Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’

Barcelona

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I am here in Barcelona on my way to Monte Carlo to meet with powerful art advisors. I almost didn’t make it as our new travel agent booked Barcelona streets Miro Gayle’s ticket as Mrs. Gladstone not realizing her passport still features the name Gayle Newhouse. Our marriage certificate has still not arrived so we have no way to prove that Gayle Newhouse is in fact now Gayle Gladstone. I am not sure exactly how we worked it out, but we had arrived early enough at the airport that we had the extra hour needed to get the ticket rewritten.
So here we are now in Barcelona. I love Barcelona. I lived here in 1966 as a young student as part of a program called School Year Abroad. It is an international school created by the Phillips Academy Andover and Exeter to facilitate language learning and an appreciation of other cultures. The program now has schools in France, Italy and China with thousands of alumni. I was among the first one hundred students to enroll and continue to support this amazing concept in education. I have degrees from Yale College, Harvard University and the University of Salamanca, but none of those educational experiences had as much impact on me as School Year Abroad and living in Barcelona for nine months at the age of sixteen. (more…)

Writing

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

As a young man I aspired to be a writer.  My mother wanted to be a writer but had writer’s block and never penned the novel she was hoping to write. For a short period of time she wrote blurbs for a magazine that was somewhat like the J. Peterman catalogue featured on Seinfeld. She loved to make witty small descriptions of the products and in many ways I guess she was like the character Elaine.

I am not sure if I was hoping to fulfill my mother’s aspirations in wanting to be a writer or if being with her just made those aspirations my own. My father was a book publisher, but he published how-to books and was proud of the fact that he never read a single one of the ten thousand books he published.  For my dad books were money.  He sometimes read biographies for pleasure, but I never recall him reading a novel. He read the newspaper every day, especially the business section. My mother read all the time and became a world- recognized expert on what she called “second level Victorian novelists”.  She just loved England, and her dream was to own a thatched cottage near the beach there. When I was older I visited such cottages not far from Cardiff, England. The homes were adorable but not at all practical living spaces for a modern person.  But never a practical person, my mother probably would have loved living in such accommodations; but my father would never fund it or agree to such a purchase.

When I was fifteen years old my mother gave me a copy of the notebooks of Albert Camus. I couldn’t put them down. The notebooks portrayed a mind actively thinking about everything possible, and not just a common mind but a mind that was astute, sensitive and caring on multiple levels. Soon after reading those notebooks I went to school in Barcelona as one of the first students ever of the program now called Schoolyear Abroad but then called Schoolboys Abroad. The English teacher gave us an assignment to keep a journal. Having just read Camus’s notebooks, this struck me as a fabulous idea and I started keeping a  journal which I continued for two years after the  assignment ended. I wrote almost every day and loved doing so. It was effortless, and I learned a great deal about myself from forcing myself to write.

As a freshman at Yale shortly after ending my journal writing (with the Yale course load really had no time) I was fortunate to gain entrance to a graduate school course being taught  by national book award winner Jerzy Kozinski (the Painted Bird, Being There). Only a freshman, I somehow managed to be accepted as the only undergraduate in the course. When it came time to prepare the essay assignment that would determine my grade for the course, I realized I had no time to write something new.  So I edited my high school journal and turned it in. When it came time for my interview with Mr. Kosinski I feared the worst.  But much to my surprise he told me, “Almost everyone who takes my class is hoping I will tell them they have great natural talent and should pursue writing as a career. I have never told anyone they should pursue writing for it is a difficult career and no one has demonstrated the level of writing talent that would warrant taking such a career risk. You, however, have that talent. You should become a writer.”

I was astonished at such praise and went home at the end of the term to discuss Mr. Kosinski’s recommendation. My mother thought it was a wonderful idea to become a writer, but my father just grunted and said, “Writers are a dime a dozen. I have dozens of PhD’s writing books and none of them earn a good living. Write as a hobby, but forget about writing as a career.”  At  the time I felt my father was far more practical than my mother and though I valued my mother’s opinion and that of Mr. Kozinski, I decided to pursue  a career in business which evolved to agenting. As an agent I wrote letters but not books. Only when my agency had generated sufficient income to ensure a comfortable life did I return to the world of writing for pleasure and edification.

In writing this blog I continue in a way with the original journal assignment I started in Barcelona when I was just fifteen. What I learned then and what I practice now is that writing is as natural as breathing. It does not require preparation or effort, just the desire to write. The discipline of writing this blog whether inspired or not, whether I have any natural topic or not, is a discipline which I enjoy. I trust my readers are enjoying my writing. For those who aspire to be writers my advice is simple. Write.

 

EXTENDED FAMILIES

Monday, November 25th, 2013

As an anthropologist, I studied the role of extended families cross-culturally and throughout history.  Extended families 5208767233_41a571d091_onormally include not just parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and siblings, but aunts, uncles, and cousins and, in many cultures, second and third cousins. Without the participation of extended families it is unlikely that modern civilization would have evolved as effectively as it has. But today we have evolved so far that our technology and economic flexibility have made extended families in many parts of the world, and particularly in the United States, relatively unimportant for the majority of people.

Does this matter? I think it does, and in ways that are perhaps more important than we realize. It is not just a matter of support that we receive in terms of babysitting, economic assistance, and psychological comfort in times of need.  Extended families remind us of who we are, where we came from and why what we do matters.

One of the reasons I am particularly pleased that my daughter is marrying into a tight-knit family in Barcelona, Spain is that the Catalan culture, like many European cultures, greatly values the extended family. Cataluna is a relatively small region, and the opportunities for families to share major events are relatively easy. In the case of my daughter’s wedding, to some extent extended family members have to be limited as inviting the entire extended family would require a wedding of many hundreds of just Catalan family members. Even with these cuts, extended family will number one hundred or more. (more…)

Daylight savings time

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Last Sunday morning at  2 am  in the morning  everyone in the continental united states except those living in Arizona photo(way to go Arizona!!) was compelled to turn back  our clocks one hour.  If you have to turn  your clocks “falling back” at least  the next morning is far preferable to “springing  forward,” which we will get to experience next March or April.  I have never figured out why we call  this new time period daylight savings.  I saved no time by changing the clocks and I am sure that I am not going to get an extra hour of life despite the change on the clocks.  I know that there is some reason for changing the clocks but am not sure that that reason is valid anymore.

This daylight savings program has been going on for years. When I was a young child we were told that the reason for daylight savings time was to protect the farmers so that  they would not have to get up in  the dark to feed their animals. Later we were told that it was so that the young human animals—us  first and second graders—would not have to walk to the bus stop in the dark.  Those reasons may  have been valid at one time and may be valid today but I  do not like daylight savings time.  As I write this blog it is only 4:35 pm and the sun here in Cardiff is starting to set. In another twenty minutes  all memory of today’s sun will be gone. I do not like my evenings starting at 5 pm. As we approach the shortest day of the year the evening will start just a few minutes after  4 pm. (more…)

Love and Marriage

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

My daughter Tara is now officially engaged to be married to Oia Pursals Claret. The picture shows her hand and the Tara and Oía engagementTara with ringdiamond engagement ring. This is a joyous occasion for Tara, Oia, and all of our families. Tara and Oia have been living together for more than two years and both families have enjoyed spending time together mostly in and around Barcelona, Spain where Tara and Oia are living.  For the last six months ever Since Oia told me he was going to propose to Tara  as soon as he was able to have the right  engagement ring made,  I have been telling everyone (except Tara) that  Oia is Tara’s fiancée, though of course only now is it official.  Tara suspected the engagement was going to happen, but like all major events in life, one never knows for sure until the proposal is actually made. I have never seen Tara with a bigger smile and greater enthusiasm for life than I did this morning when she Skyped me from the mountain beach town of Cadaques near the French border in Cataluna where the happy couple will be celebrating their engagement.

Ever since I met Oia two years ago I have felt that he would be the ideal husband for Tara. It helps that Oia’s Catalan family is wonderful and provides ideal support for both Tara and Oia as they establish a life together. Tara has  been a dancer, writer, editor, and social media  PR specialist. Tara is presently focused on editing and assisting spiritual teachers with their books.  And Oia, a Catalan architect working with one of Barcelona’s top architecture firms, is focused on creating ecologically sustainable buildings and homes. Neither is fully established with their careers from a financial perspective, but they have each demonstrated excellence which I am sure in time will provide them with the necessary financial support to raise a family together. More importantly, they are nurtured by the creative elements of their work and able to share aesthetic and cultural interests that will sustain an active and  stimulating dialogue between them for many years. They are good and kind people and all of us are looking forward to when they have children since they are both movie star good looking and are likely to produce amazingly attractive and talented offspring. (more…)

SUNSETS AND VACCINES

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Yesterday I visited the Salk Institute here in San Diego, my first visit to the facility, although I had had the privilege of meeting Jonas Salk more than twenty years ago. He was an elegant man and very kind. I had published THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF PARADISE by Rabbi Samuel Penner with whom Jonas had co-written a manuscript which was never published. Interestingly, that manuscript was the very first manuscript that Peter Jovanovich ever handed to me to review in 1979 when I first joined Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishing as a senior editor to be based in San Diego. I was in the Harcourt offices in New York City that morning but already booked to relocate to San Diego the following week. (more…)

Barcelona is Very Messi

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The recent 60 Minutes piece on Barcelona’s incredible soccer team focused on the renowned skills of Lionel Messi (the first player in history to win four Gold Balls, passing Marco Van Basten, Johann Cruyff, and Michel Platini who each won three) arguably the greatest active player and possibly the greatest player of all time. Messi and his teammates have catapulted the soccer team to undreamed-of success winning more international championships than any other team in history in a similar period of time. (more…)