Saturday, July 30, 2005
Naked or scantily clad people wandered among the marble nudes at Vienna's prestigious Leopold Museum, lured by an offer of free entry to "The Naked Truth," an exhibition of early-1900's erotic art, if they showed up wearing nothing, or in a swimsuit. This was to help people cope with a heat wave in the city and to create a mini-scandal reniniscent of the way the artworks of Gustav Klimt and others shocked the public when they were unveiled a century ago.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia is 452 meters in height (which includes a 1,483 foot spire) and has 88 stories.
The Shanghai World Financial Center is under construction and will have 95 stories and reach a height of at least 492 meters. Construction was begun in 1997 and completion is expected by 2007.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower is under construction. Begun in 2005, it is expected to be completed in 2008. It will have 92 stories and cost $750,000,000 and could reach a height of 1,484 feet.
The Fordham Spire is expected to cost $500,000,000 if it is built. It would have 115 stories and reach a height of 2,000 feet. The plan is for construction to begin in 2006 and be completed in 2009.
Of course if the planned Burj Dubai is built in the United Arab Emirates, it will be the tallest in the world . . . . . at least for the moment.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Way back in 1925 young Allan Odell pitched this great sales idea to his father, Clinton. Use small, wooden roadside signs to pitch their product, Burma Shave, a brushless shaving cream. Dad wasn't wild about the idea but eventually gave Allan $200 to give it a try. Didn't take long for sales to soar. Soon Allan and his brother Leonard were putting up signs all over the dang place. At first the signs were pure sales pitch but as the years passed they found their sense of humor extending to safety tips and pure fun. And some good old-fashioned down home wisdom. At their height of popularity there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America. The familiar white on red signs, grouped by four, fives and sixes, were as much a part of a family trip as irritating your kid brother in the back seat of the car. You'd read first one, then another, anticipating the punch line on number five and the familiar Burma-Shave on the sixth. The signs cheered us during the Depression and the dark days of World War II. But things began to change in the late Fifties. Cars got faster and superhighways got built to accomodate them. The fun little signs were being replaced by huge, unsighly billboards. 1963 was the last year for new Burma Shave signs. No more red and white nuggets of roadside wisdom to ease the journey. Below are some examples of these "series of signs" that were scattered across America.
A newly cleared trail is bringing the first visitors to a 300-foot waterfall in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The falls are tucked away in a remote corner of a 43,000-acre parcel of wild land administered by the National Park Service. Russ Weatherbee, a wildlife biologist for the park service had heard for years about a large waterfall on one of the forks of Crystal Creek. In 2003, Weatherbee found a logging map from 1960's in the recreation area's headquarters, and noticed that somebody had drawn a dot on one of Crystal Creek's tributaries and labeled it a waterfall. Later that year, he and a friend found it. By this year, park service crews had cleared a nearly two-mile route from Crystal Creek Road to the base of the falls.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
In 1925, Dayton, Tenn., high school teacher John Scopes was charged with teaching the theory of evolution. Doing so was a violation of a Tennessee law, passed that year, permitting only the teaching of "Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible" in the state's public schools and universities. In an eight-day trial that dominated national headlines, Scopes was convicted and fined $100. This picture was taken on a day when the trial was moved outdoors because of the heat inside the courthouse and shows Clarence Darrow, Scopes lawyer and a famed defense attorney of his day, interrogating William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor and three-time Democratic presidential nominee who led the antievolution movement in America. The Smithsonian Institute in their archives, about 60 previously unpublished photos from the Scopes trial. You can view these photos at: http://siarchives.si.edu/research/scopes.html. In 1927, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the Butler Act, the law that banned teaching evolution in public school. Tennessee repealed the Butler Act in 1967 and a year later the U. S. Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas antievolution law. A play based on the trial, "Inherit the Wind," opened on Broadway in 1955 and was adapted into a film in 1960.
Have I made any mistakes? Yes, I started a terrible and completely unnecessary war. When we couldn't find any weapons of mass destruction, I then pretended the main mission was to spread democracy. I have not made us any safer. On the contrary, my actions have earned America the scorn of the world and created a vast new generation of terrorists. I regret putting over a million servicepeople in harm's way, with 1,700 dead and many thousands wounded so far. And as a Christian, I greatly mourn the continuing loss of innocent Iraqi lives, the total of which is several times greater than the number lost at the World Trade Center. In short, I am so very, very sorry. (written by Garry Trudeau for DOONESBURY)
On July 24, 1983 the "pine tar" home run was hit by the Kansas City Royals' George Brett off New York pitcher Rich Gossage at Yankee Stadium. Brett's shot came with two out in the top of the ninth to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. Brett's homer was ruled an out because the amount of pine tar on the bat exceeded what was allowed. After a protest by the Royals, the decision was later overturned. Brett's homer counted, and the final out for the Royals and the Yankees' half of the ninth was completed on Aug. 18.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
In many respects Satchel Paige was to Negro League baseball what Babe Ruth was to the majors---a rare combination of talent and personality that captured the imagination of fans across America. Paige's unique brand of showmanship combined with his remarkable skills on the mound to fill ballparks everywhere and keep the fans coming through the turnstyles through even the darkest days of the Great Depression. The widely traveled Paige began his career with the Chattanooga Black Lookouts in the Negro Southern League in 1926. Later with the Pittsburgh Crawfords his legendary performances, which often included gawdy 30+ win seasons, established him firmly as black baseball's premier pitcher. Though records are incomplete, Paige is often credited with having recorded more than 300 career shutouts---not wins, SHUTOUTS! His career win total is estimated at well over 1500 games. In 1939 Paige began a nine-year stint with the Kansas City Monarchs. In this era of his long career he led the Monarchs to four consecutive Negro American League pennants and a Negro World Series championship in 1942. At the age of 42 Paige became the oldest rookie in major league history when he joined the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 pennant race. Joining the team late in the year Satchel posted a 6-1 record to help the Indians clinch the American League title. Joe Dimaggio said that Satchel Paige was the fastest and best pitcher he had ever seen.
The new Guggenheim Museum of New York will be twice as large as the one in Bilbao, Spain and will take four years to build. Frank Gehry's proposed design for the new museum has been given the go ahead by the city and resembles modern sculpture and the impossible dimensions of cyberspace. Its slithering, unfolding mass of glass, concrete and titanium, based on Gehry's highly acclaimed Bilbao Guggenheim in Spain, will sit on the East River, alongside the Financial District. But unlike Bilbao's curvaceous silhouette, the new building's baroque twists are as much sculpture as actual structure. Wrapped within this multitude of what looks like confusion lies a fairly traditional skyscraper, which Gehry has given a wrenching twist. This inner skyscraper reflects Gehry's vision of tying the new Guggenheim to the buildings around it. The tower is slated for luxury condominiums that will be sold or leased at a premium to corporate donors and wealthy patrons. An ice skating rink and a restaurant will sit underneath the structure. However, its implied audience is not the citizen, but the corporate, cosmopolitan elite. Whatever you may think of this, you have to give credit to Gehry, his museum wrapped around a skyscraper is the perfect embodiment of the New World order for Art.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The TV show set inside a funeral home is about to bite the dust. After the last episode of HBO's deliciously dark "Six Feet Under" airs Aug. 21, the fictional Fisher clan will be gone. We will have lost a family we have come to know most intimately. There's repressed mother Ruth, conflicted sons Nate and David, angst-ridden and artsy daughter Claire. We've come to love each one, with all their flaws.