Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Absolut, a Swedish vodka sold in 126 countries, seemed to be taking sides in the Mexican-American War, which ended in 1848! So provocative was this advertising campaign that it lasted only a few weeks. "In an Absolute world" is translated as "In a Perfect world." After all, isn't Absolut the world's perfect vodka? [2008]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

M'hamid, Morocco

Outside of M'hamid is the dump. Almost everything is (or was) biodegradable, so most of the detritus you see is nothing more than bones. Goats and the sun take care of the rest. [1989]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

M'hamid, Morocco

On the horizon is M'hamid and the adjacent oasis. Until only a few decades ago, there was no paved road leading into town from any direction. Short of a camel, you arrived by plane. This is the remnant of the old landing strip. [1989]

Monday, February 25, 2013

M'hamid, Morocco

It is here in the village of M'hamid that the road ends and the pistes of the Sahara begin. Next stop:  Timbuktu, but that was in the days of the caravan trade. Today, it is but a few tourists who trade here. Can you identify the mosque with its minaret and the nearby kasbah? [1989]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gloucester Court House, Virginia, USA

Not every county can have a 1930s service station, but they all can have an archaeological conservancy. Gloucester County has the Fairfield Foundation. Under the principle of adaptive reuse, it is currently restoring the Edge Hill Texaco station using environmentally sensitive technologies and a lot of community labor. [2013]

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hampton, Virginia, USA

Eventually, obsolescence comes to all economies, even service economies. Before there were mobile phones, all phone were immobile. They were fixed in space and reigned as tyrannous dictators. The obedient masses would be drawn to them as if they were omnipotent. Now, their mobile offspring are establishing an authoritarian regime of their own. [2012]

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Eventually, obsolescence comes to all economies. Pittsburgh used to be the 'Steel City.' But, by the 1980s, deindustrialization had almost swallowed the city's economy, and abandoned steel mills stood idle and rusting. It was the era when the Manufacturing Belt became the Rust Belt. [1981]

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Eventually, obsolescence comes to all economies. All across the land, family farming has given way to corporate agriculture, and remnants of the old economy are disappearing. Large, well-built barns that signified prosperity just get in the way of progress today. [1983]

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Helsinki, Finland

Europeans are good at making space where there is none, so out over the water they go to expand the Saturday street market. Little do the vendors know that a word is being born to describe their patrons: locavores. Eat locally when you you are at home, and hone the habit when you are traveling. [2005]

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

New immigrants, new fish traps. New environment for the Indians, old tools of the trade. Geographers would see them as the hyphen in 'human-environment relationships,' with hungry humanity to the hyphen's left and grown-up Persian Gulf guppies to the hyphen's right. [1992]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Abstract art can mean different things to different people, so why shouldn't we consider this a comb, positioned on fashionable Orchard Mall to remind people to care for their coif. Or maybe it's a paper shredder getting ready to grind Gutenberg into the ground, or perhaps drown him. [2011]

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Abstract art can mean different things to different people, so why shouldn't we imagine this as a plucker, perched on the pavement to perform at night when the stars come out? Or, perhaps it's a red moon at dawn, ready to swallow up the rising sun. [2006]

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Auckland, New Zealand

Someone just jumped from the tallest structure in New Zealand. Think bungee, not suicide. Auckland's Sky Tower rises over a thousand feet into the Kiwi air. [2006]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

The former Marine Police Headquarters building has become a target of adaptive reuse. It was lucky to survive the wrecking ball judging from the glass wall behind the colonnaded porches. From the '1881 Heritage' courtyard you can observe Hong Kong's three-layered cultural geography: Chinese, British colonial, and international. [2011]

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Murals trade summer for winter, turn day into night and morning into evening, bring country into the city, juxtapose natural curves against architectural edges, favor color over gray tones, and often make us question the 'dichotomy of urban art' which states that fine art is found in museums and commercial art is found on the streets. [2012]

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK


Fashion looms larger than life in the urban cores of cities on both sides of the Atlantic. It helps make cities cool, and cool is what counts today. [2009]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

San Juan, Puerto Rico

It used to be a tradition (rarer these days) to honor the illuminati of history by naming schools after them. In Puerto Rico, they have gone beyond naming. On the campus of the Escuela Graduada Abraham Lincoln in Old San Juan, they have replicated the Lincoln Memorial (sin apología to Daniel Chester French). American citizens all, we are. [2009]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Just think how accessible wide sidewalks are for those who have limited mobility. No doors or gates to navigate and no narrow aisles. For him, a sidewalk market puts everything at arms length: except for the bananas. [2011]

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

Where is Sun Moon Lake? The easy answer is China. But which China? The lake is located on the island of Taiwan in the Republic of China, but its image appears as a decorative element in the passports of the People's Republic of China. Does somebody need a geography lesson here? Or, is politics involved?  [2012]

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Genoa, Italy

Albania is still one of the most cloistered countries in Europe. After the collapse of Communism, however, an Albanian diaspora radiated across the continent, and Italy become one of the chief destinations. Some disasporans settled in Genoa, where one of their numbers shared church-step squatting rights with a wayward American a few years ago. [2008]

Friday, February 8, 2013

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

A locally worrisome issue ten years ago has become a nationally troublesome issue today. It seems like every election cycle, more and more creative ways surface to silence the voices of minorities. Let's wait this cycle out, though. Demographics are changing fast in the United States. [2004]

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fairmont, North Dakota, USA

Would it be an exaggeration to say that this is a remnant of Lake Agassiz? Yes. One of North America's largest glacial lakes is now gone, but the finely textured soils of the ancient lake bed are perfect for wheat. Today, the lacustrine plain is drained (or not) by the northward-flow of the Red River. [2007]

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

225 years of statehood is celebrated today in Massachusetts, one of the few states which has had only one capital, Boston, for its entire existence. The Massachusetts State House stands on Beacon Hill and is only ten years younger than the Commonwealth itself. To the Bay State: Happy Birthday! [2010]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

St. Jerome (see him?) holds an elevated position in the history of Christianity.  His translation of the Bible into Latin was the version used by western Christians everywhere for over 1100 years.  It is known as the Vulgate.  Most of the work was done in a cave under this courtyard in Bethlehem.  [1999]

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand

Dinner is served. A lacy network of canals interpenetrates much of Thonburi, the traditional side of Bangkok. Moderization has eliminated the waterways from much of the Chao Prayha's eastern bank, but here to the west, centuries-old practices, including canal-side deliveries, still survive. [2011]

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Zagreb, Croatia

It's so distracting, it's eye-catching. And, it's not photoshopped. When public spaces, like Jelačić Square in the center of Zagreb, can make you stop to figure things out, art is functioning at its best even when it's commercial art. The two boys on the drape are advertising Olympus cameras. [2008]

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ideas of medieval glaziers continue to influence modern architects. Stained glass makes downtown office towers a little more like cathedrals. Maybe the skyscrapers deserve their nickname: cathedrals of commerce. [2010]

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

If these two Québécoises look happy and healthy, it is probably for two reasons: (1) They are as warm as can be in their turtle necks and furs, and (b) they have been relying on balsam of fir from Les Gommes de Sapins du Québec to clear their respiratory tracts. Winter Carnival, Quebec City's signature event, begins today. [2005]