Monday, April 30, 2012

Valdosta, Georgia, USA

"April is Child Abuse Prevention Month" and has been since 1983.  The iconic blue ribbon was used for the first time in 1989.  Each year there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States, the worst record of all industrialized nations. Valdosta is trying to change that. [2012]

Sunday, April 29, 2012

London, England, UK

To Will and Kate: Happy Anniversary! This is what Trafalgar Square looked like exactly one year ago. It was a nation-building moment and a monarchy functioning as it should in the modern world. The young royals will probably return to this very screen again in the summer, when the London Olympics provide another shot at nation-building. [2011]

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is a city of cast iron balustrades, among the finest examples in the world of iron filigree. In this case, the balusters seem to have been designed to match the winter camellias behind. But, who really cares about balusters and balustrades? Just enjoy the show! [2011]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

Haircuts are perfect souvenirs. They weigh less than nothing; they take up no luggage space; they provide entrées to neighborhood culture; they make you look like the locals; they are vehicles of people-to-people diplomacy; and, they burden not the future with decisions about disposal. The man in the middle is my barber in Istanbul. [2007]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Auckland, New Zealand

Sit for a while in Western Park and compare the distinguished facades of the past with the contemporary storefronts along Ponsonby Road today. Too bad Auckland lost so much architectural heritage to spurts of modernization. Still disoriented? Nothing is buried here. It's a sculpture exhibit, one of many "architectural icebergs" visible from Ponsonby. [2011]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Piccadilly Valley, South Australia, Australia

The Piccadilly Valley is a land of rolling hills and productive farmland.  It used to be the market gardening zone ('Von Thünen's Inner Ring') for Adelaide.  Now it is one of Australia's premier wine producing regions.  This is the view from Mount Lofty.  [2011]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Macau, China

Does big beget big?  Just the opposite:  big begets small.  Big cites beget small scooters:  because space is at a premium.  What would make urban two- and three-wheelers even 'greener'?  Plugging them in rather than filling their tanks.  [2011]

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yosemite, California, USA

"In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be." Natalie Sleeth might have been talking about Yosemite's snow plants when she penned these lyrics. Snow plants are saprophytes: they have no photosynthetic ability. (They're not green, are they?) On the coniferous forest floor, these 'putrid plants' draw their nutrients from rotting detritus alone. [2005]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carrboro, North Carolina, USA

'Garden Everywhere' is good advice for Earth Day. Bring cultivation of food and pharmaceuticals closer to home. But, here in Carrboro, there will be no garden behind this chain-link fence where an abandoned building now stands. Rather (you guessed it!), yet another CVS will miraculously appear delivering [junk] food and pharmaceuticals from afar. [2012]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moscow, Ohio, USA

Does Homer Simpson live in this neighborhood? No. The stack and cooling tower are those of a coal-fired power plant, not a nuclear one. Appearances can be deceptive, can't they? But maybe not so deceptive: Zimmer was to have been powered by a nuclear reactor but the plans changed when it was almost finished. That's why you don't see Bart playing in the yard.  [2010]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Zagreb, Croatia

Shadows shape the scene we see. In the shade lurk shapes we give a glance; but in the sun rise saliences that inspire. The embrace of light lifts a tower into the heavens, and with it, our spirits. [2008]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bangkok, Thailand

The Royal Palace's Temple of the Emerald Buddha encompasses Phra Sri Rattana Chedi.  Chedis are built to house relics of the Buddha.  They are more commonly known as stupas.  Siam's palace precinct and temple precinct were one.  And, during the 'age of empire,' Siam's palace took a back seat to no other royal court on earth.  Siam is now Thailand.  [2011]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canillo, Andorra

One wall, two shutters, three signs of life: a metaphor for Andorra itself. The Pyrenees form the wall. The winter snows form the shutters. Three signs of life? The geranium, the floret on the lintel, and the lacy foliage on the curtain. Life flourishes in Andorra's three valleys just as it does in this finestral niche. [2005]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mumbai, India

Mumbai is famous for its slums, but slumdogs are the lucky ones.  Thousands more are 'pavement dwellers.'  They do with even less.  This sidewalk is spatially partitioned so you can almost identify different 'houses' and different 'rooms' within houses.  It is located in the Juhu area of Mumbai.  [2011]

Monday, April 16, 2012

Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA

Look at what lives in Kaiaka Bay: something for dinner. What a successful species crabs have been. They have colonized water and land all over the world. Here on Oahu, though, the local species of land crabs have been driven into extinction by successive waves of the earth's most predatory colonizer: homo sapiens. [2011]

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia's Hagia Sofia stands as a visual reminder of the 6th century, a time when Bulgaria was part of the Byzantine Empire.  In the empire's capital city, Constantinople, stood the most magnificent church in the world, a church by the same name:  Hagia Sofia.  Translated from Greek, it means "holy wisdom."  Guess why Bulgaria's capital was christened Sofia.  [2010]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sofia, Bulgaria

The Sofia Synagogue is the largest in southeastern Europe.  It is a visual reminder of the Jewish community that once thrived in Bulgaria, but which took off for Israel after 1948.  The central location and the imposing architecture point to a large, proud, and wealthy Jewish population as it existed a hundred years ago.  [2010]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sofia, Bulgaria

The Banya Bashi Mosque is a visual reminder of Bulgaria's Ottoman past and a jewel in Sofia's architectural crown.  After all, Banya Bashi was designed by Sinan, Suleiman the Magnificent's chief architect.  The fountain suggests what's pooling underground:  not just water, but hot water.  Sofia's mineral baths are nearby.  [2010]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Malacca, Malaysia

All you need is a table and a typewriter to make a living in the digital economy. Digital economy? Remember: Your digits are your fingers! The scribe in this picture is using his to fill out forms for customers in the neighborhood. But, scenes like this are becoming rarer as the "other digital economy" changes the face of our cities. [2011]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Disoriented?  It's a bridge reflected in the still depths of Kaohsiung's central canal.  Like a mirror, placid waters double the pleasure of eye-pleasing scenery.  They reflect their environment, just as we do as human beings.  [2011]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Eureka!  I found it on the south bank of the Yarra River in Melbourne.  It was the tallest residential building in the world when completed in 2006, but now the honor has been stolen away by Dubai. As for Eureka:  that's its name, a commemoration of the gold-rush Battle of Eureka Stockade.  What do you make of the sculpture in the foreground?  [2011]

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

By tradition, the old walled city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters. This is the Muslim Quarter.  Within these limestone canyons, each new generation of Palestinians adds a line to the city's narrative.  But, while people of the four quarters descend from a single ancestor, Abraham, there is no common understanding of the city's past.  [1999]

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

By tradition, the old walled city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters. This is the Christian Quarter. It is anchored by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  The large dome spreads over the place where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead.  The small dome marks the place where 'the one true cross' was found 300 years after the Crucifixion.  [1999]

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

By tradition, the old walled city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters. This is the Armenian Quarter.  It is anchored by St. James Cathedral.  With the Republic of Armenia's independence in 1991, this map of the 'Armenian Genocide' appeared on all of the quarter's streets.  Most of historic Armenia is now part of Turkey.  Note the two alphabets on display here.  [1997]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

By tradition, the old walled city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters.  This is the Jewish Quarter.  Since 1967, it has been created anew.  What was historic and salvageable was restored; the rest was razed and rebuilt.  The flags are out for 5 Iyar, Israeli Independence Day.  [1995]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Saqqara, Egypt

Located just west of Memphis, Djoser's Step Pyramid moved the Egyptians a step closer to engineering the Great Pyramid of Giza.  By extension, it was also the first step in developing the skills that made Dubai's Burg Khalifa possible.  All of today's superlatives have roots somewhere in the ancient world.  [2000]

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

La Condamine, Monaco

The day's done, and the slipshoes have returned to their home sill. The navy blues carry on a conversation with the potted plant, while the dolphin-eyed blues keep watch over the sidewalk below. Which one will be your avatar? The deep-rooted loner? The conversationalist who always finds someone to talk to? Or the ever-watchful looking for adventure? [2008]

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dallas, Texas, USA

Look for trends on the urban landscape: (1) the explosion of pharmacies (no terrorism implied), (2) the abandonment of news boxes (awash in the digital tide), the comeback of brick sidewalks (tree roots denied), and the deluge of dogs (none angry-eyed). [2007]

Monday, April 2, 2012

Swedesboro, New Jersey, USA

The Swedes (admixed with Finns) were the first European settlers on the lower Delaware River, and many of their descendants are buried here at Old Swede's Church (Lutheran, of course). At its height in the mid-1600's, their empire included parts of 10 countries on today's map of Europe and a nascent colony in North America. [2005]

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA

New Hampshire's Zucchini Festival lasted into the 1990s, with most people coming by car. But, gad zukes! When all the cars were turned into zucchinis, no one could get to Harrisville, and the festivities came to an end. April fools! [1993]