Meet My Little Friend

When Fear & Inequality
Sleep With Our Children

A collection of portraits of kids around the world and the places where they lie down to dream every night may have been what James Mollison had in mind for his book of pictures, “Where Children Sleep.” The stark succession of contrasts between wealthy and extremelly poor boys and girls, and their refuges, which sometimes resemble little castles, and in others are more like scary dumps, are disclosed right from the opening page.
But as the photos show the places where they play and make up the fantasies that will inform their growth and reflect their despair or faith in the future, they also reveal where these kids are coming from, what’s important for them right now, and where they may be heading to. It’s all there, along with their proud or innocent or empty expressions, the objects of their current affection, or simply their stare back at you with a million unarticulated questions.
Meet 11 year old Joey, for example, from Kentucky, U.S., grasping one of his two shotguns, and see the bunker he calls his bedroom. Or the anonymous boy who sleeps on an outdoor mattress in the outskirts of Rome, Italy. Or Lamine, 12, and his axe, a full time worker from Senegal. It’s a bolt to our system to think that if they ever make it to our own age, some clues of what their future holds are already present in these pictures.
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* Originally published on May, 2010

Naked City

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” 

Orson Welles (Harry Lime in The Third Man, 1949)

HARD-BOILED: GREAT LINES FROM CLASSIC NOIR FILMS, by Peggy Thompson and Saeko Usukawa

Zombie 101

Go Back to School Where
Edgar Allan Poe Is Buried

JUST IN: Hundreds marked Poe’s birthday this year but their hopes of seeing the mysterious “Toaster” to come back once again to the writer’s graveside were dashed: once again, he or she hasn’t showed up, breaking perhaps for good a 60-year-old tradition.

What about taking a course where you get to watch classic horror flicks and read comic books? That’s what part of University of Baltimore’s English 333 is about, a study on zombies and their appeal, being taught by author and museum curator Arnold Blumberg.
No one is quite sure why the lore of the undead holds such a grip on popular imagination, but movies and literature certainly have a lot to do with it. The class in Baltimore is just the latest addition to such a quasi-discipline. Chicago’s Columbia College and Iowa’s Simpson College have been teaching related classes for years.
So if rotten flesh and tales of people coming back “to get you” are your thing, sort of, go ahead and sign up. As a bone, er, bonus, you can take a walk on the same street where Poe collapsed in 1849 and even visit his grave. After all, some do consider “The Fall of the House of Usher” a precursor of this ghoulish sub-genre.

Baby, It’s Cold

Outside

What looks like the Ice Queen’s castle, or an art sculpture or a monument to, well, something, is just the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse, photographed last week. Built in 1911 by Lake Eire, this automated lighthouse is very much active and it must’ve been enveloped in ice like that before, but it’s still out there beautiful.

And Inside Too

This Tron-inspired hotel suite is built entirely from ice and snow. It’s called the Legacy of the River room, one of a handful of artistic installations in this year’s Icehotel, a seasonal project near the arctic circle in the Swedish town of Jukkasjärvi.

Formally Known As

Students Practice on
Body of Late Teacher

You probably know at least one middle-school kid for whom this is a heartwarming, payback tale. But to the shaken pre-med students involved, it was nothing short of a rude awakening to their chosen profession.
A class at a top medical school in Sweden, (in case you’re wondering, no, we have no idea why Swedish news have been this bad lately) was about to perform its first autopsy ever when someone read the toe tag.
Laying on the table, was the body of their late teacher. It was a shocking and unusual situation, but it didn’t deter those brave souls. They went ahead and got the job done.
Afterwards, in typical Nordic fashion, head of department Tina Dalianis all but dismissed the impact of the bone-chilling incident on the students. “It’s part of the education, sometimes,” she concluded.
One can almost hear that Scandinavian middle-schooler shrieking, “wicked.”

Booze Brothers

Companionship for
Lonesome Drinkers

It may have been the Ukrainian winter. It gets pretty nippy at this time of the year over there. Like, North Pole nippy. So the Kind Fairy had a great idea: why not offer a specialized staff to entertain those lonesome souls, who seek refuge from the cold in the warmth and comfort of the local pubs?
Such a jolly team can tell stories, play guitar, and dance. They can even listen to the loopy tales addled minds love to retell ever Continue reading

Head & Shoulders

Henri IV Gets
His Skull Back

After 400 years, Henri IV’s head is finally about to rejoin the rest of his body. But this time around, it’s to rest in peace for good. Long live the French king.
Some people lose their head over anything. As grandma used to say, their blood gets hot and they do something stupid. You know what happens next: they run around like headless chickens.
Others keep them well in place. It’s a good thing if you’re, for example, a king. You make good decisions and then, when you die, your subjects remember you as an good-hearted monarch. Continue reading