Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jackson, Ohio, USA

There's nothing malicious about the malus that towers above Jackson, Ohio. Nor is there anything evil about it even though the Latin words for apple and evil are the same. Hence, Renaissance painters' choice of the apple to symbolize sin in the garden of Eden. [2012]

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

How many states have an official dance? South Carolina does, and it began here in North Myrtle Beach: "Home of the Shag"!  How do you know? Take a gander at the water tower and learn some history. Then take off on an Internet expedition to learn even more. But for the water tower, no one would know. [2012]

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sauk Centre, Minnesota, USA

Sauk Centre has only one claim to fame: the home of Sinclair Lewis and therefore the most famous 'Main Street' in America. Overlooking Main Street is the water tower. How do you explain its design elements? (1) The Palladian arch. (2) The erect script with initial curls. (3) The  recessive parallels. (4) The red-white-and-blue color scheme. [2012]

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cape Charles, Virginia, USA

Trompe-l'oeil means "fool the eye." It is a concept often applied to murals and ceilings. Cape Charles is proof that the same technique can be applied to water towers. Here's one that fools the eye into believing it's a light tower. In fact, the Cape Charles lighthouse, located on a nearby island, is vaguely similar in appearance. [2013]

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Argyle, Georgia, USA

Why waste a water tower? Depend on it to provide gravity flow to every house in town, but ask it to do more. Make it a part of the spirit of place. How?  Paint the town's name on the top and take advantage of its height to attract attention. [2012]

Friday, July 26, 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Amsterdam is considered the home of bike sharing.  London gave it a publicity boost when "Borris Bikes" appeared in 2010.  Today, there are over 500 bike sharing programs around the world, including Toronto.  Pick a bike up at one docking station and return it to another.  [2013]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey

This is what lunch on the edge of Europe looks like. These two eat and watch traffic traverse the Bosporus, and when they look up they can see all the way to Asia. Istanbul is a bicontinental metropolis, but its roots are European. [2010]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

From the earliest of times, Buddhist monks tested the selflessness of the masses.  Their only possessions were their robes and a begging bowl.  The tradition continues.  Here in Kaohsiung, a mendicant makes his morning rounds.  Its a reminder that we cannot afford to be selfish with our wealth.  Do you see the dharma wheel?  [2011]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Xi'an may have its terracotta warriors, but Melbourne has its terracotta dragons. Don't you wish you had one on your roof? You could mold it around a videocam and use its eyes for surveillance. That would be so 21st-century! [2011]

Monday, July 22, 2013

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

When 'Nomade' was first installled, it stood in front of the public library. Look what it's made from. Don't you think that's a perfect tie-in? Just think: All the knowledge we have in the western world comes down to just 26 letters. Sculptor: Jaume Plensa. [2008]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Some cities would never tolerate street performers. Others encourage them. Asheville falls into the latter category, so when you are downtown there's always a song in the air. City streets are filled with buskers, and their music has deep roots in Appalachia. [2009]

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Church is out, and one lone vendor stands ready to supply the masses with a little nourishment.  He will be there all day because one service follows another from sunup to sundown, beginning on Saturday evening.  Chamoyadas are blended fruit beverages.  [2013]

Friday, July 19, 2013

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

To the Mexicans, these are paraguas.  Anglophones call them umbrellas.   They offer a small shadow where we can shelter ourselves from the rain or the sun.  They are also perfect objets d'art, and it was to that end that this collection was being readied.  [2013]

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Beside the chapel that bears her name, Our Lady of Carmen stands serene in the middle of an offering plate surrounded by dancing descendants of the ancient Mayans.  It's Sunday, and the scene is partly for tourists, but it also reveals an attempt to fuse Maya paganism with Christian devotion.  More than two dozen dancers took part in the ritual.  [2013]

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chichen Itza, Yucatan,Mexico

With dramatic vocalizations and gesticulations, a supplicant calls on the power of the ancient Maya gods.  It is probably no accident that she has come clad in white and Maya blue.  Location?  The North Temple of the Ball Court.  [2013]

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

The cult of Kukulkan originated with the Maya.  The cult's vast temple complex at Chichen Itza was built on wealth generated by the value of esoteric knowledge:  high priests who communicated with the great deity that linked heaven and earth.  Their stock in trade was astronomical knowledge that translated into agricultural success.  [2013]

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Mexicans have come to know it as El Castillo, but it was really a temple to the god Kukulkan, symbolized by the feathered serpent which crawls downs its other side every March.  The pyramid is the centerpiece of the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.  In 2007, it was voted one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World."  [2013]

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

This is how the day begins on the plaza grande in Merida.  He is on his way to work in the hardware industry:  the old-fashioned hardware industry of steel, locks, and plumbing fixtures.  The new-fashioned hardware industry supplied him with that android, which enables his mind and body to occupy completely different worlds.  [2013]

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the nation-building señora of Mexico, but it is Our Lady of Yucatan who takes the place of highest honor in Merida's cathedral church.  The Virgin of Guadalupe is relegated to a side chapel.  You can tell you're in a part of Mexico that has not fully adopted the central Mexican narrative of nation-building.  [2013]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Merida's city hall, or palacio municipal, was built on this site in the 1700s, but it has been rebuilt and refurbished many times since then.  It overlooks the Plaza Grande and squares off against the Cathedral.  The best view of the plaza and the streets leading off into the barrios is from this balcony.  [2013]

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico

What more could you ask for than a canopied bed on a tropical beach?  The hotel zone in Cancun seems to come up with all sorts of creative ideas to keep its visitors happy.  [2013]

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico

What would you do if were cornered by an iguana while refreshing yourself in front of an Oxxo (Mexico's version of a 7-11)? You might throw a napkin at him (to no effect). Actually, these on-break hotel workers took it all in stride. [2013]

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico

'El Ceviche' is its nickname, provided by Yucatecans who were reminded of marinating seafood.  In fact, there's greater variety than what you see here in the center of the fountain.  The sculpture occupies the main roundabout in Cancun and is fast becoming the symbol of the city.  Were it not for Hurricane Gilbert, however, it would probably not be here at all.  [2013]

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trieste, Italy

What tiny parking spaces: but that's all you need if your conveyance is a tiny scooter. Before you decide whether to trade in your SUV for a two-wheeler, though, consider the impact of climate on transportation alternatives. Then, consider the impact of that SUV on climate. [2008]

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Athens, Greece

There are four clans in the family of crosses: cruces quadratae, cruces immissae, cruces decussatae, and cruces commissae. The world knows the crux quadrata as a Greek cross. On the Hellenic Republic's flag, it symbolizes identity with the Greek Orthodox Church. [2006]

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Yehliu, Taiwan

Yehliu is a coastal playground for residents of Taipei and New Taipei.  It is a place where the air is filled with kites, themselves an invention of the Chinese.  Are these rays of the sea illuminated by rays of the sun?  Or, is that a bat flirting with a rainbow?  [2012]

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lancaster, Minnesota, USA

Any community can enhance its sense of place by adding a little color to the landscape and making the most of its name. Water towers and telephone poles are visual resources waiting to be adorned with symbols that speak to the world about local pride and hope for the future. [2012]

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Florence, Nebraska, USA

It's the 4th of July:
Fly the flag high.
Red, white, and blue,
Stars and stripes, too.
Holidays, flags, colors, and shapes.
We will all do whatever it takes
To honor the heroes of America's past,
Albeit while waiting for fireworks' big blast.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Pole banners began appearing on the landscapes of central cities in the 1980s. This one in Columbus spoke the truth: people would not patronize downtown unless it were fun. Routine shopping had followed the customers to suburban locations, and the CBD had become a doughnut hole of population density. Thirty years later, downtowns are fun once more. [1983]

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv's nickname is "City of the Seven Hills." This one is Nebet Tepe. In their day, they must have made terrific look-outs for military garrisons. Now, they make terrific over-looks for budding artists.  See any? [2010]

Monday, July 1, 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

O Canada!  Today's your day: Canada Day or Fête du Canada .  Happy 146th anniversary of your birth!  Here you are making friends around the world:  these visitors are collecting memories to take home with them.  They are from Kerala state in India.  Toronto's iconic city hall stands tall in the background.  [2013]