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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday October 16 2018

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again.  Why do I regard most of Modern Art as silly, yet relish real world objects which resemble Modern Art?  Objects like this:

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The above photo was taken on The last really fine day of 2018, just minutes after I had taken the one in that earlier posting.

You don’t need to go to an exhibition of sloppily painted abstract art, when the regular world contains wondrous looking objects like that.  And what is more, they are wondrous looking objects which have worthwhile purposes.  This wondrous object is for supporting and protecting workers as they work on a building.

Here is how that same scaffolding looked, unwrapped, about a month earlier:

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I particular enjoy how the sky changes colour, in my camera, when a big white Thing is inserted into the picture.  (This afternoon, I encountered this, by Real Photographer Charlie Waite.  Same effect.)

Thank you to the (to me) invaluable PhotoCat, for enabling me to crop both of the above photos in a way that makes them more alike in their scope and which thereby points up the differences.  I’m talking about the invaluable Crop But Keep Proportions function that PhotoCat has, but which PhotoStudio (my regular Photoshop(clone)) 5.5 seems not to offer.  (I would love to be contradicted on that subject.)

Despite all my grumblings about how silly most Modern Art is, I do nevertheless greatly like the way that this Big Thing (the Reichstag) looks in the pride-of-place photo featured in this BBC report, an effect which presumably makes use of the same sort of technology as we see in my photo, but on a vastly grander scale:

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I have to admit that this is several orders of magnitude more impressive than my scaffolding.  (Maybe that was the last really fine day of 1994.) My scaffolding looks lots better than some badly painted little abstract rectangle in an Art gallery, but it’s not nearly as effective as the Reichstag, as wrapped by Christo and Partner.

Because this Big Wrapped Thing was so very big, and because it is such a very interesting shape, it really does look like it added greatly to Berlin, in that summer of 1994.  I entirely understand why all those people assembled to gaze at it.  Had I been anywhere in the vicinity, I would have too.  And had there been digital cameras then, I would have taken numerous photos, as would thousands of others.  Thus giving permanence to this vast piece of temporariness.

Because, what I also like about this Reichstag wrapping is that, just like my scaffolding, and just like all the other wrapping done by Wrapper Christo and his Lady Sidekick, it is temporary.  That BBC report calls it Pop-Up Art, and it is of the essence of its non-annoyingness that any particular piece of Pop-Up Art by Christo will soon be popping down again.

This Reichstag wrapping happened in 1994, but is now long gone.  Did you disapprove of what Christo and his lady did to the Reichstag?  You just had to wait it out.  Soon, it would be be gone.

Do you think scaffolding, especially when wrapped, is ugly?  Ditto.

Monday October 15 2018

Here are what I suspect to be some wise words, from Rob Fisher, in a comment on this Samizdata posting I recently did about Facebook’s political bias:

Facebook is for cat pictures, baby photos and holiday photos. I recently posted some photos of some old model trains I have and another friend offered to give me some old toy trains they don’t want any more. That’s what it’s for.

People trying to do politics on Facebook serves only to demonstrate how unsuited it is for that purpose.

That’s comment number 42, and very possibly the last word on the matter.

Like I say, this sounds wise, in the sense that it seems to contain an important truth, even if it doesn’t really sound like the whole truth.  After all, I just did another posting here about something political which I first heard about on Facebook.

Here is a photo of Rob’s toy trains that he recently posted on Facebook:

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Am I betraying a confidence, meant only for Rob’s Facebook friends?  Hardly, since Rob has already mentioned his trains on the Mainstream Media, in a comment at Samizdata.

It occurs to me that I have some toy trains that Rob might like.  Like because I think they are N gauge, but perhaps something even smaller.  Rob, if you read this, take a look at them next time you visit me.

I just watched Dominic Frisby, accompanying himself on the ukulele, singing a right wing comic song, recorded live at something called Comedy Unleashed.

I watched it on Facebook.  Here is a link.  Does that work?  Does it work only if you are on Facebook?  Does it work only if you are on Facebook and a “friend” of Dominic Frisby?

I have just suggested that this video be stuck up at Samizdata.  If that happens, I’ll add a link to that here.

Anyway, whether you get to see this video or not, it did make me think about that mythical beast that keeps on being talked about as something that exists or could exist, but which is now so seldom actually sighted.  I’m talking about right wing comedy.  In Britain.

What distinguishes Dominic Frisby from what you’d think a right wing comedian would be like is that he is so nice.  When he does comedy, at the usual comedy places, and as he has been doing it for years, he clearly fits in.  He is part of it all.  He likes – or does a damn good job of pretending that he likes - doing it, and the people he is doing it for.  He is mates with the other comedians, or comes across as that.  He has been following the time-tested rule for all challengers of the status quo, which is to start by thoroughly acquainting himself with that status quo, and showing that he is perfectly capable of winning by its existing rules.  That way, he learns his craft, he learns his audience, and he proves that he is not dissenting from orthodoxy merely because that orthodoxy is something he cannot do.  The new product he is offering is not sour grapes, but a new sweetness.

In this particular song, Frisby does not clobber his audience with confrontational opposition to assumed lefty wisdom, which he assumes his audience all shares and which he hates them all for all sharing.  No, he starts, in the manner recommended by noted philosopher Karl Popper, by summarising the case of those he disagrees with in the most respectful possible manner.  Only then does he suggest, in the most modest possible way, that there just might be another way of looking at the matter (maybe Tommy Robinson has a point, maybe Trump’s not all bad), and in a way that suggests he isn’t the only one who has been having these heretical thoughts.  He is leading his audience in a direction he really thinks they might follow him along.  It’s all done in the manner of George Formby, with grins and hints and merriment, with enjoyment simply assumed.

I never thought I’d hear a comedian get a laugh with one note played on a ukulele.  But that is exactly what happens, in the intro to verse three (which says that maybe Theresa May should get the sack).

More about right wing comedy in this, if you can decipher it.  It’s a photo of a big Sunday Times spread.

Let me try to make it easier to read:

imageimage

On the right of all this, not included in the above, this:

I saw a woman in a T-shirt that said “Smashing patriarchy!” on it.  Nice to see that some of them appreciate the hard work we put in.

That’s not Frisby.  That’s another right wing comic.  As you can read above, there’s a whole bunch of them.

But this is Frisby.  It’s another song called Secretly In Love With Nigel Farrage.  Sadly, the sound balance is all wrong and I couldn’t hear the words properly.  I hope Frisby has another go at recording that, on some future comedy occasion.

I’ve been a Frisby fan ever since I first heard of him, and I’ve not been wrong.  He even did a couple of my Last Friday meetings, doing very early try-outs of future Edinburgh shows.

Sunday October 14 2018

Photoer facelessness can be contrived in many ways, not least by the camera itself getting in the way.  Then there’s photoing them from behind.  Or having something else between their face and the camera photoing them.  And of course there’s cropping.

Here’s another little clutch of not-then-posted but ready-to-go photoer photos, found when looking for something else.  They guy holding up the red camera with two fingers, V-sign style, had already had the top of his face cropped off.  But nothing further then happened.

My favourites, from the facelessness point of view, are the first photo and the last photo:

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Burka Lady on the left looks like she had clocked me photoing her.  But my guess is she and her friend were getting a lot of that.

Number 7, or 3.1, or bottom left or whatever we call her, is rather recognisable.  But that interested me a lot.  What is she doing with her two cameras?  Trying to take identical photos, to compare her cameras?  If so, I wonder how the phone did compared to the regular camera?  Rather well, I’m guessing.

Saturday October 13 2018

Three photos I took this afternoon, in quick succession, from a moving train:

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Such photos seldom come out very well, what with all the movement and the reflections in the window.  But these did, I think.

I remember thinking, when it became clear what these two Big Things were going to look like, that although each looked okay separately, that they would make a rather discordant pair.  But as with almost all such Big London architectural eccentricities, I soon got used to this contrast, and now like it a lot.

Friday October 12 2018

That’s the plan anyway.  Read about it in a Dezeen posting entitled Urban Nouveau wants to save Stockholm’s Gamla Lidingöbron bridge by building homes in it:

Urban Nouveau has designed the scheme in response to Lidingö Municipality’s plans to tear down the Gamla Lidingöbron bridge, which links the Swedish capital to the island of Lidingö, and replace it with a modern structure.

I like the sound of this, and the look of it:

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Oh, sorry, no, that’s the old version of London Bridge.  (I recommend having a browse of that full-size. (it’s 6144 x 1024.))

The thing is, a bridge, for all the grand vistas you can often see from it, can be a rather forbidding and even boring thing to walk across.  It’s like walking along a huge boulevard.  Sounds good, but too little changes as you progress.  To make bridges pleasurable to walk across, you need stuff on them.

Which is why I am prejudiced in favour of this Stockhom scheme, even though what I know about it is only what I have skim-read about it in this one Dezeen posting.

There’s a Petition.

Somewhat over a year ago I wrote about When what I think it is determines how ugly or beautiful I feel it to be, in connection with this building:

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This is described, at any rate by its owners and its various occupants, as The Peak.

And that photo of mine above, taken from the top of the Westminster Cathedral Tower, is my Peak photo which best illustrates the oddly deceptive appearance of this decidedly odd-looking building.  It looks like a 60s rectangular lump, to which 90s or 00s curvatures, on the right as we look, and on the top, have been added.  But, as I discovered when concocting that previous posting, the whole thing was built all at once.  It looks like a two-off building rather than a one-off building, but looks deceive, or deceived me, for a while.  Two-off good, one-off bad, was how I had been thinking.  It was two-off, so (aesthetically) good.  Organic, additive, blah blah.  But, what was I supposed to think, on discovering that it was really an inorganic and un-additive one-off?

Now, buried in my photo-archives, I find this photo, taken on October 28th 2008, which confirms that The Peak is indeed a one-off, because here it is (here it was), all being built in one go.  There really is no doubt about it:

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When I took this photo, I was a lot more interested in the anti-pigeon spikes on top of those street lamps, and on top of the railway sign, than I was in the building work in the background.

How I now feel about The Peak, aesthetically, is that I still rather like it, if only because I have paid so much attention to it over the years, and feel sort of proprietorial towards it, as you would towards a somewhat clumsy child that you have adopted.  (That feeling applies, for me, to a great many London buildings.)

Also, whatever else you think of it, when you see it, you at once know where you are.  It is very recognisable, recognisability being a quality in buildings which I appreciate more and more.  “Iconic” is the rather silly word that estate agents and suchlike use to allude to this quality.  But they have a point, even if they use a silly word to point to their point.  That “you could be anywhere” feeling is not a good one, in a city or anywhere else.

“Other creatures” (see below) because of the pigeon scaring.

Thursday October 11 2018

A regular way I find good photos to stick up here is that I go looking for good photos, of one sort, and find good photos, of another sort.  So it was this evening:

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That’s a guy I photoed in Parliament Square in July of 2013, in the spot people use to photo Big Ben.  He is using two cameras.  One is a regular Canon SLR.  But the other …?  It’s a Rolleiflex, but have no idea which exact sort of Rolleiflex.

Apparently Rolleiflexes are TLR cameras.  TLR equals twin lens reflex.  So now I know all about Rolleflexes.

The guy has French words on his shirt.  Are Rolleiflexes particularly liked in France?  Or is that just some idiot brand sold everywhere?

Wednesday October 10 2018

There is building activity going on at the top end of Horseferry Road, which is near where I live.  And this afternoon, when I sallied forth to enjoy the last really fine day of 2018 and to photo London, this bit of London activity was one of the very first things I photoed.  I really like how it now looks:

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The walk lasted a long time, and that knackered me.  But what really knackered me was the shopping I needed to do at the end of the walk.  The final bit of that being lugging two bags of supermarket purchases up the stairs to my home.  This is not my idea of fun, even if it didn’t kill me and even if it did make me stronger.

So now all I am fit for is a little TV followed by bed.  I photoed many more pleasurable things today besides the above, which is why this posting is called “The last really fine day of 2018 (1)” rather than just “The last really fine day of 2018”.  But all of that will have to wait.  I promise at least one more posting concerning today’s photos, to make retrospective sense of that (1), but no more than that.  Good night.

Tuesday October 09 2018

When I google “crane”, what I want to see is tall pointy things made of metal for shifting stuff around on building sites, not birds posing en masse in a lake.  You can’t always get what you want.

A further illustration of that same principle came when, this morning, I had reason to google “canada goose”, because this time I actually wanted to learn about a bird.  I photoed some lines of birds a while back, in Rye, and blog pal 6k commented today that they were probably Canada geese.  And because 6k backed this up with some migration info that seemed quite informed, this sounded right, despite the fact that Rye is nowhere near to Canada.

So I googled “canada goose”.

But what I got was lots of expensive jackets with furry hoods.  Even after two pages of links to stuff about the jackets, there was literally no mention of any bird.

You can’t sell a bird for thousand quid, I guess.  Or, not a bird like a Canada goose.  I am not the customer of Google.  I am Google’s product.  Overpriced jacket sellers are Google’s customer.

However, if you google canada geese, sanity is restored.  And I think Canada geese migrating is even better.  It would appear from the images you get if you look there that Canada geese do often form great big mobs, fish shoal style.  It can take them a while to get organised into lines.

Monday October 08 2018

Nine years, to the day, actually.  I was trying for ten years to the day, but after concocting what follows, I realised that these actually date from October 8th 2009:

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The first one shows a rather strange footbridge that used to go over the site, taking pedestrians from London Bridge Station to Guy’s Hospital, and places beyond.  Most of the other photos were taken from on that bridge.

What surprises me now is how chaotic it all looks, especially when I zoomed in on a particular bit of chaos.

What that lumpy cylinder that they are manhanding is, I do not know.

The website to be seen in the final photo seems to be long gone.

Sunday October 07 2018

If I had a pound for every time someone’s told me that they like to photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road, I wouldn’t have any more pounds than I already have, because it’s just me that likes to do this.  But, I really like it.

I’m talking about photos like this one:

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Great light there, don’t you think?  It could be an oil painting.  Exactly as it came out of the camera, no Photoshop(clone)ing.  That dates from April of 2015.  As you can see, that weird entrance to Tottenham Court Road Tube station was still under construction.

Here’s a couple more, taken in 2016 …:

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... and in 2017:

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That crane there should have told me that something ominous was in the works, but actually I was taken by surprise.

Take a look at what the same scene looked like today:

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That’s right.  The Wheel is about to blotted out of this particular picture.

I moved nearer, which moved the top of the Wheel down to the bottom gap in the structure:

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I took a final close up:

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And that may well be the last time that I ever photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road.

Saturday October 06 2018

On Thursday September 27th, I photoed a leaning crane, from the top of the John Lewis Roof Garden.  But that wasn’t all I photoed.  Of course not.  I wouldn’t go to a spot like that and take just the one photo.

A few more views:

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My usual preoccupations.  Big Things.  Cranes (including window cleaning cranes).  Roof clutter.  Scaffolding.

Can you spot Big Ben?  Clue: scaffolding.

Friday October 05 2018

Busy day doing other things besides this, but here are a couple of Other Creatures snaps, the Other Creatures in this case being birds.

Last Saturday evening, I and some friends were in the southern coastal town (one of the so-called Cinque Ports) of Rye.  As it was getting dark, a big line of birds flew over us.  I snatched this shot, which you can get all of by clicking on this rotated and horizontalised slice:

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Then another squadron of birds flew over, this time in a V shape, which means that this next horizontalisation is a bit less thin:

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So, two lines, joined at the front, all following the one top dog bird.

Again, click to get the original.

Rye is a “port” that isn’t much of a port anymore, because a thousand years of river mud has pushed the sea away from it.  The houses in my two photos are recent, where there used to be sea, a bit away from the centre.  The centre, i.e. the whole of the old town, is on a hill, which used to be an island.

I think the birds are geese, but I really do not know.  For the benefit of birdophiles, this full-size crop from out of another photo I took, of the first line of birds above, should narrow it down:

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Those look far too big to be - I don’t know - starlings.  And, I surmise, rather too well organised. Starlings just swirl about in a big mob, like fishes, right?  Come to think of it, do any fishes line up like these big birds?  I ought to be asking the internet this, but I’m off to bed.

Thursday October 04 2018

Yesterday I attended a Master Class at the Royal College of Music, in which five singing students, GodDaughter 2 among them, were publicly instructed by distinguished tenor and vocal teacher Dennis O’Neil.  It was fascinating.  He spent most of the time focussing on the art that conceals art, which meant that I couldn’t really understand what he was saying.  The minutiae of sounds and syllables, and of where the sound comes from, in the head or in the body.  All like a foreign language to me, but it was fascinating to expand the range of my ignorance, so to speak.  I am now ignorant about a whole lot more than I was.

This all happened way down at the bottom of the RCM, in the Britten Theatre (which you go down to get into but the theatre itself stretches up to the top again), On the way back up the numerous stairs to the street level entrance, I saw, through a very grubby window, and photoed, this:

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Okay the window is indeed very grubby, but, you know, how about that?  All that roof clutter, buried in the middle of the College.  Although, I think that this particular clutter is part of Imperial College, which is next door.

Backstage architecture, you might say.

The Royal College of Music is as amazing an accumulation of architectural chaos as I have ever experienced.  It must take about half of your first year to learn where everything is, and years later you are probably still getting surprises.  I never knew this was here!  Etc.

That corridor made of windows, bottom left, with the light in it, is something I have several times walked along, to a canteen or a bar or some such thing, I think.  By which I mean that I think I have walked along it, but that this could be quite wrong.  Like I say: architectural chaos.  I took a look at the place in Google Maps 3D, but I still have only the dimmest Idea of where I was on the map.

The night before, I was at the Barbican Centre, also for some music, and that’s almost as architecturally chaotic as the inside of the RCM.  But there, they don’t have the excuse that the architectural chaos accumulated over about a century of continuous improvisation.  At the Barbican, the chaos was all designed and built in one go.

Wednesday October 03 2018

This:

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Photoed by me last night.  And explained here.  The Metropolitan Line came up with this logo just after the regular London Underground logo was devised.  Now this version of it survives,but only on platforms at Moorgate that are no longer used.

Weird.

In the twentieth century, weird is all it would have been.  Then forgotten.  Just another of life’s little mysteries.  But, in the age of the internet, there are no little mysteries.

Tuesday October 02 2018

Photoed by me last night, at Blackwall DLR station:

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It’s not really that of course.  It’s just that I have learned that one of the best ways to photo a sunset is to photo railway tracks that are disappearing into it.

Monday October 01 2018

Not really, I don’t suppose.  But that’s how it looks.

I can’t recall how I came across this amazing bridge, but I think it was my Twitter feed.  My first reaction was that this was some very high class Photoshopping.  But no.  Here’s a report from July of this year.

This Thing is for real.  It is in Vietnam:

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I found that photo here.

Given that the flood of big and impressive new bridges now seems to have receded (and given that big “new” bridges are now starting to collapse), the emphasis has switched to small and impressive new bridges.  Of which this one is by far the most impressive, in my opinion.

These giant hands are going to trigger a flood of similarly inventive small bridges, with sculptors and engineers collaborating to outdo each other.  Not all will be beautiful, but all will very recognisable and distinctive, which is the next best thing, I think.

People love bridges.  It’s not just me.  Look at all the people on that bridge.

Does the bridge have a giant figure beside it, who is holding the bridge, or are there just hands?  If not, maybe that will happen soon.  A statue holding a bridge.  Why not?

How about London getting the man who did these sculptures to design a London footbridge, somewhere, in which two more such guys are holding it up?  Or four?  Or six?  I’ll leave that to him and his engineer.  But, London, do this.

All over the world, now, people - people like me - are seeing the bridge in the photo above, and are saying: Why can’t we have something like that?

And others are saying: Oh no, how ghastly.  But to hell with them.  Put the first such bridge in your area somewhere really ugly, where there’s nothing to spoil.  That should silence the grumblers.

Sorry about yesterday here.  All now seems to be well.

Sadly, this SQL error crap seems to keep happening.  Although as of now I promise nothing, a better answer than just correcting such things when they happen is now being worked on.