Taxi-with-advert photoed in 2005

Indeed. There I was, in 2005, out and about in London, photoing things like this:

… which even by 2005 was fairly routine for me. But then, later the same day, in Battersea, walking beside the River with a friend, I photoed this:

That was with my old Canon A70. But I didn’t get properly interested in taxis with adverts until a decade later. Why not? Don’t know. Ancient cars like that Austin A30 (I think), I was already obsessed with photoing.

The advert in the above taxi-with-advert photo was for a West End Show, which The Guardian approved of. I probably wouldn’t have, because that’s the stand-up and stomp-about-all-over-the-stage-like-a-lunatic comedian Lee Evans there, on the taxi. I found his comedy performances frenetic, in a bad way. He would sweat appallingly when performing. So, it was the comedy of embarrassment, and I was just embarrassed. I didn’t even smile, so I stopped watching him. Is he still doing this?

Perhaps he was better than that in The Producers, having been told to calm it down a bit.

The homeless are not as homeless as they used to be

Okay, not the prettiest photo you’ll ever see, but it makes my point:

Which is that homes for the homeless have got a lot better lately. In two big ways. First, as you see in the above photo, shelter is now something you can just plonk down on any piece of land that is flat.

It is no part of my purpose in showing you this man’s home to make difficulties for the man himself, and I also didn’t want him even feeling threatened when I took the photo. So, I contrived to hide him (and myself as seen by him) behind that big black rectangular lump there. He couldn’t see me, and you can’t now see him. But I think you can see that what we’re looking at, in the autumn gloom at the top end of Tottenham Court Road last Thursday late afternoon, is a home.

The other thing that has got a lot nicer about living like this is mobile electronic communication. You can now live like this, instead of merely existing. You needn’t just sit there, hoping for nice weather. You can do all those things in those articles and diagrams and photos concerning all the clumsy great gadgets that have now been replaced by your mobile phone.

I’m not saying that living this way is easy or comfortable, merely that it has got less difficult and less uncomfortable in recent years. I’d hate to have to live this way. But if I had to, I would find it that little bit less miserable than it was a few decades ago, when electronic communication was implacably immobile, and when erecting a tent meant finding a grassy field that you could bang tent pegs into.

What all this means is that, if all other things are equal (which they never are but let’s be economists and pretend this for a moment), more people are going to be living like this than used to, thirty years ago.

See also this earlier posting, featuring a Michael Jennings photo of a tent erected next to a private jet.

The Royal Albert Hall with pictures of the Royal Albert Hall on it

Whenever 6k picks up on a posting I did here I always reckon that means I’m onto something, so I’m pleased that he noticed that posting I recently did about a building with a picture of itself on the front.

So, for him and for anyone else interested in such things, here’s another such circumstance, much more recent (February of this year), and much more spectacular. It’s the Royal Albert Hall, no less:

On the left, the big picture. And on the right, we can see the three elements involved in this sort of process. Top left, the ancient Greek looking frieze, that’s the actual Royal Albert Hall itself. On the right, the scaffolding, under a bog standard white covering. And then bottom left, occupying most of the picture, the photo (if that’s what it originally was) of the exact bit (or so I assume) of the Royal Albert Hall that it is covering.

The bit in the middle behind the statue is the also the building itself. “Shadows” is included in the categories list below, on account of there not being any real shadows, just fake ones, when it is just a flat surface. Which makes a real difference to how easy it is to see what the original building consists of. That difficulty actually being an early clue as to what’s really going on.

As often, the trees, although at least leafless, are not helping.

The statue in the front is of Prince Albert. On the other side of the Royal Albert Hall is his Memorial. For a view of the Royal Albert Hall from the same angle, but with rather less scaffolding, and also for some closer-up of this Prince Albert statue, see Royal Albert and his Hall.

LATER: In the original posting, the photo above on the left was a bad choice. I had a better one available, and that has now replaced the first photo.

Five pendulums getting into step

Or should it be “pendula”? Probably not, because that sound vaguely sexual in a rather creepy way.

I am now assuming that this video is showing the same phenomenon as the wobbling of the Millennium Bridge when it first opened.

Tweet-commenter Alma Cook also mentions how periods in groups of women get synchronised.

And yes, I found what I was looking for. Tweet-commenter Morris Jasper says:

This is essentially what happened with the ‘wobbly’ Millennial Bridge.

But as several tweet-commenters say, it’s not right to call any of this “spontaneous”, if by that you mean happening for no reason. The pendulums are all resting on the same oscillating platform. Just as all those people on the Millennium Bridge were walking on the same wobbling bridge.

Talking of pendulums, I am fond of György Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes. They don’t synchronise themselves, because the structure they rest on is not wobbling. They just stop. One by one. It takes just over eight minutes for this to happen. (I also like Ligeti’s piano music. (But now I really digress.))

Remembering a happy birthday choral music experience

I’m now concocting a posting based on some photos I took in the South of France while visiting GodDaughter2’s family. This visit was in January of this year (which now feels like about five years ago), and I was accordingly looking for whatever other postings I had done about that expedition, so as to link back rather than repeat myself.

And, while looking for such postings, I also encountered this posting which I posted thenabouts, which also concerned GodDaughter2.

This was not a perfect piece of writing, but it was an adequate piece of writing (given that I was hungover when I wrote it), which described a perfect experience (at the party that caused the hangover). Accordingly I now give it a qualified recommendation and declare it to be worth a re-read, or, just as likely, a read in the first place. (Reader numbers here are now rising, and some people reading this blog now were not reading it then.)

Particularly recommended to those who enjoy good choral singing and who consequently find bad choral singing particularly painful to listen to.

Taxis-with-adverts photoed five years ago

For quite a while now, I have been curious as to when my habit of photoing taxis-with-adverts kicked in. I’m still not sure, but by August 2015 (August 15th 2015 to be exact) this habit had evidently become well established, because on that one day, I photoed all of these photos:

Why do I like such taxis? Why do I like photoing them? And why do I like displaying arrays of such photos here at my blog? Similar, yet different. Identical shapes, but highly variable decor. I’m sure there must be some sort of psychological test that could be inflicted upon me, basically one for identifying nutters (“people with mental health issues” seems to be the latest iteration of such parlance), in which I would score heavily enough to cause a bit of concern, more so than if most of you mere readers of BMNB were made to take such a test.

Regular commenter here Alastair said of an earlier such taxis-with-adverts array that some sort of art might be contrived with these photos. My first reaction when I read that was that this was merely a polite way of saying what I just said in my previous paragraph, given what art often is these days. But Alastair had something political in mind, concerning how privileged and capitalistic these taxis are, in whom they serve and in what they advertise.

But my interest in taxis with adverts is aesthetic. I simply like how they look. Out there in the streets of London, and in my photos.

Dominic Frisby’s Chicken Song will be on YouTube this evening

Tweet, linking to YouTube.

Teaser lyric excerpt, the intro I assume:

When something’s pissing you right off
And it’s left you vexed and blue
Look to our friend the chicken
She’ll show you what to do.

By the sound of that, it will be a chicken version of “Always look on the right side of life”.

“Libertarianism” is in my category list for this, because when Frisby sings a song, there’s usually some libertarianism involved. Also: Comedy.

Der Bomber

The things you find in your photo-archives, if you are someone like me and you forget two thirds of what you’ve photoed as soon as you’ve photoed it.

This bloke, for instance, whom I photoed somewhere or other in London, I think somewhere near Embankment tube station, way back in 2006:

You see lots of shirts in London with stuff like this on the back, and without reading the small print, I assumed, as I surely assumed at the time I took the photo, that this was a reference to some sort of rock and roll combo, travelling and doing gigs in various places. In this case, it was probably techno-pop, because that’s the sort of music something called “Der Bomber” would do. Bit of a tactless name, though, if they’re trying to make friends while performing in foreign parts.

It was only when I googled “der bomber” that I discovered that this shirt was celebrating the German footballer Gerd Müller. And he wasn’t trying to make friends with foreigners. Her was trying to beat them at football, and more often than not succeeding. And nor was he really having a “Welt Tour”. He was playing in the World Cup, in 1970 in Mexico, and then in 1974 in … Germany.

Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

The passions that used to attach themselves to bombing now have to find another outlet, and that outlet is now, mostly, sport. I believe that in recent months we have experienced what a gap is left in our world when sport is lacking. The sooner our politicians feel able to allow people back into sports stadiums, there to cheer on their preferred “bombers”, the better.

Trump as Republican Party Reptile

I just did some Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech for Samizdata. Here is the complete speech of Trump’s that I was on about, and to which I linked, twice, because I think the fact that we all now can link directly to it is so very good.

Something else I didn’t complicate my Samizdata piece with did occur to me, while I was reading that same speech, and in particular when I read things like this in it:

We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Applause.) We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen – (applause) – Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton – General George Patton – the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. (Applause.) And only America could have produced them all. (Applause.) No other place.

We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream – it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore. (Applause.)

Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the Internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the Moon – and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.

We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra – (applause) – the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150 – (applause) – and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.

I’ve read this before, I thought, or something a hell of a lot like it. Yes, a piece in P. J. O.Rourke’s Republican Party Reptile, which was published in 1987, about an epic car journey O’Rourke made across America, in a Ferrari. I read this book in the late eighties. The Ferrari piece in this book would appear to be a slimmed down version of this piece, which was published in Car and Driver, in 1980.

I wrote a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet in praise of O’Rourke’s essay (also in praise of classical CDs), which included big quotes from the 1987 version of O’Rourke’s piece, including things like this:

… To be in control of our destinies – and there is no more profound feeling of control of one’s destiny that I have ever experienced than to drive a Ferrari down a public road at 130 miles an hour. Only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one that fast. And if the lowly Italians, the lamest, silliest, least stable of our NATO allies, can build a machine like this, just think what it is that we can do. We can smash the atom. We can cure polio. We can fly to the moon if we like. There is nothing we can’t do. Maybe we don’t happen to build Ferraris, but that’s not because there’s anything wrong with America. We just haven’t turned the full light of our intelligence and ability in that direction. We were, you know, busy elsewhere. We may not have Ferraris but just think what our Polaris-submarines are like. And if it feels like this in a Ferrari at 130, my God, what can it possibly feel like at Mach 2.5 in an F-15? Ferrari 308s and F-15s – these are the conveyances of free men. What do the Bolshevik automatons know of destiny and its control? What have we to fear from the barbarous Red hordes?

And like this:

… And rolling through the desert thus, I worked myself into a great patriotic frenzy, which culminated on the parapets of the Hoover Dam (even if that was kind of a socialistic project and built by the Roosevelt in the wheelchair and not by the good one who killed bears). With the Ferrari parked up atop that orgasmic arc of cement, doors flung open and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” blasting into the night above the rush of a man-crafted Niagara and the crackle and the hum of mighty dynamos, I was uplifted, transported, ecstatic. A black man in a big, solid Eldorado pulled up next to us and got out to shake our hands. “You passed me this morning down in New Mexico,” he said. “And that sure is a beautiful car. …”.

Note that Mount Rushmore includes, along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln: the Roosevelt who killed bears, Teddy Roosevelt, but not the Roosevelt in the wheelchair who presided over the Great Depression. No wonder Democrats are now saying they hate it.

I don’t know what P.J. O’Rourke is up to these days, so whether he had any direct input into Trump’s speech I have no idea. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I’ll bet you anything that whatever combination of Trump and Trumpsters wrote Trump’s speech at the very least knew all about that O’Rourke piece. I’ll go further. I’ll bet Trump read that O’Rourke piece at some point in the 1980s, and remembered it, and said to his guys: “That’s what I want! Write me something like that!” And they did. Right up to the stuff about cars, and warships, and the Hoover Dam, and about how “there is nothing we can’t do”.

Even if you hate everything about P.J. O’Rourke and everything about Trump and if you especially hate Trump’s speech the other day, you surely may still be agreeing about the O’Rourke echoes I think I heard.

If I’m right, then this is a story which confirms something else I am fond of telling anyone who will listen, which is that all the people alive now will, in thirty or forty years time, either be thirty or forty years older, or dead. You can tell a lot about the world now, by asking what people in their teens and twenties were getting excited about, thirty or forty years ago. There will be more of that.

Of course, I loved Trump’s speech, just as I loved that P.J. O’Rourke Ferrari piece. God is a figment of the human imagination, but setting that quibble aside, may He Bless America.

The Singing Cabbie

I am still keeping an eye open for interestingly decorated taxis. I’m looking through the archives to see when I first started noticing such taxis, when they started getting to be interestingly decorated, that kind of thing. In 2008, it would seem I wasn’t noticing such things at all. But today, out in Victoria Street, I hit the taxi advertising jackpot:

It’s not that good a photo, but it’s a great taxi-with-advert.

I was mystified at the time, but knew that, since I was photoing a website address as well as a taxi, that the mystery would be cleared up as soon as I got back home.

Long story short, he really is a singing cabbie. Let me spell this out. He drives a taxi. And, he sings. And, he sometimes does both at the same time. And as is appropriate for a songster, he is also on Twitter.

I love London.