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Every day I take the same train ride into town. After a while you just zone out, staring through the window at the passing city, and you wish you could condense time. I shot this last Saturday afternoon at six-speed (150 fps).

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My daily read this week is The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, a cult classic from the Seventies which describes the attempts of a psychiatrist to break free from conventions. He starts using a set of dice to decide every aspect of his life which leads to some hilarious and often very disturbing – utterly immoral – situations. Sending his 10-year-old son on an afternoon stroll through Harlem is just one of many examples.

The quote below is from the start of the novel and sets him off on his mad quest:

“Now the desire to kill oneself and to assassinate, poison, obliterate or rape others is generally considered in the psychiatric profession as ‘unhealthy’. Bad. Evil. More accurately, sin. When you have the desire to kill yourself, you are supposed to see and ‘accept it,’ but not, for Christ’s sake, to kill yourself. Understand yourself, accept yourself, but do not be yourself.”

Now I’m not suggesting that you should just kill others or yourself whenever you feel like it, but he makes an interesting point here. You’re supposed to understand what you want and then do something else anyway.

In spite of the morally ambiguous (and somewhat poorly written) nature of the book, quite a few people tried out Dice Living. Some took the lighthearted way, such as the Discovery Channel show or this Dutch newspaper blog. Others took it a little further and ended up living in Kathmandu, or so they claim. In case you’re interested you can always take a class with Luke at the Maybe Logic Academy.

A decent gale was blowing inland the other week as I took my camera outside. ‘Better than fireworks,’ said an old lady who was watching the spectacle next to me. Was it really? Judge for yourselves…

Metro-man“Where have all the real men gone?” Ever since Men’s Health began to catch up with Cosmopolitan and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy showed us how stylish we could be if only we tried, that question has been thrown out there a lot. I always thought it was overly hyped by the media. I mean, I still drink beer, watch football and occasionaly mismatch my clothes. So do most of my friends. And that’s what being a man is all about, right?

But then the other week I began to wonder if I had been missing the signs. I was sitting in the cafeteria with a couple of my colleagues – all men – talking the usual nonsense you talk at these times when I noticed a couple of disturbing things. First of all we were wearing the same outfits. All four of us, independently, had opted for blue jeans, a grey sweater or t-shirt, with a white crewneck just visible at the collar. A coincidence maybe, but freaky nonetheless.

Secondly, the topic of conversation. We had started off on the weekend’s football scores, but very quickly had turned to lasagne-making. How this happened I’m not quite sure. One of us had tried making lasagna on Sunday, but the pasta sheets hadn’t been properly cooked so the thing was basically ruined. On all accounts that should have been the end of it, but someone else jumped in with a tip on how to get it right the next time and before we knew it we were having a fully fledged Italian culinary discussion. Jamie Oliver eat your heart out !

I now had my eyes wide open. Was this a once-off or was there something else going on? A few days later the four of us gathered in the cafetaria again, all wearing light blue shirts on dark blue jeans, once again white crewnecks underneath. I mean, how was this possible?? Did we get subliminal input, telling us what to wear on which day? Or even worse, did it just feel like a light-blue kind of day? To all of us?

The conversation that day didn’t even touch on sports, but went straight to hairdressers. I’m not even joking here. I’d like to say barbers, but really it was hairdressers. We talked about a new shop that had opened up on the Liffey where they served champagne, gave you a relaxing scalp massage, had St Germain tunes playing in the background, and gave you a trendy do, ending each session with a quick recap: So what I’ve done is get some of the weight out of the sides and then bring back the hair on top to give you that choppy natural look….

One guy at the table hadn’t heard of the place, but not to worry: a card appeared from a wallet and he was set to make an appoint for the next weekend. Two women were eating with us that day. They listened in silence, aghast.

So the metro-man has obviously arrived and seems to be here to stay. Who created him? Was it the feminists, who in their attacks on male chauvinism ended up creating a monster? Is it our newfound wealth, which gives men the spare time and required amount of wealthy boredom to pursue the perfect look? Personally I like to blame advertising. After destroying the self-esteem of the female part of our population, they realised that men are just as susceptible to commercial brainwash.

The ‘Because You’re Worth It Too’ anti-wrinkle campaign by L’Oreal is a fantastic example. It shows a man in his thirties, the camera zooms in on his face and the voice over says: ‘What you think are great lines, she thinks is premature aging!’ Whack ! There goes your self-image. You’re not aging well. You’re no Sean Connery or George Clooney. You’re ugly or at least on your way there. But not to fear, once your self-esteem is destroyed, you can buy the new Men’s Expert by L’Oreal Paris line of products to rebuild it.

Maybe the metro-man has the future. Maybe that’s what women want as well. Check out the L’Oreal for Men website for a glimpse of that future, my favorites are the how-to videos with Kyan (from queer eye fame) on applying moisturiser and the like, scary stuff…

Ahhh, the Japanese and their love for over-organising everything. This picture was taken a few months ago in Miyajima, a small, touristy island to the south of Hiroshima, famous for its Floating Torii

 

It’s always nice if you can plan these things…

It happens to me all the time that I’m reading a book and I come across a really great sentence or two that for some reason or other makes complete sense to me at the time and I think, I should remember this. But of course I read on, and I forget and all I can think is that there was a great sentence or two in that book. So here’s a quote from the book I’m reading this week:

“It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

I don’t know why, but this makes perfect sense to me right now. I can’t for the life of me think of a concrete example, though. Puzzling.

(It’s from Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance in case you’re wondering.)

So if the first step of nonchalance is to stop and take a look around, there is no place closer than my bedroom window. I took my camera (a sony t9, not really intended for filming, but still..), set it to record and looked outside:

It’s an overcast day. Dublin bay, tranquil in the morning light. Howth peninsula in the distance. Some people and quite a few cars for this time of day…

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