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Artist and photographer Michael Paul Smith has spent hours upon hours photographing one special town that he holds very dear to his heart. There is something that always drew him to it, and the images he created are simple, but stunning. They glow with small-town charm and innocence, reminiscent of days and decades past…

Welcome to Elgin Park!

visitepThinking where to spend vacations next summer? How about a quiet country town, wooded, no traffic, where people know each other by the name and where everything breathes the memories of an era that will never return? Yes, Elgin Park is the ideal city. Is quaint and beautiful:






It’s like each picture tells a story of how life used to be in the United States.






There’s not much going on in these pictures, but it’s obvious that this town is nothing but charm.







To Michael Paul Smith, this is what quintessential America looked like when he was a kid. But Elgin Park it’s not real… It doesn’t exists, except in the mind of photographer and artist Michael Paul Smith. For over 25 years, he has been creating this imaginary world called “Elgin Park”, filled with scaled models of old cars. They’re 1/24th the size to be exact. He chooses appropriate surroundings for these models, and then uses his camera to capture the most realistic shot possible. The kind of shot that you have no idea is within a tiny world. Here’s the best part: he does it all with a $200 point and shoot camera.



His photos tell a story that takes you back to that time and place. “What started out as an exercise in model building and photography, ended up as a dream-like reconstruction of the town I grew up in. It’s not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood of my memories”, Michael says. The photos that recreate this imaginary town of “Elgin Park” are believable not only because the backgrounds, lighting and subject are expertly integrated, but also because of the extensive and thoroughly researched details in each scene.

Michael sets his models up on a card table and populates it with cars from his extensive collection of Danbury Mint and Franklin Mint die cast autos and trucks. The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic and basswood, plus numerous found objects. No Photoshop was used in these images; they’re all composed in the camera. He places the scene near the street or in a parking lot and lines up the camera angle and horizon to perfectly match that of the model, getting the perspective just right. Michael also does night scenes, which are usually photographed inside his small apartment using a very simple lighting setup. He is also able to duplicate the moods of different weather conditions, seasons and times of day with streets wet from rain or curbs drifted with snow made from carefully applied baking soda.



























If you’d like to see more pictures of this perfect American town, visit the Elgin Park website or visit Michael’s page on Flickr. To learn more about Michael’s work, please visit the Craftsmanship Museum website for a full writeup on his talents and process.


SW Picture of the day

Posted: April 14, 2014 in humor
Tags: ,

Jedi Twins

May the Force be with you! Have a nice week!



I saw this movie when I was the same age of its protagonist, in the early of the 80s. Three decades later, I found this Christiane Felscherinow interview to the reporter Max Daly from Vice in December 2013. I’m reblogging the full text here but you can read the original post on Vice’s page clicking here.



Christiane Felscherinow was still a child when she became the most famous heroin addict in the world. Her descent, aged 13, into heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of West Berlin was turned into a book—We Children of Bahnhof Zoo—and then a grim biopic, Christiane F, in 1981.

Thanks to a cameo from David Bowie and all the footage of disturbingly young people injecting heroin, the film quickly became a cult hit. And it wasn’t long before the real Christiane F was catapulted from a life of shooting up and turning tricks in West Berlin’s public toilets to becoming the so-called “junkie princess,” injecting heroin while hanging out with artists and celebrities in Los Angeles.

Three decades later, aged 51 and living back in Berlin, Christiane recently published her memoir, Christiane F – My Second Life. Her health is failing as a result of the hepatitis C she contracted in the 80s, but she spoke with me about some of the stuff that’s happened to her since she was thrust into the international spotlight 30 years ago.

VICE: Going back to 1981, what was it like seeing the film for the first time?
Christiane: The producers invited me to see the film before it was released. They told me David Bowie would be there, too. He came with his personal convoy to pick me up — I was so crazy about meeting him; I had to take a lot of cocaine to deal with it. I took a friend of mine for support, but she just collapsed the moment she saw Bowie. I started shaking when he opened the door to his car and asked me to ride with him to the movie.

But I was quickly disappointed, because he had a beard and he was so skinny and small. I loved the Diamond Dogs — he seemed to be this extraordinary figure on that. But next to me in the car he just looked little and weak, like my father. I thought David Bowie was going to be the star of my movie, but it was all about me.


Was it an accurate portrayal of your life?
On the whole, yes. But I actually don’t like the film that much; it doesn’t describe how I grew up, how I was neglected by my parents. My father was a drinker and he abused my sister and me. He was choleric and my mom just did nothing, She was more into her affair with another man and her beauty. I was so lonely when I was a kid. I just wanted to belong; I was struggling with the world.

So how did the sudden celebrity status hit you after the book and film were released?
I mean, I was 16 when I did the book, and I just wanted to talk. It was therapy for me. We just thought the book would be special interest, just one book among thousands. But we were so wrong. Suddenly I was famous, but I wasn’t able to work out what this would mean to my life. To the public I was the famous drug addict, like an exhibit. They all wanted to talk to me, to see me and to ask, “Will she make it or not? Is she dead yet? Is she still an addict?” They didn’t want me as a neighbor or their son’s girlfriend. Christiane F is cool from afar, but not too close, please! They’re not interested in anything about me, besides being a junkie. That’s the reason why I regret doing the book and film.

You started off anonymous. Why did you decide to break cover?
Because I was damn young and simply didn’t know what it would mean to my life. And nobody took care of my interests. That’s why. Bernd Eichinger [the film's producer] asked me to do promotion for the movie in the US because Natja Brunkhorst, who played me, was too young and her father wouldn’t allow her to go to America. I was 19 years old and thought I could deal with it, but I was wrong.

What happened when you came to the US?
I met a lot of inspiring people. For example, Rodney Bingenheimer, the famous DJ who promoted punk bands like Blondie and The Ramones. I loved Pasadena, and I had a chance to live there, but then I was arrested with a few grams of heroin and opium, and I wasn’t allowed to come to the US any more.

That sucks. When you went back to Germany you ended up going out with Alexander Hacke—the guitarist in the German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten—and living with Nick Cave, right?
Oh, he was a friend of a friend and he used my place as a hideout because he had a really bad problem with heroin back in the 80s. He didn’t know where else to go, because the media gave him no privacy. He stayed at mine for a couple of months. I’m happy he got rid of his problems and has a family now.

In the late 80s, while you were living with some publishers in Zurich, you became a regular at the Platzspitz, a park where drug dealing and taking was completely legal. What was that like?
In Zurich, I lived between literature stars and the heroin scene. Platzspitz was the biggest open-air drug scene in Europe at the time. It was like Disney World for junkies. Zurich is a small town and its drug scene was huge in those days. On some days there were almost 3,000 junkies hanging out there, using drugs, getting drunk. I stayed there for weeks sometimes. It was like a market; they had tables offering any kind of drugs. But people started dying and getting infected with HIV and hepatitis C. The area became a heap of garbage and there was an open war between rival drug gangs, so the Swiss government shut it down in the 1990s.

christianefmoviestillIn the movie, Christiane was played by the 14 year old actress Natja Brunckhorst. More about this actress on Wikipedia.

There were some pretty explicit scenes of drug use in Christiane F. But then there was the Bowie soundtrack. Do you think the film scared people away from heroin or glamorized it?
Not everyone was put off by it. We soon had the problem that many young people thought that what I’d experienced was glamorous and romantic. Even when the book became a required text in schools, I noticed that kids were more fascinated than upset about what they read. So Stern [publishing] published a factbook, which they handed to teachers and parents, with information about how to deal with teens who were fascinated by the story of Christiane F. I hope that My Second Life scares people away from taking drugs more than my first book. I’m quite sure it will. It describes how much pain I’ve had in my life, and [explains] that I will die a very early and painful death.

What do you think draws people into your story?
I’ve always asked myself that and I simply don’t know. I’m nothing special. I haven’t done anything special. I’m not even a special junkie—thousand of people have a similar story to mine.

Why do you think junkies are seen as such social pariahs?
It’s stupid. You are admired, even though you take drugs, just as long as you’re something special—a musician or a painter. But if you’re a drug user and you have none of these talents, you’re deemed useless to society. You are seen as anti-society. Society doesn’t accept addicted people, but they do accept, for example, parents who drink a bottle of wine every other day and leave their kids with foreign nannies, because they want to work and to party. I don’t get it.

Three of your close friends had died by the time the film came out. Did telling your story save your life?
If anything, it has probably shortened it. I wouldn’t have had all the royalty money, so maybe I wouldn’t have been able to buy heroin for so many years. Maybe I would have got clean earlier and would be in a better condition today.

But you’re alive…
I always kept my aspiration. I am fascinated by chances, even though I didn’t always make the best of them. And I have an order to my chaos. I’ve always wanted to look good, to feel good, to have a shower and a home. I’m still happy about these little touching things in life.

Why do you think you never gave up drugs?
I never wanted to give them up. I didn’t know anything else. I decided to live a different life to other people. I don’t need a pretence to stop.

How is your health now?
I’m on methadone. Sometimes I have a joint. I drink too much alcohol. My liver is about to kill me. I have cirrhosis because of hepatitis C. I will die soon, I know that. But I haven’t missed out on anything in my life. I am fine with it. So this isn’t what I’d recommend: this isn’t the best life to live, but it’s my life.



Since June last year  I try to show here the hypocrisy, corruption, cases of negligence of politicians and governments and police violence against the Brazilian people on the eve of the World Cup and just over two years of the Olympics. I may be being boring to many readers because this was a blog of culture and art. I may be being less impartial than I should be, but it’s hard to maintain impartiality in the face of atrocities ordered by heads of corrupt governments and enforced by law agents against citizens fighting for their rights.

Meanwhile, in the country of the World Cup…

Vacating of terrain invaded by about 5,000 people end up in confrontation, police violence and destruction.

Chaos reigns in Rio de Janeiro. While hypocritical politicians invest billions on useless works to impress foreign tourists who come to the city to watch the games of the World Cup, the poorest population continues to suffer the ills of a fascist politics led by two criminals wearing white collar but should be using uniforms of prisoners behind bars: the governor of Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral and his lackey and court jester Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes. As if not enough the pharaonic works that are transforming the lives of the Rio de Janeiro population in a constant purgatory, the neglect of these two rulers with health, education, public safety, housing and transportation has led to protests and cries of revolt of the poor population. Screams that are silent only at the expense of truncheon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

One more time, the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro showed his psychotic and repressive face when 1,500 police officers acted like thugs of old colonels of the times of the empire and invaded an occupied terrain by about 5,000 people in Engenho Novo, suburb of Rio de Janeiro, and used the usual violence with guise of fulfilling a court order. Just like a Quilombo, the eviction was closed from truculent manner when dozens of families set up resistance and refused to leave the premises. Tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets were used by the Riot Police. Outraged, residents that invaded the terrain caused a trawler shall through the streets of neighborhoods. Criminals took advantage of the turmoil to cause destruction and spread fear in the neighborhood.











The balance after five hours of confrontation: one of the buildings of the company that was being used by the invaders was torched, four buses, several private cars, a truck and one police car were set ablaze, two supermarkets, several shops and banks were vandalized and looted. 27 people were arrested and 16 were injured, including nine police officers and two children, one of them wounded in the leg by a rubber bullet. The most serious case was a man who lost his sight in one eye. Seven schools closed their doors, leaving three thousand students without class, and a health post did not work.

Source: O Globo

Understand how the occupation began

On March 31, hundreds of families invaded an area owned by the telephony company Oi on Two May Street at Engenho Novo,  neighborhood a few miles from the Maracana stadium (see the map below). The land was served as the company’s storehouse, but has been abandoned for several years. Quickly, shacks about 4 square meters were built on the terrain, and the population grew rapidly, reaching about 5,000 people.


The vast movement of people and construction materials drew the attention of neighbors and the authorities tried to use legal means – the repossession company for Oi company – to prevent another favela was formed in Rio de Janeiro.


Quickly, justice granted the repossession on 7 April. The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes came out to shoot one of his usual stupidities: “poor who are poor and need home, do not staking out land with woods and construction material,” and called the occupation of “professional” and “organized”, alluding that it had been initiated by social movements or criminals, which in the view of imbeciles like him mean the same thing. In this Friday, April 11, reinforced with 1,500 police officers, the process of repossession was carried to term.

5Boy victim of gas thrown by MPs is loaded by the slum dwellers of Wet Mouse Favela.

6Resident is caught throwing stones at riot police.

19Police helicopter flies over the terrain of the Oi during the fire of one of the buildings.

paesThis moron got to be twice elected mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Who is more moronic? This jerk who was elected or the fools who voted for him for two terms in a row?

Neglect of housing

The impasse involving the terrain of Oi company dates back to 2012, when the building was sold to the city. A term of purchase and sale between Telemar Norte Leste (Oi current company) and the City of Rio de Janeiro came to be signed on July 6 of that year. The goal of the administration was to create a project similar to Carioca neighborhood, created in the neighborhood of Triagem.

The signing of the term had the presence of President Dilma Rousssef. The deal closed, it was determined that the federal government, through the Ministry of Cities, would finance a housing program in the place through the public housing MCMV plan. But the deal fell apart. Even with the signing of the term, the sale failed. Mayor Eduardo Paes claimed that the asking price was too high.

1Families evicted by the Military Police of the company Oi terrain protest outside the headquarters of the municipal government and request access of home ownership.





Fonte: O Globo

Police for who need police: Police violence against journalists

It is not new that military police of Rio de Janeiro behave like irrational thugs when they are acting in operations of attempted of crowd control. Many of the victims during such disastrous operations are press professionals. The growth of alternative sources of media covering the demonstrations and the almost always violent actions of the police since the protests began in Brazil in June last year, stands side by side with the increase of records of police aggression against journalists. Each person with a cell phone in hand during these police operations becomes an police enemy and to prevent their violent, arbitrary and cowardly actions against innocents of being filmed and photographed, the police officers are instructed by their commanders to arrest and attacking journalists and break/confiscate their equipment.

12Police threaten journalists and try to prevent the press professionals of register the violent police action during the eviction.

The newspaper reporter Bruno Amorim from O GLOBO was arrested by military police while photographing operation of the eviction of slum Oi, in Engenho Novo. A police officer snatched the glasses from Bruno gave him a headlock and accused him of inciting violence. After being immobilized, he was filmed by the same policeman, saying: “I am Filming a Globo reporter who was throwing stones. You show our face, now I’m showing yours”. The officer was unidentified in uniform. The reporter was taken to the 25th Police Precinct (Rocha), and then released. The case has not been registered by the police. Upon being arrested, the same charges used by the police to repress work of the press: Bruno was charged with disrespect, incitement to violence and resisting arrest.

Since the beginning of the action on the morning of Friday, the police threatened to arrest reporters and cameramen who made the cover of repossession. In a statement, Abert (Brazilian Association of Radio and Television) condemned the police action against the journalist. More proof that Brazil is a disguised dictatorship, where the police have as much power over the truth, and the life of every citizen, and the assurance given by the fascist state that crimes committed by police officers are not judged, and even if they are, hardly any policeman will be punished.

Fonte: O Globo. Photos: Terra.

This is Brazil, the country of the World Cup. You’re Welcome!


Desde junho do ano passado eu tento mostrar aqui a hipocrisia, a corrupção, os descasos dos políticos e governantes e a violência da polícia contra o povo brasileiro às vésperas de uma Copa do Mundo e a pouco mais de dois anos de uma Olimpíada. Eu posso estar sendo chato para muitos porque este era um blog de cultura e arte, posso estar sendo menos imparcial do que eu deveria, mas é difícil manter a imparcialidade diante das barbaridades ordenadas por chefes de governo corruptos e executadas por agentes da lei contra cidadãos que lutam por seus direitos.

Enquanto isso, no país da Copa…

Desocupação de terreno invadido por cerca de 5000 pessoas termina em confronto, destruição e violência policial.

O caos reina no Rio de Janeiro. Enquanto políticos hipócritas investem bilhões em obras inúteis para impressionar os turistas estrangeiros que virão à cidade para assistir os jogos da Copa do Mundo, a população mais pobre continua sofrendo as mazelas de uma política fascista comandada por dois criminosos que vestem colarinho branco mas deveriam estar usando uniformes de presidiários e atrás das grades: o governador do Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral e seu lacaio e bobo da corte Prefeito do Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes. Como se não bastassem as obras faraônicas que estão transformando a vida da população do Rio de Janeiro em um purgatório constante, o descaso desses governantes com saúde, educação, segurança pública, habitação e transporte vem provocando protestos e gritos de revolta da população mais carente, gritos que só são calados à custa de cassetete, bombas de gás e balas de borracha.

Mais uma vez, a Polícia Militar do Rio de Janeiro mostrou sua face psicótica e repressora, quando 1,500 policiais agiram como jagunços de antigos coronéis dos tempos do império e invadiram um terreno ocupado por cerca de 5000 pessoas no Engenho Novo, subúrbio do Rio de Janeiro, e usaram da violência habitual com a desculpa de estar cumprindo ordem judicial. Tal qual um quilombo, a desocupação foi encerrada de forma truculenta quando dezenas de famílias montaram resistência e se recusaram a sair do local. Bombas de gás, spray de pimenta e balas de borracha foram usados pela Tropa de Choque. Revoltados, os moradores do terreno invadido provocaram um arrastão pelas ruas dos bairros vizinhos. Criminosos aproveitaram o tumulto para provocar destruição e espalhar o medo nos moradores.

O saldo após cinco horas de confronto: um dos prédios da empresa que estava sendo usado pelos invasores foi incendiado, quatro ônibus, vários carros particulares, um caminhão e um carro da polícia foram incendiados, dois supermercados, lojas e agências bancárias foram depredados e saqueados. 27 pessoas foram presas e 16 ficaram feridas, entre elas 9 policiais e duas crianças, uma delas ferida na perna por uma bala de borracha. O caso mais grave foi o de um homem que perdeu a visão de um olho . Sete escolas deixaram de funcionar, deixando três mil alunos sem aula, e um posto de saúde fechou as portas.

Entenda como começou a ocupação

No dia 31 de Março, centenas de famílias invadiram um terreno de propriedade da empresa de telefonia Oi na Rua Dois de Maio, no Engenho Novo. O terreno servia como almoxarifado da empresa, mas está abandonado há vários anos. Rapidamente, barracos de cerca de 4 metros quadrados foram erguidos no terreno, e a população cresceu rapidamente, chegando a cerca de 5000 pessoas. A grande movimentação de pessoas e material de construção chamou a atenção dos vizinhos e das autoridades que trataram de usar os meios legais – a reintegração de posse para a empresa Oi – para evitar que mais uma favela se formasse no Rio de Janeiro.

A justiça concedeu a reintegração de posse no dia 7 de Abril. O prefeito de araque do Rio Eduardo Paes chegou a disparar mais uma de suas imbecilidades costumeiras: “pobre que é pobre, que precisa de casa, não fica demarcando terreno com madeirite e material de construção”, e chamou a ocupação de “profissional” e “organizada”, aludindo que ela tivesse sido iniciada por movimentos sociais ou criminosos, o que na visão de imbecis como ele, significam a mesma coisa. Nesta sexta-feira, 11 de Abril, com reforço de 1,500 policiais, o processo de reintegração de posse foi levado a termo.

Descaso com a habitação

O impasse envolvendo o terreno da Oi remonta a 2012, quando o prédio seria vendido para o município. Um termo de compra e venda, entre a Telemar Norte Leste e a prefeitura, chegou a ser assinado no dia 6 de julho daquele ano. O objetivo da administração era criar um empreendimento similar ao bairro Carioca, criado em Triagem.

A assinatura do termo contou com a presença da presidente Dilma Rousssef. Pelo acordo fechado, ficou definido que o governo federal, via Ministério das Cidades, financiaria um programa habitacional no local, através do Minha Casa Minha Vida. Mas o negócio desandou. Mesmo com a assinatura do termo, a venda fracassou. O prefeito Eduardo Paes alegou que o preço pedido era muito alto.

Polícia para quem precisa de polícia: Violência policial contra jornalistas

Não é de hoje que policiais militares do Rio de Janeiro se comportam como jagunços irracionais quando estão atuando em operações de (tentativa) controle de multidão. Muitas das vítimas durante essas operações desastrosas são os profissionais de imprensa. O crescimento de fontes alternativas de mídias cobrindo manifestações e as ações quase sempre violentas da polícia desde o início dos protestos no Brasil em junho do ano passado, está lado a lado com o aumento de registros de agressão de policiais contra jornalistas. Cada pessoa com um celular na mão durante essas operações policiais se transforma em mais um inimigo da polícia, que para evitar que suas ações violentas, arbitrárias e covardes contra inocentes sejam filmadas e fotografadas, não hesitam em prender e agredir jornalistas e quebrar/confiscar seus equipamentos.

O repórter do jornal O GLOBO Bruno Amorim foi detido pela Polícia Militar por fotografar a operação de desocupação da Favela da Oi, no Engenho Novo. Um PM arrancou os óculos de Bruno, deu-lhe uma chave de braço e o acusou de incitar a violência. Após ser imobilizado, ele foi filmado pelo mesmo policial, que dizia: “Estou filmando um repórter da Globo que estava jogando pedras. Vocês mostram a nossa cara, agora estou mostrando a sua”. O policial estava sem identificação na farda. O repórter foi levado para a 25ª DP (Rocha), sendo liberado em seguida. O caso não foi registrado pela polícia. Ao ser detido, as mesmas acusações usadas pela polícia para reprimir o trabalho da imprensa: Bruno foi acusado de desacato, incitação à violência e resistência à prisão. Se fosse repórter do coletivo Midia Ninja, talvez Bruno fosse mandado direto pra prisão em Bangu acusado de terrorista, mas como era repórter do Globo, apenas fez uma visita à delegacia…

Desde o início da ação, na manhã desta sexta-feira, os policiais ameaçaram prender repórteres e cinegrafistas que faziam a cobertura da reintegração de posse. Em nota, a ABERT (Associação Brasileira de Empresas de Rádio e Televisão) condenou a ação policial contra o jornalista. Mais uma prova de que o Brasil vive uma ditadura disfarçada, onde a polícia tem o poder máximo sobre a verdade e a vida de cada cidadão, e a garantia dada pelo Estado fascista de que os crimes cometidos por policiais não são julgados, e mesmo se forem, dificilmente algum policial será punido.


Isto é Brasil, o país da Copa. Sejam bem-vindos!