el RAVAL and his Arabian kNights

 

el Comandante / Commander (el Raval / the Reveal)


elation / 
ابتهاج


Elation (arabic : ابتهاج ) is a feeling or state of great joy or pride; exultant gladness; high spirits. Other words to describe it can be : delight, exciting, great pleasure, joyfulness, bliss, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, ecstasy, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, euphoria, transports of delight, rapture (intense joy), radiance, enjoyment, gratification, felicity, cloud nine, seventh heaven, joie de vivre, even orgasmic...

And that was the exact feeling to describe while riding our blue Dacia Logan 1.6 MPI Ambition (Logan meaning "Hollow") on the highways of Turkey, doing 170kmh with that screaming 6500rpm Renault injection-engine on a straight line while ancient old Black brick-like Lada's full of turks were passing us flying at 190kmh. It was 2015 and I was cruising with arch. Lavinia Grădișteanu, my best "buddy" in deeds whom I even started the "Atelierul din Hamac" project first-hand. Well, before I've met Alis Olea that is (thats insane-level, ultimate shewolf - I mean sure LRstudios sounds cool, but RA sounds even better from Radu and Alice in Wonderland, sunny solar optimistic even). And listening to this wonderful electronic arabian mix I made especially for the trip to Istanbul, the sensation was exhilarating, thrilling beyond belief : 


And ... some of the lyrics ?

We are all stars under the sun, 
touching the sky with our hands up.
That's who we are, we'll never stop.
We are all stars under the sun.
It's so amazing what we've done,
riding the wave of love as one.
Taking our time to feel the love,
we are all stars under the sun.

*
Amazingly, the exact same lyrics and song I heard in 2018 october while preparing the Urban Sketchers Exhibition. We were just before the big event with Ioana Balteșiu and some guys at Ilie Dumitrescu (football player) 's restaurant at Hanul cu Tei when this song came up. Was the exact same thing ... but not in the arabic mix.

Insha'allah (Arabic: إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ‎, ʾin šāʾa -llāh) is an Arabic expression 
for "if God wills" or "God willing"

I remember back in 2015 I told Lavinia, out-of-nowhere while driving the Dacia : "These guys are really going somewhere with their spirituality !". The refresh and cultural immersion in just 7 days in Istanbul and at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University's GreenAge III Symposium had my spirit to sky-rocket levels, listening to Muezzins, going inside Mosques, Hamam's and of course the mother of all : Hagia Sophia, an ever "turning plate" between Christianity and Islam, a subject of debate, controversy and now political tool of unrest. Total Sacred Immersion back in 2015, i was feeling a new man :

It was this mix (Dj Arabic, not Hagia Sophia...) I randomly put on the CD Best Arabic House Mix 2013 mixed by Dj Eri . Well, the song starts off really high with a sample from Newag3 - Starz (the clip features the exact same forest I used for the artwork to Zodia Lupilor - Wolf Age workshop in 2019) and then goes in a total dive with "Aman, Aman" (اَمَان‎) - amān an arab word for peacefulness or tranquility. I am no expert in the arabian world, never stayed in the desert, lost alone with my Arabian Horse (although It was on my bucket list). Or in ottoman turkish "amân", but in Romanian "a amâna" means to postpone, maybe take it easy as the arabian way I always found more rhythmic ... a steady but decisive way to go exactly where you want, no stress. Slowly, in harmony, balanced and straight to the heart. You just have to read 1001 Nights or see the Flying / Whirlwind Dervishi to just get a glimpse of the wonderful culture of the Orient. Not to mention the "Lokum", Kestanes or sweets.

The Mix was Jam packed together with Azis from Bulgaria, Yurtseven Kardeșler (turkish band of brothers that settled in Germany, where Lavinia left for after 2017 ...) and their Halay Bitmesin, a type of "open-hora" dance - also traditional for Iran and other far-orient countries, with a handkerchief flying in the hand of "the locomotive" guy of the ensemble. And many more Romanian "Manele" classic music such as Anton Pann - author and collector of proto-manele like Lelița Săftița, Mircea cel Bătrân (a mix by Anton) as well as Din Sânul Maicii Mele. "Manele" is in fact traditional oriental love songs, melancholic and some to the point of depression, but not modern Șușanu - oltenians make cry music danceable, taking manele next-level to energy-level oriental. Tracks go beyond Sexy levels, crazy Fun, VengefulRevolutionary or damn right Dangerous (singing about "Mascații" - that is anti-terrorist drug squad, not sure is this Șușanu but anyway). 

"A la Turca" was the name of my favorite Kebap near hLizeanu 
now renamed in ...  Bomb Doner

Of course, now it is a trend to hate arabs or orient whatever. In fact nobody knows today or totally forgets that in Romania, in Constanța (ancient Tomis) where there is also the Casino you can find the only Modern Mosque (reinforced concrete structure) that has the name of a Christian Ruler : Mosque Carol I. And that inside you can still find the immense rug from the Mosque on the now-extinct Ada Kaleh Island near Drobeta Turnu Severin, an enclave of Oriental culture sacrificed by Ceaușescu and the Communist Party of România back in the 60s for energetic purposes (building the Iron Gates powerplants). I was so interested about this sinking of the island that I named my 5th year optional project "Yacht Design" after the famous Ada Kaleh, to bring a bit of history in the "waters of tommorow". And I wanted to sacrifice the "Matrimonial Bed" (Largest area in the hull) ... well, for the crew. I planted big red sofas and a belly dancer in the middle. I found the "morale of the troops" more important than the comfort of a couple of spoiled two.

"A la Turca Bre - o Cadână Nescafe"

Arabic, Dacic, Romanian or not, My girl Alis Olea (Alis Olea Rodica to be more precise, as her artistic avatar is called ORA - romanian for "The Hour") is born in Brașov (Corona) but raised in Babadag city, Tulcea. Babadag is in fact a turkish name, because of the heavy turkish influences in Dobrogea splitting in Baba dağ it means Father Mountain and its history is is connected with 13th century dervish Baba Sari Saltik, venerated as a saint in muslim tradition. Near Babadag you can find also the Heracleea or Enisala fortress, a genovese gem actually built on a Dacic Sepulchre (Tomb). One in Dobrogea can observe many "Tumuli" or "Gorgani" (Tombs) made of earth, sacred burial grounds. They appear as small hills in the landscape, but mysterious and intriguing ... as a trained eye can clearly see they are not natural. Alis always had this fascination with eggs and painting her chickens, happy going to check out if they made a new one and caring for them like a mother. No wonder in Barcelona when I told her to experiment sculpting, her first try was to make and egg.

Babadag lake and fishermen - tumuls in the background

In Babadag you can find many legends about the lake being sweet before the dynamics of Razelm and lagoons shifted in time and a big mysterious Loch-Ness like monster roamed around its waters eating up seamen. There is also an ancient old forest in the city of Babadag, natural reservation, a hidden tomb of Koyun Baba where people are said to leave their clothes for good luck, a geamy (small mosque) : Ali-Gazi Pașa, historical monument of high interest, a dacic-fortress now in ruins (near Babadag Lake), beautiful windmills as well as an interesting summer camp with stone sculptures I discovered with Alis and her ever-curious family. One of the works of art we settled upon to analyze was Radu Adrian's Homage to the Sun, a mystical keyhole design and "distributor" of sun energy through a basis that looked like a greek cross or church naves. I was so interested in this, I even contacted the author and talked about the hidden meanings. Near Babadag is also "Grindul Lupilor" (Wolves Sand) and "Gura Portiței" (Mouth of the Small Gate - a Gate between inland lagoon-lakes and the Black Sea).


Ali Gazi Pașa Geamy - Babadag

Of my Random internet browsing I've set my eyes upon "Din Sânul Maicii Mele" (from my mother's breast) while researching for the Romanian National Anthem "Deșteaptă-te Române!". The hymn or anthem had many variants, but this is the oldest one yet to be known - adapted in Brașov (also called Kronstadt or Crown City / Corona - where my Alis Olea is born !, 7th girl and finally - wife. First wife or ... "first of the many" if we keep a byzantine vibe). And Alis was later raised by her grandparents in Babadag, Tulcea - where her mother is from (father is from Brașov) where the arabic culture is living nicely with the locals, dacians, orthodox, russian lipovans - is basically the perfect mix of cultural spices if you want to visit România, they have everything. Even ... Geamparalele ! an extremely up-beat tempo and asymetrical rhythm dance from Dobrogea, near the seaside and Danube Delta. Maybe only to be surpassed by Călușul Oltenesc, now thats one hell of a dance. Lightning fast, credited fastest in the world.

And some say România's anthem backbone is or sounds like an adhan (arabic: أَذَان‎ [ʔaˈðaːn]), a muslim call to prayer.  Well, that can be an epic twist for our christian-islamic love-hate affair. An ecumenical one. But just listen to the perfect harmonies of the Greek Byzantine Chants. I like heavy-metal, manele, oriental or classical music. But you just cannot love a perfectly executed and in-tune choir of priests pouring just the right thing in your unfaithful soul. Or the breath-taking view of Mount Athos at morning, that pyramid coming out of the water no Matterhorn or Eiger can top that. It is not called an "ultra peak" for a reason I guess.

my watercolour 24x32cm of Istanbul (Constantinople) at Dawn

As the muezzins warm the red skies at dawn with their rhythmic voices, the orthodox chants are for me one of the most if not the most special type of music you can ever hear on this earth. If you can strip aside what the Orthodox Church is doing today as an institution in România, 30 years from the fall of communism and going farther away from the real truth, on a political and economical greed basis ... I think you cannot take out the flawless beauty of these harmonies - a message from God itself, to constantly fine-tune your frequencies with the others, in order to find peace. Much like the Gregorian Chants in the west ... finding their Moment of Peace

Orthodox Christianity as religion kept our spirituality and country alive in the most harsh times, priests, monks and men all gave their life in the name of Faith and Jesus Christ, and the free skies of our future children. I always wanted to be "frate de mânăstire" (monastery brother, like an internship - I did it just for 1 night at Comana) for awhile just like in Thailand there is a custom to be a "buddist monk" for 3-4 weeks before starting your "adult" life, marry and have children. Back in Cluj in 2011 I also found interesting interviews with age-old hermits (lone-monks) that stayed in the woods, forests and mountains for 30-40 years just to experience God and the Sacred dimension of humanity. I found it very nice, in a world of everyone wants the latest car, phone or girl some want something else, a quest or Desire for the Divine.

"The most important thing in life is desire. You can achieve anything you want. 
The world is yours for the taking. Nothing is impossible for you, my girls. 
All you need is to desire it."
Eva Green as Miss G in Cracks, 2009

And that is why I think that Romania's national anthem is much more than the nationalist pumped "proud to be Romanian". It has a deep message encrypted inside, a sacred dimension even that one can read between the lines. An "Adhan" or "Orthodox Byzantine Chant" that sounds like a religious psalm ? The Desire for the Divine is embued in its powerful and mysterious lyrics :

Deșteaptă-te, române, din somnul cel de moarte,
(wake up Romanian, from your sleep-of-death)
În care te-adânciră barbarii de tirani,
(in which you have been sunk by the barbarian tyrants)
Acum ori niciodată croiește-ți altă soartă, 
(now or never, make yourself another fate)
La care să se-nchine și cruzii tăi dușmani.
(a destiny that even your most cruel enemies will bow)

One can simply observe that there are very interesting words used, such as : death, fate or faith, and bowing to our destiny. I find the word "destiny(the hidden power believed to control future events - i've sent Stratovarius to Aurora back in 2017, before leaving for the monastery) a far much better translation than "fate" (the development of events outside a person's control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power). Hidden power sounds better than outside of control or supernatural power, because "super" you can see sometimes I think while hidden is beyond reach. 


And what about "croiește-ți altă soartă" ?. I've written "make yourself another fate" not to sound too silly (tailor yourself...), but in fact the word "a croi" is not actually meant for "make" or "build" but from "to tailor" something. And much more closer to the "weave" sense. Like a spider weaves his resilient network to catch the prey or the weave of the Tejido / el Tejedor as the song of Amaia goes. 

And weaving in România is with a twist also, as our ancient old weaving machines were called "Război de Țesut", that is well ... "Weaving War" or "A war of weave". And a good "network", "grid" or even "extra-cellular matrix" (ECM as Alis calls it at IBEC n4nlab.eu) maybe is weaved by tightening (securing) or loosening (ripping) some Threads, like a bedminton pallette good for killing bats (murcielagos) such as I did back in the 7th grade while aged 13, killing '89 in mediteranean-climate influenced Băile Herculane summer camp. While at Hotel Apollo with our math teacher "Diriga" - miss Radu. It was our first revolution indeed, not like the 1989 Romanian revolution but an act to rebel against the bad conditions in that hotel, nobody actually cared.

And finally "a închina" is not accurately translated "to bow". That is more like a knightly gesture of subduing, a conquest or if you want "breaking of the other person's will". Empires did that to us, forcing România into all sorts of crooked treaties, invasions, killings etc. Actually not my type of total ownage or even revenge, to gather power and destroy others is not really classy. I prefer in this case the term "to worship". 

A more religious sense, sacred or divine dimension. A total surrender of the ego (this track was stuck on my google account by accident after my Constanța trip with Konstantina Terzi). A surrender not by pressure or force but in the face of the fate sealed by our ancestors. The destiny sealed in years of suffering, blood and sacrifice.

Going back in 2008 with arch. Codina and Beatrice to Santiago de Compostella by bus, one cannot be impressed by the life of a pilgrim, walking on foot so many kilometers just to see that baroque cathedral at ... the end of the known world. For it was in fact "Finisterra" back in those days and walking the "Camino de Santiago" or "Santiago's footpath" was seen as an act of a special mantra or meditation, not one you do it with candles in your own home ...

... but a spiritual quest of exploration of the self through the adventure that brings the exploration of unknown horizons. A conquest of one's own Paradise if you'd wish ... 

Guess I was always fascinated by the abstract realm of the Sacred ...

***

only Dj Morfou can "Take you Away" like this with his Night Train

But why so much hate among humans ? Romanians have a (brewed) natural hate for each other, mainly because of corruption and self-induced ideas that jews or gipsies are bad - an age old trauma and blame-shifting typical for the balkanik mixed with slavic spirit. Now everything is bad, but mostly "Manele" is seen in România as a concept of low-morale or poor education, being listened more by gypsies. Oriental culture is seen as "below" standards and immigrants treated badly, much the same reason conflict occurs in the Western world, because of clash of cultures and religions, misunderstood. While everyone is missing the fact that România was a melting pot of cultures, historically speaking - integrating everything like Borg or Zerg : migrant people (slavs, tatars etc.), ottoman culture infuses, gothic style, orthodox, catholic (basically all world religions), yoga, hinduism (Mircea Eliade and his History of Religions) , we even absorbed communism. Maybe this CoronaVirus will get absorbed also, we can take a lot of damage apparently and be happy about it. 

Just think that Romanians can learn to master to perfection any foreign language : spanish, english, german, french even thai. How come Spanish dont even learn a bit of english ? not to mention they are not a bit curious about obscure cultures such as romanians, thracians, ancient dacians etc.

For instance, modern-day society in România totally dismisses the idea of a "harem" of wives, while Ștefan cel Mare or Vlad Țepeș had indeed polyamorous relationships and many women. Romanians actually prefer to "marry" in the orthodox conservative ways, in the church, monogamous with their "soulmate" and then fuck them up big time, cheating, divorcing, running away, getting into lawsuits of custody after many years of marriage etc. The Romanian Orthodox Church today eludes these details and is against gay marriage or other so-called "satanic" aspects of life only because of economical reasons, they act like a corporation producing money - not lifting you spiritually. They pump the weddings, funerals, baptises and festivities, "ballrooms" to the extreme, hiding in fact a profound moral-corrupt business behind all this fake "sacred" facade. Despicable, is a word too soft for what priests are doing nowdays. 

But back to the Oriental ways, I wanted to see with my own eyes the culture we had the most to deal with as Romanians. Christianity and Islam, an endless love-hate relationship. Istanbul Top-Kapî Palace in fact holds Ștefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) sword, a gift by him to "honour his enemy", a chivalry gesture. He was one of our most loved rulers having a vision of "rebuilding" the Byzantine Empire and actually to conquer old Constantinople (now Istanbul). 


He was later sanctified by the Romanian orthodox church as "Stephen the Saint" (Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt) because of his church and monastery building frenzy, and of course due to heroic resistance in front of the Ottoman Empire. A small guy at a height of only 1.50m, he was in fact such a damage to the Ottomans. Even called by the Pope "Athleta Christi" (Atletul lui Cristos) for defending Christianity against the unstoppable force coming from the South in Oriental rhythms. But with little help from the Western world and Christianity. Only bla-bla, talking. Basically, we were almost most of the time on our own, Always Outnumbered but ... Never Outgunned.

tuesday 13th my male tomcat and his favorite lighter's up

Indeed, sweet Lavinia was my 5th girlfriend and from Focșani, Vrancea - Moldova - where Ștefan was also. She is of noble descent, the Grădișteanu family of boyars, with some of the latter having ties with the Legionnary Movement as well, while her Grandmother, Eugenia Grădișteanu was the mother-of-all communists in Vrancea, hacking and slicing new urbanism in old village Focșangeles - her relatives still getting hate after many years. After some "mici" and beer, we first kissed in the Portico of Romanian restaurant "Casa Oprea Soare" (House Stop the Sun) or "Bucur Restaurant" (Bucur from București means Joy or Enjoy, much the same Gaudi comes from Gaudir - to enjoy, in catalan). At Night, she shines best, recent photo I took in 3rd November 2020 : 

Lavinia also took me one day to eat at Bufetul de la Șosea or Casa Doina Restaurant on Kisseleff Boulevard, Bucharest. Well, "Doina" is an extremely difficult feeling to express yet alone to translate to english, being more related to "Dor" of national poet Mihai Eminescu , Wish or "Longing" as in a deep melancholic yearning, germans have a name close for this i think : "Sehnsucht". We had a running in-joke with our long time family-friend Doina or "Doinița", a woman name as we sometimes called her 2Na (2 or Two means Doi). She was babysitting me with szekely born Mihai Dugenik in Obor neighbourhood, on the streets of Călușei (small Horses or Călușarii), Horei and Aprodul Purice (a servant of Ștefan cel Mare, to help him go up on his horse - this was my mother's story to tell me its okay to be 150cm tall as long as you have slaves working for you). And "Doina Restaurant" has beautiful ornaments with names of places with good wineries in România : Panciu (Vrancea), Drăgășani (Oltenia), Vârteșcoiu and my favorite Faraoane or Faraoanele (she-Pharaoh-s), in Historical Vrancea of course. All symbols used and metaphors, to remind us of our Pre-Christian solar-beliefs still strongly infused in our Christianity. In fact, 2000 years ago Saint Andrew (Sfântul Andrei or the Apostle of Wolves) had a tough mission to bring the Jesus teachings to stubborn dacians. We even went to the extent of "hiding" different symbols or messages in caves, rocks or mixing / blending them carefully to keep our "identity" unaltered by external "mood stabilizers". The "Right Faith" or "Dreapta Credință" as Vlad Țepeș argued with Priests all his life because of his "Judgemental" ways and famous Impaling. The essence of our spirituality is very hard to picture I think, but Daniel Roxin made some good attempts in the field of sacred, religion and "spiritual reforms" in antiquity with his movie "Zalmoxis - God of Getodacians"

What can you expect ? I was working for CredoDesign in 2015 with churches, traditions, dacians and Romanian culture, while Lavinia was working at XPress Architect for architect Ileana "Ile" Ristea (ex-apprentice of prof. Viorel Hurduc). They were designing "Neoromânesc" styled mansions in Vrancea to be more precise. An area famous for its wines, my first competition entry with Lavinia was for ... Valpolicella Winery in Italy and the second being the Vaubahn Fort - Rome Community Ring, the name perfectly in tune with our "Architecture Society" of Atelierul din Hamac. Ileana "Ile" is an architect very fond of traditions and of course the sacred part, Athos mountains and Greece, the name "Ristea" being some say of bulgarian or greek etymology "Hristea" standing for "Cristea" or "Cristi" / "Christian". And Lavinia's best friend from Focșani, Vrancea was Cristian.

Lahovary House in Bucharest and its "Solar" buttons on the facade and "fire"-like arches

Indeed Neoromânesc (the New-Romanian style) is one of my favorites, bringing a fresh modern outlook to old monastery language of Brâncovenesc style with many solar ornaments and infusions reminding us of the earlier Sun-Gods. In the 4th year at the History of Architecture with urban thinker and historian Nicolae "Nae" Lascu i studied only 2 or 3 days before. When I found myself reading about Neoromânesc and arch. Ion Mincu I completely lost track of time and said to myself : "Why I should bother reading about something else, when I can read more about Neoromânesc?". 

The next day at the oral exam everybody was nervous and I told them dont worry, I will go first. And told them "I'm not worried, I will have Neoromânesc as subject anyway". And the first ticket I picked ... was indeed Neoromânesc. I  had a 9 then because of my faulty memory for some "majolica" details on the facade. In fact italian ceramics of the Renaissance period, Mincu used in his compositions. Actually I was never good at exams, I like "design" and working better, but History of Architecture was a favorite, always.

a graphical "solar-play" on the Portico of NeoRomânesc styled Central School in Bucharest
designed by arch. Ion Mincu

Later in my career I've met arch. Ruxandra Nemțeanu - an expert on Neoromânesc, History and Politics. I had a nice short talk with her at Monumentul - Iași Symposium, working for Credo Design. We argued on the idea if the Political was before the Architecture or vice-versa. She said the "National" styles emerged in Europe out of the will of different nations to affirm their identity, a vibe started by Napoleon.

Casa Doina or Bufetul de la Șosea, 1889 - arch. Ion Mincu - Bucharest

Bufetul de la Șosea is yet another Neoromânesc architectural gem by arch. Ion Mincu, our most important architect born also in Focșani like Lavinia, having many ties with the Freemasonry (Masoneria), designing for them wonderful crypts in Bellu Cemetery (i think only Surpassed by Montjuic Cemeterio in Barcelona). A lot of hardcore things come from Focșani, Vrancea ... such as the 1977 most brutal Earthquake in România that tore down the country or the Chiparuș, traditional pagan ritualic dance of death. An unique funeral ceremony held in villages such as Nereju.  

Maybe it was Destiny or maybe the Dacic Spirit called upon from beneath the earth its "Hells Bells" because the 1977 Earthquake from Vrancea happened in the 4th of March (almost Dacic New Year, 1st of March). It was of 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale and one of its main victims were indeed ... the churches. It started at the fatidic hour of 21:22:22 and lasted 56 seconds ('56 was the original name of Jose Marti gymnasium in Iancului, before rebranding), acted with a force so wrecking that Building Regulations and Seismic Codes of Design had to be re-vamped and analyzed to be perfected for future buildings, a nightmare for engineers and architects. All feared 2020 as the year next to the 50years or so , reccurence rate for big earthquakes. In fact the fear of another big earthquake is so big, that investors always prefer the safest solutions if they afford them : base-isolation. Putting your buildings on dampers, wheels, balls or whatever other ancient Persian techniques adapted in "new-tech" it seems the only solution to escape that "Vrancea" wrath when the ripple effect unleashes that shockwave of tectonic terror.

Accept it or not, but The shockwave hit so powerful that the old brick structures of the 1700s-1800ish churches of Bucharest were heavily damaged, some beyond repair. The famous Earthquake took its toll especially at the belltowers and steeples / spires (romanian is "turle"), the most sensitive parts of the churches, basically ripping out their "heads" off their drums ("tambur") which they rested upon structurally. A lot of steeples fell outside or inside and later were re-built in metal, a cheap solution for an economically damaged country (the earthquake was a major event with a lot of victims). We were working on Turnu Măgurele Cathedral back in 2016 at Credo Design and we heard that even the original Main steeple (Pantocrator - with Jesus painted on top) fell inside from like 25 meters crushing the pavement inside and leaving permanent marks, we were fascinated. This one was re-built in brick, but many did not have money so ... a lot of churches in Bucharest now look silly with these "Tinheads" as we architects call them, a cheap tinfoil-like replacement to keep water out and religious service inside. Others to survive were unlucky to be next to other damaged buildings, such as Dunărea near Universitate. The communist authorities used then the opportunity to swing the wrecking ball both on Dunărea ruins and in the neighbouring but still healthy Biserica Enei (Ene's Church, Moș Ene is our Sandman). From an architectural and an urban point of view, it was honestly not fitting anymore in the Modern Magheru boulevard. A similar fate with the Sărindari church of the Cocoons (Coconilor) on Victoriei avenue.

demolition of Enei Church near "Dunărea" / Danube apartment building - Universitate, București
as pictured by Radu Ștefănescu

I was always fascinated by the sheer force of this cataclysm much as I was of another favorite PC Game : Quake, a 1996 very dark-gothic ambient thing to play as a kid, developed by Id Software.

Popa Nan - Popa Soare neighbourhood house ornament (photo by me, 2015)

Talking about Neoromânesc Architectural style and its influences in modern design I cannot miss this symbol. I was wandering around Popa Nan neighbourhood in old Bucharest, when I stopped to see this extraordinary architectural ornament I never seen before. The exact location is on Popa Soare street (Popa=Priest, Soare=Sun so its like Sun Priest), close to Saint Stephan street and Saint Stephan church (a favorite of mine). As you can see Bucharest (from Bucur or Bucurie = Joy or Enjoy) has this "sacred" dimension and is filled with churches, saints, bishops (like Episcopul Radu street - bishop Radu) or priests ("Popa"). Although Bucharest is very rich in oriental culture such as "Maur" architecture (mudéjar) this seemed much more far-orient styled, into the asian side of the world even ...

It was not a pure neo-romanian style decoration, nor a celtic-knot you can see in the "Romană" - Dacia boulevard area of our city, but a bit more complex. I think it is more of like a journey to the center of the heart, with hidden meanings and passageways, surrounded by moats / water pools. Its central and symetrical geometry reminded me of the spatial configuration of Angkor Wat (khmer : អង្គរវត្), deep in the jungles of modern Cambodia (ancient Khmer) - the largest religious complex in the world yet to be known, the Aztec / Maya pyramid complexes or even the Sacred Dacian Temples with their circle-like solar distribution in the mountains. My Bangkok, Thailand experience brought me to the cosmology of the hinduist / buddhist and even jainist tradition of the sacred mountain of Meru (Sanskrit: मेरु) - surrounded by a system of lakes and hills and I thought some romanian architects or historians wanted to implement some of this in their house, or in the message of this ornament.

Angkor Wat plan and its "moat-system" courtesy of VirtualAngkor.com

Back in Romania, it is known that Vrancea is also in the Carpații de Curbură (where the Carpathian Mountains do an almost 90s bent or "Dau colțul" or "a da colțul", an expression popular in Romanian for dying) and a place where three distinct tectonic plates meet : Eastern European, and sub-plates Intra-Alpina and Moesica. Tectonic-plates are not my specialty, but Vrancea is surely the Epic-Center (Epicenter written more Epic) where nightmares come from. And "Ion Mincu" was a nightmare for the old architectural styles indeed. Geometrically is also where the three historical provinces also meet : Țara Românească, Moldova and Transylvania. The "Small Union" or "Mica Unire" was indeed a work of A.I. Cuza and his team, a freemason that took all or most possesions off the ever-greedy Orthodox Church (secularization). 

Cuza is now called occult or "mason" and today more than ever under heavy hate-speech coordinated or aided even by the Church authorities, while they are erasing (nr. : painting over) "masonic features" such as the Eye of God from the Church frontispicies or other more "discreet" and delicate interventions such as eliminating the Apocalypse and Judgement Day scenes from the portico's, once painted as big murals in Northern Moldova, where gothic influences were felt all over the place. Well, it is easy to understand that a system that starts lacking authority because of glitches in their "matrix" will try to "blindfold" people to their ways. And you get a perfect system of "payed indulgences" that sparked Luther to go berserk on the Church. A moral corrupt system for the church to get rich, and banned in many countries. But not if you do it in a smarter way, like giving "donations" on the other side, no taxes, no refund, no receipt no worries, no nothing. And you can basically do any "wrong deed" as usual, knowing that God will forgive you, through his moderator - the Priest and the Church. But Guess again, I ended up from Arabian Nights to the Orthodox Jihad, an even most dangerous one... because the enemy is unseen and they create a full-proof system of sinning-forgiving that eventually renders both sinner and priest Gods. Halfgods, but still ... brews constant local "despots" that actually dont have any "God" at all.

Artists painting devils are seen as "moral corrupt", Dante' and Tintoretto's Inferno something like a work of art of the devil himself and what do you get ? Zombie Apocalypse with old people only sharing "flowers" and "fake-Jesus" , more "fake-love" and hate in society, able to become physically violent, like in my case. If you Question their ways too much ... 


Near Vrancea, in Buzău it is where my Father (electrical, HVAC engineer and math teacher) landed his first job as a trainee back in the communist era, on the site of the Siriu Dam. They had that in-joke there "How can we close the light? everyone is in bed now". So what they did ? Young and restless, one randomly picked up a shoe and just toss it in the light bulb, destroying it. The next day they would pick up another from the hallway. Well actually it didn't happen often, but it is a funny story - a radical way to "Hit the Lights". Everything in Vrancea is stopping tracks, even the local PSD Baron is named "Oprișan" from the same verb "A Opri" that means "To Stop". What can I say more ? our dear friend architect and artist Daniel is from Focșani also, and now in Barcelona : https://danielzlota.com/

And Vrancea was the place where we did our heroic last stand during World War 1. Sublieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu, young and long time war hero gave her life on these fields (had the chance to work at the conservation project for her tomb in Târgu Jiu), died in the sound of shrieking shrapnel falling from the skies, inspiring generations to come with her willpower and desire for sacrifice, in the name of an ideal that was "România Mare". They were called in the era "Black Devils" or "Dracs" because of their blackened souls, burned clothes and total dedication. What a Comeback! (or Counterstrike) did România made back then. After being defeated at Jiu, retreated from Bucharest, getting back together again at Iași with their King and with some external French help, russian scarce troops ... we pushed the germans back big time. Historical and Epical, much like Păuliș crucial fight of World War 2, another keypoint turning the tides of war. Fieldmarshall Von Mackensen was shocked to see such reckless defending and determination from such a small country. And that guy looked bad-ass. 


The Vrancea's tagline in World War 1, was :

"Pe aici nu se trece !" ( You shall not Pass ! )

This is a "centenary" show you can easily watch in its entirety. Although a bit political, nevertheless a must-see for any Romanian. The architectural monument : Mausoleul de la Mărășești designed to celebrate / pay homage to the battles is a huge crypt (or a tomb), that was initially supposed to be "Biserica Neamului", because of the heroes that have sealed-in-blood our destiny on those fields. Anachronically, nowdays the church is building the "Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului" in Bucharest on the very same idea, but 100 years later and on "the back of a system" that is profoundly corrupt and the society poor and without hospitals, the basic needs.


Architect Ion Mincu of Focșani (Vrancea) was part of the generation of modern architects and rulers that not only took old and "heavy" Brâncovenesc style (Monastery like, archaic) to new aesthetics, reinvented the Romanian School of Architecture (University), but also implemented the occult ways in the orthodox-burdened spirituality of our people. The "Cenușa Crematory" (Cenușa means Ashes) - a wonderful place I took Lavinia for our first sketches in the "Atelierul din Hamac" project :

Cenușa Crematory - Tineretului Park

I always found the "contre-forted" walls on this building, sloped slightly inwards for visual and structural stability combined with the "Temple" monumental look somewhat similar to the ancient old Luxor , Temples of the Pharaohs of Egypt, an image surely Creeping Death much as the Pyramid Project. Everything about Romanians is plain wired backwards, twisted and wicked as it is said that Dacians laughed at funerals or met death in fight with a smile, as they were going to be immortal together with Zalmoxis, their God. Hell (pun, intended) even the Casino (poem I wrote about) where normal people usually go to have fun and empty their souls ... is compared in România with a Thracian Death Carriage / an Ancient Hearse. Event Horizon, because its located on the seaside. Horror.

The Crematory was not such a new concept, Buddhists burned their death and it didnt seem to bother them. Dacians also, a ritual to burn or to impale someone to send him to Zalmoxis - no problem. Some call it a more hygienical way to go. I just thought that is a space-saver and also you can re-use your body for other interesting stuff like being fatener for plant-earth. 

We even have a Crematory in Tineretului Park ! (Tineretului translates into Youth / Youngsters or Young Generation Park if you like) ... I loved the idea. A crematory in the Park for the Young Generation, where Hurduc also designed the "Palatul Copiilor" with sunken public spaces and I dont know who designed that awesome dramatic bridge. Dramatic like our first meetings with 3 beers I thought I will die or the first flower I brought her : a rose that I crushed in my hands until some blood dropped. I told her then : "Do you think you know what love is ? It is not this shit...". She was totally impressed, I knew it would do it for her. I wanted a "partner in crime" not sweet things. 


But actually, the Crematory was built in 1926 near the Bellu Cemetery and the Park later on in 1965 or something. The funny part is that this whole area was named "Valea Plângerii" (Crying Valley or Mourning Valley) - a landfill or "groapă de gunoi", where the poorest stayed right in the trash. The new modern Crematory is now in Vitan-Bârzești (Vitan from Vită / Vacă or Cow, the plains where herds of cows roamed before - and where the Văcărești Monastery once stood proud, demolished just one year after my birthdate in 1985). An architectural feature I love most about the new Crematory is the "Columbar" (Columbarium), where the urns of the dead are kept. It has natural light, from above and a calm and peaceful atmosphere. I dont know, we only cremated my uncle 10-12 years ago and recently in 2020 my cat Aristița that fell to her death. The best columbariums I saw in Montjuic Cementerio. I can only like it because of how the spanish go bull-rage amor-latin on everything, throwing a dreadful "n" right there, puting the Cement in Cemetery.


Lavinia was the one-kind-of-woman you would take to -5 degrees during The Night of the Sânziene (Geminide) to watch the cloudy skies, not see anything and just have fun and take photos of the Școala Centrală de Fete (Pensionatul Domnesc / Central School for Girls) - another architectural piece designed by Ion Mincu in București. And build a team with. 

Sânzienele or Ielele are Bad Spirits, Omen of change or Spiritual Rapture / Arrancamiento
- here is Schitul Dârvari, one of the most special small monasteries (Schit) in București,
built by Elena, of the Buzești brothers descendants .. 

Death surrounded my relationship with arch. Lavinia Grădișteanu, as everything around Us was seemingly going down the drain or breaking apart. Even while visiting the Sibiu Workshops with arch. Liviu Gligor while at Alțâna at our friends from Ambulanța Monumentelor (Heritage Salvation) we rested for a few minutes next to the ceramic tile hand-made by Prince Charles himself when visiting the traditional tile-making shop (țiglărie). We noticed it was indeed cracked, to the amusement of the others.

And Democracy was killed by idiotic politicians (OUG 13, elections and much more). Our collegues, teachers and architects died in one of the most cruel accident in Romanian history, some still call it made on purpose to overthrow the government : the Colectiv Fire. A rock club burst in flames in the ex-Pionierul (Pioneer) abandoned warehouse, right next to the Bucur Maternity and Bucur Church (oldest one in București) killing almost the entire band Goodbye to Gravity and 65 young kids, leaving many others physically damaged for life, a society psychically damaged for life, bringing tears and more pain in the troubled Romanian souls, a "Collective Trauma" that outbursted later in 2017 protests. And it happened in 2015 right in the Halloween night, to let the Church Authorities and their blind followers say that "satan" brought vengeance and other bullcrap. In fact fire-protection and legal permits were faulty, the mayor didnt gave answers, some heads rolled for the "facade" and basically corruption was killing us all over the place. Literally, the pain was insurmountable you can almost feel the Death was in the Air. No wonder you want to scream and go out running 6 hours to a Monastery ...

Death and suffering was around us so much that in March 2017 me and Lavinia even visited Minovici Museum (both Furnica and the Cristofi Cerchez designed Neo-Românesc one - Vila cu Clopoței or Rattlesnake Villa). Museum of Bucharest (MMB) held an exhibition called "Rigoare și Emoție. Matematică și Visare." (Rigor and Emotion - Matematics and Dreaming) about fractals and life after death, an amazing and deep concept by artist Dan Dermengiu who was the Director of IML (Institute of Legal Medicine) after Minovici. Unfortunately he died too early, leaving us a massive volume of highly valuable artwork that inspired me a lot. I knew personally the artist, for he was the father of Andrei Dermengiu, my collegue (now anesthesist in a hospital) from Jose Marti (the gymnasium school named after the revolutionary cuban Poet - "the apostle of independence"). While at Credo Design, in 2018 I had the chance to work at Bellu cemetery also, a lovely place of death. Iulia Hașdeu's crypt is my favorite one : Eppur si Muove.

Minovici was also another lunatic, hanging himself or with the aid of his brother to get to know "death" better, fascinated with the other world I think more than B.P. Hașdeu (and that guy went into obsession with his dark spiritism occult communication with his lost daughter Iulia Hașdeu - the name of the highschool I lived across all my life). He also collected ancient old chandeliers from wooden churches of Oltenia, building himself inside the house a church-like paraclis (shrine) but with a more colourful tune to it, a pagan vibe you can still find in the Village Museum or back in the countryside, not the golden polished stuff made by the church. He was more into the authentic I think :
 
The mystical coloured chandeliers remind of Leleasca, Ștefănești ... and its ethereal-like interior of wooden sculptures, pagan traditions, ancient-old messages and that awesome Vault (in Romanian called "Ceriul Bisericii" or "The Sky of the Church") rested on horse-heads (a remnant of the Thracian "Zeul Cabalin", god of horses and Călușarii / Călușeii or Caloian ritual).


Or the more recent chandelier of the Buzești brothers from "Adormirea Maicii Domnului" church in Lungești, Vâlcea ... a Lion with solar symbols, hidden from sight. Lucky I find it with Aurora. 

Cristian Popa (Popa means Priest in Romanian), my dear Scorpion friend who is also from Moldova - Vaslui and with relatives in ... Soveja (Vrancea, more up in the mountains) asked me when he saw this photo posted as profile picture : 

"Hey Radu is that a Nuke ?" 
(he actually said "ce e ăla, focos Nuclear?" - we say "focos" for "fuse")

Yes, together with Lavinia I started that Pyramid Ecumenical project, and she was the right girl to fit the saying : 

"It's time to take off the masks and stick the cross inside the Pyramid"



Ah yes, Lavinia Grădișteanu. Class was written all over this girl, with her byzantine and sometimes erratic random style but always with an intellect to start any fire you want. You just cannot miss this type of girl, I even asked her to stay with me the rest of her life ... yes, not marry but "be together". It was an abstract concept, but I felt I was not prepared for "an invitation" to more formal orthodox marriage, as she was all but un-orthodox in her ways : "Radu, forget this cross and Jesus thing ... if Vlad Țepeș had -turned the other cheek around- we would now be talking in ottoman-turkish, not Romanian baby"

***

666 "Alarma" video, foretelling the switch in mankind 
- tearing down old idols and "Waking up" to the sound of the alarms ... and spanish lyrics

*

Upon the "Lamb" opening a seal of the book, a judgment is released or an apocalyptic event occurs. The opening of the first four Seals releases the Four Horsemen, each with his own specific mission.[6:1-8] 

The opening of the fifth Seal releases the cries of martyrs for the "Word/Wrath of God".

Meeting Lavinia in 2014, right after the end of a 2013 filled with Roșia Montană protests against corruption in România was indeed somewhat of a cataclysmic event. I first met this crazy girl in 2011 in Cluj, but we kept in contact mostly online from, not much. Sometimes is good to just say "Happy birthday!" to aquarius born Lavinia and you might end up with the ride of your life. Indeed, her wonderful smile was hiding a "Super Sadness" (i called like this the 3rd CD for our Istanbul trip and she finded it super funny). But for my 5th girlfriend, her Sadness was somewhat related for what she saw around her, a degradation of human spirit and pity existences. 


I usually dont listen to Reggae, but when I do, I prefer "El Negro" (The Black One / Negrul) and my favorite track "Ploaia" (The Rain - that will "wash it all away"). And the lyrics make sense if you know that the romanian culture has Paparude (spiritual people / wizards that have the power to call the rain) or even Solomonari (dacic priests or mages able to control the weather - in Alis' birth-town Brașov / Corona there it is a place on the mountains called Pietrele lui Solomon, that has been researched in 1913). Here are the first lyrics with my almost-accurate translation :

Ploaia care va cadea
(the Rain that will fall)
Pacatele toate mi le va spala
(It'll wash away my sins all)
Ura si iubire parte-n parte,
(Love and Hate aside)
Sunetul de reggae se aude de departe.
(Reggae sounds from the otherside)

Indeed back in 2015 I was working for Martyr-themed projects at Credo Design (together with Asociația Culturală Rădăcini and Adrian Bucurescu's theories of Dacia Secretă 666 being a sacred number for our ancient people, a spiritual reset). To be more precise "The Radu Șerban Voievod - Socio Cultural Center" at Comana Monastery, where Vlad Țepeș resided or was hiding, you never know ... this guy and Negru Vodă were masters of darkness, striking in the shadows and basically killing everyone without mercy or a tear dropped. Phoenix Rock band made a song about this : Negru Vodă and his gang or Negru Vodă și a lui Ceată but I like to joke about : Negru Vodă și a lui Ceață - Black Ruler and his Mist) 

Darkness, my interpretation of Electronic Pleasure...

This martyr-themed filled project got me into OUG-13 protests (a type of inner combustion) and into Psychiatry. Luckily, I did manage to destroy that also, 3 years and 5 doctors later with Alis in Barcelona. My mother said it was not an achievement, but I told her, it is an inhuman domain anyway, why not start caring for your kind and Trash it permanently ?

Working for Credo Design and being highly interested by history, you cannot miss the "Saints of the Jails" (Sfinții Închisorilor) - a brutal fact missed by most of fellow romanians, an episode of intense pain and resistance against the communist oppresive regime. In fact, the socialist implementation of communism, in România with brutal force. Our whole intelectual class was merciless killed and destroyed psihically in the "chambers of death", starved, beaten up and made to "quit" their religion, that is christianity (orthodoxy). The martyrs died for Jesus and is the most recent blood-written testament of our people that had faith and the determination to resist change.

Lavinia moved in 2014 in Timpuri Noi neighbourhood (Timpuri Noi = New Times) and lived right across another friend's house, a sculptor living at number 13. He is very talented and has high interest in religion, spirituality and biblical themes ... and also had a extraordinary project for the Pitești Prison - Memorial of Suffering, for the romanian martyrs of the communist regime. I took some photos recently with Irina and posted them here. I think it is truly a must-visit for any romanian, to be learned in schools and talked about wherever ... so when people think they go to vote and "select" the best option, they have the "backbone" of real history hard-wired in their minds. Having an opinion and voicing it online or on Television is too usual these days, but having an opinion based on historical and real facts, with the messy history we had ... is something nobody is interested anymore.


a custom cabinet design for Adrian Majuru's of MMB : "Muzeul Vârstelor"  
(Ages Museum, project I worked while at Credo Design, in 2015) 
Dorință in romanian means "Wish", guess I selected only one word for the preview 
- the final design had 6 drawers, with 6 words, 6 ideas ... but I liked this more

a Sunny design on this one, based on the symbols of egyptian god AMON - RA 
(the sketches in the link I did for my doctor, passionate about the ancient old solar beliefs)






2015 15x15cm watercolour as present for Sema Ergonul of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University



(we started up a bit rough - like turko-romanian classics love-hate affairs
... but ended up friends, as always as the Turks hav "Honour" written in their DNA
Mihai Viteazu or "Malus Dacus" - nicknamed the Bad Dacian
always fought the Ottoman Empire, but was assasinated by his "allies")



very special kind of Woman this Lavinia, as her tagline (or motto) was simple and efficient :

"Nice shoes, wanna fuck?"


Aya Sofia - my watercolour gift for Ana Jantea at Credo Design


and below my Sketches from the 2015 Istanbul Trip, 
have to talk with Lavinia about the photos though ... 

we stayed in Beyoğlu young district, just after the Arab Spring and the protests at Gezi Park
 at Neverland Hostel - a wonderful hipster place with free Nescafe






tram of Red Dawn on Istiklal Av.


"bă Hai la un Cay" mean "dude, Come get some Tea" - an obssesive saying we 
heard all turks yelling around. Not coffee, but black tea ... their favorite to wake up to



the "Neoromânesc" at TopKapî palace similar of NeoOttoman ... lovely















And ... the beautiful freshly restored interior of the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamami or how my dad calls them "Turkish Bathroom" (he actually says Tărkiș Basrum for funny purposes as he is a big fan of the more hygienical water-ways of the ottomans - well, his name is Constantin after all). Lavinia went in for a bath, massage, aroma-therapy while I was waiting for her outside with a turkish coffee and painting the Mosque and the nearby Medresa. The Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex is perhaps my favorite in all Istanbul and it was a very hard pick with landmarks such as the Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower or even the famous, second favorite of mine : the Red Tram on Istiklal St. - Independence Street, but I like the name because of the glass-clear sounding - in România, sticla (sticlă) means glass or clear / klar (as garbi in basque or 13mm security glass).

Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex - Turkish: Kılıç Ali Paşa Külliyesi, is located on the coastline of the Bosphorus. It was designed by Mimar Sinan (Koca Mi'mâr Sinân Âğâ) chief architect and civil engineer of the Ottomans, master of the Mosques and it has it all : Mosque, Hamam, Medresa (school) and of course a Türbe - Tomb, an octogonal plan-shaped building resembling the "Turban", Ottoman headress. But the octogonal shape is a blend (or transition / moderator) between the "square" - telluric, earthly side of life and the "circle" - sacred space or the Divine. That is why almost all orthodox churches have octogonal shaped belfries / belltowers or "Turle", the main one being "Turla Pantocrator" where Jesus is usually depicted and where light flows in the "womb" of the building.

Kılıç Pașa or more simple "Ali" was a grand admiral of the Ottoman Fleet (much the same as Admiral Vasile Urseanu from the Observatory - restoration project I worked on while at CredoDesign) and was actually italian born Giovanni Dionigi Galeni or Occhiali , in the village of Le Castella, Calabria (a very strange location that is haunting me through Alex Gaudi-no's Destination Unknown as well as in Barcelona, were we ended up in Gran Via De Les Corts Catalanes - a 13km straight boulevard corner with Carrer de Calabria). Basically a slave captured by corsairs to become himself a corsair, ghost-pirate' privateer, the most feared Wolf of the Seas, raiding all mediterranean like hell.


***

07.11.2020, arch. Radu Florea




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