streetscape

Posted by Ellen

After more than fifteen years of imprisonment and house arrest, Myanmar's renowned democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released by military authorities in time to participate in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Huge crowds, including these Buddhist monks in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, gathered to support Suu Kyi and her fellow candidates from the National League for Democracy, which won 43 of 45 contested seats and chose Suu Kyi as official leader of the opposition.

Monks had long been active in the struggle against Myanmar's military regime; many had been shot for pro-democracy activities. Suu Kyi's release from detention signaled a new stage in the country's political development, which was celebrated enthusiastically.

Even today, civil liberties are still tightly restricted in Myanmar and the military has loosened its grasp only incrementally.

But shortly after the 2012 election, Suu Kyi was finally able to travel to Stockholm, where she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize that she had been awarded in absentia twenty years earlier.

Posted by Ellen

The late actor Anthony Quinn does his thing on the wall of Victor Clothing Company.

His thing, of course, was, and is here, and always will be that thing that Zorba did. But artist Eloy Torrez, who painted this mural in 1984, titled the work "The Pope of Broadway" because . . .  because . . .

Well, Quinn did once play an exiled Russian bishop who became pope, in Shoes of the Fisherman. And the mural is located at 220 S. Broadway in Los Angeles. But really.

Posted by Ellen

The Hash House Harriers in Philadelphia celebrate St. Patrick's Day pretty much like everybody else. This photo was from 2009, but nothing's changed.

Posted by Ellen

Isaiah Zagar's Magic Gardens in Philadelphia is a compound of galleries and courtyards devoted to Zagar's obsessive mosaicking of every square inch of everything.

Here on the outer side of the wall surrounding the place, we see a sign on a drainpipe that clarifies what's important to life outside the magic garden

Posted by Ellen

Marco's rock is right on track for the U.S. of A.

Posted by Ellen

Public restroom on Queen's Wharf in Wellington, New Zealand.

Posted by Ellen

On 22 February 2012, white-painted chairs were set up alongside busy Cashel Street in Christchurch, New Zealand, each one different from the others, all of them empty. They covered a freshly sodded swath of a freshly vacant lot, where Baptists used to go to church before an 18-second-long earthquake took out the church, along with about 8,000 other buildings in town.

The chairs memorialize the 185 residents of Christchurch who died in the quake. One hundred fifteen of them were in a six-story office building that day across the street from what is now the memorial; in 18 seconds, the building pancaked and caught fire.

The chairs appeared one year to the day after the quake. Like so much else in the city's recovery from the disaster, the chair memorial, designed by Peter Majendie, was planned as transitional and very temporary, to remain on display for a week.

It's still there. Believe it or not, vandals steal chairs from the memorial every now and then, but so far at least, they've been replaced.

This transition stuff can be tough. New Zealand's latest census figures came out last month, revealing that more than 40,000 people have left Christchurch since the earthquake. The city is no longer the country's second largest. The official estimate now is that recovery will take twenty years, minimum.

Here is how people in Christchurch described the quake to us: the earth heaved straight upward, we were told, and then plummeted, slamming back down. Eyewitnesses reported seeing people literally thrown up into the air.

The next several posts will look at what's going on there nowadays, a little less than three years later. 

Posted by Ellen

The little guy here in the white apron, with a pencil behind his ear–that's Mr. 4, the grocer-mascot of New Zealand's ubiquitous Four Square chain of supermarkets.

The mural featuring Mr. 4 covers a side wall of the art museum in Christchurch. The museum is closed at the moment and has been for a couple of years. All the artwork currently on exhibit is out in the streets of the city, like this piece.

Perhaps you are wondering why in the picture below there's a crane on top of the museum? Hold that thought; we'll get to it soon.