i'm the top dog in this bed... i think...

en esta cama la que manda soy yo... creo...

when i was a child i knew...

As a kid I used to say: "When I grow up, I want to be...."
1. a painter
2. a writer
3. a dancer

Now I say: "In the next life, I want to come back as..."
1. a detective
2. a doctor without borders
3. a DJ! Like this:

art is a time machine

John Singer Sargent with his Portrait of Madame X, Paris 1885, photographer unknown
Some works of art enter through the eye into the mind and heart, and stay there forever. For example, John Singer Sargent's paintings. It's been years since I last looked at them in New York, and no matter: they communicate an indelible living world, in which his sitters from another century continue to breathe and give off their own special light.

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles, Baudelaire wrote in 1857 of the interconnectedness of human experience across space and time; a truth everyone may glimpse to varying degrees, according to their individual sensibility, but which only a work of art, like Keats' Grecian Urn, can clearly spell out for us, in a way that we can all understand. The urn is a time machine from Mediterranean Antiquity, held inside another time machine, the English Romantic poem of 1819. 

In 1617, Marc-Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant gazed at certain trees and wrote a poem called La Solitude. Katherine Phillips translated it into English in 1664, Henry Purcell put it to music in 1684, and the countertenor Andreas Scholl, like me a huge Purcell fan, sings  it to us in the 21st century. 

Every time I listen to this song I think: "That's true...when I look at trees I feel the same way. How precious they are - how mysterious and life giving and perfect! I could lose myself in them - surely only a divinity could design such marvelous entities...?"

What content is mine
To see these trees, which have appear'd
From the nativity of time,

And which all ages have rever'd,
To look today as fresh and green
As when their beauties first were seen.

So Sargent's sitters, upper class 19th century women and men in their stuffy, complicated corsets and customs, whose particular private experiences were light years away from my own, nevertheless appear to me intelligible and graspable: I can relate to them, because his brushstrokes, just as the notes of Vinteuil's petite phrase  - itself one of many time machines within the meta time machine of Proust's novel - did for Swann, pluck something of the living essence of their psyche and ferry it to us, whole and intact, all the way across the constant streaming of space and time. 

Those who have stuck with me across the galaxies know that, whereas I once used to spend most of my time taking pictures and dancing, I now practically live in the fields with my dogs. Which is where, just yesterday, I saw a woman communing with a tree. She was alone - no dog or human companion. She was leaning into the trunk, and yes, kissing it. Does she know Purcell's song? I wondered, feeling a tiny thrill... 

I heard it on the facevine

Alexandra: Feed a spirit, starve an ego.

Laura: I own a miniature model of the Costa Concordia – why?!

Laura’s friend: Tilt it, it’ll look more realistic.

Rob: Our relationship was like a Lou Reed song. Waves of Fear, or The Heroine.

An Argie health minister: She’s an 11-year-old rape victim, and she wants an abortion? Niet! Nature is wise…if she ovulated, she can handle a pregnancy.

Liz: If I don’t think he’ll be good enough for me in the future, why do I think he’s good enough for me now?

Cameron: ███ ██████ ██████ ████████ ██ ████ ██ ████ █████████
 This status update has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A and has been removed.

Stef: Attempted pick-up by crashing bore at the club where I work: "I'd really love to know what's inside that head of yours... I'm sure there's something."

Jesse: Curiouser and curiouser…

i'll be your mirror

please, don't come any closer... my fantasy of you is so much more than you'll ever be...

joe frazier rip

And now, a few words about boxing. I used to look down on it as nothing but a blood sport, a matter of brutish, brainless men, bashing it out before shady audiences of equally brainless, possibly mafioso punters. 

“Boxing is an art form,” my first boss, Lucio Manisco, told me when I was in my early 20s. Lucio was the chief correspondent for an Italian TV network in New York, and I worshiped him, for he was a true maverick reporter, in the way that Clarence Darrow was a maverick lawyer. A passionate defender of human rights, he did things like regularly interrupting his live news feeds with anti-Desert Storm rants. 

But much as I tried to understand his admiration of boxing, I couldn’t get beyond my repugnance, and while I loved films like Rocky, Raging Bull, and Million Dollar Baby, I favored the characters over the fight sequences. 

Until I saw Tatanka. Based on the real life story of Olympic medalist Clemente Russo, as told by anti-mafia crusading journalist Roberto Saviano, it’s about how a boy from the wrong side of the tracks redeems himself from a life of crime through boxing. It’s not a great film, but for some reason, it made me understand what Lucio had said all those years ago. 

I saw how all the true champions – Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Jake La Motta, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson – were great because they represented something greater than themselves. And how at its best, boxing is not just about a contest of brute strength, but also of heart and courage and passion and integrity. 

So here’s to you, Smokin’ Joe. I think this fight is something to behold.