Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
It goes without saying that the readers of this blog need no instruction in the art of kissing. So even though the book - which is original and very scarce, by the way - is packed with helpful tips for the inexperienced, I'll spare you all that folderol for the cover and the illustrations. If any of you should have questions about the Vacuum Kiss, the Spiritual Kiss, the Eyelash Kiss, or - yep, it's here - the Pain Kiss, just let me know.
The Art of Kissing, Hugh Morris, Padell Book Company, New York, 1936.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
This one-room chapel stands on a forest knoll in western North Carolina. Though only a short distance from the highway, it's invisibly isolated above it among ferns, trees and mountain laurel. It can be reached only by walking up a steep trail. Built around 1872 and made of hand-hewn poplar with hand-pressed glass window panes, until recently it was solidly monochromatic, with weathered, unpainted wood, but the soffit and fascia have been replaced in the last year. The austere lines are very appealing to me. Even a headstone on the grounds reflects the triangular pediments, all pointing toward heaven. Though the hard pews seem uninviting, there's an uncompromising integrity throughout that reflects the sensibility of the settlers who built it. The site, the sunlight through green, the wildlife all around - it's a place that inspires reverence.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
With all the excitement over the solar eclipse in Asia, I dug out these old photos I took during an eclipse that was visible here in Atlanta. This must have been in July of 1991, and I don't think it was a total eclipse here. If you enlarge the first picture, you can see a little bit of the eclipse as an effect of the lens. The others are pictures of what happened to the shadows of leaves and branches on my friend Marla's white concrete driveway. I don't know the reason why these shadows look the way they do, but it was impressive, to say the least. And I thought they made pretty neat abstract images.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Illustrations from First Book in Astronomy, by Rev. J. L. Blake, D.D., Boston, 1844.
Some of his thoughts:
"It is also conjectured that the Moon has extensive volcanoes."
"However, if the Moon be inhabited, the Creator has undoubtedly fitted the inhabitants to the situation which they occupy."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Down in the bayous of Louisiana, near Charenton, is the reservation belonging to an ancient tribe of Indians known as the Chitimacha. Contact with Europeans and their diseases had the usual tragic impact on their numbers and culture. But cultures are often remembered by their surviving artistic achievements, and the Chitimacha tradition of woven basketry is splendid. Because making these baskets is so labor-intensive, only a few still practice it.
The baskets are made of a local bamboo-like cane that is split with the teeth into fine strips. These are dyed black, red and yellow with other locally available bark and roots, and woven into complex, traditional patterns. Some are double-weave, and have an inner and outer pattern layer. The baskets are incredibly strong.
I almost never see them anymore, except in auction catalogs. Most of the photos here were lifted from old listings of the Neal Auction Co. in New Orleans.
I do love them.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Here's another unusual vehicle. This one was found while riding around Atlanta's west side a few years ago, with a friend to whom providence delivers such discoveries.
The fellows at this small garage had built a truck as the ultimate sonic platform. As you see, there are two big air compressors in the back to power an aggregation of mega-horns and whistles that you could only get at a Navy surplus sale. And in case that's not loud enough, a big bronze bell in front.
Imagine having this near a super-loud car thumping in traffic. It would be like brushing off a fly.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sunbury, Georgia was a Colonial seaport that once rivaled Savannah, which is about 40 miles north. Sunbury is now a tiny town, but in early 19th century America it was important center for cotton and rice, and later timber and turpentine. It remains important for the grave markers to be found there, especially those adjacent to the Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church, an African American congregation. The markers there may be unique in the United States, incorporating handprints, mirrors, shards, seashells and unique inscriptions. At one time there were wooden markers as well, but they are long gone. The WPA-era Georgia Writers' Project documented the greatest of those, a sculptural installation by local man named Siras Bowens. The last scan above is from a photograph of that monument taken in the late 1930s. There's a book titled The American Resting Place by Marilyn Yalom, and you can see some relevant parts of it on Google here.
I was lucky to have a chance to go there some years ago and take some pictures of my own.
Last summer I was in Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery, and the memorials there may be more grand, but not any more impressive than these.