Monday, February 26, 2007

John and Maxine

John and Maxine, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Oh how sweet is this comrades - each morning one awakens to yet more news of Howard's growing discomfort. It's true, it may yet all end in tears for Team Rudd the way it so often has these last 11 years, but still, one ought to enjoy it whilst one can. Besides, the very thought of Janette ripping into Banquo's ghost here is enough to brighten the corners of this cold, grey Vancouver day. One should also support another alumni of Andrea's alma mater - All Hallows will be proud!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Salt Lake City Art Gallery Highlight

DSC01776, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

As a happy legacy of the 2002 Winter Olympics Salt Lake has a fantastic contemporary art space. This was my favourite piece.

Oh Yes, the other Salt Lake Founders..

DSC01775, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

Like most Australian cities, the history of colonial contact with the locals is a mostly unhappy one in America. At the top of this plinth is Joseph Smith casting his gaze out across the expanse of his new territory. How the locals felt about these new polygamous visitors with their strange attachment to odd facial hair and even odder religious observances appears to have mattered little to old Joe.

The Great Mormon Church

DSC01762, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

In the middle of the city, behind impressively daunting high walls, the central church buildings are arrayed around the old town square. On a clear day with last night's snow fall dusting every surface, the old town square looked incredibly beautiful.

The Founding of the Church of the Latter Day Saints

DSC01755, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

This story may well be entirely apocryphal, but legend has it that Joseph Smith the founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, was pushed across the high plains in a wheel-barrow by his seven wives each taking turns, all the while looking for a suitable site for the founding of his new church and a place to worship and pro-create free of hardship and persecution. Apparently he was wheeled in this barrow up to the mountain overlooking the great salt lake and promptly declared "this is the place". And so a city was born. The wheel barrow has sadly been lost to history.

Bored in the Salt Lake City Hilton

DSC01790, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

So I was in Salt lake for a little too long methinks! By the last day I was reduced to playing with my camera and posing for an imaginary audience. Hmmm, maybe those mormons are on to some with all the multiple wives...this city is pretty dull otherwise!

Salt Lake City and Strip Malls

DSC01791, originally uploaded by cameronduff.

No better way to shake off the more crippling effects of a night's excess of booze, good humour and fine friends than to recount recent exploits in the land of the free. So Cameron's love affair with these United States continues apace. Whilst Salt lake City may have done little to add further lustre to this enamoured affair, the city still bears describing in my accustomed manner. With both word and image, friends, it seems I have become more interested in sharing traveller's tales on this blog than with reports of a more domestic remit. Still Vancouver has been treating Andrea and I especially well of late and with Spring treating us to its first blushes the prospects are all good. If only I could cease working like a dog for that damn health authority, but that is another unhappy tale all to its own.

Four days in Salt lake were probably enough; three days conferencing on the subject of methamphetamine misuse was certainly enough! In a city where a man can apparently take for himself several wives yet can't reasonably drink in a public place, one is left with many head-scratching imponderables. What an odd mix of religion and self-interest! These odd Mormons are certain God approves of polygamy but are less sure of the proper place of alcohol in all this religious observance, Still it was a fun city set within the most amazing high plains on the fringes of the cascade mountains. Now the cascade mountains are named so for the manner in which they casade up and over the high plains for as far as the eye can see. This made for a riveting flight as I sat glued to my window seat, slack jawed at the amazing beauty of these mountains that seem to stretch all the way across the sky. Quite something. The photo above is the view from my hotel room window - pretty amazing! On the day this photo was taken I was sitting transfixed in front of CNN as my man Barack Obama was wowing the party faithful at the 2007 Democratic national Convention. His speech was full of the kind of soaring rhetoric and inspirational campaigning that goes an awfully long way towards restoring one's faith in the nobility of politics. People in this part of the world are starting to compare him with the Kennedy brothers and certainly some striking parallels exist now and then as America once more grapples with a war of choice and the awful consequences that flow from such choices. Obama's setting out a compelling vision for a more engaged and just America; I'm hanging on his every word these days. This is certainly making for some entertaining discussions over the dinner table as Anj takes up the fight for Hilary and I defend Obama's claims to the Democratic party's nomination. With Rudd looking ever stronger in Australia this really is a great time to be watching politics.

Given that I have been lax in uploading new photos of late I better leave all this talk of politics and return to the photos, lest I lose all readers entirely! Salt lake City was great fun. I made some new friends drinking beer in the freezing cold out on the lawn in front of a rambling, boistrous student party the likes of which I have not attended for many years. With the Clash laying down the right party tunes from inside, and much senseless discussion transpiring out of it, I endeavoured once again to try and understand the many great conumdrums this country throws up from the point of view of the local. My "so what's up with America" conversation opener is surprisingly working wonders as a means of making new friends in America. Everyone has an opinion, and so far, almost all have been happy to share that opinion. Now all I need to do is make sense of the wildly divergent opinions I have so far surveyed. I'll try and write this all down when the moment of clarity strikes me!

I hope all else is well!!