Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Friday, September 10, 2010

Port Sunlight: By the Mersey

Before hope, there was uncertainty. And after Modernism, there were more modest ideas of the modern. John Levett looks at the houses and gardens that Lever Brothers built.


Essay and photos by John Levett

There is an evocative photograph by Edward Hardman called ‘The Birth of the Ark Royal.’ The Ark Royal was an aircraft carrier built in the immediate post-World-War-II years to maintain, it was asserted, Britain’s status as a major player befitting its history ancient and modern. The photograph, taken in 1950, shows a young boy outfitted for morning school, walking down the middle of a street in Birkenhead with the massive bulk of the hull below a forest of gantry cranes in the distance. (I can imagine the lad arriving back home and getting down to building a similar crane in Meccano. Building anything in Meccano was completely absorbing; taking anything apart to build the next something was the downside. There was a Meccano exhibition at our local Museum of Technology last year.You couldn’t move for old blokes.)

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Posted by Julie on 09/10 at 02:45 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsPermalink

Monday, September 06, 2010

High Hill: Ghosts with the Mostest

What’s a miracle? When five thousand people return to a tiny rural town in Texas and a wildflower covers the pastures with summer snow.


Thistles in a window at St. Mary’s Church, High Hill, TX

Photo: Human Flower Project

The church picnic season in Fayette County, Texas, with its auctions, stew dinners, polka masses, is winding down, and so, praise be to God, is the Texas summer.

Yesterday was the annual St. Mary’s picnic at High Hill, a place some call a “ghost town.”

The railroad once planned to make it a stop on the route between Houston and Austin, but citizens declined, so the tracks (and later, Interstate 10) ran through Schulenburg instead, a few miles to the south. High Hill maintained its topographical prominence, pride, and the fine old Catholic church, but its population dwindled.

Yesterday’s church picnic drew many thousands of people back, though, in celebration of St. Mary’s 150th anniversary. Some might say that the High Hillfolk were short-sighted to refuse the railroad’s offer, but they were indeed wise to schedule their annual picnic for the Sunday before Labor Day. The worst of summer is typically over: this year the air was fresh and the temperatures quite merciful – in the low 90s.

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Posted by Julie on 09/06 at 02:56 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapeReligious RitualsPermalink

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Figure in the Carpet

Haughty artists and garish floral carpets set the fantasy-prone off on a harrowing trip to Obsession.


From Chris Maluszynski’s Las Vegas Carpets series

Image: via Wired

“The thing’s as concrete there as a bird in a cage, a bait on a hook, a piece of cheese in a mouse-trap.”

So insists novelist Hugh Vereker about the great and delicious “secret” that runs through all his writings. He’s egging on a small-time literary critic, the unnamed narrator in Henry James’s story The Figure in the Carpet, dropping psychic crumbs that will keep his ambitious young admirer reading, studying, yearning to crack the artist’s code.

We read James’s intriguing novella today, egged on ourselves by some queasily strident photographs of carpets in Las Vegas casinos. They were taken by Swedish photographer Chris Maluszynski and featured earlier this year by both the Daily Mail and, most recently, Wired. Both articles quote Dave Schwartz, a scholar based at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who’s studied the psychology of casino décor: odorants, floor plans, the cushions on stools, and timbre of slot machine bells. Schwartz says, “Casino carpet is known as an exercise in deliberate bad taste that somehow encourages people to gamble.”

What’s taste have to do with it? Presumably, taste is an exercise of judgment and discernment, while gambling—the compulsive sort that keeps people up all night, and the next night, standing at the roulette wheel – requires that something override judgment, even disrupting such basic survival mechanisms as appetite and fatigue.


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Posted by Julie on 09/04 at 02:57 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink
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