Article

We Can Be Happy Underground

From the “Further Readings” section at the back of Paul Collin’s wonderful Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn’t Change The World:

There is one very simple way to see what Beach’s railway [19th century New York’s secret, unfinished pneumatic subway] looked like, and blown up far larger than any plate in this book could manage. Go to a Subway shop–the fast-food chain, you know, where you can buy a six-inch Cold Cut Trio?–and lo! Pasted upon the walls are pictures of Beach’s invention. Whoever was designing the chainwide decor for Subway simply clipped out a bunch of old public-domain illustrations of subways, including three that originally ran in Scientific American in the 1870s. Look for the pictures that depict an almost perfectly round (save for a slight groove in the bottom) brick-lined subway tunnel, and a rounded subway car interior. These are Beach’s own handpicked illustrations for what was to be an ultra-million-dollar venture. Graze pensively on your Baked Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion chips. Ponder the vagaries of ambition.

Article

Discover Kymaerica

The Believer on the Kcymaerxthaere:

The Kcymaerxthaere is a vast alternate universe created by Eames Demetrios, a California-based artist and filmmaker who began installing the plaques in 2003. The premise of the project is that the Kcymaerxthaere exists as its own parallel world, but its remnants are often visible in our own, “linear” world—intersections that Demetrios endeavors to commemorate by physically marking their presence.He has already installed over sixty of these faux historical markers, and hopes to increase that number to seventy by the year’s end. Most are in the United States (that is, Kymaerica), while others dot the globe, materializing in Singapore, Spain, Dubai, and Australia. This August, Demetrios even lowered a plaque onto the ocean floor, under forty-five feet of water in the Garvellach Islands of Scotland. In addition to the plaques, there are lectures, websites, travel guides (including Discover Kymaerica), and bus tours. … Demetrios calls the project “three-dimensional storytelling,” and says that he hopes to mark some two thousand sites before he is through.

It helps to know a few key features of the Kcymaerxthaere: The world there is divided into gwomes, cultural groups that bear some resemblance to nation-states, though they are much smaller. (There are more than 5,000 gwomes in Kymaerica alone.) The great cultures of the Kcymaerxthaere were made up of road builders, and Kcymaerxthaere history is marked by several massive migrations—across both land and sea. Central figures recur throughout the story, such as the Nobunagas, a father-son legacy of warriors whose saga extends from Korea to Texas (or “pTejas”). There has been warfare, including the enigmatic but crucial Battle of Some Times, and the less significant if more colorful Battle of Devil’s Marbles, where thousands of warriors fought astride giant, vicious war-kangaroos.

At times, it can be difficult to follow.