Wednesday, July 29, 2009
White Man Bopping
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Don't let the door hitcha on the way out ;-
And first, some straight talk for some, just some in the media because another right protected for all of us is freedom of the press, and you all have such important jobs reporting facts and informing the electorate, and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected honest profession that could and should be the cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why, that’s why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how ’bout in honor of the American soldier, ya quit makin’ things up.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." What does criticism of Palin have to do with soldiers? Nothing, other than that Palin would like to cloak herself in their sacrifice.
When art is described this way, you know it will not be beautiful.
Here are some descriptions from a very successful and influential non-profit arts organization in New York City:
the most important, ground-breaking, challenging and exceptional art of our times
Above all, we privilege artists' ideas.take bold new risks that value process, content and possibilities.
pushing artists beyond their comfort levels, just as they push us beyond ours.
In the process, artists engage in a dynamic conversation between site, audience, and context, offering up new ideas about who an artist is and what art can be, pushing culture into fresh new directions.
In my humble opinion, these are the cliches of the 20th century. Thirty-five years ago, Tom Wolfe was already calling them dated and faddish (see The Painted Word). They appeal to the intellect rather than the senses. The soul, on the other hand, craves beauty. It connects us to something bigger than ourselves.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
THE STADIUM on the right in the photo above seats fewer people than the older Stadium on the left. It sprawls over a much larger area because the seats in the decks are farther from the field and because it has so many more restaurants, bars and food stands around those seats.
I've said before that I enjoyed my first visit to the new Stadium. It is after all the home of the New York Yankees, and sitting in the new stadium reminds one of sitting in the old stadium, the scene of many fond memories.
Today I got a free ticket in the "moated" section of the stadium. Behind home plate, these seats famously cost $1,250, "reduced" from the original price of $2,500. This has been a public relations disaster for the Yankees – people are losing their jobs, and the Yankees season ticket plans for four of these seats cost $810,000 per year. Let them eat hot dogs.
To get to the seats, you enter through a gate for all the most expensive seats and boxes. If you've paid enough, you get a blue wristband that entitles you to unlimited free food, served at your seat or in a restaurant.
Continuing to the seats, you go down into a large windowless restaurant. Except for the lack of windows, it reminds me a BBQ restaurant I went to in the Bronx last month. That's not a good thing.
As you leave the restaurant, there is a groaning table of candies (Twizzles, Skittles, Chuckles, Twix, etc), coolers of soda and a freezer with ice cream -- all for grabbing on your way out.
The word "gluttony" came to mind as we went out, and despite the wonderful seats I got nostalgic for the original stadium.
BTW, the seat I was given, had a face value of "only" $325, and came with all the free food etc. of the $2,500 / $1,250 seats a short distance away.Charging more than 7 times as much for those was just bad taste and bad PR on the part of the Yankees. Sitting near us were kids who had bought tickets on the internet in our section for well below the asking price.
Friday, July 24, 2009
THERE'S BEEN a certain amount of talk on the internet about an encounter at the Aspen Ideas Festival between Frank Gehry and Fred Kent, President of Project for Public Spaces. Since James Fallow's initial post about this, a video has gone up on the web here.
Gehry lives in world of starchitecture and celebrity where he's often treated like a visiting god. Plus, he grew up in an architectural culture that encouraged egotism on the architect's part, hangs out with egocentric artists in Los Angeles and works for corporate CEOs who think they deserve $250 million golden parachutes. He wouldn't put it that way, of course, but I've known enough Starchitects to see how much they follow the Howard Roark paradigm, whether they think so or not.
About three-quarters of the way through the video, questions are taken from the audience, and Kent introduces himself as "the Department of Corrections," who has to [emphasis mine] go around the world fixing the work of Starchitects, including Gehry's – an introduction guaranteed to get Gehry's back up.
Kent correctly says that we have a problem today of "iconic" buildings that don't make places or create a sense of place. "What I'm trying to do," he says, "is to challenge you to be able to do that," which are obviously fightin' words. "I'm sorry but I have to go and fix [your] places."
At that point, Gehry calls Kent "pompous" and waves him away in a dismissive fashion that upset Fallows. But no one, least of all a "legendary architect" (as the Aspen Ideas Festival calls him), likes to be so negatively characterized.
What's interesting is that the next question from the audience gets Gehry talking about the role iconic and background buildings play in the city. Interesting because it suggests that there was a possible conversation between Gehry and Kent, and interesting because it shows that Gehry, who almost always designs iconic buildings, regardless of program, doesn't necessarily think that's the best way to make cities.
Two examples of iconic Gehry buildings that would be better background buildings are MIT's Stata Center and the residential towers at Atlantic Yards. 'There is certainly a place in the built environment for modest construction," Gehry says, "certainly in housing."
In a stream of consciousness he continues, "the planning becomes more important, the creation of public spaces, the buildings become more background, and a lot of the buildings that should have been more background have been layered with all kinds of junk and so called decoration and people seem to want that and so that's kinda what I'm talking about." (It would also be interesting to know what he means by "all kinds of junk" and "people seem to want that.")
I'm not a Gehry expert, but I've seen a number of his buildings, and the only one I wouldn't call "iconic" is his DZ Bank in Berlin (above), where the local planning authorities required that he make a sober street wall. Consequently, the "architecture" is in an interior court, and that's where most of the online photos are from, even though the general public is not allowed in the court.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A Twentieth Century Trifecta
"Art is made to disturb," Georges Braque.