February 2012

Love Letters

29 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

More than fifty walls, rooftops, and billboards high above Market Street, visible mostly from the elevated train line in West Philly, bear pictures and snatches of poetry by former graffiti artist Steve Powers; together they make up his "Love Letter" mural project, one of the city's most popular new tourist attractions.

"We share sheets," says the writing on the third-floor sidewall of a trackside rowhouse. "We share defeats," says the writing at the end of the block.

The message on the back wall of a warehouse is spelled out in what appear to be refrigerator-magnet letters: "If you were here, I'd be home."

Power says his style grew out of a trip to Northern Ireland, where the political murals on the walls of Belfast struck him as "powerful for all the wrong reasons." In his Love Letter murals, he says he's trying to retain the power but "use it in a really good way."

 

 

Double Toe

28 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

If you believe the banners in this ca. 1885 chromolithograph,  the Standard Tip T.M. Harris & Co. boot comes with a double toe that is not only warranted and trade mark registered but also highest grade sole leather tip. It's not clear what the people frolicking in the ad have to do with double standard tip shoes, and it's not clear what a registered trade mark has to do with warranted highest quality, but what else is new. As my grandmother used to say: You believe that one and they'll tell you a bigger one.

The shoe factory in the background was a building on Cherry Street in Philadelphia that was originally built for manufacturing chandeliers.

Nymphaios

27 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

Out of deference to the Oscar thing, today's g'mornin features an image by a photographer best known as a filmmaker, Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The panorama here shows part of a twenty-four-hundred year-old site in eastern Turkey dedicated to Nymphaios, the Greek god of rivers. For another example of Ceylan's still photography, see here.

The Boulder Draggers

26 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

This was Amersfoort, Netherlands, back in the day. The city has since grown to 24 square miles, with a population of almost 150,000, but its medieval center is said to be well preserved and legally protected. Known as Boulder City, Amersfoort is now 753 years old.

The Netherlands doesn't have very many boulders, but there used to be a big one, weighing more than nine tons, out on the moors south of town. In 1661, however, a couple of Amersfoort's leading citizens got to drinking and wagering, and then wouldn't you know it, one of them rounded up 400 neighbors to push the rock into the center of town.

The rock-pushers were rewarded with beer and pretzels, but Amersfoortians soon discovered that they really didn't much like being known far and wide as boulder draggers. They didn't like that their city's reputation was all about the stupid rock in the main square.  In 1672, they buried the boulder.

More than two centuries later, in 1903, the buried rock was rediscovered and again put on display. Pranksters have moved it again from time to time, presumably with heavy equipment, but the city has now mounted its nine-ton token high on a pedestal for all the world to see.

Posted by Ellen

German painter Gesine Marwedel offers her services for people who want to look especially splendid for a special event.

Posted by Ellen

Atlanta artist Brian Dettmer takes scissors to old books–also scalpels and tweezers and other surgical instruments–to reveal a sort of alternate reality deep inside. Nothing in the book is altered, he says; nothing is relocated or added. He just cuts out the words and pictures and stuff that are in the way of the words and pictures and stuff he wants the world to see.

Dettmer especially likes to slice up volumes of old encyclopedias or illustrated dictionaries, works with numerous and varied illustrations. "The book's intended function has decreased," he says; old books are "still linear in a non-linear world." By twisting the spine and cutting the pages, he exposes cast-off words and pictures to new kinds of appreciation.

Popeye

23 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

He had a balloon and an inflatable Popeye, but still the 1938 Rice Festival Parade in Crawfordville, Louisiana, just lasted too long.

Some of the signs in the store window appear to be advertising items of clothing for 10 cents, or even 5 cents. That can't be right, but I have no alternative explanation.

Give that baby some spinach, and he'll come round.

 

Winter #3: Snowbirds

22 Feb 2012
Posted by Ellen

Members of the Canadian Snowbirds Association gathered last month for "Fish Fest" at an RV park in Llano Grande, Texas.

Canadian Snowbirds winter mostly in Florida, south Texas, and Arizona. Along the west coast of Florida, Canadians are so numerous in the wintertime that the St. Petersburg Times devotes a couple of pages to news from around Canada. The Snowbirds Association operates a website for Canadians considering buying real estate in the Sunbelt, but mostly it's a social organization

Posted by Ellen

As the vegetation suggests, winter weather is usually a good bit milder than this along the beachfront promenades of the town of Split, on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. This winter has been particularly cold and snowy throughout much of Europe and even as far south as North Africa; temperatures have bounced back now, however, and this week Split enjoyed sunny afternoons with highs in the upper 50s.

Posted by Ellen

The judges assess the form of this ski jumper as he flies past the referees' tower during last week's Team Tour World Cup competition in Klingenthal, Germany. No winners were named; high winds forced an early halt to the event.