The Hiroshima Cloud

Weary World Marks
a Somber Anniversary

Within a minute, the world would be changed forever. Life ended instantly for 80,000 and would be cut short for twice as many in just a few months. Worst of all was the fear that, for the first time in history, mankind could easily destroy itself, a fear that ushered the Cold War.
From Japan to the U.S., from Germany to Brazil, and all corners in between, millions are joining in to renew vows against the still untamable power of the split atom, even in its limited ‘pacific’ uses. But along with tragedy, the nuclear age has also produced heroes and redemption tales.
At 8:15am local time, the Enola Gay dropped its terrible load, perversely named the Little Boy, over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, after what its inhabitants may have thought was just another air raid siren, alerting for American bombers flying overhead. It wasn’t, or rather, it was way more than that.
Three days later, the Fat Man, another gun-type uranium device, destroyed Nagasaki, the final act of a two-punch strike that, for apologists, broke Japan’s imperial ambitions in the Pacific, and effectively ended World War II. Or so goes the official narrative.
What the mushroom clouds actually ignited was the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which at few crucial moments almost came to a civilization-ending blow, and a new era of unimaginable terror for all other nations, impotent to stop the two superpowers from acting like the world’s overlords.
But it’s also helped breed a new crop of pacifists who made us understand the risks of having the planet’s fate to rest on so few, and highly belligerent, hands. It’s their activism and courage that have granted the world a reprieve and prevented other cities from being destroyed like those two. For what they don’t have as a personal memory they have as hope for the future.

DISFIGURED BODIES, WHOLE SOULS
First, there were the survivors. Even though most of them died within a few years of the explosions, thousands of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took upon themselves to show the world what such power really is capable of. As they perished from radiation and other diseases, their legacy passed on.
Soon after, even former Japanese combatants joined in, convinced that they had been part of a war that had no winners on that particular front. The bomb’s destructive power caused many despicable (More)
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Read Also:
* Bloody Throes
* Nukes for Nuts
* Nuking the Future

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Life Inside

Odd Animals & the House
Cats Who Caught a Virus

Now for something completely different. An unknown number of unknown species go extinct every year but there are still plenty to go gaga about the natural world. A 150ft stringlike creature, likely the longest in the ocean? Check. A bug that smells like spring? Check. A ‘nano’ animal that can survive outer space? Check, again.
But I know what you’re thinking: not, ‘what’s with the siphonophore, the springtail, or the tardigrade. No siree, what you wanna know is what the hell is up with those cats? Indeed, many more odd-looking beings sit out there, either to be found or missed, but we’d go to war to keep our Internet Cats Home Improvement Goals.
‘I-ching,’ for short. You know, the science that studies how cats keep us all under their spell, refuse to do a single thing you ask and are known for always landing on their feet. Who would never be on those homecoming videos where humans play god and are welcomed by their slobberingly loving pets. You may’ve won the war but to your cat, it’s, so what?
Or in Cat World we’re all dogs: we sit mesmerized for hours, startled at times, very afraid in others, but ultimately ready to serve and do whatever may appease them. It rarely does. But even as cats seem brutally aware of our flaws and pointless lives, some humans do live to worship them. Just don’t call them ‘chingers.’
Which brings us to those stringlike, buggy, and piggish-looking creatures. There’s no cult dedicated to them nor they set the standard for coolness. But their very existence shows why humans love felines. Who are not above having dopes like Joe Exotic jumping on their bandwagon but let’s not get into all that crap just yet.

LONGER THAN A BLUE WHALE
The siphonophore lives in deep waters and its relatives have been snaking their way beneath waves for over half a billion years. The specimen captured on camera off Western Australia was a whopping 45m long, which yes, it’s longer (but not as relatable as) the majestic Big Blue. As it turns out, though, neither it needs to be.
For starters, it’s not one but a colony of predators among 175 species. It’s also luminescent and related to one of the oceans’ fiercest, the Portuguese man-of-war. It may look the part but similarities stop there. After all, it’s hard to beat the glamour of a carnivore with a notorious sting and a tentacle stretched back into the Discovery Age.

More U.F.O.-like than medusa, you may bet your goggles nevertheless that the Apulemia uvaria caught on video has its own charms. We just don’t know how do they work, and whether some of its (more)
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* Suddenly Last Caturday

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Dear Mr. Mayor

A Quick Reminder to
NYC Mayor de Blasio

The personal safety, unalienable freedom of expression, and integrity of each one of the thousands of Climate Emergency activists that’ll descend upon New York City today and next Friday are entirely on your hands, Bill. Here’s hoping you’re getting ready as we speak.
That means that today we need you to be on the streets playing the top cop. And the NYPD will do strictly as it’s told. By you. Hold your batons, Bravest, and let the world speak through the young and the old, the poor and the would-never be rich: Climate Action Now.
There must be absolutely no arrests for protesting, no attempt to corral people marching to save the Earth. No harassment, no tear gas or pepper spray against those brave enough to face multibillion-dollar interests with only the power of their conviction.
No police-state threat or intimidation. No A.I. facial recognition of those a misguided law enforcement establishment may intend to persecute. Turn off the too many surveillance cameras everywhere. Curb your worst offenders, ban ICE from even showing up.
The world will be watching more than the usual, and marching along. So be there, on the ground, making sure the voice of the Earth is heard obscenely loud. Forget 2020 for a moment; it’s not your ‘moment to shine,’ but to take responsibility. Show up and scream along.
History won’t forget or forgive those who are betraying the planet now and cashing in while the circus is burned to the ground. Your grandchildren must hear how great you once were, not that you were out there, slandering the faith put upon you to be the mayor of change.
There’s no need for speeches from you or any other fat cat; your job is to safeguard what’s left of the greatness of this city, its immigrant, working-class roots, and its legacy of dissent. New Yorkers don’t expect anything less from you. Don’t screw this up.

Traveling Companions

Birds Down Your Pants
& the Frozen Armadillo

Don’t ask us why, but people have been stuffing all sorts of small animals down their pants for years now. They get caught all the time with hairy spiders, rare scorpions, slithering snakes, even live lobsters moving down their legs. Not even airport screeners want to know why.
Some kind of genetic freak calling the shots on this one, that’s what we say. But when they start beating each other up with frozen armadillos, well, that’s when we step in and draw the line, for crying out loud.
So smugglers do that for a living. Low-lifes. Two-time crooks do it on a dare, or for dope money. So what? Even if these bottom feeders show more nerve than noodles, we’re not about to give them a free pass for making their business to traffic on the defenseless.
It doesn’t matter that these critters fetch a lot of dough in the black market, i.e., people even worse than, well. There’s never shortage of grifters out for a quick buck. What gets to us, though, is when it’s personal and, rather than throwing iPhones, as any past-their-prime supermodels would, they toss a pet at their foes.
FROZEN AND WELL ENDOWED
That really gets our blood boiling. Ok, so it was not a pet, it was an armadillo, and it was frozen, and no one we know raises one of them as a pet, although they might. Still.
So this Texas woman planned to dine on an armadillo’s carcass some guy just happened to be selling out of the back of his car. One should never trust a story that starts with that kind of intro, by the way.
Apparently, she didn’t know or care that you’re not supposed to sell these endangered animals anywhere in the U.S. Actually, to be perfectly truthful, you can sell and buy them, but not live ones or them whole, you got that? Soup, anyone?
Again, as we said, do you really think she cared? Anyway, an argument over the price ensued right there, at the busy parking lot the man had turned into his private marketplace. They disagreed, their voices were raised and, Kaboom!, and then, Kaboom! again.
The police said the man hit the woman twice with the frozen mammal, a species with more about it than meets an untrained eye. Apparently, after all these years, he’s still on the run.

CRACKERS FOR THE TOOTHLESS
In one of those completely unrelated news about the same animal, it turns out that armadillos are very well endowed. How well? The male organ is two thirds its length, that’s how well. But since we’re down this path anyway, they’re nowhere near barnacles.
The hermaphrodite sea creature is so well hung that it doesn’t even need to move to mate: ‘it’ can be 10 times the length of its body. That’s convenient, because they’s spend their entire lives attached to a rock. Unless of course, they’re found wrapping a Citi Bike.
Besides, being hermaphrodites and all, they really can self-reproduce, so we have no idea why nature even bothered giving them such a ‘reach.’ There, now you know more than you ever wanted to about barnacles. How come we’re talking about barnacles now?

DIMWITS OF THE BLACK MARKET
As we were saying, people are used to carry all sorts of scary things in their pants. Take this Alberta man, for example. He was caught trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada with a loaded handgun in his pants and tarantulas, snakes and scorpions in his truck.
Yes, it’s not completely to the point, but still. Want another one? What about Johan Adolfsson, a Swede traveling from Thailand to Australia, who was found to be carrying four king cobras and four (more)
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* New Critters on the Block
* Bugs Dummy
* Crusty Catch

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TrumpaDoom


We Who’ve Always 
Hated Him So Much

If we could all charge Trump for the time we waste being disgusted by him, the fake millionaire at the top would be us. Fair warning: as the fatberg who congealed in New York City cannibalizes even feces thrown at him, his flatulent franchise is at top speed.
So a post about him is a kind of betrayal, like free advertising. Anything about it feeds his monster. Always deeply disliked here, it’s no small feat that he’d find plenty of fans to fan off the flies. Even in a pungent city like ours, he cuts a distinguished odor.
But there are simply too many sharp moments, captured by artists local and global, not to have this post writing itself up. The mordacity of satire and an acute sense of duty of these works dispense with speeches or words of order. And they are funny.
The accuracy of their political commentary may be regarded as only echoing the era. But in this day, to argue over the U.S. presidency is not just required from everyone, but it’s standard equipment of any resistance unashamed to speak its name.

NYC serves once again as a backdrop for a story inspired by its past. Some works were placed on Union Square, long ago a bastion (more)
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* Call Upon You
* Scary Clowns
* Faulty Towers

of the labor and union rights movements. As usual, the city is happy to oblige reenacting its glory days. For the kids, they say.

What Ilma Gore, Alison Jackson, Phil Gable, Wilson Tseng, Joshua Ginger Monroe, John Post Lee, Jeffrey Beebe, Indecline, and many others are doing is reasserting dissent. All but Baptist churchgoers who melted their jewelry into a golden effigy of him.

Great White Cafe

Waiting Anxiously for a Ping
From Our Local Shark Mary Lee

Excuse me for a second, but let’s give a shout out to a creature no one has seen or heard from since last year: Mary Lee, where are you? People are concerned, you know? They wonder if the battery of your tracking device has expired. Or it was just you who’s stopped running.
We’d totally understand, of course, but it’d make us terribly sad. You see, Shark Week came and went, your kind has been seen up and down the coast. Even a couple of crooks tried to steal a horn shark on a baby stroller in San Antonio, for crying out loud. But from you, not a beep.
Mary Lee, you see, is a 16-foot, 3,456-pound great white shark who’s been visiting this corner of the Atlantic for the past several years. Since she’s been tagged by Ocearch, tracking her swimmings have become the stuff of dream vacations to many. Florida, Bermuda, well, yes, the Jersey Shore.
Then, sometime before June of 2017, puff, silence, worry, and now, apprehension: is she still alive? Thus, plain calling out her name may just do the trick for bringing her back to our lives. All else has failed so far. Either way, she won’t be forgotten.
Our local shark must have won many battles, and the hazards of celebrity are certainly not of her concern. Still, the allure of the big fish never seems to phase out. Just the other night, Jaws was playing on a small bar. And the place would still get very quiet at times.

THE RUMBLE OF 300 TEETH
People feign fear of great whites (in the safety of land), but are actually obsessed by them. Surely way more than the small number of annual attacks would justify it. In fact, sharks face extinction, (more)
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* Beneath the Waves
* The Whale Report
* Flipper Backlash

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Rock On

Immigrants to the Solar System
& a Stone That Predates Humans

No one knows how many of them are out there. They travel light, fast, and come from lifetimes of distance. Surveillance may catch a few, but this is too vast a place to easily spot them. Some fear them like the end of times. Others call them refugees, or vagrants, or immigrants.
They’re asteroids, meteorites, shooting stars. They may come to visit: one zipped by Earth’s orbit last year, on its way out of the Milk Way. But long ago, Jupiter captured another; it’s now a permanent resident. Like those that come crashing to die among us, they’ll keep on coming.
The fear, of course, is that they do have the potential to end our civilization. Just like that, and there’s damn little, or pretty much nothing, we can do about it. Geological data, i.e., extracted from rocks, plus statistical probability, prove that such a literally earthshaking possibility does exist.
Twice in the past an incoming high-speed ball wiped nearly all life on the planet, changing evolutionary history in the process. So we try to keep track of them, but even if we could see them all at a safe distance, we’ll probably would’t have time for anything but to go mad, and then die.
Not Oumuamua, though, the object that crossed incognito our zenith last September. When it reached the sun, we knew that it couldn’t possibly be from within our system, like all the others, race-ending or not. When it left it, it’d become the very first interstellar little world to came and say hi. Or rather, a Hello, Goodbye. I must be going.

THE THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN
Of course, Shakespeare was right. So was Carmichael, and so was Sagan. After being given such a noble provenance, linking us straight to the most distant heavenly body we will never get to see, who wants to have anything to do with an errant piece of rock? But it’s been said, they’re inevitable.
In fact, without denying we’re shinning stars and all that, life may have been brought down to this Pale Blue Dot, which once thought of itself as the center of the universe, by a lowly slice of outwordly dust, teeming with what would blow air through our nostrils. Hey, cheer up. We’re all rock stars.
Or whatever. The hominids who act as if they own the place they know nothing about, and are just about to put it on fire, couldn’t bear thinking that they don’t count. But in reality, they don’t. (more)
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* The Undreamed World
* World Snatchers
* It’s Fly By Us

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Witch’s Crew

When People Dress Up to Party,
They Won’t Waste Time Fighting

There’s a funny reason why we can’t avoid posting something about Halloween, today: clearinghouse. After a year-worth of subjects revolving around death, cemeteries, you know, weird stuff, voilá, when Oct. 31 dawns, we’ve got ourselves a sparkling dripping, new bloody-soaked post.
So, since it’s already late, here’s a quick review, via links, of what’s been accumulating dust and spider webs in our files. Morticians, burials, new ways to dispose the deceased, endearing stories that attract us like zombies to fresh brains, or bad teeth to sugar.
It’s our way to mark a moment on the life of kids of all ages when they get to play up themes that scare the bejesus out of grown-ups. These mini Frankensteins soldier on to trick-or-treating and we wonder when they switch from daring night visitors to frightened candy pushers.
For sure, the quirky nature of this holiday is never lost. Halloween’s pagan origins and connection to the demonic and the sinister, while a source of wholesome fun, also prompts raging displays of ghoulish hate and sucking disgust, by clergy members and assorted zealots.
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Read Also:
* Getting There
* Everything Must Go
* Kicking Ash

It’s likely the same class of vampires preying on witches and warlocks from way before the Dark Ages. Plenty of ways to enlighten ourselves here, to never repeat what happened to Joana D’Arc, the poor souls of Salem, and countless other victims of intolerance.
Myth, astronomy, recipes and costume tips, even a queer Halloween gallery, which granted, makes a lot of sense. We can think of no other feast where attire is that important, other than religious processions, of course. Except no one is doing it for fear, hence the anonymous deadline quote. Get set for the parade & Happy Halloween.

Downtime

Seven Treats to Give
Yourself & the World

The year has started with a bang and your head still hurts. So let’s ease ourselves into it, as gently as possible, shall we? Thus our very useful guide of stuff to do – the kind you never find time for – whose rewards you’ll be collecting way beyond December. 
Like, serving meals at a Soup Kitchen. Or taking a bath, in a sensory-deprived tank. You pick the order. In a pickle? The state may owe you cash. Kinda blue? Host a pet this weekend. And more. New York choices are plenty for serving and be served. Just sign on.
For soon enough, there’ll be laundry to do, people to call, and debt collectors to avoid. Holidays are brutal, and their toll usually lasts for months. Here’s your chance to break the mold and get started on something rare, to remember this January like you never done before.
Only a minority is already living in this future we may’ve imagined 2016 would be, this same time last year. Most of us can’t even write the date correctly yet. Gosh, there’s still so much left to do just from a few days ago, let alone 12 months past.
Never mind new resolutions. Nothing ever changes purely on their account, anyway. Start simple, they say, progress wearily, and proceed with caution. We know, our head hurts too. Who can stand strong emotions so soon? Take this guide and calls us in the morning.

PICNIC AT A GRAVEYARD
It may sound morbid but many are still mourning the death of yet another year, without achieving anything near what David Bowie, who’ll be 69 this Friday, already had at a much younger age. So weep, but take some wine and cheese with you. You’ll be in good company.
Green-Wood, in Brooklyn, and Woodlawn, in the Bronx, are both beautiful, full of history, and peaceful enough for some quiet crying. Plus, they’ve both hold periodic activities, some after midnight, of course, that don’t involve your corpse just yet. Good hauntings.

SERVE SOME SOUP
Come holidays and big dates, someone always has this idea of volunteering at rescue missions around town. Problem is, they’re usually fully booked at those times, by others just like you, except a bit more industrious to enlist their names. It’s all good, though.
Now, most places can’t get enough help. With increased homelessness in this frigid city of ours, it’s a golden chance to fulfill one of those rare urges that doesn’t benefit only you. Whether it’ll make you feel good about yourself is irrelevant. Gotta serve somebody.
TAKE A TANK BATH
Neuroscientist John C. Lilly (who’d have been 100 today) is credited with developing sensory deprivation tanks, where one can float for hours on Epson salts. Later, he added LSD to the experience, (more)
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Hiroshima at 70

Weary World Marks
a Somber Anniversary

Within a minute, the world would be changed forever. Life ended instantly for 80,000, and would be cut short for twice as many in just a few months. Worst of all was the fear that, for the first time in history, mankind could easily destroy itself, a fear that ushered the Cold War.
From Japan to the U.S., from Germany to Brazil, and all corners in between, millions are joining in to renew vows against the still untamable power of the split atom, even in its limited ‘pacific’ uses. But along with tragedy, the nuclear age has also produced heroes and redemption tales.
At 8:15am local time, the Enola Gay dropped its terrible load, perversely named the Little Boy, over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, after what its inhabitants may have thought was just another air raid siren, alerting for American bombers flying overhead. It wasn’t, or rather, it was way more than that.
Three days later, the Fat Man, another gun-type uranium device, destroyed Nagasaki, the final act of a two-punch strike that, for apologists, broke Japan’s imperial ambitions in the Pacific, and effectively ended World War II. Or so goes the official narrative.
What the mushroom clouds actually ignited was the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which at few crucial moments almost came to a civilization-ending blow, and a new era of unimaginable terror for all other nations, impotent to stop the two superpowers from acting like the world’s overlords.
But it’s also helped breed a new crop of pacifists who made us understand the risks of having the planet’s fate rest with so few, and highly belligerent, hands. It’s their activism and courage that have granted the world a reprieve, and prevented other cities from being destroyed like those two.

DISFIGURED BODIES, WHOLE SOULS
First, there were the survivors. Even though most of them died within a few years of the explosions, thousands of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took upon themselves to show the world what such power really is capable of. As they perished from radiation and other diseases, their legacy passed on.
Soon after, even former Japanese combatants joined in, convinced that they had been part of a war that had no winners on that particular front. The bomb’s destructive power caused many despicable (Click below to continue reading)
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Read Also:
* Bloody Throes
* Nukes for Nuts
* Nuking the Future

Continue reading

Undercover Suckers

The Roof Came Down First;
Then the Bed Bugs Attacked

We’ve been outed. Neighbors are looking at us as if we’re lepers, whose very breath can infect them with the curse of filth and decay. We hear whispers behind our backs, and almost feel the fingers pointed at us on our wake. Suddenly, we’re ground zero to everyone else’s horror.
No, there are no chunks of human flesh in our refrigerator. Or a special task force looking at our faces pasted on charts at some police precinct. Any despicable acts of malice or evil? No, not yet anyway. We’re just hosts of the latest scourge of living in Manhattan: bed bugs.
The first reaction most people have once they become aware that the person they’re speaking with has been exposed to flesh-eating bugs at their own bed, besides instinctively taking a few steps away from them, is disgust. And the false realization that somehow, it’s all the person’s fault.
Never mind that they seem to be everywhere these days. Questions about personal hygiene, or unsavory habits, come to mind, along with visions of dirty food containers laying around the house, candy wrappers and scraps of pizza on the living room’s sofa, and, of course, a clogged toilet bowl, stuffed with industrial-grade human waste.
It’s also the last thing they’ll be willing to talk about, before coming up with an excuse for a quick retreat away from any possible contamination. Possibly, even the thought that perhaps everything that person has done or spoke about in the past is now somewhat tainted by the revelation.
We’re all quick at seeing ourselves above others, taking a sanctimonious stand that grants us the grace of appreciating without restriction our wise life choices. Specially compared to someone who could be so vile and crass as to invite beg bugs to feast on their own bodies. Repugnant.

DWELLERS OF TENEMENT WALLS
Be I digress. Fact is, when the ceiling finally collapsed on the bedroom, after years of water seeping through and leaking ROOF, a century of semi-rotten wood literally rained over us, bugs and dirt included. Whether there’s a connection, it’s not clear yet, but that’s when it all started.
Our tenement building, as thousands of others in New York, has outlived its initial life expectancy, and stood the passage of time with incredible dignity and vigor. While many others came down, dead by old age or real estate greed, ours remains a beacon from another time in the city.
We, ourselves, are all but a relic, what with our negative banking account, our defiance to stay put while everyone around us could as well purchase us on the cheap, and still wishing to shape and inspire the future with our humanity and hopes for better days. Just don’t tell that to the son.
In any event, and mostly for being sheltered within such a fortitude of a construction feat, we’ve managed to withstand the challenges of being underfunded and Continue reading

Ailurophile, Caturally

Cats & Their Subtle Ways
of Taking Over Our World

The Internet may be the realm of cats. But Japan has been their unofficial land for 15 centuries. Out of its over 6,800 islands, 11 are felines-only places. There, as here or everywhere, an endless stream of news about cats seems to be always pouring. Our duty is to report them. Hey, it’s their world; we just work here.
For sure, they’ve been around way before catching rides on sixth century Chinese boats. And before Egypt and Tibet and New York City threaten to suit us for misrepresentation, they’ve occupied every pore of society, from houses to cafes, from offices to retirement homes, and the very social mores of our age.
The opening of Life of Cats, a two-part show of the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection‘s of cat woodblock prints by Edo-period artists at New York’s Japan Society, presents the perfect opportunity to jump at such an omnipresent, furry, and ever so gracious, subject. The heavy-handed commentary is ours, of course.
The exhibit of almost 200 prints, some popular, others very rare, covers the influential 17th-through-18th centuries period, through works by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Utagawa Yoshiiku, and many others, depicting cats in a variety of settings and situations, both playful and thought provoking.

Divided in five sections – Cats and People, as People, and versus People, Transformed, and at Play – the selections, from the most extensive collection of ukiyo-e prints in the world, offer a journey through pre-industrial and pre-urban Japan through the mid 1800s and beyond. It’s complemented with modern artwork.
In surprising, evocative scenery, the felines are shown as companions, stand-ins for humans, threatening, and just plain child-friendly playful. The technique allows to exquisite detailing and implied hidden contexts, expertly told as stories by the shows’s curator, and Japan Society Gallery’s director, Miwako Tezuka.

HOME & OFFICE PET COMFORT
Back to contemporary times, Japan’s arguably where the cat cafes first sprouted, but it’s in no way the sole sanctuary Continue reading

Sleep With the Fishes

There Will Never
Be Another Gus

Depressed. N​eurotic. ​Terminally bored. Obsessive, self-absorbed and inscrutable. Yes, any of these would be a good description for a New Yorker; many did fall for the cliche of the ‘cooler than thou celebrity.’ Gus, the polar bear who died last month, was all of that and more.
In his eventful 27 years, he pretty much ran the gamut that most residents of the city have tracked on their way to legend in their own mind: he got here eager to inhabit the imagination of eight million-plus people. But in the process, he may have lost his er, bearings.
Since 1988, Gus had ruled Manhattan’s only zoo, in New York’s Central Park,  as its most distinguished and most eccentric resident. Kids loved all 700 pounds of him, but somehow, somewhere along the way, something clicked inside him.
There was a time he was just a tender teddy from Toledo, Ohio. But once in New York, he sported an almost autistic trait: swimming laps for hours on end, as if he’d found a straight connection to his inner Olympic god. It was his moment of Zen, repeated over and over, day after day. Mesmerized, visitors couldn’t get enough of his thunderous and yet graceful back and forth routine.
He presided for a quarter of a century over a way too small tank, cherished by his two female companions, Ida and Lily, who both died before him. He leaves no offspring. Which is a pity, because he was, after all, the only bear worth knowing in the Big Apple, as 22-year Continue reading

Jose, Neda & John

The World’s Poorest President,
The Two Nedas & a Rogue McAfee

What happens when we skip a few days, and neglect to publish our daily stories? We get our files full of them, that’s what happens. So, you can just imagine what we’ve got in store, after a two weeks-plus stretch that included a major storm and a presidential election.
In the end, it’s all about people and their incredible tales. Jose Mojica, leader of four million Uruguayans, for instance, had $1,800 to his name in 2010. Millions of Iranians think Neda Soltani was killed in a public rally. And anti-virus mogul John McAfee is being sought for murder.
From the poignant, to the Kafkaesque, to the deeply disturbing, we’d be hard pressed to find commonality on these stories. That task we must leave to you, reader, to chew it up at your own discretion. In fact, they’re like what the cat would drag down to your door, after a night on the prowl.
Many of you may thank the cat and get rid of the carcasses. Others, however, may wish they had personally experienced some of the action, even if only as a fly on the wall. They may even get inspired to go out today and make their own lives count. One will never know. Short of that, you’ll do just fine reflecting about them, and chewing up some of that commonality.
After all, look at that beautiful antique children’s park toy, the Jane’s Carousel, that illustrates this post. It’s spent decades in some dusty storage space, and nothing ever seemed to happen to it. Then, after a 30-year restoration effort, it looked shiny and ready for another century of entertaining those young at heart.
But alas, it was not to last. Down hard came the storm to almost rip it out of its moorings. It got thrown and bounced a few times, and wound up eerily floating on a pool of dirty water. It survived, however, and Continue reading

Impromptus

Sandy & the Random
Kindness of New Yorkers

No one should be surprised if, among Hurricane Sandy’s misery and flotsam, altruistic, selfless acts of comradery were also on the rise, as spontaneous in nature and crucial in timing as any organized relief effort. Which never turns out to be enough anyway.
Scraped notes about such anonymous lifesaving events would number in the thousands, we’re sure. Since such story may never be completely told, here are a few examples in lieu of what may have happened, a record of what’s been lost in the darkness of the power outages.
From the simple, but utterly practical, bikers who spend their personal calories to charge their neighbors’ cellphones and computers, to the website listing the names and brief bios of those who perished during the storm, to the efforts by the Occupy Wall Street’s volunteer ‘splinter’ group, Occupy Sandy, to even those who simply post videos about devastated areas of the city on the Web.
More examples abound throughout the region and it’s almost contriving to make too much of what comes naturally to some of our fellow city dwellers. But we need to know that with all the gritty, and the powerbrokers, and the heartbreaking, and the widening income gap, New York still comes through as a community of decent folks, no matter what they say about it, you know where.
Even if the latest, and thankfully unnamed, nort’easter failed to live up to its billing, freezing rain and a potential new round of electricity cuts may rub the wrong way the still raw gashes and open wounds that Continue reading