Tag Archives: Culture

Well this is boring…

The City of the Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain is a pretty remarkable place.

City of the Arts and Sciences

 

However, I managed to find one monotonous exhibit that you desperately want to see, but can’t stand to watch.

I waited for about 15 minutes, filmed half of that, and edited it down to 2-3 minutes.

You will just want to see how it ends.

Dalíesq

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On A Hill

May 23, 2010

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

I often walk this hill.

I imagine when my great grandparents and my grandmother and her siblings finally settled at the foot of this immense mound, they had already looked up at its greatness for several years.

I imagine them, maybe, walking about the hill, maybe, taking a break from farming the land. And, really, I can only imagine them looking over the valley and seeing woods covering Sunderland, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton, and beyond, that little more exist.

Sun setting and rain a few miles away.

 

I imagine my mom riding her horse around this hill, young like me. That’s what I imagine her doing here.

When I look from the top of this hill, I see the farm, still in the family; my parents’ work hard for a life I’m not sure I will take on.

I see the University of Massachusetts, treetops, crevasses where there are major roads, and mountains I believe exist in the works of Erastis sailsburyfield.

So many times I have walked up this hill – with neighbors, family, friends, horses, dogs, boyfriends, Sean.

Mostly, I feel, it’s the one thing here that isn’t stale.

Clover.

When I was young, a real child, and the hill was covered in snow, just so the grass couldn’t poke through, I would walk alone making footprints with intensions, walking backwards.

If the snow melted in the sun and hardened into a half inch of crust at night, we would all scurry our way up the hill, and slide down, and dive off whatever our vehicle was before hitting pickers at the bottom.

When the snow was light, we would hitch up the horse to the sleigh and ride up and around on sunny days.

When there was no snow, no mud from the spring thaw, and the grass was short, we’d ride the horses around there too. I think my earliest memories of being on the hill is of my parents shifting me on and off the front of the saddle; one of them always holding me around my tummy.

That might have been before they rented the field out, but I don’t really know.

One renter planted cow corn. The neighbors and I would run through the isles of tall stalks, getting whipped by long fuzzed leaves.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill.

Later on, we got a new renter, who does hay. It was always fun to climb the gold bails, to try and push them around. We were all too weak and young. I’m pretty sure we all loved the smell, of the dried grass warming in the sun. The dust would tickle our noses.

Before we were of age, we learned how to drive out there. Before grandma died, when I was practicing how to drive, we put her in the car too. She liked going for rides. She told me to put the pedal to the metal, of course I didn’t. I always think about that when I’m driving and I think of grandma.

I was real sad then, when I was in high school. I did a lot of imagining. I would always imagine romantic affairs up there. Who wouldn’t want to be up the hill, seeing everywhere, so far, with someone you love who loves you back? But I was mostly alone then.

So, sometimes I would take the dog up there – just the two of us. She was really my mom’s dog, and I could never have loved her as much, but it made me happy to see the dog prancing through grass three feet high or snow three feet deep. Then we’d have to pick the tics off her, or melt away the beads of snow caught in her paws. Once she bit a porcupine up there and it took days to get the quills out. That was a long night.

Fallen and dried.

Mostly we go up there at night anyways, I mean, when the sun is setting, at the end of the day. Sometimes, we all would walk up there and see UMass lit up at night. It was even easier to see the stars, the Milky Way, the moon.

Today, I walked up there with my camera. It’s a good camera. I can take some pretty good photos. The grass was mixed in with clover. The hill is passed spring, so there is no mud and the anthills are underway. It’s not ready for hay, hasn’t even been planted. Actually, I don’t know if it will. But I have to walk carefully, like my parents would always tell me, not to tramp all over the clover and grass. So, I walked carefully, trying not to trample all over the hill. I took some pictures. And, really, what I thought this time is, man, it’s going to be hard to leave this, one day.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

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Photos of the Days

May 18, 2010

My brother rewired a boom-box speaker system to play his iPod.

May 19, 2010

Just a bit of rain.

May 20, 2010

My friend's aunt's dog had puppies.

May 21, 2010

A flower illuminated from a light-bulb at night.

May 22, 2010

Music by Shingle the Roof at the Amherst farmer's market.

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Holla Holland

See all my photos here or in a slideshow

A few rain drops is no worry for the bikes in Amsterdam.

 

While abroad, I took an Anderson Tours trip from London to Holland for Easter weekend.

It was definitely a unique experience for a somewhat guided tour.

From London, we took a bus to Dover and boarded SeaFrance ferry, while still on our coach to Calais, France.

The port at Dover.

 

Overlooking the Channel towards France.

 

The French, unfortunately, decided to strike, which I guess happens a lot at the port, and the under two hour ferry ride took six hours as we couldn’t enter the port until some people ended their demonstrating. From Calais, we drove the coach off the ferry to Holland.

We stayed at a noncommercial style hotel called Lake Land in Monnickendam. The area is, obviously, flat and a beautiful country scape. It’s quiet and a nice change from the city of London, which we had been staying in for three months. While the hotel’s buffet style dining may not be for everyone, it’s a fun atmosphere for seniors (who were dancing to the beat) and young people.

The view at Lake Land.

 

Holland is wicked flat. And by wicked, I mean very. No mountains or even hills, and there are canals big and small everywhere. Some are few feet wide and some are several yards wide. Canals are also used like fences. It’s common to see a simple gate and canals used to keep sheep and cows on a plot of land.

Heading into the city – Amsterdam – there is more flat land and a lot of construction going on whether it’s of buildings or on roads and highways.

Once you hit the city, you will know it. There are rats nests of bikes everywhere, and everyone is on a bike.

I'm guessing there are miles of bikes lined up if one counted.

 

Because the city and country is so flat, it’s easy to walk or bike everywhere and anywhere. Amsterdam also has a good public transportation system, which there are tracks for the above ground seemingly everywhere.

The city itself isn’t a skyscraper city or even quite like London. Things are more small and cute. But the essence of Amsterdam is an openness and cool that no other region can compete with.

One of many canals.

 

Yes, prostitution is legal and there are coffee shops (they don’t sell coffee) on ever corner. But the fact that people don’t seem to judge you when you walk down the street is quite impressive. 

It’s easy to rent a bike and tour the city or even take a boat cruise through the winding canals.

Not quite what I was hoping for, but it beats getting rained on.

 

You can visit the red-light district and it’s perfectly safe, or that’s what it seemed. Prostitution is some people’s career. It’s viewed as nothing to poke fun at and has been a huge part of Dutch culture since the times of great painters like Johannes Vermeer. One thing that is frowned upon is taking photographs of the district’s doors and windows where women and men might be at work. And, if you are wondering, according to our guide, if the light is red and on, the room hosted by a woman is open for business. If the light is blue, it usually means there is some sort of “mixture” or male element.

Not really sure what this was about but no one seemed disgusted.

 

There are many kinds of museums and attractions for everyone alike. One day we checked out the Anne Frank House, where for a 20 minute wait in line, visitors can tour the house where Frank and her family went into hiding. 

Outside of Amsterdam, tourists can tour clog and cheese factories such as the one we visited in Monnickendam. Clogs are still made and worn today, though it may seem they have become a bit of a tourist attraction. The idea behind clogs is that they are lightweight, water proof for those canals, and hard to protect worker’s feet.

Right down the road from Lake Land.

 

A demonstration. Apparently, it's not that hard but takes practice.

 

I could never figure out if these were mechanically produced or person produced.

 

Another Dutch cultural excursion to take is a trip to a tulip farm, like Keukenhof. The tulip has historically been a part of Dutch cultural and very much is today. Visitor’s can tour tulip field’s, gardens, and greenhouses filled with the most amounts of tulip arrangements you might ever see.

Keukenohf: Spend a good portion of the day if you love flowers.

 

It's a bit overwhelming, but so colorful.

 

Field farmed tulips.

 

There are a few alternative arrangements, much like a painting.

 

The openness of Dutch culture is truly remarkable. We met a group of Dutch guy friends who we thought were our age or much older. In fact, they were all younger than us, but because of their casual normalcy of alcohol and acceptance they seemed so much older. We chatted with them and it seems because they are “so experienced” with these “things of life,” alcohol, drug use, and the like are not as big a deal as they are in the U.S. They said, some people they know haven’t ever smoke marijuana because they know it’s there and they can do it any time they wanted. The Dutch guys also told us we weren’t spontaneous. I won’t defend myself and say that’s true. I like to consider myself spontaneous when I decide to randomly go on a bike ride and take photos. But I’m not sure I can compare myself to these guys who say, when they want to enjoy life and have a good time, they will. As an American, my night ended with me feeling like I should “enjoy life more” by going mini-golfing at random or hang out with people I’ve just met.

Pillow fight!

 

Holland is definitely a culture that people can learn from, not just have an exciting and beautiful trip to. I will definitely be back to Holland, soon, I hope.

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The Ambush Interview: Emil Lager

If you follow my video  and documentary work, you might know I happen to do a lot of ambush interviews. If I see something interesting and I can get a camera ASAP or have one in my bag, I will more likely than not, start interviewing the subject.

I try to be nice and unthreatening by all means. I don’t want to scare the subject off. I haven’t had an ambush interview go extremely wrong or get out of hand. But one day in London’s South Bank, I definitely stumbled upon one of my most unique subjects and perhaps awkward interviews.

What resulted was the following video costarring musical artist Emil Lager and his friend Amy.

Lager has a number of well-recorded, yet raw recordings on his MySpace music page and has a few shows set up for the summer. He is also an actor, playing a role in a French indie film called Cassie and playing in a fringe theatre company called Scandimaniacs.

And, according to his biography, he, “Is currently appearing in season IV of SKINS on E4 and as the lead guitarist in the Japanese mega star Ayumi Hamasaki’s two latest music videos MICROPHONE and SEXY LITTLE THINGS.”

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Photos of the Days

I realized I labeled the photo of the day for May 5, 2010 as May 6. So the picture of my cute kitten is actually for May 5. Here are my photos of the last few days – which I would upload sooner if it wasn’t for dial-up Internet that doesn’t allow me to upload photos, or even send emails these days.

May 6, 2010

 

Water droplet hanging off an orchid.

May 7, 2010

Spinning around at the Amherst fair.

May 8, 2010

 

Chocolate cake - well I guess it's really a tart.

May 9, 2010

Mom's beautiful and delicious bread.

May 10, 2010

Two male ducks. A macro lens would have made this photo more interesting, as I should keep distance from animals.

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Photo of the Day – Watching TV

May 3, 2010

Brother watching television.

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