Monday, October 31, 2005

comedy is tragedy plus time

but snobsite only gives us a year or two to plumb the comic gold found in terrorist attacks, tsunamis and prisoner abuse. ok, so not related to architecture or LA in any way but had to link to their parody "I Love the Aughties." Its scary how well they capture the snark of hal sparks, michael ian black, and of course, dee snider.

Michael Ian Black: Now, there are some who would argue that stripping a man, placing a sandbag on his head, and attaching electrodes to his naked body is a sick, egregious violation of the Geneva Conventions. Not me, however. Sandbags? Forced striptease? Jumper cables hooked to my ’nads?… Me likey.

yeah, scary. [via james wolcott]

monday media

back to traffic court jury duty this week, so without further ado...

Friday, October 28, 2005

big brother is watching...

...your car. I meant to link to this a few days ago and then just got busy/forgot. inductive loops try to manage gridlock (poorly) through electronic control, magnetic signals, metallic monitoring, and of course, cameras everywhere, trying to make sense of the chaos.

I voted

I didn't make it to the polls yesterday afternoon, but fortunately had a dr's appt in beverly hills this morning so I was able to stop by city hall for early voting. the polls are all but empty - more workers at the polling place than voters. so if you're looking to escape the crowds nov 8, stop by now. it takes less than 20 min total.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

nytimes home section: back to LA

I love it when the nytimes comes to LA for its "currents" feature in the house and garden section. if you needed any futher proof venice is no longer a cheap, hippie enclave, simply check out the interior of Strange Invisible Perfumes (sounds a little like a japanese pop band), a (duh) perfume store on abbott kinney. and no LA-based design feature would be complete without some skateboards.

free afternoon = civic duty?

for the first time in weeks I have a free afternoon. sure, there's a ton of work I could be doing but for one rare afternoon, I have happy clients, a happy agent and happy vendors who all need to get back to me on stuff - I dont owe anybody anything for one brief, shining moment. my plate is momentarily clear.

so debating the possibilities with jess, she suggested I vote. normally, I'd wait for election day but since I'll be sitting on a beach in south america with my malaria pills on nov 8, I may just get my ass over to beverly hills to vote - early voting begins today.

I guess the squid and the whale can wait a little bit.

the rich really are different from you and me

two neighbors fight over a treehouse built for an 18-month old. most unintentionally hilarious comment in the story:
"We just want to make this a magical place," [Firestein] said. "It's as if the city has come in and said: 'We're outlawing magic.'"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

billboards aren't just an eyesore

exhibit A:

exhibit B: regency, the owner of the billboard above is accused of corruption, bribing officials, bullying the ones that couldn't be bribed, and poisoning trees that got in the way of their signs. some may applaud their tactics - they don't want to be denied their 30 ft chloe sevigny/vincent gallo fellatio with a pesky palm tree invading the sightline. government officials and former employees are less amused.

Monday, October 24, 2005

monday media - late edition

its been a busy day, actually a busy week and its only mon. and this week is a brief reprieve from jury duty at...trafffic court. yes, I'm part of the jury selection for a case in traffic court. that's an "only in LA" moment for me. I've never heard of anyone serving jury duty for a traffic court case in ny. futher evidence of the pivotal and privileged position the automobile maintains in LA. anyway, onto some interesting articles:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

macho mayne revisited

the sydney herald runs an interview with thom mayne where he of course repeats his design mantra: "Architecture is not supposed to make people happy." yet just a few paragraphs later, he references allen ginsberg and che guevara as influences:

I'm not just influenced by the '60s, it's who I am. I grew up with Allen Ginsberg and Che Guevara. I flirted with various forms of communism when it was way out of style. It was this really strange and creative time in music and culture and it was fabulous. The part of all that comes out in the work is that I'm extremely, unrealistically optimistic. I believe that artistic activities change people. You do effect change. I see architecture as a political, social and cultural act - that is its primary role."
the hypocrisy and contradiction is almost astonishing. does he not feel any cognitive dissonance referencing communism and Che and at the same time refuting architecture's need to serve a fundamental function to those who use is every day?

this stands in stark contrast to the suisman lecture I attended last week. sure, he cuts another tall, imposing figure with expensive eyewear, de rigeur for any working architect these days. but suisman speaks emotionally and eloquently about the possibility of design uniting a nation. his plan for palestine, while extremely schematic, is grounded in an optimism rarely heard or seen when an architect explains his program. its likely his plan will never be realized, given the still contentious political and religious situation in israel, but he provides a considered examination of the architectural and urban conditions necessary to build and support an independent palestinian state.
for some reason, the masochist in me attends way too many architecture lectures, so I'd like to think I have a fairly broad basis for comparison. and I've seen mayne speak, watched as his acolytes have recorded every word as he delivered his vision of architecure in a packed auditorium at UCLA. suisman talked simply to a group of about 40 in the courtyard at the schindler house, but delivered an intimate, stirring disquisition that truly underscored architecture's ability, without using buzzwords, academic jargon, or theoretical neologism. he speaks simply and with heart. mayne's carefully constructed "maverick" identity just falls flat these days.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

even more mak stuff

I will try to post later about doug suisman's eloquent and even touching presentation last night at the mak center, but I'm slammed with work today. and I finaly got called to come in for jury duty. worst. timing. ever.

anyway, the Isaac Julien exhibition at the mak center is closing this weekend, so to celebrate the publication of the book, they're planning a champagne toast tomorrow:

The MAK Center is very pleased to present the publication Isaac Julien: True North, published in association with the current exhibition on view through October 23.

This beautifully designed full color book includes essays by Lisa Bloom, Jose Esteban Muñoz and Michael B. Wang, and guest curator Lauri Firstenberg.

Please join us for a champagne toast to celebrate the book’s arrival at the Schindler House on Friday, October 21 from 4-6 pm. Admission is always free on Fridays from 4-6 pm.

Regularly priced at $15.00, the books will be offered at a 10% discount Friday, October 21 – Sunday, October 23 only.

This is the last weekend of the exhibition — be sure not to miss Isaac Julien: True North!

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture is located at:
The Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-6pm
Parking is available at the public structure at the corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Admission to the house and exhibition:
With purchase of the Guide Book Schindler by MAK: $17/$16 students and seniors. Admission only: $7/$6 for students and seniors. Children under 12 and Friends of the Schindler House are free.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

more chicken little

just a day or two after aram lectured me on the dangers of avian flu and the inevitable pandemic, followed by dinner with john on the importance of preparing my disaster kit for the inevitable earthquake/flooding/tidal wave/pandemic/fill-in-the-blank-disaster, Democracy Now interviews Mike Davis on his new book - about what else?- avian flu. I only hope my sister finishes med school and can get me some tamiflu before the pandemic hits.

on a slightly lighter note, john gave me a larger print of his beautiful photo of the wolff house as a housewarming gift. can't wait to hang it.
john hoffman, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

phrases I never uttered...

...before moving to LA. will add to the list as I think of more:
  • particulate matter
  • surface streets
  • marine layer
  • disaster preparedness kit (thanks john and aram)

pickles, gherkins and giant penises

Torre Agbar, Barcelona, Jean Nouvel
copyright seems to be a hot topic these days in architectural circles (or maybe I've just become more sensitized to it because of the book proposal aram and I are working on). so in the past few hours I've come across this article from the independent online on the non-plagarism of jean nouvel's gherkin-like structure in barcelona, torre agbar, which bears a striking resemblence to norman foster's swiss re building in london. to make sense of it all (and possibly use as fodder for the book?) I might attend this lecture - achitectural copycats: copyright myths and realities.
Copyright ©

Monday, October 17, 2005

monday media - latimes edition

so normally I hunt and peck thru a few select media sources, newspapers and blogs for good links about socal architecture and urban planning (almost) every monday. today the latimes (and planetizen) made that easy - the latimes is chock full of absorbing, provocative articles on our little burg.

  • christopher hawthorne provides an opinionated, articulate plea for his favorite design entry for the orange country great park. its been awhile since I can remember hawthorne being this enthusiastic about a project, and as he points out, LA currently has piano, gehry, koolhaas and mayne all currently working on projects in this city or pasadena.

  • An aerial view of Ken Smith Landscape Architect's design for the Orange County Great Park. (Orange County Great Park Corp.)

  • is it pulitzer time already? the latimes is clearly gunning for one with its five-part series on skid-row. but can it beat the nytimes' series on class a few months back? this one tells its story through the eyes of a paramedic, slightly less affecting than describing life on skid row from one of its "residents" but good muckraking, nonetheless. will downtown developers be reading? will it make a difference? will skid row ever be seen by them as something other than a nuisance?
  • and a slightly confusing article on how seawalls might actually create more erosion for southern california beaches, rather than protect the beaches they were erected to protect.
and I know I mentioned the out there, doing it lecture series at the mak center before. I haven't yet been to any of the lectures, but will be attending this week's with a friend from the lear center. doug suisman will be this week's guest lecturer. I didn't know much about him until recently, but he'll be presenting his plan for palestine, which has remarkably achieved praise from both israel (cautious praise, but praise nonetheless) and palestine. from the email:

All lectures begin at 7.30pm and are outside. Dress warmly if it's cold!
$10 admission, $6 for students, free for Forum members and Friends of the Schindler House.

Friday, October 14, 2005

my civic duty

I keep forgetting I have jury duty next week - possibly the worst timing, work-wise. I guess I have to call in over the weekend to see if I report to court on mon. has anyone else served in LA? any advice? lunch suggestions? I served in ny and was dismissed after two days of waiting, and happened to have two of my most productive days of writing ever. so back to that lunch thing, should I play it safe and go to sushi gen, or explore something new? (and I've done the daikokuya, mr. ramen thing too - nothing better at midnight or when its raining in LA).

more tours

(Béatrice de Géa / LAT)

I'm a little burnt out on architecture tours after volunteering for the mak center's tour two weeks ago but for those of you with the cash and time, the gamble house has organized a tour of conrad buff and donald hensman houses tomorrow. all the homes are in pasadena.

gehry's eyesore

our very own starchitect, frank gehry, can add another achievement to his long resume. he designed this month's eyesore of the month. as john put it in an email he sent me, james howard kunstler's blog is "bitchy, magnificent" as he gleefully tears gehry's building figuratively apart: "banality meets pathology in a tragic duet."

I'm late and I suck

a friend at gridskipper had asked me contribute a couple of posts for today's "LA Day" and I was too slow. sent a couple of posts today after posting was done, so I feel both guilty I missed the deadline and missed the opportunity to promote jesse's performance this weekend at calart's "half hour" festival. unfortunately I wont be able to attend jesse's piece because of matteo's 30th birthday party, but at the very least I can post info on his work. jesse will be "doing spatial/matrix sound with some kickass improvisers."I don't know what that means exactly but it sounds cool. and its free.

"Chasing the Pools"

Saturday, October 15
8-10 pm

Barndall Art Park
outdoors in the pine tree plaza

CAROLE KIM, direction, video
JESSE GILBERT, sound design/spatialization
YORGOS ADAMIS, wind instruments
G.E. STINSON, electric guitar
LIZ HOEFNER, choreography, dancer



"Chasing the Pools" is a 2-hour durational non-looping event. Live-feed cameras will fold movement of the dancers, under the choreographic eye of Hoefner, into the mix. The grove will become Gilbert's arena to spatialize the soundscape of Adamis and Stinson. The projections will present a continuous moving tableau for this to take place. Viewers are invited to roam and/or bring folding chairs/blankets to camp out.

Interdisciplinary artist CAROLE KIM has focused her practice on time-based performance/installations combining digital/new media technologies and the sensitivity of the improvisational live performer. KIM is interested in emphasizing the malleable materiality of video and the illusory architecture of layered video projection. The performances are immersive environments that support an integrated reciprocal exchange between sound, image, movement, space.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

all whiteread, all the time

to follow up on monday's link to the guardian's article on rachel whiteread's mysterious project for the tate modern, all has been revealed. today's guardian discusses the installation - an enormous sculpture of white boxes - some placed irregularly, some as architectural structures. the guardian almost covers all the bases in terms of what whiteread might be referencing - a recent trip to the melting arctic icecaps, a "ghostly warehouse,"a miniature cityscape, piles of sugar lumps. what's interesting about the review is that rachel whiteread's work, regardless of scale or material, is almost always refered to as 'domestic' (and that's not necessarily an insult), and about memory and space. its whiteread's largest piece thus far, and yet it seems inescapable that she's always conceived as an artist referencing the "domestic" - it seems to be a particularly bizarre adjective for this piece. clearly, it seems her previous body of work is coloring the reviewer's perception of "embankment." for more on her career, the guardian ran a profile last week. one of these days I'll get back to talking about LA.

Monday, October 10, 2005

mak outdoor screenings

the days are shorter, the nights are colder. but the upside of that is the mak center is able to screen films in the courtyard of the schindler house and still be done by the 10pm west hollywood curfew.

Isaac Julien Outdoor Screenings
October 14, 2005 - October 15, 2005

Friday, October 14, 7pm Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989)
Saturday, October 15, 7pm Nanook of the North (Robert J. Flaherty, 1922) and Nanook Revisited (Claude Massot, 1990)

In collaboration with the current exhibition Isaac Julien/True North, the MAK Center will host these screenings in the garden of the Schindler House. Dress warmly, if it's cold!

Ticket prices are $12/$9 for students and Friends of Schindler House for single screening, $20/$15 for students and Friends of Schindler House for both screenings. For reservations, call 323 651 1510 or email

monday media

I haven't abandoned this blog quite yet. I'm still just waiting for my dsl to be installed and SBC is now the bane of my existence. almost a week after they promised it would be working, I'm still waiting. and I could easily fill this post about their terrible customer service (but very sweet tech support) but that would bore you. so instead, some interesting recent articles:

  • starting across the pond: my favorite sculptor is taking on my favorite museum - rachel whiteread is working on the latest commission from the tate modern's turbine hall. what she'll do with it is still a mystery. but I might be able to justify a trip to london to see my sister and some friends while the whiteread piece is exhibited.
  • and since we're right between rosh hashana and yom kippur, an interesting piece on how suburban sprawl conflicts with jewish ideals. from the abstract: Specifically, the article argues that the automobile dependency and class division exacerbated by sprawl conflict with Jewish ethical and environmental values and impede observance of Jewish law. In addition, the article rebuts libertarian objections to anti-sprawl policies by pointing out that Jewish law encourages public regulation of land use. we are so ahead of our time.
  • since today's articles are all related to, um, me, or at least my personal interests, one of my alma maters, USC, is looking for a new dean of architecture.
  • and google gets more serious about local. not only is this related to one of my current projects for a new client, but also intersects with this blog's interest in urbanism, architecture, and technology.
enjoy. back to work.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

out there, doing it, the return

some upcoming programming at the mak center, starting today and ongoing thru nov 2nd.

Out There Doing It, The Return
October 5 through November 23, 2005
Wednesdays, 7:30 pm

First held in 1989, the Forum's Out There Doing It lecture series at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House has provided Los Angeles with a key venue for emerging design practitioners. This fall marks the return of Out There Doing It with a focus on work by practitioners that is experimental, emerging, theoretical, and conceptual.

October 5 Mark McManus, Instant Days [Andrea Lenardin Madden], David Wiseman
October 12 Form:uLA [Bryan Cantley and Kevin O’Donnel], I/O [Alexis Rochas]
October 19 Doug Suisman, Presentation and book-signing for The Arc: A Formal Structure for the Palestinian State, published by the RAND Corporation. Lecture co-sponsored by the RAND Corporation and the Urban Design Committee of the AIA/LA.
October 26 ReD [Marta Male], Hostcell [Axel Prichard-Schmitzberger]
November 2 Institute for Advanced Architecture [Fiona Whitton and Sean Dockray], ODESCO [Michael Fox]

Admission $10, $6 for students, free for Forum members or Friends of Schindler House. Lectures begin promptly at 7:30 pm. Dress warmly, if it's cold!

All lectures are held at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture located at:
The Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

For more information on the Los Angeles Forum, please visit

The MAK Center’s public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-6pm.
Parking is available at the public structure at the corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard.

monday media - special wed edition

my neighbors seem to have discovered I was pilfering wifi and have booted me off. so internet access is intermittent until my dsl is installed. I can only consume so many chais at psychobabble in exchange for wifi access. so today's just a few articles of interest since I missed it on mon:
  • an impassioned plea in the latimes for more public parks. and in related news, the lear center's grand intervention project is partnering with yale law, harvard law and new york law schools to collaborate on "the state of play virtual public space design competition." seems like the lear center is finally formalizing the project into an actual competition.
  • the owners of the bonaventure hotel downtown don't want competition - and they're willing to go to court to prevent it. and if they get their way, expect a referendum on it as well.
  • we've run out of space. say goodbye to single-story ranch houses, hello to multistory structures.
  • icon magazine declares "the guardian, public space, modernism, ipods, china, barcelona and butterflies" boring, among other architecture and design concepts. they pity the fool who cares about sustainable design. it seems like just about every major concept in mine and aram's book proposal - creative industries, innovation, and interactivity - are all boring. fuck you, icon magazine, and your wallpaper* wanna-be pretensions. [via a daily dose of architecture]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"talking of nothing in particular"

mine and john's non-sexual love affair with each other, with schindler, with LA continues. below is an excerpt from an email I received from john, which is probably the greatest email, letter or piece of correspondence I've ever received. and the photo john took is simply beautiful:

Spare me a bit of Southern sentimentality, but when wevstood under the cherry blossoms at Schindler's Wolff House, talking "of nothing in particular," I was simultaneously reminded of Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," and of "The Floating World" (Kakejiku- the world of leisure) which woodblock print artists tried to capture in the waning years of Japan's

Yes, I'm serious you be-yatch. I'm a recovering history major. And an actor.


SO ANYWAY: "Knoxville" is one of the most poetic and sparsely gorgeous pieces I've ever heard -- it brilliantly articulates a child's burgeoning conciousness that we are alone in the universe, each of us isolated in our own way, in spite of the deep love we have for those around us. Jame's Agee's words are set against Barber's haunting minor melody.

So what in God's name does this have to do with you? I'm getting to that. Patience! While you were babbling on about TV shows I've never seen, talking of "nothing at all in partiuclar," I was photographing the roof-line of the Wolff House and the cherry blossoms spilling overhead. I couldn't help but feel that something of you, and Agee's writing, of Samuel Barber's music and the floating world converged in the twilight. The image attached is my impression of something fragmentary and fleeting, a moment at dusk, flat as a woodblock print.

john hoffman, 2005

[rest of the email snipped]. for what its worth, John highly recommends samuel barber's "knoxville: summer of 1915" set to agee's words. and I think somewhere in there is the implicit suggestion that I talk a lot of nonsense. ok, fair enough.

Monday, October 03, 2005

hot property - enuff neff

we get it, latimes. stars love wallace neff.

evenings on the roof

the yates house wasn't built by schindler but the music studio on the roof was - for the yates to perform evening concerts. the studio feels large and airy - almost cabin-like (but that's mostly due to its material - plywood) despite its fairly limited square footage.

also - a great fireplace

enclosed in glass so its visible from the backyard when its lit. from the elliott house.

I love this lamp

in the elliott house - possibly my favorite on the tour - not just because of the great restoration job the owners did but also because of their amazing taste. not surprising though, from the owner of decades on melrose.

mak tour - the photos

I've uploaded a bunch of the photos from yesterday's mak architecture tour, including silvertop, the wilson house, the walker house, the yates music studio and the elliott house. wasn't able to make it to schlessinger or bubeshko in time and photos were prohibited at the wolff residence. a search on flickr for the tag "maktour" should find this set.

MAK tour

yesterday was the MAK architecture tour in silverlake. with over 500 people touring 7 or 8 privately owned homes, the logistics went amazingly well. (its even more incredible when you realize the max center currently has a staff of 3). I was a docent at silvertop, and toured in the afternoon - was able to hit every home but the bubeshko apartments and the schlessinger house. fortunately, all the homes were in pretty close proximity to each other - most were walkable (although my the end of the day, I deeply regretted my footwear choice. my mui mui's attract attention, but they're not made for hiking around silverlake.) took a ton of pictures, will upload them to flickr later today, I hope.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


yesterday was moving day and remarkably, I'm totally unpacked. the best discovery I made? there's not one, but two, unsecured wifi networks nearby I can hop on until my dsl is installed. and there are benefits to the standalone tivo box - you CAN take it with you.