Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brazen Persistence on the Vico Road

Phantom Gallery
The Donnellys are nothing if not brazenly persistent. The application to have their phantom gallery on the Vico Road rezoned for residential use has been firmly rejected by DLR on multiple grounds - not least the fact that the land was originally zoned for recreational use only. However, they are now appealing to an Bord Pleanala on the basis that their edifice has great architectural merit and that they will provide art from their personal collection for public delectation in some other gallery in the borough. The architect in question has, it seems, designed building for Armani and Kayne West. They also mention the fact that Bono created his drawings for Peter and the Wolf on the premises.

There are a number of problems with all this. Whatever the merits of the architecture (and I think it's brutal), the building can only be seen properly from the sea, or maybe glimpsed from the beach at White Rock.  So it's not as if the honest burghers of DLR are going to able to feast their eyes on its minimalist charms as they go about their daily round. The idea of loaning paintings for public viewing suggests that anyone who disagrees with a planning decision has merely to come up with a suitable way of compensating the council to gain a reversal. The planning laws only apply to the little people, the wealthy can find a way around it. Not a popular message these days I feel. As for Bono's activities, I think we can forgive him and move on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sleeping with Emma - Barcelona Weekend

Las Meninas - Picasso
We escaped the mid-Winter doldrums for a weekend in Barcelona.  No specific agenda except a little light tourism and some shopping and eating.  We found a decent hotel between Passeig de Gràcia and d'Aribau - away from the Ramblas frenzy.  It was called Room Mate Emma and had a sign in the window asking "Do You Want to Sleep with Me".  This marketing come on led to the occasional misunderstanding.  I met two bewildered Russian men outside one night who clearly assumed it was a particularly brazen brothel.  Far from it.  A clean well-run place with a modern kitschy feel to the design, and the grace to serve breakfast until midday. The staff were mostly very helpful young women - all fluent in English.

Passeig de Gràcia nearby is Barcelona's equivalent of Regent Street, or 5th Avenue, lots of expensive stores but also fine design and craft to be found.  Its broad pavements boasted some excellent sidewalk cafes from which you could view the local ladies parade their charms. Long straight dark hair, strong features, and a generous arse seems the standard issue. 

The Sagrada Familia is nearby we decide to check out progress - it's been 12 years or so since I last saw it.  There's no question of going in as there's a queue right around the  building - anyway the exterior is the most interesting part.  There's far more building activity this time - cranes on the go and workers spread all over the site. There's been many colorful additions (fruit clusters) and lots of fresh looking stonework.  But the whole area is circled by huckster's stalls and stressed-looking tourists doing the dutiful thing so we move on after a cursory circuit.

We have been using the Metro so we head off to the Picasso Museum near the Jaume 1 station - on the east (and less-populated) side of the Barri Gotic.  There's enough in there to divert you for a good two hours.  It's laid out in strict chronological order so you can trace his development as he moves from Malaga to Barcelona and ultimately Paris. However there it stops (somewhere in the 1920s) until we are suddenly cast into the midst of studies for Las Meninas in the late Fifties. There's only occasional evidence of Cubism aside from his take on Velasquez's masterpiece - no bad thing maybe. I was particularly taken by the beautiful minimal and poignant Dying Horse.  A notable curiosity was his copy of Velasquez's Philip II.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kidney Trouble

So the first opportunity to look at our rugby team after the New Zealand debacle.  This was a second string South Africa at the end of their season, so surely we should have a good chance - we're fit and fresh after a couple of Heineken rounds.

But what a poor and disappointing encounter.  The spirited physicality couldn't mask the tactical cluelessness. Did we ever even come close to scoring a try?  No we didn't despite having about 60% possession.  Our lineout misfired and our scrum surely creaked but in general our forwards manned up and matched the Boks physically. The backs however lacked all creativity against an admittedly stifling South African defence.  Nary a one of them played well.  Zebo kept missing touch with his much vaunted left foot, Bowe and D'Arcy were anonymous (a few fine tackles mind you), Trimble was fumblingly out of sorts, Earls huffed and puffed to no avail (and made mistakes), Sexton took his goals but otherwise seemed out of it and as usual Murray was way too bloody ponderous.

It's hard to know where to go from here with our backs.  Kearney's return will help, but D'Arcy is over the hill, so perhaps is O'Driscoll now, and I still can't see Earls as an international centre.  Bowe and Trimble haven't played well for a while and Murray is too slow, it's only a matter of time before his predictable box kicking ends in disaster.  As a short term measure I'd play O'Gara at out half, Sexton and McFadyean in the centre and Earls and Bowe on the wings.  And Reddan of course at scrum half.

And another thing, Jamie Heaslip is living on past glories.  O'Brien, Ferris and O'Mahoney (at 8) should be our back row in the 6 Nations, with Henry on the bench.

And yet another thing, Kidney is clearly past his sell by date.  Why do Leinster do so much better than Ireland with many of the same personnel?  The Pres boy is sadly lacking in attacking ideas. Being a good manager is not enough.  Oh Warren Warren why did we forsake you.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Mutual Adoration

Writing is a hard and lonely business and I salute all who strive to make a living from it.  However we do expect critical objectivity when we read our book reviews. In last Saturday’s Irish Times (3 Nov) Edmund White reviews Colm Toibin, and is fulsome in his praise.  Meanwhile, in the Wall Street Journal on the very same day, Toibin describes how his friend White introduced him to the delights of gay internet dating sites (!). Too close for critical comfort I would opine.  Also, in the same edition of the Irish Times, John Boyne respectfully admires Roddy Doyle latest novel.  A cursory exercise on Google will show you that Doyle and Boyne interesect regularly on the tight little circuit of Irish writing festivals.  Maybe we're just too small to presume upon balance and objectivity.  Anybody  you might ask is likely to have intersected with the subject of the review at some stage.  Maybe the trick is to stop working authors reviewing one another.  Enlist academics and media folk instead.

STOP PRESS:  I see Amazon has just banned authors from reviewing fellow authors.  Maybe the Irish Times should follow suit.