Hiding in Plain Sight

It’s amazing what you can find in the most normal of settings, and unexpectedly. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and actually look at your surroundings. For example, Philadelphia seems to be full of surprises such as this wonderful sculpture of a leopard on South 20th Street and Manning Street near Rittenhouse Square. One story has it that it the building which it is attempting to get into used to be a lingerie store and that this was used as marketing. The store has long gone but the leopard remains.

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~Richard

Where did the Red Owl go?

I am shocked! I was up at Temple University in Philadelphia earlier this week dropping off my daughter and when I was explaining the beautiful statue of the Red Owl at Alumni Circle on Liacouras Walk to another parent when I noticed it has been removed! I love this wonderful marble work by Beniamino Bufano and the fact that it was part of an installation that included an acoustic wall that had been specially designed to show off the properties of  sound reflection. The statue was dedicated in 1988 and now, under 30 years later it has disappeared!

In its place there now stands a larger, more sinister looking owl with outstretched wings. It was still attached to its supporting crane this week so it must have been a recent change. I can find no mention of what has happened to Bufano’s classic – I hope it is relocated but it is a shame it was moved in the first place. I will miss it.

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~Richard

One Way Forward

The rise of the self-drive vehicle (SDV) is inevitable and I, for one, and quite happy with this. Having spent the last couple of weeks commuting back and forth along the I-76 beside the Schuylkill River in and out of Philadelphia I am quite sick to death of the pointlessly aggressive driving habits of the average driver. The sooner we have computer controlled cars that communicate with each other the better. However, in conversations over the last few months, my own view  to be quite the opposite of just about everyone I know. I seem to be the only one (at least in my circle) who sees that a networked set of vehicles will reduce traffic congestion, reduce environmental impact, be more efficient in getting us where we want to go, reduce stress and, in the end, be safer.

I also think we aren’t thinking big enough. For example, this technology could, if we have the foresight, result in redesigned vehicles with, say, rearward facing seats for safety. It could even finally dispense with the need for personally owned vehicles.

Imagine the efficiency on a national level if whenever we needed a  vehicle we just called it up from the local “hive” of automatic cars, trucks, and minivans and our specialized vehicle came along in a few minutes, took us and our passengers and cargo to where we wanted to go and then went back to the collection of available vehicles for immediate re-use. There would be fewer vehicles on the road and even fewer parked up rusting unused for 22+ hours a day on driveways and full parking lots. That has to be a better world for everyone.

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My vision is summed up by this wonderful Philly street sign I saw earlier in the week – we have one way to go logically – a sort of “super Uber.”

But, unlike many drivers I have seen just this week, will we adhere to the road sign…?

~Richard

A Story – Taken

They’d left him only for a few minutes. He said he was tired so he sat on the old dentist’s chair to have a rest. They continued to search nearby but had spread out either side of the corridor so no-one could get him. Then there was the scream. They rushed back to find the chair empty and torn and piles of dust and plaster ripped from the walls. It had taken all of 10 seconds at the most and there was no sign of him whatsoever. Now they were only four of them left. Would they ever get out of this place and back to the sunlight?

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~Richard

Philadelphia – Love Wins

I was strolling round the area of Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia the other morning whilst waiting for Easter State Penitentiary to open when I saw the following in one of the row homes in the area. An excellent message from the City of Brotherly Love.

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~Richard

 

Yellow Line

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…

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~Richard

Art Talk: The Modern Juggler

A few months back I had the opportunity to wander around Philadelphia with my camera after I dropped off my daughter for an art class. It was an overcast day but I wanted to stroll around center city and see if I could get any interesting shots of the architecture. It was only a couple of days ago that I went back over the images and recalled this excellent sculpture by Robert Taplin, The Young Punch Juggling, that sat atop a plinth above the entrance to the Philadelphia Academy of Arts. I was particularly taken by the piece because of its apparent simplicity of design, and the unusual items that Young Punch is keeping aloft. They are reminiscent of the pieces in the board game Monopoly, at least to my mind.
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To me the piece represents how we have to juggle many things in order to make their way through the modern world, at least in the industrial west.  I don’t know how Mr. Taplin chose his objects but they seem to work. I’d be interested to see what others think, so please give me your opinion.

~Richard

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