Tag Archives: Art Nouveau

Traveling in Europe: Antwerp Part II

Europe 2011: Antwerp click to enter album

Most of these memories are from my second day but in some cases it’s a mix of the two days in Antwerp. I was actually kind of glad that I decided not to go to Brussels. I was still feeling somewhat sick and my feet were starting to hurt from all the walking. I went to St. Paul’s Church and possibly St. James’ Church. In fact, I’m not sure anymore if I did go to the second one, and it’s possible one of these churches didn’t allow pictures inside. St. Paul’s church had the statues of calvary outside, with rough hewn stones forming a grotto. I couldn’t tell if it was of recent or older centuries but while St. Paul’s was of an earlier era, the calvary statues were added in the early 1800s I believe. It was in one of these many cathedrals, where I listened to piped in organ music, looking at the patterns of light through stained glass, staring at carved wooden and stone statues and admiring triptychs by the masters that I thought, even if a person wasn’t religious they would be hard-pressed to not feel moved by all the fantastic accomplishments and beauty of humanity.

Shops opened late on Monday because, as one person told me, people might be hung over still. 🙂 I wandered around the old area and noticed there were enough chocolate, frites and waffle shops. The Belgians love their chocolate like the Dutch love their meat.

While I still had to work at dodging bicyclists and nearly got run over twice; it’s not really clear who has the right of way so I always tried to look in all directions. I think the order is first trams, then cars, then bikes then pedestrians, almost reversed from Canada. Most of the street corners have fewer lights and cars and trams drive down the same narrow streets. At one point the tram was stuck because someone had parked too close to the track. The tram drivers kept ringing the bell for about ten minutes till the guy ran back and moved his car.

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This was a great lunch with three large pieces of halibut. About 17 euros including wine.

More people smoke than I’m used to but it didn’t seem as prevalent as Holland, however no matter where I went I seemed to smell cigarettes and people can sit on restaurant patios and smoke. I had a smoked halibut salad for lunch, which was quite large, making up for the 15 euros I paid. The portions are more than I’m used to. Unless ordering a bottle of wine, it was only one type of house wine so there was no point in asking for a type. At 3.5 euros a glass it was more reasonable than the water. Chocolate isn’t that cheap but the frites are, which come with an array of flavored mayo sauces. Being Canadian I’m used to dunking my fries in flavored mayo so it wasn’t that odd.  I wandered into a few stores and found shoes really expensive as well, which curtailed me buying any.

St. Paul's interior. This life size statue of Mary (holding a plate with eyes) has had the stain rubbed off of her hand from centuries of worshippers.

I actually wandered along the Scheldt River the day before, which is one of the biggest shipping ports in Europe. There is a plague commemorating Canadian troops liberating the city in WWII, and a couple of statues. Walking farther along is Het  Steen, which means the rock. It’s the oldest fortification in Antwerp and is rather small when you think of it as a castle. There wasn’t a lot to see as it was locked up (probably considered a museum) but it has a good imposing look to it.

I ran into an Egyptian-Belgian and he insisted in taking me to the best waffle shop where I had a waffle with chocolate sauce. I’m actually more used to waffles being like quilted pancakes but this was so airy that it was easy to eat and tasty. Down near my bed and breakfast was an area of the city that housed Art Nouveau buildings. While this man would have loved to show me around for several hours, the light was going to be gone soon and I love Art Nouveau. I made my way to the area and took some pictures of the truly amazing architecture from about 1910-1920.

That evening I at near the B&B in a square which had several restaurants. I had mussels and when the came in the giant pot with several slices of bread I was stunned. I ate nothing else and couldn’t even finish the mussels. Here in Vancouver, that meal would have fed three, but then the price was about the cost of three portions. I certainly didn’t go hungry.  After I walked down to this cafe and sat outside writing in my journal and having a couple of glasses of wine. These two women bought me a drink and we talked. One was on her way to Seattle for her sister’s wedding and was considering moving there, much to her friend’s surprise. Then three men arrived, with one being of the flaming variety of gay. He was very friendly and began chatting with me, telling me to join their table. Partway through the evening he said he loved me, but oh, not that way. I smiled

Art Nouveau, Antwerp, Belgium, architecture, history, buildings, travel

One sample of a fantastic Art Nouveau balcony and architecture.

and said that was fine, I knew that.  (In fact, I saw a fair larger gay population in Antwerp than I did in Amsterdam.) His friends were getting mad at him for not talking with them and then at one point, the one guy (two were from Hungary) whose English wasn’t that good started yelling at me and blaming me for all the “horrible” things Canada was doing to the Indians.

I said it wasn’t that simple or black and white and that yes there were good and bad things done. He kept at me and I asked, “If your brother killed someone, would you be guilty?” That didn’t deter him so finally I lost it and retorted, “Fine let’s look at what the Hungarian Magyars did to the Gypsies.” He got more worked up yelling and walking around that the two women were telling him to shut up in Belgian. The bartender came out and said he was going to call the police. I was bewildered. Here were some of the friendliest people I’d met in my travels and some of the nastiest all at once. I couldn’t take the ranting so I thanked those who had been nice and went back to my lodgings. That one incident was bizarre but I’d go back to Antwerp again because I certainly didn’t see it all.

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Procter & Gamble and the Man in the Moon

The original Procter & Gamble logo.

Once upon a time two men, William Procter and James Gamble, formed a business. It’s genesis began in 1837 with the sale of candles and soap. The US was in a financial crisis and was rumored to be broke but the men persevered with what would have been essentials at that time. Electricity was still in the future.

Dock hands, handling shipments of the candles, would mark the boxes with a crude star to differentiate them from other merchandise. It seems this mark bloomed into the Star Candles brand and eventually the stars appeared in a semi-official capacity as the company grew (or maybe they marked the Star Candles boxes with a crude star). By 1859 the company was making a million dollars, a quite substantial amount for those days.

As Procter & Gamble grew the stars on the candle boxes solidified and a logo was born in 1851, with thirteen stars and a man in the moon with luxuriant curling beard. If you know anything of the art styles of the period, you will understand that this logo, shown above, was as precursor to the stylized, swooping swirls of the Art Nouveau period. Part of the Romantic period in art, the design is not unusual for the time in style. My guess (as it’s hard to find out what the founders originally intended) is that the stars played significantly in the company’s brand evolution. From those stars, they became stylized and it’s said that there are 13 to represent the 13 original colonies of the United States.

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The new P&G logo.

Considering that Procter & Gamble supplied soap and candles to the Union army during the Civil War, it seems likely that they had some form of patriotism and pride for their roots in the United States. Shortly after this, they began making Ivory soap, among many other products. The logo was a longstanding icon for Procter & Gamble, and if you have ever used Crest, Crisco, Downy, Bounce, Charmin, Duracell, Gillette, Olay, Pampers, Tide or a host of other products, then chances are you might have noticed the little man in the moon with the stars on the back of the packaging. In fact, today Procter & Gambler (more commonly called P&G now as we’ve reached the age of abbreviation and acronyms) is the 6th most profitable corporation in the world and 5th in the US with only a few like Exxon, Microsoft, Apple and Walmart ahead of it.

Consider that this logo existed from the 1850s to to the 1980s before some latent ruckus arose. And what was it in the era that spawned supposed Satanic messages in rock n roll records played backwards that got people up in arms over Procter & Gamble? The stars numbered 13. Good lord! It’s the devil’s number and if you reverse the beard you see 666 and if you get drunk and draw lines from one star to the next you see more sixes. It’s more bizarre that the US dollar bills have an eye in a pyramid (Masonic ties and there’s a secret society there) than the man in the moon and the 13 stars.

But rumors spread and Procter & Gamble battled defamation and slander suits for many years. Interestingly, most of these rumors of the Satanic relationship stemmed from Amway distributors, who in fact have been accused of having cultlike activities, running pyramid schemes and being tied closely with the very conservative far Christian right. Now who seems more likely to have suspicious dealings?

Personally I find this logo has personality as opposed to modern and very sterile logos, including the new P&G logo. Branding is a powerful thing. Procter & Gamble had been in business far too long with their logo to bow to a bunch of superstitious nut jobs wanting to tarnish their image. Probably Amway’s true reason was to knock down P&G’s position in the corporate hierarchy. It might have made a dint but not that much and Amway, though powerful, has had to ride more waves of trouble than P&G. Unlike Starbucks who seemed to bow to public pressure (of a few) and kept changing their logo, P&G did not, until they hit an era of modernization. Did the logo changes or stasis affect these companies? Probably not much because they both have very strong products that hold up against the people with too much time on their hands.

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Glasgow and the Kelvingrove Museum

Ireland 2007–Glasgow Museum

I have now hit the last of the Irish photos from Fall 2007 and these are the last of the trip spent in Glasgow on the way home. I’d love to write more on Ireland but that will take another trip and if anyone is willing to send me, I’ll gladly go. 🙂 But my other travels will now be more local.

 

Our lovely trip to Ireland ended and on Monday morning we flew back to Glasgow to Will and Erin’s place, wonderful people to put us up in their wee flat. I think my sister and I were a bit dragged out and didn’t really do more that snooze until they got home. If I recall Erin was still in Iceland(?) that night.

The next day we trundled off with directions and map, taking the bus to the Kelvingrove Museum . It was a cold day and just as well as a transition out of Ireland. Ireland seemed cozier and smaller (and warmer!). Glasgow’s a pretty large modern city. Even Dublin held more of a sense of age. So in a way it was good to transition back to Vancouver.

I had last been in Glasgow many many years before, when I was nineteen, and my friend and I stayed only one night. I don’t remember a lot except that it fit the dirty old town image of the time. It was one reason we didn’t stay that long.

The museum was interesting. We walked along a few streets past part of the older sections of the university. A foot and car bridge had massive statues of men and women, dressed in clothing of different eras and doing different things. Ships, books, rope, sewing, etc., various occupations. The day itself was a bit chilly and overcast. The good weather we had been graced with in Ireland had ended.

The museum was in some ways much like museums everywhere, except they’re free in Scotland and Ireland. What a great idea that is. There was a section on indigenous wildlife, including all the extinct indigenous wildlife that had once roamed Scotland’s hills. Humans have wiped out so many species and it continues. It’s sad to see that. If we could learn to populate less, farm/hunt more efficiently and in a renewable way, we might exist another thousand years but I’m having my doubts right now. The first floor was natural history plus sculptures, early Egypt and other works of art.

The second floor was mostly paintings. There were some interesting paintings and sculptures in the museum too. The small section on women’s early subjugation and suffragette movements was eye opening. I knew there were a lot of “Victorian” inventions with things like the chastity belt and that any earlier versions have never been found. If I was exploring this farther I’d want to know more of the history and dating of the objects.

The Art Nouveau/Deco section and the stuff on Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Scotland’s darling, were wonderful. I’m very partial to Art Nouveau so spent a lot of time there drooling on things. And of course seeing the jacket from hmm, what era, the Reformation, the 17th century was cool as the only piece of clothing I saw there. It was white doe skin/leather, with perfect stitching, and the bullet hole and blood of the guy who got shot while wearing it. I think there might have been a bit of museum that I missed.

After, we wandered around Glasgow and had the most awful Scottish-Mexican food. A breaded cheeseball with salsa. Potatoes with salsa. My sister got glutened so it added trips to the loo. She’s a celiac and any touch of the stuff causes a reaction. This was a direct difference to Ireland where everyone seemed to know what a celiac was. We got lost trying to find our way back to my friends’ mostly because it turned out there were two buses with the same name but they went different places. We eventually found our way to our abode and the next day we were on to Canada.

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