Bromeliad Beauties

Pink with inflorescence

Pink with Inflorescence - 2011

These are two of over 3,000 species of bromeliads, a family that includes plants as diverse as spanish moss, the air plant well known by indoor gardeners, and the pineapple. Many, such as the spanish moss, are epiphytes that can subsist on nutrients in the air, rain and debris that fall around them, and do not need to be rooted to the ground. Others, like the pineapple are more terrestrial and do better rooted to the earth.

The variety of shapes and colors in these tropical plants is a dazzling reminder of the beauty around us — beauty that can bring balance into our lives if only we choose to look.

It's a gold one!

Golden - 2011

Old Dog, Young Woman

A dog's life

A Life Well Lived - 2010

Bloodshot eyes, red gums and worn teeth did nothing to stop this old dog from enjoying life. Adorned with a carnation necklace and leaning against his owner’s knee, he was happily watching the antics of the St. Patrick’s Day parade crowd, ready to give any passerby a gentle lick and a wag.

In contrast, the young woman seated alone at Pleasant’s bar seemed isolated from the social swirl. All judgments aside, the contrast between the two images may say something about the variety in how we experience the world.

Young woman at the bar

Pleasant's Bar - 2010

Holiday Spirits

Mocko Jumbie - 2009

Colorfully costumed stilt dancers — or mocko jumbies — appear at many island festivals. Cultural icons and entertainers today, the mocko jumbies have ancient African origins. “Jumbies” are mischevious or evil spirits and ghosts, and one interpretation is that the mocko jumbies scare them away by mocking them. Their height allows them to see the spirits before they arrive to cause trouble. While there are other interpretations, they all relate to protection from the spirit world.

Now just imagine if it were a jumbie that had become manifest in the form of the young woman below…

I wish a happy holiday and good spirits to all!

(Learn more about the origin and cultural significance of the mocko jumbies.)

Elfin Dream-Girl - 2009

Rising Stars Steel Band and Grilled Meats in Red

Rising Stars Steel Band - 2009

Some of the best steel pan music in the world can be heard from the large orchestras that compete at Carnival time on the island of Trinidad in the southern Caribbean. This seems appropriate since Trinidad is the birthplace of the instrument. While perhaps not the best in the world, we are fortunate on St. Croix to have several steel pan orchestras of our own, including the “Rising Stars”. The dedication of these young people and their leaders to create such stirring music must be admired.

The original photograph for the image above was taken at night under the glare of orange sodium street lights, with just a hint of flash to create the specular highlights on the pan in the foreground. Post-processing focused on enhancing the moody atmospheric qualities of the scene.

While the image below was captured under similar conditions, its focus is more on social commentary than atmosphere. This was a street vendor selling grilled meats set up in front of a perfume and beauty product store window, creating the contrasts between the pattern of the vendor’s dress, the poster in the background, and the condiment bottles in the foreground.

Grilled Meats in Red - 2009

1961 Plymouth

Police cruiser - 2009

This classic was built at the end of an era of unusual excess in automobile design — the period of flamboyant fins, rocketship tail lights, and copious chrome. This had been a police cruiser, and was restored in that manner with one of the dual headlights converted to a red flasher.

Even in this earlier time, cars had become such an integral part of our cultural persona that we signaled our status, beliefs and view of ourselves by the cars we drove. The extreme design elements of the late 50’s and early 60’s surely said something about who we thought we were and where we thought we were headed.

Tail end (of the era) - 2009

A Modern Shrine

Room to wait - 2009

There is a new shopping mall near the airport in Orlando, Florida. It is called Mall at Millenia and is a part of a much larger mixed use (retail-residential) development called simply, and somewhat ominously, Millenia. These images are from the mall’s interior public spaces dedicated to the further glory of upscale consumption.

For a moment I had a vision of this magnificent public space as a shrine to human creativity instead of consumption, surrounded by galleries, performance spaces, reading rooms, and classrooms for the advancement of creative human endeavors. If only those were our cultural priorities… silly me. Rarely have I felt the tension between the possibilities and the realities of a place so strongly.

A scribe -- 2009

Trojan Ships

Trojan Ship - 2009

The cruise ships have returned to St. Croix. They arrive in the morning and disgorge their living cargo for a few hours ashore. Priorities are rearranged. New businesses spring up in an attempt to pry a few dollars from wallets. The ships are welcomed as a needed lift for the island economy, even though some activities threaten to destroy the local culture and natural beauty that many come to see.

Before sundown, the living cargo streams back to the ship’s hold in time for the evening feast, and the leviathon slips quiety into the evening almost as if it were never here. Almost.

Were they really here? - 2009

A suburban maze

Corridor's end -- 2009

What is at this glass corridor’s end? Is it the door to the vault where the secrets are kept? Or is it a way out, and with the right spin of the red dial the door will swing open? Or, is it the secret red button that when pushed will launch next wave to resolve the crisis? Whatever it is, I am not sure this is a place meant for people.

Bride to be

she's lost her head!

Bride to be -- 2009

Nude mannequins in store windows may be an overdone subject (like sunsets, razzbuffnik). Nevertheless, the play of light and reflections in this upscale bridal shop in Florida were compelling. The contrast between the in-store lighting and the outdoor light on the dismembered mannequin gave her an other wordly look, echoing the contrast between the romance inside and the reality outside glimpsed in storewindow’s mirror.

Emplacement

cannon

Emplacement

The two old Danish forts on St. Croix — one in Christiansted and the other in Frederiksted — were defended by cannons aimed seaward. The irony is that the real threat to the planter’s culture of that era came from the land in the form of the changing economics of the sugar trade, the end of slavery, and rebellions by workers against the oppressive conditions they endured.

I’m not sure if the cannons were ever fired, but many of them have now found their way to emplacements around the island where they are mounted barrel down on street corners and elsewhere to act as guardrails or barriers. This one, however, was placed into the rock at the ocean’s edge where the salt water and air is taking its toll on the old iron. It’s purpose is a mystery.

Just a few feet away from this relic of the past is a much larger relic of the future, the new clock tower built in the renovated plaza that greets cruise ship passengers as they disembark. On the rocks below the plaza were a pair of jeans and shirt with no owner visible in the water or elsewhere nearby. Perhaps he simply melted away, or even scampered away nude.

Where'd he go?

Where'd he go?

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