Scotch and Snowdas On The North Pole (Audio)

WHAM! SMACK! WHACK! Smash! Thud! Shudder-creak-crash! I am nearly seasick in this coffin-size wooden box as it hammers relentlessly into ridges of ice atop frozen Barrow Strait. The coffin is sealed upon a komatik (Eskimo sled), the komatik is pulled by a snorting Skidoo, and I am buried under a caribou hide that would smell worse than bad drains were it not stiff with icicles.

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Grove of the Old Trees

TreeBuddha1SMPhotos (c) Russell Johnson

Occidental, California, a railroad stop in earlier times, is known for its family-style Italian restaurants. Negri’s has been a popular spot since 1943 and The Union Hotel claims to have been dishing lasagna since 1879. In nearby Bohemian Grove, the fat cats of industry and politics (mostly Republican men) frolic – sometimes naked – in the summer. In the 1940s, the Manhattan Project, which gave birth to the atomic bomb, was planned there.

But high above the clanking of forks and the clicking of tongues, is a verdant, meditative stand of old-growth redwoods called Grove of the Old Trees.

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Floating Through the Canyons of Chicago (Video)

The Chicago “Bean”

Chicago is no longer Carl Sandberg’s “Hog Butcher for the World, Stacker of Wheat” but is still, self-assuredly, “City of the Big Shoulders.” Forget Hong Kong, New York, London…Chicago rules in weight and substance. Its architects — Burnham, Sullivan, Wright, Gehry, dozens of others — gave birth to monuments: to chewing gum (Wrigley), merchants (Sears, Montgomery Wards) who shipped tractors and brassieres to little houses on the prairie, to massive egos (Trump) and architectural movements that swept the world. The skyscraper was invented here.

We are here on opening day of the very first Chicago Architectural Biennial, celebrating ideas from some 100 world architects from Chicago, itself, to Africa and Bali.

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Flying Dreams: Sonoma County: Video

 

A few autumns ago we videotaped an aerial tour of Sonoma County, California. We started with the vineyards and hills on Sonoma Valley, as the leaves on the vines were changing to brilliant red and yellows, followed the Russian River through giant coastal redwoods and flew the rugged coast from Fort Ross to Jenner and Bodega Bay.

 

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