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Amazing Skate Pool With A Thousand Skulls

Posted By On 3:59 AM 0 comments
In counter-cultural urban expression, there’s nothing more sublime than the sight of a skater achieving near weightlessness as they rip into a vertical transition before flying off the coping into thin air, clutching their board, while the concrete space from which they soared awaits their return. Ever since the early ’70s, when a legacy of past masters carved an ineffaceable groove in the concrete landscape with nothing but a plank and four wheels beneath their feet, the drained swimming pool has held a special place inside the ribcage of the street skater.

Environmental Graffiti talked to London-based street artist D*Face fresh from his return from painting an abandoned swimming pool for skateboarders in California.
Ramp skating may win more prizes, it may even hit greater heights, but riding the beautifully curved 1950s pools of San Bernadino – aka the ‘Badlands’ – is skating to the core, harking back to the early days when air was first caught and bones first broken. D*Face recently took a trip to the skate community where it all started to paint the perfect pool.

Inspired by skate graphics and the street art scene that spawned him, D*Face helped create a skater’s dream spot with his design for a pool dubbed ‘Ridiculous’ by the guys who discovered it, MTV host Peter King and legendary skateboarder Steve Alba. The slightly cryptic name is a marker of its ridiculously perfect shape and curvature, from a skater’s point of view.
San Bernadino was hit hard by the economic slump and subprime mortgage fiasco, so many of its properties have been left vacant. This gave the skating community the chance to mark their turf on an abundance of abandoned swimming pools – echoing the era when Alba and others took their hardcore style to the pools following the 1970s drought in Southern California.

The invitation to paint ‘Ridiculous’ was put out by MTV, but if that makes this sound more commercial than it perhaps should, remember that the guys who found it could, in theory, have been arrested for this stunt. And look no further than D*Face’s skull designs, hundreds of which litter the pool basin, to see that this is a graphic artist doing what comes naturally to him – and an artist who loves skating.
D*Face was, in the vernacular, stoked to paint the pool and realise a dream of visiting the traditional Mecca of all skate scenes, where his early interest in the relationship between art and skateboarding first came alive – even if he was just a little too young to know it at the time. Nourished by a passion for hip-hop and punk music, cartoon animation and of course street art, his style fitted the bill well.

Asked how his art interacts with skating and the skate aesthetic in his painting for ‘Ridiculous’, D*Face told EG:

“I guess because my work can be seen in the public domain, for free, by any passers-by, and uses elements of repetition to build awareness and subversion and shock to provoke reaction. Skateboarders I believe are a different breed. They pay attention to the environment that surrounds them, they are often chased off spots they’re illegally skating, so there’s a synergy between my work, skateboarders and skateboarding.”
“The Ridiculous pool was slightly different in as much as I hadn’t seen the actual pool before, so only had a very vague idea of the size. Also it was going to be ridden by skaters who hadn’t seen or weren’t necessary familiar with my work, so I wanted to produce a piece that had instant appeal and impact and would tessellate, enabling me to cover as much or as little of the pool as time allowed and to allow me to work with the natural flow and line of the pool that the skaters ride.”

“Skulls or more importantly death plays a significant part in my work. It’s also something synonymous with skateboarding and skateboard art, so the idea was to cover the pool with over a 1000 life size skulls in various shades, as a tribute to the fallen skaters and past masters.”
“My work in the public domain is also ephemeral, subject to ever changing elements, both natural and human. Much like the graphics on a skateboard they’re only temporary. As soon as the boards are ridden they start to decay and take on their own life. The same can be said for my work in the street. It’s this natural element of weathering and ageing that is beautiful and brings a new life to the piece. The exact same effect applies to the Ridiculous pool. It wasn’t complete until it had been skated hard. The lines, scrapes and scuffs that run through the painting bring a whole new life and texture to the pool that would be impossible to replicate.”
And what about the history of his love for skating? D*Face told us:

“Skateboarding changed my life. I was never the academic kid and didn’t take particularly well to the education system, so I looked to other means of ‘education’ and found what I can only describe as the manuals to my life; Subway Art, Spraycan Art and Thrasher Magazine.”

“I used to get Thrasher from the older kids at school, around ‘82 – ‘89. Those magazines and books were like eye candy to a visually starving child, particularly the adverts in Thrasher for various skate brands’ boards. Those struck me hard. I didn’t know who or how you’d get to create such amazing artworks to grace the bottom of a skateboard, that was essentially then going to get ruined, but they had a profound influence on my work. I later came to find out the skate artwork that I was particularly inspired by was by Jim Philips and Vernon Johnson.”

“I skated my teenage years away and at a time where skateboarding was seen as an outcasts’ thing to do. We had to be resourceful in finding spots to skate, particularly as England was decades behind the USA in building actual skate parks, so skateboarding taught me to look at the city differently – you know, what had been designed as an architectural feature became a skate-able object. This looking differently at our public domain is a key factor in my work now as an artist. A blank wall with high visibility becomes a prime canvas to display artwork on.”

And finally, were there any other incentives for this gig? D*Face:

“Meeting Steve ‘Salba’ Alba who is a pool skating legend and a skater I’ve admired since a child. He’s a regular at the Ridiculous Pool, in fact the area San Bernardino where the pool is located is nicknamed Salba Land as he’s skated so many pools in that area. Also getting to fulfill a childhood dream of hopping backyards to skate pools with Salba and Peter King and watching amazing skaters session the pool was incentive enough.”

D*Face finally completed his creation after four, marathon 17-hour days of painting. As the sun set on the fourth day, over 100 skaters led by Steve Alba dropped in on the vertical backyard slopes, grinding the proverbial icing into D*Face’s creative cake: interactive street-art done good. Would other legends from back in the day have enjoyed the show? Only if they’d have been the ones to break in first.

With special thanks to D*Face for taking the time to answer our questions.

Amazing China’s 270 Million Year Old Stone Forest

Posted By On 2:05 PM 0 comments
China’s southwest holds a treasure that only a few of the world’s regions can boast of: a forest made completely of stone and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Shilin or Stone Forest is about 85 km southeast of Kunming in the Yunnan province. With its beautiful stone formations, caves and lakes, the national park is a popular tourist destination said to be 270 million years old!

The main entrance to the Stone Forest:





Karst landscapes are the results of mildly acidic water – namely rain that has picked up carbon dioxide
on its way through the atmosphere – dissolving soluble bedrock like limestone or dolostone. The mildly acidic rain water washes out existing rock fractures until they increase to larger openings and finally an underground drainage system.

Perfect for a scenic picnic:
One of Shilin's lakes

Over time, this steady drop has hollowed the stone, creating amazing stone formations and often caves, but also sinkholes and springs. With an area covering about 350 sq km (100 sq miles), Shilin is not only quite a large karst landscape but also one that more than matches its rivals in the world according to UNESCO:

“South China Karst represents one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. … The stone forests of Shilin are considered superlative natural phenomena and a world reference with a wider range of pinnacle shapes than other karst landscapes with pinnacles, and a higher diversity of shapes and changing colours.”

South China Karst is comprised of the three clusters, Libo Karst, Shilin Karst and Wulong Karst. The area is home to China’s Yi minority whose history, according to legend, starts right in the Stone Forest: Asham, daughter of a poor Sani shepherd (a branch of the Yi) came across the orphan Ahei who despite his youth was already employed by the landlord Azhi. Her parents decided to adopt Ahei and so Asham and he grew up together. Soon, they fell in love, married and would have lived happily ever after if Azhi, who was after Asham’s beauty, hadn’t kidnapped her. Ahei rescued her but had to kill Azhi and his son, after which the couple fled to the Stone Forest and started living there. They are said to have had five sons and daughters, the ancestors of today’s Sani people.

If we can’t all just go to the Stone Forest right now, at least the following video will give us a good impression of Shilin’s atmosphere and the amazing stone formations, some of which look like faces or people rather than trees. We’re sure there are many more legends that are just waiting to be discovered and told. Some other time.

Awesome Creation and Destruction Borne from the Barrel of a Gun

Posted By On 1:01 PM 0 comments
Photos of bullets captured bursting through fragile, everyday objects emanate a rare power. The contrast between lethal, high velocity projectile and prone target hits you, excuse the expression, like a shot. When the object penetrated on impact is as patently childlike as a chocolate bunny, the capacity of the image to make the observer think is amplified – like a gunshot heard for the first time, the weapon’s silencer removed.
This next object is almost unrecognisable – it has been so smashed to smithereens. It’s an egg; an egg with all its associations of innocence and nascent life, utterly obliterated. Impossible not to think of the head of a human or animal upon looking at this exploded household item, to see the viscous remains of shell, yolk and white, frozen mid air, as the inner substance of brain and cranium.
Is this all too serious? Maybe. The photos – like this one of a banana disintegrating – are beautiful after all. And yet what were bullets designed for if not to kill? In an age where gun culture is rife, an age where 29,569 people were killed by guns in the US in 2004 alone, it is impossible to ignore the impact the modern bullet and the gun from which it sprang have had on the world.
A pack of cards; more robust than the other items shot here and yet effortlessly blown apart by a missile less than a centimetre in diameter – as the exit hole and flakes of paper vividly show. Gun politics is a subject as explosive as the weapon in question, with people lining up on both sides to dispute their right to bear arms versus tighter gun control laws. Wherever you stand on this issue, there’s no denying the destructive force of a speeding bullet.

Amazing and Strange Dragon Lizard Menaces Photographers

Posted By On 3:41 AM 0 comments
The frilled or dragon lizard seems like a remnant from prehistoric times. In fact, this large reptile with a built-in parachute might remind fans of the 1993 movie Jurassic Park of the Dilophosaurus. Though the dinosaur’s ruffles in the movie were purely fictitious, the dragon lizard’s frills are not. It hisses and puffs up its neck frills in a display of aggression that intimidates rivals and predators.

A colourful, built-in umbrella:
Lizard threatened
Image via lidgecko

Look at that long tail!
The frilled-neck lizard, also called frilled lizard or frilled dragon (Chlamydosaurus klingii), is famous for its spectacular neck frill, displayed when it feels disturbed, alarmed or threatened. Most of its time though is spent in the safety of trees in tropical savannah woodlands in its native habitat ranging from northern Australia to southern New Guinea. There is only one recorded frilled-neck lizard species so far.

At up to 90 cms (3 ft), frilled dragons are large lizards that surprisingly feed mainly on insects. Cicadas, beetles, ants and termites are part of their diet, and they love butterflies and moths but occasionally also tuck into spiders, other lizards and small mammals.

Move out of the way, this one’s about to get riled up:
Being otherwise fairly expressionless like most reptiles, there is really no warning sign as to when rivals or predators have overstepped the line. Suddenly, the lizard will raise its frill – not unlike an umbrella – and also open its mouth wide, making a threatening hissing sound. Its display of aggression also includes darkening its color and rocking on its hind legs. We wouldn’t want to cross it then!

Now, this one’s definitely not having a good day:
Here’s some action-packed footage of one frilled lizard feeding, then fighting with an intruder and finally running away to safety from a predator.


The frill-necked lizard’s colouring is said to be Australia’s most spectacular but it depends on the location. Northern Territory and Western Australia frilled lizards are usually red with yellow and orange frills, whereas those in the eastern territories are usually uniformly gray to brown, all depending on what colours will camouflage them best.

A brown frilled lizard, clicked at Horseshoe Bay, Queensland:




We’ll leave you with one of the funniest things we have ever seen – a frilled-neck lizard running. Its strategy is to look scary just long enough to run away and escape up the next tree. Given the running speed
it attains, the neck frills seem to work like a plane’s speed flaps. See for yourself if you don’t believe us:



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4 Strange Animals Most In Need of a Haircut

Posted By On 3:32 AM 0 comments

Regardless of what you think of body or facial hair, nature again is one step ahead when making animals
’ coats look good and practical: As defense mechanism, heat protection, natural filter or simply cuteness enhancer – excess hair or fur in animals always has a special purpose. We found five critters that could definitely do with a trim.
4. Tarantulas

The Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea) is characterised by its brown colour and ample pinkish or orange-red hair. The medium to large spider is a native of South America, specifically Chile’s Atacama Desert.

A Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula in all its glory:
Chilean Rose Tarantula
Image: Matt Reinbold

Though Grammostolas usually tend to run away from danger rather than defend themselves, they may raise their front legs and present their fangs in preparation to fight. Their main defense mechanism are the urticating or barbed hairs that they kick off, usually from their abdomens, aiming for the attacker’s skin or eyes to cause physical irritation. This strategy is common to New World tarantulas, i.e. those native to the Americas, which tend to be the hairiest species.

Believe it or not – the Chilean Rose Tarantula is a popular pet, especially with tarantula enthusiasts just starting out because of its docile nature.

A particularly hairy, adult male specimen:

3. Emperor Tamarins

The tamarin (Sanguinas ursula) is an about-squirrel-sized New World Monkey native to an area ranging from Costa Rica and southern Central America to the Amazon basin and north Bolivia. There are many tamarin species that differ considerably in colouration and appearance. Among the moustached tamarins, the Emperor Tamarin with its long, white moustache is probably the most striking.

What are you looking at?
Emperor tamarin
Image: Mila Zinkova

It is believed that the Emperor Tamarin (Sanguinus imperator) was named after German emperor William II who sported an equally impressive moustache. The Emperor Tamarin prefers the tropical rain forest as its habitat and spends most of its day in the trees, jumping around during the day and sleeping at night.

Emperor Tamarins live together in a matriarchal structure with the oldest female leading the group of two to eight animals, including mature males. Various specific cries help these primates identify impostors quickly. Also remarkable about the Emperor Tamarins is that they form mixed-species associations with Brown-mantled Tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis).

Tamarin males do the child rearing:

2. Komondors

The Komondor is a breed of large Hungarian livestock guarding dog, easily identified by its long, white corded coat. It was first mentioned in a Hungarian codex in 1544 and is considered one of Hungary’s national treasures today.

Natural dreadlocks – the Komondor:
The Komondor’s natural guarding instinct and vigilance make it the perfect pet for rural and farm settings. The dog usually rests during the day, keeping an eye on the surroundings, but gets active at night when it moves around and patrols its area. It is said that Komondors will allow intruders to enter but not to leave, keeping them down until their owners arrive.

Who are you calling a mop?
Contrary to what one may believe, once corded, the Komondor’s 20-27 cm long coat does not shed much. Sometimes the cords need untangling and after a bath, Komondors take about two and a half days to dry! They are by far the canines with the most amount of fur. The coat is the dog’s defense mechanism as it will protect it from attackers, wolf bites for example.
1. Angora Rabbit

Though we are deeply impressed with the Komondor’s shaggy mane, our number one is the Angora Rabbit. This critter just seems to be nothing but fur! Not surprisingly, Angora Rabbits are bred because of their long Angora wool, which is removed by shearing, plucking or combing. Today, there are many individual breeds.

A fur ball, no, an English Angora Rabbit:

The Angora Rabbit originated in Ankara, Turkey and is the oldest type of domestic rabbit. There’s also an Angora Cat and an Angora Goat but neither of them is as furry as the Angora Rabbit. The latter was popular with French royalty around 1650 and soon in other parts of Europe.
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