Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Frog Pond Farm (North)

I think I may have found a roadside attraction that's not on the Roadside America site: Frog Pond Farm, which includes this giant ant attacking the barn:

It's a gallery of the work of the Ferro family, based in Little York, New York, about 45 minutes from Syracuse.

The main attraction is the life-size and over-size animals and insects, sculpted in metal by Tino Ferarro.

Many are visible from outside the barn, but it's pretty easy to get in to see the rest by contacting them via the website.

Tino and other members of the family also do a bit of painting:

I met Carole Ferro when I visited. She had just been painting a peacock before we arrived.

I love the piece Carole called the Olive Tree:

The twisted trunk is made of a complete jumble of metal objects:

The piece that got my attention the most, though, was probably this cluster of steel fiddlehead ferns:

They seemed like aliens until I realized they were just friendly ostrich ferns, made gigantic and rendered in stainless.

The funniest piece was probably this, which was tucked away almost out of sight under the barn:

From the cone-shaped corsette and garters, I deduced its intended subject is Madonna, but darn if her face doesn't look more like the HBO version of Daenarys Targaryen.

Frog Pond Farm has a winter location in St. Pauls, North Carolina, also called Frog Pond Farm South. Who knows what they've got outside there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yankee Rebels

While traveling across rural central New York, well off the beaten path of interstates and college towns, I noticed an odd thing.

It was on a state highway that connects three small cities with populations between 7,000 and 20,000, each one the seat of its respective county. The population density along the two-lane road was low; it wasn't uncommon to drive for a mile or two without seeing a house among the fields that alternated corn with unmown goldenrod.

But during a two-hour stretch of this type of country, I saw three Confederate flags (or, more accurately, the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia) flying from the fronts of houses. The first was the worst: a straight-up stars and bars hanging from a pole right next to an official U.S. flag.

The other two were flying by themselves and had some kind of other image atop the stars and bars. I finally stopped and took a picture when I came across the third one:

Here it is a bit closer up so you can be sure it really does have those blue bars and white stars, plus get an idea about the other art that's superimposed. (I think it's probably a bald eagle.)

Then at the end of the trip, when I had arrived in the last small city (population 14,000), I saw this on one of the streets:

The owner of this work of art was too lazy or uninformed to add the stars to the bars, but the concept is clear.

As I said, these sightings were all in central New York, a place that Colin Woodward says is about as much Yankee country as you can get, so what does it mean that this many people are flying the rebel flag, symbol of the Confederacy?

Are they all members of the Klan? Do they burn crosses in the yards of black people, if they even know where to find any black people? I doubt it, though they probably are down on immigrants.

My best guess is that they fly the flag as a pointed rejection of people they perceive as urban elites. It's a big "fuck you" to anyone perceived as not part of rural (and therefore the real) America. Maybe it's seen as synonymous with Second Amendment rights. After all, the South's secession and war with the Union army is the ultimate in using your weapons to fight something that was perceived as endangering a way of life.

To go along with all of this, here's a storefront window from one of the towns along that route:

The posters in the window read:

  • Stop Obama's HHS Mandate
  • Hands Off My Health Care
  • American Jobs for American Workers
  • Stand for Something Revolutionary - Protect Our Constitution
  • NO! Amnesty
  • Repeal NY's S.A.F.E. Act - Honor the 2nd Amendment
  • Tea Party Patriots
And on the door there are two copies of a bumper sticker that says "Second Amendment: The One Right that Secures Them All."

Monday, August 24, 2015

More from the Road

Traveling a lot in a day makes it hard to write much or even read much of all that thinking out there on the interweb... so, instead, here are a few photos for Tuesday, August 24, 2015.

First, a product that shouldn't exist, from the sale floor at a convenience store:

These over-packaged plastic bottles full of sugar-laden fruit juice are sold as "Good 2 Grow" with no sugar added. This is literally true, I guess, but fruit juice -- in this case mostly white grape juice -- is mostly sugar and water. There's no nutrition about it, cool or otherwise.

The store in this photo caught my attention because of the green generic "tattoo" sign. But then I noticed the name of the store in the top left window:

Final Solutions Ink. Huh. Sounds like the place to go for a tattoo.

And, finally, a few humorous signs on a garage door:

In case you can't read them, the left one says "Zombies" and the right one shows a farmer on a tractor being pursued by a zombie with the words "Eat Locals."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dead Possum in the Middle of the Road

On the road. Literally.

Not figuratively.


Shot in the middle of a rural road in New York state.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Retail These Days

Here are a couple of recent retail photos from living in the age of the interweb.

I feel silly being shocked by this product, which allows you to fill a hundred water balloons at once, but I can't help it:

It seems like half the point of water balloons is finding out how hard it is to make them and hurting your fingers while trying them. And then getting the reward of being hit with one.

Then there's this section sign from a grocery store:

New Age Beverages. What is that, and does it really need its own section of shelves. I was having a hard time imagining what that would include -- Kombucha? Tapioca drinks?

But no, it was Snapple and things from Starbucks.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Serious Animals at Northern Clay Center

Currently on view at Minneapolis's Northern Clay Center: ceramic works by McKnight artists. Here are a couple of them.

First, "From Here to There: by Kelly Connole:

Each of those white things over the zebra is a handmade porcelain butterfly, hung from a blue thread. In person, the threads make a blue translucent area over and among the butterflies. The accompanying text tells the story of the artist's young friend and student who was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition -- one of the "zebras" that doctors in training are taught will likely never be seen among all of the horses of mundane medical practice.

Continuing the animal theme, but in a different way and by a different artist:

This is "You Are What You Eat" by Kip O'Krongly. In case you can't tell, those feed troughs are full of red and white gelatine capsules.

O'Krongly's other piece in the show is this large-scale bar graph:

Each of those plates is about 9" in diameter with its own finely rendered image of a cow, chicken, pig, or turkey.

Here's the key, both to better explain the graph's information and show how nice the drawings and glazes are.

The exhibit closes on August 30, so get over there, if you can, to these in person and the rest of the works!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Scenes and Logos from America

A few images from Middle America.

First, this logo, seen along an interstate highway:

I guess it's not so much the logo as the name itself. I read it as s'DUMP-er, which made no sense, but it was all I could think of. But no, it's SIDE-dumper, get it? It's a dump truck that dumps sideways.

Second, there's nothing like a logo that tries to throw a large capital letter where it doesn't belong:

In this case, the designer has given us a new state, Lillinois. Maybe that's where Lil Wayne comes from.

Then there's this entrance to a Holiday Inn Express, which is a design disaster:

I'll bet they built this glass vestibule with its doors facing front into the driveway. Then at some point, to make it both wheelchair- and roller-bag-accessible, they closed off those doors and put the doors on the sides where the sidewalk slopes down gently. Despite the metal railings, I still tried to walk into the front part.

And then there's that white type on the door. See it there near the right side of the photo? It says DOOR SWINGS OUT.

Any time a door has to tell you which way it opens, it's a design failure. You should just know how it opens from how it looks.

Finally, there's the pancake-making machine at the Holiday Inn Express. You press a button and a minute later it squeezes out two pancakes from between a set of rollers. It's a process that looks just a little too much like human elimination:

Making those pancakes is literally done with the press of a single button, after you put your plate on the counter as shown. My favorite part: the sign in the background reads "Children under 16 years of age may not operate the pancake machine without adult supervision."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Other NWA

I haven't seen the movie Straight Outta Compton yet, though I plan to. But in the meantime, I saw this poster along Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, in the heart of our urban Indian Country:

It was (I assume) wheat-pasted to a large piece of particle board covering the door of an apartment building under renovation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Looking Down: A Moth

Here's another for the Looking Down file:

I don't know what kind of moth this is -- helpful or harmful or just another insect on the Earth -- but the contrast of color and texture made me stop to take a photo.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Leave Nothing Behind

Wow, Cottonelle, I'm not sure this is going to get you more sales:

This full-page ad, seen in Entertainment Weekly magazine, seems off in a number of ways.

  1. The idea that a particular texture of toilet paper would make it possible to "leave nothing behind on your behind" is a bit odd. Does anyone believe that?
  2. Even if their CLEANRIPPLE® texture does have that property, is that really what anyone thinks about when buying toilet paper, or why someone might become brand-loyal to a toilet paper?
  3. The tag line, Go Cottonelle Go Commando, combined with the saucy look on the model's face,  is just trying too hard.
  4. And finally, this is a half-hearted use of an "ethnic" model. Way to find a younger cousin of Rachel Dolezal (remember her?).
Sounds like the campaign is part of a strategy to shake up Cottonelle's third-place sales in the toilet paper marketplace, by co-opting young buyers into thinking the old brand is hip to their pantslessness. Old fuddy-duddies like me are not part of it, according to USA Today:
Executives at Cottonelle realize some folks will be grossed-out by the ads, but not many, says O'Connor. The brand tested it with more than 100 consumers for their reactions and "the percentage who felt it was gross was just 2% to 3%," she says.
They also hope it will get people talking, so I guess I have fallen for that. Oh, well.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Glimpse of the Slave Trade

Slate's stunning map of slave shipments from Africa to the Western Hemisphere is worth watching several times. Once just for the sheer overwhelming force of its information, and again to begin to get a sense of the details.

1725 to 1825...was...the high-water mark of the slave trade, as Europeans sen[t] more than 7.2 million people to forced labor, disease, and death in the New World....

By the conclusion of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at the end of the 19th century, Europeans had enslaved and transported more than 12.5 million Africans. At least 2 million, historians estimate, didn’t survive the journey. 
I've categorized this post under Facts I Never Knew, which isn't completely accurate, but it fits my lack of awareness of the scope and direction of the shipping of humans.

Sculpture of chained men below decks at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee

Less than 4 percent of the people stolen from Africa were sent to North America, and that's pretty much all I (and other Americans) hear about, especially in our schooling.

The Portuguese transported the majority of stolen people to Brazil, but the British (and Americans) did a major share as well, especially during that 18th century period noted above. The U.S. -- including the North -- was built on the money made from the trade.

As this sign from the Civil Rights Museum says (among many other things), the stolen people were mostly kidnapped from far inland. "Up to a third died during the march to the coastal European slave forts." Then another 20 percent died on the ocean "from disease, malnutrition, and abuse."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Go with the Flowchart

I've entered the deacquisitioning phase of life, but there is one exception: books.

This must be the reason why:

Seen at Uncle Hugo's, the oldest continually operating science fiction and fantasy bookstore in the U.S.