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6.28.2005

Robert Moses, the Middle-American Traditional Father
From no posts to a glut of posts, I know. It must be something in the water.
Reading the Times' article on the vanquishing of the light-industrial/arts uses from Williamsburg & Greenpoint in the face of the oncoming redevelopment plan, the following sentence caught my eye:
The last thing someone living in a luxury loft wants to hear is the
high-pitched shriek of buzz saws or rumble of delivery trucks that are part of
the daily rhythms for the area's industrial ancestors.
Quickly, the following thought crossed my mind: These people don't even know what they want. On the one hand, it's true, richfolk aren't going to be too pleased by rumbling trucks. But on the other hand, you tell them this is edgy TriBeCa style living, and the small annoyances are part of the price you pay for living in a "thriving artist community" and you can charge extra for the inconvenience of rumbling trucks.
But that puts me on a slippery slope, presuming to railroad my ideas over the city, claiming to know what others want for their own benefit. It simultaneously makes me resemble Robert Moses, who, above all, got projects done regardless of whether they were wanted, and traditional American fathers, who claim to always know what's best for their children. Strange combination.
What's Your Name Again?
It happens to me more often than I'd like. I'm standing there making smalltalk with someone at a wedding or a cocktail party and it occurs to me: I haven't the slightest idea what this person's name is. And then, while they're talking to me, I start to do the math. I start to think, "how long have I been standing here talking to this person and am I past the point when I can interject, pointing out that I've forgotten their name already and would they mind telling me again?"
Sometimes I just forfeit, go on with the conversation, and try and avoid them the rest of the night so I don't have to introduce them to anyone.
And that's about where I stand with the blog.
When was the last time I posted? Eeeesh.
Anyway, I'll just soldier on and pretend that I know it's name.

Nicolai Ouroussoff writes a review in today's Times of the East River Park and, while not having seen the drawings, I have to agree with the tone of the critique if not the actual opinion. He pretty much had me with the opening paragraph:
Few people reminisce longingly about the New York waterfront of the 1970's,
with its decrepit piers, graffiti-covered warehouses and tetchy drag queens. But
you can say this for it: it had a gritty integrity. The typical riverfront
developments of today, with their traditional lampposts and quaint park benches,
drip with nostalgia for a city that never was. They have all the charm of an
open-air suburban mall.
He then goes on to discuss how the designers, faced with the challenge of dealing with the elevated FDR expressway that lies between the neighborhoods and the seedy waterfront, decided to use the inherent energy of the highway to give the site an unpolished personality. And that's what I love about the idea, that the designers are playing the hand they were dealt. If they had an unlimited budget would they bury the highway Big Dig style? Probably. Would the final result be any better? I'm not so sure.
A project that completely buries the flaws or idiosyncracies of its site and uses and unlimited budget to build on a blank slate washes away any character that the city might have accrued. It would be like a cocktail party where everyone made up a new name every five minutes. There'd be no point in talking to anyone.

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