Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stazione di Milano Centrale (May 17, 2007)

Milan's central train station, or Stazione di Milano Centrale, was a project that began in the early 1900s but was continued and expanded over a long period, particularly by Benito Mussolini (Italy's Fascist leader from 1925 to 1943).

I didn't manage to get a picture of the outside of the station, but here is one I found online. The facade looks more like an over-sized Baroque/Classical mash-up done in poor taste by a 20th century Napoleon, which actually comes close to the truth since the pseudo-regal structure works well as a kind of visual metonym for Mussolini's public works schemes (including transportation systems). It was Mussolini who was said to have "made the trains run on time"--a dubious statement, of course.

I don't know if Mussolini, a fan of extreme efficiency, would have been too keen on the apparent chaos of Stazione Centrale. It seemed to be functioning, but any order that was there looked more like an emergent property than an obvious arrangement.

Like at Heathrow airport in London, they didn't announce there the trains would leave from until fairly close to the departure time. The area around the platforms was a current of human motion, torrents of tourists and commuters flowing towards the next train as its platform number appeared on the information screen, rivulets swirling into eddies of conversation in the bustle of travellers trying to reach the right departure place before all the seats were taken.

And I still remember it was apparently OK to smoke cigarettes inside the station.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Your Boat Your Words" (Northland, January, 2010)

Your boat, they will tell you,
cannot leave the harbor
without discipline.

But they will neglect to mention
that discipline has a vanishing point,
an invisible horizon where belief takes over.

They will not whisper to you the secret
that they themselves have not fully understood: that
belief is the only wind with breath enough

to take you past the deadly calms, the stopped motion
toward that place you have imagined,
the existence of which you cannot prove

except by going there.

--Pat Schneider

(Photo: Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua, Far North, New Zealand)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hamilton Farmers' Market (July 5, 2011)

I'd been meaning to take some interior shots of Hamilton's farmers' Market for a while, since it was re-modelled and renovated at the end of 2010 and re-opened early this year. The Hamilton Public Library, in the same building and right next to the Market, was also overhauled.

Above: I took this shot from the ramp that connects the upstairs and downstairs sections. There's also a new set of stairs and an elevator, which have replaced the escalators that were used in the past. Above the Market, you can see the new Library through a glass wall.

Above: A stand just inside the glass windows, selling organic fruits and veggies. The windows face York Boulevard.

Above and below: There's a wide range of goods available at the Market, that's one of the best things about it. There are a number of stands selling temptingly delicious baked goods such as pastries, cookies, pies and specialty breads (I try to get my bread here every week). Other vendors offer flowers and plants, for homes and also (in spring and summer) for gardens.

Below: This is a blatant "plug" for Sam's Cheese and Meats, which is where I love to buy deli meat, olives, and of course delicious cheese of all kinds (and they're happy to provide a recommendation for you, if the variety is overwhelming).

Below: In this picture you can see the Library again, with its brightly painted walls and white plastic chairs.

Above and below: More lovely goodies! Loads of fresh fruit and veggies available for prices much lower than those on display at the supermarket. And stalls like this one selling Mexican and South American products (below) are fantastic places to look for affordable specialty foods.

Above and below: British Baked Goods (one of my favourites--includes gluten-free products!) downstairs, and one of several meat counters/butchers in the upstairs section of the Market.

Above and below: Chicken, cheese and veggies are all available in the upstairs section of the Market, along with delicious fresh brewed coffee; this is a great way to start the morning, and I try to begin my day that way at least once a week!

ARRÊT (Autumn, 1999)

I think this is one of the best pictures I have of Montréal--certainly it's one of my favourites (I lived there for three years and took quite a few!). Not because it shows some famous local landmark or typical Montréal "scene", but because it captures something about the place that resonates more sub-consciously for me. A bit like this picture I took in Milan, which shows only a car parked on the street but which for me seems somehow representative of the place as it's seen from street-level.

The photo above was taken from almost directly opposite the building where I used to live on Avenue Coloniale (that building is off to the right and behind me, unseen).

I just love the blurs on the woman walking past in her short dress (or skirt) and heels; I remember those big chunky shoes were "in" at that time. I actually owned a couple of pairs myself--believe it or not! There's an interesting, staggered composition involving the walking woman, the street sign and hydrant, the cable covers, the tree, and a second person walking in the opposite direction on the other side of the street.