In late April, the city of Baltimore issued a certificate of demolition for the Morris A. Mechanic Theater, prevailing in a lengthy quest to destroy one of its most unique buildings. With a character somewhere between a stone-age helmet and a concrete cog, the nearly fifty-year-old building’s assertive structure has earned the affection of a small number of enthusiasts who embrace its almost oppressively functional style of architecture—and almost no one else. The theater, designed by the revered and often imperiled architect John Johansen, will be replaced by a condo.
The story of the Mechanic has become overly familiar. Brutalism, a muscular and monumental architectural style [...]
Dublin was busy with construction and slick with rain. I tried to recognize landmarks through the taxi windows—mossy stone gate here, mossy stone church there—while the cab driver told me how the Irish were all getting rich and he had finally been able to move back home from the impossible hell of Scotland. It was the end of 1999, I had just flown from Washington to interview for a magazine called International Living, the new hotel-pub where I was staying was owned by someone from the band U2, in 24 hours I would be back at the airport, and life felt like a Thomas Friedman column.
The registration desk [...]
In the car, my friend Jonathan and I talked about my kids, and his job, and how we feel old all the time. He’d come up that morning from North Carolina, where we once lived together, to come to the concert with me; now we were driving together from Arlington to Baltimore in a CRV whose backseat was dense with child-safety seats and princess books.
Jonathan recalled how he’d once received a mixtape from a girl he thought might be interested in him, only to discover that it featured “Song Against Sex,” which he took as a poor omen. Our friend Ehren gave me a song by the band on [...]
Tom Scocca: Did you ever read that Baltimore Sun piece? About the hit-and-run?
Choire Sicha: About the 17-year-old boxer who was allegedly run down by the police, whilst on his dirtbike? Yes I did!
Tom Scocca: That was as bad as a newspaper story ever gets. There was no epistemological effort put into it at all.