Transforming DC’s Fireboxes into Art

From 2000 until 2009, Cultural Tourism DC led Art on Call, a city-wide effort to restore Washington’s abandoned police and fire call boxes as neighborhood artistic icons. The art in the reinvented call boxes ranges in style from representational to abstract. The boxes showcase each neighborhood’s unique identity and entice residents and visitors to explore the city’s distinctive communities.

© David H. Enzel 2019

Police and fire call boxes were installed in Washington, DC starting in the 1860s. They began to become obsolete with the introduction of the 911 emergency call system in the 1970s, and the working electronic components were all removed by 1995. Yet the call boxes remained, too large and heavy to remove yet subject to deterioration from weather and vandalism. The Art on Call initiative began in 2000 when the city surveyed and identified call boxes for refurbishment. More than 1,100 abandoned boxes have been located.

Example of some of the beautiful art around Washington, DC as a result of the “Art on Call” Project. © David H. Enzel 2019

Neighborhood organizations formed coalitions with residents and artists to propose, and then carry out, ideas for refurbishing their neighborhood’s call boxes. Each community selects a theme or color palette for its boxes, thereby creating recognizable identifiers for its geographic area.

At the time Cultural Tourism DC wrapped up its work with the project, 145 completed call boxes could be seen in the nation’s capital.

See also:

Holocaust Education Needed in Germany

Kyra Levine, a Jewish-American living in Berlin writes in DW:

Though the Holocaust ended in 1945, the ignorance and repulsive attitudes that fueled it were quietly handed down to further generations. In 2017, more than half of German 14-to-16-year-olds surveyed had no idea what happened at Auschwitz. Nearly one in seven adults were similarly unable to say what it was or what happened there. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany, but the country has failed to adequately educate all who live here about the horrors of the past.

Podcast: Attack on German Synagogue, Historic Pact with Gulf States, New Book on Israeli Prime Ministers — People of the Pod

The attack on a German Synagogue in Halle and other issues are discussed on the People of the Pod podcast.

People of the Pod is a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens. A partnership between AJC and The Times of Israel, People of the Pod examines political events, the people driving them, and what it all means for the Jewish people and Israel. 

— Listen on Overcast  or  iTunes

Spy Story: ‘The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War’

I love a good spy story, especially if it’s true . The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre is a wonderful example of such a tale.

The book is about KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky, the son of two KGB agents and the product of elite Soviet institutions, who began spying for the British in 1973 and kept it up until he was betrayed in 1985 — probably by Aldrich Ames, a CIA traitor who is now incarcerated in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. See also, Thirty Years Later, We Still Don’t Truly Know Who Betrayed These Spies in Smithsonian magazine.

After the KGB was tipped off to Gordievsky’s work with the British, the KGB recalled him to Moscow for interrogation. Miraculously, with the help of the British, he managed to escape to London by car via Finland and Norway. His escape is gripping reading. I still can’t believe the escape plan succeeded. Macintyre’s writing is excellent. He makes every word count.

Ben Macintyre writes for The Times of London and is the author of other espionage books including  A Spy Among FriendsDouble CrossOperation MincemeatAgent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes.

A thrilling spy story.

You can read more about Gordievsky here.

Germany’s Yom Kippur Attack

On October 9, 2019, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany led to two deaths and two injuries. Police found an improvised explosive device near the synagogue. The suspect is a 27-year-old German citizen from Saxony-Anhalt, Stephan Balliet, who has confessed to the attack.

The Washington Post Editorial Board commented that the world’s democracies now face “populist political movements that traffic in racial and anti-immigrant demagoguery” as well as “an international, Internet-savvy threat from ultra-right-wing, white-supremacist and anti-Semitic terrorists”.

Music: Oliver Dragojević

In 2019, I visited Croatia as part of a Rick Steves tour and our guide introduced us to the music of Oliver Dragojević , who was a beloved Croatian singer. He was born in Vela Luka on the Croatian island of Korčula in 1947 when it was part of Yugoslavia and died in Split in 2018 in present day Croatia.

Dragojević performed around the world and will be honored with a concert at Spaladium Arena in Split for his birthday on December 7, 2019. 

I love his music and have listened to hours of it. I am so glad I was introduced to this great artist even though I don’t speak or understand his language. The audience in the following video seems to adore him. During my visit to Croatia, Croatians spoke about him with great love and admiration.

2CELLOS & Oliver Dragojevic – Sto To Bjese Ljubav

My photos of Croatia are here.

Apple Music