Friday, July 29, 2005

this weekend

after last weekend's immersion in palm spring's mid-century modernism and the weekend before that's isaac julien show at the schindler house, I'm a looking forward to an art and architecture free weekend, sort of.

the highlight of this weekend will be jess and henry's wedding at union station in downtown LA so I will be surrounded by that strange but wonderful amalgam of moorish, spanish mission and modern architecture. and jess is understandably excited about the cake.

and the early part of this evening, before pre-wedding drinks, a quick stop by the LA music center's free concerts to hear DJ rekha spin some classic bhangra.

chicken little

it seems like the sky is actually falling. or at least bottoming out:
Doomsday: the final months of the housing bubble.

a thoughtful look at the evidence of an imminent bust. some of the facts he quotes:

The current housing bubble is “larger than the global stock market bubble in the late 1990s (an increase over five years of 80% of GDP) or America's stock market bubble in the late 1920s (55% of GDP). In other words, it looks like the biggest bubble in history.” (The Economist, June 16, 2005)

The banks have lowered the standards for home loans to such an extent that the traditional loan of 20% down and a fixed interest rate is virtually a thing of the past. Instead, those conservative practices have been replaced with “creative financing” schemes that put the entire housing market at risk.

Consider this: In 2004 “one-fourth of all home-buyers -- including 42% of first-time buyers -- made no down payment.” (New York Times, July 7, 2005)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

nytimes house and home - all up in our grill - again

I feel like it was just a few`weeks ago that the Currents column in the nytimes' home section was focused on LA. but here we are again, with the times covering maximilians schell, the new restaurant providence and peddler on the roof.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

we're the sluttiest!

sure, we may have slipped from 4 to 15 on forbes' list of best cities for singles but we're still number one for casual sexual encounters, wanton lust, and trading sex for fame. we even beat bangkok - quite an accomplishment when you consider that city has COCK in its name. viva la sluttiness!

looking back to look ahead

upcoming exhibition at SCI-arc sounds interesting:

Whatever Happened to LA?
Architectural and Urban Experiments 1970 – 1990
Curated by Jeffrey Inaba and Peter Zellner
July 29–September 11, 2005
Opening reception: 6-8 pm on Friday, July 29
Symposium: 7pm on Wednesday, September 7

SCI-Arc Gallery
960 East 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.
T. 213.613.2200

I thought at first this might be like the series of articles in the nytimes (if I'm remembering correctly) of architectural projects that were never built - or a project like this, but in fact its not. instead it looks at the architectural experimentation of LA from 1970-1990 and asks what happened to that early innovation.

grand get-togethers

the grand avenue committe is holding two upcoming public meetings. from the web site:

Join us at either of two public meetings to be held in August to learn about the community benefits that will be provided by the Grand Avenue project. Current status of project planning will also be discussed. These meetings follow the many outreach meetings held from October 2004 through May 2005 to discuss the project and how it can benefit all Angelenos. We want to continue to hear your ideas about how the project can transform the Los Angeles civic center, and create a place for all Angelenos to experience and enjoy. Join us on either of the following dates:

Tuesday, August 2 6:00 - 8:00 pm Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 South Spring Street
Downtown Los Angeles
Joe's Auto Park
530 S. Spring Street
We will validate

Monday, August 22 6:00 - 8:00 pm Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 South Spring Street
Downtown Los Angeles
Joe's Auto Park
530 S. Spring Street
We will validate

loving laguna

totally tangential to the purpose of this blog:

but is it wrong for a 32 year old woman to absolutely LOVE mtv's laguna beach? catching up on the premiere of season 2 on tivo and so far, so good. I'm not a huge fan of "reality" TV but laguna beach is my favorite guilty pleasure. totally kicks real world's ass.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

LA from an auto

circa 1906. how prescient - at the time LA had one of the largest and fastest public transportation systems in the world.

not going to borrow a cup a sugar

I have a lot of crazy neighbors. seems to come with the territory when you live in LA. but I have none as scary as this - a friend emailed to tell me about his new "friend."

someone has moved in downstairs who honestly makes my flesh crawl -- and it's not just me. I was sitting on the porch downstairs having a glass of Chardonnay with a friend because it was too hot in my apartment. The new downstairs guy approaches on the front walk and I swear to God he looks like a character out of a David Lynch film, walking bug-eyed with his head cocked to one side, and his right hand is covered with a silvery latex glove: and he's gripping something, really, really tight -- something thin and metalic...and I think, omigod, it's a scapel. As I get this massive adrenaline rush, he says "I live here" with totally flat affect, deadpan. At this point I have enough adrenaline in my blood to rip a car door off it's hinges, but he asks me my name and heads to his front door, taking off his shoes, leaving them on the front doorstep and slipping inside his totally barren apartment like some kind of evil spirit. I turned to my friend and I said, "was it just me, or..." and he said, "that guy looks just like a serial killer. For real." He was out moving the car with latex gloves this morning -- and his front doorstep is covered with small scraps of paper he's torn from something.

and he followed that up with:

Really, the whole experience just creeped the living daylights out of us both. And the apartment is EMPTY. And when he sees me, it's not something new-guyish like"oh, hello there! Gosh, I'm your new neigbhor, isn't that swell?" Just, "I live here." Almost a challenge. The only missing touch was a thin string of saliva trailing from a burst of foam at the corner of his mouth.
Meanwhile, I've seen no moving trucks and no sign of any possessions -- outside of the ju-ju spirit making his corpse walk, that is.

Monday, July 25, 2005

palm springs weekend

spent the weekend in palm springs - a hazy, hot and humid weekend in the desert, punctuated by flash floods on the drive home. despite that, it was a great weekend - stayed in the coolest bungalows with great little touches - mid-century modern furniture, ipod stereos, louis prima CDs. and in one weekend was able to pack in some gambling, drinks at the viceroy, siteseeing, swimming, sleeping and just generally enjoying the break from LA. some pics:

there were just 6 bungalows at the desert star. very cozy.

view of the hills from the pool.

the stewart williams-designed City National Bank, 1957
now a washington mutual.

the cabazon dinosaurs, made famous in Pee Wees Big Adventure.
Large Marge sent me.

our blackjack winnings. we're high rollers. aw yeah.

wanna docent?

the schindler house in west hollywood is recruiting for new docents. I do it once a month for a few hours and if you're interested in architecture in LA, its a great way to meet likeminded individuals. training is coming up...

Become a Docent at the Schindler House
Looking for a great volunteer opportunity?
New Docent Training
Wednesdays, August 3 – 10, 7 pm

MAK Center/Schindler docents work one 3-hour shift each month on a Saturday or Sunday giving tours of the historic landmark Schindler House (1921-22). Docents are invited to assist at MAK Center special events such as exhibition openings, lectures and film screenings. In return, docents receive free Friendship to the “Friends of the Schindler House” including a 10% discount in the bookstore as well as quarterly fieldtrips to architecturally significant sites in and around Los Angeles.

For more information or to RSVP for the New Docent Training, please contact Angelica Fuentes, Docent Coordinator, 323 651 1510 x13,
MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069
323 651 1510 phone
323 651 2340 fax

monday media

  • maximilian's schell: "The new vortex—shaped installation by architects Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues warps the flow of space with a featherweight rendition of a celestial black hole; “the deadliest force in the Universe.” Hovering over M&A's courtyard, “Maximilian's Shell” is the size of an apartment building and is a spectacle that has been stopping traffic along Silver Lake Boulevard since its unveiling." [via a daily dose of architecture]
  • Downtown News Best of LA issue is online, with both editors' and readers' picks for best restaurants, entertainment, businesses. [via blogdowntown]
  • LAist turns 1 year old. happy birthday.

Friday, July 22, 2005

is christopher hawthorne putting us on?

I normally like christopher hawthorne's architecture articles - esp back in the day when he was with slate, but even as he's settled into his column at the latimes. so I'm a little perplexed by today's gehry article. it seems like a wasted opportunity - using gehry's grand ave and brooklyn projects as a jumping off point to discuss the status of architects as auteur. the phenomenon of "starchitecture." he seems to have intended to do that but he got sidetracked. and he focuses too intently on gehry himself. what could have been an interesting sociological meditation on architecture's emerging cultural position (coupled with yesterday's nytimes article on lenny kravitz) instead simply looks at what the legacy of an aging architect could be when he has $5 billion in upcoming projects.

so now I'm gonna get a little academic on your ass. read hal foster's great book, Design and Crime. Published 3 years ago, its a prescient look at the privileged status architecture and design have attained in contemporary culture. when reading him, it helps to be familiar with baudrillard and bourdieu but not necessary. I just like typing those names. in fact, just dropping bourdieu is, in fact, a bourdieusian game of cultural capital. but I digress. hal foster (and hans ibelings, another theorist, as well) both look at how architecture and its attendant star system have ascended over more traditional visual arts as hallmarks of global capitalism. they also see an autobiographical dimension in the work of starchitects, reinforced by the media (and hawthorne's article is a great example of that). Ibelings even compares architects to rock stars:

This personalization of architecture is not the only similarity with pop stardom. The comparison goes even further: nowadays star architects are continually ‘on tour’: for competitions, juries, teaching posts, master-classes, interviews, conferences and lectures, interspersed with the odd construction meeting. Just like pop stars, these star architects have all developed a clear media strategy. They have become increasingly preoccupied with merchandising. In the days when these stars had scarcely a realized building to their name, their most marketable products were their designs,…but these were soon joined by all manner of household goods- dinner services, cutlery, serving trays, coffee pots, whistling kettles, small items of furniture and so on (Ibelings, H., 2002. Supermodernism: Architecture in the Age of Globalization. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.).

there is one other dimension of the article that perplexes me. I cant tell if hawthorne's tongue is planted firmly in cheek or if he's serious:

Gehry... has occasionally, and rather hopefully, described himself an "architect/urbanist" in recent years. He sometimes complains that he's underrated as a planner, and that the public mistakenly believes his office does little more than produce buildings that stand defiantly apart from the surrounding urban context.

gehry as urbanist? I know he was given an award recently by the congress for new urbanism and city comforts blog explains much better than I can the folly of that. so its hard to read hawthorne's tone in this article. is he skeptical too? hard to tell.

anyway, can't figure it all out tonight. need to go pack. no blogging this weekend. hopefully a palm springs update on mon.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

what hath brad wrought? the nytimes answers

lenny kravitz as heir apparent to frank sinatra? according to the nytimes, its possible. only not for his golden throat. no, this time its for his interior design obsession.

the nytimes covers the explosion of hollywood alpha males' interest in becoming architects and designers. hopefully, the increased scrutiny of mainstream media will not encourage more actors and singers to learn autoCAD and the difference between an aalto and an eames.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm cranky

I'm going to palm springs this weekend and I expect it to be cooler there than it currently is in my apartment. I have central air, theoretically but I can't remember when it last worked. and my thermostat reads 85 degrees. and my building manager is incompetent. so one more night without AC. oh, and I also chose the one weekend all year palm springs is expected to have thunderstorms - in the desert.

additionally, I hurt my back recently, (possibly in yoga?), and standing up straight requires a deep breath and a calm, meditative reminder that I can overcome pain with just the power of my mind. and advil. and icy hot. yes - the hottest - and coldest spot - in my apartment is on the patch on my back.

at least my hotel has great mid-century modern furniture. and if all else fails, there's always gambling.

bad supreme court/good state legislation?

I'll let the other blogs write about bush's supreme court justice nominee and just let this link speak for itself in terms of my view. so instead of talking about roberts, I'm just going to link to this piece on about states' attempts to push through legislation with state constitutional amendments that would limit the rights of local governments to enforce eminent domain - including CA. sounds great, right?

except that there is also another state bill making its way to the guvernator proposed by Sen Kevin Murray that would establish a commission with the authority to build sports and entertainment complexes, apparently bringing LA one step closer to luring the NFL.

as this editorial points out, the potential economic gain from convention and sports centers, is "consistently flawed and misleading." so where will CA go? happily following in the lead of the supreme court, or with the 24 other states considering limits on eminent domain.

as I said before, eminent domain almost always hurts those without power or influence.

the CA eminent domain handbook, as prepared by a law firm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

blame canada

the box office slump and runaway production are taking their toll on socal's economy. as the dollar drops (making LA production cheaper), canada and other states are sweetening their incentives to move production there. the only thing saving LA is desperate housewives. seriously. the hollywood reporter says so.

the numbers:
  • the state's production section is expected to add 3,500 jobs this year, leaving an annual average employment of 204,200. That contrasts to a state high of 209,000 in 1999.
  • Of those jobs, 3,100 will be added in Los Angeles County, leaving it with a total of 161,300 entertainment-related jobs. These figures are believed to be low because independent contractors are not taken into account.
  • The negative economic factors include the fact that the domestic boxoffice was down 7% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2004.

Monday, July 18, 2005

monday media

  • the always reliable cs monitor covers the housing boom in downtown LA. says one downtown resident: "It's like living in a Fellini movie," he says of the Italian movie director. "I constantly feel like I'm in 'Satyricon.' "
  • basquiat reviews: LA downtown news. LA weekly. LAtimes. and the opening party was a madhouse. rather than wait on the interminable line, we went here instead and drank dom and pitied the suckers still on line.
  • and since I'm feeling really tired today, even after 9 hours of sleep, and very lazy, my last link isn't media at all - just a link to the calendar of the hollywood bowl since I was there last night for the basement jaxx show. and the bowl is one of the greatest venues in LA. there is nothing like it in nyc.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

a architecture non-competition

I've been waiting for this editorial for a while. and this response. the editorial, as well as the launch of this site, has been in the works for a few weeks now, but the timing for the editorial, which had been pushed back a few weeks, could not have been better. with the announcement this week that gehry is designing at least one skyscraper for the grand avenue project, it only reinforces the need for greater public input into the civic spaces downtown. can't wait to see what people come up with.

that said, I still have a few problems with the way the lear center is managing this non-competition. obviously, a true competition is moot, since the lear center and the latimes don't own the land and ultimately, no control over what related decides to do with the park. the latimes certainly has the power to exert influence, and clearly, the lear center is capitalizing on that.

the editorial criticizes related for being a little hazy on the details of the grand ave project. yet the lear center is dipping a very tentative toe into the public debate. there doesn't seem to be a steering committee for the non-competition they're managing. there is no team of judges - ok - that might contradict the democratization of the debate they're championing. but the public doesn't get to "vote" either. I know design by referendum usually makes for bad design, but the idea is to more fully involve the public in the debate. so involve them. let them have a way to make their voice heard.

additionally, there is also no physical space for proposals to be displayed. virtual space has its benefits - its global and its infinite, but it also has its limits, particularly when we're talking about physical design. friends of the highline had both a virtual and physical space for their design competition. the winner is now on display at the moma.

in the spirit of full disclosure, and let's face it, this is a blog not "real" journalism, I talked with the lear center at length about this project before it was launched. I understand their hesitation. but if they are to truly make an impact, then they need to be clearer about what's at stake.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

keywords that brought you here

some of the search terms that brought you here:

  • bank of paris buliding its history and design
  • evan cole h d buttercup
  • achitecture santiago calatrava
  • hazy, hot, humid
  • moca-basquiat opening night
  • ralph's card benefits lacma
  • kirstie alley poolhouse
  • ben stiller modernism
  • bergamot station lofts for sale
  • suffer fools
  • buenos dia
  • barclay butera boyfriend
  • chavez ravine corruption
  • best cities/worst cities for work, weather, and schools
who would have thought the keywords "ben stiller modernism" would ever go together?

Friday, July 15, 2005

bad puns and b listers - in the name of tourism

the LA convention and visitors bureau is going the obvious route to promote tourism - celebrities. we all know celebrity endorsements work for clothes, cosmetics and spicy burgers. why wouldn't it work for a city?

and in a town chock full of A listers, who was LA INC able to get pro bono to promote LA? why, none other than luminaries such as Lionel Richie, Tom Arnold, and Tony Danza. and of course, David Hasselhoff. but I can't hate on the hoff. (seriously, click this link. its awesome).

and then there is the issue of the copy. bad puns and platitudes abound. I have to assume LA INC also had copywriters working pro bono, because it feels like some agency AE handed the assignment over to their summer intern. to wit:
  • "With all the clubs on the Sunset Strip, it's always a party," says actor Jason Behr
  • "Where else but LA could I live, love, and eat so well?" muses Wolfgang Puck
  • "There is nothing like going to the beach in January!" exclaims Tony Danza
and where will potential visitors encounter these ads? why, when they land at LAX, of course. and when they take the subway (as if). and of course in local media visitors will encounter when they're already here. if the purchase of the campaign is to help tourists avoid buyer's regret when they're already here, then job well done. but I have yet to meet an ad campaign whose purpose is solely to reinforce a consumer's product decision. so if they goal is to convince potential tourists to come to LA, then I have to ask, WTF?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

best description of hollywood ever

in reference to kung fu monkey's post on hollywood and the right getting their panties in a bunch over oliver stone directing a 9/11 movie:

True, the Kung Fu Monkey is handicapped with actual experience of working as a screenwriter with Those People, and by "Those People" I mean of course the liberal radical Jewish homosexual Prius-driving ingrown stem-celled elitists who look down on average Americans from their windows on David Geffen's plane.

james wolcott, will you marry me?

in case the mini is too big for you

my favorite european car is now available in the states - a good four feet shorter than the mini. the Smart car is a collaboration between Swatch and Mercedes and is everywhere in europe. we'll see how well it fares against the H2 loving masses in the US.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

gehry gets grand

the wsj confirms it - frank gehry will design the new grand ave development project for related companies downtown. I'll withhold judgement for now - I just hope his proposal for brooklyn's waterfront isn't the model for his plan for downtown. perhaps he will let disney hall remain the centerpiece and build complementary structures, rather than competing ones.

schindler stuff

the mak center has a lot of great stuff going on this weekend. first, the new web site launched last week. check it out. anyone who remembers the old one will know this is a vast improvement. second, there will be a great opening on fri night for isaac julien, a filmmaker and photographer. on sat night, the mak center will be hosting a panel discussion on his work with julien and several art historians and critics.
Untitled, True North Series
Isaac Julien, 2004

Also this weekend, I am doing my monthly docent duties. on sat the 16th, I'll be giving tours of the schindler house from 11am-2:30pm.

and the mak center has a good deal going on now. the mak center has just published a new book on schindler - his homes, his history, suggestions for a self-guided tour of his LA work and a chronicle of the mak center over the past decade. the book normally costs $15 but now you can get the book plus admission for $17/$16 for students and seniors. its worth it - admission alone now is $7 and the book is pretty comprehensive. so if you're a schindler fan, now's a good time to go.

and with your new book in hand, check out Summer Sundays – Schindler Sampler. on sundays now unti lsept 4th at noon, the schindler house is the starting point for self-guided tours of schindler. why start there? I think there's a free gift bag involved but not sure of the details.

oh, and there's also the opening of the basquiat show this weekend at moca. but that will be madhouse, so just go to the schindler house instead.

boom in south central

excuse me, not south central, now its "south LA" since the city has deemed the term "south central" too frightening - conjuring images of riots and gang warfare. the CS monitor covers the housing boom in the areas most affected by the 1992 riots, but unlike many redevelopment plans this one actually features affordable housing. (altho this area, too, is seeing rising property values and home prices).

developers have taken to hiring gang members as "security" to ensure construction goes smoothly, or as the csmonitor puts it: "to mitigate tensions between the gangs that demand to be employed when sites go up on their turf."

and in a town where trailer homes go for $1 million in malibu, south central's (yeah, I'm keepin' it real) home appreciation is starting to surpass both downtown and the city overall. as the article illustrates, "
home appreciation for 14 zip codes of South L.A. grew by 38 percent from 2003 to 2004. While the downtown area and the city overall outpaced the appreciation in South L.A. from 1999 to 2002, South L.A. caught up in 2003 and surpassed both last year. The median price in 2005 was $318,000."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I always feel like somebody's watching me...

I know this is, like, SO june '05, but I finally got around to downloading google earth after aram showed it to me. aram and I have been playing around with new technologies for a long, long time and its been ages since a new consumer app literally made my jaw drop. but google earth did. its amazing. download it now. its not perfect - it seems to have a hard time locating landmarks outside the US but that's a small complaint next to its awesomeness. this post explains its features and has some great screenshots. what aram and I noticed yesterday (ok, aram did) was the app treats you as if you're a physical object in space. so if your elevation is lower than say, a moutain top, and you try to pan past it, you can't unless you climb to a higher elevation.

and in somewhat related news, you're being watched. not just by google earth, but by Metro Rail, private security systems and building surveillance. apparently, LA is far behind London. the question is, do cameras deter crime? do they simply push crime beyond the borders of the camera's gaze? or are they irrelevant (as was the case in london)? as one police spokesperson puts it: "A well planned terrorist attack is probably going to be pulled off with or without cameras."

Monday, July 11, 2005

monday media

and congrats again to Jess, who had a lovely bridal shower this weekend in an amazing home in the hills. I suspect the main reason I was invited was so I could gawk at the lorcan o'herlihy extension but whatver gets you there, right? can't wait for the wedding.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

what hath brad wrought?

I'm sure gehry's already checking out his resume. this is all brad's fault. he's made all womanizing playboy celebs think they can design.

Friday, July 08, 2005

NYC vs. the city of angels

finally back in LA after 10 hazy hot and humid days in new york. as my two years in LA anniversary approaches, and I got to spend some quality time in new york without the flu, a few observations on how LA has changed my perspective on NY:
  • LA has screwed with my sense of personal space. in ny, I was always able to deftly weave through crowds, and I was never in anyone's way. my awareness was 360 degrees - I knew what was going on in front of me, behind me, and to each side. now I have a hard time navigating the crowds and I was always in someone's way. am I just getting old or is this because car culture has now shaped my sense of personal space?
  • I will never again complain about LA drivers after driving in ny again. LA drivers are kind and non-aggressive and don't speed up to hit pedestrians. seriously, you don't know how good you have it.
  • ny has become a giant mall. actually, manhattan has. I know this isn't a new observation, and has been happening since the 80s in soho and the upper west side but it seems to have spread like wildfire - union square now boasts a forever 21, a filene's and a discount shoe warehouse. there are even jamba juices now all over ny and chipotle's. I even saw a baja fresh in queens. so I will no longer tolerate any pseudo-new york supremacy when the city is looking more and more like the rest of the country.
  • brooklyn still rocks.
  • and I will allow ny supremacists to brag about their pizza. but that's it. LA's sushi and mexican food kick ny's ass.
  • there is such a thing as too much density.
  • gehry's brooklyn project frightens me. but the high line project makes me feel all tingly down there. and I love foster's new hearst tower. the same way I love the gherkin and city hall in london. a lot.
  • and tivo is my friend. I love it. its the most reliable relationship in my life.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

london today

my family seems to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. first, we were all in ny for 9/11. last night, I dropped my parents off at jfk for their flight to london to visit my sister, who lives in notting hill and works right near liverpool street. normally, during rush hour she would be getting off the central line to walk a few blocks to her office. I know the area well - I lived closest to liverpool station and just a few extra blocks from old street tube. I was also walking distance to aldgate - these are all tube stations I know well.

so when I woke up this morning, it was in a panic. did my parents arrive safely? did my sister go to work today? is everyone I still know there ok? why can't I get thru to my sister's mobile? are my text messages working? why havent I received an email yet?

I panicked. I called friends on the east coast and woke up friends on the west coast looking for solace. I kept calling london. I received calls from friends of my parents. I tried to get thru to my little sister in ny who just started medical rotations and is practically unreachable.

I finally got an email from my sister - all was well. she stayed home from work today to wait for my parents to arrive - very fortunate. when my parents landed heathrow express was down. then up again so they took that to paddington. by the time they got to paddington, the tube was completely shut down and the queue for a cab was 45 min. so they waited. and waited. until there was an announcement from the station - evacuate immediately. get as far away as possible from the station. so everyone started to run. including my parents, with their luggage (they're not light packers) and their arthritis.

eventually, they made it to my sister's flat. the timing of their arrival may have saved my sister's life - this sounds melodramatic, I know, but I don't think its hyperbole. my parents are by nature nervous, anxious, new york jews. I expected them to be in a panic after their arrival. instead, they're calm and genuinely grateful for the kindness of londoners who helped them at their arrival. (when they came to visit me in 2003 they were greeted on the tarmac by military tanks so perhaps they're getting used to this by now).

the american media is already mounting the assault on islam. its almost impossible to find an article like this in the US press. few have pointed out that one of the attacks took place in the heart of the muslim community (aldgate). the liberal blogs haven't yet posted anything more than links to the mainstream stories, if that. so I hope this doesn't turn into yet another excuse to condemn a billion people for the actions of a few.

and my thoughts and prayers go out to the british, especially to friends and family. I hope they're all alright.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

dreams, delusions and density

the latimes has come a long way since I first moved to LA. its still the bastard cousin of the nytimes, but the last few months have brought some welcome improvements - calendarlive is free, the (failed) experiment with wikitorials, expanded local coverage, maybe even an improved op-ed section. which brings me to tomorrow's home section - its great, esp christopher hawthorne's journey thru LA's single family home heritage.

in his investigation, he raises the specter of a looming identity crisis for LA as we run out of land for development:

If the very idea that has, arguably more than any other, helped define Southern California for a century has been rendered obsolete, what does that mean for the region's vision of itself? Will density spell the end of the unique relationship between Angelenos and their houses? Will residential architecture simply fade as a factor in defining the city in the coming century?

its a good question, and interestingly one that is increasingly addressed elsewhere. all of a sudden, LA is heralded as the model for west coast density - one that portland and denver are hoping to replicate. as new urban news puts it, "density is hot, freeways are not." so the real question is - is this all wishful thinking? the grand ave project, the sci-arc adjacent project, other development downtown is certainly looking to increase density and create "walking" communities. do these projects provide a model for other cities? or are we trying to replicate the success of projects in new york, chicago and elsewhere? maybe these will be issues addressed in future hawthorne columns. it just makes me happy when the latimes asks a relevant, timely, provocative question at exactly the same time these issues are bubbling to the surface.

a look inside sci-arc

sam hall kaplan, a part-time professor at sci-arc as well as a consultant to merco group (isn't that the definition of conflict of interest?), whom sci-arc just lost their lawsuit against, provides a little more insight into the inner workings of the school (or at least his mind) and its plans for downtown.

after several bizarre paragraphs where he gives us his professional resume and hints at a former career in television, he then goes on to simultaneously praise sci-arc and disparage it for its "self-conscious designs and self-serving tenure of several architects who I feel have used the school as a podium for their personal public relations efforts." (actually, that's closer to the truth than anything I've seen eric owen moss say in print.)

ultimately, kaplan is in a unique position serving both masters (although how long that can be sustained is a question after the contentiousness of the lawsuit). its one where he claims he will "try not to be too prejudiced and prideful." from the sound of this article, he's already lost that battle.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

monday media - tues edition

Saturday, July 02, 2005

buenos dia

on the recommendation of a few friends, checked out the dia beacon in the hudson valley, a good two hours drive from my parent's new house and about an hour and a half by train from grand central. its not often new york gets a new museum and this dia outpost has only been open since may 2003. it features mostly the work of the major minimalists and coneptualists, with a little bit of pop art thrown in (can a modern museum exist with a room or two of warhols?) coincidentally, I spent all of last summer studying the minimalists and conceptualists, spending one day a week at least at moca's show. as they say in advertising, repetition works. spend enough time with robert smithson and richard serra and they start to make sense.

the space is truly beautiful - and here is where it ties into LA. robert irwin, an LA-based artist and best known for the gardens at the getty, designed the space with architectural form OpenOffice, but essentially kept most of the original features of the space - which was a 1929 printing factory. soaring space, tons of natural light, hudson valley foliage. the vast, open spaces allow the dia center to display pieces that couldn't be shown in more conventional museums.

there is no chronology of work nor heirarchy - each room features an individual artist. when possible, the dia center solicited the help of the artist themself to consult on the installation.

Walter De Maria

in a few cases, the artists designed site-specific pieces such as this one and this one. but the space is really the reason to go. by now, reclamation and re-use of late 19th/early 20th century is a cliche. but the dia beacon's location on the hudson, its incredible natural light, its site-specific installations make it a worthy detour. for most, the minimalists aren't easy to love. the dia beacon makes it just a little bit easier.

in other new york news: the highline is the most exciting new architecture project going on right now. fuck new stadiums. fuck the freedom tower. the highline beats them all.

oh, and LA has thrown my sushi scales way off. blue ribbon sushi in park slope gets great reviews in the media and online, and its good, but neighborhood strip mall joints in LA shame blue ribbon for half the price.