Thursday, January 26, 2006

cab is on its way...

off to london for a week so blogging may be intermittent. in the meantime, I leave you with this great witold article in slate, courtesy of jess on frank lloyd wright's beth sholom synogogue near philadelphia.

still in the siteline

a few photos I took at dusk yesterday of the construction at habitat 825. the schindler house had been promised the building will remain out of the sightline of the house and not block any of the light. judge for yourself:
from the schindler's courtyard.

for comparison's sake, the north side of the house.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

grand stand by the la daily news

two pieces of interest in today's LA Daily News on grand ave:

first, the Grand Ave Authority has finally began to question what exactly the public is getting in return for the massive subsidies eli broad and the grand ave committee have been granted for their $1.8 billion subsidiy. gloria molina, jan perry and others are finally beginning to ask if $50 million is really enough to build a public park with a proposed bandshell, lake and pavilion.

the opinion section answers that question: hell no. the editorial calls it a classic bait-and-switch and calls for city officials to protect what little has been promised to the public in this deal.

the lear center, who with the latimes, has been instrumental in opening up the public discourse about the park, recently indicated there may be a charette for the park and the size of the park may be far larger than originally envisioned. so there seems to be a preponderance of conflicting information, rumor and conjecture. let's hope that the efforts of all of these organizations - the lear center, the latimes, and the la daily news - all serve to not only democratize the development of the park but also ensure that this development doesn't follow in the footsteps of so many other development projects in this city and yet again wind up betraying the public trust. I will step off my soapbox now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

dubious distinction

first, we were #1 in homelessness. then pollution.

now, straight outta compton: we're #1 in homicide as well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

in case you missed it

LA gets a little foodie love this week. pbs re-ran the suzanne goin episode of how to cook everything with mark bittman this past weekend. try to catch the rebroadcast later this week, its a great episode, if only to see the incredibly meticulous and protracted technique suzanne uses just to roast some chicken and grill some pork. truly a labor of love. caul fat, anyone?

symmetry opening

and an opening at the mak center this week:
Please join the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House
for the exhibition SYMMETRY.

January 26 – May 7, 2006

Opening Reception
This Wednesday, January 25
, 7 to 9 pm at the Schindler House.
Free and open to the public.

Curator Walkthrough
Saturday, February 18, 1 pm at the Schindler House.
Curators Kimberli Meyer and Nizan Shaked discuss the Symmetry exhibition.
Free with the price of admission.

In the world of space and time, symmetry derives its meaning from a center, a repetition of forms on mirroring sides of an axis. The exhibition Symmetry features works by Los Angeles-based contemporary artists that use or relate to this concept. The artworks in the exhibition underscore and often directly respond to the unique symmetry of the Schindler House. Like the house, the works perform a spin on the idea of balance, the use of symmetry—or its careful undoing—appearing sometimes on the surface, sometimes hidden in the structure, but always at the core of a work’s meaning. Curated by Kimberli Meyer and Nizan Shaked, Symmetry presents work by nine artists: Edgar Arceneaux, Patrick Hill, Brandon Lattu, Sandeep Mukherjee, Amy Sarkisian, Eddo Stern and Jessica Hutchins, Stephanie Taylor and Sam Watters.

monday media

a quickie today:
  • am I the only one who doesn't understand how "stars" of the real world and the surreal life can afford multimillion dollar homes?
  • archinect pronounces the days of architects as the sexiest profession are numbered. they've been usurped by a far sexier profession: landscape architects.
  • the "wake" for the ambassador hotel has been moved to next week (unfortunately while I'm out of town). the good news: a hosted bar. the bad news: rsvp required.
and while I'm beginning to feel like a self-promoting whore, if you happen to pick up the irredeemably trashy mag For Me now on newstands (with possibly the worst title ever), I'm on page 62 waxing poetic on the beauty of starting your own business. but you know how the media distorts everything.

Friday, January 20, 2006

cheap swedish fashion for all!

isn't that one of our inalienable rights? or at least it should be. and now, after years of bitching about not having H&M in LA, it seems the swedes have come to their senses and are opening not one, but two stores by fall. even tho the beverly center scares me, and I've been to pasadena maybe, um, twice, this might lure me over.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

lorcan update

a way long overdue update on construction at habitat 825. not sure what's going on with the possible damage at the schindler house, but this building is going up fast.

lorcan 01.19.06 1

lorcan 01.19.06 2

lorcan 01.19.06 3

lorcan 01.19.06 4

my friends are so smart

I think I have the smartest, most erudite friends in LA (and apparently rural PA) since I got no fewer than 1 phone call, 1 IM, 1 text message and 1 email today from friends who heard the piece on npr this morning. one even told me I sound real "book-larned." I still think I sound 12. judge for yourself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


anyone know french? my friend and business partner, aram, was quoted this week in liberation in an article about mariah carey:
«Tout le marketing autour du disque est cadré autour du récit de cette star qui n'était pas pleinement appréciée mais qui a mûri, qui est devenue forte et indépendante, explique Aram Sinnreich, un consultant spécialisé dans la musique et les médias, également musicien. Ses interviews, les posters, les communiqués de presse, tout va dans le même sens. Cette femme a traversé la vallée de la mort, elle a réussi à passer de l'autre côté.»
meanwhile, I haven't been able to find the winter olympics story on marketplace radio I did last week in the archive. if anyone happened to catch it, please let me know. I have no idea if it ever ran.

R.I.P. ambassador hotel

as reported in the ambassador's last stand, laist, franklin avenue, and curbed...the ambassador is no more. all that remains is the cocoanut grove, to possibly be turned into a library or atrium for the new school to be built on the site.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

hey buddy, got $60 million to spare?

my friends and I like to joke that the housing market is a lot like the luxury jeans market these days - there seems to be no price too astronomical, too outrageous, too absurd that someone won't pay it. and like with jeans that sell for four figures, you have to wonder, what can possibly be worth that price? are they made out of diamonds and gold? no? they have "nail holes in the doorway from Christmas decorations and peeling paint on the outbuildings," you say? but still priced at $60 million? oh right, that's LA.

the wsj takes a look at some of the most expensive properties in the US that have been on the market for years at some of the most outrageous prices imaginable, and explores the (twisted) psychology of the sellers. and of course, LA scored a spot in this list. ranch teardown in brentwood, anyone?

goin, goin, gone (to ny?)

ny mag asks if "sunday suppers" will catch on in ny the way they have in LA, courtesy of suzanne goin. goin's east coast counterpart, gabrielle hamilton (who, incidentally, has been my favorite challenger to mark bittman on his PBS show so far) is skeptical, but that didn't stop her from inviting goin to flex her cooking chops at prune last week. odd that new yorkers haven't embraced the sunday supper concept, but maybe new york foodies don't really need any extra incentive to go out to eat on a sunday night.

Monday, January 16, 2006

what house is that?

the comment in the previous post about 24 is not apropos of nothing - does anyone know what house the president is staying in for his summit? its supposed to be somewhere in the LA vicinity and looks like a lautner - the pools, the exposed brick, the curving walls and glass. and the interiors are straight-out-of-wallpaper/bond movie mid-century modern. is this an actual house or just some smart art director's clever interpretation of a lautner?

and what exactly is 24 trying to say about mid century modernism and logan's troubled, tepid presidency? should we read into that?

and while I'm on the subject of design and TV, how gorgeous are the sets in nip/tuck? someone there has a jones for hollywood regency and mid-century modernism. and I'm not the only one who noticed. great use of interior design as a way to reinforce character development.

monday media

I actually am able to get it together enough on a monday to post. miracles do happen.

  • we're fatties. evidence to the contrary (at least based on the hike I took on packed trails in griffith park yesterday), LA is the third fattest city in the country. men's health reports on the 25 fattest and fittest city, and we're just behind corpulent chicago and rotund las vegas. fittest? baltimore and its deep fried crab cakes.
  • the nytimes gets amped for the 10th International Architecture Exhibition for the Venice Biennale. the times profiles richard burdett, who organized the biennale and is a professor at one of my alma maters, LSE. he's racking up his frequent flier miles as he visits the 18 cities in the biennale, including Shanghai, São Paulo, Beirut, Copenhagen, Bogotá, Johannesburg and Caracas. the times ponders the future of the city (altho only superficially) but its a nice little piece on the future biennale.
  • LA2LA: what works. louisiana's advocate discusses the relationship between rebuilding in new orleans and LA's development - and how to avoid the same mistakes, particularly in terms of how capitulating to special interests hurts urban development long term. LA is held up as the model of what doesn't work: sprawl, automotive dependency, urban planning (if it can be called that) that has been primarily managed by special interests without community input.
and I can't really post without mentioning how completely awesome 24 was last night, especially the first 10 minutes. best line of the evening (to his girlfriend's surly teenage son): "the only reason you're still conscious right now is because I dont feel like carrying you."

Friday, January 13, 2006

mayne pain

a (very) brief recap of wed's LACE "conversation" between Thom Mayne and Vito Acconci. first, LACE engaged in some false advertising by calling the event "in conversation" since there was little interaction between the two men. although I will admit, we left about 10 minutes into the q&a. after listening to nearly two hours of lecture, we called it quits. particularly since on the rare occasion mayne and acconci did address each other, they seemed to forget they had mics in front of them, and turned away from them, engaging (ironically enough) in a private tête - à - tête about the nature of public spaces. we had been hoping for a knock down, drag out fight. or maybe just a little hair pulling and nail scratching. is that too much to ask?

acconci, now in his 60s, was introduced as a poet, performance and conceptual artist, as well as an architect. and the moderator, by way of introduction, of course mentioned his most famous work, Seedbed, in which he masturbated under his gallery's ramp while broadcasting his innermost fantasies about gallery visitors as they walked above him. so he's a man who's not afraid of confrontation. but his lecture seemed somewhat...tame? his transition into architecture seems entirely natural. he began to think about the nature of public spaces as a result of his work in galleries, which struck him as far from "public." he clearly maintains a sense of humor about his work and his legacy as an artist, but I was disappointed that the bulk of his presentation focused on the dozen or so operations his firm has engaged in their built (and unbuilt) projects. (push-and-pull, "skins," etc). some of it just struck us as, well, a little too first year arch student. but some of it was just downright beautiful:

he also (at least I think it was acconci - should have taken notes) mentioned that he wanted to investigate if architecture must always be totalitarian in nature. I wish he had pursued that line of thinking a little more. my knee-jerk reaction is, of course it is. to paraphrase bob mcchesney, there are essentially four ways to regulate and control human behavior: markets, culture, law and the built environment. (obviously they arent mutually exclusive). try to prove mcchesney wrong, vito. please.

john and I had seen mayne speak at ucla last year so much of his presentation was a retread of that lecture. yet he seemed a little more humble this go-round. the ucla presentation was just a few weeks after he had been awarded the pritzker, so perhaps his cockiness was justified. he was a little unfocused, however. sort of just breezed thru morphosis' recent projects. which brings me to my biggest gripe:

why the fuck didn't they talk about los angeles?

mayne has until recently been primarily a local architect. acconci was involved in the lear center/latimes' grand intervention project, so both are stakeholders in downtown's development. acconci and mayne, both highly conceptual artists, certainly have some thoughts on Not a Cornfield, on Grand Ave, on LA Live - and that's just downtown. so that was the biggest disappointment. enough to make us drown our sorrows in drinks at musso and frank's before the lecture was even over.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

symmetry @ the mak center

the mak center de-installed isaac julien's show in nov - so its been awhile since they've had an opening. and while I enjoy giving tours of the schindler house when its in its "purest" state - bare walls, no special lighting or darkened windows, no hum of a dvd player projecting in the nursery - it will be nice to see the house functioning as a museum again:


January 26 – May 7, 2006

Opening Reception
Wednesday, January 25, 7 to 9 pm at the Schindler House.
Free and open to the public.

Curator Walkthrough
Saturday, February 18, 1 pm at the Schindler House.
Curators Kimberli Meyer and Nizan Shaked discuss the Symmetry exhibition.

Curator Walkthrough tickets are $7/$6 for students and seniors.
Children under 12 and Friends of the Schindler House are free.
No advance reservation required.

n the world of space and time, symmetry derives its meaning from a center, a repetition of forms on mirroring sides of an axis. The exhibition Symmetry features works by Los Angeles-based contemporary artists that use or relate to this concept. The artworks in the exhibition underscore and often directly respond to the unique symmetry of the Schindler House. Like the house, the works perform a spin on the idea of balance, the use of symmetry—or its careful undoing—appearing sometimes on the surface, sometimes hidden in the structure, but always at the core of a work’s meaning. Curated by Kimberli Meyer and Nizan Shaked, Symmetry presents work by nine artists: Edgar Arceneaux, Patrick Hill, Brandon Lattu, Sandeep Mukherjee, Amy Sarkisian, Eddo Stern and Jessica Hutchins, Stephanie Taylor and Sam Watters.

why I envy matteo

I've had a fairly good run with traveling lately - costa rica in nov, ny in dec, london later this month. but I still felt a twinge of envy when matteo told me he's heading to phoenix this weekend so stay at the arizona biltmore, one of the few still-extant hotels designed by frank lloyd wright in the US. or rather, "consulted" on by FLW with his former student albert macarthur. (do the concrete "textile blocks" look familiar?) and while matteo gets to enjoy the arizona desert, he also gets to ogle great italian design. of course, this is all "work" for him but it beats my last few days staring at hundreds of pages of survey data.
and jess isn't helping my wanderlust any either, with her recent virtual (gastronomic) tour through south america.

london can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

monday media: another tues edition

I should just start calling this tuesday media since I can't seem to get my act together on mondays enough to post a few links. how sad. plus, I love alliteration. so monday media it will remain, regardless of the day of the week. a few links of interest:

  • shanghai surprise. so I recently rented "serenity" because I love joss whedon and missed the firefly series because I was living in london when it aired in the states. although the film was slightly disappointing, one of the more interesting ideas in it is that 500 years into the future, global culture is an amalgamation of china and the US. everyone speaks a hodge podge of english and chinese. whedon sees the two superpowers eventually forming an alliance to control and dominate the universe (quite literally). and he's not the far off - which is a cumbersome way of introducing this article on shanghai's housing boom and bust. apparently the latimes also believes we're looking more and more like one another, at least when it comes to real estate speculation, overdevelopment and greed.
  • even planners name drop. both curbed LA and the latimes reported the hiring of LA's new city planner, gail goldberg, more than a year after the previous city planner retired. curbed offers a nice little summary of her plans for LA, the latimes also offers us her first public star(chitect) fucking:
"I had dinner with Thomas Mayne, the architect, the other night and we talked about Los Angeles having some of the best urban planners and architects in the world, but many of them don't work here," said Villaraigosa. "We're going to give them opportunities to work here."

Friday, January 06, 2006

I AM plan b

just did an interview with marketplace on winter olympics advertising. apparently, marketplace plans to broadcast next week from china, but should the feeds fail, or there's a tech glitch, they wanted to have a few "evergreen" stories ready to go. so here's to technology failures!

but...should the china broadcasts go smoothly, listen for the story on martin luther king day. apparently another slow news day.

and since this post is all about me, let's go all the way towards narcissistic self-indulgence. just booked a trip at the end of the month to london (and possibly paris). starting to make my mental plan on what to hit. tate modern to see rachel whiteread's installation in turbine hall is near the top of the list. I used to walk past the sir john soane museum nearly every day on my way to LSE, and didn't even know it. how sad - I plan to right that wrong while I'm there. and then there's the pilgrimage to topshop - I just hope some of the sales are still going on when I'm there. any architecture/design/food recommendations? I'm all ears...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

acconci and mayne event

I guess its safe to post this now that I've reserved my tickets:

VITO ACCONCI/Acconci Studio & THOM MAYNE/Morphosis
A LACE event moderated by Linda Taalman/Taalman Koch Architecture
11 January 2006, 8pm
doors open at 7:30pm
$12/gen $6/LACE members and students w/id
limited seating
call for reservations 323.957.1777 x10

more info here.

ny notes on LA

I typically look forward to thursdays for the nytimes and the latimes home and garden section (ok, just the home stuff, I still have no interest in gardening - maybe when I one day have, um, a garden). so today's latimes home section is just abysmal - not a single article worth noting or linking to. but today's nytimes has a couple of gems:
  • a few weeks ago I linked to a nytimes article on the sale of a historic paul williams home that was sold for $1, but required $3 million to relocate and restore the home. today's times looks at the overall trend of selling architecturally signifcant homes for a buck (or less) to anyone who wants to move and preserve the structure. one of the houses saved this way? a 1939 neutra in los altos donated to the city after no one wanted to shoulder the cost of relocation.
  • ok, maybe this is cheating since its an obit and not part of the home section, but the nytimes looks at the life and career of frank wilkinson, the LA housing official jailed in the 50s for refusing to testify before the house un-american activities committe about his political beliefs. why was he the focus of an investigation? his role in clearing out chavez ravine to make way for public housing. and we all know how that turned out.
  • plus, this wallpaper rocks.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

mak center volunteers

a call for volunteers for 2006 programming at the mak center (redacted for length):

January starts us off with the opening of our much anticipated Symmetry exhibition, featuring nine Los Angeles based artists responding to the unique symmetry of the Schindler House. Detailed information below. March will bring our semi-annual Final Projects exhibition by the current international MAK Artists and Architects in Residence. This fall will bring The Gen(h)ome Project, an exhibition investigating the current relationships between biology, genetics and related technologies with art, architecture and design. Of course, the annual architecture tour exploring the interiors and exteriors of Modernist structures will occur next Fall as well.

Rapidly approaching is the Wednesday, January 25th opening reception for Symmetry, from 7-9pm. We are looking for volunteers from 4-7pm, as well as from 7-10pm. Please let me know if you have any availability to lend a hand with the set-up and/or clean-up, and in advance, a big thank you. If this date doesn't work for you, I'm happy to keep you updated to future volunteer opportunities, if you are interested.

-- Nicole C. Russell
Assistant Programs Coordinator
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

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

most overhyped restaurants

I dont cover restaurants much in this blog - I leave that to far more capable food writers, like jess, or daily gluttony. but I follow the chowhound boards pretty regularly, read food blogs and web sites all the time, and generally, um, devour food media. I tend to trust the recommendations of friends and blogs more than or citysearch or la mag, who has never met a restaurant they didn't like and where its particularly difficult to discern the editorial from the ads. in fact, let me rant for a minute after reading LA mag's "best new restaurant" list - geisha house? seriously? I know it aspires to more serious food than your typical scene-y hollywood bar but best new restaurant? I dont think so. yet the mag redeemed itself slightly with the hungry cat, truly one of my favorite places in the neighborhood. in fact, it looks like I might be having dinner there tonight - its been far too long and a bowl of the oyster chowder might hit the spot in this crisp, new england weather we're onto my other rant - din tai fung. this place has a reputation as LA's best dumpling house, particularly for xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, perhaps the most perfect food wrapped into a 2 inch dumpling. so expectations were high. when I lived in ny, trips to chinatown and flushing to joe's or goody's were common. everyEvergreen Shanghai Restaurant & Lounge - New York - Yelpone in LA raves about din tai fung, so john and trekked out to arcadia sat morning to stand in line in the rain at 10:15 until the place opened at 10:30. we ordered the soup dumplings, a few other dumplings, buns, and some spinach to cut thru all the pork. quite frankly, the soup dumplings were seriously disappointing. the wrapper is thin and almost translucent - good start but it was downhill from there. they're small - much smaller than ny's. very little soup in the dumpling and perhaps most egregiously, the crab didn't taste particularly fresh. john complained about the texture as well - it was a bit mealy.
so I'm having a hard time seeing what the fuss is about - it was far inferior to joe's, goody's, or even evergreen. perhaps the issue is lineage - din tai fung is an outpost of a chain based in taipei, while soup dumplings are from shanghai. tricky little din tai fung - you can't fool this jewish girl. so now the search continues - any good shanghai places with amazing soup dumplings? I'm not afraid of the SGV, nor of a B health code rating. tell me where to go.

monday media: tues edition

the first post of 2006 - welcome back. and after a really great trip to new york for the holidays, transit strike and all, I'm so happy to be back in LA. I just need to re-adjust to some semblance of a work routine - its been a long time since I've turned on the computer to work on a project and deadlines are looming. so let's take a look of what's new in the world of LA architecture and urbanism:

  • the washington post looks at downtown. and rather than adopting a lot of the booster-ish rhetoric you find in the local press (I'm talking to you, latimes), the article recounts some of the serious obstacles downtown faces in its ongoing revitalization:

The area has 6,000 homeless people, the most concentrated population of the destitute in the western United States. More pets than children live downtown, and no schools serve the area. Because much of downtown was rebuilt at the height of the automobile age, at some intersections its impossible to walk across the street. At night, the area is desolate and its nightlife is more like a dusk life. The kitchen at the swankiest restaurant, Pinot, closes at 9. It is impossible to hail a cab because the police department refuses to allow random stops, but even if it did, most Los Angeles cabbies would not take short fares. Local redevelopment boards have hired their own security services and trash collection services because city services are stretched too thin. And the only way the city could persuade a supermarket chain to open a store downtown was to give it a $7 million subsidy; even so, it will not open until late 2007.

  • LAist has an interesting interview with eric lynxwiler, self-proclaimed "urban athropologist" and tour operator for the museum of neon art's neon cruises.
  • james kunstler in his clusterfuck nation chronicle explains why our dependence on oil has us all fucked, and why the housing bubble is about to pop. his predictions for 2006 are pretty dire, and sort of dense, and make me want to stick my head in an oven. happy new year!