Tagged: B&W

North Station to North Station in 50 years

I set out last week from North Station, taking the commuter rail with legions of downtown office-workers headed home to the suburbs like Don Draper.  But wasn’t headed for scotch and family, I was taking my first car-free trip to the DeCordova museum for the opening of three new shows.

When I arrived at the museum an hour later, I found myself looking at where I started, fifty years ago.

That’s North Station in the ’40s, photographed by Jules Aarons, part of an exhibition at DeCordova called “In the Jewish Neighborhoods” consisting of pictures of Boston’s North and West ends as well as Paris and New York in the 1940s.  The green line trolley is just about the only thing recognizable in this picture now, even though the tracks have been sunk underground and North Station has been subsumed (literally) in the TD BankNorth Garden.

Lost in the negative

Recent tropical weather – by which I mean steamy torrents of rain, not sunny skies – always puts me in the mood to go spelunking in the photo back catalog.

I found this in the “meh” bin from a trip to Hong Kong a couple of years ago. It’s Victoria Harbor reflecting the skyline that everybody else was shooting. You can get a better idea of the total scene from this shot. I could get lost in these negatives for days.

Neon towers write
shimmering calligraphy
on Hong Kong harbor.

Summer sky

Waiting for the snow tonight, I see the sky is almost purple. Here’s one more wide pic, probably the last for a while, from a summery day, the sky over Boston harbor. Back to the left side of the brain this week.


Happy New Year

Here it is, the 2008 new year card.  I hope you got one in the mail.  If you didn’t, I apologize for the oversight.  Be sure to send your postal address, there are a couple of blanks still left from the edition.


Colophonically, I should state that the fountain is in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and the water is the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic, churned up by the ferryboat.  See other Alhambra-related posts.

Girolamo Savonarola

This dramatic statue in Ferrara depicts Girolamo Savonarola, a fiery reformist Dominican priest of the 15th century. Still somewhat controversial today, Savonarola organized the “Bonfires of the Vanities” in which Florentines burned their books, fancy clothes and other too-materialistic possessions. This crowd might or might not have included Michelangelo and Botticelli tossing their own work on the pyres.

After some disagreement with the Medici pope Alexander VI, Savonarola was excommunicated and subsequently arrested, tortured and executed in Florence. To deprive his followers of any relics, the authorities threw his ashes into the Arno. Despite that, there are statues today, and some even call Savonarola a saint.

In the short time that I loitered in this piazza, several people had their photos taken in front of the statue, but despite my urging, none struck Savonarola’s pose. I wonder how many knew even as much about him as I’ve gleaned.


The Italian word of the moment is campanilismo.

Translated by BabelFish as “parochialism,” campanilismo refers to local pride or patriotism, sometimes very local. If you ask somebody where she’s from and she says “Boston” or “New York” that’s not campanilismo. If she says, “Southie” or “Washington Heights” you’ve got a campanilista on your hands.

Campanilismo is derived from campanile, which is a church’s bell tower like the 14th Century one pictured below in Florence, the work of Giotto.

Britannica suggests that the name sticks because it’s from local boosters bragging that their bell tower is taller than the one in the next town over, but this piece from L’Italo Americano indicates that the campanile is a symbol of a locality, like a church is the symbol of its parish.