I read an article recently about a company that wants to build a huge complex on the north rim of the Grand Canyon complete with a cable car system capable of taking 10,000 people a day down to the bottom of the canyon. The argument for this is that it would bring money & jobs to the local Navajo community, as well as allowing everyone to experience the beauty & serenity of the canyon bottom. But if there’s 10,000 people through there on any given day, what beauty or serenity will be left? Never mind the gaudy souvenir stands on the rim and the ugly slash of a cable car down the side – I shudder to think what the bottom of that canyon will look like once millions of people have been through it, tromping over the vegetation, leaving garbage everywhere, and carving their names all over the rocks. If you destroy something in your effort to experience it, what exactly have you experienced?
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
My Larson kick continues….
In the years leading up to World War II, American ambassador William Dodd and his family lived in Berlin, watching as the Nazis consolidated power, Jewish Germans lost their rights, and Hitler rose into a dictator. Larson tells the story from the perspectives of Dodd and his daughter, Martha, using diaries and memoirs to give us a first-hand look at the New Germany. I was surprised to find out how naive everybody seemed to be about what the Germans were really up to, as well as how sympathetic seemingly sane people were to the “Jewish problem”. This was a good follow-up to Dead Wake, since that book deals with some of the attitudes & politics leading up to World War I, which contributed to the attitudes & politics leading up to World War II and was a subject that historian Dodd discussed a few times with his high-ranking Nazi hosts.
“With few exceptions, the men who are running this Government are of a mentality that you and I cannot understand. Some of them are psychopathic cases and would ordinarily be receiving treatment somewhere.”
– American consul general to Germany George Messersmith, in a dispatch to the State Department.
Added to the Travel Map:
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – an abandoned prison.
The Corner House, Rīga, Latvia – former headquarters of the Latvian KGB.