Here Are Some Great Photos of People Posing Next to a Cardboard Cutout of the Pope
Last September I wrote a blog post about the pope, and to find an image that could go with it I started browsing through Flickr’s Creative Commons library, which is a great place to find images you don’t have to pay for. I didn’t get any particularly good shots of Pope Francis, but my search led me to the Flickr page of Catholic United Financial, an account that has over 6,000 photos—all of them of people posing next to cardboard cutouts of Pope Francis.
Now, I don’t know anything about Catholic United Financial, though I imagine it’s some sort of charity that brings cardboard cutouts of the pope to events. As you scroll through the photos the cutout changes from waving happy Pope Francis to a more serious Pope Francis, so I assume the cutouts get worn out after so much use, but that’s conjecture on my part. I prefer to keep myself ignorant, because adding context to these photos—where they were taken, what events the cardboard pope was attending, why a charity would decide to post them all online—will only detract from the pure joy I get from periodically clicking through that Flickr page.
And for the record, I’m not enjoying these photos on some kind of ironically detached level where I’m pointing and laughing at people in Middle America who like something as old-fashioned as the Catholic Church. The images below are great simply because they show people being happy. Thank you, Catholic United Financial!
See more people posing next to cardboard Pope Francis
Has China’s One-Child Policy Bred a Generation of Dog Lovers?
People in Shanghai fucking love dogs, maybe even more than they love themselves. Walk down the street in China’s biggest city and you might see heiresses’ Chihuahuas getting facial scrubs, lawyers adjusting their poodle’s distressed jeans, a Yorkshire terrier with a pink Mohawk, or a couple feeding their corgi cupcakes outside a tea shop.
But what’s motivating the people of Shanghai to treat their dogs like extras in a Katy Perry video? Ask around and you get the impression that lots of locals are turning to their pups to fill a one-child-policy-shaped hole in their lives. It’s amateur psychology of the most amateurish kind, sure—but when you see a dog dressed up in little booties being pushed around in a stroller it’s hard to escape the conclusion that many Chinese people are turning themselves into surrogate bitches.
To tap into the city’s hound obsession—and to max out my phone’s memory with pictures of dogs wearing sneakers—I decided to head to the annual Shanghai International Dog Expo.
First I met Greg Li, Vice President of the Shanghai International Trade Promotion company, which organized the event. Sitting next to a board displaying the tagline, “My dog. My family. My life,” he explained that his event now attracts 50,000 people over five days, compared to 20,000 two years ago. He said unofficial stats put dog ownership rates here at around 12 percent of households, which would mean there are well over 1.1 million pet dogs in Shanghai, not including the nomadic armies of strays.
Inside the 2014 Ferret Fandango
After my hours spent in Gilbertsville, PA, a small town located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this seems undeniable. It was evident as I walked from the parking lot full of minivans clad in ferret bumper stickers, strolled through the firehouse doors, and entered the judging ring. Here was a safe haven for people who owned not just one but, in some cases, upwards of 20 ferrets. Ferrents (ahem, ferret parents to common folk) gathered from various parts of the country, some driving as much as seven hours for the chance to show off their furry friends. You won’t find ferrets sauntering in dresses or ferrets jumping through hoops here—instead, nearly 100 ferrets and a strong, genuine community who have been coming together for more than 20 years. Yet somehow this is completely under the radar in comparison to cat shows and dog shows. Why? “I think it’s because a lot of people don’t realize how many ferret owners are out there,” explains Suzy Hahn, an attendee.
It wasn’t quite the Westminster for ferrets—that’s actually in August, at the Buckeye Bash in Ohio—but it was pretty damn close. Here is an inside look at the ferrets, festivities, and what the ferrents had to say at the 2014 Winter Ferret Fandango.
What brought you here today?
Suzy Hahn: We’ve been showing ferrets since 1996. We’re breeders—we’re the Four Paws Wrecking Crew, from Columbus, Ohio. We also do the photography—we’re Digital by Joe & Suzy—so we do the photography at the ferret shows. We’ve been doing this for quite a few years and really enjoy it. Enjoy meeting a lot of great people, enjoy seeing all the pretty ferrets. Oh, there are some really gorgeous ferrets around.
How many do you have?
We currently have 43 at the house.
How do you manage that?
They have their own two rooms of the house. They have their play areas, and you get them out and have to clean frequently. They are like any animal. You have to keep them clean, or they are going to smell. They do have a musky odor to them that fades if you get them fixed.
What drew you to ferrets?
Their personalities. Each one is so different. They are so individual. They will make you laugh and just constantly play. You could have a bad day at work, and they will just perk you up.