The annual Istanbul Tulip Festival began this week, and will continue to the end of the month. My plan this week was to go out and take a bunch of mediocre pictures of tulips like everyone else in this city, and maybe take the wrong bus or something along the way so I’d have a story to tell you, but in the earlier part of the week the temp dropped to 5 degrees and there was unrelentingly hateful rain and wind, and then on my day off I spent the morning looking for my roommate’s cats, and was too traumatized all afternoon to attempt an adventure. But don’t worry, I’ll get around to it, because it’s just glorious. The city is furred with millions of tulips of all kinds and colors. Besides the big concentrations mentioned in the article, they’re popping up in roadside verges, around sidewalk trees, in front of government buildings- everywhere. You are aware that tulips originated in Turkey, right? In the sixteenth century they began to be imported into the Netherlands, which was soon in the grip of Tulip Mania, perhaps the world’s first speculative bubble. Soon tulips were worth their weight in gold, and then, if my memory serves, rather more than their weight in gold. When the bubble burst, people who’d paid more than the price of a Rembrandt for bulbs were left completely ruined. It’s a fascinating story, and if you haven’t read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollard- do it now. If you don’t want to read it, watch the dvd.
Writing about that has put an itch in my brain, because I feel like I read somewhere, sometime, that there was cone snail shell bubble at one point in history, but I can’t for the life of me think of when or where. Does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about? (An ex-boyfriend once told me I had a brain like an encyclopedia that had lost its binding. I think the pages get a little more scattered every year, and today in particular I feel like my brain is turning and turning in a widening gyre and can’t hear the falconer so bear with me as I mix metaphors like my name is Isabel Allende ((oh no I didn’t!)) and generally refuse to come to a point.)
But speaking of Flemish craziness, this is absolutely adorable and I so wish I’d thought of it first. I mean, why didn’t I? Airplane lavatories, toilet paper headresses, and Flemish portraiture obviously go together.
Speaking of art, This is Colossal is my new favorite blog. Thank you, Erik. Every post is more mesmerizing than the last. I really love the idea of coming upon one of these sculptures unexpectedly. I mean, you know you’d jump out of your skin, right? I think scattering them around the world would be the most amazing act of guerrilla art. It reminded me of something I saw a year or so ago- could you imagine just snorkeling around on a sunny day and running into these guys? Gah!
On a more serious note, I was reading another blog a few weeks ago and the writer said that she would never live in a Muslim country. I had a knee jerk “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?!?!” reaction, but then I started thinking and thinking about it, about why someone would say that, what they imagine living in a Muslim country entails. (Very expensive pork, for one thing. If that’s a deal breaker than by all means…) Then I read this article, which articulated many of my feelings about religious identity in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Read it, and after you recover from violently face-palming yourself upon reading the part about Newt Gingrich, (and the American gov’t in general) tell me what you think about living in a country where you’re a religious minority, or about pervasive Muslim stereotypes, or anything at all, really. React.
Speaking religious ignorance, I learned a bunch from this article. It gave me stuff to think about for weeks.
On the other side of the pond, baseball season started this week. As an intractably fair-weather sports-sort-of-fan, I start yawning before you finish saying the word Orioles. I do not understand the passion for a team that is so bad they aren’t even fun to watch, but I imagine it’s something like enjoying the pain that comes with picking off a scab, or poking a toothpick into a tender spot in your gums. At any rate, my twitter and facebook feeds are alight with fervor and a weird mixture of optimism and fatality. Enjoy that, guys. In other Baltimore news, crowd beats, robs, and strips some poor tourist naked. Oh Baltimore, I miss you.
And finally, from an acquaintance of mine, an article on street cats. If you read Dog’s Life, you know I disagree with several points in this article, (isn’t one of the definitions of feral cat: (n) not starved for human affection ?) but it’s a great piece, and I learned a bunch from it. Good writing, Brooks!
All right, everybody try to behave yourselves and I’ll see you here next week.