An Afternoon in Florence

Hmm …

I debated taking the short train ride to revisit Florence, one of the most popular tourists cities in the world.

And on a sunny Saturday in May?

A hot, crowded tourist trap. The over-priced attractions were all lined-up and impossible to enter. BEST book your tickets online.

The one place I wanted to pay to visit was the Boboli Gardens. But the line-up at the ticket wicket was too much for me.

My favourite stop was Michelangelo Square, for the panoramic vista.

If you are some sort of puritanical prude, convinced you’ll burn in Hell if you see God’s creation without clothing — don’t come to Florence.

Michelangelo Gay porn is everywhere. 😀

I did my own walking tour of the major plazas and oldest bridge, Ponte Vecchio.

As a fan of statuary, Florence is a terrific outdoor gallery.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

On the advice of the waiter at a chic eatery 😀 called Porks in the central market (Mercato Centrale) in Florence, I had Tagliatelle with Amatriciana sauce for lunch. Better than Bolognese, I thought.

Amatriciana sauce on Tagliatelle

BEST Calgary Urban Sculptures

Statues are stupid. I’d vote against paying for the installation of any.

Decorative urban art pieces are … better.

My friends have always mocked Calgary for being the WORST city of this size for urban art.

Of hundreds of pieces around the city of 1.35 million I can only recall a few I like.

In 2012 this sculpture was installed to celebrate First Nations of Treaty 7 and the Stampede.

Designed to look like a half teepee, the semi-circlular sculpture depicts historic iconography that represents the Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, Nakoda and Tsuut’ina.

Avenue Calgary

Personally, I’ve always admired the Family of Man outside the Calgary School Board offices downtown.

EVERYONE loves this funny art piece on the 8th Avenue Mall. It’s called The Conversation.

That’s it. There are NO MORE appealing urban sculptures. We are living proof that there is little culture in Cowgary.

meh 🤔 – Contemporary Art

I visited the Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon, one of the best collections of modern and contemporary art in the world.

As my brother said, anything that he could recreate given the materials, is NOT ART.

For example, Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman.

It’s 2 cans of paint, 2 rollers, canvas, and less than an hour.

Not art.

Here’s the instillation at the Berardo that appealed to me most.

It’s called Nespresso.

There are a couple of artists with potential, however.


Picasso was a great artist

Looking at some of his later work, you might guess Pablo Picasso was a over-rated bum. Drunk. Or mentally ill.

Fact is, he was a childhood prodigy. Brilliant from the start at age-13.

Here’s Science and Charity, oil on canvas, 1897. Picasso was age-15.

His abstract work came much later.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

He’s best known for co-founding the Cubist movement.

He shocked the artistic world with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, five nude female prostitutes in a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyó, a street in Barcelona.

The shocking part was the angular and disjointed body shapes. The slightly menacing aspect.

This was new.

His best work, for me, is his anti-war painting exhibited in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Guernica (1937).

Picasso opened his morning newspaper on April 27th to find images of the destruction of Guernica. It had been bombed by the Nazis at the request of Francisco Franco.

All that said. Much of Picasso’s hundreds of pieces of sculpture, ceramics, drawings and paintings hold no appeal for me. He worked fast. Had fun. Loved to be contrary. And many of those experiments didn’t work.

I saw many of those failed experiments in the Picasso museum in his hometown Málaga, Spain.

Here’s one that did work. Bull’s Head.

One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they joined together in my head. The idea of the Bull’s Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together… 

Don’t be fooled. This man was one of the great artists.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Visiting Málaga, Spain

I came to Málaga mainly as it’s the jumping off point for the nearby Caminito del Rey hike.

It’s just another city on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) attracting tourists from everywhere with worse weather. Everywhere. 😀

I was surprised to find it’s another city in Andalusia well worth visiting — though Granada is best of the best.

The Cathedral — the one-armed lady — is very impressive, especially the interior.

FREE —for tipsCity Tour here is excellent, as they all are in Andalusia.

I did take a speed walk through the Museum of Malaga.

I like Pablo Picasso and learned a lot about him at the Picasso Museum. Very prolific. Very experimental. A super talented painter, a childhood prodigy. He was born in Málaga.

The Phoenicians originally came here to mine salt. And found it easy to defend from the Gibralfaro, a 130 m (427 ft) high foothill, from which the Gibralfaro Castle [es] and the Alcazaba fortress overlook the city.

It’s a great spot to watch sunset.

Here’s the Alcazaba, down below.

When the Romans got here, they built in an amphitheatre.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I stayed at two excellent hostels in Málaga. Hostels are terrific all over Andalusia.

One night we had all you can eat tapas at Jungle Hostel, Málaga. 10€.

Here are a few more random photos.

P.S. I did make a side trip tour to Gibraltar. A fail. I wished I’d not bothered.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Of all amazing and FREE museums in London, the V & A is perhaps my favourite.

So massive!

11 acres, 145 galleries, 7 miles of exhibits and 5 million objects.

It’s not easy to see David in Florence — but you can study an exact replica any time, any day in London. Free. No crowding.

In fact, this space at the V & A called the Cast Courts is perhaps the best. You’ll quickly be diverted from David to other astonishing replicas in those 2 galleries.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Another of my favourite exhibits is Tippu’s Tiger.

The ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in India had made a carved and painted wood casing representing a tiger savaging a near life-size European man. It moves and makes music.

Are YOU a Manual or Knowledge Worker?

In the 1970s academic kids in my neighbourhood went to Viscount Bennett High School. The rest (losers 😀) went to Earnest Manning High School which had far superior TRADES training.

The internet accelerated the fortunes of knowledge workers. Relative wages of those working in trades declined.

Everyone wanted to be a white collar worker. Sitting all day at a computer manipulating electrons.

Author/mechanic Matthew Crawford argues that is wrong. And is changing.

He quit his job at a Think Tank, instead opening a Motorcycle repair shop.

Matthew’s book is titled Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Van Neistat makes an even better argument. A Spirited Man can build and fix things. Help his friends and family. A real man can do manual labour.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


I’m hopeless. Not the least handyman you know, … but close.

I ride bikes but can’t fix them when they breakdown.

By comparison, my Dad and brother Rob are career Jack-of-all-Trades.

The late great buddy Rob Glaser was probably my most trusted authority for all things broken.

Needless to say, he was expert in living outdoors. Manipulated firewood with his bare hands, for example.

In the wild you want to carry only those items which can be repaired on the go. Metal, not plastic.

In 2022 it would be smart to seek work in an occupation where you can’t easily be replace by a computer. Gymnastics coach, for example. It will be a long time before Artificial Intelligence replaces human sport coaching.

Take pride in being able to physically make and repair things.

Dan Price – Minimalist Living

Since 1990 Dan has been living off the land in Oregon.

He’s an artist. A writer. A traveller.

For the last 15 years or so he’s been living in a little Hobbit House only 8ft (2.4m) wall to wall with a roof only 4ft (1.2m) high at the entrance rising to 5ft (1.5m) at the back.

Dan has a website called moonlight chronicles where he documents his simple life.

Dan Price’s underground home, art & philosophy on $5,000/year

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Toronto HOLIDAY in December

Having traveled over 90 nations, IF you asked me where to go in December … near bottom of the list would be Toronto, OnTerrible. 😀

Yet for reasons I’m too embarrassed to relate, I ended up staying in a downtown hostel for 5 nights.

ON THE UPSIDE, the Planet Traveler Hostel in Kensington Market is excellent. I knew the eclectic Kensington neighbourhood from the  Canadian television sitcom which aired on CBC Television from 1975 to 1980.

The STAR of King of Kensington was Al Waxman, a household name in those days.

Waxman died in 2001 — but there’s a statue of him in a neighbourhood park. Crowded by homeless tents.

I really did enjoy funky Kensington, however. Weird shops, cafes, and restaurants.

I went looking for the #GardenCar. And found it.

There’s a lot of bad graffiti. And some excellent art.

My best meal was slow cooked ribs and brisket from Hogtown Smoke. I brought it back to the hostel where the wine was cheap. 😀

What do you do in a big city during wet, dark winter?

Photo by Vincent Albos on


First stop was an immersive van Gogh exhibit.

I attended my second NBA game ever. Toronto defeated the defending Champion Bucks — who were without their MVP Giannis that night.

My first visit to the Royal Ontario Museum was a surprise. Expensive. But excellent. The space compares well against the Prado in Madrid, for example.

My highlight? Light of the Desert, the world’s largest faceted cerussite gem, weighing 898 carats (179.6 g).

By Miranda1989

Next December? … Hawaii. 😀

My Name Is Rek”