Thursday, March 31, 2005

fair use at the hammer

I missed the screening of the film Spin by Brian Springer last night because I was here but plan to check out the hammer's exhibition on fair use in the next few weeks. the issues of fair use, reappropriation, remixing and sampling seem poised right on the edge of the public's consciousness. arguably, a museum show on it doesn't really crack the "mainstream."

however, yahoo has recently unveiled their creative commons search database, that allows its users to search for shareable content. hopefully yahoo's partnership with lawrence lessig's will not only lend the stamp of legitimacy (half a decade ago the thought of any 'dot com' lending legitimacy to anything was almost laughable) but will help to push these issues into the, excuse the term, public domain.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

designer manholes: insert your own joke here

Originally uploaded by yamahi.

the latimes has declared the beginning of the designer manhole era for southern california, starting with hermosa beach. apparently, ornate manhole covers were a symbol of civic pride before WWII, but their design and construction were eventually outsourced.

clearly Japan has had no such problem. even their manhole covers reflect their strange preoccupation with the cute and cuddly. how can hermosa's "ocean waves, an old-time rancho cattle brand, a modern-day house and a baseball bat, tennis racket and lawn-bowling ball — all wrapped around a stylized Hermosa Beach monogram encircled by a sunburst" compete with that?

architecture tours in LA

architectural digest magazine is planning an architecture tour and lectures in LA april 27-may 3. on the schedule for LA:

Designs on Downtown: includes Morphosis' Caltrans Building, FIDM's Studio, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Rafael Moneo's new Cathedral, and the Bradbury Building.

A Doheny Hillside Home: Doheny Hillside residence with interiors designed by Hoffman.Vest.Judaken.

Four Residences, Four Diverse Designs: includes a multi-level steel home in the Tujunga foothills by Mills Studio; a concrete home overlooking Pasadena's Arroyo Seco, a restoration by Wiehle-Carr Architects of a Harwell Hamilton Harris home; and an industrial take on a brewery loft space

Great Design in Culver City and Venice: Culver City's revitalized industrial warehouse district, “Conjunctive Points,” by Eric Owen Moss then David Hertz, AIA, and William Adams Architects for walk-throughs of three of their Venice projects.

Style in West L.A.: new West LA abode by Abramson Teiger Architects

there are also a bunch of lectures. the prices are sort of steep - the tours that include architects are around $80.

[via gridskipper]

book meme

I've never been tagged before, so here is my first meme, courtesy of Superfluous Juxtaposition. I feel like a real blogger now.

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

its been a very long time since I read this book - I think I was about 10 when my father took away my children's library card and insisted the library give me an adult card - thus beginning an extended ray bradbury/isaac asimov phase (again, insisted upon by my father). but a little quick google research seems to imply this isn't what book do I want to see burned - its what book do I want to see preserved for all time. that's a tough one. so I'll give this one to my all-time favorite children's story (that I was forced to abandon to read 451): From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes, Holden Caulfield.

3. The last book you bought is:

The last one I bought is Death and Life of Great American Cities. I also recently purchased on sale at the taschen store in beverly hills two koolhaas books, Project on the City 1 and 2. and I had a birthday a month ago, where I received A field guide to sprawl, everyday italian, and french women dont get fat so I have a lot of reading to do soon.

4. The last book you read:

most recently finished Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling.

5. What are you currently reading?

Death and Life of Great American Cities. and a whole lot of US weekly, In Touch and Star.

6. Five books you would take to a deserted island.

this is another tough one. do I take books I've already read and loved and can read over and over again? or do I take ones I havent read that I should?

a combination of both:

to kill a mockingbird. holden caulfield isnt my only fictional crush. Atticus Finch (esp in the guise of gregory peck) will always have a special place in my heart. I can read it again and again.

a confederacy of dunces. because I haven't, its long, and I've heard I should.

easy riders, raging bulls. again, another one I'd like to read again so I can memorize some of the best anecdotes. and its so much better than down and dirty pictures.

The purpose driven life. ha. that's a joke.

behind the scenes at the museum: a novel. has perhaps the greatest opening line I've ever read. and its been years since I read it.

extremely loud and incredibly close. because I loved safran foer's first novel and the new yorker seemed to like this one. so this goes under the file - haven't read yet but plan to.

7. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Jessica because she has impeccable taste. Rudy because he reads more than anyone I know. and aram because he needs to think about books that don't reference Lacan, Heidegger or Marx.

I need help

I'm working on a project right now that looks at how the rights of the individual come into conflict with "community values" over time. things like drug use, abortion rights, artistic self-expression, living wills, even things as simple as the right of women to go topless at the beach. looking for stories, articles, court cases, etc.

any ideas? send them my way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

mak center opening tomorrow night

I will be volunteering at this event tomorrow night:

March 31 through June 26, 2005
Reception Wednesday, March 30, 7 - 9PM

Opening comments by architects Gunther Domenig and Eric Owen Moss, as well as Peter Noever, Director MAK Vienna

Lecture at Sci-ARC
Thursday, March 31, 7PM

Artist walkthrough at the Schindler House
Saturday, April 2, 1PM

for more info:

On the site of massive rallies staged by Adolph Hitler sits a new historical research facility, The National Socialist Party Congress Grounds Documentation Center, in Nuremberg, Germany.

quick bits

a few interesting links:

Monday, March 28, 2005

walking in LA? at least he brings a camera to document it.

what a great photoblog - walking in LA. I'm almost inspired to follow some of his suggested routes. if it werent for the striking lack of human flotsam floating through these neighborhoods. where are the people? is he the only one walking through LA? is there no street life anywhere in his walks? does he just choose deserted routes? has he made a conscious decision to take photos that feature a disturbing lack of pedestrians?

despite that complaint, it reminds me a little of my friend rudy's photoblog, documenting storefront houses of worship as he walked all over brooklyn and a few other boroughs. enjoy.

grandstanding republicans - and its not for schiavo

just watched the treacly sobfest that is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. this week's episode took place in SoCal - santa fe springs to be exact. sure, the family seemed deserving enough (don't they always?) what was interesting about this episode was the plan to build a green home - complete with solar energy. all good news, right? what made this episode somewhat harder to watch than usual wasn't the self-congratulatory designers, nor the obvious product plugs for sears, or even the slight discomfort I feel at the theatricality and exploitation of one family's misery.

what made this difficult to watch was the appearance of Gov Schwarzenegger to inspect the house and its environmentally-friendly design. arguably, no one has done more to popularize the gas-guzzling hummer for ordinary folk, even serving as the inspiration for GM to introduce the H2. so its a little hard to swallow this new, green governor, despite the $100 million he pledged to build hydrogen refueling stations.

for more on schwarzenegger's environmental record (which admittedly, isn't ALL bad), check out the sierra club's analysis of his first year in office.

the nytimes can't go one sunday without writing about LA

LA seems to occupy a fairly large space in the mind of the sunday styles editor(s). this week they cover Dan Tana's, a restaurant the newspaper lauds as a little bit of the outer boroughs here in the LA. I've never been but I have a hard time imagining that any place that cameron diaz and brad grey frequent will remind me of my beloved Queens.

and the newspaper also covers the all-female valet service, Valet of the Dolls. the owner, seemingly without a shred of irony, explains its appeal:

"Ninety-nine percent of it is aesthetic, liking to look at pretty things," she explained. "Pretty cars, pretty women."

comments like that are what drives my love/hate relationship with this city. if only there was a hint of irony in it, it would make it all better. irony makes everything more tolerable.

free speech, community and the venice boardwalk

I'm not sure what's going on here, but lately the christian science monitor has been covering los angeles more and more (and quite well). travel guides, pritzker coverage, and now the controversy over a lottery system for vendor spaces on venice beach's boardwalk.

DISPLAY: Suleiman Ozlem shows off his tattoo designs. He says that most of the vendor spaces near him now go empty because of a boycott.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

hot property - nothing new to say

I'm having a hard time even mocking the hot property section of today's latimes. there is nothing new there to complain about. same specious definition of "celebrity" (some guy in the kirstie alley train wreck 'fat actress,' a saudi arabian prince, and some music composer). same painfully punning headlines - the composer bought her house "for a song." same tasteless plans for a frankensteinian mcmansion

(I'm making assumptions based on this description:

The house they bought is on almost an acre, behind gates and has three bedrooms and four bathrooms in 3,400 square feet. The home, built in 1948 and refurbished in 2004, also has a pool and a pool house.

They plan to double the size of the house.)

so what else is there to say? I might have to stop the kvetching every sunday. I'm boring even myself.

basquiat preview

time magazine (via archinect) reviews the brooklyn museum's basquiat retrospective, asking what its relevancy is to us today. why include this in a blog about LA? well, read now, see later - the show moves to the museum of contemporary art in july.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
81 x 69 14/4 inches
The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection, Los Angeles

even more mayne

this time the christian science monitor profiles the LA-based winner of the pritzker prize, heavily emphasizing his upbringing during the 60s as the underlying basis of his position as a maverick and outsider in architectural circles.

Friday, March 25, 2005

to do: learn to properly roast

last night I finally redeemed a gift certificate to the new school of cooking in culver city for a class on roasting. the school, in a little storefront across the street from Beacon, is a cheerful space - brightly painted, immaculately clean, well stocked. the classes are small - around 15 people, almost entirely women and mostly in their 20s and 30s.

we took a class on roasting and prepared a tri tip with rosemary and heirloom potatoes, ahi with a herb crust, pork with sherry, chicken, stuffed mushrooms with an herb butter, and really great green beans with a lemon zest. there were a few other dishes I can't recall right now, but all came out pretty good.

the class consists of about 20 min of lecture to explain technique, ingredients and the menu, about 1-2 hours of cooking and at the end of the class, wine is opened and everyone gathers around a large table to eat what we've prepared.

cooking class was one of those things I always wanted to do in ny and never got around to. LA seems to have an abundance of good classes (and fresh produce year round) - sur la table, new school of cooking, the california school of culinary arts and many of the local colleges.

my only regret is not bringing my camera with me to record the feast for all posterity.

schindler's legacy

just read the nytimes' article on nissan's new headquarters in michigan, designed by san diego-based architect jennifer luce and flipped through the slideshow. with the caveat that I'm not an architecture expert, I was struck by the some of the conceptual similarities between this design and some of RM Schindler's early work, even if in practice the aesthetic result is vastly different. and granted, some of the ideas are pretty common today. but a few of them seem directly related to schindler's ideas:

  • conceptual comingling of home and work - yup. got that (altho schindler probably stole that from frank lloyd wright)
  • modular, sliding walls to transform the division of space. check.
  • removing outer walls that open to nature. natch.
  • lots of natural light.
  • a love of industrial materials.
I know creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum and schindler was inspired by many of his contemporaries (esp FLW) so many of this ideas don't "belong" to him alone, but no one can deny the extent of his influence on other architects, particularly in southern california. so its not inconceivable that many of the devices luce uses stem (however indirectly) from schindler's programs for his residential projects.

Jennifer Luce-designed home
Paúl Rivera/Archphoto

another friend in the nytimes

its not that unusual that I see someone I know in the new york times. after all, I used to be quoted in there a lot when I was an analyst. and half my friends started their own internet company at some point. and there is always the occasional wedding announcement of people I know.

but now rather than "virtual" accomplishments, they're in there for businesses they're starting, contributions they're making in the community, shops they're opening in neighborhoods previously ignored. a few weeks ago, gorilla coffee was featured, founded by a good friend in brooklyn. yesterday, justin's business Build It Green got the publicity it so richly deserves.

maybe this means I need to meet more entrepreneurs in LA. I never know anyone in the latimes.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

the christos and corn

the gates has inspired a public art work in los angeles. according to the latimes, an empty lot known as "the cornfield" near chinatown will be planted and sown with 32 acres of corn. the plan is somewhat controversial, with critics claiming the community has not been fully engaged in the proposal. however, since the $2 million used for the project is coming from private funds rather than tax dollars, there seem to be few objections. the debate on redevelopment of the lot, to become public parkland after the harvest, is reminiscent (on a much, much smaller scale) of the debate in new york over chelsea's high line.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

keywords that brought you here, the cedd moses edition

you try to start a blog about architecture and all anyone wants to know about is who owns the golden gopher. oh well. here's how you find me.

  • cedd moses (or some variation thereof)
  • juneau morphosis
  • john lautner homes for sale los angeles
  • lacma expansion renzo piano (and several variations)
  • sketches of frank gehry pbs
  • barclay butera, newport beach (is he bigger celeb than I thought?)
  • critical reviews - lacma piano exhibition
  • los angeles dorothy parker suburbs 19
  • marissa blogspot los angeles
  • simon sinnreich birth dunia aram
  • saint pauls catherdral london
  • getty jules shulman

LAist mocks LA fashion week...

...with good reason. (altho anyone who has ever worked in media knows the name anna wintour - fashion victim or not. or who read the devil wears prada. or Front Row: Ann Wintour - the cool life and hot times of vogue's editor in chief. or vanity fair's coverage of her love life. or gawker. or the post. but I'm not here to quibble about that).

I had my own moment sunday night when I realized how truly different LA is from NY. I managed to snag a spot as a "plus one" for the mario testino party and there was a moment when anna wintour was left alone by her husband/boyfriend (?) under a heat lamp...and no one spoke to her. not a single person. she actually looked a little sad and lonely. her solitary stance only lasted a minute or two before some random acolytes chatted her up, but its hard to even imagine that moment happening in ny. moments like that make me wish I had a camera phone.

csm takes on LA

following on the heels of the nytime's 36 hours in venice, the christian science monitor takes on LA also. and while they mention some of the obvious "must-see's" like LACMA or the hollywood bowl, the article does a pretty good job of mentioning lesser known and out of the way spots, such as silom market in thai town or free lunchtime concerts at california plaza in downtown.

and after reading about beechwood in last week's latimes, nytimes, daily candy and just about every other local media outlet, I checked it out last night. it feels more hollywood than venice, but it is a very well designed space - dark, sexy, modern - the kind of flattering lighting everyone looks good in. I'll leave food reviews to much more able bloggers than myself but overall the food was good, not great, but quite good (if you skip the skirt steak, which has a cloying sweet lavender jus). my one regret was the rain prevented us from sitting in the patio near the fire pit.

beechwood's interior

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

kriticizing koolhaas

Project for public spaces offers an alternative critique of seattle's new library, designed by rem koolhaas and almost universally praised by architecture critics. while they, too, agree that the library succeeds in creating comfortable community hubs but is too isolated from the surrounding community. I have absolutely no way of arguing this one way or another, having never been to seattle - BUT, pps is also asking for submissions of other buildings that meet their criteria for great public places. email submissions to the them, but please post LA suggestions here.

more mayne

Monday, March 21, 2005

brief thoughts - renzo piano at lacma

a few years ago I went to the gehry retrospective at the guggenheim - twice. not because I loved the show - because I wanted to be sure it was as bad as I thought it was the first time. just needed to be sure. a show composed almost entirely of coffee-stained models, arranged chronologically, with the proposed new guggenheim (since shelved after 9/11) as the centerpiece of an already self-congratulatory show.

a few weeks later, the mies show at the moma. ok - this was a little better. models, photographs, interactive displays, recreations of the barcelona pavilion, a window looking out on the apartment mies lived in when he worked in ny. saw that show again in london at the whitechapel gallery (sans window). came much closer to making architecture accessible to those of us who aren't practitioners.

been to quite a few architecture exhibitions in the past few months - the libeskind in london, multiple ones at the schindler house, others. I write this not to brag about my museum-going credentials. just to illustrate that I'm a fan with no formal training. which brings me to the renzo piano exhibition at lacma open now until Oct.

I thought it was one of the best architecture exhibits I've been to. there seems to be a deliberate effort to only feature built works, as opposed to so many architecture shows that feature unbuilt proposals. no virtual here, no unbuilt, no proposed projects - other than a separate room for the future lacma building.

the show is engaging, beautiful, incredibly well curated in terms of layout. truly one of the better shows I've gone to. if you have some time in the next 6 months, go.

hot property - you expect us to live in THAT?

apparently a $25 million, 7 bedroom, 16,400 square foot compound is not adequate for a "growing, large family with teenagers with different interests," implying it has all the charm and spaciousness of a mobile home in chattanooga. clearly, selling it is the only option. bye, bye wayne gretsky .

architecture and good eats

LAist tells you where to go if you want to eat in a restaurant designed by a pritzker-prize winning architect.

brief thoughts - arts and crafts at lacma

go to lacma now - before the arts and crafts show closes april 3rd and now that the renzo piano exhibition is open. spent a few hours there on sat and really enjoyed both shows - some brief impressions:

  • thought the layout of the arts and crafts show was interesting - it was arranged by country rather than chronologically, or by medium, or conceptually. I dont know that much about the arts and crafts movement, but since the show makes the argument that national identity was an important component of the movement, arranging it by country helps to highlight some of those issues - like hungary's search for a distinct identity or the more minimal impact industrializaton had on finland and sweden's more agrarian societies.

  • the show also argued that the arts and crafts movement sought to elevate the design of functional objects into art as well as into the every day lives of "common people." it struck me how similar this ideal was to Bauhaus, art nouveau, mid century modernism and probably a panoply of other art movements and manifestos. and what has come closest to capturing this ideal? arguably the mass-produced objects from mass-merchandised stores such as ikea, target, the gap and other chains. hal foster touched on this a little in his book Design and Crime.

will post about renzo later in the day...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

pinks is a boite?

the sunday nytimes' style section covers the scene at pink's of all places after midnight, lionizing, as only the nytimes can do, the overrated hot dog stand as a pick-up spot and after-hours eating option.

I love los angeles but this sentence typifies one of my major frustrations with this town:
Bars and clubs in Los Angeles close at 2 a.m., and Pink's is one of about a dozen choices in Hollywood for a postmidnight meal.

the day I realized LA can be a little junior varsity (compared to ny) was the time I tried to eat after 10pm on a friday and we realized our only options were pretty much diners and pink's. I know disagrees with me here, but their list of late night restaurants doesn't inspire confidence in my post-10pm dining options. am I missing a better option?

archinect called it - mayne wins

Thom Mayne wins the 2005 pritzker prize, making him the first american in 14 years to win the honor. Via a daily dose of architecture.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

archinect calls the pritzker winner early

it perhaps lacks the excitement of march madness, but bets are already starting for the 2005 pritzker winner. and archinect has called an early winner - Thom Mayne, LA-based architect whose firm Morphosis built the new caltrans building downtown.

its been a long time since an american won the prize - the last time was 1991 for robert venturi. an even longer time since an angeleno won - 1989 was gehry's year and 1984 was richard meier's - so let's hope the pritzker is coming back to LA.

barclay butera cannot be stopped

I complained a few weeks ago about the latimes capricious use of the term "celebrity" in deciding inclusion in hot property -- particularly after they included Barclay Butera. who is that, you ask? according to his own press release, he is an "influential lifestyle designer." yeah, I dont know what that means either. but I do know that the man has a jones for historic hollywood real estate. a few weeks ago, he bought lucille ball and desi arnaz's house in beverly hills. he follows that acquisition with Twin Palms, the one-time residence of Frank Sinatra. can he be stopped?

Friday, March 18, 2005

the venice edition

venice seems to be in the news a lot today.

first, the nytimes' 36 hours column covers janelle brown's weekend in venice. she does a fairly good job of covering the shops and restaurants of abbot kinney, including the new beechwood, reviewed in the latimes' food section this week.

yesterday, the latimes also ran a feature on architect Lorcan O'herlihy, whose vertical house in venice has received tons of critical praise since he built it. it also summarizes some of the dust-up over the housing complex he's been hired to build next to the schindler house, which was pretty much the definition of tempest in a teapot.

Vertical House
"Lorcan O’Herlihy’s three-story Venice residence unites art and architecture in a harmony of opposites. The windows are staggered in a deceptively off-handed way. Views to the world outside, yes, but framed artwork too."
(Anne Cusack / LAT)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

construction, commerce and century city

in yesterday's latimes, the paper writes about the neverending street widening project on santa monica blvd and the effect it is having on local businesses. many are struggling to stay afloat, the project is more than seven months behind schedule, and no end is in sight. the project started in march 2003, is only 45% finished, rains cost an additional $1.2 million in damages and "unknown and unanticipated underground utilities" have caused additional engineering problems. the goal? a five-lane roadway in each direction to ease traffic congestion.

while on the surface, wider roads and more traffic lanes seem to be a good idea, LA's city planners are ignoring the phenomenon known by most planners and ignored over half a century ago in ny by robert moses:

Moses' attempt to alleviate congestion only generated more traffic. Planners outside of Moses' circle knew about this reality of "'traffic generation'" in which "the more highways [that] were built to alleviate congestion, the more automobiles [that] would pour onto them and congest them and thus force the building of more highways -- which would generate more traffic and become congested in their turn in an inexorably widening spiral...". (from caro's the power broker).

dulling disney

The LA Times covers the process of sandblasting frank gehry's disney hall to remove the glare, starting today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

how to save on everything but shoes in LA

with the freedom and flexibility that comes with my freelancing life, there also comes the financial uncertainty. with that in mind, here are some ways to save on everyday splurges and save the benjamins for the blahniks:

1. free yoga in runyon canyon. every day at the enclosed park near the fuller entrance from 10:30-11:30. during the summer there are sometimes additional classes in the evening.
2. haircuts at rudy's in the standard. yes, there is the silverlake original. and now one on melrose near fred segal. but this one remains my favorite. apparently, the wait is long on the weekends but again, if you have plenty of free time during the week, your wait isn't usually longer than 20 min max. and you can wait it out by the pool. and the haircut is $26 for women, $44 with a blowout. and its good.
3. matinees. one of the best is the los feliz 3 on vermont. matinees are $4.50. and the vista, not far away, is the same. there is nothing better than going to the movies in the middle of the day and getting out when its still light out.

anyone have any other suggestions? email me, or post your comments here.

real estate and recessions

According to the UCLA Anderson Forecast, (covered in the LA Times) california's reliance on real estate to bolster the state's economy "is destined to cool down." The study examines the extent to which real estate is driving the growth in CA's economic recovery. For instance, half of the private-sector jobs created in CA in the past two year are related to the real estate industry, such as construction or mortgage finance. the study explains that CA has experienced a sharp increase in home equity, leading to more consumer spending that results in more economic growth. where does that leave us?

"We have an economy that's rolling along on the basis of a false sense of wealth," said Christopher Thornberg, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast team.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

hollyhock house reopening

I moved here about a year and a half ago and the hollyhock house has been closed for renovation for the past five years, so I've never had the opportunity to see the house. (the house, incidentally, was the reason RM Schindler moved to LA from chicago - frank lloyd wright asked him to oversee construction). so its exciting that the renovation project has finally come to an end. the house is re-opening to the public on may 15th, according to Preserve LA. from the site:

[the house] is re-opening to the public on May 15 with a grand celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will coincide with the Friends of the Hollyhock House's annual Croquet Classic, held on the expansive lawns surrounding the landmark residence in Barnsdall Park.

Constructed between 1919-1921, Hollyhock House was originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a private residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. After residing in the house for only 4 years, Barnsdall donated the house and most of Olive Hill to the City of Los Angeles. It is now known as Barnsdall Art Park and is currently managed by the City of Los Angeles' Cultural Affairs

lacma's big endowment

and I'm not talking about the size of its delacroix, if you know what I mean. and I think you do. lacma announced yesterday it raised $156 million, with $130 million of it earmarked for phase 1 construction of the new renzo piano expansion. where did that money come from? from the press release:

Nearly 75% of the museum's 54 trustees have contributed to the ongoing fund-raising campaign, which includes a $50 million gift from trustee and philanthropist Eli Broad; a $25 million gift from an anonymous benefactor; and a $10 million challenge grant from Los Angeles County.

Monday, March 14, 2005

prohibition, pabst and parties

they all play into the history of The Brewery. LAist writes up the history of the arts complex near downtown, which started brewing beer over one hundred years ago, 1897. and was brewing pabst as recently as 1979. in the immortal words of Frank Booth in Blue Velvet:
Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!

architecture and obesity, redux

The LA Times covers the link between built environments and health. nothing startling here - building communities where people can walk to retail, schools, restaurants, parks results in better health. the article does provide a nice roundup of local efforts in CA and elsewhere to increase walking, promote biking and build walker-friendly environments, as well as the scary, scary stats we've come to know and love on obesity in this country.

Town of the future

The Preserve, a 10,000-home development planned in Chino, will feature several parks with fitness facilities. Streets, sidewalks and trails are laid out to encourage walking. (City of Chino). image from

hot property - reading between the lines

no complaints this week about hot property's star power. the headlines are still cringe-inducing but I won't belabor that point a second week either. no, this week I want to celebrate hot property. as a devoted reader of Defamer, Page Six, US Weekly, In Touch and the constantly circulating parade of tabloid gossip, hot property this week almost fulfills my need to know the minutiae of celebrities' lives, business affairs, home decor preferences and family lineage.

a few tidbits you may or may not have known:
  • ex-supermodel kathy ireland's clothing and home furnishing company is worth over $1 billion. she started the company 10 years ago designing socks. yes, socks.
  • the architect paul williams, noted not only for designing the shrine auditorium, the hollywood ymca, and LAX, but also for being an african-american architect during the days of Jim Crow, also designed the home of Charles J. Correll, who played Andy on the "Amos 'n' Andy" radio show.
  • Jason Schwartzman (rushmore and I heart huckabees) is the son of producer Jack Schwartzmann and Talia Shire. his cousins are nic cage and sofia coppola. and the tidbit I didn't know but probably should have - he's in the band Phantom Planet, singers of the Greatest TV Theme Song Ever "california" for the Greatest TV Show Ever, The OC.
  • Rodney Dangerfield was 82 when he died. His wife is 52.
and since my need to read and comment on hot property now seems to be a weekly feature on this blog, here are some other, much better examples of this type of meta-criticism:

  • Veiled Conceit - a weekly critique of the new york times wedding announcements
  • The Bruni Digest - love him or hate him, enjoy this blog's deconstructions of the new york times' restaurant reviewer Frank Bruni.

arts and crafts time

britain's financial times reviews the arts and crafts show at LACMA in a way only the british can do - after establishing itself as the provenance of the movement (repeatedly), they then (almost begrudgingly) admit its a pretty good show, mainly because traces the chronology of arts and crafts. and the article also offers the caveat that london's V&A hasn't yet opened its own arts and crafts show (set to open next week) so they can't fairly compare.

decide for yourself but do it soon - the show closes April 3rd.

And for a history of the movement (and a far less patronizing tone) check out's article "design movement with universal appeal."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

poor planning

too tired to write much about this weekend in santa barbara, although jess' recommendations for lunch at la super rica taqueria and drinks at the four seasons were perfect.

so in lieu of writing my own posts, stealing a few links about LA's search for a city planner, via archinect. or perhaps more accurately, LA's lack of a search for a city planner:

  • Saving L.A. Wanted: A city planner who can organize communities
  • What's the Plan, Los Angeles? City Hits a Crucial Decision With Search for New Planning Director
    by Sam Hall Kaplan
  • and most interestingly, a consortium of interested parties write:Planning for a Livable City: An Open Letter to the next Director of theLos Angeles Department of City Planning

Saturday, March 12, 2005

keywords that brought you here, edition II

Since I stopped blogging about the Gates, there is a greater variety of keywords people are using to find this blog. some of the keywords you used:

  • renzo piano and lacma
  • cedd moses
  • meson g ritz los angeles
  • hot property nbc pilot
  • ennis-brown house damaged
  • 860 lake shore drive stamp
  • cedd moses bar
  • frank lloyd wright house mudslide
  • terra firma meaning

off to santa barbara for the weekend, so my witty deconstruction of this week's hot property column will have to wait an extra day.

Friday, March 11, 2005

modernist architecture in the LBC

doug kramer, a real estate agent in long beach, has launched a new website, SoCalModern, to promote modern architecture outside of los angeles and palm beach. from the press release:
"Long Beach, Lakewood Country Club, Huntington Harbour and numerous spots in Orange County feature incredible custom homes and some tracts with modernist styling,” said Doug Kramer, the principal and founder of SoCal Modern. “Southern California is known as a hotspot for modernism, but it is Los Angeles and Palm Springs that get most of the attention. The goal of SoCal Modern is to promote the significant, and somewhat hidden, architectural gems in Long Beach and Orange County.”

it is ultimately a slick broker's site, but provides the kind of voyeuristic satisfication of similar sites like

photo doug kramer copyright 2004

hot properties casting news

ABC moves forward with casting the pilot for its real estate drama, Hot Properties. Via the Futon Critic:

HOT PROPERTIES (ABC) - Gail O'Grady is the latest "American Dreams" actor to score a back-up position should the family drama not return for the 2005-06 season. She's been cast as Ava Moore in the Warner Bros. Television-based pilot, about four women who run a real estate office in New York. O'Grady joins the previously cast Nicole Sullivan and Sofia Vergara, as well as the recently added Stephen Dunham ("What I Like About You") in the project, which was created by Suzanne Martin. O'Grady is the third "Dreams" regular cast in a pilot this season, the others being Rachel Boston in "Peep Show" and Will Estes in "Reunion," both at FOX.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

tracing influence

I've recently been corresponding a little with Michael Beirut, one of the founding writers of the design blog, design observer. one of the entries struck me in particular - designing under the influence. a few months ago, aram and I co-wrote a paper for the norman lear center about creativity and copyright in the music and fashion industries for a conference they organized. (it will hopefully be published in a book by the lear center in a few months). while aram and I focused on two particular culture industries, the discussion on design observer was particularly salient to the work we had written. michael voices the confusion of contemporary designers:

We've arrived at a moment where all that has preceded us provides an enormous motherlode of graphic reference points, endlessly tempting, endlessly confusing. How much design history does one have to know before he or she dares put pencil to paper? Picture a frantic land-grab, as one design pioneer after another lunges out into the diminishing frontier, staking out ever-shrinking plots of graphic territory, erecting Keep Out! signs at the borders: This is mine! This is mine!

I sent michael a copy of the paper and he was kind enough to write back with words of encouragement (after, surprisingly, reading the entire paper). he, too, understands the desire of an artist to protect his or her own work, but understands that contemporary culture - remix culture, makes is harder and harder for an artist to do that. additionally, he concedes creativity as a whole may not be best served by strict legal protections.

why am I even writing about this on this blog? just so I can pass along these two links he sent me:

a recent Honda commercial that may have been stolen/adapted/evolved from a film by some fine artists. its not hard to find examples in commercial design and advertising that take their inspiration from "fine art" and fine art that is deeply influenced by the language of advertising (warhol, kruger, newton all easily spring to mind). but the wit and (re)inventiveness of the ad is impressive, and worthy of look. thanks to michael for passing this along.

I also heart statistics

even the christian science monitor is covering california's housing market. the gist of the article - CA is considering legislation to ease restrictions on new building to alleviate some of the housing shortages and overheated pricing in this state.

some of the stats included in the article:
  • in California, the median single-family home costs $485,700
  • California's homeownership rates put it at No. 48 in the United States
  • 19 of the 25 cities with the least amount of affordable housing are in California

I heart the hammer

for the second time in a week, I lucked out and was able to get into one of the hammer's free lectures. this time, it was thanks to jess' vast social network and the serendipity of running into a high school classmate who works at the museum and guided us into the member's line.

last night we went to the david byrne lecture, I heart powerpoint. it started well, with david using "found" slides to illustrate the way powerpoint constrains or edits communication. and most were quite funny, with david byrne playing the straight man to the slides. however, about halfway thru he started to lose steam. his delivery is always shy and a little hesitant but about midway thru the lecture started to wander, his delivery faltered, his affectations seemed, well, affected.

image by daniel radosh

the best part of the night? dinner at Shahrzad, which I'm sure jess will blog about later today.

UPDATE: aram wants everyone to know he, dunia and simon were also with us.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

going back in time

quirky site about the bars and restaurants of LA from the 1940s, 50s and 60. there are quite a few photos, altho the quality isn't great on a lot of them. still, the guy clearly loves LA architecture and interior design and he doesn't even live here.

hotel pissing contest

not to be outdone, beverly hills approved a proposal yesterday to build a $200 million luxury hotel on wilshire between canon and beverly drive. apparently the avalon, the beverly hills hotel, the crescent, the peninsula, le meridien, loews, maison 140, the carlyle inn, the beverly plaza, the regent beverly wilshire, raffles l'ermitage, and the mosaic aren't enough to satiate the manolo-wearing, chloe-handbag-holding, swarovski-crystal-encrusted-t-mobile-sidekick-owning set.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

heading "north"

anyone have any recommendations on a good hotel/inn/b&b in santa barbara? planning a little overnight road trip this weekend. actually, any restaurant recommendations are also appreciated. and yes, we saw sideways and know about the hitching post.

downtown tours

yes, there is the downtown art walk this thurs (and the second thurs of every month) but LA downtown news offers a more comprehensive list of downtown tours, including tours of chinatown, the garment district, art deco landmarks and even bars. any tour that ends at hop louie is the tour for me.

photo from

more plans for downtown

fascinating interview with LA Inc. exec dir Michael Collins on plans for a new convention center hotel (and the importance of building one within walking distance), luxury condo conversions, the NFL returning to LA (possibly), and LAX's modernization. an inside look at the decision making process of business interests in LA - obviously the scope of the interview doesn't cover the cultural, social, or even the economic impact of these plans (other than overall revenue projections for something like the Super Bowl).

another reason to read the new yorker

following up on my post about malcolm gladwell (new yorker writer) - apparently this week's new yorker has a profile of Rem Koolhaas. I will have to pick up a copy of the magazine (a nice departure from my weekly purchase of US weekly and in touch). particularly interesting for me because my master's thesis was essentially a case study of rem.

Monday, March 07, 2005

LA vs London

when I moved here from london, I was actually struck by the similarities between the two cities - similarities I didn't expect. the most striking one is the lack of density in both cities (although I lived mostly in shoreditch, which is arguably one of the denser boroughs in london). both cities are an amalgam of separate neighborhoods, towns, villages. I thought there were other similarities - but those are a little off topic.

anyway, there were two articles this weekend that also recognized the similarities:
  • Joel Kotkin's article in the latimes calling for mayoral candidates to focus less on grand visions and more on preserving the middle class.
  • and the financial times' article on preserving and revitalizing london's public spaces, lest it face the fate of too many american places: "mall, fast-food drive-ins, out-of-town shopping and, ultimately, the idea of exurbia, placeless suburbs no longer even linked to cities." the article doesn't explicitly link LA and london but the subtext is pretty clear: london is looking at its LA-ization if it doesn't provide more public space for socialization and more space for pedestrians.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

blink. or you'll miss it.

I've been a fan of malcolm gladwell for a long time. yesterday I had the pleasure of being the very last person the Hammer museum let in to see him speak. (my friend and I arrived late while other friends held a spot on line - I still feel bad for the couple right behind us. there was easily another 100 people that didn't get in).

malcolm was there to speak about his new book, blink. I'll admit I haven't read it - yet - but I'm a huge fan of the tipping point and his columns in the new yorker. he's been on a publicity blitz the last few weeks - every newspaper, magazine, NPR show lately seems to have an interview with him(which explains the huge crowds at the hammer).

here's the thing - he's a great speaker. his writing is lively, entertaining, smart and so is his delivery live. obviously, the crux of his appearance was promoting the new book - recounting some of its anecdotes. he gave examples of how rapid cognition works for and against us in terms of making good decisions. how altering the environment in which we make decisions alters the outcome of those decisions. how law enforcement and the judicial system could be made more fair by eliminating certain biases inherent in rapid cognition. all illustrated in a multitude of examples gleaned from medicine, politics, history, music.

but the highlight was really the audience Q&A. here is where malcolm really shined. he's engaging, self-effacing, funny. no problem going "off script." he even insisted on taking extra questions when the moderators told him he only had time for one more.

I'm behind on my reading but if blink is half as good as his articles and previous book, I'll be buying it shortly.

check out the hammer's calendar of upcoming lectures. an eclectic mix including David Byrne and Matthew Barney.

hot property - are they reading this blog?

I've been complaining for weeks about the LA Times' loose definition of "celebrity" for the hot property column, yet the paper seems to be taking baby steps towards improving that. this week they feature actual celebrities - oscar winners! grammy winners! my generation's liz taylor! former teen idols! mr. magoo!

but does that make me happy? no.

the badly formed puns, the nonsensical lead-ins, the pointless references to past projects - the headlines are all cringeworthy. I feel embarrassed for author ruth ryon. to wit:

"no more malibu weather" - a hackneyed reference to nic cage selling his malibu home. why the reference to weather? he stars in an upcoming film "the weather man."

"what a place to be shipwrecked" - a groan-inducing headline for the sale of Jim Backus' estate (the millionaire on gilligan's island).

please, please, please either write better puns or just dispense with them altogether.

newsflash! hollywood stars love their own image

again, the new york times tells los angeles what we like. this week its photo booths. not exactly news, not really much of a trend, sort of perplexing why they even bothered writing about it. but so worth a visit if only to see the weird orange color that is pat o-brien.

photo from the new york times

Friday, March 04, 2005

the most political act we do every day

going slightly (but only slightly) off topic, researchers in the UK have found that eating locally grown food is better for the environment than eating food that has been shipped, regardless of whether the food is organic or not. to calculate the hidden costs of shipping food, they examined each phase of the supply chain, such as clean-up costs for pollution, less of profit from erosion, damage to the climate or infrastructure and the cost to ship (particularly on the road versus air).

the researchers found that if all foods were sourced within 20km (about 12 miles) of where they are eaten, environmental and transportation savings would be about $4 billion a year and another $2.1 billion if the food were grown organically.

the authors of the study also have some policy recommendations (albeit for the UK only at this point): mandatory labeling by supermarkets of the number "food miles" traveled to get to the store.

one of the smartest quotes in the story I have heard in a very long time:

"The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes and food businesses," said co-author Professor Jules Pretty, from the University of Essex, UK.
and here is a list of Farmer's Markets in the LA area.

p.s. blood oranges are in season right now. there aren't many fruits that I love in both salads and cosmopolitans.

architecture, photography and julius

I'm a day late with a link to this story, but the latimes had a long, somewhat rambling feature story on architectural photographer Julius Shulman, who recently donated his archive to the getty. his photos of the work of neutra and schindler were the first introduction much of the rest of the world had to LA's modernism.

what is remarkable is not the 6+ decades he's been a photographer, or that he dumbly fell into his career, or that he's 95 and still working. what is amazing is this little anecdote hidden in the middle of the article as it attempts to describe his shoot at schindler's fitzpatrick house (pictured above):
The Fitzpatrick House has waited decades to look this picture-perfect. [The owner] can't remember if he knew the 2,400-square-foot hillside home was a Schindler when he bought it 15 years ago. "I don't even know if I knew who Schindler was," he says.

compare that with the heightened awareness of modern architecture (and its practitioners) today. imagine buying a house today and having no idea its a schindler or neutra or lautner. pretty inconceivable.

an embarrassment of riches

2004 was a record year for LA museums' acquisitions.

LACMA received Eli Broad's contemporary art collection, MOCA received more than 280 gifts including work by Gordon Matta-Clark, John Baldessari and Robert Gober. details on the gifts and acquistions in this nytimes article (third item).

Thursday, March 03, 2005

how did I miss this?

LA is considering moving towards open source software to save almost $6 million per year in software licenses. the council members proposing the shift are hoping te funds will go towards hiring more police. I know LA has a pretty poor citizen to cop ratio compared to denser cities such as ny, but it seems it might also be worthwhile considering spending some of those funds on social services, which have been hammered the last few years under the Bush regime. but I supposed more cops is an easy way to sell the proposal, so if that's what it takes, I'm all for it. take that, Microsoft.

taking the the westside?

LAist reports on the MTA's plan to one day maybe sorta consider the possibility of extending the red line to the westside, running down wilshire blvd. according the LA times, the last two decades have seen a series of bans on tunneling and taxing for construction. the paper reports that officials in west hollywood and beverly hills have reversed their position on building a subway, seeing it as a possible way to ease gridlock in those areas. the group now most vocally opposed to considering a subway? the bur riders union, who believe funds should go towards improving bus service.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

malibu - sun, surf, stars...and wine?

this week's nytimes dining section discusses the vineyards of malibu. who knew?

real estate is hot - on TV

an update on the ABC plans for a real estate-centered drama. buried deep in this article in the hollywood reporter is this little tidbit:

ABC also seems to be interested in doing something set in the real estate world, ordering "Hot Properties" from Warner Bros. in addition to the similarly themed drama "Westside." NBC also has a real estate comedy planned titled "Hot Property" from 20th Century Fox TV/Brad Grey TV.

of course, it remains to be seen if any of these will actually survive pilot season. and let's hope the lack of originality in pilot names is not foreshadowing the quality of the content. (but this IS network tv we're talking about).

quick bits

LA may get more town homes. The city recently passed a new ordinance allowing detached homes on small lots, town homes and row houses. The hope is that the new law will make town homes a more affordable option for home buyers. [Link via planetizen]

Disney Hall will lose some of its luster. The founder's room of frank gehry's concert hall will undergo a $90,000 renovation to dull the glare that has been bothering nearby residents, pedestrians and drivers. the REDCAT marquee will also be dulled as well. the plans to modify the building (agreed to by gehry's firm) have sparked a debate on the nature of architecture as art, the balance between form and function and its responsibility to the public (just a tempest in a teapot compared to the furor over public art like richard serra's tilted arc).

(Brian Vander Brug / LAT)

one of the better soundbites in the LA times coverage: "It's like putting a little more hair on the Mona Lisa or making her smile a little bigger," said Denise Crouse, who takes in the spectacular view of the hall each morning on her way to work at the downtown offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. "An artist's work should stay an artist's work."

And morphosis continues its quest to build every single government building ever. the LA-based firm (caltrans) won the commission to build alaska's state capital building. apparently, the residents of juneau hated all four proposals but at least morphosis' had a dome.

handy maps

gridskipper alerts its readers to KABC's online, real time street maps, theoretically helping drivers avoid the worst of the gridlock. of course, that assumes there are actually streets and freeways without traffic.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

grand ave plans revealed

la downtown news reveals the grand ave committee's plans for that area. it seems the developers, Related Companies (same developers behind the time warner center in ny), are intent on ignoring eric owen moss' advice in last week's issue. the plan is clearly trying to emulate the density of new york. the redevelopment project will occur in several phases, the first is expected to start next summer. the first phase is expected to include:

  • Three residential towers with a total of 1,000 units.
  • A three-block civic park stretching from the Music Center to City Hall.
  • A 600,000-square-foot office tower at First and Hill streets.
  • A 300,000-square-foot retail development.
  • A 275-room boutique hotel.
  • About 4,000 parking spaces.

frank lloyd wright house might collapse

according to LA observed, the ennis brown house in los feliz has been red tagged because of a crumbling retaining wall, damaged in the rain. The la times has also been covering the mudslide dangers and points out the house has had structural problems in the past. according to inspectors, there is now about $500,000 in damage incurred due to the rain.

even before the rain, the house was designated by the national trust for historic preservation as an official project of clinton's intiative 'save america's treasures.' the house was built in 1924 and was awarded landmark status by the city of LA as well as the state. long before LA was pounded by rain, the preservation community has been seeking support for the house.