So, basically, Twitter is the logical online extension of bathroom graffiti (Via MetaFilter). Pithy, often non-sensical, and rife with back and forth banter of equally pithy and non-sensical quality. Some Tweets are anonymous, and many could be described as destruction of property (i.e. brain cells). If you’re careful, you can also read both on The John.
Am I wrong here?
[Note: This ain't a bad thing. I happen to enjoy bathroom graffiti. And Twitter. Sometimes.]
Posted: July 31st, 2009
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I went to Yankee Stadium for the first time on Sunday. It’s an impressive place, easy to navigate, and spacious enough to legitimately have a section called The Great Hall. The game was a high-scoring one, in the early innings at least, as the teams put up 6 runs. It was mildly exciting as baseball goes.
But, as I explained to Eric, I was bored. Because baseball is an inherently boring sport. There is one reason, unrelated to Joe Morgan, why this is so: defense is just defense.
In every other sport – indeed, in every other great human endeavor – defense can mean offense. Football. Basketball. War. Chess. Boxing. Tennis. Monopoly. Love. Soccer. Rhetorical debate. Poker. Arm wrestling. Hockey. Personal bankruptcy. You can score off a steal, a deeply-placed return of serve, a talented accountant.
But not in baseball. While on defense, all you can do is stop the other team. Then you stop them again. Then stop them one more time. Make perhaps the greatest catch in a decade – I’m thinking, in particular, of leaping over a wall, pulling back a home run, bobbling the ball, then grabbing it with your free hand while falling to the ground – and it’s just that. A catch, one of many in a game, signifying nothing (For a mildly-related debunking of the myth of momentum, or more specifically, “getting hot,” in sports, skip 22 minutes into this episode of Radio Lab.) Incredible play! Now go, umm, do it again!
Imagine the scene, if you will. It’s 1987, the Eastern Conference finals. Your team is down one to the Detroit Pistons, who are inbounding the ball with 5 seconds to play – you, by the way, are Larry Bird. Isaiah Thomas makes a sloppy pass and you – Larry Bird – steal the ball away, and turn to find a streaking teammate for the game-winning bucket.
But wait! This is baseball, so you must politely give the ball back to the other team, or, if you’re fortunate enough to have already stolen the ball twice, you may amble back to your dugout, wait through three minutes of some Nickelback song, and then you can go make a play that could win the game for your team (if, of course, you are one of the next three batters allowed to participate in the game).
Cricket is the only sport that comes close to baseball in its spurning of those who specialize in forced fumbles, outlet passes, and short-handed goals. And we all know how exciting cricket* is.
*I actually think cricket is more exciting than it is given credit for, much more exciting than baseball. I will explain in a subsequent post.
Can design save newspapers? No.
This guy thinks it can save them – and a lot of other things. Good design certainly doesn’t hurt, and insofar as good design means providing more and better information to consumers, then it’ll help.
I question his statistics at the end, mostly because readership is up in general in many of the places he’s had success. But I’d still put great design as an amplifier, rather than a catalyst, for success.
Posted: July 30th, 2009
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I’m not one for book reviews. Music reviews help me parsel through heaps of new albums because I care to keep up with them, and movie reviews (or the conglomerated stars at Rotten Tomatoes, at least) shape what I spend 12 bucks to see. But there are simply too many actual books I haven’t read, that are old, and that I get at the library – and the I read too slowly – to spend my time with new reviews.
But holy crap do I want to read William Vollmann’s Imperial after reading this paragraph from New York magazine’s Sam Anderson:
I was sitting on the train one day chipping away at William T. Vollmann’s latest slab of obsessional nonfiction when my friend Tsia, who incidentally is not an underage Thai street whore, offered to save me time with a blurby one-sentence review based entirely on the book’s cover and my synopsis of its first 50 pages. “Just write that it’s like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker,” she said, “but with the attitude of Mike Davis’s City of Quartz.” This struck me as good advice, and I was all set to take it, but as I worked my way through the book’s final 1,250 pages, I found I had to modify it, slightly, to read as follows: Imperial is like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker with the attitude of Mike Davis’s City of Quartz, if Robert Caro had been raised in an abandoned grain silo by a band of feral raccoons, and if Mike Davis were the communications director of a heavily armed libertarian survivalist cult, and if the two of them had somehow managed to stitch John McPhee’s cortex onto the brain of a Gila monster, which they then sent to the Mexican border to conduct ten years of immersive research, and also if they wrote the entire manuscript on dried banana leaves with a toucan beak dipped in hobo blood, and then the book was line-edited during a 36-hour peyote séance by the ghosts of John Steinbeck, Jack London, and Sinclair Lewis, with 200 pages of endnotes faxed over by Henry David Thoreau’s great-great-great-great grandson from a concrete bunker under a toxic pond behind a maquiladora, and if at the last minute Herman Melville threw up all over the manuscript, rendering it illegible, so it had to be re-created from memory by a community-theater actor doing his best impression of Jack Kerouac. With photographs by Dorothea Lange. (Viking has my full blessing to use that as a blurb.)
Goodness. I don’t even know if that’s a positive or negative review, but the only thing that could possibly make me want to read this book more was if the author was actually as ridiculous as his book sounds. Holy crap, he is:
A companion volume, to be published next month by powerHouse Books, contains some 200 photographs he took while working on “Imperial,” for which he also wore a spy camera while trying to infiltrate a Mexican factory, and paddled in an inflatable raft down the New River in California, a rancid trench that is probably the most polluted stream in America. The water, he writes, tasted like the Salk polio vaccine.
Oh. My. Two writers writing words have interested me in reading a writer I barely knew existed. I need to go watch some TV.
You get three profiles in one from The Stranger. First, an animal clean-up crew. Second, a Mrs. Beasley, in brief. Third, the writer:
When Mrs. Beasley returned the next day, which was warm again, Dandy had not left the spot of his drop. We both looked at the poor horse, and I pretended to be as puzzled as Mrs. Beasley. What’s wrong with Dandy? Why does he look so down and out of it? Angel was silently standing at a distance. He, like I, did not throw any light on the mystery. The ice in Dandy’s stall had melted. There was no evidence of my error. It was decided that if Dandy did not rise the next day, a horse doctor would be called.Dandy did not rise the next day because he was dead.
Read the full profile here. Thanks to Eric for the recommendation. Put yours in the comments.
Daniel Libeskind is a Starchitect, and a lot of the time I don’t like Starchitects (I’m not the only one). There’s a lot to be said for designing a cool building, but there’s a lot more to be said for designing a building that does cool, purposeful stuff.
I also don’t like theoretical discussions. But I like stories, and I like Libeskind’s statement that architecture is a story, is a fairly apt one. Therefore, I recommend spending 20 minutes with this TED Talk, in which he talks sense into his Starchitecture. The final few minutes, on Libeskind’s design for the political, cultural, emotional, and economic maelstrom that is Ground Zero, thankfully make that project seem slightly less maelstromy.
Update: Did I mention people can watch you?
Glass buildings are hip. The Sears Tower liked them so much, they added a terrifying all-glass terrace. Any new condo building that isn’t a converted warehouse is a column of uninterrupted glass.
Philip Johnson got things going with his Glass House. It looks incredible, and it’s a field-bending invention on the scale of making tennis rackets out of graphite. Architects now had the potential to leave behind bricks and mortar and wood and steel, sort of. But no one in their right mind would want to live in it, for practical reasons (so, insulation?) and, well, more practical reasons (howdy, neighbor).
But that hasn’t stopped today’s starchitects. Richard Meier – who has done his fair share of glass buildings – has put one in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Walk by on your way to the library, or the park, or wherever, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of someone doing something in their apartment – something you probably don’t want to see (on a not unrelated note, a legally minded friend informs us that being naked in the home in view of passers-by would not be illegal; fornicating, or the like, in the window would be of questionable legality, as it would be in a car. Lawyers, please weigh in).
But one thinks that the glass-ward trend won’t be a lasting one. It has its benefits in an office tower, where sunlight trumps insulation. But apartment-dwellers don’t have the luxury of only needing the space from 9-5. A Daily Dose of Architecture said it better in discussing a new glass tower in Bangkok:
Is this the end of torqued, möbius and pickle towers? Will architects have a brief fling with shifting glass boxes before they move onto to the next high-rise transformation? I think the expense of these designs (more facade area as well as additional insulation and weatherproofing required on the terraces and soffits) makes them suitable only for super-rich condos and therefore short-lived.
He’s talking about a specific genre of the glass tower, one with shifted floors to create a disjointed glass facade. But it applies more generally to the glass tower, which when it comes to residential complexes, just doesn’t make sense.