Saturday 13 April 2024

national treasures (11. 486)

The government of president Andrรฉs Manuel Lรณpez Obrador has declared a clowder of nineteen feral cats that have free range of the palatial executive complex grounds to be “living fixed assets”—part of the furniture like the official mouser of 10 Downing Street—but the first animals to be bestowed with the investment term that obligates the country’s treasury to feed and care for them for the rest of their lives. With no area off limits to the gatos palicios and the felines often making cameos during press conferences and escorting staff and visitors, they have become a symbol associated with the presidency and beloved by tourists—but one suspects that the population, especially after this development, won’t stay at this level for long.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

the fabiola project (11. 463)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are acquainted with the extensive portfolio Mexican artist of Belgian extraction Francis Alรฟs through a travelling installation of some three hundred reproductions of the fourth century figure Saint Fabiola based off the profile and pose created by Jean-Jacques Henner in his 1885 portrait. The original was lost in 1912 but the image was copied over the decades by painters around the world, and sourced from flea markets and rummage sales in the Americas and Europe, mostly attributed to anonymous, amateur studies and naive artist, Alรฟs’ 1994 exhibit explores the precedents and antecedents that inform and flow from popular replicas and what constitutes an icon. The fourth century Roman noblewoman who filed for legal separation from her insufferable husband and remarried, contrary to Catholic practise but was welcomed back to the congregation for her works, turned to a life of charity under the influence of Jerome, is fรชted on 27 December in the calendar of saints and includes in her patronage divorced people, the hospice movement—establishing many care centres throughout Italy and the Near East as well as attending patients herself as a trained physician after lodging with Paul (see above) during a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, and is called on for intercession in difficult relationships. 


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Me and Bobby McGee (1971), a rogue archivist, Russian-America, more MEUTE plus more links to check out

three years ago: Wishing Well (1988), fuchsias, the Yellow Fleet (1967) plus St Francesco

four years ago: naming houses

five years ago: sonic disruptors, plant based burgers plus decision fatigue

Sunday 31 December 2023

la montaรฑa sagrada or a funny thing happened on the way to enlightenment (11. 231)

Via a New Year’s obscure filmic tradition, we are re-introduced to the spectacle of Alejandro Jodorwsky’s (previously) 1973 Holy Mountain and considering a re-watch. The sacrilegious, surrealistic movie produced by Beatles manager Allen Klein with financial backing of John Lennon and Yoko Ono relates the narrative of a thief marketed as Jesus returned and collaborates with an alchemist (played by Jodorwsky) to transmogrify and transfix himself along with a constellation of characters representing the houses of the zodiac, ultimately breaking the fourth wall and give up this quest. Prior to filming, principal cast members underwent three months of spiritual training drawn from various practises including the I Ching, yoga, Zen Buddhism and the Kabbalah as well as communal living prescribed dosages of LSD and psilocybin. After premiering in Cannes, the Holy Mountain was screened in limited-release in New York and San Francisco in November and was not widely available until three decades later.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

tarotic art (11. 025)

We appreciated this introduction to surrealist painter and social justice activist Leonora Carrington through her esoteric series inspired and informed by the iconography of the Major Arcana, whose symbolism is reflected everyone when one is ready for it. First exposed to the movement in the works of Max Ernst at the International Surrealist Exhibition, both artists later met, bonded and married, collaborating on projects and supporting one another’s work. Having settled outside of Paris, French authorities arrested the German Ernst with the outbreak of World War II as a “hostile alien.” Remanded to Germany, Ernst was taken into custody again by the Gestapo as a promoter of degenerate art. Dealt quite a hand and inconsolable over the detention of her husband (Ernst later was able to escape and flee to the US with the help of Peggy Guggenheim) and on the verge of a psychotic breakdown, Carrington agreed to a course of treatment in an asylum in Spain and underwent a regiment of electroshock therapy and powerful drugs. Carrington’s parents decided to then send her to a sanatorium in South Africa for continued care. Escaping en route in Portugal, Carrington sought refuge at the Mexican consulate and arranged a marriage-of-convenience to the ambassador so as to be liberated from the custody of her family and given the diplomatic immunity to travel. Ernst married Guggenheim, with Carrington joining a community of exiles in Mexico, where she was also a champion of women’s rights. Carrington’s body of work reflects Mesoamerican folkways and matriarchal traditions that whose points of departure limn her own biography. More from Hyperallergic at the link up top.

Saturday 12 August 2023

barrel traps or buoy knife (10. 938)

Though it kind of seems otherwise, we know we haven’t dedicated more reportage to the Texas governor’s pontoon-bridge to deter immigration from Mรฉxico than Trump’s bombastic Border Wall. The prop is political pandering of course to worst elements of the Republican Party’s constituents assembled by subcontractors and will likely break apart and damage infrastructure or be disassembled as a violation of international law. We did not know, however, that between the orange buoys, there’s a circular saw, nearly hidden from sight. Barbaric and overly-aggressive, calling this modern enhancement medieval is unfair to our pre-Enlightenment progenitors, and as with machines of torture back then, there was no industrial push to equip every castle with chamber of horrors with threat and rumour being more coercive and corrective and the surplus of such devices the handiwork of enterprising tour guides. Something as gruesome as the Iron Maiden was misconstrued reconstruction of the much tamer—yet humiliating Schandmantel (Coat of Shame—a wooden vessel sometimes lined with metal on the inside to be worn for punishment) which has an analogue in the image of the bankruptcy barrel. The Texas implements of inhumanity are very real. 


one year ago: Scientology’s Sea Org Day, the first Model-T (1908) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Willy Wonka (1971), the closing ceremony of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics, an exhibit of ephemera from events cancelled due to COVID, a Roman fast food kiosk, a WikiHow illustration worth a thousand words, a handbag inspired by a pasta box plus Avon paperbacks

three years ago: more on the new US Space Force, the Democratic ticket, the first IBM PC plus the martagon lily

four years ago: preparing to revisit the Bretagne  

five years ago: the cart before the horse, silver thistles plus a photograph from Art Kane featuring the Harlem music scene

Saturday 8 July 2023

lone star (10. 867)

Truckloads of giant meter-diameter buoys arrived on the Rรญo Bravo to be assembled into a floating chain of obstacles to prevent individuals from Mรฉxico from crossing the river and into Texas as part of larger programme to deter migration, but as David Martin Davies reports, like many other initiatives facing legal challenges, this experimental yet unoriginal and pricey idea may not only prove ultimately ineffectual, dangerous to life and limb and result in further negative environmental impact for the beleaguered waterway, it may also flaunt international law, potentially altering the flow and the border between the US and Mรฉxico. Opponents also note that the buoys could become unmoored—no infrastructure or ecological assessments were conducted prior to the planned installation (end product visualised)—and float downstream and cause damage to bridges.

Saturday 17 December 2022

7x7 (10. 342)

the gate of the exonerated: a new entrance to be named in honour of the falsely accused Central Park Five, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson 

mighty mikko: a 1922 adaptation of Finnish fairytales 

time performance: taipa (ใ‚ฟใ‚คใƒ‘) and the Ukrainian pronunciation of Kyiv (ใ‚ญใƒผใ‚ฆ) are among Japan’s neologism—not characters—of the year  

mpi: social contagions, mass psychogenic illnesses, can lead to physical maladies—see also, and certain platforms may be superspreaders 

feliz navidad: beautiful vintage Christmas cards by artist Alejandro Rangel Hildalgo—via Marco McClean’s Memo of the Air  

blue light special: more Kmart reel-to-reel soundtracks—this one from December 1974  

heroes act: US supreme court admits more challenges to Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

Tuesday 1 November 2022

8x8 (10. 261)

allhallowtide: the artwork of Mike Egan that references elements of Dรญa de Muertos—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

famous artist dies penniless and all alone: the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s archives of artists’ obituaries   

fps: visualizing sweeping across the globe at the speed of light  

forma: Federal Occult Range Management Administration  

mapping out the month: the thirty day charting challenge returns  

eleiรงรตes gerais: Brazilian artists herald the return of President Lula  

ghost bride: a centuries-old tradition practised in some communities in Kerala  

ofrenda: a guide to making an altar to celebrate the lives of loved ones who’ve passed

Sunday 2 October 2022

8x8 (10. 187)

vendedores ambulantes: the sonic landscape and signature cries (see also) of the street vendors of Ciudad de Mรฉxico—via tmn  

from erdapfel to equator: a globemaker’s glossary of cartographic terms—via the Map Room  

queenhithe: photographer Frank Merton captures London’s churches in the mid-1950s  

anti-cyclone: a proposal to tow a barge laden with jet engines blasting to dissipate the strength of an oncoming hurricane  

hyla orientalis: black tree frogs in Chernobyl demonstrate evolution in real time—via Slashdot 

blogoversary: a belated congratulations to Diamond Geezer on twenty years of posting   

the feral atlas: a journey of discovery and triangulation through our made environments from Stanford University and via Web Curios  

tlaltecuhtli: the iconography of the Aztec pantheon

Saturday 1 October 2022

castillo del diablo (10. 184)

While visiting Rosarito in Baja California, friend of the blog, Fancy Notions, stumbled upon a most usual six-storey beach house bedecked with gargoyles and monstrous statuary and crammed to the brim with antiques that is yet uncompleted obsession of a real estate developer called Tony Wells. This Gothic residence chocked full of period furnishings, coffins and chandeliers has become quite the draw for tourists and there are plans to convert property into a museum, relenting to the throngs of visitors who wanted a peek inside. Much more at the link above.

Friday 16 September 2022

el grito de dolores (10. 137)

Occurring on this day in 1810 in Dolores, New Spain, the Cry of Dolores that triggered the decade-long Mexican War of Independence, with local priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla ringing the church bells and inciting a call to arms to liberate themselves from the colonial government. Though the exact speech is lost to history, the President of Mรฉxico, from the balcony of the National Palace in the capital, ringing the same bell from back then—reenacts the moment with a patriotic rally.

Thursday 4 August 2022

7x7 (10. 037)

@artbutsports: juxtaposing scenes from professional sports with classical painting  

nearly right: an intriguing Chinese language t-shirt circulating on social media  

sommelier: a Rube Goldbergesque contraption that we would be far too impatient for  

flying down to rio: a profile of movie star Lolita Dolores Martรญnez Asunsolo Lรณpez Negrette 

requiescat in pace: an obituary of antipope Michael, who believed that there had been no legitimate pontiff since Vatican II  

wikenigma: compiling a compendium of unknowns—via Pasa Bon!  

pop cars: visit an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s colourful automobiles alongside the classic models that inspired them

Sunday 3 July 2022


el vehรญculo compartido: personal aerial shots by photographer Alex Cartagena in pickup truck beds reveal the hidden lives of day labourers off-duty  

skate expectations: concrete sculptural parks by Amir Zaki—via Present /&/ Correct 

rosรฉwave: a playlist from NPR to invoke relaxed summer afternoon vibes

press key when ready: the 1985 British children’s sci-fi series The Whizz 

i am your atypical neighbour: in an exhibit, Her Window, artist Dayu Ouyang broadcasts bold statements from her bedroom’s view  

hot slot: the escapingly small feasibility that Jeff Goldblum could have uploaded a computer virus to alien technology and win Independence Day plus other dei ex machinis  

friend-shoring: reprioritising globalisation and a metallic NATO to ensure critical rare-earths supply chains are kept viable  

a rising tide lifts all boats: laid out in a grid meant to resemble brain coral from above and protected by the sinking atoll, the Maldives is building an ingenious floating city that will rise with the oceans as perhaps a model for other threatened communities

Thursday 31 March 2022

dรญa de cรฉsar chรกvez

Commemorated as a holiday in several food producing regions of the United States, the life and legacy of the civil rights reformer and labour activist of Cรฉsar Chรกvez, born this day in 1927 (†1993), whom along wit fellow farm worker Dolores Huerta unionised and rallied for better conditions for all.

Monday 14 March 2022


be kind, rewind: the miniature dioramas of Marina Totino—via Waxy  

doobly doo: recreating a Hallstatt period hair-style  

wck: more on Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ World Central Kitchen (previously) and its work in Ukraine  

it is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it: solace from the Stoics and other timeless words of wisdom—via Messy Nessy Chic  

blogoversary: Kottke turns twenty-four  

the wife of ฯ€: a Pi Day (previously) round-up—plus this one  

family pictures: artist Martha Naranjo Sandoval reanimates antique stereoscopic photos

Saturday 29 January 2022


In a development as outrageous and unhinged as the so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory—which (take a deep breath) in case you had forgotten that madness posited that the hacked cache of emails of Hilary Clinton and other prominent Democratic Party officers contained coded messages that implicated them in a human trafficking ring run out of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, DC—the National Butterfly Sanctuary on the US-Mexico border is forced to temporarily shut down due to “credible threats” logged in connection with an upcoming Trump-adjacent political rally. Accusing the centre of facilitating illegal border crossings over the Rio Grande/Rรญo Bravo, money-laundering and using butterfly swarms to dispose of bodies, the rumours are being propagated by a fund-raising committee hoping to privately finance the Wall.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

intentos separatistas

Under the leadership of Empresario (the Spanish word for entrepreneur and referring to those granted right of settlement in exchange for pledging to develop an area) Haden Edwards, a group of Texians declared the breakaway Republic of Fredonia on this day in 1826.Arriving the year before with some eight hundred colonists families (mostly plantation-owners from the American south like himself)—overstepping his commission by claiming the authority to adjudicate the validity of the land claim of those already in residence, demanding deed and title to property else land would become forfeit and the property of fellow filibusters. The Mexican government repudiated Edwards' actions and ordered him out but he refused to leave his colony. By the last day of January, the occupiers were defeated by the Mexican army, though the cumulative effect of this rebellion and others instigated like it led to the eventual secession of the territory, both sides alternatively currying favour with and laying blame on indigenous tribes and forcibly relocated peoples.

Sunday 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

Friday 17 September 2021

the persuaders!

Last in the line of a spy, crime adventure syndicate that began in 1960 with Danger Man, The Prisoner, The Avengers and The Saint, the charismatic action-comedy vehicle of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore was first simulcast on ITV and ABC to UK and US audiences on this day in 1971. Though considered a crowning, ambitious and concluding series and played well in foreign franchises, dubbed as Dos Tipos Audaces (Two Bold Characters in South American markets), Minden Lรฉben Kรฉt Kanรกl (Two Spoons in Every Soup in Hungary), Snobbar som Jobbar (Snobs on the Job in Sweden), Amicalement Vรดtre in French-speaking areas (Amicably Yours) and Die Zwei in the Deutschsprachrรคume (one of the best titled cinematic adaptations The Sum of All Fears is plaintively called simply Der Anschlag, The Attack in German) the production of Baron Lew Grade (also behind the series of Supermarionation shows) about two individuals from starkly different backgrounds that have been reluctantly teamed together to solve international cases that the authorities cannot disappointed domestic viewers and was cancelled after one albeit complete season. The opening title sequence (see also) features music by John Berry.

Saturday 11 September 2021


Whilst everything has taken on a sense of urgency and imbalance, admittedly our avian neighbours usually seem to escape these awful Earthly bonds and bother even though our actions and omissions are pulling them in peril too. The overall winner for this year’s Bird Photography of the Year, “Blocked,” by Alejandro Prieto and featuring a Roadrunner (Correcaminos, Geococcyx californianus) and the US-Mรฉxico border indeed highlighted how the subject can limn the greater environmental and humanitarian crises we are failing to address. More outstanding feathered friends at the links above.