Monday, September 20

Sunday, December 31

The year is over, and where did it bring you? With any luck, to a better understanding of how time, which passes, also remains still. FDR knew something important about motivating the public. So did Adolf Hitler. The ad agency handling the Campbell's Soup account knew it, as did the Marx Brothers.Goebbels and Hearst were the same guy, tuned to different frequencies. Because history is a whore, the only thing we get to say about them is that one was on the winning side.The same battles are being fought forever, the same disasters and triumphs occur. It isn't that there is no human agency or will, it isn't that there is nothing that can be done. It's that it must always be done. There is no end to this. We dream of the better place, and then allow our dreams to be captured. My dream ...

Saturday, December 30

The world is a wide web of oddly intersecting stuff. Hundreds of people cram a public square somewhere in Tibet to watch a mystery play- something about origins, a myth that explains the way things are. It is observed and photographed by visitors from the West who get the balcony seats. I'm sure they were amused by it all. Another myth, this one on a movie screen. Two young women like sailors or something. It seems to be mostly about things the audience likes looking at. I've got no problem with that. If you like your radio, you can have a cheap one. The amazing German technicians have created radio sets that eliminate the unwanted chatter from foreign stations. Only true Reich news can be tuned in. It's a sensation that will sweep the nation! You wonder how well regulated ban...

Friday, December 29

If you look at it a certain way, fashion is fascist. The rules are set somewhere, nobody knows who makes them, they are delivered by a well-oiled propaganda machine, and a large percentage of the population follows them unquestioningly. Oh, there might be some gripping about how silly certain things are, but overall it's a grand system. You know what to do and where you stand. Still, a certain percentage of the population won't have anything to do with either fashion or fascism. The fashionistas cannot enforce their will as effectively as the fascists can, fortunately. Still, public shaming is a powerful tool. And so is public acclaim. Two women remained aloft, circling an airport, for over 8 days and 4 hours. In order to accomplish this, they had to refuel their plane in flight....

Thursday, December 28

An obvious theme today, inside/outside. These guys may be outside the house, but they are inside their fancy coats, and two of them are damn proud of the linings. One of those times I wish for a color photograph. It's a bit like peacocks, funny that it works. Plenty of light and air in this home. Not how I would arrange the chair and the keg, but they are multi-use items and there's lots of space for them. Hardwood floors throughout, private room in rear. In Japan, the roof is the thing. If you've got ancient tiles, you're set. The only place with nobody in the picture. It's an old toll house on an old turnpike, and the octagonal section was intended to provide an uninterrupted view for the toll keeper, so maybe there's someone inside watching. Home is where the bong is. Re...

Wednesday, December 27

They talk about "living rough" a lot in the 1930's, it's hard to imagine a rougher place to live outdoors than the Khyber pass. In all the photos I've looked at this past year I haven't seen more joy on anyone's face than on the guy laughing with this little camel driver. Inside, there's room for reflection. There's much craftiness in everything about this photo, including the delicate way that the light in the room is captured by the photographer. In case you've never seen such a thing, on the other side of the oddly shaped box in the corner is a stairway up to a higher floor. About the steepest, twistiest, narrowest stairway you'd ever want to climb. Not a wasted inch in this house. Back outside, this is good, hard ice by the looks of it. Did you know that ice is a mineral? Mr....

Tuesday, December 26

Radio waves are just a lot of noise unless you have the proper detector. The first radio messages intentionally created were simple wide-band pulses, literally sparks. Coded in the same manner as telegraph messages were sent along wires, it was the initially the spark detector that was the weakest part of the system. The first detectors were called "coherers", sealed glass tubes loosely filled with metal filings. The filings would clump together whenever a strong enough radio pulse passed through them, and this could be used to ring a bell or make an audible click. After each pulse, the metal filings had to be tapped loose again. So goofy! And yet it was magic. A coded message could be transmitted through thin air across an ocean. The idea of it stayed the same for many years- th...

Monday, December 25

Hanging with grandparents. They smell funny. Electric lights and deadly tinsel on the tree. A sweet little radio on the table playing the service somewhere. Junior would probably like to be playing with his Meccano set. Gramps is wondering exactly how he's going to get back up on his feet again. Wonderful family. Lewiston, Maine had a parade, but it looks like business as usual on Main Street. There might be more spectators off camera. Another family gathering. Looks like the kids found their favorite uncle. These folks have a really big tree! Gustav Nagel is the real McCoy- he lives in a manger he's built himself on his lake-side meditation retreat. Never wears shoes, or much else, year round, but he knows how to work the media, and loves animals. The Nazis won't put up wit...

Sunday, December 24

On the Eve. I've been thinking about those ghosts that visit Scrooge tonight. I wonder why more stories haven't taken advantage of visiting ghosts to move the plot along- well, there is Hamlet, anyway. But the visiting ghosts are central to the Christmas Story. Scrooge is transformed by his dreams. Sigmund understood how transformative dreams could be, if they were evaluated properly, but rarely are dreams central to the story, and if they are, they must be disguised as magic. That makes a full circle, innit? Well, be that as it may, masses of people are preparing themselves for god knows what sort of transformation today. I mean, they do know what they want to feel, and they know how they are supposed to get to the point of feeling it, and most of them succeed. And that's a good...

Saturday, December 23

Today is the final shopping day before Christmas in '33. I've noticed there had been no notices of the final two shopping days in the newspapers- you know, the little cartoons saying "X more shopping days!" featuring illustrations of medieval Christmas themes- and it's obviously because the stores will be packed with shoppers anyway. Me, I've just been regifting things I find around the house. I've been spending a lot of time squirrel watching lately, seems appropriate that "Boldy" should make an appearance today. I like the fur- wild! I am always looking for signs of resistance to fascism, and here's a little peak capitalism boycotting from Eastern Europe. The traditional Latvian homemaker will stick with her home-made system of governmental. Not sure if that means a democracy, an...

Friday, December 22

It's winter now. Now is the winter of our discontent. More like settling into a siege. I remember last year, how it began with hope for the future. We should have an easier time this time, because the things we're hoping for are grounded in reality. Getting through it. Not everyone of course. Grounded in reality I mean. A lot of people are going to have their work cut out for them maintaining a big fable. But that's just another way of grinding it out. Today's images: The Afghani magazine Kabul. I know nothing about the man depicted on the cover, but I understand the way he's dressed. He's the man, the leader, the king. We Americans always laugh at this sort of display, it's the old, European way of signifying power, we don't believe in kings here. Certainly not! Here's a ...