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« "Kill Bill 2" | Main | Fat and Costco Again »

June 04, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Architecture student and Christopher Alexander buff Rob Asumendi runs the first-class (and C. Alexander-inspired) site Simply Building, where people involved in building projects swap tips and experiences. Now Rob has started a weblog, and he's sharing thoughts and observations of a more general nature. Snazzy stuff. Check out this posting about what it means for buildings to be "of their time," and this one about stores and shopping, written partly in response to our recent gabfest about Costco. Rob has the kind of mind that really takes in what it sees. I like Rob's bravado too.

* Jahsonic's spectacular site is part blog, part one-man Wiki, and all about the place where trash, the avant-garde, dreams, and sex come together and do their best to make merry.

* Stephen (AKA Shouting Thomas) thinks that blues music is a colorblind field. Sample passage:

The notion that blues is entirely black music accounts for the depressed economic state of the blues. Why do liberals enforce this idea of segregation on the blues? The result is that the kids stay away, for two reasons. First, they hate the idea of segregation. Second, the liberal outlook on the blues makes the music seem as if itís a preachy lesson delivered by a Sunday school teacher.

Amen to that, brother Stephen. I'm a mere blues newbie, but one of the most pleasant surprises I've had exploring the bluesworld has been what a rowdy, friendly, and racially-open place it is.

* Fans of webcast radio and hipster pop may enjoy the French station NovaPlanet.

* DarkoV thinks artfans should visit Philadelphia's great (if quirky) Barnes Museum, and should do so pronto.

* Jon Hastings writes blogpostings about popular culture that are as good as anything you'll find in the professional press. He's also considerably more open-minded and resourceful than the pros are. Jon can be a sporadic blogger, but he's been busy recently. Here he writes about NASCAR hottie Danica Patrick. Here he wonders why Hollywood is so clueless when it comes to adapting Philip K. Dick's philosophical sci-fi stories.

* Given the general taste many people have for Classical buildings and traditional neighborhoods, you might think that many of the U.S.'s architecture school would offer educations based in Classical approaches to architecture and urbanism. Why not serve demonstrated preferences, after all? But you'd be ... oh, so very wrong. In fact, a total of precisely one architecture school offers such an education: Notre Dame. John Massengale just finished a semester teaching at Notre Dame's architecture school and has written a posting about what the experience was like.

* John supplies links to a couple of other good pieces: A long Grist interview with James Kunstler about oil and America's future; and a short Gutter posting about what an expensive disaster Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center for the Arts -- a Deconstructionist landmark --has proven to be.

* If you drink California wines, you're subsidizing illegal immigration. So why doesn't the industry mechanize the grape-picking instead? Observations about this state of affairs come from Prof. Bainbridge, Randall Parker, and Steve Sailer.

* Miriam does an amusing job of sharing one of those Sad Life Truths: you can live so healthily that your doctor will turn backflips of joy, but your body is still going to get older. Sample passage:

I ... have been exercising, eating right, and gaining one pound a year for 20 years. Which makes me 20 lbs overweight.

Get used to it, youngsters.



posted by Michael at June 4, 2005


The Engineer-Poet of the Ergosphere (really - great blog) has an excellent post on why he thinks Howard Kunstler's apocalyptic energy pessimism is misplaced:

Posted by: Alan Little on June 4, 2005 07:06 AM

Why I Love The Blowhards

I never know what to write in the comments section of an Elsewhere. This is unfortunate because as smart, funny, wise, and blah blah blah as the blowhards are, it's your taste I admire most. So, the elsewhere posts are the most fertile ground for surfing I've yet to encounter.

So, why is this my favorite culture blog?

One, because it's smart.

Two, because I'm 33 and the writers always give me the impression that they're representing the insights, disillusionment, hope and earned cynacism I might attain at 50. Only it's better written.

And three, and here's the kicker, with all the mental firepower and life experience in evidence, I usually sense a rare variety of humility.

There's a kind of humility that's imposed through spiritual belief from above. And then, there's the naive kind when you (correctly) learn how low on the totem poll of perception you stand relative to humanity (this hits you at 30, younger if you're lucky).

But the kind here is the one borne, I think, of decades of experience that somehow managed to fuel the sense of wonder rather than extinguish it.

Nice trick.

The Holzbachian

Posted by: The Holzbachian on June 4, 2005 09:55 AM

Thanks for the link, MB -- as always, an interesting bunch of material.

Posted by: Michael non-Blowhard on June 4, 2005 04:50 PM

For those who want to read more about the legendary Thomas Gordon Smith of Notre Dame:

Posted by: winifer skattebol on June 4, 2005 06:52 PM

Umm, I hate to nit-pick (Oh, hell, who am I kidding: It's what I live for...): Danica Patrick races IRL, not NASCAR. I realize that it all seems like a bunch of undifferentiated rednecks when you look at it from Manhattan's lofty perch, but there are differences - why, the IRL open-wheeled cars almost look like F1 cars! And, y'know, europeans watch that, so it must be almost civilized!

Posted by: jimbo on June 4, 2005 07:42 PM

Hi there,

First: thanks for the link.

Second: thanks for the tip regarding Toni Bentley and your excellent profile of C. Breillat. I am a big fan of her films.


Posted by: Jan on June 5, 2005 09:20 AM


Thanks for the link to Rob Asumendi. He reminded of a quote I'd read in the Times just at the right time to stick it in an article I'm writing for Traditional Building.

Any comments?

This reflects wider trends in society. After a hundred years of Modernism, traditional ideas and values are making a comeback in many areas of culture, the arts and politics. But as in so many areas today, the academy and the media are stuck in confrontational positions in which one is either Modern and liberal, or Traditional and conservative. The political correctives in the academy want no part of tradition, and on the whole, journalists tend to still associate tradition with the conservative. James Taub spoke for many editors and journalists when he wrote in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, ďThe machine-clean and functionally mapped future toward which Modernism once beckoned now strikes us not only as soulless but almost comically archaic as well; and yet the organic and folkloric alternative offers us a city in amber--the urban equivalent of the retro baseball stadium.Ē

Taub has lived through enough Modernist propaganda that he seems unable to imagine that the Modernist outlawing of tradition might have outlived its period of usefulness, even though like most journalists he probably lives in a traditional house and neighborhood. Meanwhile, those who donít have to pontificate about these things, are less constrained by theory. After a fifty-year hiatus, the building committee at Princeton University, for example, has made the decision that new dormitories and new construction of any type in the center of the campus will be Gothic again, for two simple reasons: they have judged that their traditional buildings made a better campus than their Modernist buildings, and the students have made it clear that they want to live in the Gothic buildings rather than the Modernist ones.

Having to answer only to their students and alumni rather than professional intellectuals (although there may be a few intellectuals among Princeton graduates), they made the intuitive and easy choice. But in the world of the intellect, the progressive position for tradition in the 21st century has not been well articulated.

I go on to talk about the Chicago school and right wing religion and their influence on American politics. I'm supposed to turn in the semi-finished article tomorrow.


Posted by: john massengale on June 5, 2005 06:48 PM

Thanks so much for the plug about the blues.

If you haven't yet, listen to Elmore James. He is an absolutely stunning songwriter. His songs are emotional storms and beautiful pastoral poems. I highly recommend "The Sky is Crying," one of the greatest blues songs of all time. Elmore was the great master of the electric slide guitar, and he was fronting incredibly rocking bands in the late 40s in Chicago.

I've got a bad bad feeling
My baby she don't love me any more
I've got me a bad bad feeling
My baby she don't love me any more
Well, the sky is crying
Tears rolling out my door

I've been singing it for 40 years, and I never get tired of it. Every time I sing the song, I find a new meaning in it.

Posted by: Stephen on June 6, 2005 08:25 AM

Thanks for the mention, Michael!

Posted by: Rob Asumendi on June 7, 2005 01:39 PM

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