Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I wonder how many people today can remember the old red caboose ??

The magic of Santiago Calitrava

The PATH Terminal at the WTC site in New York is the final building design for the rebuilding project. In the days immediately following the reveal, it is clear that this building has captured the favor of the general public.

"the storm rose from the ground...and then it fell from the sky"

Burning Man 2007, Black Rock City, NV (on Flickr).

Beware!! the spirits are prowling tonight

Is magic only a matter of trickery or can spirits really be "summoned from the vasty deep?" Conjuror Harry Houdini developed to its fullest the performance potential of magic tricks, but he also exposed the fraudulent methods of mediums who claimed to communicate with "the beyond." Houdini emphasized that magic is a purely human skill:

I have spent a goodly part of my life in study and research. During the last thirty years I have read every single piece of literature on the subject of Spiritualism that I could. I have accumulated one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489, and I doubt if anyone in the world has so complete a library on modern Spiritualism, but nothing I ever read concerning the so-called Spiritualistic phenomena has impressed me as being genuine.

Harry Houdini, A Magician Among the Spirits, 1924.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fanny Brice Dies at the Age of 59 -- but the memory lives on

Hollywood, Calif., May 29, 1951--Fanny Brice, stage and screen comedienne and the Baby Snooks of radio, died today at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Her age was 59.

Although known chiefly as a comedienne, Fanny Brice first became internationally famous for singing a torch song, "My Man." Channing Pollock wrote English words to the French tune, "Mon Homme," which Miss Brice introduced in "The Ziegfeld Follies." It proved a "natural," since it appealed to every woman who had ever been in love.

Her classic burlesque and pointed satire formed a hardy perennial of the "Follies" almost every year starting in 1916, when she first did a comic version of a dying swan ballet. Her lampoon of sultry Theda Bara, her take-off of "Camille," with W. C. Fields as the maid, and her travesty on fan dancers and the modern dance, were part of the repertoire of the actress whom Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times described as "a burlesque comic of the rarest vintage."

She was billed with Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, W. C. Fields, Willie Howard and other top Broadway performers through the years, in which she appeared in such shows as the "Follies," "Music Box Review of 1924," "Sweet and Low" and Billy Rose's "Crazy Quilt." She also put across the song, "Rose of Washington Square."

She created the character Baby Snooks, originally acting the part of the annoying little girl at parties for the entertainment of friends. Later Snooks was regularly featured in sketches in the "Follies" and was introduced to radio in 1938.

After an eleven-year run, Baby Snooks went off the air when its sponsorship on the Columbia Broadcasting System network was withdrawn by General Foods. In November, 1949, however, Miss Brice resumed the role under a long-term contract with the National Broadcasting Company. The company announced yesterday that the program would be off the air for the remainder of the season, the spot being filled by an orchestra.

She was really Fannie Borach, daughter of a saloon-keeper on Forsythe Street in the crowded Lower East Side, where she was born in 1892. Her first appearance on any stage took place when she was 13 at Keeney's Theatre in Brooklyn, where she won an amateur night contest singing, "When You Know You're Not Forgotten by the Girl You Can't Forget." The prize was $5 and numerous coins hurled by the audience, and from that night on Miss Brice gave up school for the stage.

Our day wasn't complete without the Huntley - Brinkley Report -- "Good night Chet"

The Huntley-Brinkley Report was the NBC television network's flagship evening news program from October 29, 1956 until July 31, 1970. It was anchored by Chet Huntley in New York City, and David Brinkley in Washington.

1929: Stocks Collapse as 16,410,030 shares are sold on that Dark Day

Stock prices virtually collapsed yesterday (Oct 29,1929), swept downward with gigantic losses in the most disastrous trading day in the stock market's history. Billions of dollars in open market values were wiped out as prices crumbled under the pressure of liquidation of securities which had to be sold at any price.

There was an impressive rally just at the close, which brought many leading stocks back from 4 to 14 points from their lowest points of the day.

From every point of view, in the extent of losses sustained, in total turnover, in the number of speculators wiped out, the day was the most disastrous in Wall Street's history. Hysteria swept the country and stocks went overboard for just what they would bring at forced sale.

Efforts to estimate yesterday's market losses in dollars are futile because of the vast number of securities quoted over the counter and on out-of-town exchanges on which no calculations are possible. However, it was estimated that 880 issues, on the New York Stock Exchange, lost between $8,000,000,000 and $9,000,000,000 yesterday. Added to that loss is to be reckoned the depreciation on issues on the Curb Market, in the over the counter market and on other exchanges.

Welcome back, Michael, You enrich our lives !!

Today, Michael Jackson, the onetime stalwart of Los Angeles talk radio, begins what he hopes will be his last job. Before this, though, he wondered if he'd already worked his last job.

At 9 a.m., his new two-hour program debuts on KGIL-AM (1260), five years after he signed off his last talk show, ending a run that began with his arrival on Los Angeles airwaves in 1963 and included a landmark three-decade stint at KABC-AM (790).

"Michael Jackson remains one of the best-known brands in Los Angeles talk radio and, as a result, will bring interest, credibility and notoriety to this new talk format," said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the industry trade journal. "He's legendary. That's what a station like that can use."

From 1966 to 1998, Jackson held court at KABC with collegial, noncombative interviews of politicians, celebrities, authors and more ordinary Angelenos with a story to tell. He dominated his morning time slot and pushed KABC to the top of the local ratings, until Rush Limbaugh debuted at rival KFI-AM (640) and, with his brash style and zealous partisanship, began his ascendancy over a new brand of talk radio.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guess who this is ???

In Russia, after the failure of an attempted coup in 1916, Lenin shaved his goatee, donned a gray wig and fled to Finland. (From The Red October album, a unique photo collection chronicles the chaos, confusion, bloodshed and death that gave rise to the Soviet Union 90 years ago. -- Peter Radetsky)

Mind games at San Francisco's Exploratorium science museum

Play mind games at the Exploratorium, San Francisco's science museum. At "Mind," running Nov. 9 to Dec. 31, 2007, you can probe the workings of your mind through more than 40 exhibits that test your emotions and your attention and question your judgment. (Would you drink from a toilet, even if you know it's never been used?)

Documentaries and shows are also part of the fun on weekends in November.

Info: Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon St.; (415) 563-7337, Admission is $13; children 4 to 12, $8.

The San Francisco Hills . . . they are endless

(Richard Hartog / LAT)

The Venice of Shanghai

Many scenes fascinated Ernest Perez, of Orange, California on his first trip to China in June, but this one of the Grand Canal on the outskirts of Shanghai was among his favorites. Cruising the canal, he said, offered a snapshot of Chinese life, "from poor people washing clothes on the side to the high-end section," where there were mansions and gardens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The United Nations

"We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations."
Preamble, Charter of the United Nations, 1945.


words and music by Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

The Hungarian Revolt of 1956

On October 23, 1956, students and workers gathered around the statue of General Bem in front of the Polish Embassy. The protestors boycotted work and demanded "A Socialist Hungary, truly independent; Imre Nagy reinstated in his former office; the State established on a new economic basis; new leaders for the Party and government; those responsible for mistakes held accountable at a public trial…" (Radio Budapest). Premier Hegedus could not control the revolt. At first, he sent the Secret Police, know as AVO, to stop the rebels. Tear gas was sent into the crowd and many of the students were taken into AVO's custody. When the crowd attempted to free the captive insurgents, the secret police opened fire on men, women, and children as well as the student protestors. The Hungarian Police arrived shortly after that and gave up their weapons to the protesters after hearing of the AVO shooting. The now armed students outnumbered the secret police. Finally, Hegedus called for Soviet assistance and declared Martial Law.

At first, the Soviets seemed to accept the demands of the protesters and took their tanks out of Budapest. The USSR, although withdrawing their troops, did not go all the way back to the Soviet Union like they had promised. On November 3rd, reinforcements arrived on the border to Hungary.

On November 4th, 1956, the Soviet army returned, this time crushing the revolt. Imre Nagy announced the attack over the radio in his famous, and last speech to the Hungarian people: "Soviet troops attacked our capital with the obvious purpose to overthrow the legitimate Hungarian democratic government. Our troops are fighting. The government is in its place."

Although many saw the Hungarian Revolt as a loss, it was in truth a victory. The revolution had succeeded until the USSR returned to stomp out the fire of revolt on November 4th. In addition, the "Bloody" Revolt proved to the rest of the satellite countries of the USSR that there was another way to live: free of Communism.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The "Aeroschraft" -- PRETTY WILD LOOKING, ISN'T IT?

Even though the Aeroscraft dwarfs the largest commercial airliners, it requires less net space on the ground than any plane because it doesn't need a runway. The airship takes off and lands like a helicopter: straight up and down.

This is not a Blimp.It's a sort of flying Queen Mary 2 that could change the way you think about air travel. It's the Aeroscraft. And when it's completed, it will ferry pampered passengers across continents and oceans as they stroll leisurely about the one-acre cabin or relax in their staterooms.

Unlike its dirigible ancestors, the Aeroscraft is not lighter than air. Its 14 million cubic feet of helium hoist only two-thirds of the craft's weight. The rigid and surprisingly aerodynamic body, driven by huge rear-ward propellers, generates enough additional lift to keep the behemoth and its 400-ton payload aloft while cruising.

During takeoff and landing, six turbo-fan jet engines push the ship up or ease its descent. This two-football-fields-long airship is the brainchild of Igor Pasternak,
whose privately funded California firm, Worldwide Aeros Corporation, is in the early stages of developing a prototype and expects to have one completed by 2010.

Pasternak says several cruise ship companies have expressed interest in the project, and for good reason: The craft would have a range of several thousand miles and, with an estimated top speed of 174 mph, could traverse the continental United States in about 18 hours. During the flight, passengers would view national landmarks just 8,000 feet below. Or, if they weren't captivated by the view, the cavernous interior would easily accommodate such amenities as luxury staterooms, restaurants --even a casino.

To minimize noise, the aft-mounted propellers will be electric, powered by a renewable source such as hydrogen fuel cells. A sophisticated buoyancy-management system will serve the same purpose as trim on an airplane, allowing for precise adjustments in flight dynamics to compensate for outside conditions and passenger movement. The automated system will draw outside air into compartments throughout
the ship and compress it to manage onboard weight.

(On a pressurized plane, windows like these would
explode outward. The Aeroscraft would not fly
high enough to need pressurization.)

The company envisions a cargo-carrying version that could deliver a store's worth of merchandise from a centralized distribution center straight to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Or, because the helium-filled craft will float, a year's worth of supplies to an offshore oil rig. "You can land on the snow, you can land on the water," Pasternak says. "It's a new vision of what can be done in the air."

Purpose: Long -range travel for passengers who are more concerned with the journey

than the destination.
Dimensions: 165 H x 244 W x 647 L (feet)
Max Speed: 174 mph
Range: 6,000 miles
Capacity: 250 passengers

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Specutacular Photography

"Autumn" by dwaffie on Flickr

When writing is so horrible, it’s good . . .

“The Barents sea heaved and churned like a tortured animal in pain, the howling wind tearing packets of icy green water from the shuddering crests of the waves, atomizing it into mist that was again laid flat by the growing fury of the storm as Kevin Tucker switched off the bedside light in his Tuba City, Arizona, single-wide trailer and by the time the phone woke him at 7:38, had pretty much blown itself out with no damage.”

Scott Palmer said he didn’t dream of becoming a great writer but he was named the runner-up in the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. For the past 25 years, the contest out of San Jose State University has challenged writers to concoct the worst opening line of a novel. The above was Palmer’s almost-worst entry.

You sort of have to be a good writer to know what makes a bad one. Palmer said he wasn’t sure what inspired his disconnected saga of Kevin Tucker’s non-storm-at-sea adventure, but we like the idea: Open with something that has nothing whatsoever do with what comes next. It works, maybe because speech writers have been doing it for years for candidates ...

The contest honors digression and mixed metaphors and even horrible puns. It is named for 19th century author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, infamous for the opening line “It was a dark and stormy night” in his melodramatic novel, “Paul Clifford.” Not so bad, you say? The entire opening reads “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Reflections" by Matthew Hiller

Reflections" Limited ed. print by Matthew Hillier, 20" x 30" paper edition $165, canvas edition $350

To order any of Matthew Hillier's artwork or for more information, email The Plainsmen Gallery at or call toll-free 1-888-779-2240.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Andy Capp -- He never ceases to AMAZE !!!

Kisho Kurokawa 1934-2007

TOKYO -- Kisho Kurokawa, one of postwar Japan's most influential architects whose legacy was a philosophy as much as a collection of buildings, died Friday of heart failure in a Tokyo hospital. He was 73. Shown above is his Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo, Japan (1972).

Salvador Dali's Self Portrait

Salvador Dali. Self Portrait as Mona Lisa. 1954
Photographic elements by Philippe Halsman from: Marcel Duchamp [the catalogue of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art] 1973, p. 195.

No wonder they're near extinction -- they don't appear to be too bright

MILWAUKEE -- They're off again, and flying. For a seventh year, young whooping cranes took off from a Wisconsin wildlife refuge, led by ultralight aircraft on a 1,250-mile journey to Florida.

This time, the project to establish a second migratory flock of the endangered birds in North America is recovering from a Florida storm last winter that killed all but one of the 18 young cranes. The survivor died later, and with several other deaths from various causes, the adult flock in the wild now numbers about 50.

The 17 birds that left Saturday from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge were hatched in captivity and raised there by researchers wearing crane costumes to keep the birds from becoming familiar with humans.

Ultralight pilots in costume lead the birds on a trip that takes about two months, with many stops during which the young birds are kept in portable pens. After that, the birds migrate in spring and fall on their own.

The whooping crane, which at 5 1/2 tall is the tallest bird in North America, was near extinction in 1941: About 15 were left.

(From the Associated Press)

Perhaps he didn't blend in . . .

Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson has listed his one-story, 4,500-square-foot Mediterranean-style home in Chatsworth for sale at $1.1 million.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Was Mata Hari a Spy ???

Mata Hari is known as one the most beautiful spies in history

She was Dutch and her real name was Greta Zelle. She was a dancer and had this picture made of herself. Ms. Zelle slipped into countless French and German beds, and became a pawn in international intrigue. In 1917 she was convicted in France as a spy and executed. Historians have never clarified the exact nature of Mata Hari's spying activities.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Losing their beloved 'Bums' seemed inconceivable to Brooklynites. When the team left, a borough's collective heart was broken.

The Dodgers leaving Brooklyn?

It was as inconceivable as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leaving South Bend, Ind., the Packers leaving Green Bay or the Statue of Liberty being moved to Lake Michigan.

Yes, Brooklynites understood Ebbets Field was decaying and knew owner Walter O'Malley was frustrated by his inability to get New York city commissioner Robert Moses to approve O'Malley's plan for a new stadium. They had heard the rumors about Los Angeles.
And yet when conjecture became reality, it hit everyone hard, from fans on the street and in the seats to team personnel on the field and in the front office.

The resulting emotion is expressed in the memories that follow of those tumultuous times for a borough and its team:
Buzzie Bavasi, former Dodgers general manager: "Walter's attitude was, 'If it's 30 miles from Brooklyn, it might as well be 3,000 miles.' Flushing Meadows was not Brooklyn."

Billy DeLury, who has served in the Dodgers organization for over half a century: "It just wasn't fair. If I want to build a house and this is where I want to build it and someone says, 'You don't build a house unless I tell you where to build it,' I don't think that's right. And that's what happened with the ballpark.

"Would you have to change the name to the Flushing Dodgers? I really, truly think Moses thought we would never leave."
Bavasi: "None of us blame Walter because we realized Ebbets Field needed a lot of work. My sister's father-in-law was the fire commissioner for Brooklyn. He could have condemned Ebbets Field, but because of his relationship with me, he told me to just do a few maintenance things and it would be all right. But even with that, it cost us plenty of money because we had to do a lot of work. To get it into condition where it would have been approved by the city would have cost us millions and we didn't have the millions at that time."

Boxing promoter Bob Arum, who grew up in that borough: "When I think of Brooklyn, the only thing that really mattered was baseball. Ebbets Field was less than a mile from where I lived. It was 25 cents for the bleachers. They used to play a lot of doubleheaders, so our mothers packed lunches because we would be there for eight hours.

"The players lived in the area you lived. [Manager] Charlie Dressen lived a few blocks away. You'd see the players in restaurants. There was a pitcher, Freddie Fitzsimmons, who had a bowling alley. It was really more than just a team."
"The Dodgers were the symbol of Brooklyn. They gave us an identity, set us apart from Manhattan and Queens. When you lived in Brooklyn, everything else was Tokyo." The Brooklyn Dodgers became the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the 1957 season.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Great Fire of Chicago

On October 8, 1871, the Great Fire of Chicago started. It burned until the 11th, killing over 250 people and making 95,000 homeless.

A Phenomenon on the Great White Way

On this day in 1982, the musical "Cats" opened on Broadway, beginning its record run of 7,485 performances.

Briton Jason Lewis circles the globe using only human power, a 46,000-mile odyssey that took 13 years.

British adventurer Jason Lewis (shown above) paddles along on the River Thames at the Meridian Line in front of the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England. (Lewis Whyld / AP)

In 1994, Stevie Smith said to his friend, Jason Lewis: "Come with me around the world. We'll circumvent the globe like Magellan did riding the wind, but we'll do it under our own power: by bicycle, pedal boat, kayak, skates and our own remarkable feet." And thus the journey began.

The 46,000-mile (74,000 km) journey officially ended when Lewis reached the point in South West London - the same place the journey began on July 12, 1994, with his colleague Steve Smith who decided to leave the expedition in Hawaii in 1999.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Shanghai is well on it's way to becoming the next world-class city

Isn't it Grand ??

Located near Tiananmen Square, the 490,485-square-foot glass-and-titanium National Grand Theater, scheduled to open in 2008, seems to float above a man-made lake. Intended to stand out amid the Chinese capital's bustling streets and ancient buildings, the structure has garnered criticism among Bejing's citizens for clashing with classic landmarks like the Monument to the People's Heroes (dedicated to revolutionary martyrs), the vast home of the National People's Congress, or Tiananmen Gate itself (the Gate of Heavenly Peace).

French architect Paul Andreu is no stranger to controversy -- or to innovative forms. A generation ago, in 1974, his untraditional design for Terminal 1 of Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport was criticized for its unusual curves, yet Andreu's groundbreaking, futuristic building later was seen to distinguish de Gaulle from more generic European and international air hubs.

Beijing's daring National Grand Theater is as much a spectacle as the productions that will be staged inside in the 2,416-seat opera house, the 2,017-seat concert hall, and the 1,040-seat theater. At night, the semi-transparent skin will give passersby a glimpse at the performance inside one of three auditoriums, a feature that highlights the building's public nature

Parakeets provide Mountain Greenery in Big Sycamore Canyon

Wild black-hooded parakeets, which have established a population within Point Mugu State Park, provide a tropically stark contrast to the parched surroundings in Point Mugu State Park, where they've become a hit among hikers.
(Pete Thomas / LAT)
Wild black-hooded parakeets, which have established a population within Point Mugu State Park, sometimes sit like Christmas ornaments on elderberry trees. The berries provide sustenance for the birds, which are native to South America.
(Pete Thomas / LAT)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Matt Wuerker's View

For more images by Matt Wuerker, visit (click on the link below)