project: | Play in Popup
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
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 don’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
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Agassi, U Da ManIt’s easy to love Andre Agassi these days, this being his 20th straight appearance at
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
Photo of WTC pit taken May 2006.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, August 14, 2006
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
Thursday, August 03, 2006
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
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).
project: | Play in Popup
Friday, July 28, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
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
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.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
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.
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
Thursday, July 13, 2006
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
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
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
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
P.S. Note the graffiti on the right (click to enlarge photo). I love this nabe.
Previous Polis posts:
Monday, July 03, 2006
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
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
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.
Today’s installment of breathtaking inanity (the new irrational exuberance) takes note of three facets of this latest craze.
1. Moynihan Station, in its third (or is that fourth?) design iteration, will cost $1 billion to turn part of the Farley post office building into a partial replacement for Penn Station across the street. The catch: the only tenant is NJ Transit, which will leave behind 80 percent of commuters who currently use the old Penn Station in the pit below
2. Santiago Calatrava’s beautiful transit station design at Ground Zero will cost $2 billion and serve only those people who ride PATH trains from
3. The new Fulton Transit Center, run by MTA, is behind schedule and over budget even after the signature architectural element, a huge “oculus,” was reduced in size and – get this – the plans to untangle the clusterf**k of subway lines underneath Fulton were also scaled back. In other words, MTA is prepared to spend another $800+ million on a duplicative grand transit statement while backing away from the original intent of making the subway lines more rational for commuters ... New York commuters.
Hey, I’m all for grand architectural gestures, WHEN THEY ALSO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE WHO USE THEM.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Using The War Tapes and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth as primary examples, the Times' David Carr recently argued that documentaries have become an effective vehicle for advocacy journalism, and are quite successfully turning "the most boring of issues — and public personalities — into an entertainment."
Add to this genre a new doc from Transportation Alternatives, Contested Streets: Breaking NYC Gridlock, which will premier next week at the IFC Center in the Village. Whether or not this doc rises to the level of "entertainment" remains to be seen, but it will show how other cities are using innovative ideas and technology to solve traffic problems ... and, of course, how New York is not.
To see a trailer, click here.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I then noted that Avery Hall at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture was badly in need of an overhaul ... which is now in the works. I happened to be in the architecture library yesterday and spotted Stephen Cassell who, along with Adam Yarinsky, are the founders of ARO, one of my favorite architecture firms. It seems the firm will be undertaking the Avery Hall rehab.
They are not starchitects but smarchitects, intent on -- hold on to your socks now -- designing buildings while keeping in mind 1. the people who will use them, and 2. the surrounding environment. They are a whole lot less focused on developing a signature style that shouts, "ARO!" the way a ten year-old can now spot a Gehry building (ARO stands for Architecture Research Offices ... so obviously, they're not too concerned with branding their own names, either).
Just to make the point about how they brilliantly design for the surrounding environment, here are two very different projects: The Army recruiting station in Times Square (above) and home in Telluride, CO (below). Some of the firm's other NYC projects include rehabbing the currently underutilized building at the north end of Union Square Park, working with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburg on Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as other commerical and residential projects around the city (and the rest of the country).
Monday, June 19, 2006
Special thanks to New York Songlines for helping me organize this tour.