Times Square Shuttle (E. coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus), via Craig Ward
Times Square Shuttle (E. coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus), via Craig Ward

The Germs in Subways, Visualized

Times Square Shuttle (E. coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus), via Craig Ward
Times Square Shuttle (E. coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus), via Craig Ward

We all know the subways in New York City are crawling with germs, but now we can see what those germs look like in action.

Brooklyn artist Craig Ward decided to take culture samples from subway poles and see what would grow in his petri dishes. Ward was inspired by a woman who grew bacteria from her son's handprint, and remembered the old saying, “when you hold on to the subway railings, you shake hands with 100 people all at once."

The intrepid artist rode all 22 lines equipped with a bag of sterile sponges and began swabbing the handrails and plastic seats.

“As soon as you start taking out scientific equipment and petri dishes, people did start to look a bit,” Ward told New York magazine. “But no one really challenged me. You can get away with most things on the subway.”

The samples were then put into agar and cultivated in a warm environment. To make things snazzy, Ward arranged the bacteria roughly in the shapes of the subway line's letters and lit them in the corresponding colors (the G line in green, B line in orange, etc.).

While stunning to look at, Ward managed to identify some threatening microbes, like E. coli and salmonella. You may want to wash your hands after looking at his samples.

F Train (E. coli, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus subtilis), via Craig Ward

G Train (E. coli, salmonella, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus subtilis), via Craig Ward

L Train (E. coli, Proteus mirabilis, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus subtilis, Serratia marcescens), via Craig Ward

B Train (E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis), via Craig Ward

Craig Ward

Click to enlarge, Craig Ward

[h/t: NY Mag]

Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
The Covers of Jack Kerouac's Classic Titles Are Getting a Makeover
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press

Readers have been enjoying classic Jack Kerouac books like The Dharma Bums and On the Road for decades, but starting this August the novels will have a new look. Several abstract covers have been unveiled as part of Penguin’s "Great Kerouac" series, according to design website It’s Nice That.

The vibrant covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline. The artwork is intended to capture “the experience of reading Kerouac” rather than illustrating a particular scene or character, Etherington told It’s Nice That. Indeed, abstract styles of artwork seem a fitting match for Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”—a writing style that was influenced by improvisational jazz music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Dharma Bums, which was published just one year after On the Road. The Great Kerouac series will be available for purchase on August 2.

[h/t It's Nice That]

John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.


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