vineri, 30 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 17, ASPIRE -


Permaflow 17, ASPIRE



Claire would have been the ticket out of the giant prison which was this whole country in the days of Ceausescu – my cousin and best friend (which could be an oxymoron, for friends do not stop being friends, never mind the ‘best’, according to Thomas Mann who wrote about the big words we abuse, love, friendship) used to wish that he wakes up one morning and sees the American flag, because this land has just become the fifty first state- but it was not as cold blooded as that.


It could be that I try and justify this stranger – to repeat the reference to Proust, we are a different person with the passing of time and look back in wonder at what that weird fellow was doing in a body that slightly resembles our own – who was just out to seduce the girl from Sheffield, but still, I was eating her pussy and I was attracted to her…now, the question of love is a complicated one, and to be genuine, it was not adoration…however, the use of ‘to be honest with you’ is not indicated and I have learned that during some AT&T training for the Atlanta Olympics, where I worked as a volunteer for the multinational’s team (so there I am, contemplating some good that came from the association that was otherwise so exploitative) where they underlined that saying to be honest now would suggest that we are not honest at other times, they also told us to avoid asking for help, and instead, cry ‘fire’

There is the question of what would have happened, had I gone along with the plan to marry Claire and settle in Sheffield and eventually work in a supermarket and root for the Sheffield United, if that is the name of their team, and travel to this country as a foreigner and drink beer at the pub, get bored with the woman that had a level of education that was inferior to mine, and had probably read twenty times less, which is not to say her EQ, emotional intelligence level, was not way better than mine, and this is what matters…overall, she might have been, maybe still is, way better as a human being.


The question would be if there is much common ground outside the bed, and if boredom would not become so overwhelming as to annihilate any material advantage to be had over there, as compared with here, positive psychology has demonstrated that money is not the key to happiness – they have looked at lottery winners, those with big tickets, of a million or more, and after a few months during which their wellbeing spikes, they return to a base level of happiness, and besides, experts look at the rise in income levels which has been staggering over past decades, while the levels of happiness have remained about the same – so on that front, there would not be much of a gain, there is also the question of whether I would make Claire more interested in Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and other Magister Ludi, or vice versa, there would be a dramatic fall in my reading activity…other studies show that we keep to the level of our friends and constant companions and we ‘are also what we regularly do’

“We are what we repeatedly do…Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit…” this is what Aristotle has said actually, but then there is the version of events wherein I would be saved from the tyranny, which would have been a completely different ball game…as it was, the revolution happened and then, I would call Claire and my interest in joining her and living in a democracy waned, and then disappeared altogether for some time, seeing as there was so much promise and effervescence in the air in the first days…


When in 1996 I would be in the USA for the Olympics, the plan would have changed and I would be very interested in living there and trying to get a permanent position with AT&T in New Jersey or elsewhere, but they did not see what they were missing, and furthermore, they would like their slave in this part of the world to keep his activity for the fucking 250 raised after much haggling to 400 dollars per month, a sum for which they expected work as if I were paid a million dollars to at least a quarter million, with me using my premises, home as office, my clothes, shoes, accessories for their representation, which at one stage included Bulgaria, talk of fucked up demands for a goddamn four hundred bucks

Vicious as I was, there is another marriage that I would skip, this time with a Texan woman, who would come with her mother to this city, because that was the alternative to fleeing from here, but by the time they land in the capital, I would have met with…Miss Romania, and if this sounds appalling (and it is) there would be no way in hell or purgatory for me to abandon the sexy, gorgeous Danah, and leave for the Red State (with so many members of the cult of Trump, which means a vast group of stupid, fucked up people) and leave in a village near the Mexico border, and say that I enjoy the American way of life.


Granted, Linda was the ticket out of the gulag, initially, when we met before the 1989 Revolution, but now, with things dramatically changed, and the emotional lottery jackpot in my hand, the situation was different and embarrassing, as we met them at the airport, took them to the house and then have them stay with uncle Sandu and some others, while I avoided contact and thought about my new found catharsis.

It would end up in tears and thoughts of suicide, which now that these two peaks are juxtaposed, it makes sense, there is that belief that some have in Karma, otherwise called what goes around comes around, and then what I did to Linda, Danah would do to time, when she abandoned me on the way back from miss Universe, which took place in Las Vegas, and the winner was from Mexico, a pageant where our local girl would meet with Jack Nicholson and many other celebrities, glamorous, exuberant, attractive, otherworldly people and enchanted with them, she would return here and say sorry, but it is over…


Not in those words, but the message was about that, and I had been such a fool to dedicate too much to this side of the bond, even thinking of scenarios for her speech there, at the Miss Universe pageant, starting with ‘I was born in a cold winter, near the Soviet border’ – come to think of it, this may be the moment when I went mad and started imaging myself as a scribbler and her, about thirty-years later, I would start this deluge, torrent of lines that are have all invaded this blog here - and it seems it would never stop, or at least until my fingers get cold for good…

Before The 1989 Revolution, Episode 4

100 out of 100 for The Three Sisters, note 2

81 out of 100 for Contraband

marți, 27 septembrie 2022


Unconditional Surrender by Evelyn Waugh, author of Vile Bodies and ten other Magnum opera

10 out of 10



Evelyn Waugh was one of the greatest writers in the history of the world, able to write sublime comedy – a list might be provided at the end, with the works that have elated this reader, but let us just mention Scoop Decline and Fall, The Loved One, Black Mischief – and drama, such as the divine Brideshead Revisited.


Unconditional Surrender is a war story, like the other great novels – Men at Arms and Put Out More Flags – and Guy Crouchback is the main character, perhaps not the usual hero, the Superman we are used with these days.

In fact, his nickname now is ‘Uncle’, reflecting his age, which is now forty, and with that, he gets refused for various positions in the army, indeed, he trains with a unit and he is told at the end that they are sorry, they are going to see action soon, but cannot take him along, because he is ‘too old now’.


They cannot risk him being injured and compromising the mission, and we could be so happy now that ‘sixty is the new forty’ or is it the new thirty, with advancement in medicine, technology, we are getting to the stage described by marvelous Yuval Harari, one of the most influential thinkers of this century, in his quintessential Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow where we find about how people will get to live forever…well, not exactly that, but life expectancy will rise to incredible levels

Guy Crouchback will be processed by a machine which seems to have elements of the computer, though it had not been designed by the famous Superhero and tragic figure, Alan Turing, who has been pushed to commit suicide, by the awful policies of his time on homosexuality, and the result when they search for someone with some training on parachute jumping and knowledge of Italian, the card has his name on it…


When he is tested by a superior officer, he talks fast and the other does not understand, thinking it might be Sicilian, but it is not, it is just that the comprehension and the Italian of the superior is limited, perhaps non extant…

Incidentally, reading a previous part from this trilogy, I was extremely amused by reading ‘escarpate la mucca’ which seems to mean the cow has escaped and liking this too much, I have named one of the tomcats out there in the garden Imucca – they are not ours intentionally, it is just that their mother came to look for food, then brought the whole litter, and now we have Imucca (which actually comes from Immanuel Kant, his initial denomination, and Mucca, combining the two) Ezigbo - from Things Fall Apart - Okwo from the same magnum opus, Orzabal from Tears For Fears and Signac, one of my favorite pointillists…


Guy will end up in former Yugoslavia, in Croatia, where he will operate as a sort of liaison officer with the partisans, a bunch of very unruly, somewhat treacherous fighters, who claimed to be all for the alliance with the British, only to cheat, lie to Winston Churchill when he meets the famous Josip Broz Tito, and the side with the Soviets and put up some strange maneuvers for the visiting American general…

The latter was coming to see for himself the prowess, fighting capability of the partisans – reputed and known to fight with other conationals, indeed, at times, they fought more with their own side than with the Germans…for the Nazis, they would launch some guerilla attack and then flee, and generally, they avoided contact with the Germans – and for this special visit, which would decide if the Americans help them, and to what extent, they in fact had prepared an attack on a small unit, so small that there had been voices saying that an attack with two brigades on such an insignificant opponent would look bad…


As it is, it does not work well, for the Germans do show up, in just two vehicles, but this is enough to derail a lot of the planned operation…anyway, Guy has a very tense, conflictual relationship with the partisans, who are mefiant, unlikeable, paranoid, self-interested, brutal, and cruel – though there is admiration for the amount of resilience they showed, their young girls refuse anesthetic and show a super human tolerance to pain and dedication to the cause – and when our hero tries to help some Jewish people that come for help, there is a serious brouhaha, and the officials complain, they refuse support

Meanwhile, we have Virginia, the ex-wife in legal terms, although for the Catholic Church, there is no such thing as divorce, and for them, marriage is forever, unless there is an extraordinary annulment or evidently, death, and she is in trouble now, for she has no money and she is furthermore pregnant and the baby is obviously not Guy’s.


She tries to have an abortion, but she has no money, the first doctor she is asking for help is appalled, then she has a name, but there is nobody at the address and finally, she has to find a husband, that is the conclusion reached and she sees Guy again, who is not in love with her anymore, but he is so sensitive to the problem at hand, as to be considered a fool or idiot by others, maybe he is crazy to tolerate the situation.

But as he explains, there is a martyr attitude, a saintly take on the fate of the future child, who has no chance, nobody to help him or the mother, and he is the last chance and he will marry Virginia, take care of her…when he is told that this is World War they have around, the superhero is correct in stating there is nothing he can do about the millions in pain, but he can do something about this baby….what a sublime thing to do try this at home, and then read about the revolution

Before The 1989 Revolution, Episode 1

One of The Best Comedy Series Ever - The Kominsky Method

72 out of 100 for Imagine

luni, 26 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 16, Fox -


Permaflow 16, Fox



We were in the Moxa dormitory, enjoying ourselves and anticipating ever more joy, but things were taking a wrong turn, we would later learn from Otilia (if that was her name) that the girls were preparing a (literal) grilling, sure that we were somehow working for the government, the secret branch or some outfit collecting political information, when all we had wanted was to see how and if we could get close, not even spiritually, penetrating their minds for some insight into whatever they could concoct as a way to undermine a regime we anyway loathed, in other words, we were clearly on the same side of the political divide, and in the ten percent of the population that would not vote with Iliescu for that matter, if not necessarily on the same level in seeking intimacy, if possible, Carnal Knowledge, a marvelous film with Jack Nicholson


The bints we were entertaining were getting ready for torture, in that the plan was to get the iron used for clothes, heat it and put it to my face, first threatening to use it if I do not confess that I am a dirty spy, asking them questions to get their political views and then have that used against them by the authorities…now that I recall this, I am having some fun on account of the fellow that I used to be and his antics.

Marcel Proust is for me the greatest writer, sometimes I place Somerset Maugham on the same level, or coming a close second, and I remember Proust saying that we are a different person, and we have to keep that in mind when we look back and wonder at the enormities we have been thinking, the weird, often wrong, sometimes disastrous things we did, the absurd choices and the close encounters we missed, but that is just as wondering about what a stranger does, because we are somebody else now and we have just as little in common with that fellow we ‘were’ decades ago as we the fellow next door, with his moustache, embezzlement of public money with  which he has gotten a BMW, pool and all the accoutrements of a nabob, an oligarch that has stolen from the public purse A La Recherche du Temps Perdu


I wonder what the reaction would have been, if I had said, pressed on with the hot iron, ‘look girls, all I ever wanted from you was to get into your pants, especially you, the one with the big breasts, or maybe you, the slim dark girl over there…’ and they would hit me hard with the torture instrument for my perversity, if not for my political orientation, and yes, in the age of political correctness and cancel culture, this would be inadmissible and I would have my prospects of publication annulled, if there were such a perspective, as there is no hope for that, we can go on with the story, remembering the aforementioned, that I am a different fellow now, if not a good man, to quote the brilliant novel by Roddy Doyle, The Van

We escaped the maiming, which is in fact better said I did, and we took the car and drove through a city invaded by the miners coming from Petrosani and other ‘shit holes’ to quote the idiot Trump, called in by Iliescu to crash the opposition and we were glad that the car had the right identification for the time of the Cholera, since it was used as a  guarantee from Stefan Dascalescu, who was supposed to buy something smashing from the West and bring it back, shining and in perfect order, ready to rumble…


One day, I had had a call from Stefan, telling me he has a marvelous deal for me, now that he is going on a trip to Switzerland – he may have missed the name the destination, but the wreck he would bring had Swiss registration plates, I am getting ahead, and I need to get back to how I met this Don Juan de Marco, local version of De Niro, while on tour for the ONT aka National Tourist Office, when we were assigned on two buses, doing the same itinerary, and on this party, we met two girls from Sheffield, England, and I partnered with Claire and Stefan with her companion, and we had a good time.

Mind you, we did not immerse into a foursome or some swinger beano, but we formed some close relationships – incidentally, maybe we get to this in more detail later, the only thing close to a threesome would happen later, with one of the richest guys in the land (maybe top twenty now, but evidently not in the days of Ceausescu) during an outing to the coast, in a hotel in Neptun, where we had sex with the same woman, while we were all three in the same room, details to be placed on the blog eventually – together…


We have taken the guests from the airport to Lebada aka The Swan, in the south of the capital, near the Pantelimon Lake – which would become a favorite spot of mine, and I would take Miss Romania, the first in almost a century, to that beano and this is where I would tell her that I had fallen in love and she would be going ‘hm, let me think about it’ and then we would have an affair that I would need to delve into later, but in this short prequel, teaser, trailer I notice I do not put love affair, because there would be doubts about that –and right there, on the first night, I would hit it off with Claire and would continue this little romance (if that is the word) through the tour, for about a week in the country.

Then she would go to the Black Sea, in Mamaia, to spend time on the beach in the plan, but she would travel with her friend to Bucharest, where we had some adventures, while…driving, because I had had no driving license at that point, Claire’s friend-  let us call her Martha, I do not remember her name, and allowed just friend to slip in, thinking I would not need to name her, but since she is coming back into the picture, we need an invented identification – had to do the driving, she was in fact an ambulance driver, only to be overwhelmed by the traffic restrictions imposed whenever Ceausescu and his caravan would come into the city and we would be bullied to move not just quickly, but instantly into the remote corner of the street or avenue and she could not understand (who could) how the police could be so aggressive, to the point where they were very close to crashing into cars and provoking serious accidents, damage, wounded, but that was the system, it was all for the Big Brother.

Dear Beloved – the most loved son of the nation was actually one of the leit motifs and we heard this ad nauseam on the television program, which was just two hours long in the last years of the tyranny, all dedicated to the despot and his shenanigans – would die in 1989, on Christmas, shot by a firing squad and I am proud to repeat that I had taken part in the Revolution that would bring his end and this was covered in a few lines in the Newsweek copy which had the dictator on the cover, in an article by Michael Meyers

The 1989 Revolution, Episode 12

81 out of 100 for Nimby

73 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, Second Series

duminică, 25 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 15, Smithsonian -

Permaflow 15, Smithsonian



The lunatics placed the headquarters of the National Peasants’ Party under siege, because Iliescu had told me so and this was the cult leader that resembled Trump in a few ways, mainly because he talked shit, and the fans loved it, and obeyed all the directions he had given them, even if it included violence, just like the Orange Idiot made his followers do on January 6, in 2021, when the cave men attacked The Capitol…


In 1990, in the first part of the year, we have had a number of attacks on the capital, with miners coming down on trains, travelling about four hundred kilometers to defend their king, they had a slogan they liked, when Iliescu shows up the sun rises, which rhymes in the local tongue, and furthermore, they meant it…

We have watched from across the street, at Rossetti Square, how the mob was ready to take over and who knows, maybe, probably try to lynch the dissident, the brave man who had confronted the communist regime, spent seventeen (17) years in prisons, while the vile crowds were too afraid to do much, if anything, and now that people like me had fought to bring Ceausescu down gave them freedom, the savages were ready to show courage, in taking an old man to task and kick him, because their new despot said so…


In their defense, Ceausescu (in fact, I intended to put Iliescu here and came back to delete and replace, but I am leaving it here, because indeed, there is a difference between the two, but so much fucking similarity) and his sycophants insisted on the literal significance of what he had said, he did not task his crowds of adulatory primitives with killing the opposition leaders, but his inflammatory tone and words did that anyway.

We just watched because we were with the press, so we were there to observe and report, but we were also helpless, the hundreds of men (perhaps a few women and other were there, but this was an enraged mob of men, more than ninety percent brutish and monstrous) outnumbered and crashed the opposition


They would come down repeatedly, even as late as what, 1997, to impose their demands, leaders, and Primitive commune rules on the rest of us, because they could, they had the backing of the leaders, or the latter used this mob power to get their way and retaliate on the opposition, and in the summer of 1990, they nearly killed us, it looked like the trajectory of the bullet would have killed Adrian, my cousin and presumed best friend then (in retrospect, was he any kind of friend, never mind the best, seeing as around 1993 he would disappear completely, going to live in Argentina, wherefrom he would call a few times, but somehow he would have become an acquaintance largely, and a friend does not do that, at least according to this story I keep mentioning by Thomas Mann wherein he argues that love and friend are only seen in art, in real life, though we complain ‘there are no words to describe my love’, in fact, what we say is love does not correspond with the meaning, and so it is with friends)


Writing again about that period, I now realize that it could have also been me, for the car was moving by definition, and if the next day we looked in the engine and found a bullet and imagining the trajectory from the hole it made to the side where it stopped we said ‘oh, it was meant for Adrian’, now I see that this was a question of a second, and luck, some others would call it the Hand of God, or just destiny…

Before the bullet, things could have been serious and worse, calamitous, as we were in the…girls’ dormitory in Moxa, at ASE, the Academy for Economic Sciences, where we were thinking we will have a good time, for we had gone in there pretending to be covering events for the media (which in a way I was doing, on a general assignment, only that was time off) when in fact we were looking forward to meet some girls, get close to the ones we liked and use the journalist cover to get acquainted.


Yes, this is damn wrong, in this age, it was what, everything that is condemned, sexist, chauvinist, lying, pretending, signaling, I do not even know all the areas and definitions for what we did wrong, but these were different times and we had no idea that what we did was bad (which is no defense, when you break rules, true) and we went on asking what they think of events, how they feel about the change, was there any serious improvement, do they feel the commies are still in power, is there hope…

This was ironic, sarcastic, speculative, an effort to laugh at adversity and in the series Games People Play – which with this title is a classic of psychology by Eric Berne - we were at ease, happy to breathe in that atmosphere, with clever girls all around, some of them pretty, a few quite acerbic, and a number of them acting strangely, but we did not notice until it could have been too late…


Concerned about this questioning, which they took the wrong way, they had become suspicious, thinking we are agents of the regime in disguise, sent out to identify subversive elements and report on them, so that they would face retaliation, something along these lines and we have to remember that these were very troubled times, the new leader, Iliescu, was a former member of the CPEX or some other bulshit organization the Politburo or the equivalent and had gone into disgrace just because he had fallen with the big kahuna, the godfather of the bunch, Ceausescu, not because he had stopped believing in the old Bolshevik ideals, but it was a question of feeling threated – in fact, the pinko would succeed the red.

Iliescu was the Gorbatchev type of commie, had studied in Moscow and was also suspected to have loyalties there, conspiracies would insist that he had been recruited by the KGG and it was this outfit that had in fact manufactured the Romanian revolution, which otherwise would never have taken place…mamaliga does not explode, the polenta would not budge without some spark from the KGB, while others claimed it was the CIA…


SPIRE model of happiness to enhance your spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational & emotional wellbeing



The 1989 Revolution, Episode 11

74 out of 100 for Romeo Is Bleeding

73 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, series 1

sâmbătă, 24 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 14, Revolutions -

Permaflow 14, Revolutions



We have had the chance to be close to the University Square protests, in the winter and spring of 1990, all the way into the beginning of summer, when between June 13 and 15, the miners would descend on the capital, beat and even kill some people…indeed, they could have murdered us too, for we have happened to be there…


I was covering the protests for the journalist from Radio Sweden, as her assistant and translator, but because she had grown to trust me, and probably even more because she had had an affair with the correspondent for The Times, we would be sent in ‘the field’ to see what is going one for them and take notice.

With me I had Mihai Radu, who was working in the same capacity for the man with The Times, Mihai had been much luckier on a few fronts with that, his correspondent was friendlier, and maybe more importantly, The Times would keep an interest in the country and Radu would go on to work for journalists and I think he became one himself, a sort of freelance, whose job would place him in a discovery documentary I have seen, where he explains what has happened around here in recent history…


Funny that I had had to push him into this, and I am the one who has changed his life, if we think Jacques Le Fataliste by Denis Diderot, then it was all written in the big book up there, but otherwise, I had met with Mihai in the subway train, on the way home, we both lived in the Titan area back then, in 1989…

We have been in the same high school, in Mate Fizica 3, and at one point, we were competing for the same goalkeeper position in the team, he was one or two years older and probably better, he was the one to get the post…


In the train, I told him he must come at the Intercontinental Hotel, for this where the place is crawling with journalists and there are chances to make money, and not the flimsy sums we are used with, but many times the monthly wage, in the time of day, and I have already started with TIME, but there are plenty of others…

Mihai said that I must be crazy, with the fights going on – this was when there had been intense shooting, albeit the massive attacks from the enemies, forces loyal to Ceausescu would later prove to be bogus, fake news as we say today, and most of the casualties have been the result of friendly fire, poorly or untrained conscripts shooting at random, upon those they thought are the enemy, often following the wrong orders…

He insisted that he would never do such a stupid thing and walk willingly in the line of fire to day for some dollars, no matter if they would be the salary for some months, he would still be dead at the end of a few days or hours…


It was going on along these lines, with me insisting that this is the chance of a lifetime and he responding that this is mad, and he is in no way going to commit suicide and come there any time soon…

This is not the dialogue as it happened, but I have read 50 Psychology Classics and learned that most of the conversations we have are not listed to, if I am not mistaken, more than seventy five percent of what is talked about is never assimilated


In the end, Radu would show up at the Intercontinental hotel, where I had already landed a connection with Christina Nylander from Radio Sweden, and Mihai would work with the correspondent for The Times…

The two journalists would often stay at the hotel (albeit just ‘stay’ might not be the right term, maybe they jumped around, played games in their rooms, drank) and send us in the field, and we have had some interesting days like that, in one, we would enter the building of the government, as it was occupied.


At least I did, and called some people – the few who might have had one in the house, remember, this was before the days of the omnipresent, omniscient portable phone – to tell them I am ‘with the government’, and then at other times we would witness vicious events, just as the siege at the headquarters of the National Peasants’ Party, where the iconic, glorious Corneliu Coposu has had to get out in an armored personnel carrier.

The mad, ignorant, primitive miners had been brain washed by Iliescu and his acolytes into believing that Corneliu Coposu was some kind of monster, when in reality, Iliescu was the hydra and he sent a pack of demons that would sack, steal, embezzle and become rich, in the manner that is better known in connection with the Russian oligarchs…


Corneliu Coposu was a demi god, not a perfect, absolute, 100% one, for he had some flaws, but his courage, integrity had no equal, he had been through communist jails as a member of the ancient opposition, and when he had gone in, he had had the physique of a boxing champion, which he was, but upon release, he would weigh half that, losing so much in prison, where he had been abused by the instruments of the regime.

He had been a beacon, a light, a symbol of hope, someone who had been a role model, dedicated his lie to the good of others, his house was about fifty meters from the flat in Unirea, where we have lived for ten or fifteen years, and this is where I still have the domicile address on my ID, even if I live here, in the north of the city, just under one kilometer from the exit, the limit where Mogosoaia begins…

The 1989 Revolution, Episode 10

78 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, 1.9

76 out of 100 for Peace by Chocolate

vineri, 23 septembrie 2022

To The Hermitage by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the acclaimed The History Man - 10 out of 10


To The Hermitage by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the acclaimed The History Man

10 out of 10



Malcolm Bradbury has written some wonderful books, among them The History Man and To The Hermitage has history again at the center, where we have quite a large number of characters participating in a remarkable saga, from Denis Diderot – the one that has left posterity papers, treatises, notes, manuals on almost any conceivable subject, from trade, politics to philosophy, creating cities, universities, parliaments – to Catherine the Great – Empress Autocratix, a very complex figure, perhaps the most advanced leader of her age, and not just of that time, a protector of the philosophers, buyer of a massive gallery of art, builder of The Hermitage and so much more – Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and a paraphernalia of characters appear in these pages, diva, diplomat, carpenter, trade unionist, professors, and maybe some alter ego of Malcolm Bradbury himself…


Two stories develop in parallel, with the narrator travelling first to Sweden and from there to Sankt Petersburg, during the clash between Boris Yeltsin and the reactionaries that wanted to bring back the old communist regime – which is now in many ways back in top form, under the new despot and czar, Putin the invader of Ukraine, the bloody killer that executes his opponents and/or puts them in jail, as is the case for valiant Alexei Navalny, in the manner of Ivan the Terrible – and one important segment of the narrative will have us witness what is happening in Moscow, using the lens of the media covering the events.

With the war in Ukraine and the atrocities committed by Putin and his bands of killers, it seems inappropriate to read an opus that takes part in Russia, for the most part, and indeed, this could well be the reason why I have enjoyed this novel less than the brilliant, hilarious Rates of Exchange which happens in Slaka, not the USSR, and is often cathartic, but from The Hermitage, we can learn so many things about the Russians.


Among the intakes would be the look at their history, the fact that they have had so many tyrants, lunatics and sadists really, ruling over them, and this is a people that has seen so much abuse, torture, assassinations, famine, poverty and suffering that this explains in so many ways their attitude, the adoption of a defeatist approach, which we could understand by looking into a book by the co-founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, that explains how we can be optimistic, Learned Optimism but also what happens in the opposite situation – Martin Seligman had worked with dogs in special circumstances, where the animals were given a poor treatment, then allowed to escape the enclosure and it was discovered that those that had been exposed to shocks and had had no way to get out would show Learned Hopelessness to the degree that when they had the chance, they did not exit, because they had become hopeless, and on the contrary, the ones with a chance to get out when things were bad, had a different reaction.


It seems that the Russians have been trapped for centuries and have Learned Hopelessness on a  massive scale and we see that in To The Hermitage, wherein Denis Diderot travels to Sankt Petersburg, just like the story teller, and we experience with them the majesty of the city, we are awed by her Serene Imperial Majesty, who can be so progressive, but also cruel, when she orders the execution of so many that oppose her…the book is an ode, an homage to the great Philosopher, the one that gave some extraordinary insight into the art of acting, said that there is a ‘paradox that great actors display most passion when they invest the least, already he has invented Method acting’ – the way I remember it, from when I have read it some forty years ago is that Diderot gives the example of the amateur who tries to tell a crowd about something that has happened and though he is passionate, he does not find echo for his rendering, while somebody who is cerebral and detached would provoke much more emotion in the audience, so it is better not to use ‘the heart’, but the brain and it is wrong to say ‘oh, such good performance, he had his heart into it, he, she or they actually’

Then we have some fabulous takes on life versus art and a one liner assessment of philosophy, in art versus literature, Malcolm Bradbury writes about how what happens in books is so much more exciting than life – in his jocular manner, he puts in two exceptions, Beckett and Kafka – and if we couple this analysis with the pronouncement of Umberto Eco – those who do not read have just one life, while readers have five thousand, this being immortality backwards – then we reach the conclusion that reading is the best possible choice, we reach not only immortality by reading – presumably the magnum opera, the crème de la crème, nec plus ultra Russians, Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, but also Proust, Malamud, Kingsley Amis and so many more – but we are also in the Zone, we have reached Nirvana, Catharsis, Eudaimonia, Glasperlenspiel, Flow as described by the other co-author of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the zenith we reach when certain conditions are met, we are focused on the activity, we have clear goals, nothing else matters, time becomes fluid, we get constant feedback and we are in control and we have reached Maximum Joy in various forms - "The joy of the thinker- he has found the treasure of wisdom, he is enraptured"-


Denis Diderot has long sessions with the monarch in Sankt Petersburg, where the present despot had started, but one cannot help but wonder at the immense difference between Catherine the Great, so liberal and advanced almost two hundred and fifty years ago, especially when compared with the vicious murderer they now have in the Kremlin, for he has no tolerance for a different point of view, while the czarina could have a dialectical dialogue with the Great Philosopher, and accept when the latter expressed an opinion she disliked…it is true that the Age of Enlightment would end up in the bloody revolution of 1789, but so much of what Diderot, Voltaire and the other luminaries would represent a dramatic, fundamental change

Some favorite quotes are here…

Conceptual means we have not thought about it much, but we are cool, and something will happen to which we can add the name art. Postmodern means guess what, we managed to get a corporate sponsor to pay for it aka silence in Sweden orchestra. Fiction is infinitely preferable to real life. As long as you avoid the books of Kafka or Beckett, the everlasting plot of fiction has fewer futile experiences than the careless plot of reality. Fiction's people are fuller, deeper, cleverer, more moving than those in real life…Its actions are more intricate, illuminating, noble, profound…There are many more dramas, climaxes, romantic fulfillment, twists, turns, gratified resolutions…Unlike reality, all of this you can experience without leaving the house or even getting out of bed…What's more, books are a form of intelligent human greatness, as stories are a higher order of sense…As random life is to destiny, so stories are to great authors, who provided us with some of the highest pleasures and the most wonderful mystifications we can find…Few stories are greater than Anna Karenina, that wise epic by an often foolish author…Kant shows we never know anything with pure objectivity, Schopenhauer proves it's not mind but will we think with, then comes Kierkegaard and the leap in the dark  - no way of knowing being from nothingness…Followed by Nietzsche and the complete triumph of the irrational…Soon comes Heidegger and the collapse of all metaphysics…Then Wittgenstein and the whereof we cannot speak let us be silent…Michel Foucault and the total loss of the subject…Reason has gone the same way as religion....all we know is that cosmos is chaos, moving at fantastic speed toward an explosive and senseless destination no one can understand, it gets there and blows up or turns into anti matter…Diderot on Tristram Shandy, craziest, wisest and greatest of all books ' Sterne turned into Diderot, who turns into Mozart...he also turns into Proust and Joyce, Beckett and Nabokov

The 1989 Revolution, Episode 9

80 out of 100 for A Mon Tour

78 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, 8

joi, 22 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 12, ASPIRE -


Permaflow 12, ASPIRE



On the morning of December 22, 1989, I took on heavy clothes, thinking that we could repeat the protest from the previous day on the Roman Square, or perhaps at the University, but once we arrived at the Revolution Square (actually, it would be named that later, for the time being, it was still the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party) the dictator would flee in his helicopter.


Large crowds would head to the television and this is where we entered the house of some family again (as it had happened at the Roman Square, during the protest, on the day before) and I think looked at the television for a while, and then left to the Old Royal Palace, where shooting would start soon, all around the tanks that were by now lined up in the square and after we took cover, we again stood and went in ‘the line of fire’, because we realized that all the attack was from down below, and nobody was hitting the floor.

Indeed, when I would take clients on city tours later, when I would be in what is called today the Hospitality Business I would show the visitors the old building of the CC of the PCR – now the Ministry of the Interior – and how it had no bullet marks on it, or maybe just ten wounds, while the Old Royal Palace and the other buildings around have been severely hit, the palace being in ruins and needing a lot of work to rebuilt and redress the damage, which would take quite a few years to complete…


I met Michael Meyers from Newsweek, he was the head of the Central Europe bureau for the publication and then he would quote me in the magazine and you can find my words here, if you are interested, a contribution that I am very proud of

A strange coincidence makes it that I also met James Wilde, a marvelous man, intelligent, experienced, amusing, wise, friendly, exotique, he had been present in almost every country in the world, seen so much and respecting the principles explained in Blink and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell in that he had the ten thousand hours and all the elements to use this to extreme efficiency and in the Blink of an eye, he could make an assessment instantly of the situation and he told us that the FSN would break the promise, would become the dominant political force and he also foresaw the trouble we would be in in months and years…


James Wilde would pay me for my work as translator and fixer, for cars, interviews and such, we would meet with the New Jesus of Montreal, Marian Munteanu, leader of the Students’ Union, the one that would be one of the figure heads of the protest that would occupy the University Square in a few months, in opposition to the communist orientation of the FSN and Iliescu, a move that would make him the target of the cave men that would descend upon Bucharest a few times, most devastatingly between June 13 and 15, 1990, when Munteanu would be severely beaten and alas, this would have an effect…


Because of his injures, the commotion maybe, the man would become radial and extreme, so much so that he would be infrequentable and isolated on some fringe, another coincidence would make it that after 2000, when we would visit the office of a construction company that would work on the newly acquired home, the premise was in the same small building where Munteanu had his own organization…

James Wilde wanted to meet with various prominent figures, which was a challenge in December 1989 and January 1990, for the dominant personage of the past decades had been Ceausescu and the personality cult surrounding him was much like what you can see now in North Korea with ‘Rocket Man’


We would meet with Codabite, a singer that somehow would cross my path a few times over the years, first we went with James Wilde to his place, which was with a three minute walk from the Intercontinental Hotel, where all the press resided back then, it was after all overlooking the University Square and they could take photos of the clashes, film, record the sound of what would be going on from their balconies.

Gabriel had three daughters, I think, and then I would see one of them (maybe two, or all three) walking the dog in front of the National Theater, where I would also bring my own Deryl van Horn, and the singer would divorce his wife, and get all the attention with a vascular accident, a heart attack I think, some years back…


In 1991 we went on a trip to Sofia, and Codabite was a guest, meant to perform on the stage where Miss Romania was going to present an award, and at that time, I would be the hidden boyfriend, the fact that I had consented to be in disguise, under cover, for both the Bulgarian chap that had acquired the rights to represent Miss universe for Romania, Bulgaria and perhaps a few other countries in the region and her parents had been a terrible move, responsible in part for the fate of the relationship.

Or is it a confusion between causation and correlation here, just like people accuse an affair and say oh, that woman, man or they have broken the nest, so awful, when in fact, going out of the marital bond is a symptom pf the fact that the connection is not great, there are deep problems there and not the cause for them.


Yes, once a spouse finds about betrayal, there is the showdown we so often see in movies and read about, but the rotten core was the reason why the affair happened in the first place, it was a manifestation


SPIRE model of happiness to enhance your spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational & emotional wellbeing.

The 1989 Revolution, Episode 8

87 out of 100 for Endangered

81 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, 1.7

82 out of 100 for World War Z

miercuri, 21 septembrie 2022

Permaflow 13 Utilitarianism


Permaflow 13 Utilitarianism



Utilitarianism is a moral theory that argues that actions should be judged right or wrong to the extent they increase or decrease human well-being or 'utility' and according to this, there are quite a few villains out there that should disappear and they would do so much good by just moving off into the sunset…


George Bernard Shaw was saying at one time about Hitler that he was a good speaker, and kept on with the impressive achievements, but concluded that it would have been so much better for humanity had he never been born, and that would be true about Putin, Trump, Bolsanaro – arguably, given that he says Zelensky is just as guilty for the invasion of Ukraine as Putin, Lula would be included here – Xi, Kim of North Korea, Maduro and so many others…

In 1990, I was lucky to continue working for mass media, and that was my good start or just a brake for another, alternative life – let us say I had not worked for Helsingin, The Globe and The Mail, Radio Sweden, then I would stay in my lane, or maybe tried some other enterprise and avoid the blind alley where I have ended now…


After all, those who have graduated in geology, even more so more so for geophysics (where I have a diploma) would go on to make incredible amounts of money, granted, if they have been willing to travel and endure the climate, mosquitoes, perils of war, danger of attacks from fundamentalists and all sort of privations, they could make up to twenty thousand dollars per month, perhaps in the middle of the ocean on a deep oil drill…

As it was, the chance to make one hundred dollars and more per day looked and was fabulous, even if it eventually came down to twenty per day, when the arrangement covered a longer period, in the case of Radio Sweden, which had sent Christina Nylander down here, and she had me as her assistant for a couple of months or six weeks…


Then of course, later on, doing ‘part time’ work for AT&T, this would decrease even further, for this multinational mastodon would just pay 250 per month to begin with and a maximum of 400 at the end, when they would give me two countries to cover, OMG, my blood is boiling now, as I recall this so I better stop…

And continue…and they expected a lot of fucking work for that – talk of sweat shops – to travel to all the countries around and far away, to represent them with dignity at Am Cham and other (all) meetings, and with money for suits (presumably not taken out from the garbage piles), ties, shoes and deodorant - or stinking to high heaven or hell would be an indication that Greed is good, we are talking Wall Street meanness here, just like Gordon Gecko aka Michael Douglas in the celebrated, quintessential motion picture


Working from the Intercontinental Hotel also opened another door, when the marketing manager over there offered me a few tours to work with, and one in particular, taking travelers with The Smithsonian around would send me on the path to the…US Embassy, which was just across the street back then.

One guest with The Smithsonian liked what I did and said and since he had a good friend in the embassy, he called him and arranged a meeting, which took place, but without obvious consequences when it happened.


Later though, the spouse of the Chief of The Economic Section, Mr. Flowers, Norie Flowers would call me to arrange for trips and then we were on a roll, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, she would have bus tours around the country and at the same time, she would give my number to numerous visitors and then business was good.

On the other hand, forced to look for alternatives, maybe I would have tried to look for (even better) alternatives and perhaps try to partner with Danny O (the dude who is maybe one of the top 20 richest, surely among the top 50) and a tiny few percentages out of that massive beano would still mean I would have ten times what I do now…this is wrong though – ‘Wealth - any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband…H L Mencken…


On some levels, the life I have now could be seen as close to perfect, or even that, if such a thing exists, in that the mountain of cash does not sit in the living room or anywhere on the premises, in a bank account or buried somewhere, but I now have Balzac on my shoulder, and I do not mean the ghost of the rather heavy, splendid writer – who might be a burden, even in ethereal form, given the size and tonnage of the author –but the blue and gold macaw of that name, and besides, there is also Puccini, his brother in arms, the red and green macaw, who is roaming around the room and when they are not a pain, screaming or defecating over the place, they can be an absolute joy that cash cannot buy…

Well, it actually does, and one of them was about thirteen hundred dollars, and the other about one thousand, so they do not come exactly cheap, albeit regarded as pets, they can be seen as an investment, for they live five or six times longer than a dog, depending on the breed, a giant one would only last ten to twelve years, so a macaw should cost five times more than a dog of that kind, and I did pay one thousand for a borzoi…


You have a life time companion with one of those, the problem being exactly that, the benefit is also the drawback; what do you do with them after you die, who is going to take care of them, and before that, if you have some like mine, and you use them with your continual presence, then you are trapped…but it is such a sweet imprisonment…sometimes


SPIRE model of happiness to enhance your spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational & emotional wellbeing. 

The 1989 Revolution, 7

82 out of 100 for The Story of The Count of Monte Christo

82 out of 100 for Ted Lasso, 6

67 out of 100 for Jeepers Creepers