Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - July 2007


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The Philly Police
July 24, 2007

Saw The Police in Philadelphia. That's the 3-guy musical group from the late 70's-early 80's, down in that city on the Delaware River. Amazing how many times I told people I was going to see The Police in Philadelphia and they said something dumb like "Why? Did you steal a hoagie or something?"

The concert, a big outdoor-stadium affair, was pretty much a do-over from my senior year in high school, when I missed the last big outdoor-stadium concert in Philly given by The Police. As a grasp at my lost youth, it was an odd miss. Standing there (no one sat the whole concert, despite the fact they all paid upwards of $100 a seat) as a 40-something amongst 40-somethings watching a 50-something band that hadn't played together in 20-odd years, the passage of time really hit. The last time I listened to those songs--and I know them all by heart--I was a 19-year-old college student looking at a world of limitless potential, champing at the bit to sink my teeth into it. Now, I am middle-aged dad hoping to squeak through the rest of my life without a major disaster... and maybe, just maybe, leave some little fingerprint of myself on this world.

I am not now who I once was. A simple enough concept, but one that keeps dawning on me with surprising force lately. Once, I surfed exuberantly in a protected cove of a beach, dreaming of the day when I would cross that mighty ocean. Now, I have swum out far, almost out of sight of land, and I am desperate just to keep treading water. If all this sounds like a pretentious and overly stretched metaphor, do recall I just got back from seeing The Police. Perhaps I'll send an S.O.S. to the world.

Eh... screw the world. Like it cares if I sink or swim. Someday, I'll think I'll bite it on the ass, just out of pure spite.

-- mm

Better Late Than Barcelona
July 9, 2007

Went to Barcelona on business last month. Actually stayed in a little beach town called Sitges (the "gay resort capital of Europe" ... look it up anywhere, and that's what it says), which was only a half hour train ride from Barcelona, so I did get to see a little of the city. Really neat place.

The cultural ethos of the city is dominated by the works of architect Antoni Gaudi. Long before I knew anything of him, I was fascinated by his work simply from shots of the Sagrada Familia cathedral they kept showing during 1992 Barcelona Olympics. It looked like a towering sand-drip castle to me. Someone also compared it to African termite mounds. In either case, it obviously evokes images of natural randomness as opposed to the meticulous Gothic detailing associated with most cathedrals. The organic curvatures of his structures, most particularly the Casa Mila apartment building popularly known as La Pedrera ("The Quarry"), are endlessly fascinating and invite all manner of comparisons to nature. I profoundly enjoyed wandering through them.

Gaudi himself is an interesting character. His work was widely loathed during his lifetime, in some cases, even by his own patrons. In all the biographical bits I came across, nothing mentioned any strong human relationships. No wife or mistress or any such figure seems to appear in his life. He spent the last decade or so of his life literally living in the basement workshop of his masterwork-in-progress Sagrada Familia. He died a solitary old man, struck by tram while crossing the street. He died in the hospital several days later, for the first few of those days, no one knew who he was. He is now the icon of one of the world's most culture-rich cities and universally regarded as among the century's greatest architects.

I sometimes wonder if I would choose such a trajectory, if I could: reviled in life; glorified posthumously for my works. On some levels, its easy to imagine one would opt for such immortality over temporary life comforts. Yet, so few do. So few even try. Even assuming one had the talent, so few will ever pay the price of single-minded dedication to revolutionary genius. The sacrifices are just too great. No rational person would ever undertake them. Mediocrity is the path dictated by reason. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Anyway, a few photos for you. Don't bother clicking them. They don't get bigger.

-- mm

Some works of Gaudi on

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