Friday, September 30, 2011

Sandown, Isle of Wight, England, UK

Let's end September with a splash of sapphire.  We can't all afford the gems, but nature compensates for our penury by giving us flowers:  like these growing out of a crevice in a wall.  I only wish they were wight.  But they are!  [2011]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Macau S.A.R., China

Taking a rest, not guarding the gate. These two wander the streets of old Macau, taking advantage of open space guaranteed by the presence of a church. Macau used to be a Portuguese enclave on the coast of China; it still is a Roman Catholic enclave. When the Portuguese left, they left their religion behind. [2011]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Queen's Day brings the Dutch to the water. In Holland, that means the canals. But, there's something surprising about these revellers. Everyone's wearing yellow! Apparently, oranjagekte, the virus that turns the Dutch orange on their national holiday did not infect the entire population this year. [2004]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Genoa, Italy

The Ligurian Alps come right down to the sea, but Genoa still finds some space to spread out even if it means going up. The colors are the hues of Liguria, the earthy pastels of the Mediterranean, the 'palette of place' that provides a home for the spirit of place in this city by the sea. [2008]

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

On a torso, it would be unremarkable, but on the ground it's a show-stealer.  The old train station in Chapala has been turned over to the arts.  When you step outside, a fallen head stops you in your tracks.  Alas, the head has now been put on a plinth.  Magic, now gone.  [2008]

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Zagreb, Croatia

The 'checky shield' makes the Croatian national flag unique, but, by juxtaposing so many opposites, Zagreb's flag tells a more intricate story.  Do you see the heavens and the earth?  the realm of nature and the realm of culture?  the open and the closed?  the invitation and the threat?  the medieval and the post-Communist?  Now find CCTV and mirror. [2008]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Honfleur, France

Honfleur lies on the south side of the Seine estuary. Le Havre lies on the north side. Standing sentry, like this light tower, they guard the gateway to Normandy and the waterway to Paris. Honfleur's history goes back a thousand years; Le Havre's five hundred. Yet, Le Havre has won the battle of the ports. I wonder why. [2005]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Portland, Oregon, USA

It's Constitution Week: Her roots are in Russia; her cause is in China; her protest is in the USA.  What she says here on Pioneer Square in Portland could not be said on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Live organ harvesting has been made an issue by the Falun Gong. According to them, kidneys come from their imprisoned brethren. [2011]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

London, England, UK

Syrian flags and Syrian faces. Obviously, though, this isn't Damascus. Here, across the street from the Arab League headquarters in London, expat Syrians call attention to the plight of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, aunts, and uncles back home. [2011]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

It's Constitution Week:  Australians often exercise their freedom by protesting government policies, in this case the country's on-going commitment to the war in Afghanistan.  As in the USA, though, the ultimate protest is expressed through the ballot box.  Australia's ground-breaking contribution to voting?  The 'Australian ballot.'  Look it up.  [2011]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Madrid, Spain

It's Constitution Week:  t Puerta del Sol in Madrid, ardent Catholics made a last-minute attempt to get the attention of their representatives in the Spanish Parliament. About to pass was a new law permitting abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The plaza was packed, but the protest was unable to stop the new legislation. [2010]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

It's Constitution Week:  Here, in front of Queensland's Parliament, Vietnamese immigrants from the 1970s are letting their leaders know they disapprove of Vietnam's Communist government. Even though Australians don't have a Bill of Rights, the people seem to think they do. Looks like the sign's been recycled, so this must be a repeat performance. [2006]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

London, England, UK

It's Constitution Week: The right to express yourself freely was not an American idea. It had deep roots in English history. Today, those roots are played out every Sunday in Hyde Park, where Speakers' Corner comes alive with rhetoric high and low. From this soapbox issues an argument for "one world government." [2008]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, USA

It's Constitution Week:  On this day in 1787, the new Constitution of the United States went up for signature. With the addition of the Bill of Rights, Americans were guaranteed rights to free speech and assembly. Here's a time-honored way of exercising those rights: a street protest. On the opposite corner was the VFW advocating for "the troops." [2008] 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

In Thailand, it seems like every business and home has one:  a spirit house.   Few are this large, but all are inhabited by protective spirits who are honored with offerings.  Inside, figurines represent deities, demi-gods, or ancestors.  On the landscape, they illustrate syncretism:  the absorption of animist and Hindu traditions by followers of the Buddha.  [2011]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Portsmouth, England, UK

If you are looking for inspiration, seek out folk heroes like John Pounds.  Though crippled and no more than a cobbler, he had one of the 'big ideas' of his age (200 years ago).  He began teaching poor children for free and became the progenitor of England's 'ragged schools.' To keep his spirit alive, Portsmouth's Unitarians have rebuilt his workshop in their garden.  [2011]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marrakech, Morocco

Storks muster on roof lines all over North Africa and Europe. Their large nests perch atop chimneys and ventilator shafts, so it is easy to see why they became associated with bringing babies. It also helps that they are (a) big enough to carry a neonate, (2) mute enough to deliver their gift quietly, and (3) monogamous enough to be a lesson in family values. [2005]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Canadians all: they have turned out for the mid-summer Caribbean Festival.  National flags identify their cultural origins.  Building a multicultural nation has become Canada's ambition since the 1960s, and celebrations such as this bring people to the street with the best of the their heritage.  In sight, however, are few maple leaves.  [2009]

Monday, September 12, 2011

New York, New York, USA

It came to symbolize the triumph of good over evil for many of those working on the clean-up of the World Trade Center site. The Ground Zero Cross was found in the ashes a few days after the towers' collapse and quickly became one of the defining symbols of promise and hope for many pilgrims trying to reconcile themselves to the events of 9-11. [2005]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New York, New York, USA

"I got off the Broadway Local at 14th Street and walked south. It was a sparkling day. I was in the heart of the city, but the air was fresh and the sunshine inviting. Red, white, and blue declarations of unity wove the crowded storefronts and passing vehicles together. The flags, posters, and souvenir T-shirts, stretching like garlands along 7th Avenue, seemed strong and proud. The approaching devastation was heralded first by the smell, like the harsh odor of an electrical fire. As I got closer to what was the World Trade Center, the smell became more acrid, but then I could get no closer, nor could anyone other than those with a reason. At the Chambers Street intersection, the street was blockaded by portable barricades and serious-looking police officers. I wasn't the only one to linger there. I suppose we all needed to see for ourselves, but it was what we couldn't see that mattered.  There were no Twin Towers." D.J.Z., October 20, 2001.  [2001]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New York, New York, USA

What did the skyline of New York look like the day before "nine-eleven." What did the world look like on the eve of evil? Regardez. These were the "twin towers" of the World Trade Center before the terrorist attack that took the lives of almost 2800 innocent human beings. [2001]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Angangueo, Michoacán, Mexico

Bread and rolls: they probably just came out of the oven. In the fresh air and morning sunshine, they color coordinate so nicely with the baskets and the wall. Everything looks so natural. In fact, l was ready to give the people of Angangueo a thumbs-up for living the green life . . . until I saw the plastic bag! [2008]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Andorra La Vella, Andorra

The Andorran landscape is like a poem with dual cadences: the physical and the human / the stone and the steel / the old and the new / the male and the female / the matching peaks and the matching princes. Today, while thanking Charlemagne, Andorrans celebrate nationhood by honoring their patron saint, the Virgin of Meritxell. [2005]

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Catch the ferry from Devonport to Waiheke Island and enjoy the parade of sail along the way. The Hauraki Gulf offers spacious waters, dependable winds, and enough convolutions of the coast to guarantee a good time. [2006]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

What is the state sport of Hawaii? Outrigger canoe racing, of course. This canoe's ancestors transformed the world's largest ocean from a collection of isolated islands into a 'Pacific Wide Web' of human communities. They powered the Internet of their era. [2011]

Monday, September 5, 2011

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A view across old town Plovdiv almost transcends time. Tile roofs have just refused to succumb to modernity. With the Rhodope Mountains in the background, the Romans might even recognize this view. Interlocking red roofing tiles are among Southern Europe's signature landscape elements. [2010]

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Victoria Market has been a staple of Melbourne's city centre since 1878.  The skyline has changed dramatically since then, however, and now the high-rises are closing in.  The office towers spell doom; they signal higher land values.  The residential towers spell promise; they signal a nearby population in need of food and clothing.  [2011]

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA

One lonely wagon,
Lost to the dragon.
Abandoned apartments,
Now merely remanants
Of ferocious attack
That made us stand back,
And ask why the dragon,
Had drowned us in venom.
Now, after Katrina,
A rusty patina
Was all that remained
To tell us how pained
the good people were
who stood up to her.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Biloxi, Mississippi, USA

After hurricane Katrina, Biloxi was in a shambles, but the lighthouse stood tall and proud. It was the perfect symbol of endurance for the city's promised come-back. The key to its indestructibility? It was built of cast iron, something extraordinary for a lighthouse in the 1840s. [2005]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dauphin Island, Alabama, USA

Here we are, half way through hurricane season. Barrier islands are especially vulnerable to a hurricane's winds, waves, tidal surges, as Dauphin Island found out during Katrina. This was the Boardwalk Realty office, but most of the houses on the island found themselves in the same condition.  Dauphin?  The heir to the French throne. [2005]