In the morning I and two of the cartoon award winners were interviewed by a reporter for the Huyyiat Gosteri. Problem was he only spoke Turkish. The other two spoke Farsi and Polish. Only the reporter had an interpreter. It went like this:
Reporter: What is the state of cartoons as you see it now?
Amin: Cartoon is . . . good.
Pawel: Having cartoon is getting idea to other person. It is good.
Interpreter: Cartoons are good.
Steve and interpreter: (Laugh)
Old guy selling nuts and raisins on the street.
This afternoon went down to the Spice Bazaar where nuts, spices, fruit, candy, fish are displayed in the open, with a great design sense. The garrulous shopkeepers wrestle you off the street and force tea down your throat until you buy something. This is called tea-boarding and it is very effective. I bought lots of stuff I never knew I needed.
In front of the New Mosque (“New” means 300 years old) old ladies sit in booths and sell you bird seed for the pigeons for 5 lire. I bought some but didn’t feed it all to the pigeons. The pigeon lady flung the whole dish at them. I guess living in New York has taken the edge off of any pigeon ardor I might have once had. I notice a gentle overall way Turks have with animals.
Here’s a shop front display, to let you know the headscarves are in.
As it got dark I wandered around outside the Grand Bazaar and kind of fell in love with the aging and variegated buildings crowding in on these very narrow streets. Sort of like great, galloping serpents.
Greetings from Turkey!
I’m revisiting the town that enchanted us when Anne, Terry and I were here in June. Then I was a member of the Aydin Dogun International Cartoon Contest. This time I’m here to help give awards to the winners. I’ve been traveling around town seeing sites with these folks and getting to know them. They are from all over the world (Iran, China, Poland, Ukraine, etc.) but we all have a great deal in common: we’re all very devoted to cartoons and illustrations and will overcome most anything to get the chance to work.
I was very inspired by Ohran Pamuk, the Nobel Prize winner this year. When he was young he was a painter inspired by his city, yearning to tell it’s stories. He still does it. He discusses the feeling of Huzun, which is a kind of melancholy special, he thinks to Turkey. Maybe Turkey and Brooklyn.
By this he means a kind of coming to grips with the loss of world status as a power that lasted almost 2000 years, and how amidst the ruins of Empire there are human ruins. Here’s the view from my hotel. The magnificent Blue Mosque, sitting obliviously atop the struggling world below.
As soon as I arrived yesterday I took a walk along the Bosphorus and met some fisherman.
A very talkative one was grieving over the Israeli bombing of Palestinian civilians and then gave me the election results.
Julian Pena Pai of Romania, another winner. He works for three newspapers, does two cartoons a day, makes 1000 Euros a month. His wife brings in 400. They have 3 kids.
Things we saw today. The Ayasofya: Byzantine, then Ottoman, then municipal shrine. It is the tangible ghost of human striving (10,000 workers built it in 5 years) and political/cultural dynamism.
Turkish kids are amazing. Very open and trusting. They only know one English word and attack you with it. With a warm embrace of life they say, “Hey, mister, see me!!!” We said, he’s Iranian, he’s Chinese, he’s American. They said “Hello!!!”
This tree in the Topkapi Palace is 600 hundred years old. From, like, the Crusades!
An Italian tourist.
Istanbul street sweeper.
So we finally arrived at the awards ceremony last night. This guy couldn’t wait for it to start.
The first prize went to Pawel Kuczynski of Poland. His art was of soldiers taking thread and sewing up trenches. Kind of like a prayer.
It turns out that I'm missing Election Night and American Ill night. It's because I'm shoving off tomorrow for Turkey. I was part of the Aydin Dogan Foundation International Cartoon Contest jury last June. It was quite an experience. Five Turkish cartoonists, one from China, one French, one Iranian, Brad Holland and myself. Wonderful people, interesting cartoons and a nice secular Muslim country (albeit with disturbing rumblings). So they've asked me back for the awards ceremony. The winners, which you can see at http://www.aydindoganvakfi.org.tr/english/index.html, are different than what we generally see here. An emphasis on idea and, to judge by our standards of illustration, less on technique. I had to understand how important this medium is all over the world, especially to people in repressive countries. Some of these are brilliant in their deft philosophical intimation, skillfully getting the point across without being specific enough for a knock on the door at night. Here's a photo from last June: Leng Mu from China, Mustafa Ramizani from Iran by way of Paris, Con Don, our hostess, BH and some guy from New York who thinks this is the way to order a beer in Istabul.
So I'm bringing my sketchbook and will report back with news from a country, like so many that looks to America for moral and intellectual leadership. Here's hoping that by the time I land I will find good news from America; maybe I'll be able to tell what happend by the expressions on their faces. Or maybe that's just the hashish.
Interesting how the last 48 hours have felt so much like 2004. A hapless Democrat trying to be articulate against the greatest political smear machine in US history. Except now, everyone understands the deal. Almost nobody now thinks that the war was a good idea or that intelligent people have run it. So why is John Kerry is once again apologizing for intimating something we all know? Because he is a first class schlemiel. He started to call the Bush gang a group of blithering idiots and couldn't get that straight. Here's a T shirt design I want to do, as soon as I can clone myself. One good thing, this business probably gets rid of Kerry for '08. Well, in the process of eliminating the dead wood Democrats, that's one.