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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Lebbeus Woods is one of my biggest inspirations. His Deconstructed© forms were very fashionable when I was in my most impressionable stage of architecture school, so the message was delivered by fashion. But his raw discussion of upheaval and reconciliation through form / space was the real lesson. The unfortunate part is, it turns out very few of us were listening to the message, not just aping the fashion.

Without Woods’s exploration of the possibilities for spaces and constructions to be challenges to hegemony or previous societal ills, I would not have discovered architectural or critical theory – subjects that will forever challenge me to explore and continue learning. I would not have discovered the theoretical polemicists who preceeded him – Superstudio, Archizoom, Archigram, and most importantly (and not coincidentally, his primary influence) the Situationist International.

This article
– which uses Mr. Woods as an example of how we have lost our way as a profession due to the influx of capital in the latest boom is pollyannish, because… uhh… Nick, that’s what happens in a boom… People are too busy doing to reflect… But additionally, it’s inspirational and challenging – as is this commentary by Kazys Varnelis.

Please read and contemplate both, and consider YOUR role in how we’ve gone astray, as I am forced to consider my role. All politics are local they say, and I say that all spaces are local – if nowhere else, local to to your mind and psyche, and Lebbeus Woods’s speculative spaces are not excluded by their lack of instantiation.

While this is what we expect from Mr. Varnelis, and prize him for; I applaud the usually vanilla Nicolai Ouroussoff for taking a first move toward some sort of challenge to mere affirmation of the rectitude of the 6 billion-headed-beast that is the current mode of late capitalism that makes us all our own whip-crackers. The journalistic world is without any true voices of dissent in architectural criticism, and it is nice to see him dabble his toes into the deep waters of radicalism. I await the day that he dives in, and am excited for the possibility.

Thanks Nick, thanks Kazys, and most of all – Thank you Lebbeus Woods.

P.S.: This could be the beginning of a renewed voice of dissent. Which means, in the usual self-obsessed terminology of our current mode of production – that my stock will rise. ha HA!

If I am not mistaken, I arrived in Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California ten years ago today. Here’s to a decade in and out of love and trouble with this beautifully godforsaken place.
Even when I lived other places, I still considered it home.

For all intents and purposes, that makes ten years of architecture, too.
Here’s to a decade in love with this godforsaken undertaking – avocation, vocation, mistress.
Even when I had to do other things, I still considered it my calling.

Ray Ray McElrathby was a running back at Clemson University. He made headlines a couple years ago when he got very unusual permission from the NCAA to set up a trust and take donations for the support of his 11 year old brother, after he became his brother’s guardian while his mother fought her drug problems.

Imagine being the guardian for a sibling while YOU were in college – I could never have survived. We’ll leave the discussion of why someone with such a big heart and such resourcefulness has to get special permission to support his brother, while the people giving said are taking money from beer companies and turning a blind eye to “legitimized” gambling on their sport.

But here’s the upside of the story. We had previously heard that Mr. McElrathby, who stopped playing football for Clemson last year – to care for his brother and concentrate on academics – was transferring to Howard for academic reasons.

But it turns out that he has one thing to do while still at Clemson – GRADUATE. So I guess he’s not just transferring to Howard, but going there for graduate school? That’s awesome.

And the postscript? It may not be ah high level program like Clemson, but he’s using his two remaining years of eligibility to play football at Howard, too.

Congratulations for the reward for your hard and selfless work, Mr. McElrathby. This amazing dedication will make you successful at whatever you do. And your brother? I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation, but it seems you’ve given HIM a chance at success where previously he might not have had one, as well. You are an inspiration to us all.

I saw a couple things on CNN this morning that are noteworthy.

First, Rev. Joel Osteen’s wife is standing trial for assault.“Brown alleges Victoria Osteen threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast during an outburst over a stain on her first-class seat.”


Second, both of our presidential candidates want to be the same superhero. Batman. Considering that in this movie, Batman succeeds through the responsible use of illegal wiretapping, and has always been more Nietzsche than Gandhi, I don’t find this idea comforting.


Edit: Caveat – I myself have always wanted to be Batman, make no mistake. But I don’t also want to be our next president. The intersection of the two is the frightening part.

This is actually a tremendously interesting article about the essential role of sleep in memory and decision making, etc…

From Scientific American…

This Guardian review of the television show The Wire is well written and concise. It says nothing new, but it makes a case for the city of Baltimore and its architecture as a character in the series – and as an architect, if that weren’t painfully obvious when I do finally start watching the series, this article makes sure I’ll be looking out for this trait.

And it just intensifies the fact that I have to watch the show.

This is mostly a feel-good phrase, “________ Bill of Rights,” but hey, it’s pertinent. If drivers knew the true legal status of bicycles on OUR streets, they would probably be much more thoughtful.

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But the reason this rates a mention is because when he speaks for his $5k bike riding, spandex wearing dentist road biker constituents, he speaks for every east side kid or commuter who has a right to be a an unmolested lane of traffic.

So let me give massive respect and thanks to Councilman Bill Rosendahl for having the fortitude to stand up to the tyranny of the car and call for Bicyclists Rights!