Hole in the Clouds
Jan 1, 2012
Some people, sometimes including some of my sons, bring in the new year this way. Maybe after a start like this, the rest of the year doesn't seem quite so rough.
But I say that's much too low a standard for 2012. Next year should be way, way, way better than an icy plunge, and way, way, way better than 2011, and just plain awesome. I lift my glass to good times all through 2012: love, warmth, health, wit, serendipity, hope against hope, and great kindness. Cheers.
Jan 2, 2012
A Mummer approaches the crowd along Broad Street during Philadelphia's 112th annual New Year's Day parade.
The Mummers Parade, unique to Philadelphia though with overtones of New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities, typically lasts about eight hours and involves more than 10,000 strutters, dancers, musicians, and stagehands. The 2012 parade was said to be reduced a bit in size and extravagance, reflecting economic hard times and perhaps also the city's changing culture.
Nonetheless, crowds carrying open beverages mobbed the sidewalks and cross-streets, as brigade after brigade of Mummers in full feathery regalia marched down Broad Street, pausing every few blocks to show off the results of their yearlong labors on costumes, choreography, horn-blowing and banjo-picking and precision dance.
At the convention hall near the end of the parade route, the various bands and brigades perform lengthier, more elaborate versions of their dance routines for judges, who award substantial sums of prize money to the top groups. The prizes don't begin to cover the costs of mummery, however; even though all the dancers work for free, the costumes and special effects can cost a brigade $100,000 or even more.
With less money to spend this year on costumes and staging, more attention was devoted to choreography and dance skills. According to one Mummer choreographer, Dennis Quaile, the mostly male Mummers base their dancing on boxing moves: "punches, lunges, and dodges."
"Anything effeminate they will not do," said Quaile. "Some brigades have girls and they can get away with it. But if the guys don't feel manly, while dancing in their feathers, they won't do it. So I have to keep it as butch as I possibly can."
Jan 3, 2012
Right around this time last year, Mt. Etna in Sicily started doing this. Again.
(Image credit: NASA MODIS satellite)
Jan 4, 2012
Charlie wanted to make sure that the cars on Kater Street proceeded in an orderly manner, so he posted a couple of signs: STOP, of course, and then a few feet down the block, GO, which he printed out in his own personal, drawn-out, lilting style of spelling.
Jan 5, 2012
At the world's tallest office building, they had fireworks for New Year's.
United Arab Emirates
Jan 6, 2012
Somebody busted down the gate to the basketball court at Marian Anderson Park in our neighborhood. Behind the court, the meticulously maintained baseball field is protected by a much more secure fence.
Marian Anderson Park
(Image credit: Hank Stein)
Jan 7, 2012
Just another day at the beach, in Australia.
When global warming brings us beach weather in January here in the mid-latitudes of the northern Hemisphere, this particular Australian beach, as well as all our American beaches and those of all the other continents, will be under water. The city of Philadelphia will be under water, along with most of the world's major cities. Oh well. Beaches in West Virginia could be nice.
Jan 8, 2012
The flamingos at the Chicago Botanic Garden this winter have a greenhouse for a nest and are grown as topiary. Orchids, perhaps?
Chicago Botanic Garden
Jan 9, 2012
The Petrovsky-Palace-on-the-way was built in 1782 so that Catherine the Great and her entourage would have a place to stop and rest up on the last night of what was then an arduous seven-day journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
According to the intertubes, she spent only a single night there, in 1785. Napoleon also spent a night at the palace, in 1812, while hiding from the fires that were raging through Moscow. Throughout the nineteenth century, czars and emperors used Petrovsky Palace as a staging site from which their coronation processions headed to the Kremlin.
After the revolution, the Soviets rebuilt all the imperial palaces in the Moscow area except for this one, which was preserved on the grounds of the top-secret Zhukovsky Military-Engineering Academy of Aviation. After perestroika it came into the hands of the city government, which recently restored and reopend Petrovsky Palace as a guest house and reception center for VIPs visiting Moscow.
Catherine the Great
(Image credit: Fedor Vilnor)
Jan 10, 2012
Nothing to add.
hole in the clouds
(Image credit: Priscilla Riecheverria)
Jan 12, 2012
Pigeons take care of a freshly poured concrete sidewalk in Los Angeles, January 17, 1956.
(Image credit: John Malmin, Los Angeles Times)
Jan 13, 2012
This papercutting associated with Hans Christian Andersen sold recently at a Christie's auction for about $24,000. It bears two dates: 1874 near the top, June 1871 at the bottom. Among the motifs, according to the auction notes: "ballet dancers, windmill men, heart-shaped windows, pierrots, Old Lukoie or sandmen, flower garlands, palm trees, storks, and gnomes."
Hans Christian Andersen
Jan 14, 2012
Bunch a guys were off climbing last week in Red Rock Canyon, a few miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Here, Hank leads the route, carefully placing little thingamajigs in cracks to hold the rope so other climbers can follow him safely. As lead climber, Hank is roped in, but not quite as safely as the followers; if he loses his grip on the rock, the thingamabobs below him should arrest his fall (with the help of the belayer down on the ground), but before they do, he could expect to fall twice the distance down to the topmost thingamabob. He didn't fall.
The red rock here is the Aztec Sandstone formation, Jurassic in age. Overlaying it in much of the canyon is a dark gray limestone, the much, much older Bonanza King limestone, from the Cambrian era. The older limestone got shoved up on top of the younger sandstone late in the era of the dinosaurs, when tectonic plates were compressing this part of the world, pushing up mountain ranges.
Late in the day, Pat is still working his way up.
Red Rock Canyon
Jan 16, 2012
Well, I didn't do a very good job a couple days ago when I posted a Good Morning about a Hans Christian Andersen paper cutting. I wrote that the cutting "was associated with" Andersen, using fudge words that I hoped would hide my ignorance: Did Andersen actually own the cutting? Did he commission it? Or cut it himself? Or was it simply inspired by Andersen's fairy tales, associated with him thematically rather than personally?
As y'all often point out to me, there's a lot I don't know about most of what I post, but my ignorance on this one is especially egregious. All it would have taken to learn the whole story was a single, obvious google click. Yes, Hans Christian Andersen made the paper cutting himself; more than a thousand of his cuttings survive to this day. They are the subject of at least two books, which have been translated into umpteen languages. They have been collected and exhibited all over the world. Upon the bicentennial of his birth in 2005, Denmark issued a commemorative postage stamp featuring one of Andersen's paper cuttings: this one.
This guy is a pierrot, a harlequin sort of character who makes an appearance in numerous Andersen tales and paper cuttings. He's loud and he's boisterous, often portrayed as kicking or dancing, and, as here, singing or yelling.
This particular pierrot is burdened down; what's on the tray balanced atop his head is apparently so heavy he's reduced to a froglike crouch. The objects on the tray all represent facets of Andersen's personal life story: his birthplace in Odense, the grammar school he attended, the fairy-tale motif of a windmill man, the tower of St. Canute's Church in Odense, and an ugly duckling transformed into a swan.
Andersen made many of his cuttings for the children to whom he told his tales; he apparently kep himself busy with his scissors while he was telling the stories, and it's been suggested that the cutwork was a way of entertaining himself while he retold tales that children requested over and over again.
He also made many cuttings, some of them extremely intricate, as hostess gifts for the families with whom he visited or stayed. He had been born a poor boy, and though he died fabulously wealthy, he was always unsure of his social status: eager to socialize with the high and mighty but careful to express his gratitude with tangible, fanciful gifts.
Hans Christian Andersen
Jan 17, 2012
Two winters ago around this time, when this picture was snapped, there was no snow along the southwest coast of Maine, though somehow the color of the water suggested some seriously shivery cold. This year, I understand that there's a bit of snow on the ground in Maine; here in Philadelphia, however, we've had only a flurry or two. It's raining as I type.
This stretch of cliff near Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, faces south more than east, allowing a glimpse of winter sunset over the water.
Jan 18, 2012
Last week, the USS Ingraham crossed the equator, somewhere in the eastern Pacific. Per centuries of tradition, this event necessitated a Crossing the Line ritual; those sailors and officers who had crossed the equator before assembled as King Neptune and his court to supervise the cleansing of the rest of the crew, slimy pollywogs all. The lengthy proceedings included green, slimy-looking food that had to be eaten without utensils or hands, and pushups on deck, attempted at the business end of a firehose.
Here, the royal court ponders the worthiness of one of the wogs. Seated in the middle in t-shirt and ball cap is the Ingraham's captain, Commander Kristin Stengel.
Crossing the Line ceremony
Jan 19, 2012
Crazy weather in Alabama this winter, so warm and rainy that the daffodils burst into bloom in mid-January, about six weeks early. And then, of course, a cold front came crashing down; Anna Singer picked these blooms and got them into the house hours before the mercury fell to 23 degrees.
(Image credit: Anna Singer)
Jan 20, 2012
A pair of these eagles guarded the entrance to New York City's Penn Station until 1963, when the old station was demolished. The Pennsylvania Railorad then donated them to Philadelphia, where they were placed at the end of the Market Street Bridge in front of Thirtieth Street Station.
As for most of the lightbulbs burning out and going unreplaced, that's a Philadelphia thing.
30th Street Station
Market Street Bridge
(Image credit: Julia Rowe, via PicturePhilly)
Jan 21, 2012
Ten years ago, an exhibition of work by the Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero toured Europe, including a stop in the courtyard of the Cathedrale di Milano, as shown here. Next fall, a Botero exhibit will visit Bilbao, Spain, but the photo below taken in Bilbao last week features a sculpture that resembles the work of Botero in roundness alone.
(Image credits: top, Katrin Maldre; bottom, Luis Irisarri)
Jan 22, 2012
This past Friday, the temperature in Madison, Wisconsin, at high noon was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It snowed all day. But just as on every other weekday since last March 11, a crowd gathered on the steps of the state capitol building for a boisterous Solidarity Sing-Along. These folks are among the same volunteers who recently collected more than a million signatures of voters around the state to ensure a recall election that they hope will depose their anti-labor "Governor Lazy" Scott Walker.
(Image credit: Craig Spaulding)
Jan 23, 2012
They called themselves the Society of St. Michael the Archangel, a name they took from their parish church back home in Albidona, a small town on the southern coast of Italy, about midway between the heel and toe of the "boot."
But in 1926, when this picture was taken, they were all living in Chicago, surrounded by native-born Americans and immigrants from all over Italy and the world. In America, the immigrants from Albidona naturally turned to one another for social life and mutual aid, a hometown bond they formalized with the establishment of the Society of St. Michael the Archangel. Similar benevolent and social organizations based on hometown roots were formed by immigrants in communities all over America, supporting one another socially, culturally, and oftimes financially.
These societies faded in importance as their members established themselves in their new country. Today, however, new groups of immigrants, such as the Sudanese refugees in Maine, are again creating formal organizations for exactly the same purposes. As ever, they function as social centers but also as banks, raising money both to lend to members in need and to send back home for communities in distress.
The gentleman in the middle of the front row with the gavel, presumably the president of the Society of St. Michael in 1926, has been identified as Leonardo Adduci, whose great-grandson shares the photo.
Jan 26, 2012
A Terlingua Sunset, by Lindy Cook Severns.
Terlingua encompasses thousands of acres of sparsely settled desert country along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. There's cinnabar ore in those mountains, enough to support profitable mercury mines a hundred years ago, but nowadays the only mercury miners left are the ones in the Terlingua cemetery.
Many of today's Terlinguans live more or less off the grid; land is inexpensive, but bringing in electricity costs something like $10,000 per pole. The landowners are only lightly supervised by local government, but like big-city condo owners they are regulated by an owners' association, which employs a full-time staff to maintain community wells and roads and to operate an income-generating campground and lodge.
Vanessa Boyd, director of the landowners' organization, which is known as Terlingua Ranch, is a musician as well as a land manager. She just released a new album last week, which incorporates songs she composed in preparation for a 2010 concert tour to Nepal.
(Image credit: Lindy Cook Severns)
Jan 27, 2012
Who would win, the panda or the puppy?
(Image credit: Picture Philly)
Jan 30, 2012
High-voltage power lines in central Scotland.
(Image credit: Billy Currie)