Friday, July 04, 2008

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bye-Bye Blogger!

Hey all! I've moved the whole dog and pony show over to
www.polisnyc.wordpress.com

Much better design, better organization, all around big improvement. So come take a look!

Monday, August 28, 2006

BAMN! Grand Opening

The automat has returned with the grand opening of BAMN! Drawing a big crowd on St. Marks Pl. this evening, people lined up to experience the pre-fast food phenomenon of dropping a coin in a slot and having fresh hot food appear like magic. According to a surprisingly good New York Sun article, in the 1950s there were 180 automats in New York and Philadelphia, feeding 800,000 people a day such things as beef noodles with burgundy sauce. The last automat, in Times Square, closed in 1991. The 21st century version -- complete with hot pink signage and even hotter concierges (click pic at left) -- will serve grilled cheese, pizza and dumplings with an Asian twist for $1.50-$2.50. Once the crowds disperse a little, I'll give it a whirl and write up a review.

Que Serra Serra

Andy Roddick - who is now receiving wisdom from the legendary Jimmy Connors - just pummeled Florent Serra (6-2 6-1 6-3). This is a decidedly better start for Roddick in Flushing, Queens than last year. After a big advertising build-up, he was dismissed from the US Open in the first round by a player ranked only 70th in the world. This year looks to be a whole lot different. With Jimbo in the house, not only is Roddick playing confidently, he got lucky with an easy draw. I predict he'll meet Rafael Nadal in the quarters (which will be a screamer of a match), and defeat him to go on to the face Roger Federer in the final. The downside: Roddick could face Agassi in the fourth round, at which point, Agassi will likely bid a a fond farewell (if he hasn't already).

The Times has a great piece about Agassi in a US Open supplement today. My favorite anecdote:

While playing a trivia game online to pass the time before a match, Agassi came upon a question he was sure he would ace: “Who is the only woman to win a Grand Slam final 6-0, 6-0?” The choices were Graf, Helen Wills Moody, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Agassi turned to Graf, who was in the room, and asked, “Did you ever win a Grand Slam final love and love?” She answered, “No, I do
n’t think so.” Agassi picked Moody, but the answer was Graf, who beat Natasha Zvereva at the 1988 French Open. Agassi turned to her and said, “How could you not remember that?”

There's also a good timeline about Agassi's career at the US Open. Click here.

Photo from Andy Roddick dot com.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

NYC Loves Agassi

Last year, I paid tribute to Agassi at the start of what was his 20th straight US Open showing. This year will be his 21st and final appearance. (He had a spectacular run last year, beating James Blake in a fantastic five-set match -- a la Jimmy Connors -- to make it all the way to the final, wherein Roger Federer sliced and diced him with the precision of a zen master.) Agassi will play opening night (Monday). Here's what I said last year, which is even truer this year:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Agassi, U Da Man

It’s easy to love Andre Agassi these days, this being his 20th straight appearance at New York’s Flushing Meadows (he won the US Open men’s singles title in 1994 and 1999). This wasn’t always so. He was often dismissed as all sizzle, no steak. People took his long-running advertising campaign for the Canon Rebel camera with its tagline “image is everything” a little too seriously. But as a full-fledged member of Generation X, Agassi has a well-developed sense of irony. (Of course, he’s very much an Xer in this sense as well: expressing apolitical rebelliousness with misguided fashion statements.) The ultimate irony is that he skipped Wimbledon from 1989-1991 because he refused to wear the required all-white uniform, but then made his grand slam breakthrough by winning the grass court title in 1992. That’ll shut up a few critics, no? But then he handed them a gift by getting fat on sprinkled donuts and losing his way with Brooke Shields in the mid-1990s. Schedenfreudians said his career was over. In one of the most humbling and determined comebacks in sports, Agassi hit the small and medium-sized tournaments and built his game back up from the bottom, becoming one of only five men to win all four grand slam titles (Wimbledon, French Open, US Open, Australian Open). Of course, everyone loves a comeback, especially one fueled by so much integrity. But with Agassi, it’s more than that. He is a truly charming and substantive person with a vast love of the sport that has treated him so well. Pete Sampras, his long-time rival who was always considered a substantive if not charming tennis player, might have won more grand slam titles and dominated the sport in a way that Agassi never did. But when Sampras rode off into the sunset with his model/actress wife never to be seen again except wearing a Movado watch, there was Agassi, still hitting the tennis courts because he loves the game, not just winning. And here’s the kicker: Mr. Image ended up married not to a waifish model, but to the least image conscious, most serious tennis player of all: Steffi Graf.

In retirement, Agassi will probably take a little time off to figure out how to reinsert himself in the game that he loves. But don't be surprised if, in the not too distant future, he's coaching the Davis Cup team, playing Team Tennis, coaching individual players (a la Brad Gilbert, who was instramental in Agassi's comeback), and/or supporting any number of other tennis related causes. In the meantime, it'll be a joy to watch him play his last US Open. Wish I had tix.

Friday, August 25, 2006

NOL v. WTC: The Truth Hurts

Chocolate City Mayor Ray Nagin throwin down! In an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Nagin reportedly said, "You guys in New York can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later. So let's be fair." Touche, Mr. Mayor. Touche.

Photo of WTC pit taken May 2006.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cornershot

Cary of Visual Diaries started a unique blog while Polis was on hiatus, so I'm just getting to it now. The angle -- no pun intended -- is that he's a double shooter: pool and photography (works for the Village Voice and the Times, the latter is how we met). And now he's combined the two passions in a blog, Bank the Nine: Some Observations from a Pool-Playing Photographer. Who knew there were outdoor pool tables in Battery Park? Read all about it here.

NYC: Nature Thrives, Development Idles

The Times has a great little slideshow about nature adapting to the urban world, from flowers poking through cracked cement in Williamsburg to monk parakeets nesting on power poles -- which, according to legend, arrived in the region in the 1960s when a shipment of the birds fell off a plane at Kennedy Airport. To view Andrea Mohin's slideshow, click here.

Prefer your news a little more hard boiled? The Times Metro section is chock full o' fun today, with three different stories about how to stop anything -- good, bad or ugly -- from ever happening in New York City.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Script Doctor in the House?

So good to be back in NYC after a hiatus in Cleveburgh (my hometown, see below). A quick tour around the nabe yielded sights, sounds and smells that can only be had in the E.Vil., including this sidewalk trash montage that looks like one of those faked photo-ops that newspaper journalists used to stage back in the day. The streets of the E.Vil. are littered (literally!) with failed screenplays, as seen on E. 9th Street (note the Mud to-go coffee cup). I googled the authors and the screenplay title but alas, did not come up with much. Here's a thought: The first open-source screenplay writing contest. Start with the title Super Duper and take it from there. Or not.

P.S. I've been posting about redesigning Polis for awhile now, and I'm a little confounded about what is the best approach after discovering that the MAC iWeb software SUCKS. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. I'd like to launch a website that Polis can be incorporated into (along with a home page, a photo page, a bio page, etc.), but I'm not the savviest tech person. Thoughts? Email me: lisacchamberlain@gmail.com.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Vanilla Ice, Cleveland Style



So the story goes like this... Denny Blaze aka "Average Homeboy" from Cleveland, Ohio sent in a demo tape to MTV some 20 years ago. Someone there was cleaning out a closet and decides to post the video on YouTube and next thing you know, Blaze is a freakin' YouTube "star." Check these sizzling hot rhymes: "As you can see, I'm not black. I don't do drugs and I'm not on crack." ... "I don't have a butler or a maid. My exterminator is a can of Raid." ... "For enjoyment I like to shoot some hoops, but not until I eat all my Fruit Loops." Imagine a low budget David Hasselhoff with a learning disability trying to make it as a white rapper circa 1985. And he's still at it!
Yo, check it, Blazin' at the Rock Hall:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Spanning the Cuyahoga

As I already mentioned, the river that divides the east and west side of C-town (putting the cleave in Cleveland, I suppose) is called the Cuyahoga, which is an Indian word for crooked because the river takes several crazy turns through downtown and further south. There are more than 330 bridges spanning the river, many of them quite beautiful, especially the moveable ones. Not all are still in use, such as Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Bridge called a jackknife (pic above taken this afternoon), built in 1956. Below is a view I took from the Center Street bridge, one of the few swing bridges in the country that is still in use -- although it's been rebuilt several times, the current version completed in 1901. It was originally wood and became the central point of contention between eastsiders and westsider, who fought a war with each other over which side of the river downtown Cleveland would be established. The eastsiders won, and downtown can be seen looking east, with views of the B&O on the left; Key Tower in the center (the tallest building in Cleveland, designed by Cesar Pelli); and a glimpse of the Detroit-Superior Bridge on the right, completed in 1918. Not that you want to, but to read more about The Bridges of Cuyahoga County, click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hot But Not Burning

One of the reasons Polis is on summer hiatus is because I'm actually not in New York, but in Cleveland. The above photo is where Moses Cleaveland* landed in 1796, taken from the Detroit Superior Bridge, which spans the Cuyahoga River. The Cuyahoga -- an Indian word for crooked, the river does a loop-d-loop through downtown -- became infamous in 1969 for catching on fire. It actually had caught fire many times, but this particular fire was covered by Time magazine, which described the Cuyahoga as the river "that oozes rather than flows," in which a person "does not drown but decays." The Clean Water Act and other environmental laws were subsequently enacted, and it has been cleaned up considerably, as have many other urban waterways as a result. But the metaphor of a burning river lives on. There's the Burning River Fest, a music fest with an environmental awareness mission; a really good beer made by Great Lakes Brewery, Burning River Pale Ale; and a book entitled Crooked River Burning. Sadly, when a performance artist once proposed an event to recreate the river catching on fire, the city didn't see the humor in that and nixed the idea.

More Fun Facts: A few years after the river caught on fire, the mayor set his own hair on fire while attempting to use a welder's torch at a ribbon-cutting. As if that wasn't enough to make Cleveland a regular Johnny Carson joke, the mayor's wife declined an invitation to the White House because it was her bowling night.

Maybe I'll just blog about Cleveland for the next couple of weeks... plenty more where that came from.

*In 1830, the first newspaper was established, called the Cleveland Advertiser, which dropped the 'a' because it didn't fit in the masthead.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hip or Dangerous?

While I'm taking a break from Polis (see below), here is a seriously fun time-waster. My friend Jeremy alerted me to The Burg, a web-only TV series made by a group of Williamsburghers that makes fun of hipsters in Williamsburg (very meta). One of my faves: a short entitled, "Hip or Dangerous?" where two of the characters decide if various people on the street are either hip or dangerous. It's a question that could be asked of the series itself. The ultimate procrastination tool.

The episode below, "Project," is where Courtney tries to turn her new Wall Street boyfriend into a hipster, among other hipster projects (such as actually going to the "projects" to buy drugs). There's some awesome original music, too. Just watch (click Play in Pop Up below to make this work, or go straight to the burg).

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project: | Play in Popup

Friday, July 28, 2006

Under Construction

I'm taking a break from Polis, which will be back online and completely redesigned and updated by the end of August. Feel free to be in touch by email. Stay cool.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Revisiting Jane Jacobs One More Time

Metropolis columnist Karrie Jacobs has a really well crafted piece about all the wrong-headed assumptions that are made about Jane Jacobs, making some of the very same points that I did in a recent Polis post. Karrie (no relation to Jane) admits that she never actually read The Death and Life of Great American Cities until recently, and when she did after Jane's death in April, she realized that much of what is attributed to Jane is just wrong. She was not opposed to modern architecture or to all things "big," nor was she a precursor to the New Urbanist movement. She criticized the Garden City movement, the real precursor to New Urbanism, dismissing it as "harmony and order imposed and frozen by authoritarian planning." Ouch. Jane was a master at evisceration, using her pen like an X-acto knife.

Karrie also applies what she thinks would be a more nuanced Jacobsian criticism to Atlantic Yards. Well worth a full read.

Jane Jacobs Revisited [Metropolis]
Jane Jacobs In Memorium [Polis]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Abandoned Building Census

Given the insane real estate market in New York City, abandoned and/or underutilized buildings aren't the problem they once were, but they do still exist. City Limits is reporting that Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, is undertaking the first ever survey of abandoned properties in Manhattan. Prompted by homeless activists, Stringer's office will unleash a cadre of volunteers this Saturday, who will identify buildings such as 190 Mercer St. (which is certainly underutilized, if not entirely abandoned). According to City Limits, other cities have conducted similar surveys with good results:

Boston does an annual street-by-street count of abandoned properties that covers most of the city. When housing agency staffers find buildings that qualify, they post the addresses online to urge neglectful owners to either use the buildings or sell them. Since 2000, the number of abandoned buildings in the city has dropped by 43 percent.


Of course, that drop also coincided with the real estate boom, so it's not necessarily a causal relationship, but shaming neglectful property owners is never a bad thing.

The Cube Defaced

Hey! Some piece of sh*t defaced The Cube! No self-respecting urban artist would do that to The Cube. The hack who did this (and I highly doubt it's the guy pictured here, much too unmotivated to lift a can of spray paint) better hope s/he doesn't get caught. This warrants vigilante justice.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

99 Degrees of Stink

According to an article in today's Times, City Council is about to vote on Bloomberg's long-standing plan to deal with the 50,000 tons of trash generated in New York City every day. So now that the macro-trash plan is about to pass, can we talk about the micro-trash issue?

One of the first posts I had on Polis was about a demonstration project last summer in Queens, where solar powered trash compactors were installed on street corners, which simultaneously prevents the above from happening and contains the smell (and on a day when it is going to be 99 degrees, this is no small matter). Just as Giuliani took on the squeegie men as his "quality of life" issue, Bloomberg should take on street trash and make that his signature quality of life issue, especially now that we've figured out where all that trash is going to be hauled off to. Solar powered trash compactors on every corner.

I took the above photo this morning at the corner of 2nd Ave. and St. Marks Place in front of Gem Spa, birthplace of New York's first "egg cream," which is neither eggy nor creamy. But I digress.

Update: Better late than never, City Council did finally pass Bloomberg's trash plan, with this little piece of stupidity attached: according to Gotham Gazette, "
The plan also includes ... a new office for recycling outreach." Little old Chinese ladies who scour the streets every night for bottles and cans will be thrilled to know there's now a recycling outreach office. It's enough to bring out the libertarian in me.

Advertecture Invades the E.Vil.


I'm getting in on the advertecture game a little late; Curbed and the Municipal Art Society held a contest for the most offensive/illegal advertecture and picked a winner and runners-up some time ago. But I spotted this monstrosity just yesterday at the corner of Avenue A and E. 9th St. -- the first advertecture I've seen in the E.Vil. And as far as I can tell, a banner on a residential building in a residential neighborhood is illegal, much like the winner of the "Shoot It Down" contest.

I checked out the Helio website -- "Hi. We're a new mobile brand created to give young, passionate consumers (like us) the type of wireless experience we've all been waiting for." Yes, haven't we just been dying for a mobile device that comes equipped with MySpace? Fun Box, rockin those young, passionate consumers.

Friday, July 14, 2006

From the Dept. of Who Knew?

I happened upon a skate contest in Tompkins Square Park today sponsored by two companies I've never heard of (this is getting to be a theme -- perhaps I'm in the wrong demographic): Boost Mobile and éS, which produces the "éS Game of SKATE," based on the basketball game "HORSE." The first skater performs a trick, and if completed, the skater she is playing has to do that trick. If she does not complete the established trick, she receives a letter. The first letter is "S," the second letter is "K", and so on, until "S-K-A-T-E" is spelled out and that person is out of the game. Anyhoo, it turns out Boost Mobile is owned by Nextel and éS is a footwear brand. Who knew. (Or more importantly, who cares? I just like the photo. Click to enlarge.)

Take the Shortcake

All the little worlds that exist out there, totally unbeknownst to 99 percent of the rest of humanity ... I had seen posts on Curbed about a couple of enterprising people selling Strawberry Shortcake on the boardwalk at Coney Island. Seemed cute enough to ignore. That is, until this morning when I looked at their blog a little more closely, and -- seeing the pure joy captured on their customers' faces, a small bit of loveliness at a time when we seem to be on the verge of WWIII -- I got curious. Who are these dispenders of joy, figurative and virtual, via Strawberry Shortcake and the Internet? I'm still not entirely sure, but according to their website, they are street artists operating under the moniker Thundercut as well as publishers of the zine Sherbert (nominated by Utne Reader for an Independent Press Award, their latest issue is fresh off the presses). Never heard of them (but perhaps that's not saying much). Ah well, nevermind. Just enjoy the Shortcake.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm Shouting Into the Gaping Void

I've been a big fan of Gapingvoid for a long time now, and in fact I've tried several times to make contact with Hugh about using his cartoons in my book (he keeps ignoring me! wassup?). So here's my shameless attempt at getting his attention: a big fat shout out.

Gapingvoid, in case you've been under a cartoon/blog/creative rock, started when Hugh MacLeod began drawing "weedoodles" on the back of his business cards when he handed them out. Now he draws blog cards and posts them on his endlessly entertaining website. He then wrote a creative manifesto ("How To Be More Creative" which spread like wildfire on the internet). In his own words, How To Be More Creative "was ... a series of meditations on the lessons I had learned the hard way over the years, as I tried to bridge the nearly impossible gap of making an OK living without letting my soul die from the inside out." This is an ESSENTIAL component of the book I'm currently contracted to write for Carroll & Graf (click here for more about that).

So Hugh, wassup?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gov's Island: Vote Early and Often

The Governor's Island Alliance has released guidelines to redevelop perhaps the most important piece of undeveloped land in the Northern hemisphere, and there are three illustrated alternatives that can be voted on by going here: www.governorsislandalliance.org

There's the harbor park (park that faces the Statue of Liberty), channel park (facing Brooklyn) and the prow park (at the southern most tip of the island). Pictured above: channel park. Can't say I have an immediate opinion except, let's get it on, already. For some thoughts about what the hold up is, read post below.

Gondolas to Gov's Island [Polis]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Five Pointz

When I was in LIC (see below), I came across something that I'm probably the last person to know about... Five Pointz, a building in Long Island City that got tagged with graffiti so often, the owner of the building decided like ten years ago to sanction the urban artists and let them do their thing. Now it's probably the most important collection of urban art in New York (and hence, the world). An artist who was about to go up in the lift to do a piece said that there's going to be -- get this -- a coffee table book about all the artists and the work on the building.

Update: My dear friend Michael writes from South Africa to tell me that: "yeah, you are the last to know about it. which sort of makes you cutting-edge! ;-)". Apparently, one of Michael's ex-roommates, Kezam, did a lot of the work on this building, and Kezam is now finishishing his sociology disertation on NYC graffiti. Here's his flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kezam/

Silvercup Sprouts

A year ago, I reported on the largest green roof in New York City being installed on top of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City near the Queensboro Bridge. (Silvercup is the largest film and television studio in New York, where Sex and the City was filmed and the Sopranos still is. If you don't have Times Select, email me and I'll send a PDF of the Silvercup greenroof story for the Times.)

I was out there this afternoon and snapped a couple of pics. While green roofs are big in Chicago, they are pretty rare in New York and most other American cities. This one is 35,000 square feet (it's actually three green roofs spread out over the Silvercup site, one of which is literally on top of Tony Soprano's house). The pic below is of a monitoring system that is collecting data in order to show how much less storm water runoff there is as a result of the succulent plants absorbing rain, as well as temperature fluctuations and air quality measurements.
Silvercup Sunset [Polis]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Idling At Zero 2.0

While we're on the topic of irony too rich to require comment (see below), Gawker made a time-lapse video out of photos taken of the World Trade Center site over the past 101 days so we can watch absolutely nothing happen. It's a much more concise way of conveying what took me 2500 words in a piece I wrote for the July issue of Planning magazine entitled, Idling At Zero (which is not available online to non-members, so email me if you'd like to read it ... for the two Polis readers who are American Planning Association members, click here.).

Become Your Dream... Or Not

The irony of the above pic (snapped on Avenue A this afternoon) requires no further comment, but perhaps a little context. DeLaVega, whom I've posted about on Polis a few times, is an East Harlem artist who has a gallery/shop on St. Marks Place where he sells his original artwork as well as t-shirts and such. He's known for writing aphorisms on the sidewalk in chalk, such as, "I just bought real estate in your mind," and "Sometimes the king is a woman." He's probably best known, however, for this one: "Become Your Dream."

P.S. Note the graffiti on the right (click to enlarge photo). I love this nabe.

Previous Polis posts:

De La Vega Takes the E.Vil.

DeLaVega, an East Harlem artists who opened a shop...

E.Vil.: Too Sexy for National Retailers

Monday, July 03, 2006

Robert Moses Gave Me a Sunburn

Alright, alright. Robert Moses wasn't all bad. I admit it.

Pic taken July 1 at Robert Moses State Park on Long Island where I went with my friend Alex Bandon, she of The Shelter Life. It was the perfect beach day: not too hot, slight breeze, room to breath and take in an expansive view. I did get a sunburn, though, which is surely the wrath of Moses.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

X-Treme Makeover


Now that New York mag is publishing oral histories of the golden age of graffiti and a bank in the E.Vil. has commissioned "graffiti" art and placed it underneath the teller windows (see pic here), it's definitely time for this artform to mutate, and indeed it has. Call this X-Acto graffiti. Someone spent a lot of time making very precise cuts in this poster on E. 12th for what looks like a bad Uma Thurman romantic comedy. It probably wasn't intentional, but this is a brilliant little commentary on beauty and plastic surgery.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

JJ in Memoriam: Washington Square Park

Better late than never. Jane Jacobs, who profoundly influenced urban planning not just in New York City, but throughout Western Civilization, will be honored Wed. at 5:00 pm (rain or shine) under the arch in Washington Square Park, the site of her first victory against the ravages of urban renewal that were being waged by the notorious Robert Moses. She died April 25, 2006 in Toronto, where she moved with her family from NYC's Greenwich Village in 1968 so her sons wouldn't be drafted into the Vietnam War.

It has become the contrarian fashion to say that Jane Jacobs' contribution to urban planning didn't address many of the problems we grapple with today, and that Robert Moses wasn't entirely destructive and wrong. I find this to be an intellectually lazy argument. No single person could simultaneously explode an entire profession AND anticipate every possible consequence of that (such as gentrification, which did not exist at the time that she wrote her seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in 1961).

Still others have the impression that Jacobs was a milquetoast housewife who presaged New Urbanism by only favoring small, quaint neighborhoods -- which couldn't be further from the truth. What she was critiquing at the time -- brutal urban renewal practices -- compelled her to attack large-scale planning and modern architecture in favor of community and neighborhood, but that doesn't mean she dismissed everything big and modern as inhumane and unworkable. What makes Jacobs so compelling and enduring is the power and flexibility of her ideas, rooted in an instinctive response but articulated with precision and clarity.

As Paul Goldberger recently wrote in a Metropolis magazine piece entitled Jane-Washing, "Jacobs herself had little patience with much of what was presented as an extension of her views; she knew better and understood instinctively the difference between the real street life of an old New York neighborhood and the packaged synthetic urbanism of the new make-believe streetscapes." I can well imagine Jacobs might have been a big fan of, for instance, contemporary Dutch planning and architecture, which is both large-scale and ultra-modern.

What's more, to say that not everything Moses did was bad is to entirely miss the point. His unchecked power and dictatorial style coupled with a non-existent process for public input was the disease. The highways that crushed entire neighborhoods were the highly visible symptoms (parks and beaches being the positives externalities). Jacobs took on a dictator. We could use more of that kind of ballsy housewife nowadays.

On another note, people point to her long-running public feud with Lewis Mumford in order to degrade her ideas as those of an unsophisticated simpleton compared to the intellectually superior Mumford. No disrespect to one of New York's last great public intellectuals, but he could be a dyspeptic critic himself, launching attacks at everything including Rockefeller Center. "Architecturally, in short, Rockefeller Center is much ado about nothing," he wrote in the New Yorker in 1933, which he later reversed somewhat, leading one exasperated NYC official to complain to the magazine, "The problem with Mumford is, nobody can tell what he wants." With Jacobs, unlike Mumford, there was never any question about what she found lacking and what she thought worked. Mumford's thinking wasn't always so clearly-- and gracefully -- articulated, not to mention that he was more prone to urban utopianism than Jacobs ever was.

Scheduled speakers at Washington Square Park include New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Ned Jacobs, Jane'’s son, and others. Since I am in full-on book-writing procrastination contemplation mode, I'll see you there.


UPDATE: Andrew Salzberg of Messy Diversity writes from Toronto to point out that, indeed, Jane Jacobs did like contemporary Dutch planning and architecture. In an interview with James Howard Kunstler (in Metropolis magazine), JHK asked her what parts of the world she likes and admires, and her immediate response was to say The Netherlands. "...The human scale of the whole thing and the density is far above what we are used to in North America, or anywhere. The high density and human scale are not incompatible at all."

The Netherlands is, of course, highly regulated and planned, contrary to the assumption that Jacobs only liked "organic" neighborhoods. Andrew goes on to point out that an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal recently praised Jacobs, practically labeling her a libertarian, because she didn't like planning. Again, totally false. She didn't like top-down, FASCIST planning that left no room for public participation and resulted in the destruction of neighborhoods. Thanks, Andrew.