Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The year is ending:  one more revolution around the sun done, 730 hour-hand rotations replicated, an infinity of memories made.  It's time for 2013 to recede into the museum of the mind.  Soon, our remembrances of the year gone by will bear only slight resemblance to the reality that brought them into being.  [2013]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

In only a few hours, the new year will begin making its way around the world, time zone by time zone.  For a brief time, our planet will be divided between two different years.  Then, even American Samoa will catch up, and 2013 will recede into the shadows.  [2006]

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Delhi, India

The Christian Era (C.E.) began with the birth of Jesus.  The Buddhist Era (B.E.) began with the parinirvada of Buddha.  The year on the Christian calendar is 2013 C.E., the year on the Buddhist calendar is 2556 B.E.  Who says ancient history is irrelevant?  Who says C.E. stands for Common Era?  [2011]

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico

"Hey, Mom!  I can't reach the bubbler."  Fountains and band shells are to be expected on every plaza in Mexico.  With their plazas, Mexican places combat placelessness and signal their quality of life.  [2008]

Friday, December 27, 2013

Moab, Utah, USA

The shadows are closing in on 2013, and thoughts are now turning to New Year's resolutions: get more exercise, take a walk daily, eat less greasy food, end every day with ice cream, and make every minute count. [2013]

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

The L stands for Lincoln Highway, the country's first modern transcontinental connection.  This year is its 100th anniversary.  For the first time in 1913 it appeared on a map, and over the next decade it materialized on the landscape, less than half a century later to be supplanted by the Interstate Highway System.  [2010]

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Calhoun, Georgia, USA

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, was four days ago. Four days was just enough for the ancients to notice the days getting longer. That meant a celebration, accompanied by hymns of praise to the gods for not to taking away the sun completely.  Those pagan hymns have morphed into our Christmas carols. [2013]

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

The spire in the distance is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, but the minaret of a mosque dominates the skyline.  Are streets in the Holy Land laboratories of political geography?  [1999]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

   Take pride in your stride.
Stand tall and preside
Over street-corner crossings
Where millions of Aussies
With satchel and sack
Rush to get back
To work on the hour.
   The sculpture presiding
The figure that's striding
Has an ego inflated,
A gait formulated,
To bump others aside
No pretense implied.
[2006]

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan

Feast your eyes on the dragon before the dragon feasts his teeth on you!  From his rooftop perch, he could pounce at any time, and you would be defenseless.  Just avoid the possibility completely:  stay away from Longshan Temple.  [2012]

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pisté, Yucatan, Mexico

He's peddling into town to sell his wood.  Perhaps it will be used for cooking.  Here is evidence of Von Thünen's "second ring."  It seems to still exist in some places.  Haven't heard of Von Thünen?  You need to take a human geography class!  [2013]

Friday, December 20, 2013

East Gwillembury, Ontario, Canada

A maniac is buried here:  both "topomaniac" (high on Toronto) and sports maniac (high on the Maple Leafs).  He's gone, but his cap is right where it belongs:  on his head(stone).  [2010]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Victoria, Gozo, Malta

The pop culture pie includes a very large piece spiked with place-promoting propaganda. Think about your many shirts, socks, ties, scarves, and hats that refer to the places where you have lived or visited. "Gozomania" suggests a new term for the larger phenomenon: topomania. [2009]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monte Carlo, Monaco

What activities give character to the place where you live? If you lived in Monaco, motor racing would be one of them. It contributes to the spirit of place and is perpetuated in popular culture. Hot hat, don't you think? [2008]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mount Simeon, Syria

Western Syria was one of the most productive parts of the Byzantine Empire, though it hardly looks like it could have been when you see the condition of the land today.  No soil is left, limestone bedrock presides over the surface, and only scrubby vegetation takes hold.  The ruins, however, tell a different story.  [1993]

Monday, December 16, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey


Everyone knows what Baroque meant to the architecture of Christian cathedrals.  Here is an example of how the Baroque style influenced Islamic architecture.  The small Ortaköy Mosque is almost 200 years old.  It overlooks the Bosporus.  [2010]

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Bondi Beach is one of the Southern Hemisphere's iconic surfing destinations.  Bondi Bay is set up to intercept waves from the open ocean, shape them to the liking of surfer dudes, and hurl both waves and riders landward.  Is this a January or a July snapshot of the beach?  [2006]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Montgomery, Alabama, USA

Alabama joined the Union on December 14, 1819, which makes this year Alabama's 190th year of statehood. Check the math. If the numbers don't add up, remember that there were four years when Alabama was not united with the States of America. Its allegiance was to a different union. [2013]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

The carrying pole makes agriculture in Von Thünen's inner ring a commercial success throughout East Asia. It minimizes capital investment and maximizes mobility.  Her pole and baskets fit on trucks and buses for the trip to town.  Once there, she can look around until she finds a market for her fragile eggs and perishable produce.  [2011]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sandown, Isle of Wight, England, UK

Over a dozen young scholars and a teacher:  they're out walking the streets of Sandown.  Where are you in this parade?  Out front leading?  In the middle flirting?  At the end dragging?  [2011]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

City Plaza is one of the older mixed-use shopping malls in Singapore. It dates back to the early 1980s; not so old to some of us! Its stock in trade is its warm, oblique banding, easily seen from Orchard Road. In other words, it's branded by bands. [2011]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gardner, Massachusetts, USA

The backdrop suggests work. The action suggests play. Let's not confuse the two. Work is work, and play is play, and never the twain shall meet. Then, again, this young scholar looks like he is working hard at play. [2013]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oxford, Alabama, USA

Crashes to ashes, and rust to dust: That's what happens to the auto primeval, known as the beetle. For old VWs, it's the end of the road. Like their drivers human, none knew how long the road was, and few thought they would end up in Oxford, Alabama. [1985]

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

Define palette: "a thin board on which an artist mixes colors." Use palette in a sentence: "When using palette in a sentence, make sure you don't mean palate or pallet." Discuss the etymology of palette: derived from the Latin word "pala" which means "spade" or "blade." [2012]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico

Define pigment:  "a powdered substance that is mixed with liquid and used to impart color."  Use pigment in a sentence: "The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette." (Henry Hoskins)  Discuss the etymology of pigment:  derived from the Latin word "pigmentum," meaning "coloring matter."  [2007]

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sosua, Dominican Republic

Define economic base:  "any industry that brings money into a community." Use economic base in a sentence:  Art is part of the economic base of Sosua. Discuss the etymology of economic base: derived from two Greek words, "oikonomia" meaning "household management" and "basis" meaning "pedestal" (which is where we should put the arts). [1992]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Define gringo:   "a white person from an English-speaking country."  Use gringo in a sentence:  "All gringos look alike."  Discuss the etymology of gringo:  probably derived from "griego," the Castilian word for "Greek" as a signifier of someone who does not speak Spanish properly.  [2013]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Madrid, Spain

Succulents:  sucking up the sun.  Blinds:  color of slime.  Felipe:  looking down upon the street.  Number five:  with a Roman vibe.  [2009] 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA

They're fire escapes, not balconies; necessities, not amenities; settings for calamities, not festivities. Yet, a little green and a matrix of morning shadow give everyone a reason to lift their eyes and restore their spirits. [2013]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Denver, Colorado, USA

Denver: downtown. The mall: a stage. The sidewalk: a venue for shadow theatre. The upright: a canvas. The thrills of shopping: alive with music and performance. The arts: saved from snobbery. [2013]

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reedville, Virginia, USA

Packs of Christmas elves all over the country have been busy during the past month. They've been getting our streets ready for 'The Holidays,' which is what most of us still call Christmas. By this time, all the decorations, banners, and trees are up. Most people think they just appear and disappear by magic. Here is evidence they don't. [2013]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Victoria, Gozo, Malta

The twin islands of Gozo and Malta are among the greatest transportation museums in the world. Albeit from another era, Tiger Cubs and their cousins flow like red, white, and orange corpuscles along the archipelago's transport arteries, oxygenating local economies and establishing themselves as part of the nation's patrimony. [2009]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

It's all about attracting attention.  In this case, red does the trick.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that caffeine is addictive.  Perhaps that's why coffee is giving tea a run for its money as the beverage of choice in the UK.  [2009]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

South Windsor, Connecticut, USA

Happy Turkey Day! If you think about where the idea came from for this humorous objet d'art, you will have discovered a terrific example of stimulus diffusion. [2009]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Plum City, Wisconsin, USA

Corn and potatoes: By late summer, they are so plentiful farmers almost give them away. Kiosks operate on the honor system even when they're park-side rather than field-side. Compare and contrast: farm stands like this with unattended ATMs. [2012]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA

Follow the diffusion of the Industrial Revolution by reading the landscape. Slater's Mill (thankfully preserved!) marks the beginning of the factory system in the United States. It all began in Rhode Island.  Does Canada have a Slater's Mill of its own? How about Mexico? [2009]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Washington, DC, USA

He's making the letters shine as bright as they can, but there's only so much he can do with such industrial-strength calligraphy. The National Museum of Women in the Arts should have a font of its own. Where are the women calligraphers who could offer some post-industrial-strength signage?[2012]

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Madrid, Spain

'Lettering the landscape' is something we all do.  What practices shape the letters you leave behind?  Do you stay inside the lines?  Do you prefer the purity of white?  Do you do well in overcoming corrugations?  Do you work for someone else or for yourself?  [2009]

Saturday, November 23, 2013

London, England, UK

It's the last day of Geography Awareness Week for 2013.  Hope you've been busy painting the town blue and splashing GEOgraphy all over the landscape.  [2003}

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Find the flag:  Thailand's national flag.  Its colors are curious.  Why is it red, white, and blue?  The palette of place in Thailand favors the golden end of the spectrum, with lots of yellows, gingers, and oranges.  Just take a look at this temple in Chiang Mai.  [2011]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Incense is part and parcel of Chinese temples everywhere. In a great contradiction: Burning incense purifies temple space while polluting temple air. For polluting, some would substitute 'fragrancing.' In a pre-industrial world without synthetics, incense provided one of the sweetest smells nature could provide. Its use cut across all religions. [2011]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Seoul, South Korea

Cheonggyecheon Stream not only provides a setting for the Seoul Lantern Festival, it becomes part of the art itself.  The water's gurgling surface reflects the color and brilliance of the lanterns strung overhead.  Cheon means 'stream' in the Korean language.  [2012]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seoul, South Korea

Lantern festivals are most impressive at night, which is the perfect time for Spider-Man.  Joining the icons of Korean folk culture are visitors from abroad, carried here on waves of globalization that have broken over Seoul in the past half-century.  [2012]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seoul, South Korea

Every fall since 2009, the Seoul Lantern Festival has brought the heroes and heroines of folk and popular culture to the banks of Cheonggyecheon Stream in the city center.   In fact, it's a way of showcasing the stream itself.  Cheonggyecheon was entunneled until 2005.  Now, it's back on the surface and a perfect venue for the arts.  [2012]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan

Find the H.  You've just found the helipad on top of Taipei's City Hall.  And, you've just found one more bit of evidence that English has become the lingua franca of the world.  Taiwan, after all, is a Chinese-speaking country.  The view from the top of Taipei 101 makes the city's other skyscrapers look like upstarts.  [2012]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan

For six years, until 2010, Taipei 101 ranked as the tallest building in the world.  Today, only three years later, it is the fifth tallest.  Just this week, One World Trade Center in New York was certified to be 1776 feet tall (with 104 floors), one rank ahead of Taipei 101 (with how many floors?).  The world is in the midst of a skyscraper boom.  [2011]

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hallam, Pennsylvania, USA

In England, it's National Nursery Rhyme Week, so let's return to our childhood: "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn't know what to do." Here's a shoe people have lived in since the 1940s when it became part of 'roadside America.' The Shoe House is along the Lincoln Highway in York County, Pennsylvania. [2007]

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Maarat Al Numan, Syria

This is what a real Arab Spring looks like, at least in western Syria.  Winters are wet, so springs are greening, sheep are grazing, shepherds are herding, almonds are blooming, skies are blueing, and life is booming.  [1996]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Delhi, India

Two feet?  Two wheels?  Three wheels?  Four wheels?  The possibilities for getting around in Delhi are endless.  Occasionally, you even see four-footed transport.  [2011]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Delhi, India

As the sun rises, the population awakes.  Among the pavement dwellers, the luckiest have spent the night on cots.  See them?  Others have sleep on the sidewalks.  [2011]