Thursday, January 31, 2013

Douglas, Isle of Man

The theme here:  'the way it's supposed to be.'  This is how we imagine rural-urban dichotomy:  without amorphous sprawl between town and country.  Pack people into urban places and keep the rural landscapes open and available for agriculture.  In this case, it's pastoral agriculture.  [2011]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oksan Seowan, South Korea

Travel through the Republic of Korea and you can still catch glimpses of yesteryear.  With one of the highest standards of living in the world, however, agriculture will become ever more corporate, and farmers laboring on their own land will disappear.  [2012]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Şirince, Turkey

 Şirince is located in Turkey but is billed by Turkish tourism as Greek. Last month was the high point of its existence. Because of its 'positive energy,' the village became one of the places on planet Earth where the Doomsday crowd assembled on December 21 to watch the world come to an end. But, we're still here, aren't we? [2007]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brunswick, Georgia, USA

Quick Quiz: (1) What is the name of the citrus fruit pictured here? (2) How would you eat it? (3)  What city devotes an annual festival to this fruit? (4) Where did this and other citrus fruits originate? (5) What vitamin is this fruit and other citrus high in? [2007]

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Las Palmas, Jalisco, Mexico

Un sacramento principal.   The communion table awaits the faithful.  It is set with the blood and body of Christ.  Throughout Christendom, the ritual and the symbols are the same.  Where you do get some argument is over the answer to this question:  Do the wine and bread literally become the blood and body of Jesus?  [2008]

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Child labor in Ljubljana looks like lots of fun. It's useful work, social skills are being honed, and the environment is pleasant. Don't think of it as a job; think of it as an internship in economics. He's just priced the grapes and is headed for the drupes: 5 euros. [2008]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wakefield, Virginia, USA

Aristotle's advice: “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” Were he with us today, he would advise goober-lovers to visit Wakefield, Virginia, where the first commercial peanut crop in the United States was grown around 1842. [2012]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Madrid, Spain


When the Street of the Book Sellers became the Street of the Chick Sellers, Madrid became a little bit more like Louisville, and Spain became a little more like US.  Now, instead of stepping up to the counter and asking for works of mysticism by Teresa of Ávila, Madrileños ask for works of culinary mystery by Colonel Sanders.  It's time someone cried foul.  [2009]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Biloxi, Mississippi, USA

Asking about the future of the 'golden arches' is like like asking about the future of globalization. Query the suits inside the hall in Davos today, and they will posit a glorious golden age powered by neoliberal economies. Ask the protesters outside the hall, and their opinion will look something like this. Davos? Site of the World Economic Forum. [2005]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Haridwar, India

Push carts enable vendors to go where the market is. No business on one corner? Move on to another. The important thing is to sell your vegetables by the end of the day.  Remember: refrigeration is rare and unreliable. [2011]

Monday, January 21, 2013

Asheboro, North Carolina, USA

He enters with an appetite and a smile, but fifty years ago he would have been unwelcome. Hop's Barbecue was segregated. Change was afoot, however, and Hop's found itself at the vortex of a social transformation. The era of the sit-in was beginning and Asheboro saw its share of the action. [2005]

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Planners in Singapore have pioneered a way to download apps to their sidewalks, almost as if they were smart phones. Underfoot are fruity medallions that transport shoppers back to the time when Orchard Mall, or Orchard Road, led to the nearby fruit groves where the custard-filled durian was the much-maligned king of fruits. [2011]

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Marrakech, Morocco

Spuds aren't indigenous to Morocco, but don't be surprised if they show up in your tagine. The potato was one of the first 'New World' edibles to go global. It has insinuated itself into every culture's kitchen. Some countries were totally transformed by it (think Ireland), others were only lightly scathed (think Morocco). [2005]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Texarkana, Arkansas, USA

"Producing Fresh Produce for the Hungry" is an objective of many community gardens in urban America. In Texarkana, the churches have banded together to put some vacant land to good use. For geographers out there: How could you use a GIS to zero in on the best place to begin a community garden in your city? [2012]

Thursday, January 17, 2013

London, England, UK

What can you buy for a pound?  Along Berwick Street in London's Soho, a deep dish full of fruit or vegetables.  It's like the 'dollar tree' of produce markets.  What a sterling idea!  [2009]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Livonia, Michigan, USA

Before there was the Big Mac, there was the Big Boy: a reference to (a) the statuesque lad, (b) the sandwich he is holding, and (c) the restaurant franchise he is touting. If you are jigsawing the history of obesity in America, this is surely a piece of the puzzle. [2008]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Everyone recognizes this fruit as a rambutan, but most people have encountered it only in tropical Asia. When you find it on sale in Catalonia, it's a sweet-and-tangy thrill and just more evidence of Barcelona's cosmopolitan palate. Now the truth: not a single American would recognize this fruit at all. [2005]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Athens, Greece

All over the world (Middle East excepted!) hogs from Epicurus' herd are for sale.  This one is looking for a buyer at Athens' Central Market.  What friends pigs have been to the human family:  they are food factories on cloven hoofs.  No part should go to waste, not even the snout.  [2005]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Canberra, ACT, Australia

Lake Burley Griffin was designed as the centerpiece of Canberra, Australia's planned capital.  In the form of a globe that memorializes Captain Cook, it has the world on its shores .  What it does not have is an island in the middle to symbolize the world's only 'island continent.'  How can the Australian people be satisfied with such an oversight?  [2006]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey

A misbah is a string of 33 beads (sometimes 99) that is used by Muslims to count off the '99 names of God,' but it's very unlikely that the man in the middle is actually in recitation mode. He is just keeping fidgety fingers busy. [2007]

Friday, January 11, 2013

Changhua, Taiwan

Let's talk about big ears.  Statues of Buddha and bodhisatvas always have them:  better to hear the suffering of the world.  Now, let's talk about the big belly.  Only the laughing Buddha has one.  Rub it for prosperity and good luck.  Now, let's discuss why Budhai is carrying a rosary!  Or is it a misbah?  [2012]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vienna, Austria

The most magnificent church in Vienna is not St. Stephen's Cathedral. It's St. Francis of Assisi Church, and it's right on the Donau (Danube to Anglophones). Built just over a hundred years ago, the architecture was meant to be as grand and imposing as the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Joseph I. [2005]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Washington, DC, USA

Luther Place is her home for the day, and maybe the only home she has. Welcome she is on the clover carpet of April. Protected she is by St. Francis of Assisi. Talented she is by evidence of the paintings that surround her. [2012]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Berkeley, California, USA

Skateboard art: what better way to symbolize life in a college town? Here's a mural that doesn't make you want to stop and look. It make makes you want to keep moving, maybe faster! The potential energy of the mural is transferred into the kinetic energy of the sidewalk, an affirmation of the first law of thermodynamics. [2005]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Irvington, Virginia, USA

Some capital improvements have been added to a Greek Revival dentist's office. Aides memoires perhaps? In their stately way, they just scream: time to brush your teeth. How could you add some creativity to your columns? [2013]

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

You've already opened your Christmas presents, haven't you?  You should have waited.  Today, Epiphany Sunday, should be the day of gift giving.  It marks the day on which the magi, bearing gifts, arrived at the Christ child's manger.  This alter, deep beneath the Church of the Nativity, marks the spot were they knelt in humble adoration.  [1999]

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Port Hercule, Monaco

According to ancient tradition, Hercules built the coastal road from Italy to Spain. One of the finest harbors along that road is known today as Port Hercule. Today, it is in the Principality of Monaco. [2008]

Friday, January 4, 2013

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

Eggs are a terrific source of protein, and their geography is global.  Wherever you find people, you will find the 'incredible, edible egg.'  What does vary from place to place, however, is their color. The Thais prefer brown eggs.  The Brits prefer white eggs.  The Pennsylvania Dutch (me!) prefer red eggs.  What's up with that?  [2011]

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Here's the formula for a mariachi band:  3 guitars (different sizes), 2 violins, 1 trumpet, 0 women.  Do expect variations on a theme, however, and even the gender mix is changing.  Mariachi bands originated in the folk culture of Jalisco in Mexico.  [2008]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ballintoy, Northern Ireland, UK

The rope bridge was originally slung across the chasm for the convenience of salmon fishermen.  Today, tourists come to see it.  But, the coastal geomorphology is more interesting to some of us.  Look at the angle of approaching wave fronts, the wave-energy shadow, and the tombolo that just can't quite fill in the gap between island and mainland.  [2009]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Get ready.  Get set.  Let the year begin!  January 1st wipes the slate clean and clears the path ahead.  It gives us one more chance to invent the perfect year.  [2011]