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On The Beatles, 'Magical Mystery Tour'

Fuck you if you didn't love this movie the first time you saw it and/or you do not acknowledge Paul McCartney as the ultimate Beatle.

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm 0

On The Ugly-Beauty Of Brutalism

@Max Clarke I've had the misfortune of spending a bit of time on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, the majority of the campus is brutalist architecture. There is nowhere to hide. The ugliness is overwhelming and oppressive. Sometimes during spring and summer you can catch the beauty the architect intended in the properly greened corners of the university. But in winter it feels like the post-apocalypse. You feel abandoned by society and civilization.

The conceit of modernism in general is that it is possible to design a building that is 100% functional and without an individual style. This is of course absurd, and the results of attempting to do so are a dramatic and striking style which casts off thousands of years of learning about how to make human beings comfortable in their environment in an attempt to reduce it to a purely mathematical problem, which it is not. Of course, brutalism then bleeds into post-modernism as it becomes self-conscious of this fact, and tries to express itself through raw grayness, and that's when the buildings become much uglier than the early stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I love concrete. I think that it is one of the greatest human inventions. But deification of and designing around exposed concrete is a fatal mistake that is in line with modernist American thinking around the time these buildings were built: Who gives a shit about the people, make way for the industrial infrastructure. This wall needs to withstand winds of x mph and house x number of people and leave room for the parking lot and that's all that matters. Brutalism reduces architecture and construction to it's atomic component. Yes, it's artistically interesting, but it's not pleasant.

The post-industrial cars-first attitude that nearly destroyed my country goes hand in hand with modernism and brutalism and I hate it. I'm not saying that everything needs to be Victorian or classical or beaux-arts or no one should try anything new. I'm saying that sometimes architecture hits dead-ends and makes mistakes, and it's not wrong to go back and remove them so we can try again.

Certainly many brutalist buildings "function" well. Many were well programmed and support the number of humans doing the tasks they are meant to do within them well. But they are oppressive, not built to a pedestrian scale, often ugly, usually bland, and they contravene thousands of years of traditional knowledge and practice for the sole purpose of being reactionary and making a statement.

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm 0

On The Ugly-Beauty Of Brutalism

So I guess my conclusion here is that even though brutalism is architecturally significant, that's not a good enough reason to make us all suffer until the end of time. Take a picture and tear it down, please.

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm 0

On The Ugly-Beauty Of Brutalism

The failure of brutalism is that it allows the abstract artistic notions of architects to supersede the real conditions of the people who will be inhabiting the buildings they design. Brutalist buildings are very interesting for their place in art history, and I'm sure IM Pei and Corbusier got a lot of hardy pats on the back from their more bohemian colleagues for their contributions to the field. Nevertheless, the results have been unequivocally catastrophic. Modernism in architecture is a failure. It nearly destroyed America. Corbusier should have been tried in the Hague. It's all fine and dandy on paper or at a design awards ceremony, but it is a living hell for the people who have to live and work in these structures. Especially once winter comes on and the "nature band-aids" shrivel.

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm 2

On Less Human Than Human: The Design Philosophy of Apple

It would take a paper as long as this one to explain everything that's wrong with it, but I'll summarize.

1. You misunderstand what "taste" means. You don't really seem to understand the roles of originality, quotation or imitation in art & design either.
2. You are just as reactionary to the neo-modernist design of Apple as the modernists were to Beaux-Arts.
3. You compare unlike things in absurd ways.
4. You demonstrate a clear misunderstanding of the reasons people exalt Jobs.
5. The philanthropy angle is a total red herring and moot point in the context of taste.

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm 0

On A Tale Of Two Chilis

The first chili has beans in it and is therefore not chili. It also has tomatoes, which is another big ??? where did you people get the idea that beans or tomatoes are involved in chili? From the cans you buy at the grocery store? Great source. 2nd chili wins, hands down.

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm 2

On My Five-Part Plan For Fixing New York's Bike Problem

Totally agree with the Bike Avenues idea. There is a proposal for this kind of thing that launched last year in Chicago: http://www.nocarsmilwaukee.org

Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm 0

On My Five-Part Plan For Fixing New York's Bike Problem

Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm 0

On Humanity's Endless Quest to Invent a Death Ray: A History

"(While we’re on the topic, I credit Aristotle for Jar Jar Binks because more or less everything he believed and taught was patently wrong, but you could tell his heart was in the right place.)"

Sure, Aristotle thought vision was based on invisible beams coming out of our eyes, but so did all the Greeks, and optics wasn't his specialty. On the other hand, FORMAL LOGIC AS WE KNOW IT TODAY? The Syllogism? Hello! Aristotle is the fucking man, and comparing him to Jar Jar is shameful.

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 11:03 pm 0

On If People Are Going To Ride Bicycles In New York In This Weather, We Can't Win

I think you are crazy to say that New York of all places should not have bicycles. They should go to somewhere more spread out?? The denser a place is, the more fit it is for bicycles. Cars are for places that are more spread it. The reason bicycles are so popular in Portland is because its so damned small that it has the effect of being as dense as New York (in terms of how close everything is).

Also, check this out: www.nocarsmilwaukee.org

Posted on December 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm 0