My Bruce Sterling moment…

Smoke from Griffith Park fire…going to a lecture about futurist city design and architecture inside a re-purposed wind tunnel owned by an art school while a brush fire threatens to burn the city down.

Yet another good BLDGBLOG event though I wish there was more time to lift it out of the show-and-tell blitzkrieg. The one question I wanted to ask the panel was if they considered and/or incorporated the temporal nature of city evolution. As a sci-fi artist for movies, it seems the tendency would be to tilt toward ground-up master planning, but cities aren’t hegemonic areas, they grow, go broke, get blighted, get hit by deorbiting star destroyers, get rebuilt, attacked by Godzilla, new stuff built on top of old stuff, etc.

The last couple of Star Wars movies hinted at that evolution, but not nearly as thorough as portrayed in Blade Runner or perhaps A.I.

Catching up on recent things

My alma mater UC Irvine has always had an odd image and self-esteem problem. Of course it doesn’t help when your campus has had problems with body snatchers, assault by radioactivity, a sign that cost more than some buildings, and a medical center under constant criminal investigation (a running joke was that the reason UCI wanted a law school was to supply enough lawyers for all the med center scandals, but even that fell through). The latest UCI news story? While other colleges are vying for starchitecture and name-brand buildings, UCI actually tears down their Gehry. Go anteaters!

Home again Garden Grove? Speaking of image problems and Orange County: Garden Grove (a name which I actively have to remember because its alternative Garbage Grove name is so widespread) still can’t figure out how to profit from being next to Disneyland. And no one is really hopeful about it.

The Antarctic kite skiers, who ran across those mysterious tracks awhile back, made it to the Pole Of Inaccessibility. A bust of Lenin which was left by a Soviet expedition 49 years ago is still sitting there – looking out over the ice.

Since no one in 2007 is really interested in Nine Inch Nails, I’m not surprised that the conspiracy-themed marketing for the new album is equally as empty. Let’s see how long it takes until it backfires into mooninite-scale pandemonium.

A worthier puzzle is the Perplex City game. Andy Darley of Middlesex worked out the clues to find the Cube and won the £100,000 prize. Game 2 will start soon (and maybe this time I’ll actually play the dang thing)

I’m always impressed with the images that come down via Astronomy Picture Of The Day, but February 8th’s picture of galaxy cluster Abell S0740 has stopped me dead in my tracks. The only feeling that’s similar was when I first saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope.

And finally, there is nothing I can add to this:

Norman Mailer created a film in the late 60s called MAIDSTONE. He played the part of a famous movie director who is considering a run for the presidency. Rip Torn played his potential assassin. At the end of filming, Rip appeared to get a little too far into his role, and he attacked Mailer on camera with a hammer, drawing blood. Mailer retaliated by viciously biting into Torn’s ear, drawing even more blood. This is the fight.


The guy who commutes 372 miles daily from Mariposa to San Jose and back was one of those “sheesh, what a nut!” stories that turn up as the final stories on news broadcasts. Of course I should have known better that these kinds of stories are merely the harbinger of things to come. The phrase “extreme commuter” will be coined in T minus 10, 9, 8, 7…

At least 65% of the 1,700 members of the San Francisco fire department live outside the city limits, and some dwell as far away as Los Angeles and San Clemente, spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

Five of them give out-of-state home addresses, including one in Maryland, and others list local addresses or post office boxes but live elsewhere.

Capt. Michael Whooley, 47, said he would prefer to stay in San Francisco but couldn’t persuade his wife to trade in their 4,200-square-foot house in Apple Valley, Minn. — bought in 2003 for $350,000 — for a “shack” in California.

Whooley said he wouldn’t recommend his schedule for most people, given the strain on his family. “I fall asleep on the plane in Minnesota and wake up in San Francisco,” he said. “There’s definitely a disconnect on both ends.”

And in a colossal case of “WELL DUH,” the LA Times discovers…

That’s typical of sleepover commuters, University of West Florida sociologist Ray Oldenburg said, and many of them are getting more stress than they bargained for.

“It’s disruptive of family life,” he said. “In social science, if you go back far enough, everyone was heralding the infinite adaptability of the human being. And I never bought that.”

Ugh. I’m ready to shout “live where you work you inconsiderate energy-sink jackass!” at the whole lot of them.

The Times doesn’t ask the real questions though…

  • Is owning a house really worth that hassle (especially if you’re not around to enjoy it and/or dead from stress)?
  • Do wealthy residents who can afford these areas have any right to complain when local services are understaffed?
  • Are they willing to pay the property taxes necessary to fund the service staff to live locally?
  • What about the resources used up to commute this distance? (setting aside the issue of the resources used maintain a large house in an exurb area)

Assuming that these questions even matter when the economy takes a dump in 2007.

Dubai’s Roach-Kaiju Hotel

trump_dubai.jpgIs it just me, or does the latest iteration of Donald Trump’s “Trump Tower Dubai” look like the larval-stage of some monster insect? As soon as it gestates long enough, the Trump Roach/Mantis kaiju will emerge – ready to do battle with Godzilla.

Of course, since it is the BioMechaTrump monster – it will have to be “The most impressive greatest no-expense-spared monster in the world!” Maybe Trump will even let the winners of The Apprentice 10 take it out.

Dubai is so ready for a giant monster battle.

2005 in cities

Following from Kottke, here’s my 2005 in cities:

Bisbee, AZ
Burbank, CA
Cedar Grove, NJ
Clinton, OK
Gonzales, LA
Hattiesburg, MS
somewhere on I-80, PA
Knoxville, TN
Laguna Beach, CA*
Las Vegas, NV
Long Beach, CA
Marfa, TX
New York, NY*
San Antonio, TX
San Jose, CA
Socorro, NM
St. Louis, MO
Tucson, AZ
Wheeling, WV
Williams, AZ

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

U-turns = Communism

no_u_turnI just started a new job in Rancho Santa Margarita – deep in the bowels of exurban Orange County and already I have a rant. Why can’t anyone make a u-turn in this burg? Not only do most intersections prohibit u-turns, but many streets have center dividers, so if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you’ll end up driving miles out of your way.

Since most of the restaurants and shops here are buried in ambiguous-looking strip malls that face away from the street be prepared to drive a lot.