Turkish Burger for Breakfast

Photos to follow, but I ate a “wet burger” for my breakfast in Taksim Square — standing in the shadow of Anthony Bourdain in his recent No Reservations episode set in Istanbul. It was good, not gotta-have-another-great, but okay. To be precise it was a Kizilkayalar burger.

I was in Cihangir looking for a breakfast spot profiled in the New York Times, but alas, it was closed. and I made do with a glass of tea and a couple pastries called Pogaca, followed by the aforementioned wet burger.

Food pictures are so attractive.

Quoting from the hamburger’s website:

“After a few years, doner becames a sector and Kizilkayalar becames the founder and the leader of this sector.
The name of the doner was heared in all Istanbul and people knew that they can eat doner in Taksim whenever they want. Anymore, doner became important fast food of Istanbul. Doner was the innovation from the Kizilkayalar to Istanbul. The important reason of the fame of Kizilkayalar Hamburger is being the first presenter of doner.”

More meetings today and tomorrow, then some time for sightseeing towards the end of the week. Snowfall was kind of interesting yesterday — glad I brought along my waxed Filson coat with the zip-in wool vest and my Merrill snow clogs. This is full on winter and more snow than I’ve seen yet this year on Cape Cod.

Gorgeous blue skies today.

Liquid Crack

Further Turkic things …

Glad I came when there was snow on the ground. As part of my prep I watched some Turkish cinema, especially the work of Nuri Bilge Ceylan. One of his, Uzak, is shot in Istanbul in the snow. I basically walked through the landscape and set of that film this afternoon.  Ceylan is a great photographer — my favorite of his stills is this street scene:

The Gideon’s did not place a Bible in my desk, but someone did affix a compass rose with the heading towards Mecca.

Just when I discovered the compass rose  the muezzins in the neighborhood began their prayer calls.  Amazing sound, beautiful to behold.

Dinner —  walked down the street, found a little cafe and sat down with the Kindle. I caught a chill so a bowl of yellow lentil soup felt in order, followed by a grilled halloumi cheese and mesclun salad, and a brace of spicy Adana kebabs — meat on a stick, with rice, roasted pepper and tomato, and bread. Perfect. Now for a Restoril chaser and nine hours of sleep to make up for the insomniac-over-the-Atlantic move.

Istanbul – First impressions

It sank in that I am in Byzantium today when I sat on a wooden stool under an fish sandwich vendor’s tent at the foot of the Galata Bridge, my back to the Golden Horn, and looked up at the  Blue Mosque, obscured by the flurries and hundreds of wheeling seagulls but wearing a little white cap of snow. I took a bite of the sandwich — spit out the head, and keep on going through the bread, onions, fennel, argula and oily white fish – and wiped my greasy chin with my fingerless gloves. I earned it, having walked five miles from my hotel to the east.

from Wikipedia

There is an inch or more of snow on the ground and the sidewalks are a bit slushy, but I was determined to walk along the Bosporous,  take some pictures and find some street food. The driver was kind and took me into the city from the airport along the straits, pointing out the Theodosian Wall, the dome of Justinian’s Hagia Sofia, and then across the Golden Horn over the Galata  Bridge and on to my hotel. I simply retraced the route on foot, walking down to the ferry building and then along the sidewalks taking pictures and having a grand time by myself.

The scene at the bridge was awesome. Ferries were constantly arriving and departing. A crowd of fishermen worked the railing with long poles that would have been at home on the shore of the Cape Cod Canal.

Minarets were everywhere. Look down one alley and there’s an old church.  Look down another and it’s an old levantine motor skiff. The age of stuff is humbling. I haven’t had the privilege of visiting many cities that are nearly two millenia old and were home to the longest continuous empire in history.

The sandwich was awesome. These little lit up boats were tied to the quay and rocking in the ferry wakes so badly that as I walked up to them I was more interested in what kind of fenders they used to keep the hull from grinding into toothpicks. Then I saw about fifty people squatting on stools wolfing down fish on bread.

I had to get some of that.

Four Turkish lira = $3. I bought mine from the middle boat below. They cook it on the boat, you eat it on the dock.

I’m here through Sunday — so six more days. Today’s stroll and photo expedition was just a warm up.

New toy – Canon Powershot SD 780

I stole this camera thanks to Uncle Fester who pointed me at Amazon. Sucker was half-price and arrived in a single day, just in time for my Orient Express Tour which commences Sunday. My old Canon point-and-shoot ISUS (which I bought in the Singapore airport in the spring of 2006 for my first trip to China) is with my daughter capturing a term in Florence.  I hate capturing life’s key moments on a Blackberry Bold smartphone camera — most of which come out looking like smeared crap and are only acceptable for UFO sightings, citizen eyewitness news, and sexting offenses.

No, Nova Roma, Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul deserve 12 megapixels, so I hit the Amex and am now ready to go capture some scenes and clog up my Flickr stream.

Here’s some stuff from today’s walk-in-lieu-of-lunch. Cotuit in January is not scenic — sort of like living in a depressing black and white Swedish movie — but you take what you get.

Oh, and I continue to like GDGT.com‘s blog gadget of gadgets that let’s me list what consumer electronic bling I am packing. For me, any kind of gadget is better than antidepressants.  Feel blue? Buy an iPod. Want some joy in your life? Buy a Slingbox. GDGT let’s you capture that and more. And Ryan and Peter and Barry are good guys who put up with Project Mayhem at CES when our “party” got a little out of control.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: the Nabua Diptych

The fascinating Thai director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, has set two short films  in the village of Nabua in northeastern Thailand.  The Auteurs recently released, for free, the second short, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee. The first, Phantoms of Nabua, can be viewed at Animate Projects.

Both can be watched online for free and if you have an interest in current art film, this is what gets cinephiles very worked up. The emphasis is on art here, while Apichatpong has directed some more narrative “traditional” films, these short pieces are to be enjoyed for their aesthetic, not story.

Film critic Michael Sicinski writes a great critique of the two pieces which put them into the historical and cultural context that Apichatpong (aka “Joe” to his fans) draws upon on these two strangely beautiful ambient pieces.  I am especially impressed by the sound design and amazing wind sounds contained in these shorts.

“Nabua was an occupied town from the 1960s to the early 80s, when military forces considered it a stronghold for Communist farmers. It was a scene of intense brutality and repression, and many of those who were not executed by the government forces had to flee to escape a similar fate. In a stunning act of political avant-gardism, Joe has adapted Thai Buddhist tenets regarding reincarnation as a means for excavating the hidden history of a troubled landscape. As his camera slowly creeps and pans through darkened, abandoned homes, Apichatpong is displaying the remnants of a repressed past, in the form of an assertion of ghostly, vertical time.”

Thanks to The Auteurs for making this work available.

Birth of a new machine

Heading into CES two weeks ago I wrote about the Lenovo Skylight, the first so-called “Smartbook” to run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon ARM process, a device explicitly conceived to be a “cloud computer” or social device.

My colleague and Lenovo’s first official blogger, VP of Design David Hill, has written a riveting account of how the Skylight came to be designed by Richard Sapper, the Milan-based wizard of industrial design who designed the first IBM ThinkPad. Skylight began in the early fall of 2008 when a small team was formed to look into a rapid development project to get Lenovo ahead of the commodity netbook market with a strong, differentiated offering that addressed the rapid shifts in online usage. While we focused on alternative operating systems such as Android, our SVP of Notebooks, Peter Hortensius, urged the team to consider the Qualcomm processor because of its unique architecture, amazing power consumption profile, and integrated wireless communications.

Once the principles were established, Hill recommended we turn to the original master for a concept. His blog post details the remarkable birth of the machine, including a chance meeting at a Gloucester, Massachusetts cocktail party where Sapper was introduced to a luthier (stringed instrument craftsman) with a woodworking shop and the capability to produce a wooden model.

I think the tale is the best thing we’ve ever published on a corporate blog. I hope you enjoy it.

Osterville Baptist Church — 52 Churches

I resumed the journey to visit 52 places of worship in one year and returned to my home base on Cape Cod this Sunday morning with a visit to my first Baptist church, the Osterville Baptist Church in the center of the village of Osterville. Baptists are among the more mysterious Christian denominations for me, and perhaps the most ridden with cliches and preconceptions to my uninformed mind.

The church dominates the center of the stylish village, nicknamed “Imposterville” by one friend for its glitz and wealth. As a year-round community, Osterville is a quiet village populated by a growing community of middle class working people and merchants. As a summer resort it is home to celebrities and the ultra-wealthy, with some magnificent estates and many waterfront “starter Castles” and McMansions.  It is also a renowned yachting center and home to the Crosby Yacht Yard — birthplace of the totemic Cape Cod Catboat. In January the streets are quiet, in June they are bustling and shining.

Built in 1837, the church is a large white Greek Revival church on the intersection of Main Street and Wianno Avenue in the center of the village. I possess very little historical background on the building and its congregation, and don’t know if it has been a Baptist church over the course of  its entire history.

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