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« Frank Lloyd Wright Isn't God | Main | Bad for Your Mental Health »

August 23, 2003


Friedrich --

* Relocating from Milan to England, Alexis of The Stumbling Tongue celebrates here with an amusing posting about Italian packing rituals.

* We all know we're living in a re-touched media world. Still, it's useful to be reminded of the fact -- and Greg Apodaca, a San Francisco photographer, has put up a page of very effective demos here. Roll your cursor over a polished, finished photo and see what the original looked like. Link thanks to Brian Micklethwait, here.

* Fred Reed spares no one's delicate feelings in this grumpy and mournful column here about the scorn he feels for the overprivileged and badly-educated.

* For a long time, I've wanted to read the essay by Robert Nozick whose title asks, "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?" An eternally perplexing question, no? It turns out to be a good piece, and it can be found here.

* 2Blowhards fave Nikos Salingaros has put more essential reading online. In his essay, "Understanding Deconstruction" here, Salingaros compares deconstruction (convincingly, IMHO) to both a virus and a cult.

* One of my favorite book forms is the 18th-century miscellany -- it's a catch-all nonform, really. The organic opposite of the streamlined one-idea theme book, a miscellany can bristle with freewheeling energy and thinking. At his miscellany-like blog The New Companion (here), Peter Riis is showing off a rambunctious, omniverous 18th-century-style spirit and brain.

* After following the publishing and new-books field professionally for 15 years, the last thing I'm interested in these days is lit-world gossip, let alone blab about hot books and hot writers. I'll be making an exception, though, for Kitabkhana (here), a droll, sophisticated new-books blog. It's written by someone who calls himself The Babu, and who manages the too-rare trick of being interested in his subject while being anything but starry-eyed about it.

* Mike Hodges, the director of the film "Croupier" -- my fave of all the recent Brit gangster movies -- turns out to have had an interesting up-and-down career. Xan Brooks at The Guardian visits with the 71 year old director here. Link thanks to James Russell here.

* I love the smooth, quietly absurdist bits of Flash poetry at Vector Park, here. Be sure to poke into the archives. Link thanks to S. Y. Affolee, here.



posted by Michael at August 23, 2003


Re: Mr. Apadoca's retouching exercises. I found them fascinating, but as I went over them I noticed that in almost ever instance I preferred the unretouched photo. Being the male chauvinist pig that I am, I particularly checked out a young lady in a bikini who has less than perfect skin, prominent hipbones, and texture lines on her stomach. In the whole and in the details, I found the real deal much more moving. I mean, despite her little flaws, this is a terrific looking real girl here, who, when retouched, looks like something generated by a computer! This is an example of what might be termed the "extended" Gresham's law: bad stuff driving out good stuff.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on August 23, 2003 06:16 PM

Those Aapdoca re-touches are downright scary!!! Who knew the difference was so dramatic? Has anyone actually seen Cindy Crawford in person? It's possible in real life she looks like Rosie O'Donnell! Of course, it could also mean that Daniel Day-Lewis really looks like Wally Cox. Oh, damn...

Posted by: annette on August 23, 2003 08:26 PM

Whoa! Wait just a darned minute!

Check out the original and retouching at:

Are we supposed sto belief that the entire family has noses that were originally made out of silly putty? Those images don't ring true for me. What do others think?

Posted by: van der leun on August 24, 2003 01:17 PM

The retouching exercise adds another note of distressto Friedrich's next post about 'Self' Magazine. Not only are young women wasting all this energy on fashion tips; they're holding themselves up to images that are not even real!

Of course they're going to keep buying fashion and diet products!

van der leun: The putty-nose shot looks like an assignment to make a picture of a big-nosed family. He put the putty noses on for the photo and then finessed the texture for the final take. I wonder who the client was?

Posted by: Nate on August 24, 2003 01:34 PM

Nate - it seems likely the putty nose family was part of a marketing effort to convince people that nose job are appropriate at young ages and that there’s no shame in wanting to redo the “family” nose.

Posted by: j.c. on August 25, 2003 12:58 AM

Not having looked at the photo re-touchings, I'd like to focus on a different link in the post. I'm glad that Michael linked to Nikos Salingaros' website. It lead me to read the series of interviews with him a while ago, an engrossing read.

It resonated particularly because I spent time as a summer intern living in an apartment development designed with some of the New Urbanist ideas in mind. The design ideas produced a more livable community than any of the other apartment "complexes" I've called home.

A typical apartment complex in Dallas is an archipelago of identical two-story buildings surrounded with a sea of asphalt parking lots. A cheap fence rings the complex; the illusion of security it provides insufficient compensation for the daily difficulties of coming and going by car. Not only is this design pattern bland, the heat capacity of the asphalt and the lack of trees and grass multiply the unpleasant summer heat.

The new development I resided in, Post Addison Circle, struck a balance between a viable street-level pedestrian existence and the realities of life in car-centric Dallas. The buildings, while constructed wholesale on a formerly vacant lot next to a major highway, each had individual style. Each building is four stories high, covers an entire block, and has a parking structure in the rear, disguised to match the style of the front. The buildings of the development center on a boulevard with a park in the middle. Near the intersection of the development's main street with the highway, the ground floor of the buildings had restaurants and convenience stores as tenants. During the day, they drew customers from surrounding offices, and attracted foot-traffic from residents at night.

The design of each individual building enhanced the experience of the residents. The buildings focuse inwards on central plazas. The apartments were built on three sides of the square with the parking forming the fourth. The central plazas had either swimming pools or gardens, and an effort to provide harmonious sculpture had been made. The design focused recreational activites and improved my opportunity to socialize with my neighbors.

In total, I thought that the development used several of the concepts advocated by Alexander and Salingaros effectively. It was a terrific improvement over my prior residence, which had a design allusive of Le Corbusier's antiseptic plans.

Now that I live in Boston, I live in a city that embodies these ideas naturally. Actually I prefer the design of Addison circle because it effectively incorporated the use of a car. Ample parking was available there, but was cleverly concealed. The same isn't true in Boston, where car ownership for me is simultaneously necessity and nuisance. Additionally, the central park of the main boulevard and the plazas gave the development more public space than a comparably dense neighborhood here.

Posted by: cks on August 26, 2003 07:00 AM

CKS, your example, Boston reminds me that every time I visit a place that is lovely and supports this pedestrian social idea... that place is insanely expensive and present huge barriers to anyone who wants to start a business.

Posted by: j.c. on August 27, 2003 01:55 PM

J.C. - good point. I think that there is a distinction to be made between neighborhoods that exist because of historical preservation and ones that are created to provide a pedestrian experience using conscious design and market forces.

You're definitely correct about Boston. The look and feel of the old neighborhoods is maintained not by nostalgia on the part of real estate developers, but by very stiff zoning. In order to make any significant change to the exterior of a building, approval of some sort of architectural commission is required.

I thought that the Dallas development is a market-friendly solution. Compared to Boston, the city is unregulated, and certainly most of the residential construction is done with an eye to minimum cost. The Addison Circle development is more expensive, but only because the developer built more substantial buildings (four stories vs. two; cinder-block, brick and stucco vs. plywood). The development is set up to create some foot traffic on a local scale, rather than a city-wide scale.

Most property development in DFW is done on a large scale, a "Texas-sized" apartment complex can cover an area the size of many Boston city blocks. The development was large enough that there were usually residents outside walking around in the evening. The restaurants drew non-residents to the area in the evening. Also, the developer built some office buildings on an adjacent property they owned, and these buildings generated daytime foot traffic to the restaurants and other businesses located there.

In comparing the two cities, Boston is highly regulated, creating neighborhoods with historical feel that are all exceedingly expensive. There is little choice in the matter if you want to live in the city. In Dallas, the housing market provides choice locally. I could live in a cheap apartment complex that was nothing more than identical buildings and parking lots, or I could pay a higher price to live in a development a mile away (relatively speaking a small distance in that city) with local restaurants, park and garden space, and some pedestrian focus without sacrificing parking for my car.

Posted by: cks on August 27, 2003 04:50 PM

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