Salt Water, Malibu

Malibu is one of the most beautiful places to visit for uninterrupted views of the water; where the eyes can rest their gaze on the infinite horizon. Listening to the waves crash before lapping the shore is at once soothing and invigorating. Worries dissipate; everything feels lighter.

There’s a quote by Isak Dinesen that reads: ‘The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.’

I completely agree.

The view of Malibu Pier from Nikita restaurant

The view of Malibu Pier from Nikita restaurant


A Riesling dwarfs El Matador

A German Riesling dwarfs El Matador


Wanderlust — by Richard Avedon

Avedon was a poet and we didn’t know it?

Reading photographer Richard Avedon’s 1941 Scholastic Art & Writing award-winning poem Wanderlust on the back page of this month’s Harpers Bazaar was an apropos finale to a marathon magazine-reading session on an overcast Saturday in L.A.


You must not think because my glance is quick

To shift from this to that, from here to there,

Because I am most usually where

The way is strangest and the wonders thick,

Because when wind is wildest and the bay

Swoops madly upward and the gulls are few

And I am doing as I want to do,

Leaving the town to go my aimless way;

You must not think because I am the kind

Who always shunned security and such

As bother the responsible of mind

That I shall never total up to much;

I know my drifting will not prove a loss,

For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss.

Richard Avedon via

Richard Avedon via

Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn


Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)

Lost In Translation: Sergey Esenin

The Russian-to-English translator’s job is a tough one. They face a constant dilemma in transforming  melodic Russian verse into rigid English. It’s unfortunate, but many times a bad translation will make the most evocative Russian sentence sound flat and dull.

In my research of Russian literature, I have been reading about Sergey Esenin — one of the country’s most-loved lyrical poets. Born in the country, he moved to the city — Moscow, then Petrograd — and in 1918, formed the Imagist poetry group.The Revolution had an impact on Esenin; he found it hard to adjust to the new way of life, and alcohol and drugs furthered his disillusionment. Over the course of 30 years, Esenin wed four times (American dancer Isadora Duncan was his third wife), becoming a father through marriage and a romantic liaison. All this made for  moving and emotive verse that, while poignant, thrives on masterful composition.

So, what does this have to do with translation? While combing through copious amount of information, I came across a number of English translations of Esenin’s final poem. Stumped, I searched for the original and found no translation to be a match. They were all either too wordy, exaggerated, and/or neglected to honour the poet’s words. I ended up translating the eight lines myself and believe me, it’s hard to balance the literal and the melodious, yet that shouldn’t compromise the poem’s integrity.


Apparently, this final untitled poem was written in blood. Esenin, who was staying at the Hotel Angleterre in Leningrad, could not find any ink and used his lifeblood to complete the piece. The poem became public around the same time he was found in his hotel room, hanging from a radiator pipe. Whether Esenin committed suicide or not is undetermined. He had been mentally unstable and suffered from a drug addiction, though some attribute his death to the hands of the secret police. Politically, Esenin was out of favour as his “village” poetry clashed with the industrial theories of the Revolution.

Esenin left his legacy in the most beautiful of poetic works that continue to be devoured. I checked Twitter and found that the Russians love nothing more than to share a cup of coffee with Esenin in the spring.

Here’s my translation of this final poem. The original is below if you want to have a go of translating it yourself, or to at least compare with Google translate. If you come across wildly varied versions in either case, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye.

My dear, you are in my heart.

This predestined parting

Promises a meeting in time to come.


Goodbye, my friend, without a hand, without a word,

Don’t be sad and furrow your brow in sorrow, –

To die in this life is not new,

But to live, of course, is not newer.


До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья.
Милый мой, ты у меня в груди.
Предназначенное расставанье
Обещает встречу впереди.

До свиданья, друг мой, без руки, без слова,
Не грусти и не печаль бровей, —
В этой жизни умирать не ново,
Но и жить, конечно, не новей.


Esenin and Duncan

Esenin and Duncan



Breaking Dawn on New Year’s Day ~ Santa Barbara, CA

When night is almost done,
And sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the spaces,
It ‘s time to smooth the hair

And get the dimples ready,
And wonder we could care
For that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour.

~Emily Dickinson


Circus Magic ~ Irvine, CA

Retreating into a dreamscape of extravagance, beauty, and sensory delights –  this, for me, is Cirque du Soleil.

I’ve been to a few of these magnificent shows and by far my favourite is Totem. I saw it recently in Irvine, located an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. That evening, the Grand Chapiteau beckoned with its welcome burst of colour in a field of darkness; magic was brewing inside the yellow-and-blue-striped tent.

Sitting ringside to witness the “evolution of mankind” is a surreal experience in itself; adding dazzling acrobatics and dizzying props creates a journey most fantastical. An artistic alchemy stirs in the space between science and myth, a place where imagination seems to have no bounds: Amerindian artists dance through hoops, a catch-me-if-you-can trapeze act rouses romance, a contortionist backbends and arm balances to show strength in the face of struggle, Crystal Ladies juggle glittery squares of material with out-of-this-world hand-and-foot coordination, a sensual roller-skating duo spins with controlled passion, unicycles and rings add a traditional circus element; there are flamenco beats, African drums, and the tunes of Bollywood; visual effects turn a blank canvas into an otherworldly space coloured with the intricate yet bold costumes inspired by amphibians, lost civilizations of South America, and Aborigines (all designed by Australian Kym Barrett, known for her work on Romeo+Juliet and Matrix movies).  The show is a sure-fire way to awaken the anthropologist in all of us.

Forty-seven artists from 15 countries, and 73 support staff from 9 countries, make up the cast of Totem. Away from the desk, away from the demands of work, away from the news and all that goes with it, performances like these unite us and simply request that we be present to delight in a marvellous experience; to leave (most assuredly!) in a state of wonderment, and with the feeling that there’s a lot to celebrate in the world.

1957_OSA_PS_TOTEM_3406PS1957_OSA_PS_TOTEM_2285PSCDS_totem_russianbars_OSA_PS_TOTEM_(1)PS_SA13990_v5PS0SA36015_v5PS0R4A1345_finale_RPS0R4A1535_finale_RPS_SA13752_v5PS0R4A1264_finale_RPSAs cameras weren’t allowed, there images are ©2010 Cirque du Soleil Inc.