Sunday, 5 February 2023

tomorrowland 2055 (10. 526)

Due to budget cuts which already limited the number of planned attractions, Disneyland reluctantly opened up its last themed land to commercial sponsorship, becoming something of a showcase of corporate America, including Dutch Boy Paint, the agrochemical giant Monsanto and its Hall of Chemistry and General Electric with its Carousel of Progress. Space Mountain was proposed initially as a functioning space port for Disney World in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

boardwalks, beaches and boulevards (10. 146)

Prominent and influential street photographer and educator, Harold Feinstein (1931 - 2015) had an enduring attraction to New York at the community of Coney Island where he was born. Thanks to a Redditor, we are introduced to Feinstein’s extensive portfolio through one composition that frames those perched above Brighton Beach as musical notation. Feinstein’s work also enjoyed commercial ubiquity, IKEA’s White Rose poster (see also) being one of the most widely distributed homeware artistic photos. Much more to explore at the links above.


Saturday, 20 August 2022

erlebnis bergwerk (10. 073)

Decommissioned since 1993 but revitalised since as a living museum and working mine and venue, I had a chance to visit with H’s father the salt and potash (Kalisalz, used as an important agricultural fertiliser) extraction operation near the village of Merkers on the Werra river not far from Bad Salzungen.  

 Aside from the long history of mining and a comprehensive lesson on the enterprise and geology that bores under the Rhรถn mountains, the location is also the hiding spot for hundreds of tonnes of gold, silver and paper currency (amounting to around eighty percent of the holdings of the Reichsbank at the end of the war) and many priceless works of art looted by the Nazis, discovered per chance by the advancing United States army (tipped off by slave labour transporting treasures to the mine) who then worked quickly to clear it out of Soviet occupied territory before the borders were demarcated.

After being lowered in safety gear—like actual miners beginning their shift—in a hoisting cage that descended into the dark, and driven in flatbed transports from five to eight hundred metres below the surface through a network of tunnels that covers an area the size of Munich. 

Though the vehicles were only taking the dips, curves and ascents at under twenty kilometres an hour, the darkness, wind and narrowness of the shaft made it seem much faster, like a roller coaster ride stretched out for some two hours, with intermissions, lastly in the above Goldraum, a pair of excavated former bunkers that now serve as a machine exhibit, theatre and a concert hall with uncommonly good acoustics and unique crystal grotto with accompanying bar for refreshments—the deepest in the world.  

It was definitely worth the visit and would drag H along next time.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

ancient aliens

Opened to the public on this day in 2003 (bankrupt and shuttered three years later and three years after that rehabilitated as a children’s theme park—named Jungfrau after the alpine mountain it is framed by), Mystery Park in Interlaken was designed by Chariots of the Gods? author Erich von Dรคniken and included several pavilions featuring what the pseudoscience proponent described as the great unsolved mysteries that could only be explained by the theories he espoused on paleo-contact and ancient astronauts, including the Mayan calendar, the pyramids of Egypt and monoliths like Stonehenge explaining how the achievements of the primitive past must be linked to extraterrestrial encounters, his showmanship being chiefly responsible for the popularity of this rather narrow and dim view of a world just beyond record.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

reedy creek improvement district

In retribution for the Magic Kingdom’s public stance against legislation passed and enforced by the state of Florida and suspension of political donations in response to the so called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bars instruction that is not “age or develop-mentally appropriate” as a form of indoctrination and makes it taboo to talk about gender identity or sexual orientation, the Republican governor, with the backing of the legislature, is proposing to strip Disney properties of its own private governance. Accorded by Florida in 1967 to make it more attractive for the entertainment giant to establish its resorts and theme parks (see also)—and originally a planned city of the future, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, that reverted back to another attraction, the special jurisdiction has its own law enforcement and security, environment standards, building codes and zoning laws as well as its own tax regime. Authorities warn that its dissolution will burden neighbouring counties with much higher property taxes and further alienates the state’s largest employer.

Saturday, 19 February 2022


a fistful of manicules: Shady Characters explores several font specimens of the typographers’ mark—see previously  

la conquรชte du pain: an anarcho-communist bakery going strong in Montreuil  

peeping tom: Facebook’s demise following that of mySpace  

storyliving: Disneyland pre-retirement communities—via Web Curios 

erste jahrzehnten: German Design Awards marks its first decade with a special exhibit  

sold for sol 1800: it appears that Melania Trump purchased her own NTF—via New Shelton wet/dry 

i shot the serif: foundry Neubau Berlin pays homage to Mid-Century international fonts

Sunday, 6 February 2022

easy listening monster orchestra—e.l.m.o.

Courtesy of the Awesomer and this Muppet quintet, here’s some light jazz for your Sunday afternoon (see previously). Performed in 1989, these interludes were produced for Sesame Place (already sounds sophisticated) theme park, which opened in 1980 in the outskirts of Philadelphia

Saturday, 23 October 2021


floh u. trรถdel: couple’s costume ideas—via the ever excellence Everlasting Blรถrt 

boutonniere: Harriet Parry’s flower arrangements reproduce iconic fine art and classic tarot card designs—via ibฤซdem

microface: a quick quiz to identify whether the subject is a font or a Marvel character (see previously)—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

์˜ค์ง•์–ด ๊ฒŒ์ž„: Squid Games Funko-Pop characters—see also 

pyrrhic victory: the rules of play for a variant called Atomic Chess allows a pawn crossing the breadth of the game board promotion to a scale that would instantaneously annihilate all pieces—of both sides

rollercoaster tycoon: Saudi Arabia transforms a decommissioned drilling platform into an extreme amusement park  

hell no: a sensible horror film

Friday, 28 May 2021


pier 54: Thomas Heatherwick’s Little Island on the Hudson off NYC’s Meatpacking District opens to the public 

al fresco: limited edition Rolls-Royce Boat Tail to take picnicking 

cosmism: the cosmic religion of Nikolai Fyodorov that inspired and informed Soviet space-faring aspirations  

astronomicum cรฆsareum: a beautifully illustrated scientific text from 1540  

circle of friends: a visualisation of the intimates that one can socially maintain—see previously  

rollercoaster tycoon: an engineer explains the different types of amusement park rides  

pole of inaccessibility: plotting when the ISS crew are one’s closest neighbours when one lives near Point Nemo  

project plywood: non-profit Worthless Studios transforms discarded materials used to board up storefronts from inclement weather and civil unrest into art

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

golden gate bridge bolt

With a touch of The Music Man / Marge vs the Monorail energy behind his pitch that rightly nonetheless recognised that the newly built suspension bridge was perfectly designed to host a thrill ride—which also piqued the interest of a few city planners, ahead of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition engineer Joseph Bazzeghin proposed impressing visiting crowds with a roller coaster traveling up and down the bundled cables as a centrepiece of the fair. Despite some enthusiasm, the ride was never built—mainly due to safety concerns and distracting drivers and the likely impossibility to construct such a roller coaster but I am sure it could be done on a dare. The artificial Treasure Island was instead built in the bay as a showcase venue and originally planned to be a municipal airport afterwards but was turned into a naval station and marina. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

general entertainment content division

Though first proposed as early as 1977 as a cable television conduit for studio-sourced content, the idea was sidelined in favour of developing the Epcot (see previously) and the brand’s other theme parks, the Disney Channel—as an independent venture—began its first programming day on this day in 1983 in US markets, garnering some six-hundred thousand subscribers within the first six months. The first shows included “Contraption” in which adolescents competed across a giant board game obstacle course, “Dreamfinders” meant to spur critical thinking skills in young people, “Mousterepiece Theatre” a cartoon show hosted by George Plimpton and “Mousercise,” a daily exercise routine hosted by Kellyn Plasschaert.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

here we come on the run with a burger in a bun

We enjoyed very much this appreciation of the Cabazon dinosaur ensemble, a novelty roadside attraction two decades in the making created by theme park artist and sculptor Claude Bell (of Knox Berry Farm fame) off the freeway near Palm Springs to draw diners to his nearby restaurant, the Wheel Inn (1958 - 2013). The Brontosaurus, Dinny the Dinosaur, and Mister Rex are made of out of salvaged, reclaimed road construction materials and since the restaurant’s closure, have been host, in a surprising turn, to a gift shop and a museum devoted to doctrine of creationism (inside of Dinny—the Tyrannosaur formerly had a slide in his tail but has been since filled with concrete due to safety concerns)—selling dinosaur related souvenirs with the rather shrill caveat that the “fossil record does not support evolution” (see also) and espousing young Earth beliefs, that place Adam and Eve among the dinosaurs about six millennia ago. Exhibits run counter to a frieze that Bell painted along the internal passage way that portray a scientific point of view and timeline that includes Cro-Magnon, Java Man and Neanderthals. More from Pasa Bon! at the link up top.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

i am not a crook

On this day in 1973 during a press conference delivered at the Contemporary Resort Hotel at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida Richard Nixon made the declaration addressing his declining job approval ratings with the pall of the Watergate scandal eroding public trust and confidence (see also) to an Associated Press annual convention being held there. The rather impromptu one-hour live broadcast was wide-ranging and was specifically prompted in response to a question raised by one of the wire service’s reporters regarding Nixon’s taxes and self-dealing, launching into the line of questioning, “I have earned every cent—and in all my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice… People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2020


reaction faces: a cavalcade of overly dramatic cats—via Miss Cellania’s Links

split infinitives: learning wild to verb

what the dormouse said: a virtual creation of Disneyland’s1958 “Alice in Wonderland” attraction

clandestine laboratory enforcement team: an assortment of rare US Drug Enforcement Agency mission patches

apparel appeal: a series of interventions to make fashion greener

outhouse: inclusive public facilities in Tokyo reference ancient, ambiguous spaces

supermarket sweep: an investigation into one of the more memorable duo’s of the game show—via Super Punch

scientific method: a feline physics experiment

Thursday, 16 July 2020

be our guest, be our guest

Via Nag on the Lake, we are treated to an appropriately scathing reaction to Disney’s irresponsible decision to reopen its biggest theme park in the midst of a resurgent pandemic with this arrangement of its promotional piece that references visually and musically the 1994 ABC (the network I guess owned by Disney now as well) miniseries of Stephen King’s The Stand, starring Molly Ringwald and Gary Sinise and Rob Lowe. At work, there were always abundant crows but now they absolutely rule the roost with most staff teleworking and the sight for me always evokes a haunted image from the television saga.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

rock ‘n’ roller coaster

The other day I caught a new Line Rider animation (previously) set to the Queen classic that I had somehow managed to miss before, but this virtual thrill ride (use your indoor voice only please) that some clever person designed with Roller Coaster Tycoon makes for a pretty cool rendition as well and makes me wonder about the potential (with some reserved trepidation albeit) for more cross-over formats for bands and franchises. The image to the side is the musically synchronised loops and dips mapped out.

Friday, 10 May 2019

mars: the ride

Via the always interesting Kottke, we find ourselves transported to the desert hills of the Gobi where a company called C-Space has recently opened a simulated Martian base as an education and outreach facility and tourist destination, with a space-themed hotel and restaurant. Though perhaps more of an amusement park than practical training centre, vis-ร -vis institutions like Space Camp and similar programmes especially, we ought not to underestimate the power to inspire. Browse an extensive gallery of the base and its features at the links above.

Friday, 23 September 2016

pavilion or point-of-sale

Though planners pared down the aspirations for Epcot from an actual, functioning city of the future (the utopian Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) down to a theme park with futuristic attractions.
Before the Epcot was demoted to a sort of permanent World’s Fair with any kind of opening delayed until 1982, RCA pitched ideas to Disney on how it would support the city’s infrastructure to make what went on behind the scenes as authentic and state-of-the-art as what it seemed on the surface. Revolutionary for the late 1960s, proposals included the use of debit cards almost exclusively and eschewing cash. Even more interesting was how the notion of electronic money back then already connoted eroding privacy, since the money trail was anything but anonymous and carried a permanence. Around this time, at the height of the Cold War, a Georgetown think-tank, tasked to devise the most insidious yet invisible and voluntary state surveillance were they working for enemy, dreamed up a convenient system for the KGB that essentially mirrors our current network of automated teller machines and cashless registers.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


markov-chain: a sub-reddit that harnesses the property of memorylessness by and for robots

memory & function (& memory): Nag on the Lake keeps us updated on what is afoot in Scarfolk, a township forever trapped in the 1970s

le grand huit: hundreds of brightly coloured cafรฉ chairs form a static roller coast in Nantes

tempest in a tea cup: an interesting look at the anti-saccharine movement and the fickle sweet-tooth of Percy Bysshe Shelley who boycotted sugar and other staples that drove the slave trade in the Empire

spaceship earth: celebrating Star Trek’s pushing the envelop with George Takei

Thursday, 9 July 2015

crocodile creek, neverspeak mountain

The ever intrepid team of Atlas Obscura presents an illuminating, nostalgic glimpse at the stellar rise and equally rapid decline of a gargantuan amusement park built in the southern marshes of New York state that opened in June of 1960 and closed after just four seasons, called Freedomland U.S.A. Civil engineer and architect of such ambitious family playgrounds named Cornelius Vanderbilt Wood, recently dismissed from his last project of putting another but more enduring pleasure estate in an orange grove—the successor would again be built in a swamp—and his role ultimately denied and disavowed, designed a huge area in the shape of the continental United States and placed several historical and cultural attractions and rides within those borders.

The park celebrated the cheerier side of manifest destiny, mercantilism and American exceptionalism, including the Great Fire of Chicago, the San Francisco Earthquake, the launch pad and mission-control at Cape Canaveral—plus a New Orleans where it was always Mardi Gras and live music acts for adults to enjoy. In order to attract and retain more, the educational character was quickly supplanted by more conventional rides but its decline was swift—despite the number of guests and a lot of fond memories. Some of the more conspiratorial-minded believe that Freedomland U.S.A. was never meant to be a commercial success but rather an experiment in urban development by real-estate magnates and large landowners in New York and was undertaken to demonstrate that the marshland could safely support large-scale construction projects—and in fact, just after the park was razed, a public housing and a shopping centre went up. I think it is more likely the case that people became much disillusioned with the notion of what their country was becoming with the string of political assassinations of those waning years, not to mention the competition from the nearby venue of the 1964 World’s Fair that was meant to cheer everyone up again. The in depth look at Atlas Obscura furthermore bounces the demise of Freedomland off of the other ruins of theme parks and presents an interesting retrospective on the culture and the times.