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I believe in artichokes

Italy did ruin me. After that first trip I came back disgusted by bodega coffee, which now smelled of old socks. Before, it was just fine. I rolled my eyes at red sauce joints, detouring old standbys like a stranger. If eating can be seen as a religious or spiritual experience I had been to the mountain. In time I would return on pilgrimages, always holding the simple pleasures in my thoughts.  An artichoke, methodically fried in good olive oil, with some salt. Black truffles, good butter and fresh pasta twisting around the back of a fork. A very cold and tiny glass of porto bianco sipped in a Genoa bar, with my friend Federico. A man cleaning sardines on a block of wood in the street. A woman selling green figs that she wraps into a newspaper cone. I have thousands of these memories, these artifacts. But I live in Moscow, where there has been an embargo for years now, and there is no population that expects perfect mounds of fresh cheese. They ship powdered palm oil here, that gets …

an early Sunday morning

In the darkness, I see a broken piano by the front door. It stands half-ripped open, naked, crooked. The snow is piling up around its feet. I shrug off a shiver, and bring the equipment to the car. Alexander is waiting, and we have to drive for a few hours.

The ride is mostly silent, the actor Egor in the back seat. We make small talk. The camera rests on my lap and sometimes I yank it up to the window, shooting the dark, blurry landscape as it swishes past us. Slender trees, heaves of blue snow, clouds in the distance, the little dots of light that are houses, people surely sleeping there under warm blankets.

We turn onto a small road as the sky grows bright. There are airplanes covered in cloth, straps flapping around in a steep wind. Out of the car, stretching our legs I am ready to shoot an arrival shot, a shoe leather shot as they used to be called.




The morning goes quickly. Egor has good instincts. The location is perfect, all soft light and tender corners. I take a deep breath and let it out, packing up the camera. I call home. Everyone is just waking up.

It is good to get out of the city, I tell myself. The nerves, the fury, the desperation that I did not know were in my blood - they are vented now, drifting off into that giant white sky. Head lowered, we walk and chew an endless gristle without even knowing it.








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