Beauty in a Tough Town.

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Themes of resistance and revolution often appear.
Photograph by Deanne Fitzmaurice, National Geographic
 by Cynthia Gorney, for National Geographic
Pen Harshaw said he’d meet me at the concrete landing on the east side of Lake Merritt, across the water from the courthouse.
Both of us were on bicycles, because what Pen was going to show me requires negotiating barbed wire fence openings and the narrow spaces between idled train cars and warehouse walls.
“Writers,” he said. “That’s what they call themselves. Not artists. Writers.”
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Journalist Pen Harshaw, a former student of Cynthia Gorney’s, was her street art guide. Here he stops at a “throw-up,” in which letters fatten and take on a hint of character.
Photograph by Deanne Fitzmaurice, National Geographic
From my house to that end of the lake it’s mostly a downhill roll, past the Ethiopian restaurants, the Korean barbecue houses, the fried-chicken-sandwich place that uses ironing boards for sidewalk tables, the Middle Eastern grocery that sells baba ghanoush and grass-fed beef burgers, the old funeral home with its entry sign translated into Vietnamese, and the rehabbed art deco movie palace where I once watched an African-American church diva wind up the annual holiday concert by singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in Yiddish, accompanied by a Klezmer band
That was after the full interfaith gospel choir and the youth chorus that filled the stage with Latino and black and white and Asian and Pacific islander teenagers, all in churchy robes, with voices that made our hair stand on end.
I remember the symphony director coming out at one point during that concert, looking as though he was about to keel over from happiness, clasping his hands together and blurting, “People, do we not live in the most wonderful city?”
Continue the article via Sneak Attacks of Beauty in a Tough Town: Street Art in Oakland, California.

Dark Monster Tornado brews in Kansas.

Goodland Kansas by Mitch Dobrowner for MBS Photograph: Mitch Dobrowner
It was early evening, maybe six o’clock, when we stopped the van. The storms usually fire up at this time, when the sun has had all day to warm the earth.
Then the cumulonimbus towers burst up through the atmosphere and all hell breaks loose.In chasing terms, it had been an easy day – we’d covered maybe 400 miles to get on to this line of storms in the far west of Kansas.
We knew there was little chance of tornadoes, but our guide, my friend Roger Hill – a stormchasing veteran of at least 30 years – thought there was a good chance of some big hail and maybe even some landspout activity [where a tornado forms from the ground up].
We stopped downwind and waited for the developing storm to advance. As I set up, the storm turned into a monster: an almost-solid curtain of rain in the background. Then in the foreground, an unusually large landspout whipped up.
The scene was surreal, almost abstract – low-contrast, back-lit, the storm creeping towards us.
But all the while there were really strong outflow winds reminding you it was all too real … and just a wall of precipitation edging toward us. And this was huge for a landspout.
Just for scale, if you look carefully to the right of the spout, you can just make out an electricity tower. Landspouts are usually less powerful than regular tornadoes – this was such a rare occurrence that Roger had to confirm with the National Weather Service that it was just a landspout,
But you can see it has the classic cylinder shape, rather than a tornado’s typical cone or wedge.In eight years of chasing, I’ve never seen another storm like this one.
Source: Mitch Dobrowner’s best photograph: a monster tornado in Kansas | Art and design | The Guardian

The Waterfall at Columbia River Gorge.

waterfall-canyon-gorge-oregon_80569_990x742Photograph by Peter Lik
“The shafts of light in this canyon were one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” says Peter Lik, who took this photo in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon and submitted it to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. “It was a surreal feeling being surrounded by the towering cliffs.
The only way I could capture this special moment of weeping walls was after an incredibly torrential rain.
I knew I had to get to a shallow portion of the river to unfold my tripod. I was drenched from head to toe by the falling water.
Mist and rain covered the camera, but I fired a few shots.
As I stood in awe of the scene, the sun broke through for a few seconds and cast God’s rays into the side-lit waterfall.”
This photo and caption were submitted to the 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
via Waterfall Picture — Oregon Photo — National Geographic Photo of the Day.

Sunset at Scripps Pier.

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This stunning sunset photo, taken at Scripps pier in La Jolla, California by photographer John H. Moore, is only possible twice a year.
Photographers crowd under the pier to capture the moment when the sun aligns perfectly with the pier’s supports.
The alignment times vary from year to year, but they tend to fall around early May and early-mid August.
Image credit: Photograph by johnhmoore.com
Source: Twice A Year, The Sunset Aligns Perfectly With This Pier In California | Bored Panda

Speed Dating in 19th century New York.

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Image: Courtship, Library of Congress
Long before there were online dating sites, such as eHarmony, Match or OKCupid, there was a curious offline custom in America known as New Year’s Calling.
In the 19th century, young single women in New York City; Washington, D.C., and other cities and towns across the country would hold open houses on Jan. 1 and invite eligible bachelors — friends and strangers — to stop by for a brief visit and some light refreshments.
Often the women posted ads — which included their names, addresses and visiting hours — in the local newspaper. This was community wide speed dating.
Curatorial consultant Steph McGrath, who studied New Year’s Calling when she was at the DuPage County Historical Museum in Illinois, says she is not sure which sections of society participated in the convention, “though you’d think maybe the upper classes would set the style, rather than need a printed guidebook.”
True. But for whoever needed guidance, there was Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, a compendium of knowledge and etiquette.
As the 1888 edition observed, the ritual of New Year’s Calling “enables gentlemen to know positively who will be prepared to receive them on that occasion.”
By convention, male visitors were invited into the house. If the woman wanted the man to stay for a while, she could ask him to remove his hat and coat.
Otherwise, she was to offer refreshments and conversation while he remained dressed for the cold. “The call should not exceed 10 or 15 minutes,” the manual insisted, “unless the callers are few and it should be agreeable to prolong the stay.”
A lady was encouraged by societal rules to accept male visitors in the privacy of her home. But shy types could also gather — and welcome men — in a group. The women were encouraged to “present themselves in full dress” and make sure to have a crackling fire in the fireplace.
Suggested refreshments included breads, cakes, fruits — along with tea and coffee.
“No intoxicating drinks should be allowed,” the manual stated.
Gentlemen — singly or in manageable groups — were encouraged to pay a visit at some time between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on the first day of the year.
Each man was expected to present each woman he met with a calling card.
In the days following New Year’s, it was customary for women to go see other women and to advise each other all the juicy information they had gleaned from the parade of gentlemen callers. Somethings never change.
Read on via Speed Dating In The 19th Century : The Protojournalist : NPR.