Sunday, June 25, 2017

Istanbul, Turkey

It may be that our modern shopping malls had their origins in the covered bazaars of the Middle East. Istanbul's Spice Bazaar (a.k.a., Egyptian Bazaar) dates back to the 1660s. Many like to think of it, along with the city's Grand Bazaar, as the western terminus of the Silk Road. [2007]

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Plant City, Florida, USA

Fancy some alligator sausage? You came to the right place. Although it looks like that gator is about to eat that Angus, it is actually us humans who are about to eat both that gator and that Angus. As for alligator sausage: Of course, it tastes like chicken. [2014]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cañon City, Colorado, USA

There was a time when Cañon City's unpaved roads were congested with horses. To keep their memory alive and underscore the city's spirit of place, one lone ghostly equine occupies a place of honor above the 'western wear' store. Actually, the fiberglass horse has become a trademark for such stores all across the country. [2005]

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lubbock, Texas, USA

Downtown Lubbuck is a jungle. Look up, and you may see a gorilla on a nearby rooftop. What's he doing up there? Drawing attention to The Gorilla Law Firm. Should you not see him, it may be that he is out chasing ambulances. [2017]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Three continents are here united: Asia, South America, and Europe. From Asia, comes the customer. From South America, comes the potato. From Europe, comes the culinary stereotype. [2011]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

At the moment, he's dealing with inventory, not customers. He doesn't have to be at his best, his friendliest, his smiliest. He doesn't have to anticipate the next move or the next word from a potential buyer. So, even though his muscles are working, his mind goes wandering off. In his world of work, he has created a world of escape. [2011]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Suburbs are simply not urban: That's why we call them SUBurbs. Real cities are very urban: mixed-use developments at the mega-scale where you can work, play, and shop without wheels of your own. In places like Hong Kong, you don't need lots of house space because you have the whole city under foot. [2011]

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Berkeley, California, USA

Berkeley's bell tower is not the only one on a university campus, but it is one of the most famous. It was built to be a symbol of "the university's lofty vision." This year marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the bells from a Massachusetts foundry. [2005]

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Covington, Kentucky, USA

Covington decided to celebrate its German heritage by building a bell-cum-clock tower in medieval Saxon style. It comes complete with an hourly puppet reenactment of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a tale widely popularized by the brothers Grimm. First, his hypnotic tunes led away the rats, then the children. [2016]

Friday, June 16, 2017

Navarre, Florida, USA

Because they pop up everywhere today, most Americans probably think that all Indians carved totem poles for their villages. In fact, however, these monumental sculptures are a contribution of the tribes of the Pacific realm stretching from northern California to Alaska (far from panhandle Florida!). Totem poles served as aides memoires and assists in story-telling. [2017]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Jogjakarta, Indonesia

There must be a survival advantage to skin art. When the 5000 year old "iceman" was discovered in the Alps, he had tattoos all over his body. Today, tattoos are just as popular, even on the other side of the planet. This one looks very Javanese. [2016]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia depends on the Roman alphabet as the script for its official language, Bahasa Indonesia. On this street sign, however, the 'language of Indonesia' must share the spotlight with an ethnoregional tongue, Javanese, which has its own alphabet. JL is an abbreviation for jalan, meaning street. [2016]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jogjakarta, Java, Indonesia

Hanging out! All it takes is a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. The scene is repeated all over the world: We hope without the graffiti. But even the graffiti may be nothing more than an expression of humans' gregarious nature. [2016]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Solar Salt Works, Bonaire, Caribbeean Netherlands

The Bonaire salt works occupy the entire southern part of the island. The area is low lying and only 12 degrees north of the equator. That makes the sun intense and the Trade Winds steady: ideal combinants for evaporation. The Trade Winds also power the wind mills that pump sea water onto the flats. Once again, nature allows itself to be commercialized. [2017]

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Victoria Park, Western Australia, Australia

Here's a 20th century windmill that was originally built as an advertisement. Its only purpose was attracting attention to a local merchant selling tiles and building materials. Now, it is the single most recognized landmark in suburban Victoria Park. [2006]

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Aegina Island, Greece

Need a definition of 'pre-industrial'? Here it is. It seems like what pre-dated the fossil fuel era is now a fossil of its own. But not really, for these visual reminders of the past have been re-purposed for tourism. There are hundreds of mills like this across the Greek Aegean. [2004]

Friday, June 9, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

Aliens or mariachis? Perhaps both. In fact, those mysterious space creatures who landed in the 1940s have simply blended in with the local population. Is this an example of assimilation or acculturation? [2016]

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

For teachers: Here's a project idea to connect your students with their community. Re-design the street lights in town to mimic a unique element of local geography. In Roswell, they have chosen from the realm of cultural geography (perhaps imagined). Is this what Jane Jacobs meant when she wrote about "eyes on the street"? [2016]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

An alien spacecraft crashed outside Roswell in 1947. Its extraterrestrial passengers survived and quickly blended in with the local population. Now, their children are taking starter jobs at Dominoes, KFC, and other fast food chains that depend on attracting the attention of passers-by. [2016]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Drake's Landing, California, USA

What's life in the cloud like? At one time, only angels and air faeries could answer that question. Now, everyone spends a good portion of their life there. In fact, the cloud is where we keep our memories. [2016]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Miccosukee Indian Village, Florida, USA

What's life in the Everglades like? Just ask the Miccosukee Indians. Today, they open up their shimmering home to visitors by offering air boat rides through rivers of grass. [1993]

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New York, New York, USA

What's life in Hell like? Regardez! He's living in Hell's Kitchen. A New York Times reporter once referred to the area as "probably the lowest and filthiest in the city." Now, it's a seat of gentrification, with lots of walk-up apartments and aspiring actors. [2017]

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

HIV+? People of all genders and races need to think about it, and that advice is given in Belgium's two languages: French and Dutch. Without the mural, Belgians would not have a reminder that we all still live under the cloud of AIDS. [2015]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is blessed with scores of murals honoring the comic-book characters for which Belgium is famous. The French word for wall is le mur, so a wall painting like this is called a mural. But here, we're talking about window paintings. So, we're obligated to coin a new word: fenetrals, from the French word for window, la fenêtre. [2015]

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels may be the capital of Belgium; it may be the capital of Europe; but, most importantly, it may be the capital of comic books. Only in Brussels have so many characters escaped their bindings and hung themselves on walls around the city. Sometimes the intent is to provide comic relief; other times, it's to change attitudes and opinions. [2015]

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pickerington, Ohio, USA

All city parks seek something unique to make them special. Pickering's city park found something unique in the nearby countryside: an old covered bridge. It was brought to town three decades ago and has since become a memory-maker in Sycamore Creek Park, where a soccer net stands ready for the next match. [2017]

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Charleston, West Virginia, USA

Behold the mighty Kanawha River. Now, pronounce it like the locals. Almost every area of the country has place-names that come-heres and pass-throughs can't seem to master. Once you do get them correct, however, you switch from one of them to one of us. [2017]

Monday, May 29, 2017

Warm Springs, Virginia, USA

Here's the Confederate War Memorial in front of the Bath County Courthouse, seemingly taped off as if it were a crime scene. Monuments to crime: That's what statues like this are increasingly viewed as, especially after the Charleston church massacre of 2015. Do not cross! [2017]

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bridgeton, New Jersey, USA

Located where the King's Highway crossed the tidal Cohansey River, Bridgeton became a mill town, college town, and agricultural service center. Deindustrialization came in the 1980s. Now, the mural-bearing lingerie factory in the background has become apartments for seniors. Any questions? Better ask them in Zapoteco. [2016]

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA

With a grid of streets and an elaborate canal system, Holyoke was one of the country's first planned industrial towns. Along its canals arose prospering paper and textile mills. Deindustrialization came to Holyoke decades ago, and the old factories are now becoming condos, apartments, and shopping centers. [2013]

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dumas, Texas, USA

Step No. 3 for Project Graduation ~ Distribution. Driving by the Moore County courthouse? Pull over, buy dinner in a bag, and feel good about supporting Project Graduation. The main course is a hamburger, fresh off the grill. Funds raised support one final party for the graduating class at Dumas High School. It's coming up soon. [2017]

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dumas, Texas, USA

Step No. 2 for Project Graduation ~ Assembly. As part of Project Graduation, hamburgers fly off the grill and into a brown bag, where they join some chips and a cookie. It all takes place in front of the Moore County Court House. The whole community gets involved, even the County Judge. Fund-raising can also be fun-raising. [2017]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dumas, Texas, USA

Step No. 1 for Project Graduation ~ Production. Dumas is famous for taking care of its high school graduates. The post-commencement blast is a gift from the community, but that doesn't mean it's free. Fund-raisers take place throughout the year. This one offers an evening meal, highlighted by hamburgers, for only $5. [2017]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Panama City, Panama

Define contiguous: "being in contact, touching." Contiguous they are: sharing a boundary and a backpack. Define lovebirds: "an openly affectionate couple." Lovebirds they are, but maybe not at this moment. He looks adoringly into her eyes; she looks unknowingly into her cell phone. [2017]

Monday, May 22, 2017

Havana, Cuba

The Caribbean is so floridus, florido, flowery. Perhpas the whole region should be renamed Florida. Instead, the Carib Indians give their name to the region, and another indigenous people, the Taino, gave us a word that became Cuba, which means 'land of abundance.' [2014]

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Palm Beach, Aruba

Bo por papia papiamento? If you do, you know the word dushi. Here it is used to tell buyers that the bagels are really good. It may be just the word you need to describe the eatery's yarn bomb. If you can say dushi, you can speak Papiamento, the native tongue of Aruba. Bon dia! [2017]

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kralendijk, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Hang out on the waterfront: That's what girls do on the week-ends in Bonaire. How would you handle life on an island no larger in size or population than a small American county with few connections to the near-abroad and expensive connections to the far-abroad? [2017]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hato, Willemstad, Curaçao

The ABC islands have more to do with North America and Europe than they do with each other. In fact, it's a bit difficult to get from one to another. There is no ferry service and only two airlines. Between Curacao and Bonaire, the best connection is provided by DiviDivi Air. It's a 20 minute ride on a 9-passenger prop plane (or something even smaller!). [2017]

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Punda, Willemstad, Curaçao

C is for Curaçao, one of Holland's ABC islands in the Caribbean. As a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao recognizes the House of Orange as its sovereign. Could that be an explanation for this man's gezellig boat? [2017]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rincón, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

B is for Bonaire, one of Holland's ABC islands in the Caribbean. Bonaire is the least populous, and should stay that way if it wants to be the ecotourism capital of the Caribbean. Resources for ecotourism: coral reefs, diving and snorkeling sites, a national park, and rare species of wildlife (including feral donkeys) and sanctuaries for them. What species is this? [2017]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oranjestad, Aruba

A is for Aruba, one of Holland's ABC islands in the Caribbean. Aruba is a country of its own, albeit not an independent state. Hence, two languages are official in Aruba: Papiamento, the native tongue, and Dutch, the colonial tongue. Now, look at the picture again and identify the language that is on display in front of the Parliament building. [2017]

Monday, May 15, 2017

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

On this very day four years ago, the city of Niagara Falls looked like this. Spring was in early bloom. Perhaps you could use this image as base line data to measure climate change. Over the next five years, go to this same park on the ides of May and take this same picture. Notice any trends? [2013]

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Everything originates somewhere and spreads from there. That's what geographers call culturl diffusion. Here's an historical marker that allows us to put Mother's Day on the map. The celebration originated in Philadelphia (apologies to West Virginia) in 1908 and became national in 1914. Today, almost 50 countries have an official Mother's Day celebration. [2017]

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Goodwell, Oklahoma, USA

Once established in 1903,
The townfolk of Goodwell
Sighed:There must be
More color here for us to enjoy.
So, some trees, we must deploy.
We remember the redbud
From back in the East,
The first tree of spring
On which we could feast
Our eyes and our hearts
At winter's retreat.
We'll water it weekly
And give it some shade
And try to forget the
Man who betrayed
Jesus the Savior
At His final hour.
Yes, Judas did cower
in valley Hinnom
And hung from a tree:
The Red Bud! Shalom.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pensacola, Florida, USA

The bench is designed so he can't sleep there. See the divide in the middle? But, he sure can read there. Supplied with hydration and whatever is in that pack, he's set for the day. [2017]

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Amarillo, Texas, USA

According to the Amarillo Zoo:  Red kangaroos are "found all over Australia and are very common there. They are herbivores, so they will eat grass and other vegetation they find in the wild." Red List status: Least Concern. [2017]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Amarillo, Texas, USA

According to the Amarillo Zoo:  African spurred tortoises live "in the fringes of the desert and on savannas. These tortoises are found in the Southern Sahara desert region ranging from Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia. They rely on plants to supply most of their water." Red List status: Vulnerable. [2017]

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Amarillo, Texas, USA

According to the Amarillo Zoo:  The African Lion "used to roam in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, but are now found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and a very small area in India's Gir Forest. A single pride can inhabit a 100 square mile territory." Red List status: Vulnerable. [2017]

Monday, May 8, 2017

Crestview, Florida, USA

Hay. Can I interest you in some smoked barbecue? I am a grass-fed vegetarian myself, but I can highly recommend the ribs here in Hub City. They are much better than that slop you get in the Big Apple. Sorry cousin, but I just can't believe you abandoned us for the North! [2017]

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA

It was originally built in 1830 to grind corn, wheat, and oats for the people of Pigeon Forge. Now, it serves as a restaurant and backdrop for fishermen on the Little Pigeon River. [2009]