January 2012

Posted by Ellen

In a garden of sculpture, mosaics, and murals in North Philadelphia, this memorial commemorates the 64 graduates of nearby Edison High School who were killed in Vietnam. According to the writing on the memorial wall, no other public school in America sent more students to die in that war than did Edison.

Posted by Ellen

High-voltage power lines in central Scotland.

Philly Street Art

27 Jan 2012
Posted by Ellen

Who would win, the panda or the puppy?

Posted by Ellen

A Terlingua Sunset, by Lindy Cook Severns.

Terlingua encompasses thousands of acres of sparsely settled desert country along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. There's cinnabar ore in those mountains, enough to support profitable mercury mines a hundred years ago, but nowadays the only mercury miners left are the ones in the Terlingua cemetery.

Many of today's Terlinguans live more or less off the grid; land is inexpensive, but bringing in electricity costs something like $10,000 per pole. The landowners are only lightly supervised by local government, but like big-city condo owners they are regulated by an owners' association, which employs a full-time staff to maintain community wells and roads and to operate an income-generating campground and lodge.

Vanessa Boyd, director of the landowners' organization, which is known as Terlingua Ranch, is a musician as well as a land manager. She just released a new album last week, which incorporates songs she composed in preparation for a 2010 concert tour to Nepal.

Posted by Ellen

They called themselves the Society of St. Michael the Archangel, a name they took from their parish church back home in Albidona, a small town on the southern coast of Italy, about midway between the heel and toe of the "boot."

But in 1926, when this picture was taken, they were all living in Chicago, surrounded by native-born Americans and immigrants from all over Italy and the world. In America, the immigrants from Albidona naturally turned to one another for social life and mutual aid, a hometown bond they formalized with the establishment of the Society of St. Michael the Archangel. Similar benevolent and social organizations based on hometown roots were formed by immigrants in communities all over America, supporting one another socially, culturally, and oftimes financially.

These societies faded in importance as their members established themselves in their new country. Today, however, new groups of immigrants, such as the Sudanese refugees in Maine, are again creating formal organizations for exactly the same purposes. As ever, they function as social centers but also as banks, raising money both to lend to members in need and to send back home for communities in distress.

The gentleman in the middle of the front row with the gavel, presumably the president of the Society of St. Michael in 1926, has been identified as Leonardo Adduci, whose great-grandson shares the photo.

Posted by Ellen

This past Friday, the temperature in Madison, Wisconsin, at high noon was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It snowed all day. But just as on every other weekday since last March 11, a crowd gathered on the steps of the state capitol building for a boisterous Solidarity Sing-Along. These folks are among the same volunteers who recently collected more than a million signatures of voters around the state to ensure a recall election that they hope will depose their anti-labor "Governor Lazy" Scott Walker.

Posted by Ellen

Ten years ago, an exhibition of work by the Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero toured Europe, including a stop in the courtyard of the Cathedrale di Milano, as shown here. Next fall, a Botero exhibit will visit Bilbao, Spain, but the photo below taken in Bilbao last week features a sculpture that resembles the work of Botero in roundness alone.

Posted by Ellen

A pair of these eagles guarded the entrance to New York City's Penn Station until 1963, when the old station was demolished. The Pennsylvania Railorad then donated them to Philadelphia, where they were placed at the end of the Market Street Bridge in front of Thirtieth Street Station.

As for most of the lightbulbs burning out and going unreplaced, that's a Philadelphia thing.

Posted by Ellen

Crazy weather in Alabama this winter, so warm and rainy that the daffodils burst into bloom in mid-January, about six weeks early. And then, of course, a cold front came crashing down; Anna Singer picked these blooms and got them into the house hours before the mercury fell to 23 degrees.

Posted by Ellen

Last week, the USS Ingraham crossed the equator, somewhere in the eastern Pacific. Per centuries of tradition, this event necessitated a Crossing the Line ritual; those sailors and officers who had crossed the equator before assembled as King Neptune and his court to supervise the cleansing of the rest of the crew, slimy pollywogs all. The lengthy proceedings included green, slimy-looking food that had to be eaten without utensils or hands, and pushups on deck, attempted at the business end of a firehose.

Here, the royal court ponders the worthiness of one of the wogs. Seated in the middle in t-shirt and ball cap is the Ingraham's captain, Commander Kristin Stengel.