Saturday, December 31, 2005

happy new years

back in 2006...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

flying is the worst...

...with a hangover. I'm getting on a plane in a few hours and I can safely predict its going to be a painful flight. do you have that one friend who, no matter how lofty your intentions are for the evening, inevitably leads you down the path towards degeneracy and overindulgence? but that path is always an adventure? last night I was with that friend. the last time we went out, all of a week ago, I spent the entire next day sprawled on her couch, completely immobilized by nausea and a headache. but, that couch does overlook the new renzo piano extension of the morgan library, so all was not lost.

last night involved copious amounts of wine and cocktails and reminded me why density is a good thing. within one block, we drank at a ridiculous raw food place, batali's raucously fun casa mono and bar jamon, and pete's tavern, pretty much an institution in new york. and there was a great dinner in there as well at batali's place, fueling my anticipation of his upcoming LA restaurant.

before the binge drinking began, I did manage to fit in a little culture. unfortunately, I chose to do that on perhaps the busiest day of the year at the met. the van gogh exhibition had a 45 min wait so my sister and I skipped that one in order to go to the calatrava exhibition, which was incredibly small, crowded and slightly disappointing. my sister and I joke that calatrava loves two body parts: the spine and eye. almost every major work he's done echoes one of those two body parts, including his upcoming PATH depot at the world trade center. of course, since the exhibition also features his sculpture, we did discover one more organ he seems to be inspired by - vaginas. I think I just always wanted to write "vagina" in my blog.

my sister and I were both overwhelmed by the crowds at the met so we walked a few blocks to one of our favorite museums - the cooper hewitt. its never crowded, a beautiful building, fun exhibitions and the current show is about the use of color in fashion, moving across the last 2 centuries. perhaps not life-changing, transcendent art, but a welcome relief after the met.

now I need water, gatorade and maybe more water, can't wait to be back in LA tonight. two weeks on a sofabed is my limit.

L’Hemisfèric (Planetarium)
Valencia, Spain

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

xmas in n'awlins

the latimes today features an in-depth look at the relationship between new orlean's levee commissions and the US army corp of engineers since 1980 and how it precipitated the failure of the levees:

"But their fractious partnership proved disastrous. While the corps and the Orleans board settled into an acrimonious 15-year relationship, spending $95 million to buttress the city's canal levees, their shared supervision failed to detect crucial weaknesses inside the flood walls before Hurricane Katrina struck.

...Structural inspections were cursory. Maintenance was minimal. A confusing regulatory patchwork of ownership over the levees and canals blurred the lines of authority — all shortcomings cited by independent engineering teams analyzing the levees' collapse."

C spent the holidays with his family in new orleans and took these pics as he drove around:
three cars that eventually landed on top of one another

these two houses had floated from across the river and landed in what used to be a paved street
a homemade funeral wreath

Monday, December 26, 2005

monday media: the wsj edition

just two links today - and surprisingly, they're both from the wall street journal:

Saturday, December 24, 2005

happy holidays

photo courtesy of losanjealous

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

monday media: wednesday edition

I'd like to say the usual roundup of links was delayed by the transit strike, but the strike didn't start until tues. so monday was spent away from the computer and at the moma to see the great exhibition, SAFE: design takes on risk, and walking around the city by choice. yesterday, the strike afforded me the opportunity to take in the great sights of long island, like the mall, tract housing, the new HOV lane on the LIE. pretty exciting stuff, this suburbia. today I shall attempt to make it as far as brooklyn to see friends and celebrate the holidays at a friend's very successful coffe shop (and for the coffee enthusiast on your gift list, they ship). so without further ado, some links for your enjoyment:
bonus new york linkage!
Uploaded on December 21, 2005
by Thom

Friday, December 16, 2005

perfect timing

the holiday season mandates we count our blessings. I'm in NY and have narrowly avoided the snow and 20 degree weather for this:
and another mixed blessing. the threatened transit strike that was to begin today is limited to a few bus lines in queens for the next few days. of course, by tues I may be stuck in strong island for the remainder of my trip. pray for me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

new york neuroticism

KOL/MAC architects have formulated the INVERSAbrane invertible building membrane, a "SAFE" centerpiece at the Museum of Modern Art.

I grew up in your typical outer borough, new york, jewish family. the kind larry david, jerry seinfeld and lesser entertainers have mined for comic gold. so needless to say, in new york I'm surrounded by neurotic, angsty, some might say, paranoid friends and family members. but it all seemed natural and normal - maybe ratcheted up a notch post 9/11, but most of the neuroticism focused on the quotidian: family politics, job performance, relationships, does-this-make-me-look-fat?, the usual. the stuff primetime network comedies are made of.

yet here I've managed to surround myself with far more neurotic ex-new yorkers (I'm looking at you, aram) and even a few angelenos who would put new yorkers to shame. there's something sort of incongruous about their neuroticism in sunny LA, an incongruity woody allen exploited 30 years ago. but their neuroticism goes beyond the simple, everyday neuroticism I grew up with. it goes beyond a generalized anxiety about earthquakes, mudslides, and other natural disasters. its a neuroticism that worries about the above, as well as housing bubbles, war, journalistic integrity, avian flu, bill o'reilly's popularity, terrorism, biological warfare, cholesterol levels, moles that change shape and color, affordable housing, recessions, and republicans, among other threats.

where am I going with this? its just a long prelude to say I'm surrounded by chicken littles in LA, and in spite of that, this exhibition at the MOMA is top on my to-do list when I'm in new york next week. will it ease anxiety or only create more? who knows, but the web site itself makes me feel more secure in this dangerous, dangerous world. (and the new target pill bottles are featured in the exhibition, the development of the bottles is a fascinating story of how design can save lives, chronicled here.)

p.s. total nonsequitur but I have to say it: kong rules.

buddy biscuits

going off-topic for a moment. I just bought these all-natural dog treats as a gift for a friend's dog. sure, they're free of preservatives and chemicals, but do we really want to train our dogs to enjoy some tasty treats in the shape of...people?

mid week linkage

this week has been hectic since I leave for new york tomorrow for two weeks, so blogging may be intermittent while I freeze my ass off. no seriously, I wept when I checked the 10-day forecast and my wardrobe is woefully unprepared. last time I went home, I packed an extra suitcase just for shoes but with the temperature in the 20s, the footwear options are sadly limited. but I digress. a few links of interest before I pack:
  • Venice Paper has asked a panel of architects to name the most significant architectural achievement of 2005 that will impact the future of LA's architecture. not surprisingly, more than one mentioned thom mayne's pritzker prize. there seems to be an inordinate amount of hometown pride in mayne but another popular theme is sustainability.
  • as LA deals with the inevitable dissonance that takes place as downtown gentrifies but skid row worsens, the latimes looks at how Santa Monica has dealt with the homeless, providing counseling, housing assistance and aid for the mentally ill.
  • The National Low Income Housing Coalition looks at the disparity between income and housing rent that widens each year. according to its report, Out of Reach 2005, calculates "the hourly wage that someone must earn - working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year -- to be able to afford rent and utilities in the private local housing market in every state, metropolitan area and county in the country." Guess where California ranks? just slightly more affordable than hawai'i - the least affordable state in the country. in terms of counties, CA counties represent the top 8 least affordable jurisdictions.

Monday, December 12, 2005

lautner's goldstein office saved

jess forwarded me this email, that I would like to link to on the lautner site, but alas, I can't find it. so instead, here is the info, redacted for length:

The John Lautner Foundation received wonderful news just prior to Thanksgiving. The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously to extend Historic-Cultural Monument status to the Goldstein Office, effectively saving it from imminent destruction. In the final hearing, with considerable time devoted to the pros and cons of preserving this rare office space in a high-rise, the Commission‹after voting‹requested James Goldstein to stand and be acknowledged for commissioning John Lautner and building the office.

Our efforts to preserve the Goldstein Office, though quite involved and complex, were fruitful. The Lautner Foundation involved the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission by submitting for Monument status, which will protect a threatened cultural monument for up to one year, after which the owner of the building can have the issue re-addressed. While this approach to preserving buildings or space buys time, it needs support not only from the Commission but finally from the City Council, especially the Councilmember who¹s district it is in.

The building owner at 10100 Santa Monica Boulevard ultimately proposed sponsoring the careful dismantling of the 850 square foot office suite and storing it safely until next May. We have begun the process of finding a new location for the office, hopefully where the public can readily visit this unique office environment and be exposed to John Lautner¹s genius.

The disassembly and restoration concept was embodied in the Commission¹s decision, which now moves on for final adoption by the Los Angeles City Council.

Although we do not foresee any problems with the Council¹s adoption of Historic-Cultural status, we encourage your attendance and support.

Here are the times and locations for the final hearings next week:

1. Hearing at PLUM (Planning Land Use Management committee.)
December 13th, Tuesday 1:00pm
Room 350, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles.

2. Hearing at Los Angeles City Council
December 14th,
Wednesday 10:00am
Room 340, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles.

monday media

after a weekend of movies, movies, movies and, um, magic, its time for some monday media:

  • take back the blight. some of southern california's blighted land and wildlife preserves are getting some much needed restoration.
  • sprawl free-for-all. expect lots of handwringing and angst over robert bruegmann's new book, Sprawl: A Compact History, since he is far kinder to the phenomenon (and los angeles) than contemporaries like James Howard Kunstler, author of the divine Clusterfuck Nation blog and the Eyesore of the Month and theorists such as Sassen and Soja, who try to find more nuanced ways of looking at sprawl. and the blogs are weighing in, as well as Witold in last month's Slate.
  • its always so sad when BFF lose the F. in case you missed it, gehry sets the record straight on his friendship with brad pitt. apparently the rumors of brad's apprenticeship are greatly exaggerated. except, what about the vanity fair article where he professes his love for gehry? the hove development he's supposed to be collaborating with gehry on? who to believe - newsweek or the guardian? tough call.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

another lorcan installment

ground floor

garage entrance?

some wood. hehe.

snapped a couple of pics of habitat 825's construction progress on sunday. and then a couple of pics of the ever-widening crack in the floor of the schindler house near the schindler-side entrance today. I believe the developer at habitat 825 has arranged to have its engineers inspect the schindler house (if they have not already). don't know what the results will be but I can tell you that when you're on the south side of the house, adjacent to the construction site, you can feel every vibration from the jackhammers, drills and other, um, big tools. I can't help but wonder what the long-term effects on the house will be.

can jonathan adler adopt me?

sure, I'm in my 30s and probably not as lovable as his dog, liberace, but I also promise not to "accidentally" poop on his $1500 rugs.

our love affair with the man, his vases, and his book continues, as jess graciously asked me to be her plus one at a party/book signing at his store. I was in a such a hurry to go, I forgot to bring my book. d'oh. but jess covers the salient details here.

eminent domain, edible lawns, and some other stuff

how did it get to be thursday already? this week is slipping by - and one week before I head off to new york for a couple of weeks to see friends and family. I'm already dreading the cold, but can't wait to get back to real pizza and bagels. anyway, back to LA. focus now. in the news:

  • the latimes looks inward as it invites matt welch to write an editorial asking why the paper has ignored issues of eminent domain as LAUSD embarks on one of the largest public works projects in CA. the touchstone for welch is a plan to bulldoze 50 homes in echo park to build a school, when there is a nonresidential plot of land adjacent to the proposed site currently for sale.
  • why are lawns in the news so much lately? last week, the nytimes covered homeowners preference for concrete "lawns," this week fritz haeg, a longtime collaborator with the schindler house, has announced plans to launch "edible estates" next year. he's currently asking for a homeowner willing to have his or her lawn transformed into an entirely edible landscape. if only I had a lawn. [via archinect]
  • everyone's favorite weho example of "programmatic architecture," tail o' the pup hot dog stand, is moving to make way for a retirement center for gay and lesbian centers. no definitive word yet on where the pup is heading to, but westwood is apparently a strong possibility. ucla students will no longer be deprived of their artery-hardening, cholestorel-raising hot beef injections. mmm, hot beef injections.
  • and the nytimes hangs out in pasadena with gale anne hurd, producer of classics like "aeon flux." her house is big, renovation took forever, tried to capture 20's hollywood glamouzzzzzzzz. sorry, where was I? oh yeah. she's got a big house.

Monday, December 05, 2005

monday media: transportation edition

two big articles on LA transportation needs in the latimes recently:

  • a sunday editorial on LAX's shelved (sorta) plans to modernize the airport that has passed thru 2 mayors, 10 years, and $150 million.
  • and similarly, today's op-ed looks at LA's need for a "subway to the sea" along the wilshire corridor. why is this article different from all other subway articles? because D.J. Waldie is not only blunt, he's also adept at understanding and explaining, as he puts it, "the mechanisms of power." he's also a lyrical writer - strange to say about an article on proposed subway plans, but there it is:

    • If you've been reading these pages for a while, you may have caught the half-anxious, half-amazed tone of city watchers who seem to be wondering what to make of Los Angeles when it isn't Los Angeles any more, when all of our cliched assumptions — bright and noir — are questioned by our encounters with a city that isn't Raymond Chandler's or even Joan Didion's.

gays, grays and glazing (pottery, of course)

the nytimes' travel section takes on the parker palm springs and jonathan adler's kitschy/cool aesthetic. ah, the memories. staying there last labor day weekend there to celebrate jess' birthday, we spent most our time planning where to sit next - should we sit by the indoor round gas fireplace?near the suit of armor by the zebra rug?
on the couches near the bar?
you can see the difficulty in deciding which nook and cranny to park our asses in. the nytimes actually captures the parker's aesthetic quite nicely:
The result is not so much a hippy-chic makeover, as it is a kind of dandy Betty Ford clinic for those who overdosed on the W Hotel's much-copied sleek and minimalist vibe. The resort's particular brand of tongue in cheek is not for everyone.
but it was for us. and jess and H recently gave me this very thoughtful housewarming gift - which now occupies a place of honor on the coffee table and brings a smile to anyone who thumbs through it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

grand ave deadline approaching

received this email today from the norman lear center's grand intervention, somewhat redacted for length:

As we close in on the December 9th deadline for submissions, our effort to invigorate the process that will lead to a new 16-acre civic park in downtown Los Angeles continues to build steam.

Advisory board member Doug Suisman suggested we contact designers, architects, planners and academics to find out what they think about 21st century park design. We asked for ideas about parks that might serve as inspiration for imagining the Grand Avenue park, in terms of design and use, and we asked for thoughts about the design process itself. On the Grand Intervention Web site, you can see some of the terrific suggestions that have come in so far, including remarks from James Corner, Mia Lehrer, Eric Owen Moss, Elizabeth Moule, Stefanos Polyzoides, Mark Rios and many more. We're aiming to incorporate as much of this material as we can in the Los Angeles Times spread we're planning for later in December.

We are delighted to report that the Annenberg Center for Communication has provided a grant to fund the development of 3D tools that will allow people to explore the Grand Avenue park site virtually. USC's Integrated Media Systems Center will develop these applications using their own GeoDec (Geospatial Decision Making) technology, whose development has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This month, we will launch a Web-accessible interface for public users to interact with a 3D model of the proposed park area. In February 2006, we will showcase a more enhanced and graphically accurate 3D model of the area at the Entertainment Gathering in Los Angeles.

read the entire update here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

combating food fatigue

I've been in LA 2 1/2 years now and it would be crazy to think I've been to even a fraction of the restaurants in this town. but it seems like its the usual suspects over and over again and I'm starting to get a little bored. so this week has been a concerted effort in trying new places.

sat night (ok, technically sun morning) involved my first trip to BCD tofu house for lip searing soon tofu. despite the host's reluctance to seat us, claiming the kitchen was closed, as we pointed to the 24 hour sign and the other tables currently being served, we finally overcame our debilitating whiteness and convinced him to seat us as well. I think I may have found the perfect after-drinking antidote. last night involved a trip to the valley for fondue, chronicled by Jess. and tonight John and I have agreed to try a new place. inspired by a recent latimes article, and our love for all things japanese cuisine-related, we're venturing into either little tokyo for izakaya snacks at haru ulala, or to south la brea for 70s japanese movie posters and yakitori at sake house mori. and if work doesn't get in the way, a possible artisanal bread tasting - yes, you read that right - at breadbar with Jess this weekend.

so I think my meal malaise might be temporarily appeased.

sierra club goes all jane jacobs on us

the sierra club expands its purview. once upon a time, the sierra club was mainly concerned about saving the grizzly and stopping drilling, but the 113 year old has set its sights on sprawl. only, instead of simply taking an us-vs-them, unilateral opposition, they've taken the middle road: publishing a report in support of mixed-use development. as treehugger reports:

"The...nonprofit organization says it expects to release this week its first "Guide to America's Best New Development Projects," an endorsement of mixed-use residential, commercial and retail developments in a dozen cities around the country"..."We are trying to be supportive of developers who are doing the right thing," said Eric Olson, Washington-based director of the Sierra Club's Healthy Communities Campaign. "We're also recognizing that you can't just be against things all the time. You have to be for things."

read the whole report here. CA is given props - oakland, san mateo and windsor are all in the report (yeah, I never heard of the other two either).

thanks to rudayday.

possibly, maybe, perhaps one day - a subway?

in one step among many, congressman henry waxman, who has hampered potential subway plans for a train to the westside since the mid-80s, is now reconsidering his position (flip flopper!). citing safety concerns after a gas explosion two decades ago, waxman wrote legislation that banned using federal money to build the tunnels. now that an MTA panel has concluded a tunnel could be built safely along the wilshire corridor and Villaraigosa is apparently putting the screws to waxman, he's stated he might introduce legislation to rescind the ban.

however, as the latimes points out, this is just one minor step in many that need to happen. in fact, the reversal on the ban is meaningless without then earmarking funds for construction. and the price of building a subway, like everything else in LA, has skyrocketed in the last two decades. if this thing is ever built, the fare might cost you a pound of flesh, which will be preferable to the blood of your first born, which should pay for a gallon of gas by then.