Zen denied

Juno was always an avid exponent of the stillness of zen.

Yoda eyes down [1]

So, it was to her memory that I was drawn by a new vision arising on the ever changing Cardiff skyline…

Alas, students new to the art may be alarmed to find the road to zen appears closed!

Until we speak again, don’t let the building sites of life interrupt your pursuit of stillness and peace!

Steamroller malfunction

The England steamroller trundled into Cardiff this weekend intent on crushing Welsh ambition. But the Welsh demeanour was a mix of typically nonchalant ‘bring it on’ combined with a generosity towards the profits of Brains beers…

Stadium

City Arms

Meanwhile, others gathered to debate just how much guano would be deposited on the passions of the home nation…

However, in the real world, a tense hard fought match saw the steamroller stuttering in the wake of the sleek limo of the hosts…

Until we speak again, Juno had previously made a far more elegant journey from England to Wales, but always thought of rugby as more of a dogs game, what with all that predilection for hunkering down to sniff each other’s arses!

Scrum      1907_cats

Fearsome sights in Liverpool

It’s a chilly evening… Friday, or maybe a Saturday. You see three young Liverpool lasses coming towards you. The Man From Del Monte may be saying ‘Yes‘ to the vision of an all too familiar hue, but… you might just be witnessing the staggering largesse of ‘The Terracotta Army in Stiletto’s‘!

Then again, an autumn afternoon vista at the Museum of Liverpool captures the threefold beauty of the locally known Three Graces

Meanwhile an evening stroll around the Albert Dock illuminates a colourful side of the wider picture…

The Cunard Building sits centrally in the ranks of the Three Graces, and presents a solid facade, but sits between more dramatic neighbours… The Port of Liverpool building presents stunning detail…

But, to the majority of us who know, or even think we know, Liverpool, it is The Liver Building that sparks the imagination…

Until we speak again, raise a rooftop garden cup of mulled wine to some fearsome Liverpool sights…

An American Dream

Once upon a time a young Donald developed an eye for the birds and an ability to stalk and hunt down any prey he cast his gaze upon…

He quickly decided he was unlikely to need any advice from New Orleans, however well intentioned…

But the idea of being the big chief seemed to his juvenile nihilism to be inevitable, and that he would undoubtedly become the biggest most colourful of all…

Alas, all he could truly manage in the eyes of sane people was to become a lizard, loved only by the abundant pond life he sought to mesmerise…

He quickly developed a narrow view of the company he wished to keep…

Unlike the Donald, if you come to New Orleans with an open mind and a true heart, a simple message will prevail…

Until we speak again, if you hold out a hand of support for something that tweets incessantly, what you may get in return is more guano than you can handle!

Feel the Big Easy

“See me, feel me, touch me, heal me”, as the famous lyrics go from The Who. But what does this matter in the grand scheme of things down New Orleans way?

Well… “A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says what’s with the long face?” It might sound like the lead in to a comedy routine, but it is just something you might see on an ordinary day in New Orleans…

It is easy enough to ‘see‘ New Orleans… the all-out alcohol theme park that is Bourbon Street, embellished with ubiquitous beads, as it provides the backdrop to a perennial staging of the brotherhood and sisterhood of global redneckery. The hobos competing for hard earned dollars that the tourists wish only to pour down their own throats. The quintessentially potholed grime of French Quarter chic.

Kenaz Filan vividly captures the ‘seeing‘ of New Orleans as “a hospice where morals and good character could die in a suitably entertaining fashion.” Probably most usually accompanied with a suitable greeting and copious amounts of your favourite liquid…

But, is it enough just to ‘see‘ New Orleans? I guess for the inebriated it is, but this is so much more than a city… this is a way of life wrapped up in a diverse cultural history and presented through the medium of a multicultural human gumbo.

Look a little closer and you might just experience a whole new world of beauty and wonder. Because to get to know New Orleans you need to ‘feel‘ the real Nou Awlings.

It may be indelibly stamped with the sounds of jazz and the blues, most evocatively experienced by the street procession behind a traditional New Orleans brass band…

… but why not also listen a little closer to the daily soundtrack… that of competing freight train and steamboat horns that blast across the city; and the churning of streetcar wheels grinding through spacious avenues. Not to say of the constant chatter of back stories and life’s experiences being exchanged in the cauldron-like heat of the day.

However, for a recognizably noisy metropolis there is no shortage of places for quiet contemplation. This is a city truly ‘born on a bayou’, a remnant of which is routinely ignored by tourists who only see City Park on the opposite side of the streetcar terminus. But, for those with a fuller functioning compass, tranquility and a little historic charm (e.g. Pitot House) await…

Then again, if reinventing gravity is your thing, the meditation garden in Audubon Park offers up an Isaac Newton experience, as your breathing exercises are occasionally interrupted by acorns falling from the overhanging oaks…

The French Quarter may be a hotbed of Spanish and Creole architecture, but this is a city of Cajun influences amongst so many other immigrant representatives. Once you have got your head around the voodoo intsrpretations of Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya, the street names of Tchopitoulas, Terpsichore and Capdeville, then prepare your tongue for Crawfish Etouffee, Okra and Louisiana Seafood Gumbo, Beef Po Boys, Jambalaya, Muffulettas, and Alligator Sausage. But make your choice of establishment a little more discerning… why settle for a faux tourist French Quarter restaurant when the real deal is a shack only 15 minutes walk away at Li’l Dizzy’s in the Treme?

Then there is the quintessential flirtation with death! They might offer some lotions and potions to hold back the grim reaper, but don’t bet on it…

… But, when the voodoo strikes you down, try reserving a plot in a city of above ground cemeteries that is constantly battling high water table and below sea level inevitabilities!

Be warned, nothing happens too quickly here; there is no better embodiment of the Welsh phrase “I’ll do it now, in a minute!” than a native or adopter of Nou Awlings. In fact, some take the slower pace of life to a whole new level…

And, with a view to doing their own thing, rather than following the spirit of America, just how un-American can you get? (Some things were just meant to rile those Fump Truckers!)…

Until we speak again, I make no apologies for reminding you of the prescient words of Dan Baum, that New Orleans is “a city-sized act of civil disobedience.” Come, look, but above all else, feel it!

Premier League Unplugged [1]

Bluebirds v Magpies… get it? Blue of Cardiff City v Black and White stripes of Newcastle United… anybody? No! Okay so they are not strictly stripes. On closer examination maybe there isn’t much black in there either. As for the blue, it’s more Manchester City than Cardiff City. But at least it is on Sky… TV that is, as not many are expecting the much maligned home team to have their name emblazoned across the blue yonder.

Until we speak again, and just for the record, Cardiff won a 0-0 draw.

Perverse principles

With the advent of a Premier League season involving the locals just a matter of weeks away, I was struck by the all-important question…

What do you stand for?

Just what is my local city all about? What do we have to offer to the visiting hordes of demented football fans over the next 9 months? Everyone should be aware of the excellent shopping and nightlife, but what about sampling some unique street food?

Street Food seagull

Then there is our stylish way of preserving historic buildings…

Preservation What's left of the docks?

Our principled way of looking after endanger species doesn’t present any conflict with the pursuit of commerce…

Bear shop [2]

This is a place where you can get sea-sick just by standing still and looking at some of the buildings…

Car park [2]

But, we are proud of the fact that our great historical heritage stands tall (well, tall-ish) in the face of the advance of bland modernity…

Insurance [4]

Until we speak again, don’t let the dark gloomy clouds of potential defeat obscure the important decisions…

Bay & City Centre post