Saturday, March 31, 2007

I am not obsessed with the Architect Lord Baron Sir Norman Foster. I'm just trying to figure the guy out. Some of his stuff is breathtaking. Some of it is rubbish.

All I've got so far is that sometimes his concept and his design fit so well together. At others the design seems to stem from somewhere else and his work lacks energy. That's all I've got so far.

Sainsbury Centre

Norman Foster
University of East Anglia
Norwich, England

One of the simplest and most adaptable art galleries ever. The cladding on the exterior is in square blocks that can be pulled off and replaced in five minutes by three people. The malleability of changing from steel to glass and back so quickly is one of the strengths of this building.

There has been a huge amount of critical response to this building in the last thirty years, most of it negative. But I like it. The simplicity and efficiency of the design is stunning. Also, the adaptability creates a very interesting interior cavity.

The above two photographs by .Martin.

The horizontal band in the foreground is a more recent addition. Photograph by lindakemp.

I love this staircase. A lot. Photograph by chailey.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Where Has This Poet Been All My Life?

Bertram Fairchild, BH Fairchild, is wonderful. I love his poetry. I have to get The Art of the Lathe now.

Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest

Awesome title. Like Angel of History, I see a rich backdrop of repeating details and characters that creates an alternate world that is excessively enjoyable to inhabit. This book is much much more accessible than Angel though. Based off of his experience working in his father's lathe shop, these poems sing. They show a tension between education/the arts and a blue collar upbringing. Early in the book, "Rave On" shows the best and worst of small town life before Roy and Maria Garcia begin educating the persona in the outside world. It seems everything else happens in the twenty-seven page poem, "The Blue Buick: A Narrative." Fairchild uses the car to get into his complex relationships with Roy and Maria, then provides a beautiful overview of events leading to the town falling apart. The end of the relationship and its long-term impact on his life close out the poem. This poem is stunning. No boring parts at all. The book itself is kind of upstaged by these two poems, but there are some other amazing works in here.

This is the title poem from his 1999 Kingsley Tufts award winner:

"The Art of the Lathe"

Leonardo imagined the first one.
The next was a pole lathe with a drive cord,
illustrated in Plumier's L'art de tourner en perfection.
Then Ramsden, Vauconson, the great Maudslay,
his student Roberts, Fox, Clement, Whitworth.

The long line of machinists to my left
lean into their work, ungloved hands adjusting the calipers,
tapping the bit lightly with their fingertips.
Each man withdraws into his house of work:
the rough cut, shearing of iron by tempered steel,
blue-black threads lifting like locks of hair,
then breaking over bevel and ridge.
Oil and water splash over the whitening bit, hissing.
The lathe on night-shift, moonlight silvering the bed-ways.

The old man I apprenticed with, Roy Garcia,
in silk shirt, khakis, and Florsheims. Cautious,
almost delicate explanations and slow,
shapely hand movements. Craft by repetition.
Haig and Haig behind the tool chest.

In Diderot's Encyclopaedia, an engraving
of a small machine shop: forge and bellows in back,
in the foreground a mandrel lathe turned by a boy.
It is late afternoon, and the copper light leaking in
from the street side of the shop just catches
his elbow, calf, shoe. Taverns begin to crowd
with workmen curling over their tankards,
still hearing in the rattle of carriages over cobblestone
the steady tap of the treadle,
the gasp and heave of the bellows.

The boy leaves the shop, cringing into the light,
and digs the grime from his fingernails, blue
from bruises. Walking home, he hears a clavier—
Couperin, maybe, a Bach toccata—from a window overhead.
Music, he thinks, the beautiful.
Tavern doors open. Voices. Grab and hustle of the street.
Cart wheels. The small room of his life. The darkening sky.

I listen to the clunk-and-slide of the milling machine,
Maudsley's art of clarity and precision: sculpture of poppet,
saddle, jack screw, pawl, cone-pulley,
the fit and mesh of gears, tooth in groove like interlaced fingers.
I think of Mozart folding and unfolding his napkin
as the notes sound in his head. The new machinist sings Patsy Cline,
I Fall to Pieces. Sparrows bicker overhead.
Screed of the grinder, the bandsaw's groan and wail.

In his boredom the boy in Diderot
studies again through the shop's open door
the buttresses of Suger's cathedral
and imagines the young Leonardo in his apprenticeship
staring through the window at Brunelleschi's dome,
solid yet miraculous, a resurrected body, floating above the city.

Outside, a cowbird cries, flapping up from the pipe rack,
the ruffling of wings like a quilt flung over a bed.
Snow settles on the tops of cans, black rings in a white field.
The stock, cut clean, gleams under lamplight.
After work, I wade back through the silence of the shop:
the lathes shut down, inert, like enormous animals in hibernation,
red oil rags lying limp on the shoulders
of machines, dust motes still climbing shafts
of dawn light, hook and hoist chain lying desultory
as an old drunk collapsed outside a bar,
barn sparrows pecking on the shores of oil puddles—
emptiness, wholeness; a cave, a cathedral.

As morning light washes the walls of Florence,
the boy Leonardo mixes paints in Verrocchio's shop
and watches the new apprentice muddle
the simple task of the Madonna's shawl.
Leonardo whistles a canzone and imagines
a lathe: the spindle, bit, and treadle, the gleam of brass.


And now the notes of anguish start to play
upon my ears; and now i find myself
where sounds on sounds of weeping pound at me.

I came to a place where no light shone at all,
bellowing like the sea racked by a tempest,
when warring winds attack it from both sides.

The infernal storm, eternal in its rage,
sweeps and drives the spirits with its blast:
it whirls them, lashing them with punishment.

When they are swept back past their place of judgment,
then come the shrieks, laments, and anguished cries;
there they blaspheme God's almighty power.


-The Divine Comedy: Inferno: Canto V: 25-36
translated by Mark Musa

I'm sorry for forgetting you. I've read reread reread you so many times I have begun to take for granted your presence in my pen.

While not completely ignoring rhyme, Mark Musa's five-stressed syllable line translation values and captures a power and an emotion that is notably missing in many other translations.

Monday, March 26, 2007

March 25th Through History

2BC: Archangel Gabriel tells Mary she will have a son, hence the feast of Annunciation
0033: Traditional date for the death of Jesus of Nazarene
1300: Dante descends into the Inferno
1603: Ikoma Chikamasa dies
1634: First settlers arrive in Maryland
1736: Nicholas Hawksmoor dies
1751: Last March 25th New Year’s Day, Lady Day, in UK and American Colonies
1807: Swansea and Mumbles, first passenger-carrying railway, opens under the name Oystermouth
1811: Shelley expelled from Oxford
1865: Claywater Meteorite explodes over Wisconsin
1865: Confederates capture Fort Stedman
1894: First large-scale protest march in America
1899: Burt Munro born
1901: Mercedes first race victory in Nice
1911: Fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
1914: Frédéric Mistral dies
1918: Claude Debussy dies
1925: Flannery O’Connor born
1942: Aretha Franklin born
1947: Elton John born
1955: US Customs officials seize copies of Ginsberg’s “Howl” on obscenity charges
1957: The European Economics Community, the EU’s direct predecessor, established
1965: Martin Luther King Jr. completes 4-day march from Selma to Montgomery
1975: Sheik Faisal of Saudi Arabia dies
1979: First functional space shuttle orbiter, Columbia, delivered to John F. Kennedy Space Center
1980: James Wright dies
1982: Danica Patrick born
1988: First mass protest against Communist Russia in Czechoslovakia
1995: First Wiki goes live
1996: Beginning of the 81 day Montana Freemen standoff
1997: B.I.G.’s Life After Death released 16 days after he is killed
1999: Cal Ripken Sr. dies
2006: Capitol Hill Massacre in Seattle
2006: Richard Fleischer dies
2006: Buck Owens dies
2007: Anonymous the Younger celebrates another birthday
Also, in Lord of the Rings, the destruction of the One Ring occurs

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Two Favorite Pictures Of Corb

Today seemed appropriate.
Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

There Only Are Four Books Of Poem I Obsess Over

Rebecca Loudon's Tarantella and Radish King.

Carolyn Forché's The Angel of History.

and Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris.

The book concerns the interaction of three main groups of characters: the garden, the gardener, and God/the sky. It opens beautifully: “At the end of my suffering / there was a door. / Hear me out: …” and continues to dig deeper into themes of suffering, solace, and healing. Most of the poems in the book follow the general format of the first poem: a strong beginning drawing the reader into a contemplative cascade of words on the page, capped off by an absolute, tentative, and resonant finish:

And you, who’ve been
with a man—
after the first cries,
doesn’t joy, like fear, make no sound? (59)

This general structure of book-ending the poems with intensity is followed for about two-thirds of the poems. The others are interspersed throughout and provide rest for the reader.

The structure of the book as a whole is perfect. Glück starts with the voice of the gardener, which I took to be the poet. Then she lets the flowers speak to her. Then she responds to the flowers and in so doing raises questions of God (26). She briefly focuses back on the flowers before addressing God with an angry tirade which he doesn’t respond to until page 50. After 50, she and God go back and forth before finally the gardener admits God’s existence (62), but immediately questions him directly. The curtain call of fall’s beginning brings the book to a close (63) with her and her husband in the garden. The journey is spectacular.

The poems are often very dark, contemplative, and personal. But Glück seems to use the personification of the flowers to lessen the blow and even add humor. The matins asking the gardener why she is crying subtly addresses despair, depression, and grief. A white rose saying, “This is the earth? Then / I don’t belong here,” provides a moment of humor. The overarching themes of human despair and desperation is put into context and almost trivialized by being told from the flower’s point of view. But this causes a tension that creates powerful poems.

The point of view of each poem is distant and concrete at the same time: distant because it is contemplative, concrete because the diction is simple. She uses pronouns a lot, but never mixes up who she is addressing or talking about.

My favorite poems are the beginning and ending ones and those starting on page twenty and ending on twenty-nine. I did not like the poems “Harvest” and “Lullaby.” Also, she introduces two humans, John and Noah, in passing, and never explains why. After reading brief note about the author I believe they are her husband and son, but there is no explanation in the poems themselves. These weaknesses don’t pull the book down though.

Other than those already quoted, these lines are stunning:

… human
passion or rage: for what else
would you let drop
all you have gathered?

The flower’s point of view here is awesome. She personifies perfectly, never making it trite, never making it sound forced.


Because in our world
something is always hidden,
small and white,
small and what you call
pure, we do not grieve
as you grieve, dear
suffering master; you
are no more lost
than we are, …

The consonance of “small and white / small and what” gets me every time.


as we both know,
if you worship
one god, you only need
one enemy— …


I speak
because I am shattered.


Hush, beloved. It doesn’t matter to me
how many summers I live to return:
this one summer we have entered eternity.
I felt your two hands
bury me to release its splendor.

I can only think of one other book-closing poem that is as good as this one: “Idiot Savant Caught by Surprise in a Lonely Time” in Rebecca Loudon’s Tarantella.


I am not very well read yet though, so there are probably many more out there that I haven't discovered but will affect me as deeply. Any suggestions are very welcome.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Our Current Poet Laureate

In The Musk Ox, Donald Hall’s poetry is based on conversation. He uses a familiar tone to try and get past most peoples defenses and deliver his poetry to a more spiritual level. But most of his poems don’t get any deeper than what he says superficially. He says things pretty. He has nothing unique or revolutionary to say – he says nothing, but he says that nothing beautifully. The poems are easy to read, hard to remember. The one poem here that I liked very much, “The Poem,” is indicative of his voice:

It discovers by night
what the day hid from it.
Sometimes it turns itself
into an animal.
In summer it takes long walks
by itself where meadows
fold back from ditches.
Once it stood still
in a quiet row of machines.
Who knows
what it is thinking?

I can really latch onto the idea of the poem as a creature of night. But I think most of his poems are not of darkness. Furthermore, it seems that to become a Poet Laureate one’s poems must be creatures of the day – Louise Glück and Rita Dove being prime exceptions. Hall’s ars poetica here is fun, but not much more. He doesn’t offer insight into his writing style and he doesn’t add anything to the ars poetic tradition.

His poems often feel like rough drafts, like he deliberately tries to leave words in so he doesn’t take the energy out. But in “Stump,” this creates a dead phrase, “The exhaust of a gasoline saw / was blue in the branches.” This phrase serves only to set up a phrase two stanzas down, “I loved the guttural saw.” The second phrase is gorgeous, but the first is boring. Anybody who’s worked with a saw has seen blue smoke in the branches. Hall does not take risks. That is why I don't like him. At least this book.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Los Angeles Times Finally Pulls Their Heads Out Of Their Asses, Kind-Of

He was shopping for cooking oil when Arab gunmen attacked his village. Adam Abdalla Omar, 70, tried to rescue his cow, but the invaders shot off his left arm. Now he lives in a displacement camp, so desperate and bored he worries he's losing his mind. It's a sadly familiar story in Darfur, except that Omar too is an Arab. Arabs in the western Sudanese region of Darfur are usually depicted as the aggressors in a conflict with black African ethnic groups, but many Arabs now find themselves caught up in the violence, forced into camps by intertribal fighting and cut off from traditional migration routes they've relied upon for centuries to survive.


It only took them what, four years to realize this isn't a cut-and-dry ethnic cleansing conflict? Chalk one more up for the 'carnival of resistance.'

Full article Here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why I Love Bernard Tschumi

Here are some quotes from Architecture and Disjunction.


Architecture is never autonomous, never pure form, and similarly, architecture is not a matter of style and cannot be reduced to a language.

An architectural space per se (space before its use) was politically neutral: an asymmetrical space, for example, was no more or less revolutionary or progressive than a symmetrical one. 'The [1968] Guerrilla building was architecturally just a shelter, a barrack on a building site, but it was called "The House of the People" and thus referred to meanings of freedom, equality, power, and so on. The space in itself was neutral.'

Just as graffiti or a pornographic image bears an obscenity that the real thing ignores, the architectural drawing can support specific meanings that everyday experience of the actual building prevents.

Duchamp's urinal, after all, is now a revered museum artifact; revolutionary slogans of 1968 Paris walls gave new life to the rhetoric of commercial advertising. ... Someone's critical proof using absurdist gestures could always become someone else's sincere proposal.

Architecture and its spaces do not change society, but through architecture and understanding of its effect we can accelerate [or slow] processes of change under way.

The internal contradictions of architecture had been there all along; they were part of its very nature: architecture was about two mutually exclusive terms - space and its use or, in a more theoretical sense, the concept of space and the experience of space.


And here are two pictures of his superb Rouen Concert Hall.

I love the simple beauty of the exterior.

When building a theatre/concert hall, the question should be asked, When was theatre at its best? Greek times, then Shakespeare and Moliere. So this building features these beautiful, terraced, concrete benches. But those attending a show need some back support these days, so he put some clear plastic seats in - clear so as to not disrupt the lines of the terraces. This is ingenious. Though the chairs don't stun, they're meant not to.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ernest Hemingway’s Poetry

sucks. Where his fiction feeds off of his simple sentence structure and a plethora of verbs, his poetry oscillates between too many and not enough details. “Mitrailliatrice” is considered his best, and the opening three lines are good:

The mills of the gods grind slowly
But this mill
Chatters in mechanical staccato

but the rest of the poem sinks quickly.

“Along with Youth” has some wonderful images and great words, which is unusual for Hemingway, but this poem lacks unity. The chronology is too sparse to hold it together. Reading this one backwards makes it passable though.

What is wrong with his poetry is a senseless sensationalism indicative of his early career, all too obtuse end rhymes, and too much repetition. The words at the end of the lines in “Riparto d’Assalto” are: floor, floor, stiff, sore, whore, whore, whore, ride, side, cold, cold, hides, rides, ride, side, died. There is a lot of internal rhyme in that piece as well. It gets extremely monotonous.

“Montparnasse” is the poem that comes closest to passing muster:

There are never any suicides in the quarter among people one knows
No successful suicides.
A Chinese boy kills himself and is dead.
(they continue to place his mail in the letter rack at the Dome)
A Norwegian boy kills himself and is dead.
(no one knows where the other Norwegian boy has gone)
They find a model dead
alone in bed and very dead.
(it made almost unbearable trouble for the concierge)
Sweet oil, the white of eggs, mustard and water, soap suds
and stomach pumps rescue the people one knows.
Every afternoon the people one knows can be found at the café.

Sure, parts of it are horrible - "They find a model dead / alone in bed and very dead" – but this is better than the rest of them. Trust me. This poem is held together by the three portraits: the Chinese, the Norwegian, and the model. Just for good measure, Hem throws in a failed attempt at the end. The contrast is the only thing that got me here. It was interesting. But most of his poems follow the lack of quality idealized in “The Earnest Liberal’s Lament:”

I know monks masturbate at night,
That pet cats screw,
That some girls bite,
And yet
What can I do
To set things right?

The trite end rhyme, the sensational nature, and the weakness of some lines – “And yet” – make this poem truly, truly horrific.

Monday, March 19, 2007

HBO's Carnivàle 2

Okay, wow. So I said the second season was either make or break, and it is most definitely make. Most definitely. The show is now firmly on my top-ten TV list. The emphasis on how the story is told is stunning visually -- costumes, location, and mise-en-scène -- but just as stunning intellectually -- the myths, the personalities, the metaphors, the symbols.

The second season is not the end, but HBO canceled it. I don't know why. I want them to bring it back. I emailed Chris Albrecht telling him I want it back. It was completely selfish. I want to know how it ends. There are websites devoted to fans who want Carnivàle back. This is why:

The Mythology of Carnivàle:

The Age of Wonder began with the coming of the Alpha, a Creature both Dark and Light. Her story is lost, but her legacy has continued. In the time before the Flood she bore two sons, one a Creature of Darkness, one of Light, the original Avatars. The Avatar's are always male, except for the Alpha and the Omega. The Omega is at the end of the Age of Wonder. She is the second female Avatar, and also both Light and Dark. Between the Alpha and the Omega is the Usher. An Avatar long prophesied about, the Usher of Destruction means to bring the end times upon the earth. His opposite must try to stop him. The end of the Age of Wonder is to come at 0529:45 hours, July 16, 1945, in the desert north of Alamogordo, New Mexico, at a test site called Trinity. The first man-made nuclear explosion ushers in the Age of Reason, and the Avataric rites are finished.

The Show:

Carnivàle is about the Usher and his opposite. The Omega is a main character too. Carnivàle's Season 2 ends in 1935 with the Omega coming into her own, the Usher finally revealing himself to the world at large, and the fight between the Usher and his opposite. I am being very careful to not give away anything, but I will say there needs to be at least one more season.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy Birthday WO!!!

If I can read a poem backwards and it is as good or better than the original, that is a mark of a good poet. There are other marks of course, but this is one. I love Wilfred Owen. I'll say it. I love Wilfred Owen. I'll say it. I'll say it. Dulce Et Decorum Est is one of my favorite poems ever. Ever. Hands down one of the best English language poems ever written. Sounds awesome backwards too:

Pro patria mori,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est.
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud,
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs.
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
Behind the wagon that we flung him in;
If in some smothering dream you too could pace.

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning,
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning,
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
But someone was still yelling out and stumbling.
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,

Of gas shells dropping softly behind,
Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots;
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge,
Till on the haunting glares we turned our backs,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we curses through sludge,
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.

Dulce et decorum est.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

One Year And Ten Days

and I don't know what this blog is about. I don't want it to be about any specific thing though. I want it to be about what is on my mind and I can't stay focused on anything. I like it this way.

Here's a picture of Peter Solberg and Phillip Mills in their Subaru at the Cyprus Rally, 2006:

From Here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Am Full Of Dust

The BEST Monster & Bacardi Gold Rum I ever mixed is not this one. Actually it was the one I mixed in flask for my final architecture presentation last semester. It was glorious. Truly. Even my girlfriend loved it and she never likes anything that strong. So here is my recipe:

Fill flask 1/3 to half full with Rum.
Fill flask to top with Monster.
Stir or shake.
Close flask and let the bubbles cease.


Stand in front of three professors and answer questions.
(Try not to breathe directly on them. Don't turn around - they will know it is not a wallet. After your turn, pass it around - everybody is that nervous.)

HBO's Carnivàle

The definitave list of TV shows I like:

Fawlty Towers - The best. Hands down.

Nip/Tuck - The first few episodes sucked, but the last half of the first season and then the entire second season were good.

Conan O'Brien - I love me some orange hair.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Throughout my life a debate has raged among the men my age: Who is funnier, Stewart or O'Brien?

Seinfeld - But not any but the first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

League of Gentlemen - So out there and it works so well.

Mr. Bean - Rowan Atkinson. 'Nuff said.

Band of Brothers - Good. Not great.

The Office - British version. Every scene in the US one without Dwight makes me sick.

And the latest addition:

Carnivàle - Okay, so I've only seen the first season. The second season is for this coming weekend. But so far this is good. Not great. Good. Some stuff is a bit laughable, corny, and some of the acting falls short. But I don't know what attracts me more: the storyline or the meticulous attention to period detail which creates perfect costumes, mise-en-scène, and personalities. Whatever it is, this show rises above HBO's usual shortfalls and the second season has the possibility of making it great.

The story is based off of this: "Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness."
- Sampson, opening scene

The show then follows two main characters. Brother Justin is a First Methodist Pastor in California. Ben Hawkins is a farmer-slash-murderer in Milfay. The Carnival picks Ben up and the enigmatic Management wants to keep him on full time. The Carnival is so full of characters that the first few episodes are downright perfect. The first few episodes also give hints (both ways) as to which was born of light and which of dark. Then it gets deep, and freaky. And addicting.

(The modern day Moses metaphor doesn't need to be understood to enjoy the show. To tell you the truth, I don't even really think of it that way while I'm watching it. But I will look back on it with the Biblical glasses after this weekend.)

There are only two seasons and if anybody gives the second one away before I watch it I will ensure the fleas of a million camels infest your pubic area. I will ensure.

No, I haven't yet seen Twin Peaks. It's on my list.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In The Mailman's Bag For Me Today

Five natural Mayorga Gordito Torpedos. Always one of my favorite cigars. The cheapest cigar on my recent World's Best Cigars: Torpedo/Belicoso list. These babies are fresh! I can't wait to light one up after work.

Twenty-five Belinda Spanish Twist maduros. My go-to smoke. This box cost me under $25 but don't let the price fool you - these are very fine smokes. The cost is on account of the inconsistent construction, but the taste is superb.

Five Don Diego Babies. My Girlfriend loves these things.

Six pouches of Captain Black's Gold. My favorite pipe tobacco yet. (No I haven't tried the White so stop asking. I think there is something wrong with Captain Black having a White mix.)

A Sketch Of Mine

Monday, March 12, 2007

What I DID Get For My Birthday

Just what I wanted! Woohoo! The black marble neck is gorgeous! The gunmetal and black base complement everything perfectly. I love it.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Horizontal Versus

Horizontal sprawl sucks. I do not think I am alone saying that. It extends commute times, therefore raising long-term pollution. It gives the illusion of freedom (the land, the space, the yard, the privacy) that is just a stricter constraint than city living.

Yes: living in a vertically oriented space is not for everybody, and it has some philosophical problems, but on a purely pragmatic level it works. I am not celebrating the Burj Dubai, Taipei 101, the Freedom Tower, or the Shanghai World Financial Centre, merely saying that I think building up is better for urban environments.

What is up? Two things:
1. A fixation with the sun that gives life, always exhibited through a phallic form.
2. There is a too tall right now.

7 Billion people do not need towers that vie for the world's tallest. I'm sorry SOM, but I don't think it is that impressive. On the other hand, these supertalls definitely work like racecars: the safety and evacuation technologies developed in them filter down to lower-scale construction, which is good. Though the human scale, the line of repose of human life, is horizontal, with so many of us, and so little livable land available, I think it is time to stop sprawling out and start expanding up. This is my opinion and I want to hear what you think. I can see some deep philosophical problems with towers, and I'm not sure how I feel about Megastructures, but I can't see a way around it.

Down? We run into water-table issues.
Oceanic? Too expensive and again we run into space availability issues.
Space? Come on Stephen Hawking, I think it's a little early to be talking about that just yet. Someday maybe.

To my core I believe technology is not able to fix all of technology's problems. Every fix creates new problems.

This is me being human. This is me confused.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Midterms did not kill me. It takes final projects for that one. I am thankful for the break, though it is not really a break. It is just time to work on other projects.

How to be an architecture student:

1. Sketch.
2. Sketch.
3. Sketch.
4. Put the vanishing point of all the sketches (YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH!) on the same horizon line.
5. Arrange them until you start seeing them not as sketches, or a building, but rather as a set of planes. Then try and consolidate to just two vanishing points (IT WILL BE MUCH EASIER)
6. Arrange your resulting drawing/compilation into a shape and form you like.
7. Make the floor plan (just reverse the perspective technique) of that mess.
8. Build it out of basswood.
9. Get drunk with studio-mates BEFORE grades come back, but after the project is turned in.
10. After grades come out, stay away from anything tall unless it is a drink.

Oh, and one more thing, you will NEVER EVER EVER know the step coming directly after what you are doing.

Bon chance. Don't forget basic human functions.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Read Make: Blog

and I have since Sam told me about it. Thank you Sam.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Norman Foster

From the stunning 100 sq. ft. The Retreat, Pill Creek, Cornwall, built for ₤500 in 1964, to the Reichstag, the 30 St. Mary Axe "Gherkin," and the new Hearst Tower in New York, Foster's work has continually been astounding. His heavy emphasis on sketching as integral to the design process keeps his architecture continually well-thought-out and pristinely constructed. He is often mis-aligned with the term High Tech Architecture, but he does more than just use glass in new and innovative ways. I think the painter Ben Johnson more aptly described Foster:

"[He is] always aware that particular people will use it, not just 'the workers' or 'the company.' [He is aware of] both formal and human space. Norman Foster does not have a chip on his shoulder, but neither does he behave as though he was born to decree where others should live and work. He has something more valuable than either attitude, and that is because he has never forgotten what it is like to be on the receiving end of architecture."

30 St Mary Axe, London
"The Gherkin"

Foster on sketching, from the Introduction to Norman Foster Sketch Book:

"My ultimate luxury remains time to spare with a black-bound sketch book and a pencil. ... All this might sound like a rationalization to encourage the practice of sketching by seeking to demonstrate that it is central to process of design. That would be a nonsense. In any case there are individuals who can convey a vision in other ways. Sketching is far too enjoyable in itself to need any justification. This book is about sharing that joy, and for me that is inseparable from the practice of being an architect. As Charles Eames said: 'It is about taking one's pleasures seriously.'"

The Hearst Tower, New York

Foster on design, from the Introduction to Norman Foster Sketch Book:

"In the design process the imposition of tighter constraints often improves the quality of the end product. ... Perhaps in the end everything is about the quality of the individuals - never about the tools. ... Design is a dynamic process which involves interaction between people - in the office, workshop, factory, and finally, on the building site."

The Reichstag Dome, Berlin

Monday, March 05, 2007

Humanity Versus

There is always – in violence, sex, danger, desperation – time when a person’s outer mask comes away and what is beneath is revealed. The desperation of falling. The climax of sex. The danger of a car crash. Watch closely and you may see an honest single-mindedness shatter the outer mask. Many call this human, humanity. But is it? No, it is one of the lower masks, the masks closer to human. It is not humanity. Rather, it speaks to an animal nature whose origin as cognitive, empirical, or instinctual is unknown.

Humanity is in movement. The only thing that allows humanity is movement. Imperceptibly small movements. The grand throw of an arm. These both allow life. But this is not only human. It is also animal. Another animal trait close to the core of humanity.

So what then, is human?

What sets humanity apart from animals is thought. Cognitive processes bringing a conclusion. The ability to break instincts. This is human. This is humanity. All an animal can choose is flight or fright. And until we have a more whole understanding of what a deer thinks I will not say that is cognitive. Sure, animals have the ability to learn, but the acquisition of patterns to support and continue life is an animal trait of humans, not a human trait in animals.

Confusion. The ability to recognize and cognate on things outside of, and inside, the empirical. Imagination. This is purely human. Confusion and imagination are the same thing. Confusion is both the acquisition of knowledge, either too much or too little, and the desire to make sense of what is known. Even knowledge sets us apart from the instinctual: the animal. Imagination, dreaming, is also the acquisition of knowledge and a desire to make sense of it. Thought itself is the same conflict between different bits of information. Therefore thought, confusion, and imagination are all the same thing.

These three are the core of what it is to be human. Not desperate self-survival, not brutality. It is indecision, confusion, the ability to force a change of oneself. We are not purely instinctual. Our instincts are augmented by knowledge found through confusion, which is where we get our leg up.

Amores Perros (Love's A Bitch)

A 2000 ensemble film featuring three main stories and Gael García Bernal. This film carries with it the best and worst parts of an ensemble, but has a tension I haven't yet seen in one. The tension rivals City of God, but instead of children shooting children, here it is dog-fights. Let it be known I don't handle dog-fighting well.

The first story is Bernal's. Or it is supposed to be. Vanessa Bauche (Susana) and Cofi steal this section. Hands down. Bernal bored me. Badly. Also, the love-blosoming scenes between Bernal and Bauche were almost as bad as Star Wars Three. Ramiro (Marco Pérez) is another fun character. This should be a good section. The story is great. But the lack of chemistry between Bernal and Bauche drags it down fast. Maybe Bernal only has chemistry with other guys.

The second story is about a model, Goya Toledo, who gets in an accident. Also, her dog disappears into the floor. The film does a good job not drowning in the symbolism here, but it drags on. There are a couple of very poignant parts here.

Emilio Echevarría (above) is one of my new favorite actors based on his Sisyphus/Jesus/hit man character here. As El Chivo, he saves Bernal's life, saves Cofi's life, looks like Jesus, steals cars, gets paid to kill Gustavo's half brother, and more. This dense section lacks the pacing problems that characterize the first two sections. Its quick speed doesn't loose any subtleties in the film though, and the third feels richer and more flushed out than the first two. There is a lot of symbolism here again, but it still doesn't drown the film.

My Rating:
I will watch this one again, but maybe just the third part.

Follow-up: I watched the third part two more times. I love it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Only In Sudan, Two

"The Sudanese interior minister threatened to behead any person attempting to arrest the individuals indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The London based Al Hayat newspaper Thursday March 1 quoted Zubair Bashir Taha as saying that his government will kill any party seeking to apprehend Sudanese officials to bring him before the ICC. The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo announced on Tuesday Feb 27 that he filed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Ahmed Mohamed Haorun the Sudanese minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kosheib."

Sudan Tribune Article Here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Architecture Quotes Of The Week

"Human scale was true building scale. ... What other scale could I use?"
- Frank Lloyd Wright in The Natural House.

"A fragmented representation is the true representation of being there."
- Ron Jelaco, personal conversation.

"Perform architecture."
"To really appreciate architecture, you may even need to commit a murder."
-Bernard Tschumi in The Manhattan Chronicles.

"Practice and theory are its parents. Practice is the frequent and continued contemplation of the mode of executing any given work, or of the mere operation of the hands, for the conversion of the material in the best and readiest way. Theory is the result of that reasoning which demonstrates and explains that the material wrought has been so converted as to answer the end proposed. Wherefore the mere practical architect is not able to assign sufficient reasons for the forms he adopts; and the theoretic architect also fails, grasping the shadow instead of the substance. He who is theoretic as well as practical, is therefore doubly armed; able not only to prove the propriety of his design, but equally so to carry it into execution. In architecture, as in other arts, two considerations must be constantly kept in view; namely, the intention, and the matter used to express that intention: but the intention is founded on a conviction that the matter wrought will fully suit the purpose; he, therefore, who is not familiar with both branches of the art, has no pretension to the title of the architect. An architect should be ingenious, and apt in the acquisition of knowledge. Deficient in either of these qualities, he cannot be a perfect master. He should be a good writer, a skillful draftsman, versed in geometry and optics, expert at figures, acquainted with history, informed on the principles of natural and moral philosophy, somewhat of a musician, not ignorant of the sciences both of law and physic, nor of the motions, laws, and relations to each other, of the heavenly bodies."
- Marcus Vitruvius Pollio in de Architectura I.