October 2013

Posted by Ellen

There's a new mural in the neighborhood, bolted high on the wall of a new house at the corner of Fitzwater and Smedley. Looks to be a private project, not part of the city's Mural Arts Program, and it's hard to say if it's intended as permanent street art, since it mostly blocks the windows of the house. But it's something to look at, a portrait of Nelson Mandela looming above a scrim of drippy red and black streaks. The painter signed the mural illegibly; we believe that whoever he or she is, he or she got it right, those dark, worldly, heavy-lidded eyes in a brilliant red face.

Posted by Ellen

Schoolchildren dress as Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate Gandhi Jayanthi, the anniversary of his birth on 2 October 1869 in Porbander, a coastal town in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Posted by Ellen

Posted on the path to the beach near Aberdeen, Scotland.

Posted by Ellen
Ninety-nine years ago, in the winter of 1914, a Washington lawyer by the name of Wrisley Brown could fly on horseback across West Potomac Park without encountering traffic or tourists or even another horse.
 
Woodrow Wilson was president then, and the world was different. But when I was a little girl, which spanned a few years roughly halfway between the Wilson era and the current unpleasantness, people still rode horses in West Potomac Park, at least on summer Sundays, when the polo teams were playing. The Internet tells me that polo still happens there, with the Washington Monument as backdrop, or at least still happened there this past summer; presumably, it could also happen again next summer if the Republicans decide to unshut the government and reopen the park.

The Washington Monument is listing leftward in this picture, as are the trees in the park. That's an artifact of 1914 photographic technology, which utilized a slit in a spring-wound sheet-metal shutter to allow light focused by the lens to reach the glass-plate film. The slit would drop from top to bottom to expose the plate, but because there was a lens in front of the slit that inverted the light rays, the plate was actually exposed from bottom to top. And meanwhile, for this picture, the photographer was panning from left to right to follow the moving horse. Objects that weren't moving kinda got an angle to them.

A couple of years ago, the Washington Monument came close to acquiring a much more serious lean. The monument took a $15-million blow from a 5.8 earthquake and remains shrouded today in scaffolding, for repairs that probably are not considered important during a government shutdown, even though half the bill has been covered by a private philanthropist. We just can't have nice things any more because, you know, because.

They can play their polo somewhere else, I don't have a problem with that, but who are these people who think it's okay to let the Washington Monument fall to pieces?
Posted by Ellen

On one of these cranes in the sky above Bethesda, Maryland, is a "Now Selling" sign, urging people to go ahead and put their money down for new condos currently under construction.

Odds are, however, that nobody's buying the condos–or much of anything else–in Bethesda or elsewhere in the Washington area this week. An estimated 700,000 people anticipate being furloughed for an unknown length of time, and hundreds of thousands more will be expected to do their work as usual except without any guarantee of a paycheck.

This is how we roll nowadays, in the greatest country on earth. . . .

The cranes will likely keep on craning, like other non-governmental operations, at least until the reduced level of spending in the regional economy pushes businesspeople to furlough even more employees.