Read Lou Reed’s European Travel Diary

LouReed.com

Rock icon Lou Reed died yesterday. The former frontman for the Velvet Underground was 71. He’d undergone a liver transplant earlier this year.

Upon news of Reed’s death, The New Yorker unlocked access to “Diary by Lou Reed: The Aches and Pains of Touring,” which it published in 1996.

In the piece, Reed chronicles 10 days on the road, talking about stints in Lintz, Antibes and Prague, and lost luggage, lengthy layovers and exploding shampoo bottles. The similarities between Reed’s travels though and your last European visit ends there: Reed was hanging out with David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Vaclav Havel.

The Passing Of Music Legend Lou Reed

Cave Art May Have Been Painted By Mostly Women, Scientists Say

cave art
Hand stencil in Pech Merle Cave. Courtesy French MInistry of Culture

The prehistoric cave art of Europe may have been painted mostly by women, a new study covered by National Geographic suggests.

Archaeologist Dr. Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University came to this conclusion through studying one of the most enigmatic icons of prehistoric European cave art–hand stencils. In many European caves, there are negative images of hands produced by placing the hand against the cave wall and blowing paint all around it. They range from 12,000 to 40,000 years old, an astonishingly long artistic tradition.

Men’s and women’s hands are different, especially in the relative length of the fingers, so Snow examined 32 of these these stencils from caves in Spain and France. He found that 75 percent of the hands were female.

It’s long been assumed that most cave art was done by men, since so many of the subjects have to do with hunting, generally a male activity in hunter-gather societies. Of course, what Snow’s data really show is that the majority of hand stencils in the sample are of women, which doesn’t say anything about the rest of the art. It could be that there was a separation in the sexes as to who painted what, or perhaps the majority of prehistoric artists were indeed women.

The biggest contributor to the study was the cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, northern Spain, where 16 stencils were measured. This cave is open to the public, so you can take a look at the hands yourself and come to your own conclusions. Gargas and Pech Merle in France were also in the study and open to the public.

Hand stencils have been found in areas as far apart as Argentina, Africa, Australia, and Borneo. It would be interesting to see what results Snow’s study would have on these artistic traditions.

A Kaleidolapse Of Barcelona

Barcelona KALEIDOLAPSE from myLapse on Vimeo.

This video of Barcelona came from the folks at MyLapse recently. And as much as I like seeing any video of Barcelona, this one is special. Because it’s a kaleidolapse. Don’t know what a kaleidolapse is? It’s simple: it’s a time-lapse video, like any other time-lapse video, but the footage presented with a kaleidoscopic effect. The end result is this completely ethereal few minutes of footage that is officially from Barcelona, but might as well be straight out of the Haight-Ashbury Museum of Psychedelic Art and History. Enjoy.

[Thanks, Colossal]

Spanish Cave Paintings Discovered to be Some of the Oldest in Europe

cave paintings
Image courtesy GipuzkoaKultura

Cave paintings at the Altxerri cave system in the Basque region of northern Spain are about 39,000 years old, making them some of the oldest in Europe, Popular Archaeology reports.

A team of French and Spanish scientists analyzed the paintings, which include images such as the bison shown here, as well as finger marks, a feline, a bear, an unidentified animal head and more abstract markings. This early dating of these images puts them in the Aurignacian Period, believed by most archaeologists to be the first flowering of modern humans in the region, although whether or not there were still Neanderthals in the area at this time is an open question.

A later set of paintings in another part of the cave system, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, date from “only” 29,000-35,000 years ago.

By comparison, the art at Cauvet Cave in France is about 31,000 years old, although it is of a much higher quality. The beautiful paintings there were the subject of Herzog’s breathtaking 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

A full report on the cave paintings can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

Homeless Tour Guides Offer Visitors New Perspective In Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain
kygp, Flickr

Students, the elderly, history buffs and tour operators — these are the kinds of people who typically guide visitors on sightseeing expeditions around their city. But Barcelona is proving tour guides really do come from all walks of life, thanks to a new program that puts homeless people in charge of leading tourists.

The Spanish city says it’s aiming to improve the lives of the unemployed and give tourists a unique perspective on the city by offering some of Barcelona’s 3,000 homeless people the chance to guide travelers on the Hidden City Tours walk. The tour will provide visitors with a historic look at the city and hopes to open their eyes to the “social reality” of the region.The concept was inspired by a similar program employing homeless guides in Britain. The tours will begin in mid-October and be available in English and Spanish.

However, it’s not just in Europe where you’ll find travel industry workers who are homeless. The New York Times revealed today that many of the Big Apple’s homeless shelter residents hold down several jobs, including positions as security guards at JFK Airport.