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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Bits (Party Time)


Garden, Kyoto, Japan: photo by Fg2, 9 October 2005

As in a dream of bayshore Japonaiserie

Sunset in Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Delray, Florida: photo by Daniel Schwen, 25 March 2009

I thought I saw
the myriad particulate bits of the universe

Resin continuing to bubble from the stump of a Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata), seven years after it was cut down, Monterey, California: photo by Tony Wills, 18 March 2007

wearing funny hats

Clustered Bonnet (Mycena inclinata), Trent Park, Enfield, UK
: photo by Stu Phillips, 23 November 2011

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Venus Waning


Jupiter, Moon and Venus in conjunction: photo by VirtualAstro, 26 February 2012 (via Meteorwatch)

Baby it's cold outside
in the deep cobalt

blackness of the laughing
planetarium the inside
of the soul is not seen

Jupiter, Moon and Venus in Conjunction, seen from Manila Bay area, the Philippines: photo by Journey to the Stars, 26 February 2012

Monday 27 February 2012



Mike Tyson at SXSW
: photo by Eduardo Merille, 13 March 2011

Once people feared you as though you were a ferocious animal
And you were indeed every bit as ferocious as they said
But now that you are not a ferocious animal anymore
And are down to doing humiliating little things
Like fashioning balloon animals in a Vegas hotel lobby
Don't you ever feel like that's a little demeaning
For a former champion of the world

No because what you were doesn't exist
You are what you are
And I'm always going to be that person
I'm always that person that people thought I was
I feel like that person
I'm always that person
You change your life and get different troubles in your life
But I don't look at life like that
I could say everybody took advantage of me
Everybody screwed me so the heck with anybody else
But if I say that who's going to win?
The world's got a better "screw you" hand than you do
So you have to go at life with a positive attitude
And an upbeat personality
And just ask life to throw some humbleness upon you
Even if you were a ferocious animal at some other time
I don't know
The only thing I know is that life is good
And if I die five minutes from now
I'm still indebted to life
I still owe life
You know what I mean?

Mike Tyson in the ring at Las Vegas, Nevada
: photo by Ryan Lackey, 2 September 2006

Mike Tyson in the ring at Las Vegas, Nevada
: photo by Ryan Lackey, 2 September 2006

A balloon modeller's toolkit containing hundreds of colorful balloons in various sizes and hues
: photo by Jeremy Kemp, 19 August 2010

Sunday 26 February 2012



American film poster for 1939 film Island of Lost Men
: photo by Paramount Pictures, 1939; image by Centpacrr, 27 November 2011

He was a detainee on that island plantation where sleep was not permitted for three long years until one night he learnt to slip out of the identity of the one it was his keepers presumed they were detaining and so knit the ravelled sleeve of care and sipped of the cup of peace perhaps but in any case as if miraculously had vanished by morning from the desolate cloud-murk-enclosed isle of the damned -- or so the story those exhausted and hopeless men gather every evening to tell again among themselves, clutching at its improbable story line as if grasping for a frail straw of hope secreted therein, or maybe a stray shred of something like a meaning, or even, for that matter, a fragmentary scrap of half-remembered, blurred, ancient, half-waking, forever incomprehensible dream-image, there, in the ill-lit stilt huts beneath the sodden dripping foliage of the thick forest canopy of the island of lost men, goes.

Palafito house: photo by Peter & Jackie Main, 30 October 2002

Saturday 25 February 2012

Conjunction (Appulse)


venus and jupiter 2

King and Queen of the Night Sky: Jupiter (upper right) and Venus (left): photo by Journey to the Stars, 6:50 PM, 10 February 2012

"As I walked out one evening..."

-- Auden

Moon-Jupiter-Venus Celestial Lineup, viewed from Charlotte, North Carolina
: photo by Mike O'Hara, 23 February 2012

Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, aligned above the Moon, viewed from San Bernardino, California: photo by Lyle Evans, 24 February 2012 (via EarthSky)

Sky map for Saturday 25 February, 2012: image by NASA

In the night sky over European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope observatory at Paranal, the Moon shines along with two bright companions: already aloft in the heavens and glowing in the centre of the image is Venus, Earth’s closest planetary neighbour, and, to its right, the giant, though more distant planet, Jupiter. Such apparent celestial near misses -- although the heavenly bodies are actually tens to hundreds of millions of kilometres apart -- are called conjunctions. Still other sights delight this night view at Paranal: the radiant, reddish plane of the Milky Way, smouldering on the horizon, and an 8.2-metre VLT Unit Telescope, along with a 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescope, standing firmly on the ground
: image by ESO / Y. Beletsky, 3 December 2009

Friday 24 February 2012



Swampy bog on the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand: photo by Ingolfson, April 2007

Panorama of central geothermal pools at Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand; Artist's Palette in foreground, Champagne Pool in the background, with visitors crossing on boardwalk beyond: photo by Tokyoahead, January 2007

A walking section in the northern part of Oakley Creek in Auckland, New Zealand: photo by Ingolfson, May 2007

Upper, eastern part of Western Park in Auckland, New Zealand: photo by Ingolfson, December 2006

Boardwalk between Freshwater Landing and Mason Bay; Kanuka trees. North-West Circuit and Southern Circuit, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island, New Zealand: photo by Sarang, 29 December 2004

Boardwalk at Little Homer Saddle, Holyford Track, Fiordland, New Zealand: photo by Sarang, 7 January 2005

Durham Creek Mobility Trail, as part of the Waikato River Trails, New Zealand: photo by Schwede66, 12 January 2010

Whakarewarewa thermal mud, New Zealand: photo by A. Aruninta, 15 January 2007

Boardwalk across sinter terrace at Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand: photo by Pseudopanax, 18 April 2011

Boardwalk between Freshwater Landing and Mason Bay; North-West Circuit, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island, New Zealand: photo by Sarang, 24 December 2004

Thursday 23 February 2012

Avalanche Control


Avalanche control above the top station of Versettlibaha in the ski resort of Montafon Silvretta Nova, Vorarlberg, Austria: photo by Friedrich Böhringer, 16 March 2008

You can't shake a stick at

avalanche control

without risking having it all

come down over you

at once -- Oblivion deep cool

difficult and steep

little gaps or gasps

between steps or breaths

Control of gorse by burning, Dartmoor, Devon, UK
: photo by Herbythyme, 16 March 2010

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Egypt, Everything Moves


The Saharan White Desert, near Farafra, western Egypt:
photo by Omar Kamel, 24 September 2006

Egypt, everything moves across paper stars in abstract night skies,
wadis, arroyos, wild old playas of moons, dust clouds, abrupt mesas
over which hang in a great arc an ivory crescent sky goddess
who spans with her body the whole inverted bowl of intensely

dark nocturnal desert inking; between mirage
and mirage, reflections; rifts, deceptive distances, universes
growing less and less legible with thought; thought also
then growing more and more faint, with the wandering thinking.

Libyan desert (6). Mirage in Libyan desert between Aswan and Abu Simbel, Egypt: photo by Rémih, 11 June 2007

Libyan desert (9). Mirage in Libyan desert between Aswan and Abu Simbel, Egypt: photo by Rémih, 11 June 2007

Libyan desert (5). Libyan desert near Abu Simbel, Egypt: photo by Rémih, 11 June 2007

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Marion Post Wolcott: A Modern Gypsy in an Automobile


RICHARD DOUD: Did you, as you traveled along over the country, did you find that there were any characteristics in the people themselves that were common to people everywhere? Was there anything "American" about everybody?

MARION POST WOLCOTT: Well, the people did respond, I think, to any kind of help that they received, that they did still have a certain amount of drive. I mean I had thought that . . . when I saw the conditions that they were living in and their health conditions, that they would be even more beaten down than they were, but they did respond to the help that they were given. And when I attended the meetings which were sponsored by FSA I was always amazed at their participation, the work they did do. They still, most of them, or many of them seemed to have some hope left, which surprised me.

RICHARD DOUD: That could be amazing in that day and age. It was a pretty hopeless period, I think, for many people.

MARION POST WOLCOTT: I think that, as Dorothea Lange's pictures show so well, and Russell [Lee]'s too, of course, there were many who didn't have any hope or who were completely beaten, but there were still so many who responded to any help or any attention at all. When I first wanted to take their picture, they would be antagonistic, but as soon as I would explain, or briefly explain what the pictures were for and what I intended, they were cooperative. There was one time when they weren't, when I was driven out, which was in South Carolina, and I made the mistake of being too conspicuous, I think, in my dress and in my appearance. I had a convertible and I had the top down; I was -- this was early in the game -- I learned -- but I had been in the sun a lot and I was quite brown and I had a very bright-colored scarf, head scarf, which I had gotten in Europe. I had on some kind of jangly earrings, and I didn't realize what I must have looked like, and I went into this area, with my car loaded with stuff, and I literally frightened the people. They began dragging their kids away, and thought that I was going . . . that I was a gypsy, only a modern gypsy in an automobile, and that I would come in and kidnap their children.

from oral history interview with Marion Post Wolcott by Richard K. Doud, San Francisco, California, 18 January 1965 (Smithsonian Archives of American Art)

Post drove into South Carolina in a car loaded down with equipment and personal belongings, and dressed in a brightly colored outfit, a bandana scarf over her long and bushy hair, and dangling earrings. She quickly discovered that it was a mistake to be conspicuous in appearance. “They began dragging their kids away, thought that I was a gypsy, only a modern gypsy in an automobile, and that I would come in and kidnap their children. Certainly I was not understood, and was a foreigner,” Post reported on the experience. “And they… told me to get out, and were disagreeable about it…. They were very backwoods and very primitive, and I just got out...”

Although Post modified her approach and appearance as she moved through the swampy lowlands of South Carolina, the people remained “very suspicious” and “quite unfriendly.” She found that cold weather made them even more distant and inaccessible. “They get in their huts or shacks, build a little fire, and close the wooden window and door and hug their arms close to them, waiting till it gets warm again. And they won’t let a stranger inside. Often they won’t even let me photograph the outside of the house.” She learned that milling around the outside of a shack was a bad practice. Usually a neighbor or relative, having either heard Post’s car or seen her, showed up to find out if the local resident needed any help with the stranger. “Most of the people who would talk at all, said more or less the same thing -- that they didn’t like for no strangers to come bothering around because they mostly played ‘dirty tricks’ on them or brought bad luck.” Post tried different lines of persuasion. She carried along food, candy, and other bribes. “Along the bigger roads, they were very commercialized -- immediately asked for money, and no nickels or dimes, or food either -- real money. And even then they’d just stand up in front like stiffs and not move until you ‘snapped it and left.’” Overall, Post had a very difficult time in South Carolina because the people indicated that they hadn’t asked for any handouts, and in return expected to be left alone.


Although Post took considerable pride in not being what she herself called a “sissy,” she also discovered that traveling alone in the rural South was very risky and frightening. She reported that after dark everything closed up, and people went to bed, leaving only drunk and tough bums and derelicts on the prowl. “If anything goes wrong you’re just out of luck,” she wrote from Montezuma, Georgia, “and no one understands it if a girl is out alone after dark -- believe it or not.” [FSA Historical Section director Roy] Stryker had earlier instructed her to stay off the roads and remain indoors after sunset. “I would feel very upset if anything should happen to you while doing our work,” the director had informed her. “To hell with the work when night comes. Find yourself a nice safe place and settle down.” Both Post and Stryker agreed that evenings should be safely spent checking equipment, changing and packing supplies, captioning photographs, and planning the next day’s itinerary. Post enjoyed driving her convertible around the South with the top down, drinking in the bright sunshine during the day and the pleasant breeze in the evening. But she found that some people confused the deep brown tan she acquired with minority group membership, while others saw her as a loose woman. “I’d at least like to be able to go for a little ride in the country with the top down on the car,” she complained while driving through Morehead, Kentucky, “but good girls in the mountains in this country don’t ever ride around after dark! And since I’m trying to make a ‘good’ first impression, I must do as the natives do. Ain’t it awful.”


Post also found that World War II had caused many southerners to be extremely cautious and suspicious. She reported that the international conflict made southerners “hysterically war and fifth column minded.” In Louisiana, Cajun children were so frightened by her camera equipment that they ran home, hid from her, and brought parents in from the bayous with harrowing stories of how she was “a German spy with a machine gun.” “Several times when I’ve had the car parked along side the road and taken pix nearby, a cop or state trooper has come up, watched me, examined the cameras and searched through the car, and questioned and looked at all my identification, etc.,” Post reported during the summer of 1940. “The bastards can take their own sweet time about it and ask many irrelevant and sometimes personal and slightly impertinent questions too.” The sheriff would bring her in for questioning, make her write her signature, and end up just talking with her. “They haven’t anything else to do and they don’t feel like working anyway it’s too hot, and they think you’re crazy anyhow.” These encounters with witch-hunting law enforcement officials in the South prompted Post to recommend to Washington that FSA photographers be provided with some special identification card with a notarized seal partially over the picture.

from Marion Post Wolcott: Photographing FSA Cheesecake: Robert W. Snyder, in Developing Dixie: Modernization in a Traditional Society, 1988 (via The African American Experience)

C.B. ("Beanie") Baldwin, letter certifying Marion Post as Principal Photographer, Historical Section, Farm Security Administration: 3 August 1940 (Library of Congress)

Marion Post: photographer unknown, 1940 (Library of Congress)


Marion Post, "Up Stinking Creek, Pine Mountain, Kentucky": photographer unknown, February 1940 (Library of Congress)

Photos by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990), from locations in Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida, 1939-1941 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)