It’s odd what suddenly catches your eye. I was in one parking lot looking through my car window into the parking lot opposite and this is what I saw. A serendipitous angle, I guess…
Yes, I know Ian was almost certainly referring to the folly of work, perhaps as he saw it from the perspective of an artist, or perhaps, as others have suggested, as a comment to the labour strikes and conditions in late 1970s Britain when he penned the lyrics. However, my obscure interpretation is going to be a photo of the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City, Missouri that I took one evening from the hotel window opposite.
This 116 year old theater is still very much working and started its life as a burlesque and vaudeville hall. I am sure that many people over the century have had reasons to be cheerful attending The Folly!
And now, for something completely different. You are probably aware of the old adage “The Elephant in the room” to describe a big problem that everyone sees but no-one wants to address, but yesterday I had the opportunity to turn this phrase inside out.
Back in February, I wrote about Lucy the Elephant, at Margate, New Jersey. This week I finally got to meet the huge pachyderm, and she exceeded my expectations!
Lucy is in a wonderful looking condition, ready for her 125th birthday very soon. We climbed the spiral stairs through her left rear leg and entered what I can only describe as The Room in the Elephant. It is a large, splendidly wood-paneled, split-level room with a glass panel in the ceiling which is also the floor of the howdah, above.
Taking the small spiral staircase in her left side we ascended to the howdah on her back and partook of the views of the Jersey Shore from atop the behemoth beast.
In my opinion, this is the sort of place where serious debates should be held and important decisions made, in the style of Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories!
After all, the world is going mad!
As a biologist I have an affinity for the so-called natural world and the beauty of nature but, having said that, there is also a lot of unseen beauty in many mundane areas of our industrialized world. One aspect that I like to explore photographically when taking a trip to our cities, is that of reflection in our glass superstructures.
This was taken in Manhattan from my hotel window and there is a wonderful mix of the perfect straight lines and the waviness of the reflections in the not-so-perfect glass windows.
WEEK 17: Landscape: Urbanscape – Most Landscapes are wide open spaces of natural beauty… this week find the beauty of the urbanscape/cityscape.
You would think that it is quite easy to get an urban landscape, but this week I was fairly rushed and the weather wasn’t the best, with a few days of drizzle and grey skies. Anyhow I eventually ventured out this morning, taking a 30 minute diversion before work, with the intention of getting some street shots and, moment of inspiration, some shots from the top of the parking garage, six floors up, in the center of town.
I was strolling purposefully up the stairs when I was overtaken by a “bit of a Martin Parr moment” as I call them, and decided that an internal urban landscape would fit the bill nicely. I love the huge swathe of grey concrete, the light glinting off a single parked truck in the distance and just a small splash of color of the elevators on the periphery.
Please let me know what you think!
Billed variously as “the world’s largest elephant” and optimistically as “the largest zoomorphic architecture in the world” (hmm, if you’ve never heard of the Sphinx, or the Kakadu Crocodile Inn, perhaps?), Lucy the Elephant stands facing the Atlantic Ocean at Margate, New Jersey.
This wonderful old wooden structure, sheathed in tin sheeting, was built in 1881 by James V. Lafferty and used as a tourist novelty and to show the local real estate to prospective buyers for an ever-expanding Atlantic City in the late 19th century. The six-storey building was originally called the Elephant Bazaar and was topped with a howdah to afford views of the area. It formed part of a larger complex including Turkish baths as can be seen from this restored PD image, taken in the 1890s:
The building picked up the name “Lucy the Elephant” in 1902 after it had been sold and was used for many purposes over the following decades. By 1969 Lucy was in a poor state and was to be demolished, but a group of local enthusiasts banded together and saved the structure, moved her about 100 yards and repaired her internally as well as providing a new exterior “skin”.
She was subsequently designated a National Historic Landmark (amazing what difference a few years makes!) and is now maintained by the Save Lucy Committee who look after her every need!
I confess to never having heard of this wonderful piece of eccentric history until a few months ago, and I plan to visit her at some point in the near future and update this post with a few more contemporary images. Stay tuned!
The hackneyed idiom, “a picture paints a thousand words” comes not from the mystical East as I had suspected but from a rather more modern source, having appeared in a newspaper article quoting editor Tess Flanders discussing journalism and publicity. At least that’s what Wikipedia tells me today.
It is also said that a great photograph evokes a story to the mind of the person who looks upon it.
This was certainly the case when I was on a trip to Nassau last year and took this shot of the derelict Coral World glass bottomed restaurant. In fact, it inspired me to generate a short story to accompany it, albeit under 500 words in length, not the requisite 1000…
Had it really been 40 years ago that it all happened? The old man looked across at the dilapidated building sitting in Nassau Harbour. It seems like only yesterday, he thought to himself. The other passengers boarding the boat to Balmoral Island chattered idly and pointed at the huge cruise liners docked opposite the Straw Market. They were more like floating cities than ships, disgorging excited tourists onto the quayside. The powerboat gently pulled away and soon slid out past the container ships unloading their steel boxes of goods at the port. It was amazing to see how the huge cranes picked up these heavy containers like a child playing with Lego blocks. So much had changed.
The tower was clearly visible now. Surprisingly few people seemed to even recall what it had been. But he remembered. It was strange to think that that so much violence could have emanated from such a serene location. He recalled running across the narrow bridge from the island to the hub, looking up at the tower, the noise of gunfire behind him. How he wasn’t hit truly amazed him. He certainly thought that dashing along a straight line was a long shot but it was the only way he could see to stop the madness in time. His partner hadn’t been so lucky. Just as they had made the door, she had taken a hit. Still, we all knew the risks, he thought. Once in the hub it had been remarkably easy to find him sitting in his chair like a Roman Emperor. Who on earth did he think he was? He had looked almost serene as if he expected to be disturbed yet it appeared for all his insanity he hadn’t expected the sheer brutality of what happened next. Perhaps he thought that an Englishman would play by some arcane Public School rules. But times had changed, even way back then. All the training had paid off. No need for those silly gadgets, just highly-controlled violence. It was all over in a few seconds, although it seemed much longer. Another job done.
Strange how time plays tricks on you like that, he thought.
He was returned from his memories by one of the other passengers. “Would you mind taking a photo of us with that derelict tower in the background, please?” He willingly obliged, feigning ignorance of the simple camera phone’s capabilities. “Thank you, are you staying at the Hotel?” she enquired. “No,” he replied, “just passing through. Reliving dangerously.”