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Our heroes are by definition magnificently far above us in what they do and how they do it. If you take a moment to look at the heroes of baseball, it seems not so impossible that you too might someday do what they do.

baseball best switch hitters
The costumes (simple, soft, comfy) and the main actions of baseball (swing, run, throw, catch, run, slide)  tell you how sweetly uncomplicated it all is.

For a kid looking on, enthralled, obsessed, it almost looks possible.  I can wear  a uniform like that. I can swing like that. I can feel it.


Baseball hero 2
At least that’s how it seemed in 1959, and we can hope that it is not far from the truth today.

eddie matthews and hank aaron
Of the many who played the simple game at the highest level, these two Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, twin gods of the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, represented to the kid just about everything that was worth being if you were human–including approachability.  Yes, you could imagine them coming to your house and throwing the ball around.  Yes you did imagine it, over and over.

HOF Weekend 1967 Robinson w Aparicio 3530.2000_NBLAnd those Milwaukee heroes didn’t seem to mind that you also worshipped others, like these two Baltimore Orioles, Brooks Robimson and Luis Aparicio (1967).  Real heroes understand that.  They know it is not betrayal, it does not diminish them.

mickey-mantle-si2Mickey Mantle (the Marilyn Monroe of baseball ?(without the tragedy), seemed to understand that as well as anyone.  There seemed to be no envy in his rivalry with other players, no bitterness in his blazing competitiveness.

The best in baseball, at least in those days, always had time for the kid who worshipped them.

batboy balt orioles
Brooks Robinson, sitting down, taking time.  The kid is the batboy for the team.  The BATBOY! Baseball even has a JOB for a kid, a JOB among the gods, a job in heaven itself.


What a game.

batboy 1950_wachowich_allan2
This batboy became a Chief Justice in the Court of Queens Bench in Canada, but we bet he never felt more glad to be alive than right there, the boy in charge of the bats.

Found here

If you are lucky, there is a game going on soon near you, and if you are super lucky, it unfolds in a place like this bit of heaven.

nat baileyNat Baily Stadium, Vancouver, BC








puppets Lyon1262-x

Puppets have been with us for a very long time.  Amusing us, sometimes scaring us or making us mad–and by “us”, we mean people of just about any age in any country. Small figures made of simple materials become actors in a play.  This is theatre the way we all like it. We laugh, we cry.   Applause applause.

The above 200-year-old puppet troupe, supporting cast to the beloved character Guignol, is from Lyon, France, found here.

But happily, puppets are as much a part of the present as they are a reminder of the past. Today, right now, puppet making and puppet theatre are as widely appealing and inventive as ever.

Geoffrey farmer 32_The-Surgeon-and-the-Photographer_th

This is one (of dozens) of small figures imagined and made by Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer for a show called The Surgeon and the Photographer. Each is made of cloth and paper cut out of magazines and books.  Are they “puppets”?  They are to us, and the room full of them was, by a long shot, the best thing we saw in an art gallery in 2015.


Above, Mr Farmer’s puppets on parade at the Barbicon in London in 2013. Happily, all these little people have been gathered in a book.


Whatever their actual age, puppets seem to belong to a time all their own.  This lad, who is Italian and just waiting for the show to go on, is about 300 years ago.

This past August, many of the fine performances at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival featured puppets and puppetry of the highest and most hilarious order, the most absurd, unsettling, laugh-in-spite-of- yourself kind of stuff you’ll find in any theatre anywhere…

puppet Bruce

Like Bruce, a sponge puppet, with quite a story to tell. Created by Australian company The Last Great Hunt

Puppet Foxy Charlie Tuesday Gates. Sing For Your Life.Foxy

And Foxy, one of the stars of Sing for your Life, a “Hideously hilarious taxidermy puppet cabaret”written by taxidermy performance artist (!) Charlie Tuesday Gates. Don’t look toooo close.

Puppet festivals thrive today in many cities–like Istanbul, below

The 18th International Istanbul Puppet Fest comes to town!



German, Spanish for Tehran puppet festival


Montreal   Festival Casteliers   Afternoon of a Foehn. 

So we encourage you to get off your hands and head out to a puppet show near you or way over there in Istanbul.  Near or far, the delight remains supreme.  We love these little creatures, don’t we?


G. Farmer.  Mlle Puppette.  Enchantee. Merci.




All of us are born with more than enough imagination.  It is not exclusive to people who go on to write novels, paint pictures, make movies, design buildings, or start a fashion label.  Just look at any child under 10–look at what they are doing.


F Carpenter Three children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909


Middle photo, children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909 b7 “F Carpenter”. Top photo and lower one, kids on the street in New York, by Helen Levitt. Lots more here.

But if you ask people over 20 about their imagination and how they use it, you’ll find them frowning while they try to come up with something that won’t sound stupid.


It seems that once we get it into our heads that we are grown ups, most of us abandon the inventive use of our imagination and only call on it when hankering for something we don’t have: a tropical vacation,  possession of a winning lottery ticket, a cigarette, a cheesecake, a white Christmas, dream girl/guy.


Fine, but isn’t there something a bit more useful you could do with this amazing tool that takes you beyond the here and now and the run of the mill?

It doesn’t have to be the invention of an alternate reality or a re-imagining of the modern metropolis.  It could be your choice of an outfit for a walk downtown.

Like this inventive and still playful woman. The Japanese, bless their hearts, take their imaginations to the streets as a matter of course.

And they are not alone.

Above The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas of NYC, photo by NPR found here

More than anyone (as we at the RofL noted before) we have the amazing Bill Cunningham to thank for finding and photographing people who set their own standard every day in New York.


These are people who wouldn’t be caught dead in some other persons clothes. Above from here 

But, hey, public displays of originality aren’t for everyone, of course.  And plain clothes have been the choice of some of the most imaginative humans who ever lived.


An undated photo of Albert Einstein at New York's Saranac Lake: A newly digitized letter from Einstein's personal collection reveals that the physicist once saved a former lover from the Nazis.

Mr Einstein at the beach, almost blending in, seen here

The point is: somewhere in all our lives there is an opportunity to do what feels right to us and what we strongly suspect is not what most people are going to do.

Don’t we have some sort of responsibility to do something, sometime, that is all our own, a demonstration of our DNA writ large?

All we need is the courage to let loose our imagination, our playful side, and put it out there.


Start small, start with lunch. This is a sandwich, a baby grandwich.  Bravo, and bon appetite. After lunch, maybe go outside and paint the house, pushing yourself beyond taupe with charcoal trim.

Nice building, personalized, and you won’t have any trouble finding it again. It was given a lick of paint by Stanley Donwood, pen name of an artist and is the London office of XL Recordings. More here

Tired of hauling a spruce into the house or the landlord just won’t let you?

We all have an oceanful of ideas–some bright, some wacky, some spooky, some great–floating around in our heads.  Giving ourselves permission to dip into that ocean a bit more often would make the world a bit more interesting, don’t you think?


Paris, the 1920’s, letting it loose, 24/7. Photo from here

Happy New Year.  Go play

Not many of us get to have our own pool, but that doesn’t mean we don’t think about it, especially during the hot hot days of summer.  It’s part of the dream life (along with endless storage space and a fridge that is always somehow full of what we want most).  Some wonderful photographers have captured images of the dream.  Do they satisfy? or stoke the flame?

Above photo by Bill Anderson, 1957, from the Collection of the Palm Springs Art Museum included in the book and exhibit Backyard Oasis, more below.

Above pool is located in the Napa Valley of California.  Imagine starting your day with a dip in that. Photo Michael Moran, 1990, included in the now classic “Pools” by Kelly Klein, Rizzoli.  Brought to us by herself, Martha Stewart here.  

Another cool pool collected in Kelly K’s great book.  Monterrey, Mexico. photo by Mardo de Valdivia, 1985. Found  as above

Ms Klein has a new book set for release in October 2012.  Included will be the above pool attached to a house in Peru. Photo by the architect of the house and pool in Peru, Jean Pierre Crousse, as seen in Architectural Digest.

It is California, of course, that seems to have a pool in every back yard, at least in our dream life.  And dream life is real life for a lot of Californians.  A remarkable recent book called “Backyard Oasis–The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945 – 1982” gives us a glimpse of the private/public life of pool-happy Californians, some famous, some just totally blissed out.

Above from the book: Silvertop – Hollywood Dawn, 1972 by Leland Y. Lee.  Just outside the frame, we guess, is a justifiably blissed out, maybe famous Hollywoodian ready to start their day.  “Action!”

For some the Backyard Oasis extended to the local watering hole.  Preserved in this 1960 photograph by Lawrence Schiller. Find this and others from the book in this LA Times feature here.

Another photo by Bill Anderson (Edris House, ca. 1954, Collection Palm Springs Art Museum © Palm Springs Art Museum).  Now be honest, if you started your day here, would you really pack up, get dressed, and go off to do…something else?  If so, why?

To see more pools from the Backyard Oasis (and lots of other eye-catching stuff), check out this stylish site   And for more of the Palm Springs pool experience in B + W see the city’s swell daily photo site. 

We probably should pick up our towel and go now.  Pool life is wonderful, but if you let it get a hold on you, you just might find it a bit difficult to clean up your room or finish that year-end report or finalize that fourteenth-floor conference room lighting design.  So our advice is to dip in from time to time to take in the vitality and the beauty of it, and then turn around and go back to what you were supposed to be doing.

OK, but that’s enough, OK?  Hey, hey you….

Vancouver’s local summertime fair is on again for the 101st time. There will be lots of fun to be had during the 2 week run–food you only ever see at the fair, fun-scary rides that make you scream and then want to go again, simple games you never can win, beads and trinkets that look crummy as soon as you get them home, revolutionary mops. Photo from here

Above summerday shot of Vancouver’s PNE from here. Lots of things have remained pretty much the same since the start in 1910.

Above from 1940 when the amusement park portion of the PNE was known as Happyland. Image from here

But there have also been changes over the years, most notable for us at the R of L is the loss of all the weird sideshows that made you want to look and NOT look all at the same time.

Above snake and sword specialists from a remarkable website called sideshowworld.

An actual portrait of Jo Jo, a Human Sky Terrier. Above 2 banners from here

And a team photo-portrait of the Clyde Beatty Congress of Human Oddities, circa 1937 , found here.

This photo above shows that the tradition of making a living as a result of unusual physical characteristics continues today here and there. Photo from here.

So in your heart you know that Miss Electra the Danger Diva is probably just an ordinary woman who likes the spotlight and has frizzy hair. But still, you want to see for yourself, right? She’s a performer, she’ll do a show. It’ll be worth the $3. Right? Seen here

James here looks like he might have a bit more of a scientific approach to the electric phenomenon. Found at vintage venus here.

No matter where you find a fair, no matter when, there is always something you just never see anywhere else, whether it’s a giant man, a horse smaller than a dog, ALIVE!, or a juice maker for $700. Or..

Deep fried jellybeans at the Massachussetts State Fair, full gooey description here.

A crazy brave kid riding a sheep. Seen here

So get out to the fair and prepare to be amazed and appalled, maybe all at the same time.



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