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March 17, 2004


Dear Friedrich --

I confess it: I'm a hoarder. Not a collector but instead someone who heaps up goodies while making vague vows to do something -- and something wonderful -- with them at some vague future date.

That date never comes, of course -- which is how my link-a-thons get so overgrown. I know I should do better, so I hereby vow to pass along my hoards of cherished links more regularly. Hey, I'll be supplying link-a-thins instead of link-a-thons.

* Glad to hear you enjoyed that Robert Locke piece about corporatism. I've enjoyed wrestling with a lot of his pieces over the last few days. Here's an archive of them.

* Here's a semi-debate, semi-discussion between the modernist architect Dan Solomon and the New Urbanism honcho Andres Duany. My favorite passage from Duany:

And finally, there is the win/loss ratio. Dan, you and I know that there are between 300 and 3,000 modernist masterpieces. We've visited them, we admire them, we understand them. They are not the problem. The problem is the 30 million failures of modernism that have destroyed our cities and our landscapes. You cannot have one without acknowledging the other. There were very few failures prior to modernism. Architects and builders could rely on tradition to give them a base below which quality would not drop while not preventing masterpieces. The problem with modernism is that without acknowledging tradition there is no bottom it does not reach. Too many architects, unsupplied with genius, are asked to emulate the design methods of Wright, Mies, LeCorbusier, and the few geniuses there have been. And the result has been a comprehensive, world-girdling disaster. We cannot, as urbanists, for the sake of the occasional masterpiece, tolerate such an abysmal win/loss ratio. No one would in any other field. Why should architects be exempt?

* Also snagged from The Town Paper: Laurence Aurbach's terrific page of links to New-Urb websites, here. There's hours of fun browsing and grazing to be had from this page.

* You can read, watch or listen to a talk with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Duany's co-honcho, here. If you've got a fast connection it's worth watching the video version -- Plater-Zyberk and the interviewer stroll through the new-traditionalist town of Kentlands as they talk.

* Michael Hill explains the impact of the great, or not-so-great, Screen Actors Guild strike of 2000, here.

* One of my favorite economists is the Chicagoan Frank Knight, probably as much for his snazzy, wry attitude and prose style as for his views. Here's a Library of Economics and Liberty page that links to a bio of Knight as well as to a piece by the Harvard economist George Borjas about immigration. The Library has posted a Knight essay here.

* Andy Garcia is Modigliani, here.

* The NYTimes' Nicholas Wade writes about what evolutionary biology might have to say about the origins of language, here. I think I snagged this link from Gene Expression, here. I notice at GNXP, by the way, that the brainy and feisty Godless will be taking a blogging break. I hope he refreshes himself and hurries back into the blogosphere soon. Godless and I met for lunch a few weeks back and hit it off well. He patiently explained some DNA/RNA-ish things with youthful enthusiasm to dim me, while I stared at him wondering, Was I ever half that energetic? Was I ever half that smart?

* I enjoyed this FAQ-like q&a with Elmore Leonard at his own website, here.

* David Mamet, who I usually have no time for, wrote this appreciation of genre fiction writers for the NYTimes, here. He writes mainly in praise of George V. Higgins, Patrick O'Brian and John le Carre, and he covers about a thousandth of the ground that needs to be covered. But good for him for starting the conversation.

* Felix Salmon suspects that some of digi-tech's effects on the arts may not prove to be good ones, here.

... I was about to include another 15 links, but no: I must learn to be short and sweet.



posted by Michael at March 17, 2004


To the Wade piece: I found an interesting contr-argument
And I think it makes sense.
I report-you decide

Posted by: Tatyana on March 17, 2004 6:25 PM

Thanks for the review, Michael. There are few things more fun than learning about a great new neighborhood under construction that I'd like to visit or (in my dreams) live in someday.

By the way, Dan Solomon is also a new urbanism honcho -- he's one of the founders of the CNU and has served on the board ever since. His book "Global City Blues" is part autobiography, part essay, and part editorial. Solomon is a devotee of the modernist style. But through his personal journey, he came to realize that modernist planning has a glaring inabiltiy to create humane cities. His is the best book to date about reconciling modernist style with traditional urban streets and plans.

Posted by: Laurence Aurbach on March 17, 2004 8:05 PM

Oh come on. We want the other 15 links!

Posted by: James Russell on March 18, 2004 2:06 AM

Tatyana -- Thanks for the link. Wouldn't it be lovely to have some actual knowledge about these things? Still, always fun to try to make a little sense out of what these people are coming with.

Laurence -- That's a great page you run, and a great resource. I hope a lot of people take advantage of it. Thanks for the link to the Solomon book too -- sounds fascinating. I hadn't been aware of his work before. Hmm, alternative title for him: "The Good Modernist."

James -- Soon enough!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 18, 2004 1:21 PM

The elites (I know I'm being pretty general now) seem wedded to the modernist project (again, pretty general) which of course includes modernist architecture; and to socialism, (which could be seen as the political wing of the modernist project) despite the manifest failure and blight that results when the modernist project is implemented.

Posted by: ricpic on March 18, 2004 6:57 PM

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