• Photography

    The Alchemy of Pink

    Pink, there are times when you come off a little garish, or seem the feebler cousin of Red, lacking that vibrant color’s conviction. For some you can be a little hard to define, your hue being somewhere between Red and Magenta. But when you place yourself in partnership with Green, you truly know how to shine, perhaps even how to heal. You also know how to highlight magnificently the hours of dawn and dusk in between the contrast of slanting beams of light and long layers of shadow. You’re the color of love and the signal fire that says the equinox is here. Pink, you definitely have your moments. The spectrum of the universe would not be the same without you. Keep shining.

  • Photography,  Places

    A Dream Named Thessaloniki II

      I’m still wandering down the corridors of memory. Stumbling perhaps. It’s a dreamy place I’m in and I’m not yet ready to relinquish it. Thessaloniki, Salonika … what was its magic? Was it the right amount of decay versus newness? Old visions merging into the new? The people? Perhaps it was the space in which to walk, empty but not vacant. Modiano Market. A vast roof above, still functioning stalls. Vegetables. Eggs. Meat. Cheese. A burst of voices, laughter. A flash of a smile. Then a beautiful silhouette. Her heels clatter on the stone. Her shadowed figure merges with the light at the end of the corridor. Cafes, tavernas, mini ouzeri clustered beneath the decrepit canopy. More signs I can’t read. This is intriguing. I want to come back. But it is shuttered at night when I return though, drowned in shadow, and locked. Next time, stay for lunch. The architecture…

  • Photography,  Places

    A Dream Named Thessaloniki

    It has excited my imagination for some time, but I know very little about it. I know it’s Mustafa Kemal’s birthplace, but ironically not part of the great modern state he created. It’s often compared to Izmir. Its history, rich, significant … Greek, Roman, Ottoman, 20th century, Jewish. It’s a port city, Aegean, named after the princess born on the day of a great Macedonian victory. To hell with guidebooks. Wander. Get a vague sense of direction and then to let all five, or is it six, senses lead me. I don’t want anybody else to discover for me. Why not relinquish the burdensome anxiety that something will be missed without Fodor’s or Lonely Planet? Yes, I have expectations, but seeing how close one’s imagination stands up to reality is another pleasure. Thessaloniki … Salonika … Selanik? doesn’t disappoint. There are echoes of other port cities, Izmir, Beirut, common architectural details…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Photography

    Accidental Patterns

    PYTHAGOREAN PIPES. THE TETRACTYS. What is it that makes something beautiful? Is it when it suggests something to you which creates a pattern in your head? Is it about achieving symmetry, or is it asymmetrical? Is it an accident or something you can create? I wonder. I’m inclined to think the most beautiful things are discovered by an accident. Is beauty created, or discovered. No matter how genius an artist or scientist is, I’m of the belief that they stumble along to find the patterns in life and highlight them. How many accidents have found happy conclusions? I think it’s when we’re forced to look at something a different way that a beautiful new truth is discovered. SUNLIGHT THROUGH A DERELICT FACADE IMPOSES ITS PATTERN ON ANOTHER BUILDING. Pythagoras, the mathematician, mystic and ‘lover of wisdom’, believed there was a pattern to nature, and is often credited with discovering musical…

  • Photography,  Places

    In the belly of a beautiful beast: the Marmaray Project.

    Cities are incredible things to me, like monstrous organisms. They are composed of living and non-living materials. They have a vast network of interconnected internal organs hidden beneath layers of external tissues. They expand and contract, inhale and exhale, live and die … I could go on with the metaphors, but I won’t. Yesterday, I had a magnificent opportunity, one of the most awe-inspiring of my life, to enter the belly of the beast of Istanbul and explore the tunnels which will conduct the Marmaray rail system, a system which will plunge below the Marmara Sea and once completed, will connect Halkali on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side of the supercity of Istanbul. Like many people who live in metropolises, I take trains and the underground on an almost daily basis. Aside from some crowding, the occasional waft of bad breath or B.O., rail is a…

  • Mind / Body,  Photography

    The Mystic Emptiness

    Ever have those moments when the light strikes the surface you’re looking at in a certain way and suddenly there’s a change, an almost mystic feel in the air and you want suddenly to say, “Yeah, baby!” I do all the time. Then I realize I’m alone, or in a church, a mosque or some sacred site where such an expression would be highly inappropriate. The world really is an incredible place at times, particularly when you get to see the most mundane things all over again, but in a new way. Perhaps that’s why I’m so relieved to have my camera and this blog. Being a writer or a creative person is very solitary at times. You’re always trying to capture a moment, hold it, freeze it in glass. Now it’s not so lonely. I could say more, but somebody else has already said it far better: “The most…

  • Photography,  Places

    Istanbul’s otherworldly inhabitants.

    I sometimes wish it was possible to interview cats. What things they must have seen — and if they could talk, I’m sure they’d have a rich oral history. Unless they adapt their claws to dip in an inkwell … they’d probably be talented calligraphers. Okay, so I’m letting my imagination run away with me here. Regardless, whether you like or dislike cats, Istanbul neighborhoods would not be what they are without their feline inhabitants. The street dogs are something special too, but in my opinion they exist solely based on the good nature of the city’s gentle inhabitants. Cats are subtle creatures and I’m told that this city’s felines have flourished since Ottoman times thanks to the Prophet’s particular love of the animal. It’s said that he loved animals in general, but that once he cut off his own sleeve rather than disrupt a feline friend’s sleep. In more…

  • Photography

    Yellow: a primary beauty.

    SHOE BOXES. OSMANBEY. Remember long days, the warm light that bathes the world as the sun slants late and long through the streets? No, neither do I. That’s why even though today is Monday, and not Sunday, I’m dedicating this post to the color of the Sun, which has made only dropped the occasional flicker around here lately. It’s got me looking for sunny bursts everywhere I go, even if it’s a pale reflection off a crumpled old shoe box in some dimly lit pasaj in Osmanbey. I’m especially enjoying the primary color, yellow, these days. Even at its plainest, it’s gold. Summer will return … I think. Until then, I hope these will give you some warmth. FISH SHOP. KARAKÖY. DERELICT HOUSE. TOPHANE. YELLOW CAT. YELLOW CRATE. SULTANAHMET. HARDWARE ON DISPLAY. PERSEMBE PAZARI.

  • Food & Drink,  Photography,  Places

    24 golden hours on the Golden Horn.

    VOYAGE TO THE GOLDEN HORN. This weekend I had an amazing 24-hours escaping into my favorite neighborhood like a tourist. After dropping off our daughter at her grandmother’s we boarded a vapur for Karaköy. Start any adventure on a vapur and it’s bound to add flavor to the experience. FIND YOURSELF A GOOD NIGHTTIME NEST: KARAKÖY ROOMS. Next, we checked ourselves into a really elegantly appointed hotel. Sometimes you need to feel like you’re in a movie, not ordinary life. We stayed at Karaköy Rooms, owned by the same team that bring me gastronomic bliss on a regular basis, Karaköy Lonakantasi. I highly recommend renting the studio. It’s a beautiful space with high ceilings and even has a small kitchenette appointed. We were tempted to stay for more than 24 hours. Take a beer or a glass of wine up to the roof and take in the view of the old…

  • Books & Lit,  Photography,  Places

    Gothic beauty … in the eye of the beholder.

    YENIKÖY CHURCH. Perhaps it’s the constant threat of snow the last couple weeks, but I’ve started to notice the cracks in this city, through which both the icy wind and my imagination can howl. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of snow. Where I grew up the snow and dark could last for months. As a child it sometimes seemed my only refuge was the world of books and the fiery corners of my imagination. ABANDONED KONAK, YENIKÖY. More often than not the tales I disappeared into were of a dark, gothic nature. So, thanks to the snow, my imagination has started to shade the city a touch gothic lately. I mean this in the literary sense — and not the medieval architectural sense. I mean in the details, in the strange slanted light, the clacking shutters of empty casements, and the creaking of floorboards. Istanbul is full of…