Sep 1, 2009
Sep 1, 2009
Sep 2, 2009
While hiking near the top of Mount Washington on an unusually warm September afternoon, we met this Hungarian couple eating their lunch after climbing for hours up Huntington Ravine. Carol Stack caught this image of the couple studying the map to plan their descent.
Sep 3, 2009
First bike ride. And then, right on down that same sidewalk, first day of kindergarten.
Sep 4, 2009
Joe Stein is admiring dinner. It should be tasty, thanks to Joe's buddy Joe Fair, who went catfishing the other night in the Black Warrior River near Moundville, Alabama.. According to one of the Joes, it took an hour to reel in the big guy.
Sep 5, 2009
Avram Dimitrscu's father was a musician in a Romanian concert band, behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s, the band toured western Europe, including the Channel Islands, where Avram's mother, a native of Belfast, Northern Island, was working at a resort hotel. They fell in love, and when it came time for the band to return to Romania, she helped him hide and eventually defect.. Avram was born on the Isle of Jersey and raised in Belfast. His parents ran a catering business until the 1990s, when travel to Romania became possible. Then they bought a truck and began operating a charity, collecting donations of food, clothing, and everything else, and driving all the way across Europe every month or so to deliver the contributions to Romanians in need.
Avram grew up during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic part of town, and enrolled as an art student at the University of Belfast. He worked at a McDonald's near campus during the school year but spent his summers abroad, in Maine, where he worked as a camp counselor at a boys' camp. It was there that he met fellow-counselor John Stein. Avram and John traveled together, and Avram spent time in Alabama with all the Steins--always with his sketchbook in hand. Eventually, he married an American woman and moved to the town of Alpine, in the Big Bend area of extreme west Texas. He paints, illustrates, teaches art, runs the Dimitrescu Gallery, and surely still keeps his sketchbook close at hand.
This is his "Tiny Chicken #8."
Sep 6, 2009
Cityscapes and earthly scenes
Ground-truthing every day
Sep 6, 2009
There will come a day when nobody cares about Alabama football any more. True, we're not there yet. We'll probably have single-payer health care in the United States long before the Crimson Tide roll over and play dead.
As I write this, Alabama is losing its first game of the season 16-17, to Virginia Tech. They're playing in Atlanta tonight, in the Georgia Dome, but some sunny Saturday very soon, Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa will once again look exactly like this.
Sep 6, 2009
Satellite views and computer-generated maps have become commonplace. A bird's eye view of our world no longer seems exotic and magical, the way it did a century or so ago, when only an artist's imagination could sweep us beyond our earthbound horizons.
Before planes and satellites, ordinary people could only dream of seeing the world from on high. In America's younger years, traveling artists fed the dream, visiting frontier villages and bustling cities to sketch and map and reproject the ordinary, creating prints that puahed back the old horizons to open astonishing new visions--what we'd made of the land, what we were hoping to make of it.
The Hole in the Clouds bird's-eye-view project combines old and new for a fresh look at the world around us. Using both high-tech imagery and old-fashioned inspiration, we present views from above that try to capture the wide sweep of landscape and humanscape in our everyday surroundings.
Sep 7, 2009
A single picture doesn't tell the whole story, but it looks like it was a pretty good party. And although Ted has cut his hair since then, I'm guessing he can still dance.
Sep 8, 2009
In the summer of 1913, Hazel Reiber winds up for a pitch near the ocean in the big sandlot at Long Beach, Long Island. Her bathing costume looks skimpier than the outfits many women wore back then, but her boots would do just fine for a professional wrestler.
That is a baseball in her right hand, but I'm guessing--hoping--that the person she's throwing to is not swinging a bat. It doesn't look safe for slugging thereabouts.
Sep 8, 2009
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Sep 9, 2009
Yesterday, Tanja Baker noticed this arachnid, named her Thekla, watched her eat three bugs, and got her to pose for a picture.
Thekla is about an inch long from toe to toe. "Too bad I have to work," Tanja says, "and cannot watch this all day." Thekla's name is from the spider in a German children's story, "Maya the Bee."
Sep 10, 2009
This picture must be ten or twelve years old now; Amelia Stein has grown up, finished high school and a year of college, and set out to begin her interior design studies at Parsons School of Art in New York City.
Once upon a time, the cost of living in some of the lower Manhattan neighborhoods not far from Parsons was so low that newly arrived immigrants moved into tenements there, straight off the boat. More recently, starving art students could still find affordable garrets in the vicinity. But nowadays, New York City is a tough place for students; Amelia was lucky enough to find a two-bedroom apartment to share . . . with five other girls. So far, she's loving it.
Sep 11, 2009
The Great Lakes are basically big puddles that filled with meltwater after the last Ice Age; to this day, almost all the rivers that feed the lakes come in from the north, where the glaciers used to be.
We could think of the Great Lakes as five bowls set on a staircase, each bowl brimming over and cascading down into the next. By the time the water slops over from the fourth bowl--Lake Erie--down to the last one--Lake Ontario--it's really spilling seriously, all fast and furious. And so we have Niagara Falls: an entire Ice Age of fossil water, draining down through four Great Lakes and then crashing hard through a narrow little riverbed to splash into that one last lake and then the St. Lawrence River and finally the Atlantic Ocean.
When European explorers first glimpsed Niagara, its connection to the two huge lakes seemed obvious and dramatic. This 1837 bird's eye view puts Lake Erie at the top, the falls in the middle, and Lake Ontario at the bottom of the picture, collecting all that splashover from ten thousand years of melting ice.
Sep 14, 2009
I know nothing about this picture, except that photographer Geoff MacIntosh, of Calgary, Alberta, titled it "Grin."
Sep 15, 2009
It's springtime in New Zealand, time for the Stein sheep to get themselves sheared. Here, Moe is already nekkid, while Curly waits her turn. A., the family shepherdess, says she is "contemplating" learning to spin the wool.
Sep 16, 2009
At the Naval Academy, all the students, even the wrestlers, are required to attend all the home football games, They march in uniform from campus out to the stadium, where they parade onto the field by company and then march up into the stands, where they stand, literally, on their feet throughout the game. When Navy scores, plebes race down into the end zone and do pushups, one for each point scored.
But on parents' weekend, some of the students drift on out of the midshipmen's section of the stands to sit with their families like regular people--assuming that "regular people" is a fair term for lightweight wrestler Allen Stein and his good friend Mike Landis, the wrestling team's heavyweight. Mike was captain of his high school football team before limiting his energies to wrestling at the college level, but even without him in the lineup the Midshipmen did well last Saturday, beating Louisiana Tech 32-14.
In acknowledging the victory, the Academy superintendent awarded all the midshipmen an extra hour of liberty Saturday night, till 1 a.m. The wrestlers wasted that hour with the best of them.
Sep 17, 2009
Family camping in 1891 was what it was--the striped skirts, the upside down teacups, and most notably, the tennis racket played as a guitar. "These people are related to me," observes West Coast painter Amy Crehore, who found the old snapshot in a box of old family treasures.
The woman making music on her tennis racket may be particularly closely related to Crehore, who often paints scenes in which women are playing ukeleles. Here is one of her recent works, "Monkey Love Song."
Sep 17, 2009
Oil painting by Amy Crehore
Sep 18, 2009
And many happy returns of the day.
Sep 19, 2009
The rocks are 400 million years old, give or take.
The photo is five years old.
The occasion was the birthday gathering on Peaks Island in Maine in honor of Bob Horowitz--my father, and the grandfather of these fellows--who was then 80 years old.
There's one obvious constant through all these years: some of us hominids are hard-wired to build forts and weapons and stuff out of rocks or whatever is close to hand.
Not as obvious, perhaps, but just as constant: some of us are hard-wired to knock down other people's forts and stuff. Hank recalls that he had to rebuild this whole structure all by himself. Had to.
My father will be 85 this next week. He's well beyond the stone age; most days, he aims for the Big Band era.
Left to right: Brothers Ted, Hank, Allen, and Joe Stein, with cousin Nick Horowitz.
Sep 20, 2009
The gardens at Ludwigsburg am Neckar, near Stuttgart, Germany, were laid out in the French parterre style beginning in the early eighteenth century. In the years since, they have been repeatedly dug up and replanted, according to the latest trends in grand gardening, and they have occasionally been allowed to lapse toward wilderness. The most recent renovation--a tiny corner of which is shown here--restores the gardens to their appearance circa 1800.
A duke named Ludwig started the gardens because the front yard of his hunting lodge looked barren and boring. The lodge also went through cycles of renovation and disrepair, eventually becoming one of Germany's largest baroque palaces.
Sep 21, 2009
In the small but earnest world of competitive badminton, the Chicago Open is a big deal, a tournament sanctioned by the body that will select the Olympic badminton team. Some of us forget that badminton is an Olympic sport.
Katrin Maldre is new to the competitive version of the sport and feared she wasn't yet playing at the Chicago Open level, but she took first place yesterday at this year's tournament. There were four divisions, from A, the strongest, through D, the weakest, and Katrin won the D division. Still, she noted, "the picture says it all."
What helped her compensate for badminton inexperience was a lifetime of athletic engagement. At the age of six, she was selected for intensive sports training by the Soviet athletic academy, and as a teenager she joined Estonia's national table tennis team, which competed in all the Soviet Republics across Europe and Asia. In recent years, she's played tennis, skiied, dabbled in recreational soccer, even tried a little bit of mountain climbing.
"There's just something magic about sports events," she says. "Also, while I play I don't eat, I get a lot of exercise, and I don't say any bad words, so I improve myself. And maybe that helps to improve the world a little bit."
Sep 22, 2009
I'm not a New York person, but this view of the Savoy Plaza and other Midtown towers has got to be one of the most gorgeous cityscapes anywhere, ever. It was shot in Central Park in 1933 by architectural photographer Samuel Gottscho. Today, the view from the same spot would be dominated by tall glass office boxes; the Savoy and many of the other old towers have been demolished.
Gottscho worked as a traveling lace and fabric salesman for 23 years before he could work with his camera full time. He specialized in pictures of houses and gardens, but also branched out into nature photography.
A new novel by E.L. Doctorow uses a heavily photoshopped version of this picture on the cover.
Sep 23, 2009
Michele and Richard Manno try to pose for a picture on Formal Night during their recent Mediterranean cruise.
These people are related to me.
Sep 24, 2009
Carol Stack, of North Carolina, and Azaria Galli, of Maine, who have friends in common, recently shared a pizza at Flatbread's on the waterfront in Portland.
Sep 25, 2009
I'm sure there are more than two stories that can be linked to this street corner in Washington, D.C., but I see two in the photo.
The first one is a tale of two gas stations: The year is 1925, cars have only been on the road for a few years, but already here we see a derelict gas station, rundown, boarded up, the gas pump already removed. The parked car may or may not be a junker, but it's not much of an advertisement for the carwash service. But look across the street, at the far right edge of the picture. You may want to enlarge the photo to see full detail. (Or ask me to send you the very high-resolution original photo, 2.6 MB file.) That's a brand spanking new Standard Oil Co. gas station, the original category killer--so Story #1 is about how Mr. Rockefeller probably put this guy out of business and blighted this corner of my hometown.
Story #2 is about the corner itself. It's 2nd Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, which is stunning to those of us who feel they know Washington. Mass Ave is one of the businest streets in the city, and the intersection is in the heart of downtown, about four blocks from Union Station. In 1925, there wasn't even a line painted down the middle of Mass Ave. Furthermore, based on the trees and their shadows, we can deduce that the picture was taken in late afternoon or early evening--rush hour. Perhaps it was Sunday, but still--the wide-open emptiness is not consistent with our notions of a major downtown artery. This scene feels like a small town, or the edge of a city, not the center of the nation's capital, just eight blocks from the U.S. Capitol building.
What's there today? Nothing. Grass and a couple of curving walkways--I think the local term is pocket park. It's an unusual park, however, built on the air rights above the I-395 freeway as it dives underground just north of Massachusetts Avenue. Rumor has it that behind this park, they're planning to build offices and even stores and apartments, all on the I-395 air rights. This is said to be the biggest construction project in Washington right now that hasn't been suspended--maybe it hasn't been suspended, but it's not yet what they call shovel-ready.
And for what it's worth, the Standard Oil station isn't there any more either; that corner is occupied by a medium-sized brick office building that serves as Washington headquarters for a business association.
Sep 26, 2009
I triple dogg dare you, sez the writing on the lightpole.
Sep 27, 2009
A couple of nights ago, the season's first snow blanketed this meadow high on the shoulder of Mt. Washington, shown here in its August colors. But heavy rain forecast for today should wash away any lingering taste of winter. For now.
Sep 28, 2009
You know how it goes: one person slips in the marsh mud, and then the other person tries to help her up and loses her balance and slips in herself, and then the first one reaches out to grab the other one's arm and falls in even deeper. And soon enough, they and everybody else on the marsh that day have laughed till they couldn't laugh any more, till tears were spilling down their cheeks.
All this fun happened last fall to Schuyler Rowe and Addie Nammoun, in the salt marsh on Chewonki Neck, in midcoast Maine. Even today, just thinking about those girls in that marsh brings tears to the eyes of everyone fortunate enough to have been a witness. Schuyler keeps this photo as the desktop image on her laptop.
Sep 29, 2009
Cranes fuss over the spires of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.