I’m scheduling a few posts while I still have an internet connection, because I can’t resist…
“The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.” —Wired Magazine article
Get the audio track “Marble Machine” by Wintergatan:
Marble Machine built and composed by Martin Molin
Video filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson
THIS is the standard by which we should be judging our presidential candidates—indeed, all of our government officials.
The great José ‘Pepe’ Mujica, of Uruguay. He has been described as “the world’s ‘humblest’ president” due to his austere lifestyle and his donation of around 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities that benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs. He has also been called “The World’s Poorest President”.
This is what a president should be…a servant of his people, not a celebrity. A man with his feet on the ground, his head clear and unswayed by power or money, and his heart filled not only with his people and his own country, but also with his planet and every other human being on it.
INCORRUPTIBLE. Not because it was his platform or because he was being ‘watched’ but because wealth and power simply did not interest him.
A selfless, simple man who refused to live in the presidential palace, or drive a presidential car (he drove his 25 year old Volkswagen to work every day when he was president) In 2010, the value of the car was $1,800 and represented the entirety of the mandatory annual personal wealth declaration filed by Mujica for that year. In November 2014, the Uruguayan newspaper Búsqueda reported that he had been offered 1 million dollars for the car, which was manufactured in 1987; he said that if he did get 1 million dollars for the car it would be donated to house the homeless through a programme that he supports.
A president who chose to spend taxpayers’ money on a rescue and medical helicopter for remote areas, instead of on a presidential jet. A man who never thought of his own comfort or pockets when he was in government. Who did not allow himself any luxuries that the most ordinary citizen of his country could not have.
After his 5 year term he refused to run again…and he went back to his old profession of flower farming with his wife.
The friend from university who first introduced me to Dylan Thomas went into a coma last December, and everyone who knew him left messages on his facebook…in the hopes that he would wake up and know that he’d been missed. In honor of our Thomas connection, I (mis)quoted* these lines from the poem Fern Hill.
Three weeks ago Luis passed away…a mercy, really, after being so long in coma. We were not close, but his death was made more poignant because he was so young (we were born the same year, 1974). To me it seemed an urgent message to get as much as I can out of this life, because we never know when it will all come to a halt.
The lines of the poem have stayed with me… sometimes I lull myself to sleep with them. Dylan Thomas was a sorcerer of lilting, musical language…his words dance, surge, rise and ebb like the ocean he was named after. I had a sudden urge to write them out somewhere that I would see them often, and decided to whack them on the cover of this Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. The curly waves were inspired by what I could remember of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa.
* …Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
—Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas
Believe it or not, this is what I have spent most of my evenings doing in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia:
Sitting on a sidewalk with my friend Liz, who makes and sells her jewelry to tourists and locals out for a stroll, while the nightly parade of freaks, street artists, vendors, young people, drunks, hookers, and horse-drawn coaches pass by.
It was a great way to fade into the local scene…my spanish improved a lot by talking for hours to Liz, her friends, and other craftspeople selling on the street with us. I enjoyed watching the Vanity Fair drift past. Some nights I would bring a bottle of wine, a couple of wine glasses, an herb-infused round of mozzarella, crackers and olives, and we would share our fancy sidewalk fare with a couple other women, talk about music and literature and metaphysics and love…
I was going to fix this video up some more, before posting it, but we are now in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (actually, two weeks) and life rushes forward, every day is busy, I can see there will be no time to tweak this short film, despite its many, many flaws. So here it is, in all its unedited, unrefined glory. Don’t stress over the Spanish, it’s not that important.
This is just a messy, noisy bunch of video clips, with lots of slow, boring parts, that I made, using my DSLR, during the last afternoon I spent with the musical ladies of La Casa de La Trova, drinking Bucanero beer, talking in-between songs, and making lots of promises to come back to Cuba soon.