Charles Daly

Writer

Category: Adventure (page 1 of 3)

Maida Gayle, Hanoi’s abstract (expat) expressionist

On June 10th, 2017, Maida Gayle had her first solo exhibition in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was a significant date for her. One year early, on June 10th, 2016, she had been hospitalized, on the other side of the Pacific, following a stroke.

 

Motivated, in part, by her scare and the painful recovery that followed, Maida put it all on canvas and took painting from a hobby to a side-hustle to much more than that.

 

I met Maida back in 2013, in Busan, South Korea, where we were both teaching english and using freetime to moonlight as creatives. She has since moved to Hanoi and established herself in Vietnam’s art scene. As her work develops, she is synthesizing her abstract painting with her performing arts background and her work with a women’s NGO. The result is incandescent and contagiously positive.

 

Plenty of people, especially expats and nomads, like to talk about “life embracing.” Maida is one who actually reaches out and grabs life with both hands.

maida gayle artist studio hanoi

 

You got into painting while you were teaching in Korea… Because you didn’t have room for your keyboard, is that right?   

My journey into painting started when I decided to move out of Busan city life in Korea to the countryside of Gimechon.

 

With a quieter environment and less people to mingle with I had a lot more extra time than I ever had in Busan.

 

Playing music and singing had always been the only form of art I used to express myself. It kept me company when I didn’t have the people to do so. Unfortunately living in a small apartment, I had no space or money to invest in a keyboard and didn’t have the confidence to try any other instruments out. There was also no music scene like Busan… so I felt kind of stuck.  

 

There was an art supply store that had stationary supplies I got for teaching and always noticed the paint and canvas in the back corner. I thought, “what the heck, let’s just try and splash some paint on canvas.” It was a weird urge that I never had before… and I went with it.

 

When did it become more than a hobby?

The unofficial start into getting more serious was when I was selling my things before leaving Korea and a friend asked to buy one of the paintings.

 

At that point I didn’t think the paintings were good enough or worthy of showing to anyone. They were just diary entries on canvas,  a place for my emotions to rest.

 

The transition started officially in Hanoi when a friend of mine, Paul Salnek, asked me to live paint for Signal Flair. This is an arts event that started in Bangkok. Funnily enough, the guy who put that together just contacted me, and I’m happy to say they will be flying me out to Bangkok to live paint an event they are throwing!

 

But with the encouragement of that sale and Hunter’s push to show my art, I started posting them on facebook.

 

What’s going on in Hanoi?

 

Hanoi is special.

 

Never have I been in a community that fosters creativity so much as this. Literally everything about the expat community revolves around pursuing your art, encouraging you to find your niche in art.

 

There are ample of opportunities for art here because

a) supplies are cheap

b) the community is small but not too small.

maida gayle artist painting hanoi

Literally, anything you want to do… you can most likely do it here and the scene will nurture and support you.

 

The friends you make are super encouraging. Travis Risenurr, a close friend of mine is a great example of this and a huge reason why I have pursued my art here in the first place. I met him at a festival back in Korea but didn’t really get to know him until I moved here in 2015. He has been such an inspiration and a personal motivator for me when it came to delving deeper into my art and pushing the boundaries. He’s helped me and so many others believe that they are really capable of anything if you just try. Never again will I say things like, “I can’t draw” for fear of the weird look I’ll get back from him.

 

He holds ‘Art Night for Grownups’ every two weeks at a café called Clickspace. Here, he provides people with the space and materials to express themselves through coloring and painting. He’s also successfully established his own brand, ‘Phlerp Designs’ and it’s been amazing to see how his art has grown from fun little stickers spread across Korea and Hanoi to extremely beautiful (huge) art installations at Quest and his most recent endeavour, psychedelic wear/awesome clothes! I owe this guy more than he realizes. Thanks Trav!

 

 

Where did the scene get started, is it connected with the local arts, or just a bunch of expats doing their own thing?

I’m not exactly sure where it started but I do know that because Hanoi keeps to more tradition than Saigon, this has somehow influenced the artistic culture here.

 

Old French architecture is kept untouched and remains beautiful. You can tell they care about aesthetics and keeping the original beauty of the city just from the lakes and trees and green everywhere.

 

It’s not just the foreign scene that is creative, it’s not just a few artists, it’s the whole city itself.

Hanoi is known for it’s amazing fabrics and streets dedicated to making clothing, costumes and all of the sort. There is plenty for us to use in the city to help us in our artistic endeavours and that’s why I think people come … and stay.

maida gayle artist studio hanoi

To give you a picture of what I mean… in America, the supplies to paint one painting might cost well over $100. Over here, maybe $10 at most.

 

You can do anything! There’s a street dedicated to glitter and gems for goodness sake!

 

A huge name that I think gave it a kick start for the foreign community is a team who is now known as Gingerwork. Started by a dear friend, Mark Harris, who came to Hanoi about 7 years ago dreamed about creating a space and/or spaces for expats to cultivate and harness their creative passions. And it’s happened.

 

Quest Festival (the biggest project of Gingerwork) has gone from about 100 people to becoming a 4000+ festival in these years. Gingerwork has also established a creative hub called The Creative Artillery (this is where I had my first exhibition!)  

 

Hanoi is a place where it’s completely normal to see a group of people dressed up as unicorns on the weekend or holding costume making workshops for the next underground rave or party that’s happening. Costumes are not only reserved for Halloween here. It’s a lifestyle.

 

We all have our own talents and we come together to make an extremely beautiful and unique experience for every person who comes through Hanoi whether it be for 6 weeks, months, or years.

 

You mentioned Nerd Night. That sounds awesome, what’s it about?

 

A bunch of “nerds” coming together to talk nerdy things! I love this group because it’s different from your usual “open mic night” (not that those aren’t awesome here!).

 

Every fortnight we get together and anyone can present their interpretation of a topic that was pulled from a hat at the last meeting. Some examples of topics “original sin, all the small things, dystopia, music and emotion.

 

We’ve had several types of presentations as well.. from PowerPoints to song or dance performances, poems .. and the list goes on.

 

It’s held at my sweet friend, Ed’s home (which is an amazing studio like home designed by an artist I’m not quite sure of who he is). Ed is a writer/editor and has been for Word Magazine from the past. He brought hundreds of books and zines from New York and set up his home to be the official Zine Library of Hanoi.

 

Every Sunday it’s open for anyone to drop by, have some tea and sift through all the zines he’s collected. He’s curated the space really well – it’s one of my favorite spots to be in Hanoi.

maida gayle artist hanoi

 

Tell me about your first show, first sale, first solo show. What was it like growing in your own self-image–going from “this is fun” to “people want to see/ buy my stuff…damn”?

My first show–at the Creative Artillery– was a huge milestone.

 

I didn’t realize at this point that I had really painted enough paintings to fill out a whole gallery space.

 

I chose the theme –“In Motion.” I couldn’t believe the response. I sold more paintings than I thought I would and was able to curate an event and had my friends perform on opening day. Despite the rain, it was amazing. I unexpectedly was interviewed by a local Vietnamese Channel regarding the exhibition as well as the first workshop I held that same day.

 

First sale – first one was in Korea, when I was getting rid of my stuff, but the first REAL sale was at a charity event held by Blue Dragon.

 

To celebrate women’s day they wanted to display a female artists work and have the paintings up for sale as well as have live painting to later auction them off at the end of the night.

 

I displayed my work and painted that night.

 

“They were just diary entries on canvas. A place for my emotions to rest.”

 

My now close friend Sara Butryn (an out of this world comedian in Hanoi) bought the painting I painted at Signal Flair. I can’t even begin to describe that rush of a feeling that my paintings were… good enough and touched someone deep enough to have them purchase it.

 

Displaying and pricing my art has been tricky, but I’ve learned to look passed that and see it as a means for me to share my trials and joys of life on canvas. The money isn’t the goal, it’s the connection someone feels to the work… (as corny as that may sound)

 

My good friend and extremely talented artist, Holland played such a vital role in this transition from “this is fun” to something more serious. He was an experienced go-getter in the art scene in the States (and now here). We had countless one-on-one talks about art, the art world and how to put a price on paintings without feeling like they were being violated (harsh word, can’t come up with another!)

 

I was realizing that people could relate to the emotions I was putting on my canvas and that it helped them to work through their own. That alone is priceless.

 

Talk a little bit about your style and direction as an artist… What are you interested in? What do you want us, the audience, to pay closer attention to?

My style is a reflection of how I try to live out my life.

 

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the Vipassana Buddhist philosophies and have been sitting with those ever since.

 

I strive to live present in each moment, working through every bump and smooth transitions.

 

I want my viewers to see that in my paintings. I may have a set picture of what I want a piece to look like but I need to surrender all control to my brush. Where the painting goes I follow, without resistance, without regret and without the belief that anything was a mistake. I work with what might seem to be a bad choice in color and turn it into something that can resonate with the rest…

I want people to discover for themselves what the answer is and that’s why I paint abstract pieces. I don’t want to give people a set image to decipher but rather to decipher one on their own.

maida gayle artist hanoi

As for something more mundane, you’re killing it on social media. That’s how this interview started…

Facebook and Instagram are not the devil! They’ve given me a portal to show my art across the world and the world’s responded!

Through my posts (that I never really took that seriously in the fist place) has now resulted in me sending paintings to San Diego, Toronto and Philadelphia. Who knows where next?

 

Friends from different lives I’ve lived have messaged asking for paintings. I love this because it reconnects me to these people I thought I would never get in touch with or see again. It’s really amazing to see who your paintings speak to. They are all so different from each other and this shows me that my work is relatable not just to one kind of sub-cultured group of people but is diverse enough to reach almost anyone. Who knew!

 

My social media presence is part of what led to my being featured in Word Magazine.

 

One of their talented photographers, Julie Vola got a message from Mark and found me through social media.. so did her head editor (Nick Ross) and they contacted me for an interview and photoshoot.

 

Their September edition was featuring 10 people throughout Vietnam who were living a “bohemian artist lifestyle” and they thought I fit the description just right.

 

My head was in the clouds here… I still couldn’t believe this was happening. Still don’t believe it did!

 

A family from Saigon read about me in my article and have messaged me about a painting -who knew I would get to the point where strangers are now asking for paintings!

 

What’s next for you? What’s now?

 

Oh boy. Right now my job is hectic but with this studio space I hope to just simply produce and learn through the process… I want to let my art evolve naturally into what it’s to become next.

 

I can’t focus my time on selling but that’s completely ok. In fact, I’m a bit relieved. My love for it hasn’t been stripped because I’m over producing and I think that’s a good thing.

 

Hunter and I have been talking and I think our next actual move will be to Hong Kong. Being an international city, I feel it will give me more of a platform for my art. Hanoi has helped me and will continue to help me find my place in all of this artsy stuff and I hope that in this last year here I will hone in on my style and my vision and will be clear of what I want by the time we move to HK.

maida gayle artist painting hanoi

 

HK is also a good bridge city to transition back to the West, possibly back to Cali, Portland or Vancouver.

 

I’d love to have my paintings up in nice venues, in families’ homes and offices… I just want people, real, ordinary people to enjoy my art.

 

Progressing with my duo band called Uklear Bomb and a music project I’m working on with Hunter (not going to reveal the secret just yet!).

 

More importantly, I want to continue to take my art into Women’s Shelters. Working with women and children who are victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence has sat close to my heart for a very long time. It’s something I’ve written about.

 

I have the privilege to be working with Hagar International in Vietnam now. I meet the women and children once a month and we create abstract pieces together. It’s the most rewarding thing in world. I want to build this into an established workshop that I can take anywhere in the world. So far I’ve given it a name, “Extraction through Abstraction”.

 

These victims have learned to work through their pain and so to be able to help them reclaim and re-identify certain emotions through activities like art and connection to other humans who hold their worth high, is simply amazing and it’s what I want to live my life doing.  

 

… In general life’s too short to be taken so seriously, why spend it caring about money and all that.

 

Do what you love and love what you do. I’m sure you know the saying… I’m just trying to put it into practice!

Maida Gayle artist hanoi painting

Who should we read/ follow/ listen to/ check out in Hanoi?

Ah. Everyone. I will try to list as many as I can.

 

Weekly/Monthly Events and Venues

Zine Library

Free Thoughts Art

Sourgasms

Mouth

Down the Lane

 

Artists w/ Links and Art Pages:

Phlerp Designs  

Holland Holland

Will Dameron

Cat O’brien

Handxam Tattoo

Mars Black

May Cortazzi – Creative Director for Eva de Eva and founder of Happiness Beauty and Skincare Beautiful and inspiring woman!

Ukelear Bomb – EP coming soon

Claire Allurd

Hanoian Jazz Band

Numbfoot

Hunter Lind

 

All things Rave:

Liquid Hive  

Gingerwork  

More

More People Worth Mentioning :

Lilianna Pedroni – SHE DOES EVERYTHING.SHE IS AWESOME. My partner in Ukelear Bomb, circus freak/ flowarts artist, musician, music teacher, comedian and the list goes on. A multitalented extravaganza of a person and friend.

Katie-May Taylor – Super Woman. Literally. Co-creative producer for Quest Festival and a producer in her own right for all things way important outside of Vietnam. Trust me. She’s wow.

Maartje Matheeuwsen WICKEDLY TALENTED facepainter.

Mitch Brookman –a well known mosaic artist in the States who has been a great influence and mentor to me. Hailing from Cali and Texas has decided to save one blonde at a time here in Hanoi!

Tracy Johnson– flowarts, hoop dancer. beautiful woman

Aisling Feral model, flowarts hoop magician.

Julie Vola – photographer for Word Magazine and the wonderful lady who interviewed me as well.

(There so many more in Hanoi but this just gives you a taste of the freakin’ talent that’s out here, for real! I’m going to offend a lot of people because there are just too many to mention)

 

*This interview has been edited for length and content.

**Photos courtesy of Maida Gayle.

Artists Celebrate Leonard Cohen in Montréal

“There is a crack in everything, 
      that’s how the light gets in.”

             –Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen : Une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything (at Montréal’s Museum of Contemporary art) features art and multimedia installations celebrating the life and work of Montréal’s late troubadour.

leonard cohen a crack in everything

 

The exhibit opens with “the Depression Chamber” an installation, by Israeli artist, Ari Folman, where you lay on a bed in a small “sarcophagus like” room listening to “Famous Blue Raincoat” while drawings are projected on the walls and ceiling. Since the Chamber had to be experienced alone and the song is five minutes long, the queue to enter–separate from the entrance to the rest of the exhibit–was over an hour long. The people in line talked the things you’d expect a bunch of Cohen fans to talk about:

 

A teenage girl tells her parents about her newfound meditation practice.

 

A tourist visiting from Australia says she’s never heard Cohen’s music, and when someone else in line hums “Hallelujah” she realizes she has.

 

The woman behind me remembers seeing Cohen around Montréal and serving him while he wrote in the coffee shop where she worked in high school. I asked her, “Have you always been a fan?”

 

“Oh yeah,” she says, “My boyfriend and I used to put him on in the morning when I slept over–back in the 60s.” She recommends that I check out the illustrated guide  to Cohen’s Montréal accompanied by a narration by Martha Wainwright.

depression chamber leonard cohen Ari Folmanleonard cohen a crack in everything

 

Visitors weave through a maze of Cohen-themed installations. There’s an esoteric 16mm film remixing his poetry readings on the CBC into a sort of spoken word Canadian hip hop thing, a 3 minute video of a bird on a wire (not the song but a bird perched on a wire,) and, for those who don’t know Cohen’s story, there’s a 35 minute supercut of a lifetime of interviews and documentary footage.

 

If the Depression Chamber is the weirdest first date imaginable, the interviews and concert footage have a different effect. The videos play on wall-sized screens and the viewers sit on low stools, not unlike the audience of a folk concert. The visitors were mostly women, bookish-looking with nice scarves. More than a few of them carry cameras  of the artsy sort. The guys seemed to all be with dates. Silhouettes get close to one another in front of the screen while “Suzanne” plays.

 

Like Cohen’s opus, the archival footage always returned to the subject of love and women. Cohen quotes his Zen teacher to one interviewer,

 

“The older you get, the lonelier you become and the deeper love you need.”

 

Of love he says,

 

“It’s the only game in town.. that’s what we’re here for.”

 

The confluence of love, sex, death, and longing in his lyrics is depicted in an interpretive dance by  Montréal artist Clara Furey. She performs on the floor–topless in blue jeans–for 90 minutes.

 

leonard cohen typewriter olivetti 22leonard cohen hotel chelsea matchbook

 

My fanboy moment came when I found his Olivetti 22 on display with a letter to Cohen and a book of his matches from the Hotel Chelsea. This is a big deal for a typewriter nerd.

 

Down  the  hall, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller‘s  Poetry Machine uses an electric organ to play an unabridged reading of The Book of LongingEach key plays a page. The words come out of old tweed speakers around the visitor/organist’s chair.

 

 

In a separate wing of the exhibit, dedicated just to his music, there is a huge, unfinished-looking wooden box with a doorway. It’s an echo chamber that plays a recording of a hundred Montréal-based singers humming his best known song: “Hallelujah.”

 

Microphones, hanging from the ceiling inside the box, invite visitors to hum along, which makes the floor vibrate as their voices are added to the chorus. Meanwhile, an LED counter on the ceiling displays how many people are currently streaming the song on Spotify.

 

I heard there was a secret chord wooden box leonard cohen exhibit

 

This piece manages to cut right through the over-played-ness of the song by making that its subject. To be alone with this particular song is to feel your own part in something greater. If you’re anything like me, this isn’t your favorite Leonard Cohen song, but it’s hard to imagine “Last Year’s Man” or “Chelsea Hotel no. 2” having the same effect.

 

You enter the box and it’s like an emotional sauna. You feel acutely whatever heartbreak or longing you might be carrying. The others in the box seem distant, and looking at their faces feels invasive. If you do look, their expressions will challenge your cynicism. Like a sauna, it all feels good at first and becomes overwhelming.

 

leonard cohen on a train

Leonard Cohen | © Old Ideas, LLC

November 7th, 2017 was the one year anniversary of Cohen’s death. His hometown marked the occasion with a bunch of events, culminating in the MAC exhibit that will be open through April.

 

Biere Vagabond released Leonard, a Kölsch style beer, in his honor. My friends drank it while trying to explain Celine Dion to me.

vagabond beer leonardvagabond beer leonard

 

The city unveiled an 11,000 square foot mural, by artists El Mac, Gene Pendon and the MU collective, on a building downtown.

 

On November 6th, there was a tribute concert featuring Cohen’s music performed by Sting, Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, Adam Cohen (his son,) and others. Comedian Seth Rogan read a poem on stage. He said, “As a Canadian Jewish person, there is no greater honour than reading a Leonard Cohen poem in the middle of a hockey arena.” Prime Minister Trudeau was there and shared his memories of the singer.

 

 

Montreal’s Potluck Startup–Roam Magazine

All the Marrow

It’s Saturday night in late August, typically Montréal’s last month of t-shirt weather. I’m sitting at a picnic bench with group of young Montréalers eating Haitian food off paper plates. My portion is the envy of the table because I got a large bone in it, full of marrow, which my dinner companions are teaching me how to extract. This is my first time having goat. I probe the hollow end timidly with my plastic fork. Finally I’m told have to suck out the marrow—and don’t be shy about making noises.

Tonight is Haiti Night at the Village au Pied-du-Currant, a public space on the banks of the St. Laurence River that has been transformed over the past four summers into an ongoing multicultural festival.

 

village au pied du currant haiti

The Village

Built on the gritty sand of an urban beach, the Village is a cluster of land/sea containers converted into galleries, kitchens and bars, purpose built sheds and cabanas, a scaffolding rooftop bar with a view down the river, and open spaces for eating, dancing and playing.

So far this summer the Village has hosted food festivals showcasing West African, East Asian, Mexican, and Brazilian cuisine, South American folklore for kids, movie nights, a night market, community yoga—in collaboration with Lululemon, and a “1990s Brooklyn” themed night that one local described as “the best thing I did all summer.” They finished off the season with a “punky reggae party.”

The Village is built–and rebuilt every summer–on a previously vacant and overgrown lot, separated from the banks of the river by railroad tracks that serve the port and carry functioning land/sea containers to and from cargo ships.

This is “the river” from Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.”

The bridge, slightly upstream is named for Jacques Cartier, the founder of Montréal, and is lit up every night this summer in celebration the 375th anniversary of his accomplishment.

Across the water, at La Ronde, an amusement hosts a summer-long international fireworks competition. The Village started as a place to catch the show for free.

Continue reading at Roam Magazine

 

Boston Globe: Monomoy, Cape Cod’s desert island

Monomoy Island has been many things over the years: An island, a peninsula, an island again (as storms build and then destroy sand bridges with the mainland), a remote fishing village, a crime scene, a navigation hazard, and a wildlife sanctuary.

Just south of Chatham, at the elbow of Cape Cod, Monomoy is an 8-mile sandbar that separates the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound.

For now — that is until the shifting sands connect it to Chatham again — the only way to get there is by boat or kayak. To protect the island’s bird habitat, there are just three designated landing points where you can anchor. They’re not marked, you have to find them by GPS coordinates and try not to run aground on the way over.

Depending on where you land, it’s a 2- to 7-mile hike to the lighthouse at the end. The island narrows to just a few hundred feet across as you head south. Near the lighthouse, the land fans out again into a tear-drop shape of about 2 square miles. There are marshes, ponds, and tall grass. From up on a dune, you can see Nantucket on a clear day. Other than that, this is the middle of nowhere.

There’s a year-round chill in the air — from the meeting of warm and cold water at the end of the island — and it’s as if the wind remembers things the sands and waves have long obscured. You get the feeling that yours are not the only footprints here. And that’s true. Walking around the point, you’ll find the slab foundations of some old buildings, abandoned wells, the boat ramp from a decommissioned Coast Guard Station, and a boarded-up lighthouse, which is the only structure still standing.

Continue reading at the Boston Globe

 

Boston Globe: Las Fallas — the fiesta that sounds like a war zone

VALENCIA, Spain — “You simply won’t walk three seconds without hearing an explosion.”

It’s half past midnight, I’m watching a man in a neckerchief up on a ladder wrapping a string of explosives around a flammable statue like Christmas lights. Another man  —  also wearing a neckerchief  —  at the base of the statue, is preparing a Molotov cocktail. As soon as the firemen arrive, they’re going to light the fuses and burn the statue to ash.

fallas-valencia-la-crema

It’s the last night of Las Fallas, and all over Valencia, sculptors set fire to their own creations to mark the end of an eight-day round-the-clock party.

Fallas is a mash-up of several celebrations, including St. Joseph’s day, pagan springtime rituals, and the traditions of local carpenters (for whom St. Joseph is the patron saint).

Fallas is not one big party with a hub, like Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, but a mess of block parties on every block in the city.

Each neighborhood has its own sculptures and fireworks and dance tents. There’s no need to venture beyond your own corner to see most of what’s going on. There’s no hype, you don’t have to pay for anything, and there’s no need to make plans, because you can just step outside and follow the sounds of explosions.

Like a war zone

There aren’t many places that would compare themselves to a war zone as a selling point. But it says exactly that in the program of events on the Valencia City Guide.

Continue reading in the Boston Globe

7 Reasons to Bring a Tarp — DD Hammocks

My girlfriend and I balance each other out perfectly in the outdoors. She’s a climber and I’m a waterman. She knows how much food to pack, down to the calorie, and I (almost) never get us lost. She has all this camera gear, and I never get cold so there’s always room in my pack where warm layers should be.

But we have radically different ideas when it comes to shelter. I have one criterion: if it keeps the rain off, I’m good.

She, on the other hand, thinks shelter should:
> Keep the rain off.
> Keep the wind out
> Keep mosquitos and midges out.
> Act as a barrier against things that crawl and slither.
> Provide privacy
> Keep out murderers and tent burglers.

Guess who wins that argument? When we camp together, we usually sleep in a tent. But I have learned (the hard way) that it pays to bring a tarp even when you’re sleeping in a tent.

Here are few things you can do with your tarp other than sleep under it.

 

Make a Raft

Let’s start with the Macgyver option. Maybe you’re taking a shortcut across a lake, maybe you’re bored in camp on a rest day and need a project, or maybe you actually need a raft for survival purposes.

With just a few branches and some paracord, you can turn your 3×3 tarp into a raft. You can make an oar with the tarp bag and the right shaped stick.

Continue reading at DD Hammocks Adventure Blog

Writing All Night in Dublin Airport

Note: the following was written, edited, and published in the middle of an all-nighter. All typos and style fails are strictly rhetorical.
(Dec, 2016)

I’m writing this in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport at four in the morning. I’ve decided to turn an overnight layover into an espresso-fueled writing spree. Here’s what I got up to during my impromptu residence.

I Observed and Took Notes

What was cool about spending a waking night in an airport is that all the people I was people-watching were doing the same thing, but they were all doing it differently.

Some people clutched their luggage while they slept, some knew my leg-hooked-through-the-pack-strap trik. One young lady seemed to be having a staring contest with her upright rolling luggage, totally paranoid. One guy slept with his feet up on a luggage cart.

Other people didn’t seem worried enough about their bags.

Continue reading on Medium 

Saeah Lee’s Siesta Doors

Every day, between the hours of 2:00PM and around 5:00 or 6:00PM, the city of Valencia, Spain shuts down for a siesta. Shops and restaurants all over the city close for business and lower steel shutters over their front doors. Many of these shutters are brightly decorated: with graffiti, murals advertising the business inside, and the occasional spray-painted cock.

 

Photographer Saeah Lee recently started documenting these shutters. She calls them “siesta doors.” Every day at siesta time and all day on Sundays, she’s out finding doors.

Continue reading on Medium

Pen Review: Kaweco Classic Sport

 

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

This week, I drafted my first short story in 2 years (more on that soon.) I wrote it with a new fountain pen, which I bought to mark the occasion: the Kaweco Classic Sport . (Pronounced ka-vay-co.)

I had moved away from short stories in favor of more profitable but less fulfilling work, and I had traded my beloved fountain pens for more practical alternatives I could pick up at Rite-Aid. This was my return to both.

From the first line, the Kaweco brought back the whole sensory experience I was missing.

On the page, the Sport is smooth and responsive. Off the page, it looks so good I’m waiting for the chance to say “here, use my pen.”

The Nib

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The soul of any fountain pen is the nib. It’s where 99% of the value resides. This nib is a workhorse that can compete with pens at a much higher price point. It’s decently springy for a steel nib–more so than the Lamy Safari anyway–and it doesn’t scratch or skip.

For fountain pen beginners, the Kaweco is very forgiving, with a large “sweet spot.”

Other reviews have noted a problem with railroading when too much pressure is applied. So if you’re into varying line thickness, the Kaweco might not be for you. My handwriting isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference.

 

The Ink

This is a small pen which uses small cartridges. I had my doubts about ink capacity, but my first cartridge was good for 30+ A5 notebook pages.

Here in Spain, the ink is cheap ( €2.10 for 6 cartridges.) The only places where I could find that price State-side were Jet-Pens and Goulet Pens. Expect to pay $6 elsewhere.

The Design & Looks

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Capped, the Kaweco is small. It looks more like a lipstick tube than a writing instrument. But When the cap is posted (pen-nerd speak for putting the cap on the back of the pen) it becomes full-sized. This feature gives you portability without sacrificing writing comfort.

The flat sides of the hexagonal cap keep it from rolling around on your desk.

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The clip is detachable. I tend to leave it off.

The price

You can pick up the Kaweco  Classic Sport for about $23. This is up from $15 in 2011 when playwright Jon Robin Baitz proclaimed his love for the Kaweco in the New York Times. He said the pen cured him of  a fear of handwriting that had followed him since elementary school.

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The Bottom Line

I would highly recommend this pen to just about anyone. You can’t go wrong with gifting this beauty. For a serious pen collector, it’s an outstanding day-to-day pen with a fun design. For the uninitiated, I couldn’t think of a better introduction to the world of fine writing.

However, if you have extra large hands, you may want something bigger for cramp-free writing.

Image: JetPens.com

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. All Amazon prices and availability are subject to change, and only current as of the time of publication of this review.

Irish Farmhouse – a Sketch

The farmhouse two miles out the Beach  road near Bantry belonged to a man named Jackie. The House was built tight against the road, or maybe before the road, and faces the North Atlantic with two fields between the house and a stone beach. Winter gales from the north and west produce waves powerful enough to hurl seaweed and stones the size of bread loafs into the fields. Local farmers add seaweed to their fertilizer. When it rains, the runoff from the fields stains the baywater a tea-with-milk brown.

 

Jackie and his sheepdog used to sit out front and watch the road. Whenever a car or a walker passed, Jackie would wave with two fingers in the shape of an  imaginary pistol. Irish drivers call this “saluting.”An easy way to mark yourself as a tourist, a snob, or a bore is not to salute. Jackie was known for saluting so fast you could almost miss it. And so in town his nickname was “the fastest gun in the west.”

 

 

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