Saturday, June 30, 2012

Swastikas: Part 3

Continuing a photographic look at the non-Nazi use of swastikas . . .

The Krit Motor Car Company (1909-1916), the name probably coming from the name of Kenneth Crittenden, a financial backer and designer of the cars, used the swastika as its emblem.

 Note the similarity between the Krit emblem and the Nazi depiction of the swastika as regards the above designs.  The fact that Krit vehicles were exported to overseas countries (including Australia), with large numbers in Europe, has led to speculation by some writers that the Krit design may also have influenced Hitler's adoption of it.

Swastika in Buddhist temple, China

Buddhist temple floor, Tibet

Swastika motif around Manchester Central Library, UK. Built 1930-4. 

Balinese temple

 Swastika is also the name of a small town founded in 1908 around a mining site in Ontario, Canada.  The town was named after the Swastika Gold Mine, staked in 1907.  During World War 2 the government sought to change the town’s name to Winston, in honour of Winston Churchill, but the residents refused, pointing out that their town had been named Swastika long before Hitler and the Nazis had co-opted the symbol. By day the Ontario Department of Highways put up new signs; by night the residents took them down and erected their own signs with the name Swastika.  Residents today remain resistant to suggestions for change.

An embossed and airbrushed American postcard of the 1905 - 1910 era, bearing the legend "To Darling Baby," accompanied by a lavender swastika and a bunch of Lily-of-the-Valley flowers.

Swastikas have been found in ancient Jewish synagogues alongside the Star of David.  Excavations of a group of 3 synagogues, the Mooz Haim Synagogue, dating back to 400-600AD and discovered in 1974, at the Golan Heights have revealed floors paved with small stones of about 70 different hues depicting Itzhak's sacrifice, the Ark of the Covenant, inscriptions in Hebrew and Aramaic, traditional Jewish symbols, such as the menorah, customary national ornaments, and many different swastikas.

Swastika on Ein Gedi synagogue mosaic floor. Discovered 1965.

Google Earth’s east access to aerial views has revealed buildings shaped like swastikas, resulting in demands that those buildings be modified.  Many of those demands have come from activist Jewish groups and individuals:

The four unconnected buildings pictured above forming a swastika are part of the Coronado Naval Amphibious Base at San Diego and were built in 1967. The Navy has stated that it  did notice the shape during construction, but decided that no-one would ever see it from above so there was no point in wasting the money starting again with a new design.  The advent of Google Earth has changed that and now the US Navy will spend $600,000 in landscaping and new structures to break up the pattern in order to eliminate complaints over it. 

It has been suggested that the two buildings to the left of the swastika building symbolically represent bombers on their way to destroy the swastika (see first photo).

 In Alabama, Wesley Acres is a care facility that houses 117 residents.  It also is in the shape of a swastika from the air.  The building is owned by the government, was designed in the mid 1970’s and was built in 1980.  Renovations and extensions in 2001 saw the addition of two wings which created the s Prompted by complaints from a Jewish activist, the agency that owns the government-funded building is planning to alter its shape to disguise the Nazi symbol.

Avrahaum Segol, an Israeli-American researcher, claims the swastika shape is homage to German scientists who designed the V2 rockets launched against Allied targets in World War II.  The scientists were brought to nearby Huntsville after the war to work on the NASA spaceships which would eventually put man on the moon.  He says that the Alabama retirement home is a "sister building" to the swastika-shaped barracks at Naval Base Coronado and says they were both part of a government-funded conspiracy to honour Nazis.

In 2002, Christmas crackers containing plastic toy pandas sporting swastikas were pulled from shelves after complaints from consumers in Canada. The manufacturer, based in China, explained the symbol was presented in a traditional sense and not as a reference to the Nazis, and apologised to the customers for the cross-cultural mixup. (But is that a medal that the panda is wearing on its chest?)

 In 2007, Spanish fashion chain Zara withdrew a handbag from its stores after a customer in Britain complained swastikas were embroidered on it. The bags were made by a supplier in India and inspired by commonly used Hindu symbols, which include the swastika.

 To be continued - the concluding Part 4 will focus on vintage postcards.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pulitzer for Photography, 1945

Continuing a look at the Pulitzer and World Press Photographs of the Year, from inception . . .


Pulitzer Prize for Photography

Joe Rosenthal of Associated Press

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

On 19 August 1945 the US invade Iwo Jima, a heavily fortified volcanic island approximately 1,200 kilometres south of Tokyo.  The island was used as an early warning system for bombers attacking Japan and also had strategic value as an emergency landing strip for damaged US bombers.  Most of the fighting was conducted by the Japanese from underground bunkers and pillboxes.

The historic photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, a dormant volcanic cone and the highest on the island, is actually of the second flag raising on the mountain.  Early in the morning of 23 February, 1945, Staff  Sergeant Louis R Lowery of Leatherneck magazine had photographed the first flag raising after Suribachi had been captured.  The flag was too small to be seen clearly from the landing beaches.

Staff Sergenat Lowery’s photograph of the first flag raising

The Secretary of the Navy, James Forestal, had decided the night before that he wanted to go ashore at Iwo Jima and watch the final stages of the fighting. His boat came ashore just as the flag was being raised and, in the fervour of the moment, said that he would like to have the flag as a souvenir.  When the 2nd Battalion Commander Chandler Johnston heard of it, he commented “The hell with that.”  As far as he was concerned the flag belonged to the battalion.  He ordered Lieutenant Ted Tuttle to get a replacement flag and added “And make it a bigger one.”

Tuttle did find a flag, a bigger flag, and gave it to Johnston, who in turn gave it to PFC Gagnon to take up the mountain and have it raised.  That morning a telephone wire had been run up Mount Suribachi by Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon H. Block, Private First Class Franklin R. Sousley and Private First Class Ira H. Hayes.  Now a patrol went up as well to raise the second flag.  Also with them were Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and Marine photographers Bob Campbell and Bill Genaust (who was killed in action nine days after the flag raising).  Whilst thinking of turning back, the photographers met Lowery, who had photographed the earlier flag raising, who told them that it was worth pressing on for the quality photos available from the summit.

The photographic party reached the summit as the Marines were attaching the flag to an old Japanese water pipe.  Rosenthal put down his camera and sought to pile rocks to stand on to increase his vantage point when the Marines began to raise the flag.  He quickly raised his camera and snapped a photo without using the viewfinder.  Ten years later he wrote “Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know.”

To view Bill Genaust’s film of the flag raising from approximately the same vantage point, click on:

Funny Friday


Today some visual humour, items sent to me by email or SMS . . .

When bananas go bad . . .

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Words: Michael Jackson


“I love you more.” 

-           Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)

Michael Jackson died on 25 June three years ago.  He was aged 50.

As he left his last rehearsal for a planned concert in London, choreographer Travis Payne called out to him “I love you”.  Jackson replied “I love you more”.

Not long afterwards he died in bed of cardiac arrest brought on by acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication. His personal physician Conrad Murray, who administered the drugs, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Some Jackson milestones and moments:
Recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful entertainer of all time.
His videos for songs such as Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller are credited with transforming videos into an art form and major promotional device.  Those videos also gave MTV its early success and fame.
Popularised complicated dance moves such as the Robot and the Moonwalk, which he also named.
Thriller album remains the best selling album of all time.
One of only a few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.
The first (and currently only) dancer from the world of pop and rock 'n' roll to be inducted into the Dance Hall of fame.
“And I remember going to the record studio and there was a park across the street and I'd see all the children playing and I would cry because it would make me sad that I would have to work instead.”
-          Michael Jackson
13 Grammy awards;
Grammy Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award;
26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the "Artist of the Century" and "Artist of the '80s");
13 number one singles in the US in his solo career
Estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide.
Donated more than $300 million to charity, and holds the Guinness World Record for having supported the most charities out of any pop star.
Jackson was preparing for a concert series at the time of his death in an effort to cope with his level of debt.  In March 2010, Sony Music Corporation signed the largest music contract to date with Jackson's estate, a $250 million deal to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.
“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.”
-          Michael Jackson

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crescent and Moon Inspired Building Designs - Part 2

Continuing the theme of crescent band moon inspired buildings following my mistaking a proposed design for a contructed Dubai building:

RAK Convention and Exhibition Centre:

Following are pics of the proposed giant RAK Convention and Exhibition Centre for the new city at Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.  If you think it looks familiar, you’re right, it looks like the Death Star out of Star Wars.  Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf, the centre consists of a spherical glass and steel nest and a very long, low building raised off the ground.  It incorporates a convention centre, hotel rooms, apartments, offices and retail space. 
As one person commented:  “Excellent. The Emperor will be most impressed.”  (Breathing noises).

Mahina house:

Mahina is Maori for moon - is a crescent shaped architectural design by Weber Consulting for a residential dwelling proposed to be erected on the island of Kawau, New Zealand, 60 kilometres north of Auckland.  Kawau is home to a mere 450 properties and 70 residents, who mainly get around by boat.  There are no street lights and limited phone services. The proposals have divided the residents, some being supportive and others vehemently opposed, hence the design is a visualisation only at this stage.  The designers advise that the design can be built anywhere on the planet.

Crescent House, Wiltshire designed by architect Ken Shuttleworth of make architects.

According to the designer, the concept is not a modern box artificially placed in a landscape, but is rooted strongly in its site. It is a series of simple forms made of white finished concrete and clear glass. Internally they create different types of space related to the type of activity. 

Earlier this year plans were unveiled for a crescent-shaped building in Lusail in Qatar inspired by the two curved swords in the emblem of Qatar.  The project ‘Lusail Marina Iconic Development’ was unveiled by Qatar-based Katara Hospitality at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai.
It will contain 800 units including hotel rooms, apartments, offices, boutique retail and restaurants.  Aiming for completion by 2016, the scheme is targeting travelling football fans during the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

Concluding part to come: the controversial 9/11 design.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interesting Pics

Caution:  risqué content

I have previously posted Winston Churchill’s comments concerning his open fly and his package.  Read that post by clicking on:

At the risk of being thought to have an obsession with Winston’s willy, I share with you that I came across a pic of Sir Winston the other day that had me looking away and calling “My eyes!  My eyes!”  In 1922, in the days before paparazzi and gossip mags, Churchill was photographed emerging from the sea at Deauville, France.  He was then aged 48, having been born in 1874 (dying in 1965).  The Prime Ministerial pecker pic leaves little to the imagination.  The pic is also interesting in that the hands on hips walk and facial expression are suggestive of the steely resolve and determination to come in the later war years.

Here are some other early pre-paparazzi pics of Sir Winston in his swimming togs.  Taken in 1911 when Winston was Home Secretary, the first shows him in the water with wife Clementine , also in bathing outfit, in Dieppe, France.  The second is of Churchill after bathing in the waters of the Channel.  Note the stoney beach, the lack of swimmers and the number of fully clothed people on the pier.

Reader Comment


From Byter Charlie Z:

Are you sure “three dog night” didn't come from Alaska? Alaskan sled dogs share tents with their masters, and I can't picture aboriginals sharing space with 3 dingoes!


Charlie is referring to the post on the origin of band names.

The following sentence is from the Three Dog Night (band) website at:

The now-famous name came from a story about Australian aborigines who, on cold nights in the outback, sleep with their dogs for warmth. The coldest evenings are known as "three dog nights".

That explains the band name but is Charlie right, that the term more likely applies to sled dogs?