Monthly Archives: March 2017

“I say I’m stronger than fear” Malala Yousafzai

I’ve thought a lot about the necessity of this post since I never talk about what happens around me or in the world. Honestly I hate those who feel the urge to comment on every single fact, just to show they are concerned in society, politics and so on. To be frank I never post anything about these issues, not for a lack of interest, but because I don’t feel the need to add my voice to the amount of opinions we can find online, I think we should talk when we really have something to say, if not, silence is way better.

What happened in London yesterday overwhelmed me: when a friend reported to a totally unaware me the sad news, I stopped breathing. I thought about my friends, about the special person who lives there and I hadn’t been ok until I checked that they all were fine.

And please, if you’re up to comment that I’m one of those people to whom European deceased people count more than those in Siria, stop. It’s not a matter of distance or importance, it’s about worrying first about family and friends. I know it’s selfish, but it’s something we all do and don’t try to deny it. It’s human to think of our relatives affected by cancer before of the other people fighting this beast, it’s human to worry because we are unemployed before thinking of those who don’t have a work either.

I don’t want to comment what happened in London, I just want to spread how most of the people living there, feel.

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(Credits for this edit to: Rishi Metha)

TRACK OF THE DAY: Human-Rag’n’Bone Man

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“Ocean separates lands, not souls” Munia Khan

I’ve just finished to read “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, well, read is not the proper word since I literally devoured it; I love her prose, she is a poet indeed because she has the ability to keep the reader stuck on the page. There isn’t a dull moment, an unnecessary part, she presents people, places and situations through her eyes and you feel like you’re right there; her attention to details, clothes, smells or tastes, helps to have a clear picture of what she writes. This book is an autobiography and it’s centred mainly on her relationship with the artist/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and their struggle to realize their dreams in New York. It’s an inspirational book, above all if you have artistic ambitions and it’s an honest overview on two cultural icons who trascend their times.

There are many reasons why one can find this book interesting, but what I loved the most is the kind of relationship between Patti and Robert. She promised him to write their story after his death (he passed away in 1989 after battling against AIDS) and she fulfilled this promise many years later with this heartfelt book. Their bond was so intense that it hold out against lack of money, it endured after both careers took off and despite of Robert’s homosexuality, it spiritually survived even after Patti got married and had kids. When Robert died, she knew it before anyone told her about it and I think that’s the best example how two souls can be deeply related besides time, distance or other relationships.

I believe in what Goethe called “Elective Affinities”, that somewhere there is our perfect half and that we can recognize them through simple details (same interests, a food you both like, a particular scent, a song…), you don’t need big things to say “You’re my person” to someone, you just feel it.

Unfortunately fate is mean and it often happens to meet the right one too late or that there are insurmountable obstacles to your happiness. There’s no biggest punishment than can’t be together with the person you’re destined to. But this is called life.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Ask the Angels- Patti Smith

“Medicines and surgery may cure, but only reading and writing poetry can heal” J. Arroyo

When I started this blog, I promised myself I would never vomit in it any complaint about my miserable life. I’m not a lame person or an attention seeker, but chronic illness made me fragile and living with a selfish person who doesn’t support me and rolls his eyes or complains about medical expenses or accuses me of faking diseases, doesn’t help at all. I’m lucky I have wonderful friends to lean on, but sometimes, like today, they’re not enough, so I have to use the healing power of writing.

I got very scared today: I was walking, no worries, no pressure, heading to the supermarket, then I felt a massive chest pain. I tried not to panic since at its worst, hiatus hernia pain can mimic that of a heart attack, but when my left arm went numb, I seriously started worrying. I rushed home (one of my biggest fears is to die alone in the street) and did yoga breathing exercises, chat with all the people I found online, because having also a panic attack was the last thing I needed. I drank an hot chamomile and stayed quiet until the symptoms kinda went away. In the meanwhile my mind had explored all the worst sceneries and dug out all my deepest fears. I don’t fear death, I just don’t want to leave things undone, I was looking around the room and thinking about the book to be given back to the library, to my unfinished fan-fiction, to all the things that I and only I, know, all the friends that would see me disappear without a clue, just because we don’t hang out in real life. These sorts of stupid little things. I texted a friend I called “Annoying pervert” yesterday, because I didn’t want that the last text of mine to him was that joking offence. And then I started thinking that I should tell more to my significant ones that I love them, at least my best friend has the task to tell JD how much I loved him in case I die suddenly, but the others?

I still feel crap, but better, so I decided to write this nonsense post to exorcise my fears and because I’ve always believed that writing sessions have a positive effect on my mind and, why not, on my stupid sick body.

Sorry for the rant. All the love xx.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Avalanche – Bring me the Horizon

 

 

“I wonder how much of the day I spend just callin’ after you” Harper Lee

Now I know: my worst enemy is memory. I’ve read three books in four days and they all were set in London, because I simply needed to go back there through the only mean I can afford: reading. But despite of the fact that the novels took place in the City, they were so different from the story I was trying to find in them. Maybe I should write it, my story, my London, my English love affair, but each time I try, thoughts and feelings want to come out all at once, leaving me speechless. And I’m sure there aren’t words able to describe what I feel and if they were, I’m sure they would contaminate what I’m trying to say. So, until I’m able to be totally sincere towards me at first, I will keep looking for my story in other people’s.

One of the books I read was “The ballad of Peckham Rye” by Muriel Sparks. The story revolves around the great influence the Scot character Douglas Dougall has on the people living in Peckham. He’s a sort of consciences shooker, we could say that he plays the role of the devil himself and acting this way, he earns friends and opponents. He gets to convince a young electrician to refuse his wife to be at the altar, the words “No, to be quite frank, I won’t” and the whole situation becomes a ballad in the local pubs and gives the book its name.

It was a pleasant read, but it didn’t thrill me that much, expect from reminding me when I visited Peckham all alone, in a late evening, without my guardian angels.

The first thing that stroke me after going out from the Overground station, was the big variety of odours: Peckham Rye is a sort of huge open air market whose most of the businesses are run or frequented by members of the UK’s largest overseas Nigerian community. There were no tourists in sight, so I didn’t dare taking pictures, I simply enjoyed my stroll, having the impression to be in Lagos, rather than in London. It was pleasant, but also a bit uncomfortable, since it was dark, I was in an unknown borough with no reassuring Underground sign. Then I took a train at Peckham station, but until I landed safely at Victoria’s station, I wasn’t sure I was in the right direction.

So, when my friends want to pull my leg, they talk about my Peckham experience, but they also promised they will take me there again so I could see the street arts, the parks, the art galleries and, if in Summer, we will enjoy a film at the rooftop film club and have a drink at Frank’s Cafe.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Lost on you- LP

“And the city itself was just a glow on the dark earth” Monica Ali

As I said before, I’ve just read “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali and I totally fell in love with it. I borrowed it from the library only because I liked the title (lately I’m only looking for novels set in London) and it was a positive surprise. It’s a choral novel even if the main point of view is Nazneen’s, a Bangladeshi woman relocated to London through an arranged marriage to a man nearly twice her age. The books tells her story, but also many other of the people of Bangladeshi origin she meets, with a look on what happens in her country of origin through what’s happening to her sister Hasina. The book is not properly set in Brick Lane, maybe “Mile End” would have been a better title, but if you’re familiar to that part of East London, there are many places that can be easily recognised. The plot is pleasant and interesting, characters are well depicted, the descriptions are vivid and the reader’s interest is always kept alive. I loved seeing the main character growth: at first she’s submitted to her husband, unhappy and prefers taking refuge into her past and happy childhood rather than taking pleasure in daily life. Then she learns English, she starts earning her own money, she gets a lover who helps her to see over the four walls of her apartment. In the end she realizes who she is and what she wants to be, so she gets rid both of her husband and lover and opens a sewing workshop with some friends of her and finally fulfill her desire to ice-skating even in a sari.

If you want to visit Brick Lane you have to hop off at Aldgate and walk for a 5 minutes. Besides the street art, the first thing that strikes the attention is the Old Truman brewery, once home to London’s largest brewery and now location to a hive of creative businesses like independent shops, galleries, markets (only at the weekends), bars and restaurants.

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If you keep walking along this long lane, you will find The Cereal Killer Cafe that sells over 100 different types of cereal from around the world. You can eat there and they have vegan and gluten free options.

Another well known place is the Beigel shop, open 24/7 whose menu is focused on beigels (not bagels, it keeps the yddish pronunciation) baked in the traditional Jewish style (it’s being boiled in water before baking, a step that produces its crisp crust and moist, chewy interior) with  a lot of tasty fillings. It also serves pastries, cakes and sweets as well as white, rye and black bread. It’s not expensive, but it has no gluten free option.

If you raise your eyes, once you pass under the railway bridge, you will see the 123 building that is a four-storey mini department store packed with recycled clothing.

And on the less known part of Brick lane, just crossed Bethnal Green Road, there’s Tatty Devine my favourite handmade jewellery shop, where you can find some original, playful, colourful, laser cut acrylic things. There’s another shop in Covent Garden, but I use to go there.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Brimful of Asha- Cornershop

“Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint” Banksy

I’m currently reading “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali and this made me nostalgic of a place in London I love a lot because it’s peculiar and always new.

This first part is dedicated to Brick Lane’s street art and consider it as partial since graffitis change continuously and since I’d need an infinite post to show you everything. Let me say that you can look for online guides that tell you where Banksy’s art is located, I think there are also guided tours, but the best way to get in touch into Brick Lane’s street art is to wander and to explore back streets and side streets looking for hidden gems.

The aim of street art is striking people’s attention, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know a thing about paintings or tendencies, you just need your eyes, an open mind and eventually, a camera.

 

 

 

Those above are works by the Austrian street artist HNRX, who works with his own brand of comic-surrealism.

 

 

 

These are works from another well known artist, the Chilean Otto Shade, who has mainly two styles. The first, also you can see in the “Love Is…” graffiti, is a ribbon effect, often interlaced with words; in this street art the red meerkat is made of laces with the names of the cities. Another way of expressing his art, is painting a silhouette in an orange/yellow circular shape on a black background as you can see above. These kinds of works have a strong political or social message.

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The former station of Shoreditch in Pedley street, is covered in a stunning Star Wars art by Jim Vision and other fantastic works by various artists.

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Here’s various works. In the centre there is Charlie Burn’s portrait by Ben Slow in Bacon street. On the top left, Bohk green figure with oxygen mask, that was in Pedley Street and has been replaced by a graffiti by Kaes. On the top right, the out of this world Fanakapan’s Helium elephants mural. Bottom left art from 2014 by Decolife and on the right, a cloud vomiting rainbows by Ronzo, located in Fashion street.

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Art in Brick Lane is not only graffiti and paintings, here’s some examples in Ely’s yard, my friends were fascinated by the winged round green bomb on the white car.

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Walls are often covered in stickers with the most iconic people, characters or poignant messages.

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The mosaic mural artwork representing the range of religions in the community by children of local schools.

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More arts to make you eager to explore Brick Lane.

TRACK OF THE DAY:What the Water gave me- Florence and the Machine

 

 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” Stephen King

Last Thursday it was World’s Book Day, the day in which most people brag to have read at classic, when they never have opened it in their life. I’m a bookworm since I was three, when I finally started reading on my own. I’m also a very fast reader, this is a blessing since I can perfectly optimise the hours spent in the doctor’s waiting room, but also a curse, for I always need new books. Luckily I can satisfy my constant desire of reading by borrowing books at the public library, I’m sorry for the librarians who have to see my ugly face every now and then and who try to keep me away as long as possible, by suggesting me huge volumes.

There are three books that marked the different stages of my life. The first is “Little Women” by Louise-May Alcott: I was 7/8 when I read it and I immediately identified myself with Jo March, she was exactly the person I wanted to be. She wasn’t girly, she refused to conform to society and she wanted to be a writer. And in the following books she also married the man she loved without caring about age gap or other people’s opinion.

The second book I read when I was 12, is “The diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. Despite of the huge differences due to the historical situation and her condition, I totally bonded with her. She was me and I was her, since we felt the same things: intolerance for our family members and adult, first love problems, facing period for first time and above all, the love for writing and the fact we both kept a diary.

I read “100 Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez when I was 15 and when I finished it I thought that it was the kind of book I wanted to write. It opened me the magic gates of South American Literature and Gabo was quickly flanked by the immense Isabel Allende, Julio Cortazar, Mario Benedetti and Eduardo Galeano. During high school I developed an insane passion for Joyce and later I fell in love with Sylvia Plath, Jeanette Winterson and Anais Nin (have I ever mentioned that I love erotica?).

For a late celebration of World’s book day, I leave you the link of a book I read last year and that I literally loved: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B01KPBNBG8?ref_=kw8_store_search_detail

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The book is “Psy” and its author is the eclectic Joey Slater who’s also a songwriter and a band member both for Wheatus and Ventura Project. I will write a review of it soon: if you love young adult fiction and you know English, this is a must read book.

TRACK OF THE DAY: The Book of Love- Gavin James