Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ROAD TRIP! Where are you staying on your vacation? Part One

Photographic duo OSKAR (Thi-Thi & Arnaud) have created a delightful portrait series called The Globetrotter Club: people ready to take off on a road trip. Perfect time of year.


Monday, August 3, 2015

11 Nations Inside The United States

I've been saying this very thing for decades. Having lived (relatively) in the corners of the United States at different times in my life, I can attest to the truth of this idea. There are definitely nations within the United States, with wildly varying cultural/societal/psychological viewpoints. And for the last decade and a half, I have been saying that the conservative places are getting more conservative and the more humanistic places are becoming ever more inclusive. As a proud Left-Coaster, I see that there is a clear culture war going on in this country and it manifests itself in our increasingly ugly and out-of-control politics. The more conservative areas naturally see this as some kind of highly organized plot on the part of the freer areas to "take over," and we see it as a last-gasp of bigotry, fear, and intolerance (fueled by engineered poverty and damaging, repressive religions) on the part of the conservative areas.

This map shows the US really has 11 separate 'nations' with entirely different cultures

Jul. 27, 2015, 2:17 PM

In his fourth book, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America," award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US.

"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider.

"[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues," he added, "you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from it will help move the conversation forward."

Here's how Woodard describes each nation:

Encompassing the entire Northeast north of New York City and spreading through Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Yankeedom values education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. Yankees are comfortable with government regulation. Woodard notes that Yankees have a "Utopian streak." The area was settled by radical Calvinists.

New Netherland
A highly commercial culture, New Netherland is "materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience," according to Woodard. It is a natural ally with Yankeedom and encompasses New York City and northern New Jersey. The area was settled by the Dutch.

The Midlands
Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the "American Heartland." Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands "America's great swing region." Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Tidewater was built by the young English gentry in the area around the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina. Starting as a feudal society that embraced slavery, the region places a high value on respect for authority and tradition. Woodard notes that Tidewater is in decline, partly because "it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk."

Greater Appalachia
Colonized by settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks. Woodard says Appalachia values personal sovereignty and individual liberty and is "intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike." It sides with the Deep South to counter the influence of federal government. Within Greater Appalachia are parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.

Deep South
The Deep South was established by English slave lords from Barbados and was styled as a West Indies-style slave society, Woodard notes. It has a very rigid social structure and fights against government regulation that threatens individual liberty. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina are all part of the Deep South.

El Norte
Composed of the borderlands of the Spanish-American empire, El Norte is "a place apart" from the rest of America, according to Woodard. Hispanic culture dominates in the area, and the region values independence, self-sufficiency, and hard work above all else. Parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California are in El Norte.

The Left Coast
Colonized by New Englanders and Appalachian Midwesterners, the Left Coast is a hybrid of "Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration," Woodard says, adding that it is the staunchest ally of Yankeedom. Coastal California, Oregon, and Washington are in the Left Coast.

The Far West
The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to "resent" the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. Among Far West states are Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

New France
A pocket of liberalism nestled in the Deep South, its people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in the economy. Woodard says New France is among the most liberal places in North America. New France is focused around New Orleans in Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Quebec.

First Nation
Made up of Native Americans, the First Nation's members enjoy tribal sovereignty in the US. Woodard says the territory of the First Nations is huge, but its population is under 300,000, most of whose people live in the northern reaches of Canada.

Woodard says that among these 11 nations, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.

"We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture," Woodard says. "Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat."

Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are "self-sorting."

"People choose to move to places where they identify with the values," Woodard says. "Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller."

Original article by Matthew Speiser on Business Insider

Author Colin Woodard

Sunday, August 2, 2015


“Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings.”
--Steven Pinker

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."
--Arthur C. Clarke

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Heat In August

R.I.P. Elio Fiorucci

Elio Fiorucci, the Milanese founder of the Fiorucci clothing and shopping empire died last week at the age of 80.

Fiorucci worked in his father's shoe shop until he opend his own store in 1967. In 1970 he created not only a fashion but a lifestyle empire with his Fiorucci brand, opening several stores around Milan and bringing global fashion to Italy. In 1975, he branched out to London, and then in 1976, Fiorucci opened a store on East 59th in New York City just in time for the disco (and roller disco!) era; the store even became known as the daytime Studio 54 (Elio Fiorucci was a habitué of Studio 54. rubbing shoulders with Bianca, Halston, and Liza)! This was the Fiorucci heyday, featuring platform sneakers, heart-shaped glasses, a collection made from DuPont's new Tyvek fabric, Day Glo tee shirts, gold lamé pants, collaborations with Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf and fashion luminaries Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, and ultimately the memorable Fiorucci denim jeans. In fact, Fiorucci, along with Sasson, invented the high-end jean market. In the late 70s and 80s, Fiorucci combined elements of punk and New Wave as evidenced by their often risqué advertisment graphics. And if that is not enough, Elio and his brand were name-checked in the classic Sister Sledge song, "He's The Greatest Dancer:" "He wears the finest clothes, the best designers, heaven knows/ Ooo, from his head down to his toes/ Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci, he looks like a still/ That man is dressed to kill."

Above, a shot of Elio Fiorucci with Andy Warhol at a party for Interview Magazine. Below is a shot of the Fiorucci outpost in Beverly Hills which opened in 1979; it was also the setting for a very memorable and campy sequence in the 1980 film "Xanadu" with Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly.

And here is my very own Fiorucci tin canister which I bought in 1978 in the Fiorucci section of Burdine's department store at Dadeland Mall in Miami, Florida when I was fourteen years old. This particular graphic is my very favorite Fiorucci design, and the tin remains a treasured possession, reminding me of the wonderful, heady disco days of that period...

Since the mid-90s, the label has been owned by Japanese jeans group Edwin Co., Ltd.

Rest in peace Elio. Thanks for making the world a little brighter and a little more fun.

Friday, July 31, 2015

"Counting" by Autre Ne Veut

Autre Ne Veut (translated from French as I Want No Other) is the nom de musique of Arthur Ashin. And I just love this song "Counting" from his release "Anxiety." Ashin said in an interview that the songs on "Anxiety" came from a rough patch in his life that included anxiety about relatives dying. I think this is the song that deals with that issue and I can relate... the sound is intense with random and jittery sax squeals, a bit mournful, with a thick sense of gravitas on the hook, "I'm counting on the idea that you'll stay alive."

Thinking now when you don’t mean that
Speak, this is not a time we don’t see
This is not a way for you to be
I don’t wanna be with you all night alone
It’s in my time to break it off
I don’t wanna die and then break it off
I don’t wanna know where we make it out
No, no, no

I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay
I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay alive

Take it down when you don’t mean
Down soft, this is not a world for you to love
And I don’t wanna see that fade our love
This is not the way that you expect to be
Taking off out and making love
Everything you say is breaking up
This is not a time for this to stop
No, no, no

I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay
I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay alive

Thinking now when you don’t mean go
Fade, this is not a time where you can raise
This is not a time where you're okay
I don't want the feeling you are not alone
It's in my time to make it out
This is not your time to make it out
This is not your time to make it out
No, no, no

I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay
I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay alive
I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay alive, I need you for a little while
No, no
I’m counting on the idea that you'll stay put


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BEAUTY: Photography--Valerio Vincenzo

Valerio Vincenzo spent eight years and and traveled 10,000 miles documenting the internal borders of the EU for his photographic series Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace.

The Artist Statement for this project:
"Since the signature of the Schengen Agreements in 1985, the borders of most of the European continent have been erased little by little from the landscapes and people’s imaginations. These Agreements are a giant leap in the progressive unification of Europe and the emergence of a European conscience.

Today, with 26 countries belonging to the Schengen Area, 16,500 km of borders can be freely crossed. The attribution of the Nobel Peace Prize to Europe in 2012 has confirmed the historical importance of this slow, almost imperceptible, but radical change.

With the help of a GPS and detailed maps, I have conducted many trips along these "erased" borderlines, with the intention of capturing the essence of these now-peaceful crossings. Even if sometimes these pictures have been taken thousands of km away from each other, they all provide images that are far from the stereotype that we tend to associate with the notion of border. What is a border anyway?"

And that must be the exact question that rooster is thinking as it crosses the invisible border between Belgium and the Netherlands...