Wednesday, February 28, 2007

about 'about alice'

I'm still not sure I can read fiction, even historical fiction, as I slog through gore vidal's Lincoln. Its no fault of vidal's, its my own failings with fiction that have slowed me down.

I did, however, take a brief respite from lincoln, for about an hour this morning, to read about alice by calvin trillin, his beautiful and eloquent eulogy for his wife. its the yin to joan didion's yang. but rather than write a meditation of the process of grief, he writes a funny, loving portrait of his wife who died on Sept 11, 2001 from cardiac complications precipitated by her treatment for cancer 25 years earlier. its romantic in the best way - a way that is not at all saccharine or overly sentimental, but always adoring.

and after you read it, read some of his interviews about writing the book, which started as a piece for - what else? - the new yorker:

Q: Is it a little odd, to be a famous funny-guy writer talking about such a solemn subject so close to your own heart?

A: Yes, I was concerned about the book tour, whether I wanted to do it at all. My daughters were a little concerned, too.

Originally, I wasn't going to answer questions, just read. But I began at a friendly bookstore not far from my neighborhood in New York, and found I could answer questions OK. I've had moments where I've had to stop and sort of collect myself, but all in all it's been fine.

The hard part's when I get questions that I don't know anything about, like about making a good marriage. I can't believe people are actually good or bad at it. I think mainly you just meet the right people. It's not satisfying to people to tell them that luck has a lot to do with it, but in fact I think it's true.

So that's my advice: Wander into the right party. Just that. It's like the advice I give about childrearing: Try to get one that doesn't spit up. The rest is up to you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

salk institute: bite me

I know its been a long time since I posted here (but keeping up my blogging duties on curbed). I entertained family from new york for a week - which was interesting since I've never really had to figure out how to entertain kids in LA. turns out, not so difficult since this entire city is an amusement park. the hits: venice boardwalk, hiking in runyon, sushi ike (my cousins may be 9 and 11 but they know good sushi when they see it), and the getty center. misses: universal studios (which I thankfully missed since I was teaching that day), and fred segal (because they didn't spot any celebrities).

as soon as they left, I had to go down to San Diego to speak at a conference saturday morning. I thought I'd take advantage of my proximity to la jolla and stop by the salk institute. I was erroneously informed that even if they were closed, they'd probably let me in. oh how wrong I was. I begged. I pleaded. I just wanted to take pics of the courtyard, I didn't want to go inside. the security guard was unconvinced. I was able to use the restroom, with an escort, and I have a feeling that was only bc the empire waist dress I was wearing makes me look pregnant. they're not completely heartless, you see. so san diego was a bust. sure the conference went well, but that was a whole lot of driving to NOT see a building I've been meaning to see for years.

it was also my birthday this weekend. my family kindly bought me a new digital camera and once I figure out how to download my pics, I will post the photos I took of the salk institute from the side of the road. how sad. how lonely. how dejected I must have looked.

the rest of the birthday weekend consisted of korean bbq, korean bars, chinese hot pot, and bashing bad oscar dresses. almost perfect, had one single security guard taken pity on my pouting. I should have just rushed the courtyard in my 4 inch heels.

I could have taken him.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Synthetic Ecologies

I'm going to be speaking at the DIY convention on sat, but if I wasn't, I'd probably be attending this:
In landmark exhibition The Gen(H)ome Project, veteran architects explore the conceptual edge of design and technology. Held in conjunction with that show, today's panel considers the further implications of blending architecture and science. (SND)

schindler and scouts

on friday I gave a group tour at the schindler house to a group of girl scouts earning their architecture badges. I had no idea the girl scouts offer architecture badges, but there you have it. a group of 11-13 year old at the schindler house - a house that is challenging to understand as an adult, but they loved it. they were attentive, enthusiastic, asked me better questions than most tourists, and they LOVED the sleeping baskets. I dont know how much camping the girls do - I was never a girl scout - but they seemed to really love the concept of a house as a permanent campsite. living most of your life outdoors, sleeping on the roof, cooking on an open fire.

then today I received this great email from their group leader (who is also an architect):

The girl scouts LOVED the tour of the house. They are really excited about architecture and are going to design their own dream room.

Thanks again

made my day.