new-llano

An Image of a New-Born Star Brought to Earth by ALMA

What you are seeing a new-born star. Think of it as a baby in a galactic nursery of unlimited babies. The ALMA observations (orange and green, lower right) of the newborn star reveal a large energetic jet moving away from us, though it’s mostly covered by dust and gas. To the left (in pink and purple) is the visible part of the jet, streaming partly towards us. This beautiful imagery is brought to you by ALMA, an important new facility in our ever-expanding exploration of space.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) is a collection of carefully arranged telescopes or mirror segments acting together to probe structures with higher resolution in space. ALMA is located at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. The antennas can be moved across the desert plateau over great distances which give ALMA a powerful variable “zoom.” The high sensitivity is mainly achieved through the large numbers of telescopes that make up the array. Because of this, we can now see amazing images of space in greater detail. ALMA is very important to space research and allows for pictures like the one above.

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NEW LLANO, LOUISIANA

We are looking for the ghost of the longest running secular socialist commune in American history, a town named New Llano that lies some twenty miles north of DeRidder.  On some maps it is Newllano. In some mouths it is pronounced New YAW-no, but many locals say New LAN-no. Confusion around basic details- the spelling, the pronunciation-seems to be a defining characteristic of the place. The geographic roots are also muddled. In 1914, the commune was born as the Llano del Rio Corporation in the California desert, and struggled there for three years before decamping to this rural corner of Louisiana. In 1917, Llano del Rio purchased the entire town of Stables, Louisiana from the Gulf Lumber Company, dreaming of a fresh start in the fertile South. Out of the 900 people living at Llano del Rio, only 65 journeyed from California to Louisiana. They re-christened the town New Llano, but the new name did not change the massive organizational and social problems within the community.

The historical record surrounding the colony is strange. Much of what can be found speaks of New Llano, of Llano del Rio, in glowing terms. Colony members, and outside supporters, claimed New Llano was the first step towards dismantling capitalism, a community designed to share burdens and successes, a place where no man exploited the weak or favored the ruthless. All community members had equal say in how the town was run. The children and the elderly were well cared for, and no one wanted for food or clothing. These were all lies.

This is an excerpt from an article by our new Louisiana guides, Breonne DeDecker and Darin Acosta. 

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(Archival Images: Birds-Eye View of the Llano Cooperative Colony. Artist Unknown. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University; As Picket Sees It. Llano Colonist. August 28, 1937. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.)

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Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.

LA Times Magazine May 2012

Once a utopia for Socialist visionaries, century-old Llano del Rio is now just dust in the High Desert wind.

As one travels east into the desert on Pearblossom Highway, just past rickety towns and careworn ranches, the spectral remains of a utopian colony called Llano del Rio appear through a haze of dust. Two river-rock chimneys, positioned like faceless Moai, and an eerie length of wall are all that are visible from the road.

The stone edifices break up the scrubby surfaces of a landscape interspersed with cairns of trash, buckwheat and sage. A confluence of politics, economics and human frailty generated the rise and fall of what used to stand here, and it has sparked enough interest to fill at least one book and countless chapters in others.

Utopias are propelled by political motivation; their creation is a moral judgment on the existing state of affairs. California, always at the cusp of reinvention, responded to the chaos of the dawning of the industrial age by spawning the largest number of utopian colonies in the country. One of the most celebrated was Llano del Rio, brainchild of Indiana-born Job Harriman.

NEW LLANO, LOUISIANA (continued...)

By Breonne DeDecker

Our truck is level with the tops of skinny cypress trees. Interstate 10 between New Orleans and Houston is flat, except when the road rises to pass above the swamps and waterways. One great gyre in the interstate soars as high as the chemical flares from the oil refineries that mark the beginning of Cancer Alley. This overpass is the highest altitude you can access for miles.  At Lake Charles, the mid-point between New Orleans and Houston, Darin and I head north on LA 171 towards DeRidder. Twenty minutes up this highway grants us hills, slow-rolling and smooth. These small mounds are unremarkable, but living on the flat x-axis of the Gulf Coast makes one marvel at the slightest incline, makes the saddest swell of earth feel miraculous.

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all the men in the village worked in the mill or for it. it had been there seven years and in seven years more it would destroy all the timber within its reach. then some of the machinery and most of the men who ran it and existed because of and for it would be loaded onto freight cars and moved away. but some of the machinery would be left, since new pieces could always be bought on the installment plan. gaunt, staring, motionless wheels rising from mounds of brick rubble and gutted boilers lifting their rusting and unsmoking stacks with an air stubborn, baffled and bemused upon a stumppocked scene of profound and peaceful desolation, unplowed, untilled, gutting slowly into red and choked ravines beneath the long quiet rains of autumn and the galloping fury of vernal equinoxes.

faulkner, w. the light in august. (1932; reprint ed., new york, 1950).

stump. new llano, louisiana. february, 2013.

a statement of facts concerning troubles at new llano

finally a crime that was wholly uncalled for and that must be prosecuted was committed. one of the three ex-members of our board of directors walked into our main office building and demanded stamps of our treasurer; upon being refused, went into the private office of the treasurer, knocked him down, broke a board from a table and proceeded to beat him on the head with this board (1 x 6) and about four feet long. the only thing that saved the life of the treasurer was the interference of office furniture and that his arms, legs, and feet warded off the main force of the blows and the arrival of help. about 25 or 30 scalp wounds were made upon his head, while his body was badly bruised and bleeding.

the committer of this crime helped himself to postage stamps he found in the treasurer’s office and was then admitted into the business part of the post office, for a refuge, by the assistant post-mistress, who during the perpetration of the crime had stood behind the counter and laughed and sang as madam le forge did at the foot of the guillotine during the reign of terror of the french revolution. this leads us to believe the whole affair was planned and premeditated by the membership of this group. the day before this happened this same woman shouted to another, while discussing some affair of the treasurer, “put him on the list”, which causes us to believe they have a plan of this kind of action against all who oppose them. it is possibly a vicious conspiracy.

new llano colonist. march 3rd, 1928.