Friday, September 30, 2011

Just the Photo - "Giuseppe Tips His Hat"

I shot this last night in the canals of Newport.
Joe Munday (a.k.a. "Giuseppe Lunidi) cruised by on his boat - the "Crystal Swan", and tipped his hat to my passengers and me.

Emilia Takes a Cruise

photos by Emilia Mirazchiyska and friends

My friend Emilia, publisher of the blog "Venezia" ws lucky enough to climb aboard a gondola in Venice a few days ago with her friends Viktoria and Rayna, and she sent me some great point-of-view photos of the adventure.

 They climbed aboard at the San Tomà traghetto, and got the royal treatment from gondolier Alessandro.

 Emilia checks her hair.

Alessandro points something out.

 When riding in a gondola, people take your picture. 
I swear, these boats are like "camera magnets".

Even the locals step out to take a look.

Alessandro earned his keep on the back of the boat, talking, singing, and using all the different techniques necessary to navigate the tight canals.

Clearly, everyone had a great time on the water.

I think Alessandro had more fun than his passengers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vibrant Hues at Twilight

I shot many photos tonight, and everything was simply idyllic on the water, but I think this one photo sums it all up perfectly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sixteen Sterns

photo by Chris Clarke

Like most famous cities, Venice has her icons. 
We could all name our top five, and I'm sure everyone's list would include the Rialto and gondolas. 
Chris Clarke caught one of my favorite photos of the two together.  
If this photo reminds you of another you've seen here,
check out "Twenty Tails on the Grand Canal",
which was posted a few years back. 
I like Clarke's photo more.

Just the Photo - "Compass Rose"

photo by Tamás Fehér
There are many traditional designs of construction, but there are also a number of traditional paint schemes that can be seen in the Veneto.

Here's a shot of a boat in Burano with an archetype look that involves bright colors, a name on the rail, and an eye-catching design on the bow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Cries of the City"

In the "Now for something...completely different" department, Here's a music video that I was involved with a while back.My brother directed it, and Avion Blackman is his wife - an incredibly talented musician.
I'm the guy with the hat and glasses, and I can honestly say, that I do all my own stunts.  :o)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Night Shot in St. Paul, MN

photo by Mallory Nelson

On Friday night, after a very long day of rowing walk-up passengers at the St. Paul Festa Italiana, John Kerschbaum was photographed masterfully on the Mississippi River.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just the Photo - "Docking at the Danieli"

photo by Tamás Fehér
Venice has many famous hotels, but none are as iconic,
as world-renowned, as the Danieli.
Here's a view from the water of a gondolier rowing in to moor in front of the famous hotel.
Not a bad place to work.

sample shots for in-house use




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fence, Meet Gondolier!

photo by Cassandra Mohr
Walking around downtown Hollywood today, I notice this corner of a wrought-iron fence that was really causing problems for some people,
so I did what needed to be done, and bent it back a little.
Some people were surprised to see such a display of strength,
but you know how it is...gondoliers are good at solving problems.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rialto Sequence

photos by Chris Clarke

One of my favorite ways to see Venice is from the front of a vaporetto.
I'll plant myself in one of the bow seats and shoot photos to my heart's content.

I'm not the only one who does this, in fact I'm sure that vaporetto crew see it all day long.
But it really is a fun way to make your way down the Grand Canal.

Here's a series of photos Chris Clarke took a while back, starting from the Rialto Bridge and heading towards Piazza San Marco.

Three beautiful gondolas stand ready to take passengers
along the Fondamenta del Vin.

Another vaporetto crosses paths with a small delivery boat -
packed with goods.

The afternoon sun warms the sides of boats and buildings.

Water taxi and topo.

Families enjoy time on the water as a gondola crosses the canal.

Moored and ready.

Ambulanza, gondola, vaporetto, and water taxi.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Colors on the Eve of Autumn

I love September and October in Southern California.
Things start to cool down,
people start to calm down (especially the party people that are unavoidable when you're near the beach),
and the world seems to be more colorful.
The trees start to show their various hues ranging from crimson to canary.
And crunchy leaves fall to the ground - just begging to be stepped on.

Tonight's sunset on the water was glorious,
but the colors that followed were out-of-this-world.
The above photo was shot four hours ago (from the time of this post),
and it has not been altered.
What you see is what we saw.

As we were cruising along - looking at this sky that defied description,
I reached for my camera and one of my passengers said:
"I'll bet you never get tired of this, do you?"
"It never gets old" I said, and then I snapped this picture.

Happy Birthday Marie!

Author of Italy to Los Angeles and Back, Marie Ohanesian Nardin is celebrating her birthday today.
As the wife of a working gondolier in Venice, Marie has an enviable view of things there.
Read about her recent vacation to Sicily and be jealous.

Happy Birthday Marie!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Jealous

Jealousy, envy, dare I say coveting.Jealousy may not be a virtuous thing, but we all experience it now and then.  If you've spent enough time here on the Gondola Blog, you'll recognize it as one of the ways I like to pay someone a compliment.
Instead of saying "I like your sandolo", the statement "I'm jealous of your sandolo" gives more meaning, as if to say "I wish I had your sandolo". 
If delivered correctly, the message could even convey "I might just steal your sandolo - that's how much I like it".

So in this post, I'm going to take time to pay some compliments through jelousy...

Boston - I'm envious of your "accordion team", you have the youngest wedding gondola in America, and I'm jealous of the fact that you get to row within walking distance of the "Cheers Bar" and that in the off-season you give snomobile tours. Gondola di Venezia has lots to be jealous of.

Coronado - Sean, I'm jealous of your gondolino (might just try and tip-toe away with her on my back), the best passenger caorlina I've ever seen, and any gondola operator worth his salt ought to be jealous of the solid group of gondoliers at The Gondola Company.

Providence - I'm jealous of your workshop,. I've never seen it, but from what I've heard (about a whole ground floor dedicated to workspace, with the residence on the second floor), I'm already envious of the squero-like arrangement.  This isn't the first time I've been jealous of somethiing in Providence - Years ago I visited the operation of La Gondola and saw with my own eyes, the finest finish I've ever seen on a gondola.

New Orleans - I must say that I have great admiration for Robert Dula, and his unyielding dedication.  I don't envy him for the challenges he's faced.  It's his resolve. If you haven't read the post "Oblivion" which was written by Robert, take a few minutes and do so.  The gondolier at Nola Gondola has tenacity in spades.

Sunset - Tim and his Sunset Gondola staff have one of the coolest kiosk offices, the largest Venetian Republic flag I've seen in the US, and an all-Venetian fleet, But it's the pupparin that I covet at Sunset Gondola.

Minneapolis - Northern operators like John Kerschbaum at Gondola Romantica don't do cruises year-round, so they haul their boats out of the water and store them for the winter months.  I'm not jealous of that, but I sure do wish I had the kind of property that John has, where he can just roll boats around his yard, sand, grind, and make all kinds of noise without a "Van Halen birthday party" response from the local authorities.

New York - Andres Garcia Pena gets to row in Central Park.
I'd take that job in a heartbeat.

The list could go on, and I could make another one for european gondoliers.  And then there's Venice.

In some cases this kind of jealousy can be good - it can inspire me to do better.  I'd love to be able to paint like Marco in Providence.
On the other hand, Sean, if you see me trying to creep away with that gondolino, well then you'll know that I eventually gave in to the dark side of jelousy.

At the end of the day though, I realize how blessed I am that I get to row the boats I have, in the places I do.  Life is good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Track Suits

photo by Tamás Fehér
Tamás snapped this photo during his visit to Giudecca for some great regata viewing.
You see all kinds of boats at these gatherings.
let's take a closer look at this one:
Beautiful white hull - check.
Varnished wood decks and rails - check (and I'm jealous).
Bright blue painted interior - check.
Red carpet for poppa gondolier - yep, check.
Matching burgundy velour track suits for all aboard - oh my gosh, CHECK!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mr. Mohr Goes to Washington

For those of you wondering where the heck I've been, My wife and I went to Washington DC for a few days for the awards banquet in the American Airlines "Flights. Camera. Action" contest. We'd made it to the top five and went out to find out if we were the winners.
Unfortunately, we did not win.
Fortunately, the company who did win, will be putting the grand prize to good use to make the world a better place.
Hope Force International ended up winning, and I can honestly say that they are terrific people, who are worthy of the honor.

I cannot say enough about the staff at American Airlines.
They blew us away with their hospitality.
We didn't win, but they made us feel like we had.
We learned a lot about American Airlines; one thing we realized was that the company has a new focus on earning the loyalty of small and midsized businesses.
Great to see such a thing when it's usually the Fortune 500 companies getting all the perks.

Most of the time, when I travel, I try to keep the daily posts coming, but this time I pretty much took a vacation from everything, including my kids, my ridiculous exercise schedule, and the blog.
I'm home now, ready to resume my life, and am thankful for the experience.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Francesco's Venice"

A while ago a gondolier friend told me about this great TV program on the BBC. He said the camerawork was amazing.
I jotted it down on a scrap of paper: "Francesco's Venice".

Time went by and I finally came across that piece of paper and looked it up and watched the program.
Brilliant camerawork.
Stirring images.
Aerial views that draw you in.
And the guy: Franceso da Mosto is engaging and gives a great tour through Venice's geography, and history.
He's also got some pretty good access to places we might never get to see in person.
When you get the chance, sit down and watch "Francesco's Venice".
Here are some links to get you there, along with my favorite quotes:

segment 1
favorite quotes:
"We were one of the first families to come to the lagoon. My ancestors have been everything: from merchants, to prostitutes, to explorers. The city is in my blood"

"All of Venice is built on a bed of huge wooden nails"

segment 2
favorite quote:
"Venice pioneered the production of window glass, when other cities had only canvas or rags to keep out the wind and the rain."

segment 3
favorite quotes:
"This is the Arsenale: a temple to the military and trading power"

"Because a bridge is something against nature, and you have to put yourself in the angel's hands"

segment 4
favorite quote:
"When this was built, it shocked and astonished the Venetians."

segment 5
WARNING: some nudity.
favorite quote:
"One saucy young painter took Venetian painting to a new level of beauty, sensuality, and ungodly eroticismo".

segment 6
WARNING: some graphic language - skip 1:40-2:40 if you want to avoid it.
favorite quote:
"The island is now home to no one, but a pack of stray dogs; wild - like the souls of the dead."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Ugly Photos From Another Awful Day

Yesterday was Just horrible.
As you can see from the photos, life sucks here.

Traffic on the water was opressive.

As the sun was setting,
it kept shining in my eyes - SO annoying!

On top of that, I was bored out of my mind -
kept looking at my watch to check the time.

California is unbearable - don't move here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Full-Contact Gondoliering

On August 30th this video was posted, and started making the rounds among gondoliers. 

Naturally, it was the topic of some lively discussions in the traghetti and among gondoliers in Venice. 

But because it showed up on Facebook, and because most gondoliers outside Venice have Facebook friends in Venice,
it made the rounds in other places too.

I'd like to tell you that I managed to to get the clip posted here on the blog, but sometimes it's not that easy with videos on certain social media sites.

So until I can outsmart Facebook (which is highly unlikely),
take a look at it here.
And if you don't have a Facebook account (insert wisecrack here).
Seriously, if you don't have an account, chances are someone you know does, and would get a kick out of showing you the video.

I've talked to a few people about the clip, and what went on that day,
but I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

So share your comments below.
Chances are good that many of you have felt the urge to do what the guy did in the video.
Was it right?
Should he have done it?
Would YOU have done it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bad Things Happen - Part 3 - "Hotbox"

Transit Tragedy - "Hotbox in the desert"
First, an explanation of logistics.
When you move a boat professionally, and you need to go a long distance, often times you'll have two choices: truck or rail.

"Truck" means putting the boat in a moving van. 
This is the 18-wheeler you might hire if you were going to transport all your worldly possessions somewhere.  In most cases though, your gondola isn't travelling with a bunch of couches and such - she's all alone, secured either to a cradle, trailer, or on the floor if you weren't thinking ahead. 
This is my preferred method because it's a direct route from point A to point B with little delay.  I also prefer the "Truck" option because you can shake hands with the driver when you load the boat in, look him in the eye and say "I'll see you in (wherever the boat is going)", and know that there won't be anyone else in the mix.
If something goes wrong, you know who to blame,
and he knows that you know.

"Rail" generally refers to putting your gondola in a shipping container and having her transported using the railroads. 
I sometimes call this "truck, train, truck", because that's really what it is.  A truck, driven by a nice man, shows up at the pick-up location, you (and whoever you've hired, coerced or manipulated), load the gondola into a shipping container which is on the back of the truck.  Once the vessel is secure, the container is sealed and the driver brings it to the rail yard.
When the gondola in her container arrives at the rail yard, another nice man uses a special hoist to lift the container off of the back of the truck, and onto a train car.

The train makes it's way across the country, and when it reaches your intended destination, another one of those nice men, using another one of those special hoists, lifts the container off the train, and onto the back of a truck similar to the one that showed up at the beginning of all this.

You (or someone you've made arrangements with) meet the nice man driving that second truck, and unload the gondola.
That's "rail", and as you can see, there are just too many "nice men" with their hoists and trucks and trains involved for me to feel comfortable.

It only takes one slip-up to cause major damage.
And because there are many people handling your gondola, they each have the ability to blame the others if something bad happens.
If, by now, you haven't connected the dots on this, see the section titled "Dropping the Box" in Bad Things Happen - Part 2.

"But Greg," you say, "what about the HOTBOX part?"
Remember all those "nice men" I mentioned?
Well there's at least one more in the mix.
This guy doesn't operate a truck, or a hoist, or even a train engine.
He'll probably never even touch the container that houses your gondola.
Chances are he carries a clipboard and uses a computer.
He works at a place called the "switching yard"
His job is to decide which rail car goes on what train.

Some containers go from point A to point B with no switching,
others sit for a while, waiting for the right train.
One of those places just happens to be in the Mojave Desert.

A wooden boat expert friend of mine was involved with the repair of a classic mahogony Chris Craft some years ago.
The boat had been loaded into her container in pristine condition.
Unfortunately this perfectly beautiful boat spent three summer days in that switching yard in the Mojave desert.

A metal box becomes an oven in the desert.
According to my friend, "the boat blew apart".
Most of the pieces were still attached, but they'd expanded to the point where planks and rails had all buckled and popped.

"All the kings horses, and all the king's men", did manage to put Humpty back together again... but things were never the same.

Ten Years Later

photo by Nereo Zane
I sat and listened recently, as a very talented Navajo musician sang a song about 9-11 that said,
among other things:
"where were you when the world stopped spinning".

Ten years ago today, the world woke up and saw things change forever. We learned more about the depth of both good and evil in mankind.

I remember someone on the news a few days later said, that we were "all New Yorkers now".

Firemen have always received and deserved admiration, but I don't think anyone can look at them the same way again.  They truly are heroes.

Bitterness, in a situation such as this, is a natural step in the process, but it must not become our new "normal".

If the enemy manages to make you forever unhappy,
then the enemy has won.

We will never forget,
but we must continue to live,
and live in a way that shines a light on the faces of tyrants and terrorists.

"Nolite Oblivisci"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The "Synco Pose"

I just spent a little time on John Synco's blog.  I always enjoy reading his stuff, but now that he's in another part of the country, reading the blog has reminded me of how much I'll miss hanging out with him at Sunset Gondola get-togethers, not to mention ambushing him while he rowed in Alamitos Bay.
Gondoliers are interesting.
I've made that statement numerous times, and John is a perfect example.
He's creative, fun, very capable, and the kind of friend people want to have.

Now that I've said a bunch of very nice things about John Synco, it's time to poke some fun.
While I'm certain that many of you will read this statement wrong, while looking over photos of past events, I've noticed that John has a sort of "drinking problem".
Oh, it's not the kind you get fired over, or even the kind that affects your ability to be a husband, father, or good employee.
It's the kind of drinking problem that affects photography.

The "Synco pose", as I'm calling it,
has a unique effect.

By exaggeratively drinking as the picture is taken, you succeed in both upstaging everyone else, and obscuring part of your face.  I'm sure it's quite refreshng as well.

Really, now that I think about it, it's genius!
I'm sure we'll all be doing it in the next group shot at Sunset Gondola.
For your enjoyment, and in an effort to give credit where it is due, I've assembled a few more examples of the "Synco Pose" - as demonstrated by the expert himself.

The casual smile "Synco Pose".

crouched and surprised variation.

Hey, look at that bird!

"Synco Pose" in tandem.

and here's my favorite:
The "Synco Pose" in full effect.
Arched back,
knees bent,
eyes bugged out,
and body turned slightly to the side.
Really folks, it doesn't get any better than this.
The man is a triple black belt in the artform.