Monday, February 21, 2011

Aircraft Aluminum Chic

If you know me well then you know that I have had a lifelong love affair with aircraft aluminum.  I like the color, the texture, the rivets, the mirrored finish that comes with some polishing compound and elbow grease.  Heck, if I were Lady Gaga I would wear an aircraft aluminum gown down a red carpet.  So you can imagine my excitement when I came across the following WWII aircraft inspired furniture line from Restoration Hardware...

Look at those could you not write great works of philosophy or
the great American novel at that desk?  I am confident that this desk is all
that is standing between me and a Pulitzer Prize.

And who wouldn't want to be called to my office just for a chance to sit
in one of these chairs?

This has "Whitny's Sock Drawers" written all over it!

Just imagine the possibilities...I'm thinking this would be a good place for
my1950s - 1960s television westerns DVD boxed set collections.

So if any of you are looking for the perfect birthday gift for me and have, oh, say, about $5,000 to drop, then look no further!  There just aren't words to express how much I love this furniture line.  Perhaps it is because they remind me of the five hunks of surplus aircraft grade aluminum I love above all five vintage Airstream trailers parked on my family's land outside Yosemite National Park.

Unfortunately, my Airstreams are in the High Sierras and I am in Los Angeles at the moment and unable to photograph them but here are photographs of what they kind of look like based on some old pictures I took and ones I stole off of the internet based on their years and models...

This is actually my 69 Ambassador Land Yacht
I call her the "Irma Louise"
The '58 Flying Cloud I have christened the "Magnolia Rae"
My '56 Flying Cloud is called the "Aurora Gail"
My '54 Flying Cloud kind of looks like this...and I call it
the "Thelma Lou"
And the "Dorothy Mae"...well a similar trailer.

So there you have it...I love aircraft all of its various forms.  Some girls like diamonds, others like flowers and love songs written to  Give me a hunk of aircraft aluminum any day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Living With Middle Class Excellence!

Today I am starting a new topic on the blog and I am calling it "Living With Excellence".  Why?  Because if Martha Stewart gets to tell people how she enjoys "Living" and Oprah gets to tell people what their "Favorite Things" should be (and who to vote for) and Gwyneth Paltrow can command you to, "Make...Go...Get...Do...Be...and See" then by golly I want in on the action.  Okay, so maybe I don't have a hundred acres of organic farmland or a 5,000 square foot Cape Cod colonial or a palatial estate in Santa Barbara or a personal trainer and private chef who keeps me doing four hours of yoga and eating a macrobiotic diet daily but I do know how live a middle class existence with excellence...

So join me as I share with you some of my tips for living with excellence.  Feel free to take notes...

Our first lesson will be focused on how to enjoy the most American of pleasures...the Daytona 500 with a killer cup of coffee.  Now for those who are not familiar (and you should be ashamed of yourselves if you fall into this category) the Daytona 500 is simply the greatest American sporting event of the year.  It is 43 cars, each rocking over 700 horsepower, battling it out for 500 miles on a giant asphalt oval in Daytona Beach, Florida.  It brings together all that is truly American...obscene petrochemical consumption, corporate sponsorship, bad grammar, a giant lawn, road rage, and broadcasts it in HD to a flat screen near you.

Today, I am proud to say that I am thoroughly enjoying hanging out in my pajamas, with my dog sleeping in my lap, watching the ballet that is NASCAR play out on my Samsung 50 inch in surround sound.  God Bless America.  Of course this whole experience would not be complete without a good cup of for my first lesson in "Living With Excellence" I will show you how I make a Café Whitnyano.

Now before get I started let me explain the impetus for this blog post.  In no way do I think I have any qualifications on any level to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't like or how to live.  I pretty much just absent-mindedly stumble through life making a series of really bad decisions.  But I do feel like I need to in some way balance out all of the "good" advise that is dispensed in fashion, fitness and lifestyle magazines with my own questionable advise.  So anyway, back to why I decided to write this post...

I was in line at the grocery store a couple of days ago and was flipping through the latest issue of a fitness magazine and the Hollywood starlet on the cover was telling the interviewer that she was committed to fitness and leading a totally balanced life and her commitment came in the form of oatmeal and egg whites every morning for breakfast, steamed yams for a mid-morning snack, a quinoa salad for lunch, broiled salmon and brown rice for dinner and then a piece of dark chocolate for desert.  Further, she kept balance in her life by spending quality time with her super hot, multi-millionaire, MLB shortstop  boyfriend and working out with her personal trainer two hours a day.  Gosh...why can't we all find that balance?

So how do I keep my girlish figure and find balance...just like I said watching NASCAR in my pjs and whipping up a Café Whitnyano.  And here's how I do it.  Prepare to get your insulin injections ready.


Brew a pot of coffee.

I use a hand-me-down Cuisinart 10
Cup Grind and Brew Drip Machine
courtesy of my cousin Matt and his
wife Kirsten...who thinks I have horrible
taste in coffee.


Find a mug that makes you happy.

I choose to use a vintage 1950s Jadite diner mug...just don't
put it in the microwave!


Grab a can of Dulce de Leche.
You can usually find a can of Nestle brand Dulce de Leche
on the international foods aisle at your local grocery store
retailing for about $2.00


Smear the inside of your mug with Dulce de Leche.

I'm using a spoon here but a spatula is far more effective at
evenly distributing the deliciousness.


Pour in your delicious freshly brewed coffee.

I only fill the mug about 2/3 of the way with coffee.


Go for broke...get yourself some heavy cream.
What?  Life is short and I like a little junk in the trunk.


Mix it all together!

Admire that deliciousness!

Now at this point you can simply drink and enjoy...but if you want to take it a step further you can add that most American of breakfast side dishes...the doughnut.  

I personally like to compliment the Café Whitnyano with an Entenmann's chocolate and yellow cake doughnut.

Or if you want to class it up a little you can add a biscotti or two.

Or for an even greater touch of class you actually take the biscotti out of  the plastic wrap.

Finally, enjoy!
And please forgive my gross morning face.

So there you first installment of "Living With Excellence" where I show you how to use white trash sensibilities and a middle class spending power to live life to the fullest!  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remembering Maggie Dog

Today was one of those awful days that everyone, if they are lucky enough to love and really be loved back, has to face at some point in their lives: saying good-bye to a loved one.  Today I said good-bye to my amazingly loyal pal of thirteen years, Maggie.

I first met Maggie when I was still a school girl.  I was walking out of the tutoring center at the mall when my parents pulled up to the curb and a little puppy with huge floppy ears stuck her head out of the passenger side window and licked my face...and there she first dog.

My mom and dad had adopted her from the pound in Downey after she had vaulted over all of the other puppies to get to my dad.  They knew it was meant to be and after filling out the adoption paperwork, introducing her to me and giving her a bath my Dad and I christened her "Maggie"...though my Mom felt she needed a richer and fuller name and so she became Magdalena Alvarez Pew Braun.  But she would only hear her full name in the future when she was in trouble.

I don't know how you necessarily define what it is to be a good dog.  Is it loyalty, obedience, adoration, cuddliness, and/or love of going for walks that defines a good dog?  All I can say is that I know a good dog when I see one and Maggie was one good dog.  

Without question she made my life a better, richer and fuller one and she sure made my grandma happy in her later years.  She would hang out with her in the kitchen and Grandma would throw bits of cheese at her (she was particularly partial to sharp cheddar).  When the cheese ran out Grandma would fry her an omelette.  If my Grandma hated one thing it was leftover food going to waste and Maggie provided her not only with companionship but with the world's best garbage disposal as well as endless hours of entertainment throwing food across the kitchen for Maggie to catch.  Beyond that, Grandma was consistently amused by the fact that no matter where Maggie was in the house if she heard the rumpling sound of a ziplock with cheese she would bolt up out of bed and come running to the refrigerator.

Beyond her love of cheese Maggie's other great love was running around and having grand adventures on our property outside of Yosemite National Park.  She liked to pretend that she was a wolf and howl at the moon and much to our dismay...challenge bears and mountain lions.  We jokingly referred to her as the most expensive free dog in the world.  Despite being a pound puppy she wracked up close to $60,000 in vet bills during her life in no small part thanks to an encounter with a black bear in the creek up at Yosemite.

One night she went charging out into the darkness, howling at something.  Following her down to the creek my dad shone the flashlight and revealed a bear she was trying to corner (it apparently was lost on her that the bear weighed about four hundred pounds more than her).  The bear took one swipe at her with her paw and Maggie had to have essentially all of her ligaments in her hind legs reattached.  Then of course she lost an eye a few years later and several thousand dollars later she had one good-looking glass eyeball. 

Maggie was just a loving, wonderful, stoic, selfless creature.  She loved her adopted dog siblings Snuggles, Ling and Odie and she even loved the little cats in the house that might have annoyed a less patient dog.  She loved my mom and loved to hang out on the couch and watch tv with her and she loved to bolt out the front door and make my dad chase her down the street.  She also loved nothing more than to sit outside on a sunny day and sunbathe in the backyard by the pool.  Maggie definitely knew how to enjoy life and help others enjoy theirs.

We knew that today was going to be the day and so last night we ordered Maggie's favorite from from Pina's Pizza House.  We feasted and then Dad built a fire for her to sleep in front of all night and then this morning, surrounded by her family and the people at the vet's office who have adored her since she was a puppy, she went to a better place.

I'm normally not a person who grieves publicly.  I pride myself at never crying at movies in public theaters and rocking enormous pairs of sunglasses at funerals but I felt like it would a little cowardly of me not to celebrate, in a small little way, the brief life of a truly wonderful creature with a heart as big as the bears she liked to good-naturedly harass.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Strange Addiction:

Recently I have been watching a show on TLC called my "My Strange Addiction" which profiles such unusual proclivities as the obsessive compulsive eating of couch cushions, drain cleaner and household detergents.  I suppose I identify with the show because I myself have a strange little addiction...its called

For those who are not familiar is the web-based product of Mormon ingenuity and the desire to baptize the dead.  It is essentially an enormous database of public records available in PDF that minions in a basement somewhere in Salt Lake City have transcribed and catalogued so that you can enter in whatever information you think you might know about your family and then the search engine pulls off the rest.  So given this information...why is it so darn addicting?

This is how I searched my great-great-grandfather...

Frequent readers of the blog will know that I inherited an attic full of old photos and memorabilia and it bothers me to no end so see those piles of old photos and postcards and letters sitting in drawers and have the faces in those pictures looking up at me anonymously.  Every one of them has a name and a story and I think it is not an overstatement to say that I literally am being haunted by these old photos to the point that my 2:00 am Netflix viewing addiction has been usurped by an almost pathological need to use to figure out who all of these people are.

Here's a sampling of one of these mystery people from the photos in my attic...

I keep finding photos of this woman...

Here she is again on the right...

and here she is again standing behind my great-grandparents  on their
 wedding day (upper right)

I have managed to successfully identify several other mystery people by deciphering the scribbled names on the back of old photos and careful searches and every time I am able to do that its a strange sort of existential victory that I can't quite explain.  Here's how my addiction plays out:

I will take a picture like this one below...

The back of this photo is dated 1916 and it simply reads "Sanders cousins with Esther and Helen".  Well I know who Esther and Helen are because I can easily recognize the little faces of my grandmother's sisters.  Esther is the second from the right and Helen is the one standing in the center. But the Sanders kids I was unfamiliar with.  This drove me nut for a couple of days.  Who were these kids?

Well I had the fact that they were cousins to work with so I decided to work backwards.  I knew my great-grandma, only had one brother named George and he never had any children and my great-grandpa had sisters and none of them married anyone named I deduced that they must be second cousins.  Okay, so I had to work back further.  I looked in the old family Bible and found that my great-great-grandmother Strathellen McGregor had a sister named Minnie McGregor who married a Samuel Sanders in 1881.

I looked them up on and then worked my way down.  According the Federal Census of 1900 the Sanders family lived in Chicago and had a son named Walter.  On a hunch I followed Walter and found that he had married a woman named Mabel and that in 1916 they would have had three kids, Maybelle, Olive and Walter who would have been 6, 4 and 2 respectively corresponding with the approximate ages of the kids in the photo.

Census from 1900

Census from 1920

So my next step was to tag the photo and upload it to so that if anyone out there is a member of the Sanders family (which I guess would make them a fifth cousin to me) they would be able to see their relatives.  (FYI:  I did find these distant relations and they were overjoyed to see the photo)  And like I said earlier...just figuring out who these people were, identifying them and putting their picture up on in the public forum, just made me feel like I had won some sort of existential victory.  Stupid as it may sound, when I can match a name and dates to a face I feel like I have somehow made them...well, I suppose the word is...matter.

I am sure that a century ago if someone had told them that in a hundred year's time, after they were dead and gone some chick with insomnia would be scouring old public documents and family Bibles to try to prove their existence it would probably have depressed them or given the fact they were Seventh-day Adventists they would probably have scoffed at the idea the Apocalypse had not already taken place.  But whatever their thoughts on the matter might have been it makes me feel somehow relevant for making them somehow seem relevant in the massive mysterious cosmic scheme of things.

Now its bad enough that I literally have somewhere around 5000 old photos in my attic...but I feel this deep urge to acquire more.  Sick, right?  This weekend I was in Sacramento and my cousin Matt, his beautiful wife Kirsten and their two adorable little girls and I went to an antique fair under the freeway by Poverty Ridge.  As I walked through the stalls looking at cool thing after cool thing I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming sense of sadness when I passed a table full of amazing old photographs.

Photos at the antique fair in Sacramento

On this one table, (which I managed to get a quick shot of with my iPhone) there appeared to be the entire photo collection of a couple who appeared to have gotten married in the 1920s.  Their beaming faces in their wedding portraits particularly called out to me and for about twenty minutes I stood there wanting to buy them and take them home and try to figure out who they were...when another antique hunter gave me his two cents...

"You know, these pictures are here because these people probably didn't have family when they died and nobody cared so an estate sales person scooped up all of these photos.  Unless you have an art project I'd just keep on moving because nobody cares about these old pictures."

I cared!  But sadly, despite how much I cared there was a little voice in my head telling me to sort through all of the mystery men and women in the photos I already had cluttering up my house back in LA before acquiring more.  Plus, I didn't have enough cash on hand.  So I regretfully walked away from that photo collection...but it has been eating at me ever since.

Then today, as I was perusing Google Blogger's "Blogs of Note" I came across this fabulous blog after my own heart called "Who Will Tell Their Story?"  It shows old photos with the little bits of research that the author Julie Cahill Tarr has been able to conduct based on the clues she finds in the "orphaned" photos.  What is more amazing is that she has been able to reunite some people with their lost relative's photos.  I know some will say that this all seems kind of morbid...and to those I say "P'shaw!"  I think I can speak for Julie Cahill Tarr when I describe my own draw to this type of investigation...this need to the tell the stories of the people in these "orphaned" photos is just a little gesture in time and space to give some sort of meaning to the lives of those who walked this earth before us and helped to create, even in the most immeasurably minute way, the world we now inhabit.  And I will say it once more...each time you can put a name to a previously anonymous face in an old daguerreotype it is like a small existential victory...helping to feel like at least for a brief moment in time that person mattered.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CBS Cares - "Family Jewels" Testicular Cancer PSA [High Quality Version]

Enough already!  Someone needs to tell CBS to stop suggesting appropriate gifts to give our loved ones on special occasions.  Last Christmas they suggested that Gentile men give the woman in their life, "the gift that not even Santa can bring..." of a pap smear and then told Jewish men to schedule her "just a little shmear."  Call me crazy but I just don't want to hear the word my grandmother used for anything put atop a bagel in the same context as scraping the inside of a woman's cervix.  Now this year they are telling me to give the woman in their life something special for Valentine's Day by scheduling themselves a testicular exam.  Yeah, nothing says romance to me like you making an appointment to have another person examine your "boys".  Life I said before...enough already CBS!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Barstow...The Most Romantic Place on Earth (Who Knew?)

Let me preface this blog post by saying that I had hoped to get it up days ago but as so often happens in happens.  So please excuse me for not getting this up on Valentine's Day...and try to enjoy it anyway.

On this Valentine's day I ask you to think of the most romantic places in the doubt many of you at this moment are imagining visions of street scenes in Paris, canal rides in Venice, strangers meeting in a cafe in Barcelona and of course pretty much anything and everything having to do with Barstow, California. (Okay, Insert scratchy record sound HERE).  But keep reading because I promise I am going somewhere coherent with this...

Ah Barstow...drink it goes down smooth every time...

Yes, as far as I am concerned Barstow, California is the romantic place on earth.  Relax people...I am not that far out of touch with reality.  I am totally aware that to most people Barstow is that godforsaken spit of civilization off the 15 freeway that is only worth stopping at if you need to urinate, fill up for gas or maybe buy some beef jerky on your way to and from Las Vegas.  But there was a time when Barstow was not just a high desert hell hole but a warm and welcoming stop along the railroad for weary travelers journeying to the promised land of California.

So now I am going to make the compelling case for Barstow's romantic street cred and in order to do this properly I need to go back in time and start at the beginning with the stories of a couple of kids from Chicago and Colorado...Anna and Ed.

Ed Braun (1889-1980)
Anna Maria Pavlik (1893-1975)
These two adorable little kids are my great-grandparents, both born into a world as foreign to me and my modern sensibilities as the surface of the moon.  Ed was born in a tent outside of a frontier town in Colorado to a photographer and his Prussian immigrant wife and Anna was born in the slums of Chicago to Czech immigrants who worked the stock yards.  Pretty romantic huh?

Here you can see the Davis (Braun) family encamped in the
Nasach Mountains in can see little Ed carrying a
water pale in the lower left foreground.  
Edmond Theodore Braun was born September 6, 1889 in Walsonberg, Colorado to Ory T. Davis and Rosamond Goerke.  Ory T. Davis was a pioneering photographer of the Colorado territory and nephew of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.  Ory married Rosa, who was a gorgeous and wealthy young widow with three small children.  She became pregnant and within nine ten months of their wedding day my great-grandfather Ed Braun was born.

Vaclav, Katarina, baby James, Beatriz with puppy
and Anna Pavlik, circa 1898

A few years later and a few thousand miles away on the south side of Chicago Anna Maria Pavlik was born on June 11, 1893 to Vaclav "James" Pavlik and Katarina Zahradnik, a couple of Bohemians (I mean real Bohemians from Bohemia...not romantic artsy types).  At some point after Anna's youngest sibling was born Vaclav skipped out on the family and in order to support her three children Katarina went to work gutting pigs on the line at the Armour Pork Trimming Plant in Chicago's famed stock yards (if you ever get a chance, check out Upton Sinclair's book The will pretty much tell Katarina's story).  Anna, as the eldest had to drop out of school as a young teenager and go to work in Rucheim's chocolate factory to help support the family but she dreamed of being a nun and began studying at St. Cyril and Methodius to take her vows.  When she was 18 she had reached the end of her preliminary training to enter the convent but she and a friend decided to sign up to be "Harvey Girls" and take a year off to have an adventure and really think over her decision.

Anna next to Father Bopal with
all of the other aspirants.
Anna at age 17

For those who are not familiar with what a "Harvey Girl" is let's take a little history lesson detour.  The Fred Harvey Company was the first chain restaurant in America.  Fred Harvey built a series of restaurants/hotels along the railroad so that passengers could hop off the train, eat an awesome meal, get a good night's sleep and be served and cared for by attractive and classy young single women.  Anna put  in her application and was assigned to what in 1914 was considered to be the nation's premiere Harvey House, the Casa del Desierto in Barstow, California.

The Casa del Desierto was an oasis in the desert for weary travelers with its
beautiful Andalusian inspired colonnades. 

Anna is on the far right in her pressed Harvey Girl uniform standing
against the backdrop of the colonnades of the Casa del Desierto.

Here is a photo of the Harvey House dining room where Anna worked and
you can see Anna in her uniform standing in the background.  On the back
of this photo she wrote a letter to her mother which you can see below.

Anna wrote the letter you see above to her mother in 1914 describing her
life in Barstow...unfortunately it is in Czech...but today you are in
luck as I have a translation of it...

Dear Mama,

I am so glad that they took a picture of the lunch room, so that you can see it and know that I am working as a lead waitress.  My dear Mama, if only all of you could be here, I would be so happy.  As you can see, I have everything that I need.  We are preparing the lunch counter for the arrival of a train, and it is not quite ready.

You can see me in my uniform and though someone moved, I think you will be able to recognize me.  Please save this picture, I would like to keep it for a souvenir.  I don't mind the work here.  I work about seven hours and go to my room and change.  There are frequent shows here and I could have a date every night if I wanted to.  Believe it or not, there is more to do here in Barstow than at home in Chicago.

Be with God,
Your daughter, Anna

Anna behind the counter at the Harvey House

Ed and his engine and you can see the Harvey House in the
distance on the right
Ed Braun had come to Barstow by way of a hard rock mining camp in Oatman, Arizona and had been in Barstow since 1911 working as a brakeman on the Santa Fe Railway (that's him on the right sitting on the engine) and he literally had been living with nothing but a sleeping roll and a kerosene lantern in a cave outside of town, saving up all of the money that he could to send back home to his mother and two younger siblings in Colorado.  And then one day he saw Anna in her uniform and everything changed...a love affair began that would last the next 65 years. 
Ed (on the right) hard rock mining in Oatman, Arizona

Who knows what it was...maybe it was her little waist, or the way she laughed or her crooked smile, or maybe it was none of those things...but whatever it was Ed fell hard and fell fast.  He spent the next three years doing everything in his power to win her over. He sent her letters and trinkets and postcards and proclamations of love and adoration and luckily for me I know all of this because almost a century later I have their photo albums and their love letters to one another to tell their story.

A sample of the records of their life, including Ed's railroad watch.

Like I said earlier, Ed fell and fell hard for Anna. He wasn't just smitten.  He didn't just lust after her.  He absolutely and unapologetically ADORED her.  How do I know this?  I know this because never have I seen such beautiful, sweet, kind words of love and (here's that word again) ADORATION written down on paper.  I don't have the time to copy and post all of their letters and photos but on this Valentine's Day I have to share at least a small part of their story with you and I believe it will in turn cause you to become a believer in the magic and romance of Barstow, California.

First, let's look at some photos of the two and their time together in Barstow.  So be prepared to be transported back to the high desert of California in 1914...

Horseback riding near Joshua Tree
Horsing Around
Sitting together at the Harvey House
Here they are with friends in the desert near Victorville

Sadly for Ed, Harvey Girls didn't stay in one place for long.  Anna was reassigned to the Harvey House in Gallup, New Mexico.  But Ed wrote her every single day for the next two years...I will say it again...Ed wrote her every day for the next two years!  He wrote her things like this letter mailed in 1915 which I transcribed below:

February 27, 1915
Barstow, California

My Darling Little Girl,

How delighted I was to receive your last letter.  It has only been one month since you left but it feels as though a lifetime has passed.  It makes my heart sing to know that you are well and safe and I hope you are enjoying your silk pillow top.  I will send you more coupons as I can find them so that you can sleep like a queen.  I want you to want for nothing and how I long to hold you and kiss you and say you are mine.  Oh my darling little girl if I were only a rich man already and could give you everything...

Ed outside his cave...the cave
he shared with another guy.  The
man was too poor to afford his
own cave!  

The letter went on for several more pages and the coupons to which he refers to are shown in the picture below.  Apparently Fatima brand cigarettes had a promotional offer where if you collected enough of the little coupons they inserted in their packs you could redeem them for household items...the most luxurious of them all being the silk pillow case.  Ed never smoked a day in his life but on his way home from work back to his cave outside of town he would collect the coupons from the discarded packs on the sides of the road and in the trash heaps around Barstow and then send them to Anna with every letter.  A few of these coupons survived and I found them in one of his letters to Anna.

Here you can see some of the coupons Ed sent Anna along with a page of
one of his letters and a picture of Anna after a hunting trip that he kept in
 an album.

Of course what do you get for the man who has everything...or at least everything he needs to furnish his cave?  Well I guess you send him little sweet nothings that you cut out of magazines and newspapers and  hope it cheers up his day...please examine the evidence of this below...

This fell out of a letter I found she had sent to him.

Eventually, Anna's contract with the Fred Harvey Corporation was up and she returned to Chicago to care for her elderly grandparents and work in the chocolate factory once more.  By this time Anna had given up the idea of becoming a nun and she and Ed continued to write for two more years until he saved up enough money to come to Chicago to marry her.

Here they are on August 11, 1917

...and here they are fifty years later on August 11, 1967

In my pathetically short and pathetically late blog post I have in no way done justice to Ed and Anna's 65 year love story.  Tomorrow I will add more to their tale but for tonight I hope you understand why I truly believe that least for a little while...was the most romantic place on earth.