!" he shouted..you play!. I began with the Prelude #1 of the Transcendental Eludes of Franz Liszt and fell off a few notes and continued onto some work by Chopin.
He seemed very impressed and sad in some ways, putting his hand to the side of his face, his eyes closing in concentration, not sleep. One thing I could say, that he was very attentive to details. We sat down and talked music for what seemed to be hours in broken English. He was interested that my father was a pianist. “But what kind of pianist..” he stirred,” Jazz, Rock...and then there was Classical!
I handed him a recording of the Liszt E flat that was done by my father some years ago.
“Liszt!” he shouted almost gleefully.
He knew the orchestra but couldn't and wouldn't be analogous to knowing names of performers, except for historical Czech performers, which I did have a sudden lesson in. "We have a lot of pianists in Prague" he assured me"and many are as good as the ones you call great in New York", he resounded in an austere leveling of authority. (After he heard my father play, he was very impressed at the album, especially at the cover I had designed) “Your father is a great master!” he resumed, “Can you play the E Flat?”
Sovoda remarked that I could play quite well and that he could set some performances for me if I wanted at galleries, small theaters, churches and even with chamber orchestra (small orchestra) if I was interested. I launched into the opening bars of the E Flat concerto of Liszt. His chest grew and eyes glowed! “You can play that piece...”
I laughed and told him I was needing practice, and more practice (if) I were to re-learn that piece which I had challenged years before only not to find much of an audience in Arizona.
We talked about performers such as Rudolf Furkusny and the Russian Pianists (Gilels, Berman and others whom he personally knew years ago as he arranged concerts for them in Czechoslovakia during the past regime) He knew several places where I could play and practice giving me resources to play as the case may present itself.
You Play Classical...Not Jazz!
Conversations with Sovoda were one part of my evening on a regular basis. I found a co-pathetic friend in Prague whom, by his own background had seen similarities to my own.
“You play classical...not Jazz?” he asked. Sovoda had comment about the current culture and would constantly in a nostalgic sense take me back to a time when there were classical concerts given at least 10 times per day, looking back at times in a nostalgic sense. “Of course there are not those venues today...he remarked but there are still some if you look..” he remarked. He was not very impressed at Jazz and current day music. He made a phone call for me to Budapest Hungary on one occasion and referenced another person (conductor) in Nitra and Poprad Tatry as well as Bratislava Slovakia. “You go down there...I make arrangements” he concluded in a commanding tone...”But first of all you must practice...I make arrangements from there” he boasted.
Sure enough there was a note to go to an old school where they had a grand piano down in the cellar I could use whenever I wished. The keys were held by the concierge upstairs in a coffee-bar establishment. Sovoda saw to it I was taken care of in this incident.
It was two weeks after my arrival.
I went to work with an old score of Mendelssohn G Minor Piano concerto in G minor and re-learned all three movements. I practiced at this art school as well, another arrangement, near Charles Bridge on a good upright piano that was left unused and by reference I could have access to...that basement. In two weeks come back and play this for me as well as “This Liszt Piece...”
He pulled out some old music of the Liszt “Naples and Venezia” that he wanted me to play, almost handing the score to me as a delivery.I went to work at it practicing several hours during nights as well as during the day when I could. After ten, with a couple or more hours of practice, there was the bustle of Prague to contend with, the aspect of meeting new people and comfortable conversations with Czechs. I had my local place where I could park, have conversations. I was not to heavy with people to introduce my background, although made idle conversation until the aspects of art or music were brought up.
Expatriate Americans were the most difficult to talk to. Many had a chip on their shoulders if they had been living here for a while, some had softened a bit. I tried as best as I could to make conversations with other groups of Czechs, Bulgarians, Russians who were less of a reminder of back home and gave me a pardon to be who I am...
There were many artists, writers and intellectuals in the groups I had. Some would be tourists from America passing through with a once in a while ex-pat that would bring their viewpoints into the scheme of issues presented on the table. Sometimes the nights would become debates. Other times it would end in a brisk chess game.
The atmosphere was encouraging, but thick, big and resounding as there were possibilities here.
Sovoda remarked about my art and wanted to see my artwork. He was overly pleased that I was a modern artist and did not take to nick-knack art as he phrased it. I showed him some 4X5 images of the impressions from my New York show. He immediately started to write a list of places to get art supplies and contacts that may interest me via people he knew.
The rest of the time, other than practicing, I had for my studio. Sovoda placed a message in my hand to the concierge of the hotel to allow me to set up in the hotel. Before a week had passed I was going to work, my studio, atelier fully stocked with a new easel and all I needed to be creative day and night at the Europa.
I did my art and was trying to get my name around Prague. In some ways it was easier in New York, and in other ways, utilizing Sovodas connections I was easily comforted.
I auditioned the following week at a small hall near Starometska which was used as a rehearsal room. The words mentioned “Dobre” but not too fast! Apparently I had taken such a tremendous tempo during my audition that some strings flew and a hammer bounced off its pinning, bringing it to a fast stop. He looked at me with piercing intensive eyes...we have some work to do regarding getting you some concerts he spoke as a director of my life rather than a simple agent.
I was given the name of a teacher who could help with technique, a lady whom had given lessons and was a pianist but always had a difficult name to recall. She was not famous but a clear teacher from the old school. He fee was about ten dollars per session, and in that time she had me back on rollers in two weeks, some may add that she might have been someone who was too good a teacher than others...right on the mark, a technical genius builder similar to my father. Her lessons, if one phrases it this way were all about Liszt technique utilizing certain Czerny exercises and technical hand techniques which were remarkable, easily understood and reminded me of my fathers own conclusions about keyboard technique building. She helped me in phrasing building me up in a kind way, the hour passing sometimes and then leading into an hour of conversation about music, Sovoda sometimes visiting. One time she spent four hours with me on a piece that was going as well as a badly oiled machine, a concerto which Sovoda suggested, she taking second piano and playing it all out with every orchestral innuendo perfectly.
I soon went to various communities to meet different associates of Sovoda and finally went south to Hungary and Slovakia to meet certain personages for possibilities of concerts in the future as well as follow a part of Sovoda exhibition circuit, which by the end of a year..I had a stack of train tickets 1 inch and ½ thick. (Believe it or not)
to Slovakia, back to Prague and then a return to Bratislava, Nitra and Poprad Tatry on a quest. I must have played 5 times an evening during some home auditions. I never knew the language, hands thrown in the air, debate, musical discussions and decisions made.
I remember the hotel in Bratislava as having a sink and bed, the one in Poprad having three beds, a step to stumble in the middle of the 19th century room and the bed being as hard and cold as a marble slab. The room in Nitra? It was part of a dormitory, students coming in and going out, my bags well watched through the corner of my tired eyes.
I stopped doing the “Hostel” and started to do pensions during that visit.
Sometimes arrangements were made to stay in someones home on an overnight visit.
This came to a tour with my art, the arrangements made by Sovoda in Prague. The mounting stack of tickets remained as a tour of my art, though in a sense unbilled as anything of a solo venture.
During my tour I presented my art at some arranged exhibits with other artist and piano music when there was a piano available.
I was stacked up with appointments during my time in Prague. My name was not listed but the pieces I did play were. I saw a stream of Chopin Etudes in one nightly event for tourists in the town square playing...The Revolutionary Etude three times during an evening, without pay directly to me.
I continued playing several engagements along a two week period in hotels and small halls in Prague, met a chamber orchestra, did some events at low billing and was invited to continue on to Budapest where I played at a small auditorium in Buda down the street adjacent to the Franz Liszt Conservatory where I did my spiel of late Liszt, and some Chopin to some firm applause form those who knew I could play.
The audiences were quite small for these concerts but enthusiastic in a reserved Central European way, since my name was not really known and communications were difficult especially when I reached Hungary.
I traveled all the way up to Debracen on the Russian border and back to Buda-Pest for an Arts colloquium that I found interesting, the atmosphere in a slurry of Hungarian far beyond any grasp I had for any language...this was difficult. I came back to Budapest on a 3rd Class train with a farmer in the coach, his cigar, a bottle of whiskey, and a headache after he brought his friends into the coach for an unannounced party with an American.
I made the venture appearing in Pest for yet another little concert quite well attended, most of the people rather young and not knowing the music.
The next day it was a I returned to Prague exhausted. Soon I was off to Poland and Germany and return. Listening back I was quite good, but there was always that sense of reserve that to make this (Piano Performance) a career here was indeed going to take allot out of me, more than could be mustered with my art and possible teaching venues ahead of me. I had the same problem as my father used to remark at one point. I would play so fast as to be out of control, but the works were brilliant and few notes were missed. I did a string of incidental concerts throughout the region with little or no formal press except for the date and the time some concert was to happen at a small regional concert hall or hotel. During my stay in Czech (1996-2003) I did many of the small concert- group concert appearances, playing various pieces. My name never grew very much above the pieces that were played and some of these pieces were still unknown to the audiences who preferred Mozart rather than Prokofiev or Beethoven rather than Bartok.
During the days that there wasn't anything I began to scout the city for possibilities to use my talents. I was an artist after all...a painter who had some background as well as an able pianist then, consuming much time then in practice, research and study.
Prague was blossoming in this fashion of new culture from all angles. I used to dress up in a three piece suit and go around the city with my portfolio and on any given day meet a variety of people. Often I would come back to my room and start working at some new projects in painting and drawing. The room, my studio began to be cluttered with sketchbooks, small paintings and larger works that I had hoped to Market*
The train left Hlavni Nadrazi, the Chopin laid for North-Eastern Europe and Warsaw.
I arrived in Katrowice in the late afternoon and was tired from the train travel, my case laid tightly with paintings for an exhibit which would be delivered in the evening to the exhibition of International artists at the Hotel Katowice which hosted the exhibit this time.
Stepping off the train I looked to the left and then to the right, took my bundle of work off and headed out past the plethora of stalls set up in sequence along the train station walls. I grabbed a Sunka (Ham) sandwich and some Coke Cola for the evening to tender my stomach which hadn’t seen food all day.
I was famished and gulped it down all the way as I walked, patrolled my exit from the station and asked a cab driver for the directions to the hotel which wasn’t too far from the station as noted in the itinerary.
He gave me service, loaded my bundle into the back and took me to the hotel, only to be charged in Zloty (Polish Currency) which I hadn’t yet exchanged from a bundle of travelers cheques which I handled. Arrival was paid in dollars, a whopping ten spot which he greeted, not giving a smidge for Czech currency, for a short distance to the hotel which was a run about around the corner and then down.
The dusk was just coming upon the swollen gray buildings which then were in need of some restauration from the former regime of Communism that seemed to pit itself readily against the new freedom.
I met Sovoda which was had already been setting up in the lobby and reception hall for the last hours. He was tired and worn. A long step ladder had paintings scrawled across the ceiling and extending some 20 feet in every direction, some framed and in other conditions, but a fairly good set-up for his “Exhibition Here”.
“You made it...” he yelled, his eyes curled up, a gasp of air given, his cigarette dangling from out of his mouth as the exasperated dealer moved from one point to another quite slowly. His assistant this time was a young Pole by the name of Peter. The young man came from Lodz and had some work to exhibit in the show. His works were very traditional landscapes with a fair assessment that these were well done. His English was rather good and we began to talk, remarking about America, he smiling at the possibilities of coming to see New York one day.
Off in the corner was a great grand piano. “Over-here!..” marked Sovoda, “Centre..here!” He repeated this in Polish, and there were three apt helpers from the hotel to move the Petrov out and into the center of the large hall. Chairs were organized in rows and tables set beyond, each covered for the evening by white table cloths thickly starched for morning breakfast. The entire room spoke of the old and Soviet style that was still present in hotels from this day. There was a sign that was being brought out, introduced to Sovoda about some Chamber Music group who had played in the last week, the advertisement, invitation was no longer valid.
The pictures of the players were substituted by a list of the music played, Dvorak, Smetana, and Brahms. There were no names of the players who like many other performances that I had seen were left to the background.
The grand stood in the center and the lid lifted as well as the finger board. Sovoda grabbed a chair in front of the piano, only to be replaced by a formal piano bench.
“Chopin!...Heir Ozanne!” Sovoda yelled, the others laughing joyfully as they resumed their work in preparation and I sat down, ran through an exercise and played some pieces, braking into a newly learned “Romance”, second movement of the Chopin E Minor piano Concerto which, broke the status of work as people began to gather around.
An old woman, a cleaning lady came out from her closet, the concierge, a very stiff fitted lady came out into the Zal to hear me perform this wonderful piece which I was missing many notes at this time.
I broke into that short waltz of Chopin which I always played followed by a knife-like performance of the Revolutionary Etude which was keen to my fingers.
“Bravo!...” a young lady said, appearing from the back of me, in a soft and delicately poised tone to my ear.
I continued. The young lady, a wonderfully modeled princess of the region of Silesia stood to my right and stood with tears delicately set on her cheeks from the music I was playing.
Sovoda, encouraged the issue with a thumbs up at her presence which I may add was one of those memories one take with them during ones travels.
Her name was Katka, or Kathy in English. Her hair draped around her shoulders in the fashion of a river around a very smooth alabaster skin. Everything about her presence was too much like a painting and not your average tourist guide, which the emblem on her jacket indicated.
As the night drew on, I was given a room at the hotel for a discount that I thought was an upgrade to a suite. Sovoda had everything placed and he had challenged me to play with a marquis after dinner the next evening...the printing placed on the stand left over from the chamber music players, the hotelier doing the honors of writing up a bulletin for the art exposition and music. It was not an hour before he had the chamber music players agreeing to come in the next evening for the music after dinner, he being a good friend of one of the cello players who organized the chamber group “Silesia”.
The evening drew on, Sovoda quickly trying to make headway to making me play something with the chamber players the next evening with little or no rehearsal. This was pushing the limits really since the only piece I was learning and had the music to was the Chopin E Minor and only had practiced the “Romance”, never played it before, especially in public under European conditions which examined every note as well as the music.
Sovodas exhibition was for another week and he gave me leeway to return to Katowice, know the piece and rehearse for two days with the chamber group for another night in a weeks time.
Sovoda, gathered an evening drink at the bar and went to bed early complaining of some physical ailment in relationship to his back which I didn’t quite understand.
I headed out into the night for some adventures, a venture to a local discotheque with Peter and his girlfriend Yolanda.
The night went on, tomorrow was a trip to Krakow and Zakopane via bus, being reminded that Katka lead the tour bus, and I was getting a good rate on the tour which left at 11 am for Krakow, Katkas home.
It was an early evening and we returned around eleven thirty to the hotel.
I awakened at the crack of dawn to go downstairs see my work on the wall in the Zal and continued on the the breakfast room, the fare being Continental..basic: Bread, Rolls and Juice in jugs, or cereal in bowls.
I packed up and was on the bus to Krakow meeting Katka at the station.
It was a beautiful day for travel, the ride into Krakow taking several hours because of a reconstruction project on the highway.
Upon arrival at the bus terminal I was given some voucher for a local pension not far from the terminal to stay, a simple room in a home that included breakfast.
Katka asked me to the center for coffee that evening, and to talk or walk around the square if I wished. The evening was glorious and I ended up inviting her to dinner and getting her some flowers as my matter of appreciation, when a tear appeared on her cheek.
Needless to say the overnight stay turned out to be longer as we became a couple for a short time, strolling through the park, listening to a Chopin concert and eventually ended up having a picnic together, visiting her sister and being invited to her parents house in a whirl-wind of foreign wonder.
She said to me, “You must be married!...” and inquired as to why I wasn’t, kind of letting her eyes know something secret in her display. I joked a little, and she responded playfully in the next day, “You never ask..if I marry you!” she said laughing, “Why not, I think we have beautiful..we will name the first Fredrick....” she softened put her hair, wrapping it gently over my shoulder, her beautiful ice blue eyes looking into mine. “You move to Krakow...everything is very well” she said, her gentle spirit poised to my own.
The third day after my elongated trip to Krakow, viewing galleries or possibilities for the future, was the bus onward to Zakopane where I was joined by Katka. We stayed in the original hotel, which was originally called Orbis, Kasprovy and then took a place in the center of town.
The day was filled with meeting new friends, taking a droska out to Morsy Oko, a lake high in the Tatras.. and nights of small and romantic dinners lead by a violinist who repeatedly came to our table, Katka giving him some Zloty to play Chopin in the melodic and heart filled small Bistro which we seemed to claim.
It was now towards the end of the week and I only had two events of practicing the piano before my return to Krakow and the onward bus to Katrowice.
The Chopin was rehearsed and played with the chamber ensemble with the music in an unusually slow fashion, the romance being the tribute between Katka and myself.
We departed for Prague the final day of the exhibition only to say farewell for the time being...
Sovoda filled up my time between cities after returning to Prague for a two day stay.
There were exhibits and appearances in Tabor, Jinhicova Hradez, Klatovy, Plzen, Marianski Lazni, Karlovy Vary and then a return to Prague.
Sovoda would joke every evening for the next cycle of exhibits were to return to Krakow and an exhibit at Holiday Inn, perhaps to see Katka again! “It could be sooner if you wished my friend!” Sovoda would tease. Another week passed and another event in Prague took place, another week of playing the Chopin drill of some etudes at the center until I was tired, and then another event in Bratislava Slovakia.
I had the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto #1 readied by this time and was anxious to make a go of it with orchestra if it could be arranged...somewhere in the near future. My time in Czech was growing to an ongoing ticket to London in mid-November.
The shows wrapped up, and I lefts some work in Prague for exhibit. I was invited back for residence this year, every possible consideration to be taken into conception for a contract to do the Mendelssohn concerto upon my return and to record it.
I heard form Katka nearly every week via letters at my hotel and then one visit where she beckoned me to return to Krakow. My ticket was onward. I could not cancel even through tears were present at my departure, we knew we would see each other some day.
The night bus came, a double-Decker with an onward bound destination to London. I was alone on the platform as the bus pulled up. I had enjoyed my several month stay immeasurably and vowed to return someday, keeping my mind inside my head so to speak.
The trip to London took 24 hours. There were no real stops along the line. The next morning we were crossing the English Channel and then by train into Victoria Station.
I stayed across the way at the Hotel Bristol a short walk from the train station for two nights a visit to a refered gallery to take some extra work off my hands in preparation for the long trip to India and onward, my next destination. Somewhere in the back of my head I was breathing everything about Katka and a return to Poland as well as the lucid dreams of Prague. I had to discipline myself this time to be onward bound...
I was a long, long way from Prague as the plane tilted down through the Mideast, the last rays of sun disappearing over the landscape of Iraq and Iran below. It was a tiring trip and by the time I reached New Delhi, even thought it was evening I was thoroughly tired.
Stumbling off the plane with my large satchels and bags I made my way to the tourist desk and took a hotel for the evening. The entire terminal seemed filled with misfits at this time in yet another language that I couldn’t understand.
I grabbed a room at a place that was assured to me as being a quality hotel called the Hilton. I was so looking forward to a four-star on this leg of the trip with a nice bed and amenities.
Sadly I was dismayed when the Hilton was not the hotel given the taxi driver but a misspell and diversion to a place called the Hil-on, missing a “T” in a general way.
The taxi driver was overcharging me on the meter and there was a conflict on some unknown street in Delhi and I told him to “stop” and let me out...he was overcharging me!
It was the middle of the night and I found myself as solo traveler walking the streets of New Delhi looking for my hotel. The walk seemed endless on the dim lit streets with almost smothering diesel fumes clogging each corner. I stopped asked directions. No one knew where the Hil-on was. I must have had 120 lbs of luggage, a big suitcase and then my other pack filled with art supplies, my easel being shipped back to America and a friend whose address I could send “stuff” too, just in case.
I must have walked for two hours carrying this stuff and finally found the Hil-on Hotel at the back of a culdesac...way out there.
It must have been fate that I have such keen skills as finding a needle in a haystack, but what was in store was another adventure.
This hotel rated off the charts in pre-world war I accommodations. I don’t know how I could be so gullible, but simply tired and needing rest. The place was old and run down, kind of like a Bogart movie from the 1930’s with ceiling fans and not one tourist to be seen as a resident. I was booked for a large suite there, that was the saving grace, but what kind of suite...rather sweet! Oh My God! A large expanse of a room stood before me with two ceiling fans, wires strung from the ceilings and walls with knife switches on a panel connected to the wall. It was cold that day.. I thought I was in a nightmare when he turned on the gas to see if the gas worked throwing out a audible roar of smelly gas into the room, connected a red lawn hose to it, turned it on and threw in a match! There was a gas oven that they brought in, turned on the burner which released a crucible of heat with a “whoosh!” into the room. I told them to take it away. I didn’t ask for the electrical version of this, this night lasting too many hours already. I was hungry and I ordered room service. The meal came with the cook who was covered in food, asking me in English if I wanted Curry or Rice...both curry and rice. It was a kerfuffle...I told them to forget it, they brought the chicken curry anyway still having chicken feathers connected to the bird.
I complained. The lights flickered and went out repeatedly in the three hours of my stay, the bird curry was chicken feathered and they brought in a stove that could have cooked Lucifer alive...I had gone to hell by 3am of my stay in New Delhi.
My complaints went to the management and they gave me a better though not as primitively ornamented room...gratis for the next two days way up at the top of the building having a terrace where I could look down on the street and count my blessings. I slept for twenty four hours straight.
The next evening I went to the Rest-o-rant and ordered soup. My fare was better tasting than room service, which provided me with a possible taste of Delhi Belly the next day.
My trip to Delhi was for two weeks. If I had to stay in this hotel I was going to be miserable! I went out to get things changed for my next venture heading into Central Delhi where I returned to the Imperial hotel, a place where I had stayed twice already and had appearances in the ‘first class’ ratings. It did not matter about money...75 dollars a night was alright, but the Imperial was 124 dollars. The Hil-on a mere 35 a night. I spent my entire day at the American Express office trying to change my tickets to no avail, and finally came back to the Imperial Hotel where I had a really class A dinner finally. After beating the path for 72 hours I was met by a fellow at the front desk of the Imperial Hotel that got me a room there and a private car for a great rate. I swiftly changed residences from the Hil-on and found myself at his office across the street with his brother discussing a broader range adventure to wherever I wanted to go in India during my stay...all at the best rates I could possibly want.
Great Adventures Travel
I was in one hour on the way to Goa by train. No, it seemed a little rough, the examples given in photocopied brochures made me dizzy. They had a special, to Rajastan and a unique adventure with a Sheik friend out that way who rented rooms in his palace to those who wanted to see other desert parts of India. I was headed that way. “But I have the best adventure you will eber wan...sir, just my brother and his houseboat in Kashmir” he sold, showing me a brochure, poorly printed out and a stack of photos of the Himalaya, trips that I could take and other adventures that were waiting. Pack them all together! Rajastan and Kashmir! “Dis bill be the great adventure for you my friend, as I payed a deposit for the room, was promised to get the air ticket the next day and also offered a driver to take me to see the Taj Mahal ‘free’ if I went for the 4oo dollar package, all inclusive with rooms and “Adventures Unlimited”.
“What am I a man or a mouse...” said to myself, a loner on a round the world adventure “...Bring it on!!” We laughed. I did some small gem and art deals with them before returning to my room that evening. The next day I was to see the red fort, and head to the Taj Mahal. I would pick up my tickets a the airport the next evening.
Everything was like clockwork!
I went out to get some things for my next venture. I was certain that in Delhi shoes would be cheaper than in Prague. I was sourly mistaken. the night before my departure I needed shoes, my old ones were fading fast.
New Delhi to Rajastan
I arrived at the airport at 5 am for the flight outbound to Rajastan. The tarmac was empty and I boarded this ancient Russian era turbo-prop that seemed to be kept alive by bailing wire alone. A gum like material seemed to patch the wings. I was worried about the black coating on the engines being a possible oil leak. I did remember the simple saying during WWII, that if there was oil on the wings this was a flying plane...if there were no wings this was a sitting plane. No worries...This was not a major airline nor a route. There were two worried back packers from England on board a seating capacity of 60, doubled up in the cramped quarters of the aircraft that was smelling of kerosene before its departure. Thhe door of the aircraft didn’t seem to fit tightly either, and the exit signs were yellowed and poorly marked, scratched from other travelers who had better ideas of later models, perhaps even jet aircraft which may have been in existence on that route. Thinking that it might crash on the way out to Rajastan I fastened my seat belts tightly as the motors slowly whined and the props flipped over with a resounding sound of air on their turn-over. The flight was not so rough. It was the occupants in their turbans that most upset me especially when there was a thud in the air way up there and the oxygen masks piled out of their housings calling all to clench the funny looking yellow cups, only to be alerted it was a mistake by the captain.
The plane came rocketing into the Rajastan airport on a skip and a thud. Feeling kind of airsick the passengers applauded the arrival, gathered their gear and piled out one by one as the stair door was lowered, out of the rear part of the airplane. Passengers departed one by one, each looking back at the poor machine, the props still whopping still air as they slowly grew to a halt. The British backpackers, only foreigners aside from myself came out and piled along and between the tarmac yellow lines to the airport which was actually rather a hanger made out to be a terminal, so it seemed.
A fairly modern 737 touched down behind us, the National Carrier that seemed more of safer bet in machinery, but less of an adventure. One could hear the cringing high frequency of its fans making a knife like roaring in the background. We went through the traditional customs and regalement and stood for a half hour for inspections off the plane-
The on-bound flight to Shrinigar was preparing at the airport, novelty inspections were not so evident on this ride, a rather large Airbus gathering passengers for the flight out-bound.
The desert landing site dissappeared under us as we climbed up into the stratosphere for the hour flight in which was not too bad.
We landed and made customs again in a long line at the new terminal which stood before us. I was remarking to myself of how few people were on this flight who were foreigners.
The line was fairly long and there was an intensity that seemed to come from the corners of the room. Looking about I saw fully armed Indian Military watching over every corner of the airport making me kind of nervous as there were not just some but at least 20 soldiers wandering in and around with fully black versions of the modern spear, a half century newer than the Thomson Sub-Machine guns, with a tape ribbon of bullets strapped over their shoulders.
I tried to get some help from a ticket officer in English to no avail. The line was getting slower and slower. All of a sudden a western face well suited appeared in the crowd behind me. I took my place out of line and tried to converse with him about some issue concerning a taxi and climate.
He dawned a red passport. I thought he was Swiss--But not. He turned to me and silently pointed to the issue on his passport: ”International Red Cross”
The fellow said no more.
I was in a war zone at that time um-beannounced.
Kashmir (Shrinkage-and the war)
Somehow I had gotten up here by faith in having a great adventure. I found myself outside the airport terminal with troops all around telling me to move left, and right. There was a large machine, a anti-aircraft gun conceiled under some netting about 75 feet away.
I remained committed to waiting for my car which was due to arrive at that time, arranged by telephone from the Rajastan Telecommunications office the night before.
An old Checker Car came for me its curtains tightly pulled.
A man opened the door on the passenger side and beckoned me by my first and last name reading it from a paper. He shook my hand and I stored my luggage in the trunk. He introduced himself as Sharik.
We made a stop at a pharmacy to get Ludals Iodine (a preparation for curing the water) before continuing on towards Lake Dal, his houseboat and the remainder of my stay in Shrinigar.
Sharik was an encyclopedia of the history of Kashmir. On each corner up to stretch out to Lake Dal he gave me a non-stop tour of the history, wanting to engage me in conversations of everything from religion to politics on each step of the way. I was tired but interested in the historic sights.
I asked if there was some political troubles because of the amount of troops that I saw on the road out. This was too obvious and I really didn’t want to know, but actually should because my ticket to Kashmir was outbound in one week, paid in advanced. “No problem, sir. .” he trembled but stated firmly, “You have good people here for your stay in Kashmir. . I would not worry”. It was then when we pulled slowly to the side of the road by Indian military and asked for papers etc, the car being cleared quickly and then off again.
Sharik insisted on a tour of the town even though I was tired. It was late afternoon when we stopped boarded a shuttle launch (a boat) to a house boat about a mile across lake Dal and beyond a bend.
There were houseboats hotels parked side by side. The was “Montana” and then “Chicago”, another “Annapurna” seemed more luxurious with its bright colors and metal trim. Each houseboat was ornamented almost like a form of art, the Lake Dal stretching up and beyond into the horizon.
We landed on a large terraced platform of concrete and embellishment that seemed to lay back between houseboats. There was a crew of 5 to attend to my luggage. I was greeted by the family of the fellow from New Delhi and given a book of special coupons for use just in case I wanted to buy Kashmir rugs or art.
I could smell dinner cooking, the coals alive in a sweep of charcoal from behind my houseboat which was a lavish accommodation with uniquely carved walls and decoration.
After resting a bit I in my large private terraced room upon a large canopied bed with a wood burning stove to one side, I was invited to the dining room where the large table was prepared for just one person.
Seeing Jesus-Home in Kashmir-
The second day after my arrival we went on another trek across Shrinigar to another side of the town entirely, the curtains tightly pulled to some activities which were obviously a protest in the street where the lot were gathering, rocks and bottles being thrown as well as a ambulances coming. We skirted the civil war zone and took back streets around.
The car was going to take me to an ancient place where Jesus was supposed to have come in Kashmir. Now disbelievers of this event or historical references can have there own say.
According to the Legend of Jesus in Kashmir:
The historian Mullah Nadini (1413) also recounts a story of Yuz Asaf who was a contemporary to King Gopadatta, and confirms that he also used the name Issar, ie. Jesus. There is also much historical truth in the towns and villages of Northern India to prove that Jesus and his mother Mary spent time in the area. For instance, at the border of a small town called Mari, there is nearby a mountain called Pindi Point, upon which is an old tomb called Mai Mari da Asthan or "The final resting place of Mary". The tomb is said to be very old and local Muslims venerate it as the grave of Issa's (ie Christ's) Mother. The tomb itself is oriented East-West consistent with the Jewish tradition, despite the fact it is within a Muslim area. Assuming its antiquity, such a tomb could not be Hindu either since the Hindus contemporary to Christ cremated their dead and scattered their ashes as do Hindus today.
Following Christ's trail into Kashmir, 40km south of Srinagar, between the villages of Naugam and Nilmge is a meadow called Yuz-Marg (the meadow of Yuz Asaf, ie. Jesus). Then there is the sacred building called Aish Muqam, 60km south east of Srinagar and 12km from Bij Bihara. "Aish" says Kersten is derived from "Issa" and "Muqam" place of rest or repose. Within the Aish Muqam is a sacred relic called the 'Moses Rod' or the 'Jesus Rod', which local legend says, belonged to Moses himself. Christ is said to also have held it, perhaps to confirm his Mosaic heritage. Above the town of Srinagar is a temple known as "The Throne of Solomon", which dates back to at least 1000BC, which King Gopadatta had restored at about the same time as Christ's advent. The restoration was done by a Persian architect who personally left four inscriptions on the side steps of the temple. The third and fourth inscription read: "At this time Yuz Asaf announced his prophetic calling in Year 50 and 4" and "He is Jesus -- Prophet of the Sons of Israel"! Herein lies a powerful confirmation of Kersten's theory. Kersten suggests that Christ may have travelled to the South of India also, finally returning to Kashmir to die at the age of approximately 80 years. Christ's tomb, says Kersten, lies in Srinagar's old town in a building called Rozabal. "Rozabal" is an abbreviation of Rauza Bal, meaning "tomb of a prophet". At the entrance there is an inscription explaining that Yuz Asaf is buried along with another Moslem saint. Both have gravestones which are oriented in North-South direction, according to Moslem tradition. However, through a small opening the true burial chamber can be seen, in which there is the Sarcophagus of Yuz Asaf in East-West (Jewish) orientation!
According to Professor Hassnain, who has studied this tomb, there are carved footprints on the grave stones and when closely examined, carved images of a crucifix and a rosary. The footprints of Yuz Asaf have what appear to be scars represented on both feet, if one assumes that they are crucifixion scars, then their position is consistent with the scars shown in the Turin Shroud (left foot nailed over right). Crucifixion was not practised in Asia, so it is quite possible that they were inflicted elsewhere, such as the Middle East. The tomb is called by some as "Hazrat Issa Sahib" or "Tomb of the Lord Master Jesus". Ancient records acknowledge the existence of the tomb as long ago as 112AD. The Grand Mufti, a prominent Muslim Cleric, himself has confirmed that Hazrat Isa Sahib is indeed the tomb of Yuz Asaf!
Thus Kersten deduces that the tomb of Jesus Christ Himself is in Kashmir!
The implications of Kersten's discovery are monumental. Christ's life in India, after the crucifixion, challenges current Church teachings at their very foundation. The theology of Saint Paul, the major influence on modern Christianity, is empty fanaticism in the light of this discovery. Threatened also are the doctrines of obedience to the Church, original sin, salvation through blind faith and the non-existence of reincarnation, etc. Yet these ideas underlie the morality and ethics, (or lack of them), that govern the entire Western social structure, from the legal system to medical health care schemes. It is no wonder that the modern Churches and their secular interests refuse to consider such a proposition as Kersten's!
Thus goes the history...
I was viewing a lime green building with rough texture, a sign above me in Indian Language as well as English.
I think I had been the only Amerian visitor for a while, in months or maybe even a year...that is of course a stretch, but conceivably so, especially due to the very interesting reception I had. My car was parked to the side and Sharif brought me inside where I was given a guide who spoke English and the two almost simultaneosly told me detailed history of the shrine as the doors opened.
It was not a grand place however and was overly simple to what we could consider a shrine to be from a western perspective.
I asked allot of questions and Sharik was overly responsive. A man in clerics robes came in to help with translations and the details of this entire perspective were very amazing as well as the intensity with which the legend was believed.
As an honor they let me do some things which were out of the ordinary delivering myself as a Christian believer. I actually was given a special viewing of the shrine and other details of holding ancient documents which were kept by the cleric and patches of cloth material presented to me assured to be around the times of Jesus in Kashmir.
After about a three of hour visit, and a cup of tea with the cleric, we departed, new friends being won, some good videos and photos being made. Sharik talked non stop on the way back through the winding streets as the shadows of the late afternoon sun began to cast their long shadows. The evening was filled with plenty of time for my journal and early rest in my room. It was seemingly getting colder and this third day after arrival I recognized not so many vegetables on my plate as the night before, having grown rather hungry from the days jaunt.
“No more vegatables!” Sharik mentioned, “Its hard because of problems to get vegetables now...we have to go to market and there are few, and they are very expensive”
I certainly thought this was a shill for a few rupia to get some extra food, as my plate was half-empty, the meal looking almost like it were meant for a snack. I told him I would go out with him and buy vegetables if needed from the market and to get some chicken also, or perhaps some meat for the next evening.
We got into a debate about American expectations, and surely it could have drifted into an argument. It was not about food, rather the lack of food that was available that was fresh.
The cook came in to the discussion. He took me out to the kitchen to show me what was available and this amounted to mostly some cans of vegetables and very unusual canned meat which I didnt really recognize but it looked kind of like a Pate, consisting of mystery meat.
For about two hours that evening we talked food and made a plan to try to get a chicken or two from a local farmer just for kicks, I spilling out about seven or eight dollars for the possibility when I knew they were paying much less.
The next day we went out by boat through the canals and came upon a boat that had vegetables and good stash of what I thought were potatoes that were actually a kind of yam. Sarif did the buying and he argued with the fellow about prices left and right. We bought some things took the boat on and went to a store to purchase morethan enough food in cans and dried beans to make any family happy. “My gift to the hotel..” I said, “No tourist goes hungry here!”
That afternoon we took the boat out another time and visited the various art guilds that specialized in Kasmiri art, and silk rug manufacturers. Sharif knew I was an artist and really did his best to hook me up in Kashmir even to the point of talking my ear off about real estate and setting up a manufaturing firm in Kashmir that could very well be a start of a school. The day went in visits down long canals, meeting artists, and learning aspects of life. I think we must have visited every ones home for tea as well.
On the trip back to the houseboat however there was a patrol PT boat filled with several machine gun armed Indian soldiers. The captain yelled at us and made us pull over. It was not like the guns in this case were not loaded and put in our general direction. They searched the boat, made me produce my documents and were rather cordial after an initially downright scarey encounter.
The captain of the PT boat yelled out and smiled as they pulled away...”Welcome..Canada!!”
Sharif knew him as the neigborhood expleated. But he was always throwing around his weight with anyone on the canals he had his own fun with. I thought it might be us that evening. Wondering why he yelled out “Welcome Canada!” on the way out (He knew I was American when he saw my passport), it just happened that he was partial to America as with Sharif. Unfortunately there was a garrison who did not like United States citizens and this could be obvious if I really wanted to know furthur.
That night at the housboat was a little more active. I asked Sharif to join me at the table. He couldnt in my respect but did join me afterward for a long conversation.
It was about 9pm when the sound of a loud boat came to the launch outside. Sharif burst suddenly to the door and looked outside. A large search light illuminated the entire platform launch and there was some yelling going on outside. It was one of those times that made ones nerves stand on end. I stayed in my chair as the yelling died down and I could see the shadows of several men talking outside, shadows of which could have easily become a modern painting as the outside illumination was about 20X as bright as inside the houseboat.
Sharif came back in rather nervous and sat down. “ A Problem?” I asked, though not really wanting to hear the answer but needing to. “Just the Police searching for someone...”
Things were getting a bit more hot as Sharif told me about the impending wars between India Pakistan and China evolving a short disussion of politics. He grabbed some Johnny Walker Black Lable and poured it out for me. “Relax, my friend, nothing here will bother you...” he assured.
That night I went to sleep around 11 pm and had a nervous night. I walked to the window and looked out on the lake. There were several helicopters to be heard and search lights seen in the distance. The night seemed calm but I had to come up with a backup-backup plan, feeling that this may plot some kind of emergency escape.
I thought long and hard about if there were some big trouble how I would get off the houseboat and get to land, or even out of Kashmir if I needed to.
I didnt want to go there. Not if I could help it.
In the middle of the night I was awakened by something that sounded like fireworks only with a harder percussion sound. I went to the window and could see an array of streamers in the distance, red flares reaching up like fingers and then detonating. They were not fireworks but anti-aircraft type detonations. This went on until past 2 AM and became a very sleepless night.
That evening I decided to try to get something to drink remembering a couple of Fantas that were left near the entrance to an anti room right off my room at the houseboat. I just thought I could go in and grab them without much commotion, a simple step outside and only a few feet to where I had laid them. I opened my door and there was a large brown blanket stretched out with Sharif bundled in it. He turned and looked up suddenly and lifted to his feet. He had conceiled in his blanket an rifle and a ribbon of bullets.
I was nervous. “Too early for breakfast Mr Richard..” he moaned in a tired fashion, conceiling the very prominent weapon thinking it a Thompson, under his blanket. “Whats..that for..Sherif?” I asked looking at the weapon. “So sorry Mr Richard, it is no problem...nothing that is important, but I am safely guarding you...” he continued, “Best not to leave the room until morning..I will get you what you need. You are probably thirsty. I will bring what you need to you..remain calm!”
The night passed and there were fresh hen eggs in the morning for breakfast, filling the pit in my stomach from the last days breakfast of some kind of oatmeal, which just sat there as some concrete mix, and about as paletable. They must have had an upgrade to fashionable cooking as the cook brought out some bacon as well, bacon and eggs? Western style.
The eggs were good, the bacon was going south, but I didnt mention it. Its what they had to eat.
After breakfast I was assured of some western company for a lunch after a visit to the sacred gardens in the morning. Time went quickly and I was back on the boat to a relative banquet. I suppose the cook went all out for the new foreigner who was a guest for lunch..especially for me.
The door opened and in walks a very nervous Japanese photographer with his equipment straddled all over his neck, a suitcase with his gear at his side. He spoke only a few words of English but we sat down and ate lunch discussing what was going on...out there.
He was a war corespondent from the Japanese press and had a book filled with photos from all over India and Pakistan. He had come to Kashmir and would be staying in for the night. The discussion was rather silent, he did not give much information out other than he missed his home and missed his family with a tear coming off his cheek. I did ask him frankly if there was danger out there now that I should know of, having almost another week to stay here, paid up. He looked away as though not to answer and avoided that question altogether.
After lunch he went to his room. I on the other hand began a long list of want-to-do's in Kashmir, either possible or impossible.
Sharif had a wild plan of driving me up to the border of Pakistan through a valley to see a unique place that few recently had seen. He had photos and talked invitingly of the proposal with his brothers car, some horses we could get from a friend and a journey up into the mountains by horseback the next day.
He wiped some sweat off his brow and said it would be very safe, a one-of-a-kind-adventure especially for me...the cost was 90 dollars including gas and horses. We would depart Shrinigar the next day at 4:30
Upon our late return to Shrinigar there was a brief dinner that was simple, our arrival with the roar and outpouring of the sounds of the Mosque which echoed over Lake Dal.
The night grew still as we finished dinner and Sharif started to bring his brothers carpets to me to show me from his shop next door. He was an incessant salesman. This went on until I reached a hard bargain for two rugs paid in cash.
All of a sudden at about 10:30 there was a loud sound at the motor launch outside and a boat came thundering in. I stepped out for a breath of fresh air as my Japanese friend, the photographer climbed clumsily outside the boat carrying his gear. With gasps said, but not much more, he walked straight into the dining hall and to the waiting room where Sharif and I had been sitting. He clumped his gear on the sofa wiping sweat off his brow, not saying a word but a hard expression was said through his face over his horned rim glasses.
“How was your day..” I asked.
Silence filled the room as he huffed asked for some water and threw himself into a chair.
“No good...no good my friend!” he puffed. “You, ask why and I will tell you!”
I learned there was a large shoot-out in a section of Srinagar about 20Km away and that there were events that were happening that were turning my visit upside down. A large war was coming and the photographer said it with nervous tensions written all over his face..an impending invasion.
“My embassy has called me out of here tomorrow..” he yelled, “I think it best you change your ticket and go...quickly!” he warned. He took his bags and set off to his room, nervously chewing on a cigarette which dangled out of his mouth.
I talked to Sharif. We went into overdrive.
The telephone, telecommunication office was down. Nothing could be done until the next morning. That night I went to bed early and was warned to close my windows and turn out the lights in my room as well as not run the stove. I was given extra blankets.
Keeping away from the windows was a no brainer. It looked like a night festival outside with lights and firecracker like sounds, those cracks kicking back into my room making it a noisy night for the most part into the early morning hours.
I did peek out though to see all of lake Dal flashing with long search lights, helicopter ships in the distance, hearing a periodic plane flying over making a dreary and possibly dangerous setting that much worse.
I went through my bags with the table light in an behind the bed making as little light as possible to be seen. I had too much to carry. I left a box of paintings behind, a brown coat several light jackets and other clothes to lighten my load.
The morning came and before, during and after breakfast, coffee flowing there was a feeling of extreme rush. I got to the telecommunications office on another houseboat not far away. Went to return my rented video equipment nearby. I waited and waited while Sharif and his associates helped me re-book my ticket. At first this seemed nearly impossible.
I drew nervous and worried. At about 5pm Sharif came through with some good news for the next morning flight out direct to New Delhi...the last plane out before the airport was to be closed.
I didnt realize the impending war and the evacuation of all foreigners from the region. Several planes had been ordered to the airport for this evacuation beginning at 5am the next morning.
A positively sleepless night followed, my hand was in pain from the horse fall. I had it bandaged but I was capable of carrying. A last ditch emptying of all unnecessary verticals from my bags were done, giving out clothes and presents to my friends who were all appreciated in this matter. I gave 10 dollar US cash to the people at the houseboat before I left, loaded upon the launch and was off to the airport the next day.
The roads were crowded with people. Artillery guns were at every intersection and shortcuts were unknown. It took about three hours to get to the airport and there were three checks for every car that came through as well as at the entrance to the airport.
The airport was crowded, troops lined up at the terminals, fully readied with sub-machine guns in khaki gear.
Each passenger waited and was processed, put into another control line, and walked through a strip search...right down to the underwear, shoes off. This happened three times before reaching the final hall where we waited in lines to be formed out to three planes waiting on the tarmac. The entire airfield was alive in activity and guards were around each aircraft as the two others loaded and moved away and the last remaining aircraft remained on the tarmac.
Gradually we were loaded on and marched single file about 5 feet apart to the aircraft.
I looked up at the gigantic Airbus that seemed to have seen its day. Starting to move to the mobile stair up I notice a very big chip taken out of the forward part of the wing on the aircraft about four feet from the left motor. I drew quite fearful because it was a good three foot bite out of the leading edge of the wing.
There was no way to alert anyone to this as we were loaded, strapped into our seats and carefully-carefully monitored as the motors warmed up, the doors closed and that aircraft took off like a bat out of hell, full thrust- straight up from the Srinagar airport, tilted and climbed into the clouds. I prayed until landing in New Delhi with a resounding applause by the passengers when we came in.
It was a long night though in New Delhi at that time. I found a hotel, the only one available in the center for two days until I could shorten my term in India and head out to my next two destinations...via Dacca then to Bangkok and then south to Koa Samui.
I stayed again at the Imperial and through resources did this all in one days time without paying too much of a penalty...if a penalty at all.
I was to fly to Bangkok, travel south by train, pick up a boat in...and continue on to Naton, Koa Samui...another adventurer to be written about.
Koa Pagan/Koa Samui- Islands by boat
The Indonesian Archipelago
I remember that gray customs hall at LAX which was about as likable as a trip to have ones car examined at the DMV. Such a cold place and the memories began to overwhelm me of what I had seen over the past many months traveling alone across the world.
Arriving home during a major football game that booked every hotel in Phoenix- on a late night flight from Los Angeles after hours of going through customs.
Time to think....about how the trip affected me-an urge to return and live Prague CZ after a couple of months of very slow life in Phoenix-coming to a final decision to move on...
Putting my house on the market in April and selling it the very next day/ furnishings in storage in less than a week and out on the plane!
A Return to Prague for Residency!
Prague, Praha, Central Europe, Artist, Being, Who is realized after 1,000,000 miles of travel 22 million miles--reconstruction, ??The "To be or not to be" soliloquy from the 1603 quarto of Gotterdamerung, Wagner, Liszt, Beethoven, 2 note, Four note phrases from in between-Hamlet The term memorial reconstruction refers to the hypotheses concerning the transcription of 17th century plays from memory by actors who had played parts in them, and the subsequent publication of those transcripts. The theory is intended to explain the existence of so-called "bad quarto" versions of plays, in which the text differs dramatically from a later published version, or appears to be corrupted or confused in some way.In 1623, the preface to the First Folio of Shakespeare's works specifically marketed its content as correct, in contrast to the garbled texts of "stolen and surreptitious copies" published previously. Memorial reconstruction has been supposed to be one of the ways in which texts were "stolen". Examples of possible memorial reconstructions are early editions of Shakespeare, including the second quarto (1598) of Richard III and the 1603 first quarto of Hamlet. CriticismCritics have argued that memorial reconstruction is not as prevalent as has been presumed (some use the term "memorial reconstruction" loosely to refer to both the supposed methods of illicit reconstruction: from actors and auditors). Notes and references^ a b British Library Publishing Drama in Early Modern Europe Retrieved: 10 December 2007.^ Probes, Christine McCall (2008). "Senses, signs, symbols and theological allusion in Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris". In Deats, Sara Munson; Logan, Robert A. Placing the plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts. Aldershot, England: Ashgate. p.?149. ISBN?0-7546-6204-7.?^ a b c Gabriel Egan, The Struggle for Shakespeare's Text: Twentieth-Century Editorial Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press, 21 Oct 2010,
ricostruzione,? Il monologo "Essere o non essere" del 1603 di Quarto HamletThe termine memoriale ricostruzione si riferisce alle ipotesi relative alla trascrizione di ascolti del 17 ° secolo dalla memoria da parte di attori che avevano giocato in loro parti, e la successiva pubblicazione di tali trascrizioni. La teoria ha lo scopo di spiegare l'esistenza dei cosiddetti "cattivi quarto" versioni dei giochi, in cui il testo differisce notevolmente da una versione successiva pubblicata, o potrebbe essere danneggiato o confusi in qualche way.In 1623, la prefazione al First Folio di Shakespeare lavora specificamente commercializzato il suo contenuto sia più preciso, in contrasto con i testi incomprensibili di "copie rubate e occulta" pubblicato in precedenza. Memorial ricostruzione è stata dovrebbe essere uno dei modi in cui i testi sono stati "rubati". Esempi di ricostruzioni memoriale possibili sono le prime edizioni di Shakespeare, tra il secondo quarto (1598) di Richard III e 1603 quarto primo Amleto. CriticismCritics hanno sostenuto che la ricostruzione memoriale non è così diffuso come si è presunto (alcuni usano il termine "memoriale ricostruzione" impropriamente per riferirsi sia alla presunta metodi di ricostruzione: illecito da parte di attori e revisori dei conti). Note e riferimenti ^ ab British Library Publishing Dramma in Early Modern Europe Estratto: 10 dicembre 2007 ^. Sonde, Christine McCall (2008). "Sensi, segni, simboli e allusioni teologica di Marlowe Il massacro di Parigi". In Deats, Sara Munson, Logan, Robert A. Immissione commedie di Christopher Marlowe: Fresh contesti culturali. Aldershot, Inghilterra: Ashgate. p.? 149. ISBN? 0-7546-6204-7.? ^ Abc Gabriel Egan, La lotta per Shakespeare Testo: Twentieth-Century Editoriale Teoria e Pratica, Cambridge University Press, 21 Oct 2010,