Friday, January 31, 2014
If you've been paying close attention, you might've read in the first part that we booked 2 trips. So where was it the next one was going? The second one was a day-trip to Essaouira, a beach village at the Atlantic Ocean. On our way we stopped to see the trees with goats standing in it (really! crazy sight...) and that appears to be good for the production of argan oil (the Moroccan oil every western shampoo brand loves). Essaouira is a lovely city, it reminded me a lot of Greece and Portugal, since everything is white and blue and of course: I finally saw the sea again!
We had a wonderful lunch (I ordered sardines, since fish is Essaouira's speciality) and as we were enjoying the hot sun on our faces, we met two hippies from Morocco. They had a guest house in which they arranged jam sessions and cocktail nights. As you can imagine, we got along really well and we decided to spend the night in Essaouira, rather than going back to the bus at 6. That night we ate lots of fish again, drank red wine and met people from all over the world. All of this in the bohemian-ish guest house, definitely my kind of style.
As for Marrakesh, don't get me wrong: it's an exciting city. There's always noise, the mosques are beautiful and all the buildings are very colourful. The souks were an experience on its own. You can buy so many great things: Moroccan lamps, candles, lots and lots of rings, tea pots, ashtrays, scarfs, leather bags, etc. You definitely have to know how to haggle, otherwise you pay way more for the bargains than what they're worth. Fortunately we were quite good at this, we can both be very distinguished, reserved and almost cold. This proved to be really useful whilst shopping!
At the food market in the main square of Marrakesh, we had more troubles since the guys over there kept shouting and screaming - everyone wanted us to eat at their place. Once, we had already eaten and were just strolling along the square, when men started shouting: 'You're skinny! You need to eat!' And then one guy said: 'Lesbians!' And all of a sudden they were all screaming: 'Skinny lesbians!' I couldn't stop laughing cause the situation was so absurd. We were just walking very innocently and all at once we were skinny and lesbians. Crazy, crazy city.
The food was really good though. We ate at the market several times. It was very cheap and tasted really well. I've had more couscous in one week than I had in the last year I think and I'm pretty sure I won't eat any more olives, vigs and mandarins for a very long time. Moroccans eat lots of sugary things and only white bread, so I was craving for a good filling dark sandwich when I got home. I didn't crave for the other things at home, since, as you all know, I'm a Fernweh patient. To be back home is to feel deserted again. In other words: not at home. Because I feel best when on the road, and Morocco turned out to be a great place to spend time on the road. While seeing so many different views and experiencing so many different things: city life, cosiness in the desert and fun at the beach. I'll be back, for sure, to see all those other marvelous landscapes Morocco has to offer.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
7 days in Marrakech, we had been told that that would've been too long. No way, we thought. How on earth could that be possible? My iPhone weather app forecasted 22 degrees and sun, we had lots of Moroccan bargains on our wishlist and we wanted to taste so much of the Islamic culture. So a week, would it be that long? Eventually, it turned out our friends were right. Marrakech is beautiful, but also overwhelming and kind of tiring. Besides, the city is quite small and after a couple of days you've seen most of it. A shame? Not at all. Because we booked two trips in our hostel that proved to be magnificent. Magnificent Morocco, yes.
The first trip was a three-day trip to the Sahara. We actually already discussed riding on camels in the desert before we left, though more in a joking kind of way. We, the two most chaotic and clumsy girls of Amsterdam, on a camel in the desert. Think of all the things we could lose in the sand, think of our limited experience riding horses or whatsoever (and then suddenly a camel?) But of course we desperately wanted to take the opportunity when it was presented to us, so we booked the trip, which included transport in a mini-van, two overnight stays (one in a hotel and one in a tent in the desert), two times breakfast and two times dinner. We traveled with a Moroccan bus driver Mohammed (one of the five Mohammeds we met!) and a group of travelers from all over the world: Brazil, Germany, France, England, Australia, Poland, Spain, etc. The ages were varied and, as always, we didn't like everyone, but overall, the dynamics in the group were good.
What I loved most about this trip to the Sahara were the landscapes. Our driver stopped several times, for which I am still very grateful, to give us the opportunity to take photos. Because really, the landscapes were a-ma-zing. Once again I realized that Holland is such a dull, lame and grey country. You can say we're rich in money, but when it comes to nature: hell no. Whereas in Morocco, the landscapes are breathtaking. The first hour you see eternal snow on the mountains in the Atlas Mountain Range, the next hour beautiful dark red/pink coloured berber villages (where they also filmed many films, like Lawrence of Arabia, The Prince of Persia, Gladiator and even some episodes of Game of Thrones) and later on landscapes which made me think of America: the Grand Canyon and Route 66. On our way, we also stopped to meet inhabitants of the small villages who all produce their own food, make their own carpets (how I wanted to buy one! But oh the prices! And oh the weight!) and spend their days seeing tourists and drinking berber whiskey (which is tea, unfortunately).
At the end of our second day, we finally arrived at the border of the desert, where 11 camels were waiting for us, ready to bring us to our camps in the middle of the Sahara. Riding the camels was a crazy experience, they walk really slow but when they walk down the sand - there were small sand hills everywhere - it's pretty shaky and you really have to be careful not to drop your phone or camera. After half an hour we arrived in the camp, where we spent the first half hour to run up the hills and enjoy the astonishing sights. It soon became dark and cold, so we went to the tents, which were isolated quite well. The only problem was that there were only 2 lights so we were forced to stay in the main tent and socialize... No kidding, it was a lot of fun. We played games, ate a delicious Tajine (Moroccan dish with potatoes, vegetables and this one was with chicken) and made some music. Like all other evenings, we went to bed early cause we had to wake up at an insane point of time. In the middle of the night I woke up, only to realize life in the wild can be pretty hard. I was extremely cold, especially my feet, I was hungry, I was irritated by the two guys in the tent who kept on snoring and I had no light - cause my phone was dead. It was then that I realized things could only get better and after a while I fell asleep again.
The next morning we went back to the living world on our camels, while the sun set. It was an amazing view, though unfortunately we had the sun in our backs. The third day of the trip was filled with travelling and since I'm not used to sitting in a car for more than 3 hours (my parents never took me to France when I was young, we always went by plane or train - where you can move your feet whenever you like...) I had a hard time. Luckily I had some great books with me, among which 'Desolation Angels' by Kerouac, so I survived anyways.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
''Where is it you're going?'', the man asked me with a worried look on his face
''I'm following the path of success, but if you'll excuse me, I'm in haste''
''Which direction are you going, maybe I can help'', the lazy fellow said
''I know where I'm going and I have no time to waste'', and I shook my head
''You must be heading somewhere special, if you're so determined in your goal
I hope it will be a place that brings happiness to your body, mind and soul''
''Oh sure it will, when I've finished my plan I will be famous, rich and released
Once I'm there my struggle will stop and I will enjoy the fabulous feast''
I was full of discipline and determined to come so far and so high
I was motivated in my mission and gave a fanciful look to the sky
''But first I must go, go, go and I shall never stop
I won't pack down and never will I give up
Doing nothing is for the stupid and the weak''
''I sure hope one day you will find what you seek''
On the man's face lay a look of concern
''To me, all you seem to do is burn, burn, burn
You will have used all your fire to find out your destination is without light
It will be cold, it will be lonely and there will still be fear and fright
What will happen once you've reached this powerful place,
What will you see?
Will it be happiness, fulfillment and will you be free?
To be honest, I think your energy will be gone and your fire out
Because you've been living so fast, so quick and so loud
If you would just stop, think and reload from time to time
It won't cost you a dollar and it won't cost you a dime
You will see who's around you, what they want and why foremost
The way you're living now will turn you slowly into a ghost
But if you don't want to take this advice, it's up to you
Continue your path and keep doing what you must do
The route of the road is all yours to decide
I just hope that one day you will see the light
Cause I've seen it a long time ago with my own eyes
And since then my life has been joyable and nice''
The man gave me a last infiltring glance and walked away
Before I had the chance to say the words I needed to say
It felt unfair yet he seemed to know me so good
I wanted to go after him but still I stood
So I decided to continue my own path as I'd always done
Only to realize that my pocket was empty and my map was gone
Poem & photo's (Morocco) by me
Monday, January 20, 2014
Thursday, January 16, 2014
You wouldn't believe it, but the most beautiful woman of England - maybe even the world - has turned 40 today. Congratulations to Kate Moss! She's been one of my biggest inspirations for a long time already, especially when it comes to her style. That tough, rock chique and all-black style, I adore it. Yet it's only since a couple of months that I've become to appreciate her attitude even more. She might come off hard and cold, but she's well-known for her party behaviour and her many friends, so she couldn't be that bad right? Moreover, she has this 'I-don't-care' attitude, yet still staying professional and - according to the many persons she's worked with - caring personality. Professionally, she's achieved so much: 100s of covers for Vogues all over the world, campaigns for huge brands, a documentary coming up and - not unimportant - boyfriends as Johnny Depp on her side. Despite all these achievements, she never seems worn-out, exhausted or over-perfectionistic as say, a Gywneth Paltrow or Miranda Kerr. No, Kate stays nonchalant, effortless and relaxed. Let's hope she'll stay this way; in her forties, her fifties and even as an old Dame. I'm sure she will.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
As I was enjoying the extra time I have this month, I was searching the internet for some nice blogs or magazines to write for. If you have any suggestion, please let me know! Preferably something cultural, can be a bit alternative, as you’ll understand when you know me, but anything interesting will do fine. Anyway, I came across this amazing site/magazine/community called ‘Beatdom’. Since I’ve first read Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On the Road’, I’ve been interested into anything dealing with the Beatniks. From Allen Ginsberg’s poetry to William S. Burroughs’ odd writings and everything in between and further away.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the Beat Generation existed around the fifties and sixties. It was partly because of the Beatniks that the later countercultures, among which the hippies, formed itself. Yet the Beatniks were originally not that political at all. I love the term ‘bohemian hedonists’ to describe them. The Beatniks were all about living on the edge: experimenting with drugs, sex and art though always maintaining some sort of depth in their ideas of living. Most of them were extremely interested in Eastern religion (Buddhism, becoming ‘zen’, etc.) and they rejected materialism.
It might be interesting to know that the Beatniks were the actual hipsters. Though, and I must state this explicitly, our contemporary hipsters were nothing like the Beatniks. I hate the term anyway; it’s lost its meaning quite some time ago. The actual hipsters really didn’t conform themselves, and though the hipsters of today might say they rebel against the mainstream, what they do is far from that. The hipsters have become mainstream the minute after they started to rebel, since they wear the same clothes, listen to the same music and visit the same places. Well, that’s a different – and very interesting – topic, but for now let’s stay focused and stick to the Beatniks.
"But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls ... woe in fact unto those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! ... woe unto those who spit on the Beat Generation, the wind’ll blow it back.", is what Kerouac said about his generation. You might grasp a bit of the meaning this way. The group met in New York and soon moved to San Francisco, where the days of the Beatniks had their peak. The Beat movement mostly had to do with literature and poetry, which was often created whilst being on the road, as Kerouac so perfectly described in his work. Yet, many other scenes are inspired by the Beatniks as well, for instance music: Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin have used the beat lifestyle in their works a lot.
I can guarantee to write a lot more about this fabulous movement in the future, but for now I want to refer to this amazing site I spotted, called Beatdom. It is way too professional to write for; but as inspiration it’s very useful. The magazines all deal with a specific theme, for instance drugs, religion, nature, crime and drinking. I wish I had all the time in the world to read every single magazine, though if that had been the case; I would’ve finished reading all the beat books first. Still working on that, just finished ‘The Dharma Bums’ and I can really recommend this one, if you’re interested in anything dealing with Buddhism and hedonism (as regards the last one, we should all be interested in this, it’s just a matter of enjoying life!) Anyway, check this site out, it’s tremendous and try to be a little bit more beat yourselves. A wise advice for a Sunday night, if you ask me.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
‘’Cinderella, she seems so easy “It takes one to know one,” she smiles. And puts her hands in her back pockets. Bette Davis style‘‘. – Desolation Row (Bob Dylan)
Move over, Audrey Hepburn. Bette Davis is rapidly gaining ground as my new favourite actress. Well, okay, let’s not over-act here, but since I’ve seen ‘Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte’ I’ve been in love with her attitude, with her style, with her classiness. When I saw ‘All About Eve’ recently, these feelings only grew stronger. I must admit, I’d known her name for several years already, without having seen even a single film of her. How? Because of the marvellous Kim Carnes song ‘Bette Davis Eyes’. And I think the whole world will know what Carnes meant with those eyes. Bette’s eyes are big, they’re huge and they have this ‘Don’t mess with me’ look. That’s exactly what my hero Dylan describes in his extremely long song ‘Desolation Row’. A girl who puts her hand carelessly in her pockets: just the way Bette would have done it.
Bette, originally named Ruth, Davis was born in Massachusetts more than a century ago, in 1908. After her parents separated, Ruth and her sister Bobby had to attend a Spartan school, before moving to NYC with their mother in 1921. This is where Bette's interest in becoming an actress began. Her mother encouraged Ruth and didn’t object when she wanted to change her name into Bette, after a novel by Honoré de Balzac. It was only five years later, when she saw a production of Ibsen’s ‘The Wild Duck’ that she knew for certain she was meant to be an actress. She attended a School of Theatre, studied dance and finally got her first part in a Broadway production in 1929.
A year later she moved to Hollywood with her mom and got several minor parts in films. When she played the part of a vicious, grubby girl in ‘Of Human Bondage’, she became pretty successful. She received an Academy Award for her part in ‘Dangerous’ and critics loved her. A few years later she already received her second one for ‘Jezebel’. The next years would prove to be very successful for Bette. Most of her roles were those of hard, cruel women and this was not illogical, as it fitted her own character perfectly. Bette definitely was a strong-willed woman. During the war times became harder and Bette had to find other ways to make money. One of the things she did was opening a servicemen’s club, where Hollywood’s stars volunteered to entertain servicemen. In 1943, her husband (she had several, this was one was Arthur Farnsworth) suddenly collapsed on street and died two days later. A hard time began for Bette.
However, she continued making films, most of which were really successful. Around 1950, critics forecasted the end of her career anyway. They were wrong. In 1950 she played in the fabulous ‘All About Eve’, which was also personally positive for her, as she married her leading man. They adopted two children, one of whom died very young. During this period, few of Bette’s films had success and her marriage wasn’t very successful either. She divorced in 1960. The period of her career that followed, was mostly filled with horror films. One of the most famous is ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ in which she played Joan Crawford’s sister. The two actresses, both very famous, hated each other and a public conflict that would never end, was created.
Bette kept acting until her latest days, in which she suffered from several illnesses. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, suffered from paralysis in her arm and her speech was slurred. To make things worse, her relationship with her daughter deteriorated, when she became a born-again Christian. B.D., her daughter, also wrote a memoir, called ‘My Mother’s Keeper’, about Bette, who wasn’t pleased with this at all. Again, this proves of Bette’s stubbornness, as she promised never to speak to her daughter again. Which she presumably didn’t, till her death in 1989 in France, as an 81-year old lady.
Bette Davis is wildly famous for her quotes. If you ask me, they’re hilarious, straight to the point and often, there’s a lot of truth in ‘em. Take this one: An affair now and then is good for a marriage. It adds spice, stops it from getting boring... I ought to know. I’m sorry, I just think she’s so cool for saying all of this. Bette was definitely cool, no phoney behaviour, no confirmation to what fans wanted, what Hollywood wanted. She was aware of her own talent, obviously, but what’s wrong with that? If you’ve won that many Oscars, I think you have all the right to be self-assured. Of course, she probably wasn’t nice to hang out with, and to be her daughter, I think that must’ve been quite a nightmare. But Bette knew who she was, what she wanted (and got it), what she found and wasn’t afraid to say so. And I think not only Hollywood, but all of us, can learn something of that.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Sometimes, the degree to which a song can suit your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts, scares me. Sometimes, it even feels as if a song was written for me, or even better, by me.
But well, no need for that, listening to it is enough, enough to bring me back to a few weeks ago in Berlin.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
It’s 1961, it’s winter and we’re in New York. We’re in the Gaslight Cafe in good old Greenwich Village, to mention the exact location. A bearded guy is sitting on a chair with a guitar in his hand. From his mouth sensitive words depart, sang with a hoarse and husky voice. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is performing and already in the first minutes of the film we see (or better said: hear) that he is deeply talented.
Yet Llewyn Davis’ life story is not an easy route to fame. Somehow, he doesn’t seem to sell many records and he struggles to make money. This is especially the case since his partner, with whom he had great success singing simple folk songs, threw himself off a bridge. Davis travels from couch to couch and doesn’t even have a winter coat to survive the harsh winter in New York City. Moreover, all simple things in life seem to go wrong. After a night on the couch of his older friends the Gorfeins, their red cat gets locked out and so Davis has to take care of the cat, whose name is unknown (reference to ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ here, my own probably, but still!). Davis takes the cat to his friends, the couple Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan). Jean is furious at Davis for bringing the cat and for asking to sleep on their couch a-gain. A bit later, it turns out Jean is pregnant and it is possible the baby is Llewyn’s.
An abortion has to be arranged for Jean. Davis agrees to pay for it and schedule it as well, because he knows a doctor from another time he made a girl pregnant. Jean is still extremely upset and calls Davis a loser, an asshole and many other shitty things. Davis himself can’t stop swearing either, for instance when he’s having dinner at the Gorfein’s place; he gets an argument with Mrs. Gorfein and insults her intensely. He’s not welcome on their couch anymore, obviously, so he seeks shelter at another singer's (Al Cody) place. Here, he hears that two of Cody’s friends are leaving for Chicago and Davis decides to travel along. The friends are the quiet beat poet Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund, how I love this guy!) and the mean jazz musician Roland Turner (John Goodman, who we know from ‘The Big Lebowski’). On the road, Turner overdoses in the restroom of a restaurant and Five gets arrested.
And so Davis is stuck alone again and decides to go to Chicago anyway. He visits the legendary Bud Grossman, a producer, and sings a song for him. Grossman is not interested and this gets Davis even more depressed. Despite always having been self-assured, Davis loses faith of becoming a successful folk singer and wants to return to his old job, shipping. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible either because he’s lost his licence. Back in New York, Jean has set up another performance for Davis in the Gaslight Cafe and so he sings his raw songs one more time, eventually making place for a familiar folk singer, which is obviously Bob Dylan in his younger days. How Davis will survive, we will never know, for he is one of the many artists meaning to become famous but never made it as far as, say, Dylan. Life is a struggle and it definitely is, and was, for all those talented but unfortunate artists in New York.
Inside Llewyn Davis is written and directed by the Coen Brothers, Joen and Ethan. As you’d expect, the film is (partly) based on a folk singer who really existed: Dave Van Ronk. Though Llewyn Davis is a fictional character, the Coen Brothers used Van Ronk’s autobiography and songs as inspiration. All songs, with one exception, are recorded live and really sang by Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver. Quite an achievement!
In my opinion, the Coen Brothers did a great job creating a film based on a dark story, the life of a singer in New York who has little success and suffers a lot, yet not making it too heavy-hearted. The film is full of light humour, which is alternated with all of the abusive words. There’s one time though, while Davis is in Chicago trying to convince Grossman of his talent, when the misery is becoming a bit too much. Davis got stuck alone on the road, after one of his fellow travellers died and the other arrested, the weather is horrible and he has no money. At this point, we really wish he had some luck, even if it was just a little, and his talent was recognized. Because after all, we can all see how talented the guy is. Himself included.
Most of the time, however, the dark atmosphere perfectly suits the story. No overwhelmingly beautiful sights of New York, just wintery, grey and misty sights of Greenwich Village. Yes, New York isn’t all beauty, New York is cold too and that’s the way reality is. This film is definitely realistic and that’s also because of the art of acting. Especially Oscar Isaac is magnificent as Llewyn Davis. With his big beard and grumpy glance he takes us into that pessimistic and dusk mood in which he resides all the time. Carey Mulligan is convincing as always, though I would love to see her in a more carefree part for a change. I’ve seen most of the films she made so far and she always plays this somewhat damaged character. As for Justin Timberlake, this is the first film I’ve seen him in and, though this is also due to his part, he comes off a bit shallow. I don’t think this part really gave him the chance to show us what he has, but I’m still pretty hesitant when it comes to Justin Timberlake as an actor.
To say it shortly and simple, this film definitely didn’t disappoint me. My expectations were high, since I love the Coen Brothers, since I love the folk scene of the sixties and since I love Greenwich Village, New York, but I enjoyed myself marvellously in the theatre (I was alone for your information). The film is quite dark, yet this was fitting most of the time. I do advice you to only go see it if you’re really interested in music, in history and if you can deal with some misery. If so, I’d say: grab your bag, see if your cat stays inside and let’s go!
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
And so another year has begun. First things first: Happy New Year to you all! I hope it is filled with whatever you want it to be filled with. To me, that’s adventures, lovely nights with lovely people, writing, running and reading. As I already mentioned the other day, I wanted to share a few of my New Year’s Resolutions with you. Though I think that the making of them is always a bit cheesy, but whatever, it’s good to make goals and strive for them. I actually think you should be able to do that any day of the year, but for most people the 1st of January is a perfect date, since they drank too much, ate too much and sat too much. For me, this is never such a great problem, but I understand that the day after the Holidays is the best day to make a fresh start.
Well enough with the talking, here are my resolutions:
1. Sleep more.
Even though I completely agreed with Jack Kerouac’s words which he wrote in ‘On the Road’: ‘I just won’t sleep. There were so many other interesting things to do’, I think it would be good for me to sleep a bit more. The last months my eyelids kept shaking and they’re still not quiet. How I’m going to achieve this? I have no idea. I think I should go to bed a bit earlier on average days, cause I don’t want to give up the parties and it’s seldom possible to sleep late, due to my work and university.
2. Become more assertive.
Though I’ve made quite some progression the past year when it comes to spontaneous chats with strangers, I want to become even more assertive. I think this fits perfectly with my life motto: freedom.
3. Run the half marathon.
I still need lots of training (have never run more than 15 kms), I think this is a doable goal. Let’s go then!
4. Go to NY.
One of my roomies is probably spending his second summer in the most beautiful city of the world and I’ve planned to visit him this year. I want to do something myself there very badly as well, so I might make a move and look for an internship at a magazine or blog. No wait, I WILL make a move to do so. Any suggestions??
5. Live (a tiny bit) more peaceful
I’ve always been a fan of the ‘live fast, die young’ life (don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to die, but I want to do so much, see so much and experience so much, so this mostly refers to the ‘live fast’ life) but I should behave a bit more peaceful sometimes. Don’t stress so much, don’t curse so often and don’t get so easily irritated by others. I think this goal is the hardest one, because most of the things are part of my personality but it’s a respectable goal I think. Last week my bicycle broke, so I became extremely frustrated which made me drop my iPod, which then broke, which led to the fact that I had to buy another one for almost 300 euros. Stupidity after stupidity, which wouldn’t be so if I’d just stayed calm. Yes, I know myself very well and yes, I should start living up to this knowledge. Starting now!
Good luck with your resolutions, live up to them and make the world a better place. For yourself at least ;)