Broken Lines

1. So downtown Brooklyn will not be getting a Frank Gehry building after all (thanks for nothing, Jonathan Lethem). However, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff gives a thumbs-up to a new postmodernist spectacle by Thom Mayne, very much in the Gehry vein, near Cooper Union and St. Marks Place. Call me a fool — I just love a building with broken lines. This is what big cities always looked like to me in my dreams.

2. Evan Schnittman aptly invokes Magritte in thinking about Google as a book publisher.

3. Benigni in Hell.

4. I’m so glad a John O’Hara renaissance is finally happening.

5. Literary (mostly kid-literary) cakes.

6. A nice implicit Burroughs reference in this piece on early computer advertising art.

7. And Wow He Died As Wow He Lived. Jason Boog on Kenneth Fearing.

8. On The Great Tradition by F. R. Leavis.

9. Literary Losers selected by Mark Sarvas.

10. Chris Felver’s
film on Ferlinghetti.

11. From a superb new blog representing Allen Ginsberg’s legacy: Buddhists Find Beatnik Spy! And scroll on, much good stuff here.

12. Shattered childhood much?

8 Responses

  1. This building, in your
    This building, in your picture, with “broken lines” ,and cubist in appearance, looks similar to the modern museum annex to our “Hunter Museum” here in Chattanooga, TN.

    (When I hear of Cooper Union, which I think is in Manhattan, I am reminded that my cousin-once-removed, Gareth, went to Cooper Union to study, after studying at Dartmouth. He was about five years older than me. Cousin Gareth died tragically in a freak snowstorm, while mountain climbing in Vermont, in October 1971. The authorities didn’t find his skeleton until seven years later. I still really miss him. He was a great guy.)

    Someday soon, I hope to go back to the “lower east side” and see the nostalgic places and so on. I really had some good times in Tompkins Square Park in my youth. Your photo really takes me back. I also recall my Great Aunt and Uncle’s brownstone at Ft. Pierce Place in “Bedford-Sty”. I wonder how it looks now.

  2. Addendum to above posts:
    Addendum to above posts: Washington Square Park, in the part of Greenwich Village close to NYU, was better known by me and it has been refurbished lately, I think. The same is happening recently, according to my info, to Tompkins Square Park. So both these parks are or will be more user friendly… Or so goes the info…

    Every park has got its homeless and panhandlers who hang out. Hey, we have some of these folks in Chattanooga, TN parks. If I have spare change, I usually give to the panhandlers. Not that I’m a “soft touch” or anything–but I remember asking for spare change myself in my youth. I believe in “the Golden Rule”…”There, but for fortune”…” goes the song.

  3. No Gehry? Consider yourself
    No Gehry? Consider yourself lucky, Brooklyn. Here in Chicago, I cringe every time I look toward the eastern end of Washington Street and see Gehry’s hideous monstrosity of a bandshell in Millennium Park.

  4. Gambling with modern
    Gambling with modern architecure
    Doth pressage a deck of cards
    It’s always the surrounding pack
    That straight up an’down stuff
    Which distguishes its features
    Seeing youself as others see you
    Is what makes the difference
    From the pavements on the up
    To the sidewalks on the down
    An that exciting superstructure
    Is a cut above the rest
    From the bottom of the deck.

  5. Broken lines? The ones in
    Broken lines? The ones in that facade are just that… You wanna see broken lines, walk down a street in pretty much any city in China except for (many areas of) Shanghai. The “broken lines” of Mayne’s structure are so well-organized, so… rational and formulaic. True broken lines are found in almost every meter of brick side walk, every manhole-filled street, and so many buildings built before 2005 or so… in these Chinese cities. I think most would call that a sheer lack of craftsmanship and/or rather unskilled labor. But the clean lines that are replacing these old obstacle courses for high-heeled women are being built in alignment with post-industrialized, “modern” styles. It’s a taken me over a year to come to appreciate the well-nooked and crannied rickety flowing up and down path- & roadways of these places built on top of ground almost as it be, without the necessorized molding and leveling of earth. With the peaks and valleys of the mountains they laid the Great Wall on their northern border.

    This so-called post-modern style of architecture doesn’t fuck with the logical mind like it ought to – most of these objects are still molded in perfect suite with rational thought. Broken lines? Not quite. The dip in that glass is well-smoothed over and quite easy on the eyes, pleasurable to the rational mind. Broken lines need to break the senses wide open, tear at the heart of human thought, and do it so nonchalantly, so naturally, so habitually even, that it begs questions of aesthetics and opens up channels in our mental borders. That’s breaking lines, and so far i’ve only seen “unskilled” (untrained) brains-to-hands create such an eyefuck in the public domain.

  6. …just that as in, a
    …just that as in, a facade… for what it purports to be…

  7. Y. Scolan, you say “facade”
    Y. Scolan, you say “facade” like it’s a dirty word. Of course, there are strong pro and con opinions about a building like this. I don’t mind that it’s artificial, that it’s rational. I think there’s a thin line between art and artifice.

  8. The main disappointment with
    The main disappointment with modern architecture is that it is geometrically angular, perpendicularly clinical, environmentally sterile and almost always functional with a few frills tossed in bolted on to win a competition or two.
    Vernacular architecture is infinitely more rewarding, but that takes centuries to develop.
    In Asia some buildings are torn down because it is Time for that to happen, and another structure is created for a Time.In the West space and profit determine almost everything about a building.
    It took almost 600 years to complete ‘The White Cathedral’ of Milan.Like a lot of buildings of that distinction it had no known architect. It was created as an act of faith by the community that lived and worked around it
    Some ‘modern cathedrals’ won’t stand up that long because they dont mean anything to the community that surrounds them, and their time is limited by their profitability. They barely qualify to be called architcture, they’re just bottom line assets.

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