- Anne Hunt -
- Kelly Walters -
San Francisco's landmark bridge, the engineering magnificence that is; the Golden Gate Bridge, is 75 years old. And, to mark this special occasion, San Franciscans came out to celebrate in their droves, cycling and walking the 1.7mile steel suspension bridge - one of the modern Wonders of the World and opened to traffic on May 27th 1937 - in an effort to sap up the lingering history.
Special commemorative events took place along the shoreline from Fort Point, to the Pier and as the evening drew in the celebrations took on a new dimention in the form of music and merriment, along with the brilliant colourful pyrotechnics that lit up the night sky, adorning the city's great symbol of strength and courage - highlighting its tremendous majesty.
When you have great joy, you also have much sadness, as over the years the bridge has been the final perch for those lost souls who seek solace in taking their final plunge. Because of this, the bridge has also been called; The Bridge of Lost Soles and in a tribute to those 1,558 victims, the same number of shoes were laid out by the Bridge Rail Foundation, an organisation dedicated to preventing suicide jumps from the bridge, in poignant commemoration.
At the time of its mammoth erection in 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was heralded as an engineering marvel and when one of the bridge's designers, Daniel Mohn gave his final speech during the opening day ceremonies, he started his speech by saying,
Sir, "I present to you a bridge that will last forever."
What he should have said is, "I present to you a bridge that will last forever if properly maintained." Since its first day of operation, more than 2 billion vehicles have crossed the impressive structure.
The imposing tourist attraction was named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance of water to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, which was championed by engineer Joseph Strauss in the 1920s. The bridge, which rises majestically above a Civil War-era fort on the San Francisco side and arches across to the Marin County headlands to the north, is in the middle of a seismic upgrade that has seen many of its structures replaced or modified.
Plans for a moveable barrier to separate north and southbound traffic and a net system to prevent suicides are also moving forward.
Maintenance on the bridge to keep the structure sound has taken its toll. Crews have had to install a bracing system after high winds lashed and twisted the span in the 1950s, raising fears it would collapse. Years later, they had to replace vertical cables when they were found to have corroded in the bridge's damp, foggy climate, potentially destabilising the span.
Eleven men died during construction from 1933 to 1937 - ten of them when scaffolding fell through a safety net that had been set up to protect workers. The conditions back then were difficult, cold, foggy and windy, and workers who helped construct supports for the south tower had to contend with dangerous tides. The current retrofit project is expected to extend the bridge's lifespan by another 150 years.
1,558 shoes to commemorate those lost 'soles' to the perils of life.
- Kelly Walters -
Whether Katie Holmes had enough of Tom Cruise's rumoured halitosis, or there's an element of truth in the much publicized, so-called, objections to her husband's band of dark-suited 'MEN IN BLACK' - CIA styled, Scientology guards - with unnerving stalking and somewhat intimidating presence - 'cruising' around their Hollywood home, is at this time unknown, however, rumour has it....
There's a lot of conjecture on this. And no one is talking, least of all former wife Nicole Kidman who was married to Tommy for close on ten years and who even adopted two children - now fully fledged Scientologists - with the man of her dreams. However, if a picture could paint a thousand words her departing gift to Mr Cruise - perhaps summing up the fateful split - and now seen as a somewhat iconic image suggesting the inner release from the cult's shackles and a future that meant sublime freedom.
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Cults, or if your prefer 'Following's,' like Scientology, to name just one of many which have sprung out of the USA in the last 150 years go back to the 'Snake Oil Salesmen' days where roaming 'Carpet Baggers' swamped the American frontier with tales of instant cures. Those salesmen were merely trying to sell useless good health, whereas cults, like Scientology, profess to sell spiritual awareness and well being. Many may recall "Jim" Jones who was the founder and leader of the 'Peoples Temple,' best known for the 1978 mass suicide of 909 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip. Over 200 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of whom were forcibly made to ingest cyanide by the elite Temple members.
Unlike Jones, L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology had a reasonable career as a Fantasy and Science Fiction writer who, for reasons known to only his strange mind, wrote a book called 'Dianetics.' Unlike Hitler, whose ramblings in Mein Kampf already indicated 'Mein Fuhrer' was many cents short of a dollar. Hubbard, however, was a professional writer and took the 'professional pains' approach to his subjects and presented an almost believable case, which he called ''The Dynamic Principle of Existence." He started this as "Survive", presenting his description of the human mind in far more abstract terms than any psychiatrist had ever done.
Naturally, scientists and the medical profession claimed him to be an outright charlatan and fraudster - as have many other countries around the Globe. Many where his 'teachings' - which I prefer to term as 'false and twisted logic' - and even mildly amusing than the 'naive' could swallow. But many rich people today claim his writings to be their saviour, and although many of his 'followers' are creative and well-off neurotics, they contribute millions to the 'Cult's coffers.' Maybe this is the reason why Hubbard himself was known to say, "If you want to make money, go start a religion." And that my friends, he certainly did!
Ironically, in 2007 Kidman played the lead in a remake of the 1956 Science Fiction cult classic, 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'
Perhaps this too was yet another passing dig at her EX. Ms Holmes has made it clear that she was scared for her daughter's... eh, shall we say, RE-Conditioning. A mental 'Invasion' influenced by this rather insidious and controversial cult. Scientology.
What is also interesting, from an analytical prospective, is that Tom's former wives, like Mr Cruise himself, were all originally Catholics.
That there could be anything ominous in that -or not - is again - open to conjecture? Catholics seem to have their own style of conditioning. Long known in Vatican circles as 'If we have you for 7 years, we have you forever.' Some might call that approach brainwashing.