Hi from Istanbul
NOVEMBER 10, 2006
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.