Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wynnewood, Oklahoma, USA

Happy Halloween, the eve of All Hallows day! But, there is something wrong here in midtown. Halloween is supposed to be the time when ghouls and goblins emerge from the shadows. No ghouls or goblins here, though. These two seem entirely too happy, and the day seems entirely too sunny for us to be entering the low-sun season. [2007]

Monday, October 30, 2017

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

An earthquake hit this church 500 years ago tomorrow. No, not this main-street cathedral in Baton Rouge! The larger church: the Church of Rome. Five centuries have passed since Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg, Germany, beginning a shift in tectonic plates that split western Christianity asunder. [2011]

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Biddeford, Maine, USA

For over 100 years Lincoln Mill (textiles, of course) and its clock tower established the rhythms of Biddeford's economy. Then came deindustrialization and deterioration. The clock, which was threatening to topple on its own, was finally removed in 2007, but no further progress was made until 2014. [2008]

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Russian River, California, USA

The California Republic (Republic? Just look at the state flag!) is the fourth largest wine producer in the world. Only France, Italy, and Spain produce more. Today, there are over 200 wineries in the state. Unfortunately, over 20 of them in and around the Russian River Valley were damaged or destroyed by wildfires earlier this month. [2005]

Friday, October 27, 2017

Buffalo, Missouri, USA

Halloween approaches. Just look around: There are reminders everywhere. There might even be someone hanging around your own city hall who has been victimized by the season. [1987]

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mobile, Alabama, USA

What are you doing to celebrate National Pumpkin Day? Probably having pumpkin spice latte or tea or pancakes or marshmallows or yogurt or cereal or pretzels or ice cream or Little Debbies's. By proclamation of the New York Times, "Pumpkin spice is America." This ersatz gourd saw the evil coming a decade ago. [2005]

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Strasbourg, France

Pre-EU: few limits on busker shows and other elements of daily life. Post-EU: far too many regulations and standards. One of them probably brought an end to performances like this. Too dangerous! So sayeth the European Union bureaucrats. [1984]

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

There was a time when every city had a bird market. Barcelona's was large and popular, but it is no more. What did it in? Concerns about animal rights and avian flu, plus mounting regulations. The giant bureaucracy called the European Union, the source of 40,000  regulations and 62,000 international standards. That's just too much rule by bureaucrats! [2005]

Monday, October 23, 2017

Havana, Cuba

The Cuban War of Independence began in 1895. It was the third attempt by the Cuban people to establish their sovereignty. This time it worked, but not before metastasizing into an even bigger conflict. From what country did Cuba win its independence in 1898? The country featured in tomorrow's post provides the answer. [2014]

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The crocus (and, of course, the tulip) arrived in Holland in the 1500s. It came from Constantinople, proliferated, and helped set the stage for the Dutch Golden Age in the 1600s. Today, come March, crocuses are ubiquitous in Amsterdam. The corms ("bulbs') from which they grow often find homes in the lower crooks of trees. [2015]

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Indonesia's national monument (an obelisk, just like ancient Egypt!) is topped by the gold-leafed flame of independence. From what country did Indonesia gain independence in 1945? The country featured in tomorrow's post provides the answer. [2016]

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Here stands one of the gates to Chefchaouen's medina as it existed a generation ago, when the population was thoroughly Berber and tourists were scarce. The djellaba is the traditional garb for Moroccan men, but the pattern here is unique to the Rif. Unlike most of Morocco, Chefchaouen was Spanish before the country gained independence in 1956. [1989]

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ceuta, Spain

The city of Ceuta is in the Kingdom of Spain. On what continent is it located? (a) Europe, (b) Africa, (c) Asia. The correct answer is Africa. Ceuta is one of two self-governing Spanish cities that are not in Europe. What country claims Ceuta, which they call Sebta, as their own? The country featured in tomorrow's post provides the answer. [1989]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Here's a cat that has survived for almost 130 years. Its paw rests on an orb, symbolic of the world and very reminiscent of Britain's reigning monarch. It's role may be nothing more than a powerful temple (or home) guardian, positioned strategically at the corner of the building it is protecting. [2006]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rayne, Louisiana, USA

Rayne fancies itself as the frog capital of the world. There are frogs around every corner, sometimes in full form and sometimes in murals. Why's that? Because there was a time when frog legs served in New York City and and around the world came from Rayne. [2011]

Monday, October 16, 2017

Palm Desert, California, USA

No pot of gold here. That's because we are at the Beginning of the Rainbow, where the colors originate. But, there's no indigo or violet (as noted by Roy G. Biv). Apparently, the artist wasn't working with a full spectrum. Nevertheless, here's a great use for an otherwise unremarkable median strip. [2015]

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Biloxi, Mississippi, USA

Land, sea, sky. Tree, dolphins, moon. Only the dolphins are out of their element, having been put there by a chain-saw wielding sculptor who took a dead live oak (the victim of hurricane Katrina) and turned it into a living piece of art and a symbol of hope. It's a perfect gift for any birthday! [2009]

Saturday, October 14, 2017

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Giraffes can sleep while standing up, but they do occasionally take a load off their feet. While he may be taking a rest, you shouldn't. Why not adopt a giraffe at your local zoo? Last year, the Red List reclassified giraffes as Vulnerable because their numbers have declined by 36-40% since 1985. Currently, there are fewer than 100,000 worldwide. [2014]

Friday, October 13, 2017

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Here are two reticulated giraffes. (Reticulate: 'resembling a net or network.') Giraffes are herd animals, so zoos will always have more than one, typically at least one male and several females. Fortunately, the males are happy to coexist in the same range, which is a real advantage for zoo keepers. How can such skinny legs support all that weight? [2011]

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Giraffes are the tallest land mammals. Having such long necks means they can feed on leaves far above those that other creatures can reach. Here, it looks like he has stripped the bamboo of all its leaves and is now trying to reach for more distant foliage. His habitat: designed to give him a reason to stretch that long neck. Good exercise! [2014]

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

As of 2016, there is not just one species of giraffe. There are four: reticulated (seen here), Masai, northern, and southern. Their long necks give them an advantage for feeding and may help in self-preservation. Their heads, set so far above their bodies, might as well be small, watchful drones, ready to warn of approaching predators. [2017]

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

If you are a barber, take your practice to a downtown street and offer haircuts to the homeless. A donation box (like a busker's) will help defray the costs. Reminds me of Michelangelo's self-reflection: "I saw an angel in the marble and and carved until I set him free." In this case: "I saw an angel in the strooble and clipped until I set him free." [2017]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Leaping lizards! It's a gecko. They help shape the unique aesthetic of the American Southwest. This one used to be completely green (see the head, feet, tail?) but then traded his earth tones for some brighter hues. Why? He listened to Kermit's advice: "It's not easy being green!" [2017]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Boonville, California, USA

Buckey Walter? That translates as "pay phone" in the Boontling language. It's a completely invented tongue spoken in only one town of the Anderson Valley. It's really tuddies for any small town to have a language all its own. Alas, Boontling's fortunes have been on the wane for the last few decades. The fortunes of pay phones have been waning as well. [2005]

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Glasgow, Scotland, UK

His may be the last generation to have any memories of the public telephone box. In fact, his may be the next-to-last generation to have any memories of the public ATM. Waves are so placeless, and both voice communication and flows of 'cash' are increasingly digital. [2017]

Friday, October 6, 2017

London, England, UK

If she wanted to talk to God, she could ascend the stairs and kneel before the altar in St. George the Martyr Church. But, she apparently wants to talk to fellow mortals. On the other hand, maybe God is on her Favorites list. Now, write an essay comparing cell towers to church steeples. [2015]

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tbilisi, Georgia

She's speaking a language that fewer than 4 million people in the world can understand. She's flanking an alphabet that fewer than 4 million people in the world can read. The Georgian language has shaped its nation-state for over a thousand years. And, even as linguistic extinction events have overtaken other tongues, Georgian remains a survivor. [2015]

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lancaster, Ohio, USA

Every time you see a window, take a gander. It's an opportunity to re-frame the world. Waterfalls look completely different from afar. In this case, 'afar' is from the highest casements of Lancaster County's old Rock Mill. If you find a falls like this anywhere in America, look around. You will probably also find a mill (or the remains of one). [2017] 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

"And Jesus Wept" after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1996, and after the shootings in Littleton, Col., Blacksburg, Va., Fort Hood, Tex., Aurora, Col., Newtown, Conn., Washington Naval Yard, San Bernardino, Cal., Charleston, S.C., Orlando, Fla., and now Las Vegas, Nev. Jesus doesn't want to weep any more. [2007]

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mancos, Colorado, USA

What's blocking your view of the world? What do you see when you look out any window? In this case, someone sees prancing steeds. We all have pre-occupying passions that unwittingly prevent us from accurately assessing our own realities. What's your prancing steed? [2013]

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Ready to step across the threshold into the month of October? Wipe clean the slate, forget whatever brought you down last month, and aim to let everyone see your true colors. "Threshold" has been anchoring Underground Atlanta since 1996. What sets it apart are its bold colors, all the more important in a city with the least colorful public art anywhere! [2013]