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To take my mind off Matt in Paris (during Thanksgiving!) I’m taking imaginary trips to some other capital cities. First off, Brasília, the spectacular mid-century seat of Brazil. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was planned and developed in 1956 with modern design diety Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect. The city looks like Mies, Saarinen, Le Corbusier, Eames, and Breuer all took a few more classes and vomited all over a two thousand square mile swath of land.

At the age of 100, Neimeyer is the last living modernist design legend.  The centenarian has been invited by president of Angola to design a new capital city for his country, four times the size of Brasilia. In a recent interview Neimeyer laughs, “Four times the size of Brasilia? So it could take four times as long -That’s 16 years!” If he took the commission he would be 115 years old at the time of its inauguration.

These days Neimeyer is apparently happy to sit around and keep in touch with old friends including Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. (He’s a member of the Brazilian Communist Party since 1945, and was presented with the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963.)

Brasília became the capital of Brazil in 1960 and is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government.

An awesome article on Neimeyer HERE.  More pics after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mystic Itzá

10/26/2008

I first visited Chichén-Itzá about six years ago and cannot fathom why the entire United States is not obsessed with this major mystical and architectural wonder located a mere 1500 miles from downtown New York City. Perhaps it’s the Mayan blood I have running through my veins, but I’m pretty proud that while Europe was still in the midst of the Dark Ages, these amazing people had mapped the heavens, evolved the only true writing system native to the Americas, and became masters of mathematics. They invented the calendars we use today. Without metal tools, beasts of burden or even the wheel they were able to construct vast cities across a huge jungle landscape with an amazing degree of architectural perfection and variety. The Chichén Itzá complex is unbelievably extensive and includes ancient temples, pyramids, steambaths, sacred watering holes, a marketplace, and a mindblowing observatory. Their legacy in stone, which has survived in a spectacular fashion at places such as Chichén Itzá, (and Palenque, TikalTulum, and Copan), lives on as do the seven million descendants of the classic Maya civilization – including me!

Given this insanely rich history, and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it astounds me that most people I know have never heard of one of the greatest (and conveniently located) Pre-Columbian centers our hemisphere has ever known. So next time you are planning a long weekend in Cancun, rent a car and take a drive 150 miles down the coast, drop your bags off at the magical, sustainable, and impeccably green Hacienda Chichén, and educate yourself, man.

The brilliantly talented Tunisian Italian Claudia Cardinale has to be one of the most physically perfect human beings ever created. She was born Claude Joséphine Rose Cardin in 1938 and had her break into films after winning a Tunisian beauty contest in 1957. Despite her very voluptuously feminine appearance, she had a very deep voice and had her voice dubbed in her early films. Cardinale made her film debut in Goha (1958) and later appeared in over seventy Italian and French films including a slew of Fellini films, most notable of which might be silver screen phenomenon 8 1/2.

Cardinale never made a real attempt to break into the American market since she was not interested in leaving Europe for extended periods of time. Her Hollywood films include Circus World (1964), The Pink Panther (1964) Blindfold (1965) and The Hell With Heroes (1968).

Bob Dylan obviously found her as perfect a creature as I do – her photograph appeared on his album Blonde On Blonde in 1966, but since the photo was used without Cardinale’s permission, it was removed from the cover art in later pressings. Keep Reading!!! Read the rest of this entry »