Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Graffiti Artists Welcome: The Story Behind the Kitschy Cadillac Ranch

Amarillo Texas famous Cadillac Ranch teen spraying paint off of Route 66 old Cadillacs buried in ground on Route 66. (Photo By: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
If you happen to be travelling down Route 66 and you find yourself outside of Amarillo, Texas, pull off the highway and find yourself a Home Depot store. There, load up on some spray paint. Don't worry: No one will question you about it. Once you get back on the road, look for the signs that will point you to the Cadillac Ranch. Here is the one place where you can unleash your inner vandal and deface a bunch of cars with your arsenal of spray paint, all under the protection of the law. This totally unique and truly American roadside attraction see visitors from all over the world, but do you know the story behind this kitschy tourist trap? 
A row of Cadillacs planted in the ground has become one of Texas's most popular tourist attractions. (

Two Origin Stories

The origins of Cadillac Ranch have reached mythical proportions. If you ask a local how the colorful car graveyard came to be, they'll probably tell you that a Texas millionaire with money to burn and an obsession with Cadillacs didn't want to see his vehicles in the hands of a new owner. Therefore, every time he bought a new Cadillac, he buried the old one nose first in the Texas sod, eventually amassing a collection of vertical vehicles. While that makes a fun and quirky story, the truth is that the Texas millionaire actually planned this odd attraction, banking on the novelty of seeing luxury automobiles stuck nose first into the ground to bring in visitors.
Stanley Marsh asked a group of hippie artists to create a public art site on his Texas ranch back in 1974. (

Stanley Marsh, an Eccentric Texan Visionary

A prominent ranch owner and businessman, Stanley Marsh had land adjacent to the remains of Route 66. Once considered to be "America's highway," Route 66 carried travelers from the Midwest to the California coast as it wound through picturesque small-town America and into some of the most breathtaking scenery of the southwest. Route 66 was a symbol of the golden age of the automobile and the freedom that it allowed. But the interstate highway system effectively killed Route 66, so in 1973, Marsh asked a group of artists to help him create a public art display on his ranch that would commemorate the golden age of the automobile.
As this photo from 1974 shows, some of the cars had to be maneuvered into place using a backhoe. (

The Birth of Cadillac Ranch

At Marsh's invitation, a group of artists from San Francisco, collectively known as the Ant Farm, visited Marsh's Amarillo ranch in 1973. They purchased 10 old Cadillacs from area junk yards and planted the automobiles in the ground along the deteriorating highway. The cars cost roughly $200 each, some dating back to 1948 and some as recently as 1963. At first, the cars were left in their original colors, which the artists thought would show the rust and discoloration of the decaying icons. Visitors to Cadillac Ranch, however, had their own artistic vision.
In no time at all, the cars were completely covered in graffiti, but Marsh though it looked better that way. (

Graffiti Art

Almost as soon as the Cadillac Ranch opened in 1974, visitors began leaving their own marks on the tourist attraction. Armed with cans of spray paint, the wannabe rebels vandalized the cars ... and it made the art even better. Since then, visitors have been encouraged to contribute to the public art by spraying their own designs on the Cadillacs. Marsh once said "We think it looks better every year."
The graffiti changes almost hourly. (

Ever-Changing Art

Because the cars at Cadillac Ranch are constantly being vandalized with graffiti, you never see the same sculptures twice. In fact, it is recommended that visitors snap photographs of their handiwork, because the chances are high that it will be painted over within a few hours. 
The cars were painted black to mark the passing of one of Cadillac Ranch's founding artists. (

Cars on the Move

Twice, Cadillac Ranch experienced notable changes. First, in 1997, all of the vehicles at Cadillac Ranch were dug up and replanted at a different locations so that the sprawling city limits of Amarillo could expand. Marsh oversaw the process and even insisted that the garbage and refuse from the old location be brought to the new site, just to retain the same kitschy vibe. The second change occurred in 2002. All of the Cadillacs were painted a flat black color to mourn the passing of one of the Ant Farm members who was instrumental in creating Cadillac Ranch. Of course, the cars didn't stay that color for long: They were soon covered in graffiti. 
Cadillac Ranch is never the same art. (

Get Your Pics on Route 66

Although Marsh passed away in 2014, Cadillac Ranch is still a popular tourist destination. Photos of the site can be found all over pop culture, from advertising and promotional calendars to movies and TV shows. Although any commercial use of Cadillac Ranch images requires permission, visitors are welcome to take as many photos as they like for their own Instagram accounts. For tourists to Texas, you can get your pics on Route 66. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

The Underground Railroad

Fugitive slaves fleeing from Maryland to Delaware by way of the 'Underground Railroad', 1850-1851. Engraving. Source: (Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images)
Slavery, in any form, is an abomination of humanity. The idea that one person actually had the right, privilege, and opportunity to own another person is mind-boggling by any standard. That being said, it is no wonder that such an elaborate system was finally put in place to attempt to end it once and for all. Whether or not a slave could realistically and safely escape the torture of abuse and servitude was of little concern. It was understood and accepted that if a person didn’t escape, they might die trying. That’s where the Underground Railroad comes into play.
Map of Underground Railroad Routes. Source: (

Was the Underground Railroad underground?

The Underground Railroad was not actually underground. It was called “underground” because it was not openly publicized. It was a secretive network of safe houses and routes of travel established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. African American slaves used this network to flee to free states, Canada and Nova Scotia where they could escape captivity. Some routes also led to Mexico or overseas where slavery was prohibited. Although slave owners were white, not every white person agreed with the practice. Some of the abolitionists and their supporters were white. The term abolitionist refers to everyone who aided the fugitive slaves in their escape efforts.
Early on, before it was a U.S. territory, there was an Underground Railroad escape route headed south to Florida. The Underground Railroad came to be in the late 1700s and reached its height between 1850 – 1860. It is estimated that 100,000 slaves had escaped via the secret network by 1850. What is now present-day Canada was a very popular destination and many freed slaves settled in Ontario.
The Quakers are said to be the very first organized group to take action to help slaves escape. Isaac Hopper, a Quaker abolitionist was instrumental in setting up an escape route in Philadelphia. There was also a group of Quakers helping to free slaves in North Carolina. In 1786, George Washington scoffed that the Quakers had tried to “liberate” one of his slaves.

Underground Railroad safehouse. Source: (

How did the Underground Railroad Operate?

The Underground Railroad consisted of many routes spanning west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north via Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit leading to Canada. Players, called conductors, would guide the fugitive slaves to safe hiding places. Safe havens could be anything from private homes and churches to schoolhouses. They were known as stations, safe houses, and depots. Safehouses were designed with hidden chambers in order to hide fugitive slaves.
The abolitionists running these safe havens were referred to as stationmasters. Underground Railroad conductors often risked their own lives posing as slaves to sneak onto plantations to free others.

Underground Railroad symbols. Source: (

A series of symbols was developed as a code to fleeing slaves so they would be aware of their surroundings.

Typically, the abolitionists involved in the Underground Railroad were privy to the operation only to the extent that they were involved. Not many of the activists involved knew the entire inner workings of the network. It was far too risky. If one of them had been caught and made to talk, it could have jeopardized the entire effort.
Prior to the Underground Railroad, slaves would make their own attempts at freedom. Even after the network was developed, they were on their own until certain points north where it was safer for a station to exist. That being the case, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was enacted. This act had slave bounty hunters coming out of the woodwork trying to cash in on the action.

Young Harriet Tubman. Source: (

Throughout history, there have been many key figures including Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass who supported the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman was the most notable conductor supporting the Underground Railroad. Born a slave herself, she changed her name from Araminta (Ross) to Harriet (Tubman was her married name) after her escape from a Maryland plantation. She wasn’t discouraged enough not to leave again after she was caught and returned to her owner. Not long after she was returned, she escaped again and made it to Pennsylvania. Tubman periodically returned to the plantation she escaped in order to free other slaves. One slave who refused to leave the plantation was her husband who had remarried after her escape.

Frederick Douglass. Source: (
Frederick Douglass was a former slave and writer when he joined the Underground Railroad to hide fugitive slaves in his New York home. He was responsible for aiding 400 slaves safely to Canada.
History tells us that others who aided in the Underground Railroad cause consisted of farmers, clergymen, business owners, politicians, and even a sea captain. A millionaire named Gerrit Smith, who actually ran for the office of President two different times, bought an entire family of slaves and set them all free. Helping slaves escape, however, was a dangerous practice. It was harshly frowned upon and was punishable by imprisonment.
The Underground Railroad changed up their operations during the Civil War. Since the Union supported emancipating the slaves, the Underground Railroad became obsolete. Not because freeing slaves became less important but because at that point, they didn’t need to operate in secrecy.
Because of the significant role Harriet Tubman played in the Underground Railroad, she lent her efforts to the Union Army in an intelligence command role to oversee operations to help emancipate slaves. She and Frederick Douglass have gone down in history as inspirational figures of the Underground Railroad.

All 5,000 Objects Found Inside King Tut's Tomb Will Be Displayed Together for the First Time

For the first time ever, all 5,000 items that were found inside King Tut's tomb, first discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter, will be on view, during the grand partial opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in early 2018. One third of these artifacts have been featured previously at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, Cairo—but the GEM plans to showcase them in an incredibly realistic manner that enables visitors to experence the inside of the original tomb just as it was.
“The objects in the tomb were in four rooms, and they will be on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum in two oblong galleries with an area of 7,000 square meters," Tawfik says, explaining that he devoted extensive thought to how his exhibition might put a different lens on artifacts that have already been on display for many years. Then suddenly—"It came to me! I have a virtual line cutting these two long galleries, and then I have four spaces representing the four rooms,” says Tawfik. “If we just put the objects as they were inside the tomb, in the same order, then we will have ... the funerary complex of the king.”
The GEM will also offer visitors a unique vision of Tutankhamun, the so-called Golden King. Here, museum visitors can see a shield, adorned in cheetah skin, that once belonged to him—but the king's more domestic side is on display, too: a granary and fruit, found inside the tomb, will be part of the exhibit, along with jars of beer, wine and oil. Many of the king’s garments will be shown for the first time, as well; because they are so fragile, it was previously considered too risky to put them on view. Then, there are the tools he used, and the sandals he wore, giving visitors the opportunity to follow the life span and physical development of the king, among more intimate glimpses into his life, including the bodies of his two stillborn daughters.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

The Maori Preserved Heads That Were Used in Sacred Ceremonies But Also as Trade Items to Purchase Weapons

Mokomokai, the Maori preserved heads, are one of the most valuable artifacts of the indigenous people of New Zealand that survive to this day.
The preserved heads with faces decorated by tā moko tattooing (a traditional art form practiced by the Māoris), became valuable trade items during the Musket Wars of the early 19th century.
The markings represented high social status in Maori culture, and it was generally men who don the full facial moko, though high-ranked women often had moko on their lips and chins as well. When someone with moko died, the head would be preserved. First, the brain was extracted, the eyes removed and all orifices sealed with flax fibre and gum.
The head will then boiled or steamed in an oven before they're smoked over an open fire and dried in the sun for several days. Then, the preserved head would be treated with shark oil. This resulted to mummified heads or mokomokai, that would be kept by their families in ornately-carved boxes and brought out only for sacred ceremonies. Mokomokai can be also made from the heads of enemies and rival chiefs. Some heads were kept as trophies of war, some were sold to the Europeans, perhaps as a further insult to the fallen.
They were important in diplomatic negotiations between warring tribes, with the return and exchange of mokomokai being an essential precondition for peace.
During the Musket Wars (1807-1842) of the 19th century, they became valuable trade items, they began to produce Mokomokai from the heads of slaves and prisoners of war, sometimes tattooing them after death (though with meaningless motifs rather than genuine moko), in order to create items for trade.
In 1831, however, the Governor of New South Wales, General Sir Ralph Darling, issued a proclamation banning further trade in heads out of New Zealand.  The trafficking of heads continued, unfortunately.
One of the most prominent collectors Maori heads was Major-General Horatio Gordon Robley who decided to acquire as many examples of Mokomokai as possible, and at length built up a unique collection of 35 heads. He was interested in ethnology and fascinated by the art of tattooing as well as being a talented illustrator.
In 1908, Robley attempted to sell his collection to the New Zealand Government for £1,000. When the offer was declined, most of the collection was sold to the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for the equivalent of £1,250.
More recently there has been a campaign to repatriate to New Zealand the hundreds of Mokomokai held in museums and private collections around the world.

Bald Eagle Versus the Turkey

A bald eagle sits on a perch in front of an American Flag. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The majestic bald eagle—the symbol of the United States—has a reputation for being a noble bird that represents strength and might. In Europe, it is associated with royalty, and depictions of the formidable bird of prey adorned the military shields of powerful generals. Despite all this, however, Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the humble turkey to be used in the official seal of the United States instead of the eagle. Franklin, it seemed, saw through the façade of the eagle and believed the bird to be lacking in moral character. Let's look at Benjamin Franklin's failed attempt to name the turkey at the symbol of the newly founded nation. 
The signing of the Declaration of Independence. (

Designing the Official Seal: A Tough Job

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America as a new, independent nation. Naturally, the new country would need all of the accessories a proper country should have, such as a flag, currency, and official seal. It wasn't long after the signing of the Declaration of Independence that the Continental Congress appointed a committee to develop an official seal. On that committee was Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. They came up with a few designs, but not one of them were accepted by the Continental Congress. In fact, the next two committees also failed to produce a winning seal. 
Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress. (

Calling in an Artist

As the years dragged on, none of the committees seemed to be able to get the job done. In June 1782, Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, decided it was time to call in an artist. He took the various designs to his friend, William Barton, a lawyer from Pennsylvania who also had a way with a sketchpad. Thomson pointed out the elements of each design that he liked but left the overall creative work to Barton. It was Barton who drew an eagle clutching an olive branch in one talon and 13 arrows in another. When he presented his design, he explained that the eagle represented unlimited freedom. Most of the members of the Continental Congress loved his design ... but not everyone. 
Benjamin Franklin really didn't like eagles. (

Franklin Besmudged the Eagle

According to legend, Benjamin Franklin protested the use of the bald eagle as a symbol for the United States and suggested a turkey instead. In a letter Franklin wrote to his daughter after the fact, we can see a glimpse into Franklin’s thought process. Franklin called the eagle a "bird of bad moral character." He noted that the eagle is a lazy bird prone to bullying, claiming to have often witnessed eagles perched in tree tops watching as other birds worked to catch a fish. Once a bird secured his catch, the eagle swooped in to steal it from him. Franklin even called the bald eagle a "rank coward," observing that smaller birds frequently attack the eagle and force him away. 
Smaller birds can drive away an eagle. (

A Bird Expert Agreed with Franklin

John James Audubon was born too late to help Benjamin Franklin with his protest against the bald eagle. Born in 1785, Audubon became America's foremost ornithologist and naturalist from the 1820s to 1850s. A gifted artist, Audubon studied and painted many of the birds native to North America based on his observations of the birds in their natural habitat. Audubon agreed with Franklin's assessment of the bald eagle as a coward and a bully. His opinion, however, came too late. 
For Ben Franklin, the turkey was a noble and honest bird. (

Franklin and the Turkey

Instead of the bald eagle, Franklin suggested the turkey be used in the official seal of the United States. Although the turkey did not have the regal reputation of the eagle, Franklin explained that it was a "brave and honest" bird. As a bird only found in North America, he felt it was a more fitting symbol of the new world, one that didn’t rely on preconceived European connotations. Franklin also called the turkey a "respectable and courageous" bird, writing that a turkey "would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on." Unfortunately, none of these assertions, regardless of their veracity, stop turkeys from looking like that.
The eagle is on the official seal of the United States. (

The Bald Eagle Wins

Despite the views of Benjamin Franklin, the bald eagle beat out the turkey to become the symbol of America. Today, the eagle not only appears on the official seal of the United States but on coins, flags for the military, and more. Piggybacking on the reputation that the eagle had in Europe, Americans equate the bird with power and freedom, while the turkey, despite the virtues Franklin showcased, is seen as a silly, stupid, and comical bird. It is strange to think that such a bird could have been a symbol of America, but to be fair, it would also have been hilarious.

History of Dentistry: From Barber-Surgeons to Dentists

Few people know that barbering (the simple practice of cutting hair on the scalp) and dentistry co-existed for many years. As far back as the Bronze Age (3500 BC) men were having their hair cut and faces shaved. Barbering, was introduced in Rome about 296 BC. Barbers quickly became both popular and prosperous as “barber shops” opened up all over Rome and were the center of daily news and gossip.
It was between 1650 and 1800 that the concepts behind dentistry got its start. The man behind the science was 17th century French Physician, Pierre Fauchard. He is called “The Father of Modern Dentistry”, and he was the brains behind many of the procedures still used in today’s society.
Interestingly enough, beginning in Medieval times, physicians did not often participate in the practice of surgery or the even less vague art of dentistry. The professionals who were doing these extractions during the middle ages were not medical authorities, but barbers, not necessarily because they were highly skilled in the practice, but more likely because they already owned the sharp tools, such as razor blades, that were necessary for these procedures.
These partially trained hair cutters began using a “Dental Pelican” in the 14th century and then a “Dental Key” to extract teeth from their patients’ mouths. Both of these tools were similar to and the precursor to modern day forceps. These barbers were not full time dentists, but in fact, their work was focused solely on removing any infected teeth for alleviating pain purposes, not preventive care.
It was only in the 1800s that dentists, barbers, and surgeons, were separated as professions. For some time, surgery was thought of as a rather low profession among doctors, so people veered away from it as a subject. As knowledge of anatomy and medical procedure became more precise, more patients began surviving more and more elaborate and dramatic surgeries. As fewer barbers were called upon to perform surgery, that aspect of the profession died out. The last barber-surgeon died in the 1820s.

Five EU countries negotiate with Boris to avoid No Deal Brexit: Leaders 'offer Johnson a new plan' and Irish PM says 'let's avert catastrophe'

  • EU countries are reportedly wooing Boris Johnson to make a new Brexit deal 
  • Figures from Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and are said to have contacted Mr Johnson - who is the favourite to become the next PM
  • It comes amid warnings Britain leaving the EU with No Deal would be a disaster
EU countries are secretly wooing Boris Johnson in a bid to thrash out a new Brexit plan that would avoid No Deal, according to reports.   
Senior Irish politicians and diplomats have held talks with two of Johnson's cabinet allies in recent days, and German and French figures as well as the Dutch and Belgian governments have also established contact with Johnson's team and signalled an intention to do a deal, it is claimed.  
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has indicated Dublin is prepared to compromise, the Sunday Timesreported. 
Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal but Coveney said in an article for the paper that EU member Ireland wants to avoid a no-deal exit at all costs.
'If Britain decides to leave without a deal it could cause huge damage to us all,' he wrote. 'A no-deal Brexit would devastate the northern Irish economy.'
The news comes amid Justice Secretary David Gauke's announcement that he will quit the Government on Wednesday if Boris Johnson wins the race to become prime minister - over objections to the Conservative frontrunner's plans to brace for No Deal. 
Mr Gauke said that crashing out of the European Union would lead to national 'humiliation'.
Boris Johnson is pictured outside his second home in Oxfordshire yesterday
Boris Johnson is pictured outside his second home in Oxfordshire yesterday  
Johnson is widely expected to have beaten Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt when the result of a ballot of members of the ruling Conservative Party for their next leader to replace Theresa May is announced on Tuesday. 
The news comes amid reports Brussels will offer Mr Johnson a Brexit extension past October 31 in a final bid to strike an agreement deal and to help him keep the Conservative party together.
The extra time in the EU would be used for negotiation but could apparently be sold to Tory Brexiters as a chance to further prepare for a No Deal exit.
Yesterday protestors marched through central London for a 'No to Boris, yes to Europe' demonstration
Yesterday protestors marched through central London for a 'No to Boris, yes to Europe' demonstration 
Protestors flew a Boris 'blimp' similar to the one fashioned of Donald Trump, with a £350million battle bus T-shirt and Nigel Farage underwear over Parliament Square
Protestors flew a Boris 'blimp' similar to the one fashioned of Donald Trump, with a £350million battle bus T-shirt and Nigel Farage underwear over Parliament Square 
Anti-Brexit protestors are pictured marching down Whitehall during a demonstration yesterday
Anti-Brexit protestors are pictured marching down Whitehall during a demonstration yesterday
'It will be described as a technical delay to save Boris from political embarrassment but then we will have time to find an agreement,' one senior EU diplomat told The Guardian.
Yet the reported approach will worry hard Brexiters in Westminster who want to leave on 31 October no matter the cost. 
Key member states are said to be increasingly confident that the UK leaving without a deal could be avoided after the House of Commons this week voted to prevent the next prime minister from proroguing parliament. 
The proposal reportedly being discussed in Brussels could see Johnson, who is expected to be the next Prime Minister, insist he is heading towards leaving without an agreement, all while keeping discussions ongoing for a deal with the bloc.
EU leaders are said to also be contemplating how they are going to escape a crisis if Johnson does proceed with No Deal on 31 October. 
A second diplomat told the Guardian: 'How do we build back out of the abyss in a time where minds on both sides of the channel are probably not very consolatory?
'We need to pre-empt that moment and create a platform for re-engagement on the day the UK leaves which might be used once the dust has settled. Provided of course the existing obligations are settled.' 
Yet EU diplomats are confident that a No Deal is now less likely following the events of this week.
On Friday, Philip Hammond and Tory Remainer rebels suggested they could bring down the next government 'in the interests of the country' if Boris Johnson pursues a No Deal Brexit.
Mr Hammond has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce but he also failed to rule out backing a vote of no confidence in a government led by Mr Johnson. 
Boris Johnson, pictured on Friday in Westminster, has committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 'do or die' and with or without a deal
Boris Johnson, pictured on Friday in Westminster, has committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 'do or die' and with or without a deal
Philip Hammond, pictured yesterday at a G7 meeting in Paris, France, has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce
Philip Hammond, pictured yesterday at a G7 meeting in Paris, France, has claimed a further Brexit delay is 'urgently needed' to avoid a disorderly divorce
Meanwhile, Stephen Hammond, a Remain-backing Tory health minister, has hinted he would be willing to push the 'nuclear button' of a no confidence vote as he said politicians must 'do the right thing as they see it for the country'. 
Mr Hammond said he was not going to 'exclude anything at the moment' when asked directly whether he could back a bid to scupper Mr Johnson who has pledged to deliver Brexit by October 31 'do or die'. 
This week, Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming president of the European Commission who will take office the day after Brexit on November 1, said she is 'ready' to agree to a further extension. 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday reiterated the EU's long-held stance that it will not renegotiate the divorce agreement it struck with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May.
'The withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement,' she said.
However she added: 'But the moment that a solution for the management of the border is found in (the declaration on) the future relationship - so for the European Union's future ties to Britain -- which basically squares the circle - on the one hand I have no physical border but on the other hand the EU Single Market ends - that satisfies both questions, then the backstop will be overwritten, so to speak.'
Merkel added: 'This means the task is to draft future relations that way and perhaps to draft them more specifically and better and more precisely than so far.'
Then there is scope to come to an agreement and determine future relations, Merkel said.
And on Friday, Conservative lawmaker Alberto Costa, who led the cross-party delegation that met EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, said: 'He made very clear that the European commission has at its very top of the political agenda the protection of citizens' rights and it will continue to do everything it can to protect the rights of those 5million citizens even in the absence of a withdrawal agreement.'