Hole in the Clouds
Jan 3, 2013
Heading south across the James River from downtown Richmond, Virginia, the half-mile-long Manchester Bridge was completed in 1972 to replace a much lower span that was repeatedly damaged by floods.
Barely visible in the distance, near the righthand edge of this picture, are the brick piers of a former railroad bridge that was repeatedly ruined by fire.
The current Manchester Bridge includes a wide pedestrian walkway separating southbound and northbound traffic. This was required by law; in 1920, when the city of Richmond annexed what was then the city of Manchester across the river, the merger documents provided for a free pedestrian bridge across the James, in perpetuity. Until then, the only bridge charged pedestrians a toll, which was so aggravating to residents of Manchester that they voted to dissolve their city government in return for a promise of a toll-free bridge.
The ruined railroad bridge burned for the first time during the Civil War; the Confederates destroyed it–the night they drove old Dixie down–in anticipation of the fall of Richmond. It was rebuilt after the war but burned again in 1882.
(Image credit: Aaron Dryden)
Jan 5, 2013
New Years Day morning was cold; I begged off watching the parade and slept in. But just as they have for the past hundred and some years in Philadelphia, the Mummers were out in force–the wenches, the string bands, the fancy brigades, more than 10,000 costumed dancers, clowns, musicians, and etcetera, strutting their way up South Broad Street.
As always, mummery's ethnic awkwardness was on obvious display. The skit by the Venetian New Years Association, "Indian In-Sourcing," was set in a call center labeled "New Delhi" and featured mummers dressed as Indians from the subcontinent, who danced a "Gangnam Style" routine. Then the call center label changed to "New Jersey," with performers dressed as North American Indians, dancing to "Apache." But hey, it's a parade.
New Years Day
South Broad Street
Jan 6, 2013
Some of my next-door neighbors on Kater Street.
(Image credit: Carolyn Duffy)
Jan 7, 2013
Reception can't be half bad in this part of Mazatlán, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
(Image credit: Jesús E. Salgado)
Jan 8, 2013
The Million Dollar Band has done it again–back-to-back national championships, three in the last four years. . . .
Million Dollar Band
Jan 9, 2013
There was evidently just a little too much weight in the back for this truck to navigate the winding mountain road through the Malakand district north of Islamabad in Pakistan. The men tugging on ropes could not right the vehicle, but they were able to keep it from completely flipping over while other men worked to lighten the load, which was wheat straw intended for use as animal feed.
(Image credit: Mian Khursheed for Reuters)
Jan 11, 2013
A taxi driver on the Greek island of Ikaria made himself a life-sized stone taxi on the wall outside his house.
(Image credit: Tina Lackeos)
Jan 15, 2013
The Russian painter Ivan Shishkin was illustrating scenery in Poland in 1890, when he completed this painting of the swampy forests of the Pripyat, or Rokitno, marshland. Today, the spot where he set up his easel could be in Ukraine or Belarus or Russia or perhaps extreme eastern Poland.
But the scene he painted may or may not look much the same. The marshes of Polessia remained lightly settled throughout much of the twentieth century; the forests there provided years of cover for partisans fighting for and against the Nazis and the Soviets.
Then came the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, which devastated much of the countryside, leaving large stretches radioactive and uninhabitable. Not all the wildlife has returned. Although herons have again been reported, "mushrooms and berries," it is said, "set Geiger counters screaming."
great blue heron
(Art by Ivan Shishkin)
Jan 18, 2013
A camera hanging from a kite flew over the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and snapped this view of the community garden in Schuylkill River Park.
The garden, which contains 70 plots that rotate every six years to area gardeners on a lengthy waiting list, was started about thirty years ago in an abandoned brickyard at a railroad siding. In the early years, plants were watered from 55-gallon drums filled at a nearby fire hydrant.
Since 2009, gardeners have participated in Philadelphia's City Harvest Program, which provides produce to city food cupboards. The seedlings set out into the garden for City Harvest were started from seed by inmates in Philadelphia prisons. Through this program, the annual contribution to food cupboards from Schuylkill River Park is about 500 pounds of fruit and vegetables.
Looks like this year's winter weather hasn't been much of a challenge to the plantings here, at least not yet.
Schuylkill River Park
Jan 24, 2013
Wired minaret in Marrakesh.
(Image credit: K. Maldre)
Jan 25, 2013
Dressed in madras and all over that jungle gym in East Meadow, New York, probably circa 1959–Joe Stein with his boys: Normy, Richie, and Bobby.
Norman, Richard, Bob Stein
Jan 26, 2013
Signs at the end of an el platform in West Philly.
(Image credit: Tina Lackeos)
Jan 27, 2013
One variety of redwood tree, the dawn redwood, is deciduous, dropping its needles in the fall. This same variety happens to be the only kind of redwood that will grow in the eastern United States; this example of a dawn redwood appears to be thriving in the Fairmount Park arboretum in Philadelphia.
Dawn redwoods may be the midgets of the redwood family; coast redwoods and giant sequoias in California reach heights greater than 300 feet, while dawn redwoods, though very fast-growing, may not get much taller than 200 feet. Their potential height is not known for certain, however, because the oldest dawn redwoods in America are only about 70 years old now, descended from a single specimen found in China in 1944. In California, coastal redwoods and giant sequoias live for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Dawn redwoods were known to scientists from the fossil record long before the live specimen was found in China; they were assumed to be extinct. Fossilized dawn redwoods dating back to the Eocene, 50 or more million years ago, have been found in many parts of the world, including Greenland and islands in the Arctic Ocean, which had a tropical climate at the time. It is believed that the trees became deciduous in response to the extreme light-dark cycle of their high-latitude habitat; even though winters were not cold, they were very dark, rendering leaves or needles useless.
The young man in the tree, of course, is Hank, who is a college student studying ecology and climate change.
Jan 28, 2013
Photo from 1963, as captioned by the photographer:
On the left: Father's chair; on the right: Mother's chair; not shown: Father and Mother. Why they're not there is unknown; possibly I chased them out to take this panorama, which film grain fans may detect consists of two 35mm Tri-X negatives. Otherwise, Father would be reading the papers, Mother doing a crossword and both, perhaps, watching the TV, which was all the way across the room behind me. Up the stairs to the left is my room, and I'm otherwise evidence in a younger version in the photo on the desk. Elsewhere are displayed other family members, including my brother, sister, maternal grandmother, youngest nephew and aunt-by-marriage. Notable book collections: Heritage Press editions of Dickens, Twain and Carroll on the left, a c.1915 set of the Books of Knowledge on the right. Also, various beloved gimcracks and tchotchkes. Items on the erroneously-dubbed (by Mother) "tilt-top table" at the left indicate it's around Christmas. Finally, in the rack at right, a Sunset, "The Magazine of Western Living," which, of course, is the kind we were doing at the time.
(Image credit: tterrace via Shorpy)
Jan 29, 2013
Almost half of all the cocoa beans that come to America–shipped from cocoa farms mostly in Ivory Coast and other West African places–sail up the Delaware River to the Port of Philadelphia and nearby ports. In Philly, the cocoa-bean facility is at Pier 84, where a warehouse about as long as three football fields is dedicated to cocoa handling and storage.
The beans show up here in burlap-type sacks, which have to be manhandled out of the hulls of cargo ships and onto the warehouse pallets. There are cranes and forklifts, of course, but it's still the kind of job for which an awful lot of the hardest work has to be done by hard workers.
Why is Philadelphia the port of entry for so many beans? Because Pennsylvanians make chocolate out of them, at factories all over the state, including a Godiva plant in Reading and a Hershey's operation in some town near Harrisburg with an amusement park. . . .
Port of Philadelphia