Sukree Sukplang / Reuters
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
At the time I was a messed up, confused teen. I'm not sure how much the trip helped or hindered that condition, although the experience did leave an indelible lifetime imprint that in essence changed inextricably who I was and who I have become today. It wasn't a change that really happened immediately at the time. I think it was a seed that was planted that over the years following, as I aged, became more distinctly entrenched and altered the way I processed the world. In some ways I think it made me a fatalist, although I rather think that's a genetic trait that I was born with, so it simply triggered a natural condition. You could say the trip made me a darker shade of grey.
That life-altering, perspective-skewing aspect of my trip to Russian and Poland in 1978 was a visit to the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz. We actually visited two former concentration camps, however, the other one had been razed by the Germans and was only a memorial to the many children who died there--if I recall it was a concentration camp for children.
Being a 16-year old and witnessing such human atrocities I think is a very beneficial experience. I don't know whether the visit had the same impact on my fellow choir singers--no doubt it had an equal impact on us all, but in distinctly different and unique ways. Others might have found hope from the visit that perhaps changed their lives inextricably too.
But for me, a child of the 70s who lived in terror because of my homosexuality, the visit I think highlighted the world in which I lived. I understood such hatred. I had witnessed personally hatred all of my life. I don't know that I knew that so much at the time as much as it slowly dawned on me as I grew up in the years following the trip.
That experience, awakened me to the world in future years with less of a naivete.
Seeing actual piles of glasses/spectacles, piles of hair of the remains of some of the 1.1 million people who were exterminated at Auschwitz is something that we should all witness. Standing in front of two of the ovens where hundreds of thousands of bodies were burned in the crematoriums or standing in the showers where millions of people were gassed, or standing in front of the walls which are pockmarked with bullet holes which killed thousands more: this is something we should all see. And never forget.
This is what we are. Our species is capable of this. No church, no religious institution, no political institution, no political party, no politician, no God/Goddess can illustrate or instruct us about the true basic nature of humankind, more than Auschwitz. This is what we are capable of and what we've done over the thousands of years since our existence, usually in the name of religion. We kill each other: brutally, barbarically, heinously. Our capacity as a species for love and intelligence, does not conquer all. Even with these supposed higher levels of capability, which give us a supposed advantage to the other species on our planet, look at the world that we live in today in 2010....a world that we are destroying. Look around you at the world that man has created, evolved, and which is still sometimes as barbaric and without reason as it was in the Dark Ages.
After that remarkably profound and seminal personal experience at Auschwitz, I never could see the world in any other way except with an inherent unease that somehow the same thing would happen again. I could see vestiges of similar hatred all around me as a young gay man growing up in Texas in the late 70s. I still see the same vestiges of hatred, and even more startling and prevalently some 30 years later, everywhere, as a gay middle-aged man living in Southern California. Auschwitz and the Holocaust happened over 65 years ago. And I'm afraid that it will happen, no, it is happening again. It has happened in countries in Africa over the last 50 years.
Time.com has a rather remarkable article with photos which marks the 65th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp's liberation. You can visit the site:
These photos are austerely beautiful, the contemporary ones, which masks the hideous nightmare that existed 65 years ago. Underneath the photos below are the captions from Time.com
Peter Andrews / Reuters
Never Forget The barbed wire fences serve as a reminder of the horrors of the past. There were thought to be around 7,000 survivors in the camp at the time of the liberation in 1945 with only a handful still alive. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu honored the victims and those who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis. "We encounter the worst evil in the history of mankind together with the greatest courage in the history of humanity. This is not an easy encounter but it gives us hope and direction for our future."
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1956984_2029641,00.html
If you look around you every moment of the day, hatred is so prevalent and rampant in every aspect of our lives. I read today that Fox News is now the most trusted source of news in the US.....now that's a whole lot of hatred spewing that emanates from the most trusted news source. I even examine my own hatred for right-wing Republicans and Christian conservatives and I see the same base essence of our species that created an Auschwitz and its outcome approximately 65 years ago. The ushmm.org website has a very good section dedicated to genocide. Please investigate.
I remember reading and listening to mythology/religion scholar Joseph Campbell in the late 80's. He made the statement, which seems even more prophetic today, that somehow in our modern technologically advancing (these days at dizzying speeds of light) world we had not evolved a new mythology in which to find a spiritual path which resonates for our times. His assertion was that, throughout man's history, societies had created mythologies that were necessary and helpful to humans and that were based upon mankind's evolutionary maturity. Campbell's observation was that we were long overdue for a new mythology which reflected our evolutionary progress. We seem as a species to be stuck at a spiritual age of a two year old, although our intellectual maturity is that of a 40 year old. When I look around today that is most evident and even more frightening than when I heard Mr. Campbell make the observation two decades ago.
So this blog entry today isn't positive, I'm sorry. It is most fatalistic. We really can only do one thing though: NEVER FORGET what we are capable of. It's chilling enough to make one reconsider your own thoughts and to examine more closely the world in which you live today.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day
I won't ever forget that visit to Auschwitz. I cannot ever forget that mankind is capable of such horrific acts. It can and will happen again. Unless we never forget.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Cebu Dancing Inmates – Michael Jackson’s This Is It DVD. The “Thriller” routine of the Cebu dancing inmates captured audiences worldwide, including the King of Pop himself, the late Michael Jackson. Payne, along with two of Jackson’s backup dancers, taught the inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center new routines for a special dance video that will be released to coincide with the “This Is It” DVD launch.
The number was called “The Drill,” the last choreography Payne and Jackson collaborated on before the King of Pop died in June 2009.
The performance was uploaded on the video-sharing site YouTube last January 22. Accessed on the morning of January 26, the video clip had already been viewed 417,610 times. The number also showed the inmates forming a huge peace sign, possibly in remembrance of Jackson, who advocated world peace. Dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid also joined the inmates, who wore black “This Is It” shirts.
The choreographer said it was but fitting to include a special dance number from the now world-renowned Cebu inmates for the special “This Is It” DVD launch. The Cebu dancing inmates even made it to the “Michael Jackson Opus,” the only new publication that was approved and endorsed by Jackson himself and the estate of Michael Jackson.
1,500 plus CPDRC inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines at practice!
From World Architecture News
Floating city concept designed for ecological living solution
Kevin Schopfer, heading up Ahearn Schopfer architects practice, has developed this unconventional solution to ecological living, specified for use in New Orleans.
Together with Tangram 3DS, a firm specializing in visualization and computer animation, Schopfer has designed and presented New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) as a proposed urban Arcology (architecture and ecology), whose philosophic underpinnings rest in combining large scale sustainability with concentrated urban structures, in this case a floating city.
NOAH's structure is designed for concentrated use with around 20,000 housing units at an average of 1,100 sq ft, three hotels, 1,500 time-share units and 500,000 sq ft of retail space. Also incorporated are three casinos, 500,000 sq ft of commercial condominiums, parking for 8,000 cars, a school, 100,000 sq ft of cultural facilities and a 20,000 sq ft health facility, making the structure socially self-sufficient. All fitting together with public amenities and administrative offices into an estimated 30 million sq ft.
Asked about why NOAH took this form, the architect responded: "The Pyramid shape is the strongest, most able shape to guarantee structural stability when considering the size and height to width ratio of the entire structure. The shape was also chosen so that the wind and inclement weather would be able to blow through the building instead of fight it."
Transportation through the structure would be made possible by the implementation of staggered 'zone elevators' and a mini electric 'subway' system.
Chosen as the 'city that needs it most' the design of NOAH is not created to complement the fabric of New Orleans but as a 'sustainable icon' which would be forever anchored by its coastline.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The picture above is from TIME.com picture of the day, January 21, 2010.
Thai elephants walk through the backpackers' area of Khao San Road to collect money for the survivors of Haiti's earthquake.
So, most of the recent NBC late night brouhaha was a bit lost on me. I never liked Leno. I've always preferred Letterman. I've never watched Conan or Leno's new shows. But I do think no matter what, that the NBC people are idiots.
Since I don't like Leno I'm automatically sympathetic to Conan. But after this, I LOVE the guy. This is utterly hysterical. You go, Conan. (thanks to perezhilton.com for this). And good for Tom Hanks for taking part in this perfect fuck you gesture.
Perezhilton had this listing today on his blogsite:
You Go, Coco! O'Brien Blows NBC's Money Until The End!
Although Conan refrained from slamming NBC during his last night on the Tonight Show, Coco had no problem spending the network's $$$!
According to The Roots' drummer and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon house band leader Questlove, NBC paid $500,000 for Tom Hanks to walk out to The Beatles' Lovely Rita (in honor of Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson) on Conan's Friday night show!!
"yo i hate spoiling but i will have you know that walk on song we just heard was half a milli. i know cause i got the list rate at nbc… anytime you use the beatles on tv that will cost you dearly."
Thursday, January 21, 2010
It is quite large but it doesn't have the elegance that Dubai's Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) has? I don't think. It is rather nice looking and it is colossally tall, which is the first attraction for me. I like my buildings tall.........BIG and TALL. It actually looks like two buildings attached with intermittent connecting floors. It appears to be built on an island which is interesting. But I think the crown thing at the top is a bit odd. It looks strangely like a bishop's mitre. The base is rather interesting as it looks like it is very "green" design-oriented. But the photo below from above makes the whole structure too phallic and the base looks a bit to "scrotal." What do you think?
No telling how long it will take to build if it ever gets built. So the current reigning world champion, the Burj Khalifa should stay champ for a while.
Developed by Kobi Karp, a Miami based architectural and interior design firm, the “Miapolis” is a 975-meter high tower planned for Watson Island that if constructed will surpass Dubai’s Burj Khalifa by 183 meters. Accommodating an amusement park, observatory, restaurants, 1.96 million sq ft of shops, over 1000 apartments, 1 million sq ft office space and a 792-room hotel, the 160-story superscraper will create 35,000 permanent jobs and generate $39 million to the City and $2.5 billion to the local economy annually. To quote the Miapolis website,
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I'm heading directly to the store to get the new GQ issue with that brilliant and gorgeous Johnny Depp on the cover. The issue is the 25 Most Stylish Men in the World and includes a few other favorite hotties: Daniel Day Lewis and Robert Pattinson.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Director: Joaquin Baldwin
Running Time: 4'06
A voodoo doll must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death.
Joaquin Baldwin is an Annie Award nominee director and animator from Paraguay. Living in Los Angeles, he is now finishing his MFA in animation at UCLA. He has received over 50 international awards for his animated films Sebastian's Voodoo and Papiroflexia, and also several grants including the Jack Kent Cooke full Graduate Scholarship in 2006.
I've recently added star ratings capability for each of the postings. I love getting feedback and hopefully this is a quick and easy way for readers of this blog to respond. Be sure and leave your rating (1 to 5 yellow stars below). Or even better your comments.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
They've really had some great stuff recently at Time.com Picture of the Day/Pictures of the Week after a long period of nothing.
Here's a beautiful shot of the Space Shuttle. It's hard to imagine that these magnificent machines will be retiring soon. A bit like the Concord supersonic airplane.....nothing has been built to replace it. Sad that we don't seem to evolve much these days (but of course that's silly of me...after all look at that gorgeous 2,600 ft high new tallest building, Burj Khalafi. See my previous posts a few days ago).
Space Shuttle Endeavour rolls to launch pad 39-a at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
This is a great new portrait of those two great Princes William and Harry by artist Nicky Philipps. The portrait is now a part of the collection at the National Portrait Gallery.
For more information, check out the CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/06/prince.william.harry.portrait/index.html
Their mother should be proud! Handsome dudes, aren't they!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
So the building opened yesterday but it has a new name. Previously called Burj Dubai it is now called Burj Khalifa.
It's height is just dizzying as these photos attest.
All photos are from Time.com: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery
Monday, January 4, 2010
"Dubai may be struggling financially, but money problems won't keep it from opening Burj Dubai on Jan. 4 and snagging the title for world's tallest building from Toronto, which has the soon-to-be second tallest CN Tower. Burj Dubai's actual height is a closely guarded secret, although developers admit that it will be at least 2,600 ft. (790 m) tall — almost twice the height of Chicago's Willis Tower [former Sear's Tower]. The tower, which cost an estimated $1.5 billion to construct, boasts 164 floors, nearly 1,100 one- to three-bedroom apartments and elevators that travel up to 25 miles per hour. Visitors to the 124th-floor observation deck can see 50 miles on a clear day."
Tall buildings is one of my passions in life. You can read other blog postings on Tall Buildings or Burj Dubai by clicking here.
Keep driving mankind to newer heights and newer levels, Dubai. This is a most remarkable place. Read "A Brief History of Dubai."
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Really great, but very disturbing, documentary about the butchery of my second favorite animal, the dolphin (along with elephants)! I watched this last weekend.
Find out more about this documentary and the true story of what is happening to dolphins in Japan by clicking here: http://www.takepart.com/thecove