August 2012

Posted by Ellen

Philadelphia is standing in for New York City this summer during the filming of Paranoia, a thriller starring Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth and directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde).

For example: here in Center City Philadelphia, on 16th Street near Locust, is a New York City taxicab, in a line of cars all bearing New York plates. Look closely, and perhaps you can make out the cars' back-up lights all lit up; this line of traffic was in fact moving in reverse, preparing for the filmmakers to take one more take.

A few weeks ago, this same outfit took over the Rittenhouse Square restaurant Twenty Manning for a day of shooting. Our own Joe Stein, who worked there, was told to take the day off but then called in early the next day to help clean up the mess that Hollywood had left behind.

Some of the people in this photo are extras who were supposed to be walking in or around this intersection as the scene was shot and reshot. Others of the people seen here are Philadelphians who just happened by, and who were supposed to be shooed out of camera range. I couldn't tell the two types of people apart, but the bossy folks wearing orange vests seemed very certain who was who. Somebody yelled at me and my mother to get out of the picture, and insulting as that seemed, we left without putting up an argument.

Posted by Ellen

Just west of Toronto, in the fast-growing suburban city of Mississauga, these two condo towers have scratched the sky in flat-out defiance of latter-day suburban trends: they are not boxy, they are not real-estate development disasters, and not a one of their 800-plus condo units is exactly like any other in size or shape.

In 2005, Mississauga's mayor announced an international design competition for a single 54-story tower at the site, to be known as Absolute World. In 2007, the winning architect was announced, chosen by the voting public from among six finalists selected by a panel of Canada's leading architects and planners. The winner was Yasong Ma, of MAD Architectural Design Studio in Beijing. Almost immediately, the spiraling, curvaceous tower was nicknamed Marilyn Monroe.

When condominiums in Marilyn Monroe were offered for pre-construction sale, almost all were under contract within 24 hours. The developers quickly announced a second, companion tower, also spiraling and asymmetric but a bit more buxom, so as to accommodate a few more units. This second tower sold out within about a month.

People began moving into Marilyn Monroe, the righthand tower in this picture, in July 2011. Both towers are now fully occupied. They feature six stories of underground garage space and are located across the street from one of the largest shopping malls in North America.
Posted by Ellen

World's End is the name of a state park in Pennsylvania, a knob in the marshland near Boston, an off-the-map locale for the weakest sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean, and a major site of action for World of Warcraft. But the World's End that this kayaker is nearing is the southern end of Tjøme Island, near the outlet of Norway's Oslo Fjord.

Posted by Ellen

The writing on the wall in Barcelona, as noted by Norwegian photographer Jørgen Stensrud.

Posted by Ellen

Posted by Ellen

The Romans found gold here at Dolaucothi in south Wales, near the village of Pumsaint, in 74 A.D. During five centuries of mining, Roman engineers developed hydraulic works, then a large open pit mine, and eventually vast underground operations, complete with dewatering channels and pumps to keep deep mine tunnels from flooding.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the British made several tries at reopening the mine, but they gave it up for good in 1938, defeated not so much by lack of gold as by surfeit of water underground. Today, Dolaucothi is a national park, offering mine tours and archaeological exhibits of Roman artifacts found onsite.

Posted by Ellen

A peregrine falcon takes in a February sunrise from the railing of an apartment balcony in Chicago.

Posted by Ellen

At the feet of the fiddler in this picture is his open violin case, with a hat in it. He is riding the Washington State ferry that crosses Puget Sound between Edmonds and Kingston, just north of Seattle. I don't know if he's trying to make a living this way or just hoping to pull in a few bucks or simply earning back his ferry fare as he rides the water. It's also possible that he's doing this because he lost a bet. Whatever, this crossing had a soundtrack that I used to believe was better suited to trains than to boats: Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special.

(Reposted from a 7 November 2008 posting to an antediluvian ancestor of this blog.)

BBQ

Posted by Ellen

Hank interrupts his cleanup work to give us a thumbs-up from the back of the Raney Brothers BBQ truck in downtown Seattle.