Sunday, April 7, 2013

The shoemaker

Frank Catalfumo is a 91 year old shoemaker and repairer in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He first opened the doors to F&C Shoes in 1945 and continues to work five days a week alongside his son Michael. If you're ever in the area, make sure to stop by the shop and listen to one of Frank's amazing stories about life in Brooklyn back in the day.


On the pavements around Parque da Luz in São Paulo’s old city-centre, skeletal rag-covered figures loll. This is the heart of the district known as Cracolândia (“Crackland”)—a few dozen streets used since the 1990s as an open-air crack den. As addicts moved in, law-abiding businesses and residents fled. Those who remain pay rock-bottom rents, pull down their shutters at 6pm and stay in at night.

São Paulo’s Cracolândia was Brazil’s first and is still its biggest. It is home to 2,000 addicts. But most Brazilian cities now have similar districts. Recent studies put the country’s crack-using population at 1m-1.2m, the world’s largest. In the past 20 years, as American consumers shifted to synthetic drugs, traffickers in the coca-growing countries—Bolivia, Colombia and Peru—sought new markets. Brazil shares long, porous borders with all three. Its growing prosperity ensured customers. The gangs born in its hellish prisons handled distribution.

Some city governments have used strong-arm tactics against the crack epidemic—with little effect other than to fill prisons, which have more than twice as many inmates as a decade ago. Last year a short-lived police offensive in São Paulo code-named Dor e Sofrimento (“Pain and Suffering”) forced addicts constantly to move on. That led to shambling parades through the city centre. The only lasting result was to expand their patch.

São Paulo city officials continue to talk tough, promising earlier this year to make it easier for judges to force addicts into treatment. That is popular. But it ignores both the vast unmet need for treatment, and the seeds of a more effective approach. So many desperate relatives of drug addicts have turned up at CRATOD, a drug-treatment centre overlooking Parque da Luz, that it has had to erect a marquee outside to handle them. The saddest sight on a recent visit was not the patients waiting for check-ups, counselling, art therapy and gym training, but the mothers being sent away empty-handed to seek help for their addict children nearer home. They are unlikely to find it: there are few public facilities on the city’s poor periphery.

Those who live close to CRATOD find that the promise of the swift locking-up of crack abusers turns out to be a mirage. Forced internment of addicts has in fact been legal in Brazil for a decade, but only for short periods and if a doctor thinks the patient poses an immediate, serious risk. What has changed at CRATOD are not those rules, but having a judge on call around the clock to speed up those rare cases. Four-fifths of those it has admitted this year have been day patients, free to come and go. Almost all in-patients were admitted voluntarily.

High drop-out rates are a big difficulty in treating crack patients. That makes forced internment tempting. But experience in Brazil and elsewhere, says Alfredo Toscano, the centre’s director, is that they often return to their old ways once released. For many, outpatient care is a better long-term bet: over its course, they must try to build a life without the drug. An on-site dentist is proving a big help in getting CRATOD’s patients to stay the course: the heat and acidity of crack-smoking destroy addicts’ teeth. Staff report that patients hope a rebuilt smile will help them to get a job or even a girlfriend.

The centre’s on-site police leave the task of approaching street users to medical staff and volunteers from churches and charities. “The job of police is to combat trafficking, protect health and social workers and keep the peace,” says Fernando Vieira, the state government’s secretary of security, who replaced a hardliner last year. “This is the first time there’s been such a co-ordinated approach anywhere in Brazil.”

Read the remaining part of the article here

A new type of rug

Earth - unlike perhaps any other planet out there - provides a mostly hospitable home for humankind. Yet we seem to have opted for unsustainable growth instead of preservation.
At least that's the message in photographer David Thomas Smith's "Anthropocene" exhibition, which Smith describes as a visual examination of global landscapes transformed by the actions and activities of humanity. Each of the 12 prints in the collection derives from thousands of screenshots, which Smith captured from Google Maps and metamorphosed in Photoshop.

"This work draws upon the patterns and motifs used by Persian rug makers, especially the way Afghani weavers use the rug to record their experiences more literally with vivid images of the war torn land that surrounds them," Smith says.
"This collision between the old and the new, fact and fiction, surveillance and invisibility, is part of a strategy to reflect on the global order of things."

Source: CNet

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Back from the edge: BPD

Coen brothers quote posters

Question: what happens when you take the genius of the Coen Brothers' films and put them into illustrated form?

The answer is artist Chet Phillips' incredible movie quote posters.

The illustrator has created a series of designs, which includes Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing, and Fargo, featuring various quotes and an iconic character from each movie.

According to Chet's blog, in 1987 he had the privilege of sitting in on a press screening of Raising Arizona and was "blown away with the comedic timing, wild characters and insanely clever dialogue. From then on each of their movies were at the top of my must-see list."