Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eternally Unmashed?

Eternal Mash, Catherine van Campen (2007)

Ruurd Walecht's interest in historical crops began when he was very young. He started a life-long crusade to protect, preserve and maintain them. This Dutch Don Quixote of rare vegetables built an incredible collection of hundreds of crops that were on the brink of extinction. A few years ago, Ruurd suddenly moved to Sweden leaving his colourful mix of helpers behind. Eternal Mash tells the story of this master horiculturist and his Green Ark. Because his life's work is very important to all of us...

Supermarkets are lined with shelve upon shelve of products wrapped in colorful packaging and plastic foil. 50 types of butter stand in line, like girls in a beauty pageant, trying to lure eager shoppers to fall for their charms.

However, the vegetable department seems barren in comparison. You can almost imagine tumbleweeds rolling by as, amidst of all the color and splendor of the canned and packaged goods, you enter the deserted vegetable area.

Vegetables lie in puny piles in what is often the smallest section of the supermarket. Here you can’t find a vast array to choose from. No limitless rows of produce. No sexy luring. Only one type of broccoli, one type of cucumber and, if you’re lucky, 3 types of lettuce. (True; you can now decide whether you want to buy them sliced or whole, but that’s got less to do with choice and more with inner-city laziness.)

All this is due to international legislation that has permitted the influx of countless artificial and pre-packaged products, but has determined that only one species of cucumber is to be produced for consumption, ruling out all other variations of the vegetable. Consequently 75% of what used to be farming produce has irretrievably disappeared.

Instead we have opted to create genetically manipulated vegetables and fruits, shaping and re-shaping them until they grow faster, and look uniform and perfect in our eyes. No wonder lemons (normally yellow for only a few months a year) get a useless and slightly toxic coat of industrial wax to make them shine. Uniquely shaped fruits and vegetables are out of grace.

Produce is now grown under strict, sterile conditions in carefully monitored boxes and this is visible in the food we eat. Tomatoes might look beautiful, but inside they are filled with water and lack the taste that drew us to them in the first place. Vegetables have turned into Mediterranean coastal towns; once visited by foreigners for their uniqueness, and now built to the rim with high-rise uniform hotels, defacing and standardizing them. Gone are strong flavor, unique shape and size variety.

In Eternal Mash the maker addresses this very problem. For years Ruurd Walrecht had seen how vegetables were changing and being formed into glorified Xerox copies of their original ancestors, or disappeared altogether. So he started a project of collecting as many variations of plants, in their original, un-edited form, to preserve for posterity in a carefully kept field somewhere in the north of the Netherlands. Unfortunately, it seemed to be for def ears. As he fought to make government organizations see the purpose of his project, he only received support from a few fellow concerned citizens. So great was the non-support for his project, that after fighting it for some years he couldn’t stand the pressure anymore and left. Packing his belongings and moving to Sweden. Leaving behind disconcerted helpers, who’s life he touched, and an invaluable collection of seeds and beans. As with every such project, its value is only seen once it seizes to exist. And in this case it was no different. His seeds have been stored in so called gene banks, in order for the species to survive the rigorous regime of the uniformisation.

But this survival is as sterile as the conditions vegetables are grown in these days. Packaged in air-tight sealed sachets and frozen in huge refrigeration chambers, the seeds now wait until one day somebody might remember them and make them grow again. However, the gene bank employee tells us; “If there’s interest in using them for genetic manipulation they will also be released.” Thus destroying the whole purpose they were collected for in the first place.

Is society so far digitalized that we don’t care anymore about what we put into our mouths? That we content ourselves with having a quick, tasteless TV dinner, because that’s all we have time for. Will this, in time, merge into the nightmare scenario shown in Wall-E where humans drink all food, processed and mauled, from a cup? Is the lure of colorful cans and packaging so strong that fresh produce can’t compete anymore? Will more and more produce remain eternally unmashed? I guess only time will tell...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


"I remember singing "The Cross" by Prince in my head to focus on, while laying on a stage pretending I was dead, blood capsule in my mouth, it worked...

I was 16 and had just been theatrically slaughtered by a boy with angel wings and a violin...good times..."

I just tweeted that after the song triggered the memory.
And a good memory it is....
Which got me to thinking about my passion for soundtracking.


I call it that because much like soundtracks in films, I enjoy putting a soundtrack to my life.
This happens in two different ways:

1) HeadTunes
Unbeknown to onlookers I will have a song or tune playing in my head to accompany situations I find myself in. This tune might be triggered by something that is said (a word that corresponds with a lyric of a song) or an image that conjurs the song in my head.
For some freakish reason nature has blessed me with a brain that stock-piles needless information, and among this information there's a full library of music and songs, oftentimes complete with (partial) lyrics.
My buddies sometimes call me "the human jukebox" because of this.

2) HeadPhones
I will have headphones squeezed into my ears whenever I can OR listen to music via players of sorts.
This in itself is not uncommon; these days quite a lot of people walk around like this.
But the difference is, that I'm not blocking everything else out....I'm coloring that what I see....
I apply this, for instance, when I'm reading a book; every single book I've read has had a soundtrack to it.
And every soundtrack is different, because every book is different.
Effect is that I can remember the story of a book whenever I hear a certain song, and especially what it made me feel.

Needless to say I always collect and dissect my own music for the plays I direct, as I'm well aware of the effect sound has on the over-all image.
And yes, I can get VERY annoyed when soundtracks to movies are bad...especially if they don't allow time to breathe, or at least give you the idea they do...



"I felt the blood capsule powder mix with my saliva and trickle down my face, as the boy with the angel wings played his violin, and I lay there, motionless in front of an audience of onlookers...all the while "The Cross" played repeatedly in my head...."

i go to this window

i go to this window

just as day dissolves
when it is twilight(and
looking up in fear

i see the new moon
thinner than a hair)

making me feel
how myself has been coarse and dull
compared with you, silently who are
and cling
to my mind always

But now she sharpens and becomes crisper
until i smile with knowing
-and all about

the sprouting largest final air

inward with hurled
downward thousands of enormous dreams

-e.e. cummings -

Seeker Of Truth

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

-e.e. cummings -

Saturday, July 18, 2009


As hearts open to the world they inhabit
And dreams take shape
Some small, still shivering from the shock of birth
Others grown and gaining in strength
As days pass

The rain falls
Oblivious of all that occurs
Beneath it
It flows down
In a cooling curtain

Washing away
Fear, doubt, anger

Dreams and hearts moulding themselves
Into multi-colored shapes
Like ravanous beasts
Eager to be fulfulled

Salty drops of sweat 
Merging with rain water
Making things happen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Gates

Film review I wrote during a documentary film festival for a film magazine.


Not a mere recording of the creation of landscape art for New York’s Central Park by famous artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude; The Gates is a documentary which symbolises the general public’s perception of art.

Passing through a period of 26 years, it narrates the bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness the artists had to face to be able to complete the finished piece; a two-week display of 7500 saffron coloured gates located over the park’s walkways. A project that cost around 20 million US Dollars, and was funded by the artists themselves.

What, everybody wants to know, is its purpose? “Why don’t you use that money to feed people?” and “The park is a piece of landscape art! To place another piece of landscape art on top of it would be like asking Picasso to paint the Guernica on the surface of The Last Supper!”. Then, in 2005, they finally get the green light. Hidden behind trees, people reluctantly watch as the first steel gates are erected in their beloved park, whilst muttering and complaining to the camera crew. Yet all this ceases the moment The Gates are unveiled; at first the park turns into a theatre, with great crowds of enthusiastic onlookers, then into a mystical place where the wind blows the fabric attached to the steel into beautiful saffron-coloured waves, framing the parks’ vistas and reinvigorating a space that everybody took for granted.

As one of the park’s inhabitants, a homeless man, states: “People think why don’t you use the money for something else, like feeding them and shit. Something like this, the money is well spent! I think it feeds the soul.” He should know.

Tokyo Pulse

Analytical film review I wrote for a film magazine, during Cannes 2008.


The organism that is Tokyo lives; it’s vibrant, energetic and unpredictable.

And forms the décor for an amazing cooperation between directors Joon-ho Bong, Leos Carax and Michel Gondry and producer Anne Sawada for the triptique Tôkyô! (Shaking Tokyo, Merde and Interior Design). As well as the international co-production Tokyo Sonata directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Who will all premiere during this edition of the Cannes film festival in the Un Certain Regard program. Four completely different stories, but all situated in a city that is definitely a great subject and background for inspirational cinema.

Ever since Venetian explorer Marco Polo mentioned a country the Mandarin Chinese called Cipangu in his 13th century recount of his travels to the far-east Il Milione, Japan has intrigued westerners immensely. Nippon, The Land of the Rising Sun, draws us in with its mystique and doesn’t let go. So it is no wonder that Japan has been featured in western films from as early as 1901, when a short American documentary called Asakusa Temple was directed by Robert K. Bonine, depicting, among other things, some early tourists admiring the impressive temple in Tokyo. This silent film already showcases what will become a niche within western film; films about Japan, and especially about its capital Tokyo.

Perhaps it’s the way the Japanese culture seems to cherish purity that we rugged westerners crave for its depictions. In Wim Wenders’ Tokyo Ga, the director goes in search of just that; to find pure images. Images he so admired in the work of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. He finds a much-changed society, where the mystique has been replaced by Pachinko arcades and wax effigies of restaurant food. However, in a way, these images are as pure and no nonsense as the ones he was searching for. The endless shots of trains, metal Pachinko balls and people among the cherry blossoms in a graveyard have an almost meditative quality to them.

Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola has that same reflective atmosphere. It provides a view of Tokyo as seen by foreign visitors. Literally lost among the confusion of the vast city’s dynamics, the main characters search for some kind of piece of mind, in each other’s company. And piece of mind, it turns out, is hard to find.

But not only foreigners search for ways to connect within the city. The Japanese characters of Hinano and K in Jean-Pierre Limosin’s Tokyo Eyes also look for some sort of a connection, albeit of a different kind. K tries to change wrongdoers by shooting at them with a rigged gun that (nearly) always misses. And 17-year-old Hinano searches for affection and some sense of adventure. The film has many references to other films, which gives it extra dynamism and does make one wonder how the film had turned out, had the director followed his initial idea to shoot it in Paris. Simply because the Tokyo setting seems to fit the story like a glove. Or better said; like a well-oiled train. For trains seem to be the common denominator within films shot by foreigners in Tokyo, even those who originate from the east. The simple voyage from “a” to “b” becomes a journey inward, a almost philosophical search for meaning. In Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Café Lumiere, the network of trains resembles arteries that feed the city, and the main characters’ activities. Always pulsating with the sound of metal wheels on tracks, the movement of the wagons and the soundtrack of Taiwanese composer Jiang Wen-Ye. The city as a living, breathing organism. But still as pure as the films of Ozu it was inspired by.

Just like jazz musicians hear music in the heartbeats of cities like New York and Paris, filmmakers will keep finding rhythms in Tokyo’s pulse that drives their films, feeds narrations and gives them a spirit that can’t be found anywhere else.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Stirred times call for stirred thoughts, and stirred dreams.
All day long it felt like this thick coat was laying upon my shoulders, weighing me down.
All night wild dreams flowed before my cerebral cortex, throwing my imaginary self to and froh like a puppet in a colorful restless world.
But however heavy, however stirred, I have come once again to the realisation;

Every ending is a beginning.

And so however much it tries to drag me into dark crevices.
I won't let it.
And embrace the new opportunities that lay ahead.
Like an adventurer about to embark on a new journey, I see it all with fresh eyes that will darken from time to time, but will continue to fight back.

Impression - Le Reveillon

The sky is laced with fitful red,
The circling mists and shadows flee,
The dawn is rising from the sea,
Like a white lady from her bed.

And jagged brazen arrows fall
Athwart the feathers of the night,
And a long wave of yellow light
Breaks silently on tower and hall,

And spreading wide across the wold
Wakes into flight some fluttering bird,
And all the chestnut tops are stirred,
And all the branches streaked with gold.

-Oscar Wilde-

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Grinded earth
has brought the fluttering winds
To a standstill
Clay mixed
With lone drops
Soft grass rooting
Her ear
On the green

Her eyes
see caterpillars pass
A whet puddle
under her cheek
Body merges with grass

As caterpillars and ants follow
the fainting rhythm
of her heart

Silence remains

and soft flutters
of distant butterflies

Garlic Breath

(Story I wrote wayyy back, while I was in dramaschool...go figure...funny to read back, for sure...hehehe N-joy!)


"I have no idea", she said to her friend, while she popped another lemon drop into her mouth.
Those Greek Kebabs had been delicious, but they had left her breath smelling so heavily of garlic that she was afraid the people around her would faint into a coma as soon as she breathed with her mouth open.

She felt a rush of exitement run through her body.
The nex one on stage would be HIM.

In the last play he was in he had played a Greek God....
Of course he had!
You could grate cheese on his abs!

How she longed to see him perform tonight!
She had endured one hour of comical, stipid, bad, interesting and so so performances....only for this moment.
She could feel time ticking away as she waited.
Somewhere down there, in the dark, HE waited to make his entrance.
She sighed softly, and in a reflex put her hand before her mouth to smell her breath....
Yup, total garlic frenzy...but now mixed with the sour smell of so called "lemon".
She suddered.
"I guess I'll just have to keep my mouth shut untill I can buy some gum" she tought.

To keep her mind off her breath and the upcoming events, she thought back to when she first met HIM. It had been months ago...about a week into the school year, in the bar everybody went to after school.
All the girls in her class had been exited when he entered...he was very popular and a celebrity too.
She looked him over, he looked alright...bit too slick for her liking, bit too perfect.
"That guy's as shallow as that dog bowl near the door", she tought as she took another sip from her drink. During most of the night she ignored him, as large flocks of giggely girls surrounded him and fought for his attention......then they turned up the music volume...
Soon she found herself dancing on a table enclosed by HIM and his best friend.
They laughed, bumped into eachother and sang along with the music.
After a few songs HE bought his two dancing parners (her and his best friend) drinks and started a conversation with great dismey of the giggling hordes who felt left out.
They talked all night, they talked untill the bar was closed, they talked outside, they talked and talked and talked, untill it was so late that it was REALLY time to go home.
Then they walked homeward, still talking, untill he had to turn left and she had to continue straight ahead. He kissed her on the cheek and wished her a good night....and that was it...she was hooked...

...for months he had been the only thing on her mind.
He had haunted her dreams, her fantasies her daily life....everywhere she went she would see him.
And now he was going to perform!

She nudged her friend who made a whooting sound and winked at her.
Turing her face crimson...
She tought everybody would know about it, about her thoughts, about their secret looks in the canteen, about how they softly brushed against eachother in the hallways when nobody was looking, and about her longing to drag him into a dark corner and kiss him passionately while the rest of the school went on minding their own business.
But they didn't.
Nobody really cared about her thoughts.
Everybody was anticipating his appearance...then......the lighs went on...

...there HE was....lying naked in a bathtub!!!!
Her eyes almost popped out of her sockets, her heart skipped a beat, she gasped at the sight of his wet, naked body.....and so did the rest of the school.
Everywhere around her people were shifting in their seats, trying to get a sneak peek under the foamy water.
The whole audience was concentrated on one thing alone...
...nobody cared about the story he performed, or his character...
...everybody wanted more...

Then the scene stopped and the lights turned off for a second.

The audience broke into extatic cheers and wolf whistles, people stood up...a great roaring mass of voices, clapping and cheering....everybody ignoring his fellow actors and staring at the naked man in the tub.

He waved shyly and motioned for everybody to stop and to go (it was halftime so there was a break of 20 minutes sceduled).
But nobody moved a muscle.

She sat herself back into her seat, and looked at him calmly...then their eyes met and he shot her a helpless look.
"He's mine" she thought and laughed loudly...garlic breath 'n all....