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« Webporn | Main | Shameful Movie Pleasures »

April 07, 2003

Battle of the Metaphors


In another 2blowhards investigative reporting coup, I’ve gotten my hands on some top-secret L.A. City Government emails about Frank Gehry’s new Walt Disney Concert Hall.


From: Mayor of Los Angeles To: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government

I was at a party the other night, and somebody compared the new Disney Hall design to a bunch of crumpled up aluminum foil.


They hinted that it was symbolic of our declining aerospace industry. What the hell is that design supposed to be about, anyway? Do we have a public relations nightmare on our hands here, or what?


From: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government
To: Mayor of Los Angeles

I don’t think it looks like a heap of crumpled up airplane parts. Well, at least not a whole lot like crumpled up airplane parts. I think the design suggests something more organic and natural, like fish from the ocean.


From: Mayor of Los Angeles
To: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government

Fish! We’re not some little fishing village! We’re the goddamn gateway to the Pacific Rim! Our big downtown development project can’t be based on some stinking fish!

This architect, Gehry, he’s supposed to be some kinda hotshot artist! Find me some art that served as his inspiration. Jeesus, do I have to think of everything!


From: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government
To: Mayor of Los Angeles

We did some research and came up with a few antecedents. They're by some English artist. See the connections? Pretty neat, huh?

B. Hepworth, Forms in Movement, 1956; F. Gehry, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1991

B. Hepworth, Kyoto, 1970; F. Gehry, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1991


From: Mayor of Los Angeles To: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government

You moron! This center is supposed to be cutting edge stuff. It's bad enough it's taken us over a decade to come up with the dough to build this thing. Telling me it was inspired by some art from the 1950s is like saying we’re the avant-garde of the hicks! I’m going to have that architect’s head on a stick! Think of something else we can talk about, dammit!


From: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government To: Mayor of Los Angeles

How about surfing? Surfing and L.A. are a good mix. We can tell everyone all those bulgy shapes are, you know, waves. So the building’s metaphor is like riding the waves.


From: Mayor of Los Angeles To: Director for the Arts, Los Angeles City Government

Hmmmm. Sufing. I like surfing. It’s a bit retro but we can make it work. Just be sure to stay on message here. None of that fish stuff, you understand? I got an election coming up in a few years, and if you want to keep your ass employed around here, you spread the word: we’re riding the waves of the new millennium!


Hey, you can't complain that L.A. lacks the vision thing!



posted by Friedrich at April 7, 2003


Cute. But I think it does look like crumpled up aluminum foil.

Posted by: annette on April 7, 2003 08:14 PM

Snazzily done! It's image, it's dialogue, it's pacing. It's as though you're edging back to ... filmmaking. Ever get nostalgic for those super-8 days?

I think it looks like the ribbon-bow on top of a birthday present myself. Didn't there used to be ribbon candies in roughly this shape too? And shiney, too, if not titanium-colored?

Trusting we'll get an on-scene report from you the day the place opens.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 7, 2003 11:01 PM

Tell me what's the difference between the concert hall and the Bilbao museum? There isn't a difference, Gehry is just a bad and lazy architect.

Posted by: Sean Hackbarth on April 8, 2003 07:36 PM

The concert hall was designed long before the Bilbao Guggenheim. It was the first project in which Gehry fully committed to the abstract forms that presently dominate his work. Fundraising delayed its construction for years. It was origninally to be clad in limestone, but this was changed to stainless steel by the clients after the success of the titanium Bilbao.

As for metaphor...why must any piece of Art or Architecture be based upon a metaphor? Are there musical metaphors?

This project should probably be viewed (and critiqued) as both a functional building, and an abstract sculpture.

Metaphors are for folks who want to feel like there is something to "get." I am somewhat confident that there is little to "get" in a Gehry building. You will find it to be delightful, or alienating, or somewhere in between.

I have seen it several times up close. I think that as sculpture, its pretty neat. The new cathedral on the other hand, is very disappointing.

Posted by: Randy Ruiz on April 9, 2003 01:13 AM

Speaking as a hayseed, that first picture looks to me like nothing more than a insufficiently sturdy corrugated tin chicken coop blown down by a strong wind, and piled up at the next fence it hit.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on April 13, 2003 10:12 AM

Thanks for the snarky analysis of the Disney Hall. As an Angelino, I hear mixed feelings about the building--as noted in by previous commentors, Gehry evokes reactions. And so since I'm agnostic on Gehry's greatness I like to hear all points of view.

I have to say though actually being there and looking around, I find a certain buzz and excitement in the air about the Disney Hall.

If ticket sales are any indication, then the City big-wigs must be very happy. My subscription packages are sold out. Also, I recently tried to buy tickets to a specific concert in April 2004 and two of the three performances were already sold out and the third has few seats left!

Anyway, in a bit of shameless promotion, I posted some photos of the Disney Hall from the subscriber open house at my blogspot site in a post dated October 11. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Posted by: Rene on October 11, 2003 12:30 PM

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