February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
I am a huge Oasis fan – I can argue that What’s the Story Morning Glory was actually most of the songs written for Definitely Maybe and that the drummer on most of Standing on the Shoulder of Giants was Noel himself. I can also rattle off the songs Liam has sung on for other bands (Come On by the Verve, Carnation for Death in Vegas…..) and I have seen them every time they’ve toured America since ’97 and I know that they were originally (pre-Noel) called Rain after a Beatles song.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. the Beatles.
Well, Oasis split late 2009 – it was kind of a shock. They always break up during the American tour only to head back into the studio in a couple years and make another album. But this one is more permanent it seems. Noel has split, leaving Gem, Andy, and Liam to their own devices for the first time ever. End of Britpop, end of the SnotBratAge, and queue up Beady Eye. Is it not Oasis, yes, and truthfully I still love it. I’d love and buy a Noel solo record even though he gets mopey, and I’ll love and buy a Beady Eye album. If they end up going on tour in the US, I will be there with bells on. March 1st, 2011.
Find Beady Eye here……….
February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
So, Borders Books has announced they are busted and broke. They owe publishers and creditors it seems – hey, it happens to the best of us all. Not needing to dig into the demise much I can find many reasons for the failing, namely that the book industry is over and that the web was the beginning of the long slow walk for the Gutenberg renaissance. The execution has been threatening and approaching for decades, these days the New York Times is always on the ropes, Big Box Bookstores are dwindling, and periodicals are finding their way onto Issuu much easier than onto a grocery store shelf.
Sure I’m sentimental towards the feel of the paper, the dusty and overstocked bookstore of the 90’s and 2000’s. I’m going to miss their mammoth hardback economies of scale and their prevalence in every single strip mall landscape. Just like many things, I still expect to go to a single banner store and find all my music, literature, caffeine, and movies in a quick linear experience. It was rather “green” in a way, packaging all my shopping and errands into a one stop trip. Anyone who’s everyone under a design or economics ritual will tout the need for greater density, greater diversity, greater autocracy (maybe not) and these stores, such as Border Books, did that. It was this formula that made our country great, and Borders a successful brand. But, alas, it was unstable. It relied on Harry Potter for too many years and then the Twilight kids. Now, there are reliable online sources and handy little Ereads that put the Borders model the way of the dodo.
I was interested in digesting this headline by visualizing the spatial voids Borders is leaving as it abandons it’s 138 stores (don’t worry there are roughly 400 more still alive for now). Voids meaning the sheer square footage left by the bankruptcy action and the company going to liquidation. Because the disappearance of 138 stores there is now 3,510,0073 square feet of perfectly good climate controlled enclosures. That’s an average of 26,391 square feet per store. Sure, it’s small change in the big picture but this is a single company in a long line of strip mall and stand alone buildings. What replaces the 3.5 million square feet? We used to all fear the big monolithic bookstores (You’ve Got Mail), now I fear for the huge holes it leaves in the fabric between work and home.
Maybe, for the right price, I’ll rent out one of the stores here in Austin and move myself and the beagle into a sweet 25,000 square foot bachelor pad.
February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
My brother-in-law sent me a quick email late last week and the title read “Horse Brass”. Almost as soon as I read the subject I knew Don had died, and the email confirmed this bitter pill.
If there was anything about Portland that I feel I still take with me is my time working at the Horse Brass Pub on Belmont, and my few exchanges with the (in)famous owner Don. I had to really hassle Don to even get that job, starting one night a week and feeling mostly like a toddler amidst these avid beer connoisseurs. But, by the end of those years, I had picked up a few things – namely a sense of place in Portland. Don was a great guy for his employees, his patrons, and Portland. Ask anyone in that place and the first thing they’ll say is how they met Don and how that exchange led them to the Horse Brass.
I still always go to the Brass when I’m back in Portland, always have to check back in. Like a good pair of shoes, it never grows uncomfortable. I don’t know many of the faces there anymore, but that will always be. The newly initiated mix with the regulars, the new barbacks finally get remembered by Arthur, and the Horse Brass changes – evolves. Just like it changed after the smoking ban. Just like it will change after January 31st.
There are a ton of people writing about how much Don meant to the Portland craft beer scene, how much he meant to beer in America. But really, the relationships he built with the workers and patrons of the Horse Brass will probably lead them to drink longer and harder after his passing.
February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment
“I don’t care about your problems, because they are not real problems. They are luxury problems. You have the luxury of cynicism” – Bruce Mau
I’m gonna get a little serious with this post. This might be the post that will provide me the humble security of knowing noone reads this blog.
Early January I read this article by Bruce Mau entitled “You Can Do Better”: www.architectmagazine.com/architects/you-can-do-better.aspx. I won’t try and summarize the article, it’s pretty short and fun to read.
By fun I mean – angry, happy, anxious, relieved, encouraged, discouraged by Mr. Mau. What he’s basically saying in this article is that look, you are the lucky ones who have the nurturing of Harvard’s GSD and if you complain about the dirty work of actually doing something positive in this world you are part of the problem. I completely understand this Randian point of view, I love Howard Roark. But I think there are a lot of definitions he is assuming all architects and students of architecture agree on. One is that architects are needed to build buildings, architecture is still embodied by the FLW’s and Bernini’s of building. Two is that architectural education gives some magic wand of prestige to “the” solution. Three is that there is a single type of architect practicing out there, namely the effeminate Ivy League graphic phony yes-men.
I’m not from the understanding that architects are just some ethereal creatures that have some otherworldly skill at problem-solving, especially as the entire world is happy to splinter off the architect’s job and hijack even the title to render it as a neutered graphic darling or computer programmer. What I see from the outside of working on CDs in an office is there seems to be a growing fashion away from building in architecture into a more aesthetic sensibility of the retail world and the representations of “could be” form. Have we lost our central role of the materials and systems expert? Isn’t this the role that was supplemented by our sales side, our engineering side, our construction side, our management side, etc. of the profession? Mau asks “is it really difficult being an architect in America”, and I would wonder what the question even means if you begin diagramming the professions responsibilities. “We can do everything” as architects just doesn’t cut it with everyone not in the archy-bubble. It looks more like we do nothing and still demand to be paid like surgeons.
Architecture education did well at teaching me that working for free is ok and that questions without answers are the most valuable. Maybe I’m disgruntled, or maybe I have yet to reap the benefits of my architectural education. What Mau cites as a time where graduates should be saying “Wow! I get to constantly learn new things, and everything is uncertain” as the ideal, I would love for him to do without his fine wines, luxury cars, and multiple residences. There won’t be a single person who claims architecture students don’t or won’t sacrifice their health, time, future, and relationships for this profession. But for us to then be grateful for it, to stare at a computer monitor for 18 hours a day year after year, pull our teeth rather than fix them, and live with roommates well into their 30’s, should read up on human slavery practices of the 17th century English colonies. Maybe I’m the 1% who decided to work part-time and took out huge amounts of loans to earn my privilege of a degree and some certainty, but I find it hard to find any other profession that treats its future with this manner. But of course Mau would have this positive perspective, he booms in downturns and times of “uncertainty”. He is the celebrity architect who has thousands of talented graduates lining up in droves to work their martyred fingers to the bone for free while he has leveraged recognition to go to where the work is. Many architects have the luxury of the former, but rarely the latter.
It’s not that I’m extremely jealous of Bruce Mau because I am. I like some of his work and I respect him, but he has to understand not all architects are created the same or want the same. Most architects worry about material, client, budget, and program. Graduate students, or the ones that give a lick, are entering the field working on evolution of the profession, ethics, economics, politic, and many other avenues architects have grown to “be above”, or at least since ole’ Jefferson. Regression will do that to the newly initiated. The fact is, architecture is not a thriving profession to the newly minted graduate. Architects don’t pay each other to find solutions. A life in architecture is becoming more and more a part time job that informs what really needs doing in society today. The education we get is helping everything but architecture as it has been passed down. Sure, Bruce Mau and the giant firm will continue to do big scale and complex projects while the rest of us little “a” architects will work to bridge the enormous gap between the complicated and the simple. The simple being lost somewhere in the 80’s. There is no luxury in the simple, making something all white does not make it simple and does not solve anything.