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« In the Neighborhood of Genius | Main | Bay Area Figurative Artists »

February 26, 2004


Dear Friedrich --

* Book Babe meets Hollywood Animal! Ellen Hetzel interviews the screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, here.

* I enjoyed exploring the website of DesignChapel, a hot Swedish design outfit, here. Stylish, edgy-but-elegant, and not for those who don't have broadband.

* An exciting new addition to the blogosphere is John Massengale, here, who describes himself as "a recovering architect." Would that there were many more such. John designs Classical and Traditional; sees modernism as just another style; and many of the books and authors on his list of recommended readings (here) will be familiar to 2Blowhards visitors. He also helped write (alongside the architect Robert A.M. Stern and others) the fantastic book New York 1900 (buyable here). Go, team.

* The architect Lucien Steil, who runs the wonderful webzine Katarxis (here), wrote in to alert me to a delicious-sounding architecture-and-urbanism conference that'll take place in May, in Viseu, Portugal. Details about the conference are here. Now, if the NEA will only give me a grant so I can attend ... Lucien, by the way, is at work on a new issue of Katarxis that he's co-editing with the great Christopher Alexander.

* James Howard Kunstler's architectural Eyesore of the Month Award (here) goes to the Stephen Holl MIT dorm we blogged about here.

* Most buildings that go up will at some point also have to come down. Here's a page full of videoclips of buildings being dynamited and otherwise demolished. (Link thanks to Pamela LiCalzi O'Connell -- shorten that name, please! -- of the NYTimes.)

* OGIC collects Edward Gorey books, here.

* After a break, Gavin Shorto, a master of the links-plus-dry-commentary form, is blogging again here.

* Nick Kallen knows how to attend a film festival, here. One hint: lots of caffeine. He's also been thinking about Chris Marker's "Sans Soleil," one of my very favorite movies, here. This mindboggling movie, which as far as I can tell is only available used and on VHS, can sometimes be bought here.

* Robert Detman, hard at work on a novel, writes about agents and rejection letters here. Sensible conclusion: "Why bother with these people? How did they become the arbiters for our hard fought creations?"

* Ivan Eland thinks the U.S. should avoid trying to rescue Haiti, here. Jon Walz cracks some related jokes here.

* Forgive me while I do a little dance in the endzone: the topic of immigration, about which I've been blogging for a while, is starting to pop up in the mainstream -- and in the category-defying way I suspected it would. Here's a Salt Lake Tribune story about squabbles at the Sierra Club, for instance. The issue boils down to: what stand does a well-meaning leftish environmental organization take on immigration? On the one hand, good lefties are fans of high levels of immigration. On the other, many environmentalists have always been wary of population growth. Here's Brenda Walker's summary of the kerfuffle. The Immigration BigThink Award goes to Samuel ("Clash of Civilizations") Huntington for his lengthy piece in Foreign Policy, here. (Link thanks to Arts and Letters Daily, here.) Huntington thinks that the cultural changes massive immigration from Mexico will bring are worth worrying about. His piece is being widely discussed in the blogosphere. Stefan Geens, for example, quarrels with it here. The Guardian reports that the Dutch, liberals who have been rattled by immigration-related problems, have begun expelling failed asylum seekers, here. And the LATimes worries about the future of LA here. Gavin Shorto points to some striking pieces in The Guardian (here, here and here). That these pieces have been written and published represents quite a change in the zeitgeist. I'm betting that the immigration issue is only going to get hotter and more public.

* A fascinating interview with the Von Mises-esque libertarian Hans-Hermann Hoppe is here.

* Alan Sullivan doesn't think much of his fellow Boomers, here.

* Eugene Volokh shows the right tone to take where "The Vagina Monologues" is concerned, here.

* I wish I could read as fast as Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok write, and I wish I could come up with just a few pieces as provocative and informative as what they turn out every day. Here's Tyler on libertarianism; here he explains the economics of steel bands and carnival culture. Alex spells out here how Medicaid can lead to higher prices for prescription drugs, and wonders here why Indiana's governor is eager to spend more, rather than less. In blogging, both guys seem to have found a form that suits them well.

* Among its many other disservices, the movie "Amadeus" left a lot of filmgoers with the impression that its badguy composer, Antonio Salieri, was a second-rater. We should all be so second-rate; in fact, Salieri was a dynamo with quite amazing gifts. Rough luck for him to have had to share the historical stage with Mozart; that's like being a first-class professional basketball player stuck playing opposite Michael Jordan. So it's fun to see that Cecilia Bartoli has recorded a CD of Salieri arias that's winning him new admirers. Personally, I find Bartoli too lush and expressive for this kind of music, but that's not a complaint many other people are likely to make. The CD can be bought here.

More later.



posted by Michael at February 26, 2004


The coming deportation of 26,000 asylum seekers from the Netherlands really is one of the worst political decisions I have come across in my life. All these people have been here for more than five years, a lot even more than ten. A lot got children, who are often fully integrated Dutch. All that time, their status was uncertain. Mostly due to petty bureaucracy. Only 26 or 27 were allowed to stay, when the government looked at their cases again.

And now our Christian-democratic politicians in government say we must not protest the deportation, because all the rules were obeyed. And they say we mustn't call it deportation, because that is such a heavy word. They prefer to call it removal themselves. That's so much more medical, and clean.

And they said the removal of these people from their homes wouldn't be done like a Second World War razzia. But they never told us how it would be done then.

Luckily, some police officers have finally grasped they are going to be the ones responsible for the actual deportation. Luckily, their unions will support the conscientious objectors.

And in the North of the Netherlands most municipalities have said they will not obey orders from the Hague on this, and they will refuse to let people from their communities be deported.

However, the rest of the Netherlands seems indifferent, and there is not any discussion about it. Just as there never has been any discussion about immigration and integrating for more than three decades now. It was never the asylum seekers we had problems with; we only have problems illiterate Muslims with an outspoken dogmatic belief who refuse to integrate. That is a different category of people all together.

This silence is just about as worrying as those politicians hiding behind rules are.

Posted by: ijsbrand on February 26, 2004 2:13 PM

IJSbrand -- Thanks for the bulletin. I don't think such issues are going to be going away anytime soon, do you? Opening up discussions about what's wanted and how it might best be handled can't hurt. Otherwise policies are going to be pursued that won't please anyone. Eager to hear more.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 26, 2004 2:41 PM

Apparently, only five of Salieri's forty-five operas have ever been recorded. As he was considered by many of his contemporaries to be better at opera than Mozart, this strikes me as a travesty.

Anything that prompts orchestras to revisit this music must be considered a great good. Even Bartoli.

Posted by: Martial on February 26, 2004 3:16 PM

I think we have a major problem with Hispanic immigration in The States. I didn't read the Huntington article. This is just off the top of my head. Having grown up and lived much of my life in NYC I've had a fair amount of contact with Puerto Ricans. What jumps out at you is the deep resistance to english. Of course it's learned and used in a rudimentary way. But whenever possible, life is conducted in spanish.
The close proximity and ease of travel back and forth to Puerto Rico is not, in my opinion, enough to explain it. Puerto Ricans remain, into the 4th and 5th generations, a largely culturally unassimilated group. Far more exotic groups, relative to the native population - Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese - speak unaccented english and marry "anglos" in significant numbers by the
2nd and often the 1st generation.
Until english is the primary language, a group can't be...part of the team. And isn't that, in some undefinable way, what it is to be an American?

Posted by: ricpic on February 26, 2004 4:49 PM

Opened one of the links you provide, Katarxis.
I am rather sympathetic to the cause of the New Urbanism, I would even say – disposed to be convinced. After browsing thru some articles on that site, I still wait for this to happen. In my layman’s opinion (I am not an architect), so I speak as a member of general public- the projects chosen to illustrate the texts rather discouraging. All this noise, and high-speak, and ideals, and bla-bla – and than you look at the praised project photo and see cheap Brighton Pavilion imitation…

The texts itself are very emotional but lack factual basis, and some remarks are rather brow-raising. Samplers: title under the picture of Hebron reconstruction:

Aerial View of Hebron, Palestine

What? Where?
Then the reader realizes – this reconstruction was paid by Aga Khan (who Mr. Steil didn’t fail once to title by full regalia); ahh. I see.

Or this quote, summarizing rant about WTC redevelopment:
…Rather than consecrating fear, power, forcefulness, and technological hubris, or a reaction against terrorism, this time we have an opportunity to dedicate the reconstruction of Manhattan to life…
Unproved allegations and labeling, at the least, IMO.

I also looked at interiors since it is my professional interest. Interiors illustrated are mediocre at best, talentless knock-offs of catalogues of English country-houses. Let me explain my position a bit here. I don’t have full-blown theory on the subject, but in my view, architecture and interiors are living things, growing like plants, from one historically logical stage to the other. To seat on the Louis the XIV chair is considerably more comfortable than on the boxy unpadded thing from 100 yrs before. Why, then trying to imitate styles and constructions long gone and surpassed is such a good thing? Have you tried – in your modern clothes and with your modern bag and hi heels to seat on the low gilded puffed stool and then on a contemporary one done with up-to-date knowledge of ergonomics, you’d feel the difference, if I might say, from the bottom. Have you tried to clean the hundred balusters of the Victorian townhouse interior stair? Please, some practicality check, people.

Oh, well, I probably said too much already – let me grab an umbrella, to screen from rotten tomatoes.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 26, 2004 7:10 PM

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