Hard times.

Good story in the New York Times yesterday, which I heard expanded upon and rehashed on public radio, en route to Wayne State yesterday. It was about a growing movement to recall mayors and city councils, not for mal- or misfeasance in office, but for doing shit that pisses voters off. Lately, that would mean: “their jobs.”

I paid attention because it happened here. Grosse Pointe Shores, the wealthiest of our five leafy little Edens, went through a bruising recall earlier this year, aimed at the mayor and four council members who voted for a 1-mill tax increase to finance road repairs. There was a similar attempt in the Woods, where I live, over a similar tax bump, but it didn’t advance beyond the petition-passing stage. In the NYT story, the lead anecdote deals with another city:

Daniel Varela Sr., the rookie mayor of Livingston, Calif., learned this the hard way when he was booted from office last month in a landslide recall election. His crime? He had the temerity to push through the small city’s first water-rate increase in more than a decade to try to fix its aging water system, which he said spewed brownish, smelly water from rusty pipes.

“We were trying to be responsible,” said Mr. Varela, whose action set off a lawsuit in addition to his recall as mayor of Livingston, which is in the Central Valley. “But as soon as the rates started to kick in, people who weren’t paying attention were suddenly irate.”

In the radio interview, Varela said he was elected on a platform that included a promise to improve the city’s water quality, so he did. The voters’ response was, essentially, but it wasn’t supposed to cost anything!

In the Shores, city services are at country club-concierge levels. A woman I know who lives there said that on the first garbage-collection day after they moved in, there was a knock on the door. She opened it to find a city public-works employee, offering a key to her house. The previous owner wanted the trash picked up from inside the garage, he said; would she like to continue the arrangement, in which case he would keep the key, or would she like to take it back and put her own trash out? The police respond — promptly — to calls from residents fearful of entering their own houses, because they saw a strange car parked on the street; they will escort the resident inside and do a room-by-room check for monsters. For this, residents pay taxes on a par with the other Pointes, but the collapse of the real estate market has meant a disastrous shortfall in tax receipts, which means…well, you know the drill.

The standard taxpayer response is Tim Gunn’s: Make it work. That’s what’s going on now. Maintenance schedules are lengthening, user fees are rising, municipal employee salaries are frozen or trimmed; small perks like car allowances are disappearing. In the Pointes, we’re still in patch-patch-patch mode. But my students in public-affairs journalism, each of whom is covering a city in the metro area, are turning in stories that turn my hair white. One city is likely going to sell or otherwise privatize their municipal rec center. One school board held their first-year meeting in a cacophony of complaints about students not getting counseling services they need, thanks to millions in budget cuts just now being felt. More are surely coming.

The collapse of the auto industry surely would have brought some of this to pass no matter what, but for me, this is one more turn of events to blame on the people who wrecked real estate by turning the mortgage market into a casino. However, it is our mess to clean up, which is one reason I’m paying a great deal of attention to who is representing me in any number of public-policy arenas of late. When I think about it, I wonder what could have been easier than running a well-to-do suburb in the high-cotton days, the money flowing reliably year after year, the most perplexing decisions in how to spend it all. But those days are gone. We need people who are present, and engaged, every step of the way.

For the record, I have to say I understand the anger of voters, and it’s not as simple as them being big babies, as Michael Kinsley once called American taxpayers, who want everything, now, and at Third World prices. It’s very hard to justify tax increases in a recession, when everyone is already making do with less. I wonder if maybe this is one of those fulcrum moments in American history, when we redefine the whole idea of what “public” really is, and the very idea of a municipal rec center passes into memory as something we could once afford, but can’t anymore. Oh, well — kids can play basketball in their driveways, and isn’t an indoor pool just a little too luxurious, anyway? Why do we need libraries, when we all have broadband? And so on.

One thing I do know: I’m no longer paying attention to bumper-sticker politics. Don’t you even knock on my door and tell me you’re going to push for “balanced budgets.” If you can’t tell me how, take your literature down the road. The job’s too important to be a resume-padder for some lawyer looking to make partner next year.

Eh, let’s lighten up with some bloggage:

Tom and Lorenzo wind up a season’s worth of “Rachel Zoe Project” recaps with another winner. You are encouraged to check out the screen grab of the star in a dress that reveals her bony chest and the edges of her sad little fat-starved puppy-ear breasts. Her husband keeps bugging her to have a baby, but not to eat a sandwich. The body protects itself first, Rodger; I doubt this woman has ovulated in the last decade.

For the architects in the room, a WSJ column about the perils of designer buildings. I don’t know if the facts are entirely present — this is entirely out of my knowledge zone — but it echoes the experience of the Snyderman family of Fort Wayne, who once had a sexy Michael Graves house that went wrong from day one.

Speaking of celebrity architects, I met the owners of this Frank Lloyd Wright house in Detroit at a party a couple years ago, when they were still mid-restoration. Everybody seemed to know where this place was, but I didn’t, and so hadn’t seen it until the magazine story this month. Man, what a jaw-dropper. I know Wright houses are notorious for problems, but to live in a space that gorgeous would almost be worth a few leaky windows. Make sure you check out the photos.

The owners also have the best and most creative florist shop in town. Yeah yeah, I know — gay men, flower arranging, yadda yadda. But these guys are good. I remember talking to one about the difficulties in getting their early customers to appreciate the beauty of a bunch of daisies, tied in rough twine, stuck in a Mason jar. They don’t deliver out my way without a huge surcharge, which is probably for the best. I’d go broke cheering myself up.

And with that, I think it’s time to say adieu for the weekend. Our heat wave is ending. I’ll try to console myself with an apple pie.

Posted at 9:56 am in Current events, Popculch |
 

53 responses to “Hard times.”

  1. Deborah said on September 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Where do I start? Good post Nancy. My hair turned white during the Reagan administration. I just let it go. Regarding the Frank Lloyd Wright house, WOW! And in defense of architects, particularly the architect and engineer of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, Renzo Piano and Ove Arup, I heard stories all along about how disappointed they were with the quality of craftsmanship of the contractors that won the bid to construct the building. And often designers are forced to “value engineer” down to meet an inadequate, unrealistic budget. When things go wrong with buildings the owners often sue everybody hoping that something sticks in their favor.

  2. Kim said on September 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Where I live the board didn’t want to cut any gov’t positions (including the one where the employee makes YouTube videos that have had maybe 200 views in a year-plus) so they decided to cut curbside recycling back to every other week. Yes, we already pay for this as part of our garbage pickup. So they cut it, saved $100K, a few people wondered “is this really a good idea?,” the gov’t sent out an oversized postcard telling citizens it would be every other week and the color-coded (red and blue!) annual calendar on the reverse would tell them which day to put out the recyclables (this cost several thousand bucks). Within three weeks of the switch there was recyclable garbage everywhere because almost no one understood what had happened and those who did were using the same small recycling containers the gov’t provided for weekly pickup. The board reversed – but had to tell folks it’d be about 4 months before they could get the people hired to pick up the recyclables every week.

    Now, Bob NG, please school the crowd on Frank Lloyd Wright!

  3. ROgirl said on September 24, 2010 at 10:59 am

    At Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall in LA, reflections of the sun off the building’s polished exterior surfaces caused temperatures as high as 140 degrees in the surrounding area, including condos and apartments across the street. They had to sandblast the offending surfaces.

    Rachel Zoe could adopt Brad.

  4. coozledad said on September 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

    A little celebrity math.
    Rachel Zoe= Ann Althouse + Grace Slick x Mahatma Ghandi.

  5. nancy said on September 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Deborah, as I recall, that’s precisely what Michael Graves’ defenders said about the Snyderman house — it simply overmatched the local contractors’ ability to execute. (That got the phone jinglin’ when I included that quote in my column about it. Lots of contractors had something to say about that.) But that raises another question: Isn’t that part of the architect’s responsibility, to bring what he can conceptualize in line with what’s possible?

    I distinctly recall having this conversation before here; are we repeating ourselves?

    The Snydermans are good people, though, and unlike most people, actually look at real estate as something more than a piggy bank with a fixed interest rate, and Mrs. S. had some interesting things to say about that house. (Seen here.) She remembered this epic squirt-gun fight at a family party, everybody running up and down the exterior staircases and on and off the balconies and across the roof, “like something in a Fellini movie,” and I got the idea that if all that house gave them was that memory, it was enough for her.

    Oh, and Cooze: Brilliant. As usual.

  6. Peter said on September 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Well of course I’ll chime in on the WSJ article. Deborah’s right about the quality of construction comments on the Art Institute project, but I think part of it comes from cultural differences. In most of Europe, two sets of architects work on a project – the design architects, like Piano and Calatrava, who are hired by the owner, and the project architects, who are either hired by or are employees of the contractor. The second set of architects take the design and get it to work, and as most construction jobs in Europe are negotiated cost plus fee contracts, everyone is more concerned with getting it built right, regardless of cost. The US does have project architects or “architects of record” (like me) who work with design architects, but they’re part of the architect’s team, and don’t have nearly the input that European firms do. Expensive as US jobs are, they’re still very cheap compared to European projects, and many times, it shows.

    I’ll respond to the Pei building reference in the WSJ article: failing building panels aren’t a new problem and aren’t confined to new buildings nor projects designed by famous architects. For the record the East Building is about 30 years old, and any building that age is going to start to have maintenance issues.

    In going from bearing wall construction to skeletal frame construction, people learned by trial and error that you have to account for building movement and settling. Terra Cotta facade buildings, like the Wrigley Building, had no joints or details to prevent cracking, as it was thought that terra cotta would act like a masonry wall. They don’t, and that’s why you have all those problems. With stone facades, the thickness of the stone decreased from the ’20’s to the ’90’s. Older buildings will have four or six inch thick pieces of stone attached to brick subwalls; current buildings have 2 or 3 cm panels with glued clips that are attached to the building structure. In between those periods, panels got thinner, and were attached with angles to the building; too thick and heavy to act as sheathing, and too thin to be bearing, many of these panels are bowing or cracking.

    Enough of the architecture lesson for today except for this: That Seagram’s story is partly false and very insulting. What’s the idea by saying that in going for Mies instead of Wright, “mores the pity”. The Seagrams Building is one of Mies’ best and 50 years later is still in great shape.

  7. moe99 said on September 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I wish the article on the Detroit Wright house had the captions properly placed. Very poor editing.

  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Huzzah for the end of bumper sticker politics!

    The captions on the FLW house pics keep moving around, which is very odd. Must be a coding problem on the slideshow function.

  9. Julie Robinson said on September 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I can’t make any educated comments about architecture, but the Snyderman house brings back another memory. The house had been unoccupied and deteriorating for a number of years when a young architect had a grandiose idea of restoring it and developing the area and I can’t remember what all else. The plans, which seemed unrealistic to my admittedly non-architect self, went nowhere and the home was torn down. The architect’s name: Matt Kelty. When he began his mayoral run I thought about that immediately, and questioned his fitness for office. The rest of his story seemed predictable to me.

  10. alex said on September 24, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Very cool Wright house.

    Speaking of trashed architectural gems, here’s one in my neighborhood going for a pittance. (The pix don’t show the enormous water problems and other things in need of a fix):

    http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/4306-Vandolah-Rd_Leo_IN_46765_1121211986

    It’s on the very edge of a forest preserve named for my grandmother’s family in the most scenic area of the county (unfortunately bisected by an Interstate in 1968):
    http://www.acreslandtrust.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=44551&PID=635638

    Can you believe that price? It’s a pretty substantial house and was built in 1949. Last I was inside that house, back in the mid-1970s, it had magnificent slate floors and mahogany everything else. Somebody really crapped it up with white ceramic tile and white paint, then defaulted and let the damn thing rot the last several years. If I wasn’t up to my eyeballs in home improvements on my own property nearby I could seriously consider trying to rehabilitate this place.

  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Re: living in/with “great” architecture — http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/architecture/8018674/Have-a-holiday-in-modern-architecture.html

  12. Julie Robinson said on September 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Well, Alex, you can almost guess that someone will buy that house just for the land, do a tear-down, and put up a McMansion. Most likely a doctor who wants to be near the hospitals will snap it up. Really sad.

    But you’ve gotta love the realtors who write such gems as “full of character”, and “just needs a little TLC”.

  13. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Wow, Nance, I was not familiar with that FLW house. That, my friends, is a rare species of FLW design indeed — a so-called Usonian Automatic house, his version of postwar pre-fab using concrete blocks.

  14. Deborah said on September 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    “Isn’t that part of the architect’s respon­si­bil­ity, to bring what he can con­cep­tu­al­ize in line with what’s pos­si­ble?”

    Yes, of course, but just like any discipline, if you don’t push the envelope you don’t move beyond average. Some of these buildings are game changers, and that’s worth something in and of itself.

    Accelerated schedules that finance dictates are a big part of the problem now, IMHO.

  15. Rana said on September 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Deborah – isn’t there that line about construction: you can have two of the following, but not all three: fast, cheap, good?

  16. paddyo' said on September 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Here in Denver, we have an example of the perils of designer buildings: The “bold” $110 million geometric-planes-and-angles addition to the Denver Art Museum. Four years old next month, it was designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect whose competition-winning “Memory Foundations” design for Ground Zero in NYC (the REAL Ground Zero, accept no blocks-away substitutes) has been considerably “refined” since 2003.

    Anyway, ever since the DAM addition opened, the roof has leaked rainwater and snowmelt like a sieve . . . oooh: Leaky DAM?
    Actually, the local joke has been that all the repair scaffolding is a new art exhibit.

    http://archrecord.construction.com/news/daily/archives/091019leaky_roof.asp

    I love how the builder wouldn’t tell Architectural Record what the reason/blame was for the leaky roof, claiming “those discussions haven’t taken place yet” . . . oh, really? No discussion yet THREE YEARS after the leaking started?
    Libeskind’s office, more wisely, simply wouldn’t comment.

    I still think it IS a neat building. (The two architects with whom I vanpool are underwhelmed.) Reminds me of doodling with my triangles, ruler and protractor in sophomore HS geometry class.
    So it leaks. They could always issue umbrellas at the entrance. All those umbrellas moving around inside, they could call it a rainy-day art installation.

  17. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Peter, another famous Chicago example of the building’s exterior failing is the Standard Oil/Amoco/Aon Building on Randolph (that’s the tall, sleek 83-story white one you see on the postcards). They had to take all 83-floors worth of marble cladding and replace it, because there was a fear the marble would fall off. Now there’s an expensive siding job!

  18. deb said on September 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    i lusted to own a FLW house until we had guys do some chimney work at our old house. they had done some restoration work on a local FLW house and were horrified to find how the chimney had been routed. i don’t recall the details, but it involved turns and bends that made it impossible to properly vent the house when the fireplace was in use, thus exposing the owners to the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. (and this was no hack — at the time, his firm was doing chimney work for the white house.) the homeowners, naturally, wanted repairs in keeping with the original design and refused to concede the great man could’ve made a mistake. the company owner told me that, in the trades, FLW was known as Frank Lloyd Wrong.

  19. Joe Kobiela said on September 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Down in Lexington Ky today. Nancy you would love to be here, there having something called “The world equestrian games” Last from today thru Oct 10th. Lots of horseflesh and Arab money on display,looking across the tarmac at some shieks 747, they told me his brother is coming in on HIS 747 tommorow!!!
    Pilot Joe

  20. alex said on September 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Fort Wayne has a Louis Kahn building, but a search of the web has failed to turn up anything of what I vididly remember about its much talked about shortcomings back in the 1980s when it was leaking like a sieve. My dad was on the board of the local fine arts foundation at the time and served as the spinmeister for the problems. I think he blamed Kahn for using a brick meant only for desert climates when in fact the real problem was that corners were cut all around and the local contractors didn’t know WTF they were doing. Here’s a rendering of the interior:

    http://www.interiordesign.net/article/486173-UPenn_Exhibition_Showcases_Louis_Kahn_s_Interior_Drawings.php

  21. Connie said on September 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    The I.M. Pei designed library building in Columbus, IN was a disaster. Probably still is. After it opened the lower level flooded every time it rained. They finally build an expensive I.M. Pei designed addition to stop the flooding. The lights on the Main floor do not provide enough light for me to read by. And can not be changed or upgraded because they are committed to the architectural integrity of their building.

    On the other hand the huge Henry Moore sculpture on the library plaza is a joy. I love the story of its trip to Columbus. Barge to Jeffersonville, then a special truck for which I 65 was closed – I think overnight on a Sunday, because it was beyond wide load and the truck could only go about ten miles an hour.

    I’ve been involved in the architect interview process for years. My number one goal is that the architect design my building, not his building. Some years ago I was involved in interviews for which the Michael Graves firm made a proposal in partnership with an Indianapolis firm. Most of the arch. firms we interviewed talked about communication and partnership. The Graves firm talked about how famous we would be if we built a Michael Graves building. We selected a different firm, and designed a lovely building that was never, will never be built, mostly due to acquisition problems with the river front brownfield property we planned to build on. The property was foreclosed upon by a last resort financer in Chicago, and while our agreement to purchase was still valid, the environmentals turned out to be so much worse than we had expected (after seeing a year old Level 1 report) that we walked away from the property. In fact just now six years later the City has purchased the property and torn down the asbestos laden foundry building, but done nothing yet about the lead and arsenic contamination on the land.

  22. Linda said on September 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    “Was one of those things we could afford, but no more.” God, that’s depressing. I’m sorry, but the picked-on rich who can’t afford a tax increase can afford giant ass houses and $100,000 fish tanks, and the common people can afford $30 concert t-shirts, but not libraries. Screw it, what we are deciding is, that 1) other people should pay for stuff, but not us and 2)anything that can’t be fixed by the private sector (except sports stadiums, natch) must stay broken. I’m thinking like E. J. Dionne–maybe this country is being screwed because it deserves it.

  23. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Privatization? Are people so mind-numbingly stupid that they don’t see the connection between W’s idiot mantra on Social Security and those assholes all robbing us blind and absconding? No kidding, are voters this dumb?

    Had SS been privatized when the incurious monkey wanted that to happen, the whole pension fund for the whole country would be some hedge fund manager’s yacht. How many Teabaggers are living on their Social Security checks, and getting Medicare health care? I suppose my point is that these people aren’t counter-intuitive, they’re just selfish idiots that have no idea of the devastation Dick Armey wants to inflict on their government fed lives after he uses their sorry asses. Will these morons even realize it after they’ve been buttfucked?

    Sorry for the bad language, but it’s painful to think rank and file Americans are this stupid. Wealth is being moved, at speed, to a very small upper class. And the excruciating irony is that these rich fucks have coopted middle class Americans into not just handing it over but slobbering over them. Whoever thought democracy for wilfully obstructionist and racist sheep was a good idea, well, that was some scumbag like Dick Armey trying to steal everybody’s cash.

    It does seem at this point that Americans are way too fucking stupid to vot.

    It’s like a bad B-52s video. Which part of this does the great climate change denier Inhofe just not get? In 1970, upper management made 30 times what the rank and file made. Now it’s 300:1 And the 300 fund the TeabaggerBack when Republicans actully had balls, they took out a Contract on America, and they signed it. If that’s not the GOP redistributing wealth upwards, well, what is?

    The President hasn’t done everything he hoped. Are Americans such abject morons they don’t see he’s tried and this super-majority in the Senate means only Richard Mellon Scaiffe has any influence as far as making law is concerned?

    Seriously, when Olympia Snowe votes with the Obstuctionists against the concerted will of Americans, how in God’s name is this Obama’s fault? These people can’t possibly believe that all of the failed Newtonian Contract ideas, such as they are, are going to accomplish anything for the growing underprivileged.

    There’s a class war alright. And there is no way any of are being brought along into the Tent. Funniest thing is that a lot of water carriers like this asshole Inhofe will be left behind. Gives a whole new meaning to The Rapture.

    I’d pose a question. Is the US Senate supposed to vote? Up or down? No shit and no secret holds? Obama would have had everything, everything passed. Everything, you omphaloptic Naderites and Deanie-babies and the more-righteous-than-thou that weren’t in Chicago in 1968. You think you know something? You do not know Dick. Like Nixon you fucking morons. You stymie Obama because obstructionist shitheads in the Senate blocked Climate Change legislation, you make it a sure thing nothing will ever happen.

    Instant gratification? Snap to attention you idiots and look at what’s been accomplished. Sit home on election day. Nake it easier for people with certifiabl beliefs that are basically idiots anf minflrss whateverphobes.

    Sorry Nancy, but I thought you stand for normal people expressing their hopes and desires, but it appears Amerivans are just too stupid to vote. This seems like a rather big thing to me.

    Are people really too stupid to vote? Republicans convince morons to vote for assholes with Golden Parachutes for fucking them over? I’d like to think better of human beings, but the odds are against me.

    You can sit home, or you can vote for a GOP lackey actively, as we speak. Stealing your future and your security. Either way, you are an accomplice in your own demise, Sheeple? The bimbo’s rubbing your face in it.

    Citizens United? Wake up you morons. All of that blather about liberal activism in the courts. Republicans were doing the Bishop Long thing while Scatlia appointed Cheney’s puppet after the canned duck-shoot. Climate tchange legislation didn’t get passed. Repeal of DADT didn’t get passed.

    Aside from anything else. Does a single one of you believe the fake rivate holds? filibusters in the Senate reflect remotely the will of American people?

    What the hell, put Boehner (R, Oompah Loompa) in charge. It will be Mencken all over, and you will get it, but good.

    This is pretty much a no-brainer.On the face of things and just what came out of their mouths, Rand Paul and Sharon Angle and O’Donnell, they aren’t nuts and probably racists?Rand Paul says he believes that if I own Lester Maddux’s restaurant, I should be legally able to refuse to seat black people. How does anybody competent to vote in the USA support that? Angle and O’Donnell are not that comprehensible, nor is the video idiot Mama Grizzlie. One of these days, they all may learn to speak English.

  24. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Connie:

    But at least IM isn’t Phillip Johnston. It would have ended up endless repetitions of Palladian windows, and the landscape would have been worthy of Terry Gilliam and Jonathon Pryce.

    And you know, Dr. Pei did that Wang building that suffers next to the brilliant Fed building on the south part of the Boston skyline. And in all that time, he never told An what his last name means in English.

  25. LAMary said on September 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    We have a Richard Neutra recreation center here in NE LA.

  26. Jeff Borden said on September 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I was teaching this morning and just got the chance to read a front page story in the Chicago Tribune on a University of Chicago law professor named Todd Henderson, who lamented on his blog that he and his wife, a doctor at the UC Hospital, are barely getting by on $250,000. He’s really pissed at President Obama’s plans to hike his taxes. Reaction to his blog was so vehement he scrubbed his essay and has vowed never to blog again. He also has posted an apology, but it doesn’t quite ring true.

    This gentleman’s kids go to private schools. The family employs a nanny and a gardener. They live in a large home in Hyde Park. And he’s whining about a possible tax hit at a time when more than 10% of his countrymen are unemployed. The original post was so tone deaf as to suggest an Onion parody, but by golly, he meant it.

    These are the people John Boehner and the Republicans stand with. . .the Todd Hendersons of the world, whose household income is in the top 3% of American earners. They sure as hell don’t stand with me.

  27. paddyo' said on September 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Ah yes, Prospero, Philip Johnson, designer of our most recognizable skyscraper in Denver, the Wells Fargo Center, better known as the Cash Register Building. (Or, Old-Fashioned-Mailbox-Building, take your pick.)

    http://www.mpgoffice.com/Denver/index.php

    My vanpool architects cringe when we approach its sunrise-lit east side on our daily drive to work. So many things wrong, not the least of them the fact (or so I have read) that the building was originally designed for Dallas, not Denver (Big D and the Mile High City both having been oil boomtowns at that time, ca. 1983).

    Just a teensy problem with that: Apparently they had to add heating elements all across that big curved crown so that it wouldn’t accumulate gobs of Colorado’s winter snow and ice. Otherwise, the buildup would have slid off the roof at random intervals and, like an out-of-control bobsledder leaving the track, clobber, smother and/or erase unlucky pedestrians on Lincoln Street, 698 feet below.

  28. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    it’s simple. Do you want to hold your breath until you turn blue and put preadolescents in charge? Obama actually counted the invasions and occupations in the budget. No matter what anybody says, Republicans and an aappointed President, and a self-appointed demi-President that was pulling the little Barney litter box, Dickless was pulling the strings. The budget? Dickless famously said “Deficits don’t matter.” But we know that isn’t exzctly&lt what he said.

    What the hell is wrong with people? Put Republicans back in charge because the counter-institutional supermajority blocked the President's agenda at every stop. And let those assholes take over? This is why they're onanistic, self-aggrandizing self-styled holier-than-thou progressives. They will cut off their only decent hope to establish how wonderfully progressive they are. They will do insane things like giving W eight years for the PNAC agenda. These nitwits are more despicaable than than their Teaparty counterparts, but they are just like them. It's the purity-testing.

    Total assholes. Happy healthcare day, yesterday, but we decided long after the fact on public option, so we'd rather sit out the midterms, because we are idalogically purer than thou. You flaming, self-righteous, self-congratulatory idiots. You will elect Republican whack-jobs. Don't go to the polls? You get Sharon Angle and her insanity and maybe 80 IQ points. Way to go, you selfish, self-righteous bastards.

    If you had employed common sense and patriotism, there would not be an opportunity for McConnell to just stymie everything. Do you people just not get it? Progressives taking themselves so seriously block change for the better, and it is so fucking selfish and self-aggrandizeing it is physically sickening. hese people are more repulsive in their Godawful stupidit than all the Teabaggers put together.
    bot
    Hope I've been offensive.ope you vote. Hell, cast a vote for Teabag nation. Might as well. Cast a vote for this idea you need 60 in the Senate. Not my country, but blaming the victim when the perpetrators loaded the dice with bullshit at the scene of the accident, SOP.

    And the Contract on America is Back, but none of those weasels even signed it. There is no way there is a dumber country.

  29. Jeff Borden said on September 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Prospero,

    I’m not sure we are the dumbest country on the globe, but the electorate sometimes seems hellbent to prove to the rest of the world that we are. The idea of a dimwit like Christine O’Donnell even being considered for a Senate seat is a sick joke, but no sicker than the belief of millions of our fellow citizens that an under-educated, poorly-read, untraveled half-term governor of a welfare state (Alaska receives more than $7 in federal funds for every $1 it pays in income taxes) is presidential timber.

    The mid-terms may be a disaster for the progressive agenda. The gutless Democrats who refused to schedule an up-down vote on President Obama’s middle-class tax cuts sure didn’t help, nor did the total collapse of the effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The sputtering economy and the whopping unemployment numbers are a deadly combination, too.

    But what we need to remember is the teabaggers account for less than 15% of the electorate. They have generated a disproportionate amount of coverage given their small numbers, but sizable majorities of Americans do not embrace their vision.

    But victory will go to the teabaggers and their corporate allies if progressives, moderates and independents don’t start getting pissed off. We can either lament that Obama and the Congressional Dems haven’t done enough and stay home, or we can envision a future with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, two of the smallest-minded, incompetent dickheads in D.C., as even bigger power players and cast a vote against a return to the bad old days.

  30. moe99 said on September 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Paddy’o, the AT&T Gateway Tower in Seattle, now owned by the City of Seattle, looks like a circumcised ….bldg, especially when you are taking a ferry from the peninsula back into downtown Seattle.

    http://www.bassettiarch.com/projects/attgateway.html

    We also have a Ban roll on Building, a Darth Vader Building and the Remington electric razor building. Tours on request.

  31. Julie Robinson said on September 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Any bets that the good professor doesn’t provide health insurance to his nanny or gardener? Why should he, when taxpayers will pick it up, along with WIC for pregnancies and youngsters too. That’s the lifestyle we average schlubs are subsidizing. Don’t give me that crap about small business owners being hurt, it’s a smokescreen.

    20% of all children in this country are living in poverty. We need to be ashamed.

  32. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    “But vic­tory will go to the teabag­gers and their cor­po­rate allies if pro­gres­sives, mod­er­ates and inde­pen­dents don’t start get­ting pissed off.”

    Prospero, you hit the nail squarely on the head. It will be Democrats who sit on their asses and don’t vote that will kill any chance for real progressive reforms to take place. And those Dems who are in office need to grow a backbone and shove their agenda down the GOP’s throat. Bipartisanship is a mirage. If you want to govern, start doing it.

  33. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    It’s not the individuals being sacrificed on the rich folks altar. It’sthe small business like Bechtel and those poor hedge fund managers.

    Question is, are American voters so GD stupid? How is it anybody buys a word of this horseshit? The GOP is selling schlubs that can’t make their mortgage payments on the idea the Koch Bros. and Richard Mellon Scaiffe are small businesses that would love to generate jobs. How difficult is it to understand they are lying their asses off? Why do all of these people clearly victims of this sort of class war and predation think they are helping to fix things when assholes like Dick Armey are taking their money and screwing them over?

    None of this is proverbially rocket science. These folks are being scammed to their own clear detriment, and they’ve been talked into running the scam themselves. Apparently Americans are, for sure, that stupid.

    On the other hand, The President didn’t wave a magic wand. Not everything has been accomplished. Might it be incumbent upon citizens to say that this supermajority garbage without having to actually stand up is pure bullshit? Republicans have shut down Congress, so why are they actually getting paid? My personal opinion, they’ve held the business of the nation hostage for personal and political gain. Makes them a bunch of terriss. Arrest they ass.

    My only pooint, from the getgo, is that progressives and GLBT activists and left-over Deanie-Babies and everybody else on the left–get your asses out and vote. You want Oompah-Loompa and Mr. Chao running the country? No repeal of the entirely odious DADT? That’s the President’s fault, you GD idiots? What exactly was he supposed to do?

    It’s a representative democracy. You vote for the people that make laws. If you actually care about this shit and not about Nader’s excessively and creepy bruised ego, you cast a vote for Democrats. There used to be principled Republicans. Now, there are none. But holy shit, blaming all this shit on a President that ramrodded health care through, set the banks right. Are you nuts?

    The Conservative talking point is that you aren’t supposed to blame anything on your predecessor. Obama hasn’t, even though he was left with worst pile of shit anybody including Hoover has ever seen. It’s obscenely convenient for Republican assholes in Congress to tald about the deficit, as if the little appointed shit didn’t get appointed without a massive surplus. Well, he cut Daddy’s taxess and his real daddy’s taxes (that would be Dickless), and then he invaded and occupied two countries off the books.

    Let’s here it from McConnell and Boehner on those funding choices. Aiee, Johnny. Let’s get this bucket moving Race. That just all turned up as palates of Cash for oops….Halliburton, owned in part by…Dickless.

    Then an adult got elected, you know, as opposed to a nitwit being appointed by the most spectacularly activist judge that ever lived. He actually thought the costs of the invasions and occupations should be accounted for. That’s what happened.

    What the hell. Stay home and act like it’s some moral imperative because Obama wasn’t magic. You will elect venal scum by your (in)actions, but, you know, you were disappointed everything didn’t happen all at once, and you are used to instant gratification

    Claiming there is no difference is pretty much like saying my lobotomy may have been radical, but it did’t make me a moron.

    Let’s see. Last time a Republican plant activist judge appointed the pointy headed weasel despite the fact Gore clearly won the electio, the little piece of shit took up for his Daddy and the PNAC, neither of which had the time of day for him, and attacked a secular rab country that clearly, I mean, clearly, and leet me say this again, clearly had no ties to the attack. Then he got a PDB that was pants on fire while he was relaxing at his ranch. Ignored that.

    All I’m getting at, is if you don’t vote, unfortunate candidates end up fucking things up. I’d also point out that W basically left the biggest FUBAR anybody has ever seen since Barney pissed on his sorry ass when the pretzel took him down.

    It’s stupid. It’s Exceptionally Vague. Another Contract on America, and they will blow your ass up this time.

  34. Scout said on September 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    My claim to fame in any FLW discussion is my close friendship with a landscape architect in Spring Green, WI who’s daddy was FLW’s farm manager at Taliesin. My friend grew up on Taliesin and still lives less than a mile away. When I visited him and his wife several years ago I got the “behind-the-scenes-insider” tour of Taliesin. My friend has many fond memories of FLW, (Mr. Wright is how he is always referred to by those who knew him) and is currently in the process of restoring the old elementary school in Spring Green that was apparently the only school FLW ever designed.

  35. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Bob (Not Greene)

    It isn’t like you have to decide to vote for something. These people are nihilists and the point seems to be making the middle class into drone ATMs for CEO.

    Jeff Borden said on September 24th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Yeah? It’s the holier-than-thou part that fries my ass. I was brought up in Appalachia. My parents were health-care givers. My parents were Kennedy liberals, I suppose, I do know they had strong beliefs. The current idea that “liberal” is not enough and you have to be “progressive”, Jesus, sorry asshole, you were not in Grant Park. I was, and gave as good as I got.

    Progressives are the folks that decided liberal Democrats needed to glom onto that moronoic self-promoter George Lakoff. Holy shit how did such a hack make a dime.

    You can stay at home, and that is a vote a despicable piece of blowfly excrement like Mitch McConnell. You can go to the polls and feel pretty certain that if you pull Straight Democratic. You can be sure you are not voting for some scumbag lokking to take away vets’ benefits when his own ass had other priorities and got six deferments.

    More likely been leading military ops in Laos and saving his crew than whoofing coke and guarding the OClub in Tejas. Americans are stupid. How’d anybody buy Swiftboat? Actual war hero, cokehead idiot draft-dodger? Those are the actual facts of the case? Right? If Americans are not fucking idiots, how’d anybody buy this spectacular bullshit. Sorry, Americans appear to be morons. Americans buy Kommissar Karl and Lee Atwater. There is no conceivable way to be stupider.

    And here’s another thing. Who actually believed in Swiftboat? I mean it was patently fictitious. Only an idiot would have not seen through the crass political envy and lies. Kerry was every single thing W wanted to be in this scenario, but, you know, he had, to meet a guy, you know , in a bar in, you know, Birmingham.

  36. prospero said on September 24, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Bob (Not Greene) said on September 24th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    It’s like what Sam Axe says to Michael Westen in the trailer.

    You know what spies are like. Buncha bitchy little girls. I believe they’d prefer the return of Raygun if somebody doesn’t wipe their snotty noses, but if all of these folks believe it’s not just a game and things matter, how do the assholes justify letting truly dangerous and insane people win elections because their noses were out of joint?

    This all seems to represent Naderism at it’s worst. I’ve got personal knowledge and experience with Nader. He would rather everything went down in flames if he weren’t the hero. You care or you think some sefish sense of self-gratification is more important.

  37. alex said on September 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Regarding my post @ 20 re: the Louis Kahn building:

    I forgot to add the best parts. The park plaza adjoining the building was condemned for a couple of years because it was sinking; the contractors did a half-assed job when they demolished the mid-nineteenth century buildings that had occupied the site previously and they placed some crummy fill dirt in the basements of the old structures instead of prepping the site properly.

    I also recall a rip-roarious column by The Proprietress in which she quoted from a letter written by a snarky guy who identified himself only as “the Art Curmudgeon.” He poked tremendous fun at my father’s lame spin on the Kahn building’s faultiness. He also ridiculed (quite rightly) some of the expensive abstract sculpture surrounding the building which was totally wrong in its scale for the site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickiep00h/3616312613/

  38. Connie said on September 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    John Scalzi did a great piece on the whining professor to whom Jeff Borden refers. See it at http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/09/21/why-not-feeling-rich-is-not-being-poor-and-other-things-financial/ . Today he links to a story about a young New York lawyer who hates her job but isn’t sure she wants to take up a great job offer at only $120,000 because she doesn’t want to feel poor. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/09/24/new-rule-for-the-internets-six-figure-income-division/

  39. Linda said on September 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Re: the “good professor.” As it turns out, his wife vehemently disagreed with his point of view, and in the article also gave more information about their life than she was comfortable with. He sees himself as being “electronically lynched,” i.e., he expressed views in public that the public strongly disagreed with. Boo freaking who.

  40. Kirk said on September 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    “Electronically lynched.” Sounds like the new “I was misquoted.”

  41. beb said on September 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Detroit has two architectural disasters. One is the Renaissance Center, which, when it was built looked like a glass castle surrounded by a concrete bulwark. When GM bought the building (for a song) the first thing they did was to tear down the concrete berms.

    The other was a tribute to Joe Lewis — a giant black fist hanging on a tripod. Nothing says ‘come visit our city’ like a giant black fist.

  42. brian stouder said on September 24, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Our heat wave is end­ing. I’ll try to con­sole myself with an apple pie.

    Well, with Autumn upon us, Shelby and I went to good ol’ South Side High School’s homecoming football game this evening, at my son Grant’s request.

    Good ol’ South Side High School is now his school, as it was for me 31 years ago, and for my brothers 35-40 years ago, and for my dad and his brother and my eventual aunt about 70 years ago. Earlier in the week, Pam and I went to “Back to School” night at South Side, and it was sort of like a dream wandering around in there; or rather, a nightmare! (as previously discussed)

    Good God, that school is huge!! Walking down the hallway that runs parallel with Calhoun street was somewhat amazing – the hall is impossibly long; I suspect that walking in the Pentagon might be something like that. And indeed, the school is almost completely different from when I went there; it was extensively renovated in the mid-’90s, and enlarged.

    The many halls (unhelpfully lettered “A” through “J”) and stairwells and ramps and over-looks consist of endless (and indistinguishable) drywall, all the same vanilla color, and with occasional archways and so on. (Back in my day, there was masonry here and there, and it seems to me that there was more color than one color; the better to differentiate one area of the building from another. Now, all of that is gone)

    Grant ably lead us here and there, as we visited each of his classes and teachers. Down the hall ways, into the stairwells, around corners, and down more hallways – I would have been completely lost, just as several parents (who came without their students) were.

    Not to sound like an impossibly old fellow, but as Shelby and I sat in the stands this evening, I couldn’t get over how young those students looked. All the archetypes were there – the bookish ones and the face-painted ones and the social butterflies and the tough guys.

    I was thinking of the Type-A teachers who have the endless energy and who optimistically (and nonetheless futilely) tell the kids that THEY are the future; that THEY have to work hard right now, and take advantage of their opportunities and NOT screw up; that THEY will indeed be voters before they know it, and emplyees, and taxpayers.

    By way of saying, Prospero, you gotta go to a high school football game beneath the Friday night lights, and drink it in; in fact, if possible, go to your own old high school, and see.

    By way of saying, I never argue with election results, nor with the official and binding judgement therein.

    If we’re a stupid nation nowadays, we’ve damned-sure never been one whit smarter. It’s like complaining that the ocean isn’t deep enough, really.

    A fair dose of fatalism is not an altogether bad thing.

  43. basset said on September 25, 2010 at 12:23 am

    My high school didn’t play football. Basketball, now, that was a whole different story – mandatory rallies last period on Friday, gym held 4800 and was full every Friday night, that with about 600 kids in the school, and half that now. You either went to the game, or something was seriously wrong with you.

    I may be the only person ever to graduate from that southwestern Indiana high school without attending a single basketball game.

  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 25, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I once heard a Hoosier pervert defined as someone who liked sex better than basketball.

  45. Connie said on September 25, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Michigan’s high school sport is football, Indiana’s is basketball.

    My old high school is now a middle school. Only one of the two buildings I remember remains, and it was completely wrapped in new construction when my youngest brother was there.

    My other younger brother (referred to as my big brother as he is 6’3″)goes to homecoming every year, as he sings in the Alumni madrigal choir for the event. He’s the only one of us that still lives there.

    I am 4th generation, all of whom lived in that small town. My generation is the first without a business on Main St. I wouldn’t live there for anything. I consider myself an escaped Dutch girl.

  46. MaryRC said on September 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Peter, I so agree about that slam at Mies. The Seagram building is one of the most elegant in New York.

    As for Professor Henderson, I guess that’s what happens when you tell the world what your wife paid in taxes and where your kids go to school — your wife gets vehement. His original post is a piece of work. What a tale of woe. If his taxes rise any higher, he’ll have to fire the nanny and the lawn maintenance guy, thereby making them suffer, see how that works? And for some reason he feels he has to tell us that they are both “(legal) immigrants”, one from Mexico and one from Poland. Whatever that has to do with anything. I’m sure he didn’t consult them before invading their privacy either.

  47. A. Riley said on September 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Speaking of architects. Helmut Jahn designed Terminal One at O’Hare, which reflected lots of sunlight into the flight control tower, dazzling the controllers. That gleaming glass also created a steamy greenhouse inside the terminal, cooking the poor travelers lugging their luggage (that’s why they call it LUGgage) from one end to the other. They had to put some kind of shade panels on the bldg to make it inhabitable.

    Jahn’s State of Illinois bldg in downtown Chicago is another big glass greenhouse. State workers put up beach umbrellas over their desks so they could see their computer screens. The real feature to that building is the big open cylindrical atrium, ten or twelve stories from upper level to bottom floor, which meant the place couldn’t be adequately air-conditioned or heated. What’s worse, each level had little waist-level handrails at the open edge. And that bottom floor had a big mandala pattern laid out in colorful tile. Target for jumpers? Indeed.

    The floors in that building had another problem — the joints between the tiles or terrazo squares were slightly lower than the tiles. Those little grooves were just wide and deep enough to catch a woman’s high heel and tear the leather. Dammit. Helmut Jahn must have cost me a fortune in shoe repairs in the years I was visiting that building regularly.

  48. Deborah said on September 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    A. Riley, I’m not crazy about the Helmut Jahn designed State of Illinois building either. It’s an eyesore as far as I’m concerned. But boy oh boy did it ever make the rounds favorably in the architectural press when it first opened back in the day.

    We just got back from getting iPhones! Thursday was our 10th wedding anniversary, so my husband and I decided that would be our gift to each other. Goodbye Verizon and good riddance. Unfortunately we are now at the mercy of AT&T. We are going out to dinner tonight at our favorite Bistro to celebrate (our anniversary and getting the iPhones).

    Brian, I can’t imagine still living in the city I grew up in. I’ve had business trips back to that city and I’m always paranoid about running into someone I went to high school with. And having an off-spring attend the same high school would be a unique feeling. I like your perspective of the current and future electorate, but I’m afraid I am one who believes that we are in a state of devolution.

  49. Larkspur said on September 26, 2010 at 1:27 am

    I have to confess: in my county just north of San Francisco, we are being tormented by traffic jams, detours, delays, and all sorts of other fabulously beautiful bits of evidence that we’re getting some infrastructure things done. I have never been so happy to wait for a flagger to motion me forward. The biggest project is a years-long county-wide replacement of water pipelines. Then there’s the delay caused by having to drive around a short but heavily traveled bridge that’s being seismically upgraded and replaced. Not far from there, I get slowed down by workers installing a real ADA-quality walking path alongside a main road, one that’ll make it easier for everyone to get from Point A to Point B ON FOOT.

    I am sorry. I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad. And it’s not anything that’s going to save the world. But I wanted to report that there is a place (and there must be other places) where some real, tangible, basic stuff is getting done. It makes me want to cry because it makes me want to cry that civic things getting done is so heartwarming. And yes, I WILL vote for Barbara Boxer again, even if I can’t cite specifics of her contribution to making it happen.

  50. alex said on September 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks to the stimulus my neighborhood’s getting new sanitary sewers. For years we petitioned for them but were turned down. (It was a legal maneuver, really, to preclude our 70-year-old septic plant from being condemned in the event of any complaints from downwind/downstream. By showing a good faith effort to obtain sewers, the homeowners’ association immunized itself from litigation, so the argument went, and any aggrieved parties would have been forced to sue government instead.)

    Anyway, I’m not too excited about the coming upheaval of the earth around here, nor the fact that I have to start paying $100-plus per month immediately, even though the first flush from this house may not occur for another year or two, but I’m glad this much-needed improvement is finally happening.

  51. LAMary said on September 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Amen, Larkspur. I’m not seeing any big improvements in this part of town but the 405 is being improved over on the west side and that’s been needed for years. Boxer will get my vote again. Fiorina is doing the same lame “I’m a business success so I can fix the state” bullshit. It’s never worked in the past and it won’t work this time. One example of it working…Mayor Riordan in LA. He was definitely a RINO, though. The democrats were running Mike Woo who is a smart guy and a nice guy but not what the city needed at that time. Riordan got things up and running after the 94 quake incredibly fast. I fear Woo wouldn’t have had the hustle to do the same.

  52. Deborah said on September 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    LA Mary, didn’t Fiorina get fired from HP? So it’s weird that she’s calling herself a “business success”.

    It’s been chilly all day here in Chicago, high was supposed to only be about 60. I’ve been cooped up because of my fractured foot so haven’t been out in it much. Low tonight around 50 I think. Nice sleeping weather.

  53. Catherine said on September 27, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Nobody that I know, including some pretty conservative folks, are buying Carly’s act. At least SOMEthing still makes our bullshit meters oscillate, even after 8 years of GWB. Also, what Larkspur said.