Friday, June 23, 2017

Cañon City, Colorado, USA

There was a time when Cañon City's unpaved roads were congested with horses. To keep their memory alive and underscore the city's spirit of place, one lone ghostly equine occupies a place of honor above the 'western wear' store. Actually, the fiberglass horse has become a trademark for such stores all across the country. [2005]

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lubbock, Texas, USA

Downtown Lubbuck is a jungle. Look up, and you may see a gorilla on a nearby rooftop. What's he doing up there? Drawing attention to The Gorilla Law Firm. Should you not see him, it may be that he is out chasing ambulances. [2017]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Three continents are here united: Asia, South America, and Europe. From Asia, comes the customer. From South America, comes the potato. From Europe, comes the culinary stereotype. [2011]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

At the moment, he's dealing with inventory, not customers. He doesn't have to be at his best, his friendliest, his smiliest. He doesn't have to anticipate the next move or the next word from a potential buyer. So, even though his muscles are working, his mind goes wandering off. In his world of work, he has created a world of escape. [2011]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Suburbs are simply not urban: That's why we call them SUBurbs. Real cities are very urban: mixed-use developments at the mega-scale where you can work, play, and shop without wheels of your own. In places like Hong Kong, you don't need lots of house space because you have the whole city under foot. [2011]

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Berkeley, California, USA

Berkeley's bell tower is not the only one on a university campus, but it is one of the most famous. It was built to be a symbol of "the university's lofty vision." This year marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the bells from a Massachusetts foundry. [2005]

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Covington, Kentucky, USA

Covington decided to celebrate its German heritage by building a bell-cum-clock tower in medieval Saxon style. It comes complete with an hourly puppet reenactment of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a tale widely popularized by the brothers Grimm. First, his hypnotic tunes led away the rats, then the children. [2016]

Friday, June 16, 2017

Navarre, Florida, USA

Because they pop up everywhere today, most Americans probably think that all Indians carved totem poles for their villages. In fact, however, these monumental sculptures are a contribution of the tribes of the Pacific realm stretching from northern California to Alaska (far from panhandle Florida!). Totem poles served as aides memoires and assists in story-telling. [2017]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Jogjakarta, Indonesia

There must be a survival advantage to skin art. When the 5000 year old "iceman" was discovered in the Alps, he had tattoos all over his body. Today, tattoos are just as popular, even on the other side of the planet. This one looks very Javanese. [2016]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia depends on the Roman alphabet as the script for its official language, Bahasa Indonesia. On this street sign, however, the 'language of Indonesia' must share the spotlight with an ethnoregional tongue, Javanese, which has its own alphabet. JL is an abbreviation for jalan, meaning street. [2016]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jogjakarta, Java, Indonesia

Hanging out! All it takes is a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. The scene is repeated all over the world: We hope without the graffiti. But even the graffiti may be nothing more than an expression of humans' gregarious nature. [2016]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Solar Salt Works, Bonaire, Caribbeean Netherlands

The Bonaire salt works occupy the entire southern part of the island. The area is low lying and only 12 degrees north of the equator. That makes the sun intense and the Trade Winds steady: ideal combinants for evaporation. The Trade Winds also power the wind mills that pump sea water onto the flats. Once again, nature allows itself to be commercialized. [2017]

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Victoria Park, Western Australia, Australia

Here's a 20th century windmill that was originally built as an advertisement. Its only purpose was attracting attention to a local merchant selling tiles and building materials. Now, it is the single most recognized landmark in suburban Victoria Park. [2006]

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Aegina Island, Greece

Need a definition of 'pre-industrial'? Here it is. It seems like what pre-dated the fossil fuel era is now a fossil of its own. But not really, for these visual reminders of the past have been re-purposed for tourism. There are hundreds of mills like this across the Greek Aegean. [2004]

Friday, June 9, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

Aliens or mariachis? Perhaps both. In fact, those mysterious space creatures who landed in the 1940s have simply blended in with the local population. Is this an example of assimilation or acculturation? [2016]

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

For teachers: Here's a project idea to connect your students with their community. Re-design the street lights in town to mimic a unique element of local geography. In Roswell, they have chosen from the realm of cultural geography (perhaps imagined). Is this what Jane Jacobs meant when she wrote about "eyes on the street"? [2016]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Roswell, New Mexico, USA

An alien spacecraft crashed outside Roswell in 1947. Its extraterrestrial passengers survived and quickly blended in with the local population. Now, their children are taking starter jobs at Dominoes, KFC, and other fast food chains that depend on attracting the attention of passers-by. [2016]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Drake's Landing, California, USA

What's life in the cloud like? At one time, only angels and air faeries could answer that question. Now, everyone spends a good portion of their life there. In fact, the cloud is where we keep our memories. [2016]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Miccosukee Indian Village, Florida, USA

What's life in the Everglades like? Just ask the Miccosukee Indians. Today, they open up their shimmering home to visitors by offering air boat rides through rivers of grass. [1993]

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New York, New York, USA

What's life in Hell like? Regardez! He's living in Hell's Kitchen. A New York Times reporter once referred to the area as "probably the lowest and filthiest in the city." Now, it's a seat of gentrification, with lots of walk-up apartments and aspiring actors. [2017]

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

HIV+? People of all genders and races need to think about it, and that advice is given in Belgium's two languages: French and Dutch. Without the mural, Belgians would not have a reminder that we all still live under the cloud of AIDS. [2015]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is blessed with scores of murals honoring the comic-book characters for which Belgium is famous. The French word for wall is le mur, so a wall painting like this is called a mural. But here, we're talking about window paintings. So, we're obligated to coin a new word: fenetrals, from the French word for window, la fenêtre. [2015]

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels may be the capital of Belgium; it may be the capital of Europe; but, most importantly, it may be the capital of comic books. Only in Brussels have so many characters escaped their bindings and hung themselves on walls around the city. Sometimes the intent is to provide comic relief; other times, it's to change attitudes and opinions. [2015]