The Snyderman house.

One for Peter and Deborah gets us started today, and sorry, but I think we’ve discussed this topic before. Anyway, this is the column that started my interest in Michael Graves. Reporting on a house isn’t exactly dramatic. But once you’ve owned real estate, once you’ve battled a contractor or struggled with an expensive problem with plumbing or drainage, you join a fraternity — the house-suffering — that encompasses people from all walks of life, and their problems become ones you can identify with. Dr. Sanford Snyderman and his wife, Joy, commissioned an up-and-coming Indianapolis-born architect named Michael Graves to build them a striking, avant-garde house in 1973, on a large parcel of land in what was then a newly awakening suburban area of Fort Wayne, Indiana. They lived there about 20 years before selling the property to a developer, and the house never was lived in again. Graves went on to become an architect of great renown, and a design-world household name — you’ve probably seen his work at Target. The house was torched in 2002, just as a restoration effort was struggling to get rolling. A photo of the house is at the link in the first line. I strongly suggest you take a look before reading. Oh, and yes, these are the parents of Dr. Nancy Snyderman, author and TV doctor. I heard somewhere that she had the central interior staircase — the one without railings of any sort — removed and warehoused, perhaps to be used in a future house of her own. Beware, Nancy! Beware!

August 2, 2002.

From the very beginning, the reporting on the Snyderman House raised more questions than it answered. For all the effusive praise for Michael Graves’ avant-garde design, as a reader I always wanted to know: So why isn’t anyone living there now?

From all accounts, Sanford and Joy Snyderman sold their 40-acre property to a developer in 1997, moved into a villaminium and abandoned the house to become a target for Aboite Township vandals, one of whom likely burned it to the ground earlier this week in a fire officials describe as suspicious in origin.

True, you can find architectural marvels in similar straits elsewhere in Allen County, but not many that are barely 30 years old and located in a booming, affluent suburb. Why didn’t another doctor and his wife, or some other well-to-do couple with a fondness for modern architecture, buy the place and make it their own?

Ask around, and the answer quickly becomes apparent.

“It wasn’t a physically comfortable house,” said Sanford Snyderman Jr., the Snydermans’ son. “It was hot in summer, cold in winter. The stucco cracked. The roof was flat, and never did drain well. Something was always going wrong with it.”

In other words, the Snyderman house was also a sucking money pit, a beautiful, tragic structure that virtually sprouted the sort of stories that turn homeowners’ hair white. When the Snydermans finally moved out, they had reached the end of their rope in coping with the house’s maddening quirks and design flaws.

At the same time, though, Joy Snyderman is quick to recall the million good times the family enjoyed in their one-of-a-kind home, which made a dramatic stage set for parties and entertaining.

“I remember we had a family reunion here, with maybe 30 people, and this water-gun fight going on from all the different levels and balconies. It was like a Fellini movie,” she said.

“Dramatic” is a word that comes up time and again when discussing the Snyderman house, in both the good and bad sense of the word.

It’s the preferred adjective for Graves’ edgy design, conceived in 1972, which featured exterior staircases and gridlike exterior steel beams, walls that extended above the roof line and cantilevered balconies. It’s also appropriate for the fights the Snydermans had with contractors who scratched their heads over Graves’ flights of design fancy.

“There were so many undecided elements that were resolved as the house was built,” Sanford said. “The house was a work in progress until it was finished.”

And then the real work began. The roof leaked almost from the beginning. The temperature fluctuated wildly from season to season. There was a depression near the exterior basement doors into which animals would fall and be unable to climb out, and one of the teenage boys’ daily chores was fishing out the frogs, snakes and raccoons they would find there in the morning.

“The house was wrapped in glass, and most of it was single-pane,” said Sanford. “So it was impossible to control the temperature. The balconies were stuccoed, and that stuff weighs as much as cement, so they started to sag after a while.” No one can really say whether the house’s problems were in its design or execution, but both Joy Snyderman and her son say the blame probably can be passed around.

“For the materials that existed and the expertise available at the time, the timing just wasn’t right,” said Sanford, recalling the endless battles with contractors and subcontractors, who struggled with Graves’ blueprints. “Everyone who worked on it blames someone else for the problems. Michael Graves is obviously a very talented and successful architect, and this was a very ambitious effort on his part. But I think his reach exceeded his grasp.”

That’s a contention that bothers Matt Kelty, the local architect who led efforts to buy and restore the house in the last two years. Graves’ design was “beyond the ability of most home contractors to carry out,” he said. “The roofing material was put down by a carpet contractor.”

But architecture is both a creative and a practical art form; a designer’s vision has to be reconciled with what is physically possible to build. At what point, if he or she fails to do so, does a design get called a failure, and did the Snyderman house qualify? (After all, the family had to install an additional furnace just to get the master bedroom temperature above 70 degrees, and air conditioning was “an afterthought,” in Sanford’s opinion.) Kelty doesn’t think so.

“I believe (Graves) achieved not just a living structure but a profoundly beautiful one,” he said. “It’s a piece of art that functioned as a house for more than 20 years.”

The Snydermans themselves are less enthusiastic, although perfectly happy with the role the house played in their lives in that time.

“Michael Graves grew up in Indiana, and he knew what you could do here,” said Joy. “It should never have had a flat roof, not in this climate.” Plus, the house was located in woods, and the roof collected leaves and other natural detritus that clogged its drains. If they weren’t cleaned regularly, as often as every few days, water damage followed. Freezing-and-thawing cycles took their toll wherever the water penetrated.

At this point, most homeowners might wonder why the Snydermans didn’t burn the place down themselves, collect the insurance and go build a nice Colonial somewhere. To understand, it helps to know that the family never saw the house the way most of us see our own, as a piggy bank you can live in. Rather, Joy sees her time there as an adventure, a rich collection of experiences – both good and bad – that are, after all, a part of life.

“I would rather have grabbed the brass ring than not,” she said. “I’m 75 now, and at my age you don’t want to live with regrets. We had wonderful times there that we could not have had anywhere else.”

Sanford agrees (although his philosophical outlook is tempered by the fact he served as the house’s chief handyman for years). He also points out that, due to the escalation of property values in Aboite during the time the Snydermans owned it, they were still able to make a profit on the sale of the land, even with a problem house on it.

One of the house’s features was a 20-foot-long mural painted by Graves, and Sanford, an artist himself, was his apprentice. Where else could he have had such an experience? (The mural was removed and now resides at the Indianapolis Art Center, in Graves’ hometown.)

Joy said her son pointed out that many of architecture’s innovations rose from its failures – “like the flying buttress.” Someone had to own the failures, and at least theirs was beautiful.

As for Sanford, “I’m just glad my parents are under a roof that sheds water now.”

Posted at 12:05 am in Ancient archives |
 

42 responses to “The Snyderman house.”

  1. Dexter said on August 15, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I live in a frame house that is 91 years old and is plain as a potato, but I know what stunning means, and that photo of the Snyderman house is stunning. Dr. Nancy Snyderman did a segment on NBC Nightly News last year about her father’s Altzheimer’s if I recall properly. Here’s a little health primer for all of us.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_iSwBG9F1M

  2. ROGirl said on August 15, 2011 at 5:35 am

    It’s a stunning house, but living in a work of art isn’t easy. I love Frank Lloyd Wright, but his houses were notorious for their problems. The price of genius can be steep, but this house deserved a better fate.

  3. alex said on August 15, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Michael Graves designed one other house in Fort Wayne, currently on the market for dirt cheap. It was built around the same time as the Snyderman house; in fact the Hanselman family, who commissioned it, knew the Snydermans. My parents knew both couples and had been in both houses and they were indeed quite stunning from all accounts.

  4. coozledad said on August 15, 2011 at 7:53 am

    It’s possible do stuff with non-traditional materials that’s structurally sound, but for houses verging on the scale of public buildings, it’s axiomatic that you go with traditional or tested materials.For all its strident mallchitecture elements, the house can’t shake off the appearance a junior high school with the covered entry/bus pickup deck favored by the brutalists of America’s late architectural Stalinist period. In fact, I can almost see myself being hazed there, or dressed down by an assistant principal. Doug “Gordo” Hilliard would pitch you off those steps and laugh his ass off. Then he’d take the bus home to his shotgun shack where his dad could leisurely beat him in the warm glow of the oil circulator. If Hilliard Sr. got too sweaty from his labors, he could at least prop one of the damn windows open.

  5. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Ah yes, Michael Graves and the Snyderman house, a typical example of his early work, tangled and abstract, all theory, little functional substance. His work moved beyond that.

    One of our neighbors in Abiquiu, the artist Richard Tuttle had a guest house designed by the architect Steven Holl. It was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine with an article awhile back about how the owners found the house unhabitable (I don’t think that’s a word), very cold in winter, way too hot in summer and leaks like a sieve. I’ve been in it and can attest to that. It is a work of art though, very cool looking and a gorgeous site

    http://www.stevenholl.com/project-detail.php?type=houses&id=53&page=0

    And Alex that’s an amazing price for the Hanselman house.

    edit: Here’s the NYT Magazine article about the Turbulence House in Abiquiu: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/magazine/21turbulence.html

  6. Julie Robinson said on August 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

    While those houses are interesting as pieces of art, really almost sculptures, I wouldn’t want to live in them. They feel cold and hard to me. What’s wrong with a few curves?

    It’s instructive to remember that before Matt Kelty was screwing up mayoral campaigns, he was screwing up home restoration campaigns.

  7. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 11:41 am

    This house shares some unfortunate architectural characteristics with the Xanadu Mall, the ugliest building in New Jersey, according to a truly unattractive governor. Architects, in my long working experience, have a peculiar phrase, “It wants to be…” I once had a running battle with a Project Architect over carrels for a public library. This character was a walking stereotype, exaggerated French accent, Mont Blanc fountain pen, Moleskine notebooks, wardrobe from Louis, the French slang term is le mec, which translates roughly to “The guy that just knows he’s hipper than thou.” Anyway, this fou got it into his heads that the carrels “wanted to be made of pau lope”, a rare rain forest wood variety that is so hard it must be drilled with a drill press in a shop. Stuff would destroy a nail gun or an 18V hand drill. Standard for carrels is red oak, which has beautiful grain and is very durable, easy to work with, and readily available. It’s also costs less than about 10% of what the exotic would cost. We argued, well I insisted and Gabriel wheedled, about thetas for weeks. Luckily, since this was municipal work, we had to deal with a citizens design review. This happened in Newton MA, a classic liberal enclave at the time that prided itself on not being Wellesley, or on being Wellesley for quality of life, without the twisted GOP politics. Anyway, this was bugging the piss out of me, until it occurred to me, while riding the subway to a meeting, that I could end the discussion once and for all. Gabriel passed around impressive samples of the beautiful pau lope that had the amateur architects entranced when I regretfully informed them the wood was from endangered trees. Suddenly, it was as if these folks were handling plutonium. On the way back to the office, I told Gabby it was too bad about the carrels, but that oak would save a bundle and still look very good. His response, in an aggrieved tone: “But it wanted to be pau lope.” Architect’s in general, are good at renderings, weak on methods and materials in the real construction world, and utterly dismissive of codes. That’s why spec writers make more money, thank goodness, trying to anchor architect’s in the real world. Actually the lowest paid employees in architectural firms are “designers”, junior architects that actually haven’t forgotten how to draw construction details, which are actually the methods for making buildings stand up and work properly. The visionaries at the top, the partners, spend hours a day on marketing the firm and faxing details to owners and contractors, for massive salaries.

    How many Palladian window towers can Phillip Johnson repeat? But I guess those repetitive towers are more practical than glass houses.

  8. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I wonder what Tim Burton could do with the Snyderman House.

  9. LAMary said on August 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I figure if my house gets totaled by an earthquake or brushfire (two of the life enhancing experiences we Los Angelenos have as possibilities) I would look into the company that assembles houses from shipping containers. I think they look cool. I wonder how it would sound during an earthquake, though. Would it bang around a lot?
    There was a news story about fifteen years ago about building houses from styrofoam, like cheap beer coolers. Imagine how that would sound in an earthquake.

  10. coozledad said on August 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I always wondered if you could build a house from 12′ diameter precast concrete culvert pipe, and just backhoe it in beneath the garden. Then you’d just have a small sun house up top.
    Nah. This idea doesn’t even look good in print.

  11. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    “It turns out that the greatest invention, the one that made civilization possible, is caulking.”

    Not without flashing it isn’t. A styrofoam, beeer cooler house would sound like fingernails on a blackboard in an earthquake.

  12. Bitter Scribe said on August 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    It’s easy to slag on architects, but one reason I dislike doing it (or reading about it) is there’s enough anti-intellectualism in this country already. It’s no wonder that prissy reactionary Tom Wolfe devoted an entire book to sneering at modern architecture.

  13. Connie said on August 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve been part of an architect selection/interview team for several projects, including one for which Michael Graves’ firm made a proposal. Our goal has always been to select an architect to work with that will design “our” building not his/hers, and to seek good communication. Michael Graves’ firm’s presentation was all about how famous we would be if we built a Michael Graves building.

    I once took a job that came with a new building that still had a punch list, where the customer (now me) was no longer on speaking terms with the architect. So I do know those things can go bad.

  14. Jolene said on August 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    The CBS Sunday Morning show has twice shown a piece about the Sydney Opera House describing the huge challenges and cost overruns associated with building it. At some point, the architect, a Dane named Jorn Utzon, fell out with the Australians and left the country. There was, apparently, some rapprochement late in his life, but he never returned to Sydney to see the completed building.

    So, although it eventually became a huge success, there was a lot of agony and expense along the way.

    The link above tells the story, but the video is also online.

  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Deborah, re: Turbulence House — I’m left wondering what note it plays. Or does it vary in pitch depending on the direction of the wind?

    This could just be the result of having watched too many SpongeBob episodes when my son is in the house.

  16. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    May I say, I had no intention to denigrate architects. Most of my good friends are architects. I certainly wouldn’t describe most architects as intellectuals, though, or particularly attuned to the real world. This is what makes them good company, and brilliant party planners. I am convinced architecture schools should put more emphasis on methods and materials, although this particular academic lacuna has allowed me to make a good living by knowing this stuff. Architects are imaginative, and very stubborn about things like colors, textures, etc. I wasn’t making fun of my pau lopee buddy, and I appreciate the beauty and other qualities of that wood as much as he did. But, there’s some artistic ideal, and then there is practicality in the real world, and my friends, the architects, are very easily distracted from that.

    Connie, there are three players in an American Institute of Architects (AIA) standard contract: Owner, Architect, Contractor. The Architect’s role is generally similar to that of an Arbiter or Interlocutor, if you will. The final phase of Construction on a big job is usually everybody suing everybody else. The Architect gets paid last, when the dust settles, which means that I under contract with the architect really has to wait sometimes. On the other hand, in legal action, I’m part of the architect’s defense team, because judges and arbiters can no more read construction drawings than can anyone else. So, things frequently revert to the specifications and written contract documents, which I write, and know inside out (they are masters I wrote myself andd modify for each job), so I’ve got leverage with my clients.

  17. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Jeff. E below E on the Double bass. High C. Depending on which spirit is informing the wind at any given moment. Music of the Spheres in between.

  18. Sue said on August 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    When we were touring the Ryan Mansion in Galena (IL) last fall, the guide/butler mentioned that the house was designed with an Irish/Celtic feature that involved placing windows so that there was through-the-house light at specific times of the year (solstice, maybe?). I’m not sure I’m remembering it correctly, but the rooms were designed so that red glass at the upper level at the back of the house captures the sun at specific times of the year and shoots it through to the lower level at the front of the house, as a beam of red light. Or it’s supposed to, anyway: the house is old, trees and the town have grown up around it and the guide said the sun no longer goes through.
    Anyone heard of this Irish design feature?
    And by the way, Galena is a great weekend destination.

  19. moe99 said on August 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I have a friend in Idaho who promotes straw bale construction:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3ZWr9sdUGY&feature=related

  20. MichaelG said on August 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    There are some straw bale houses in this area. The local rice straw is said to be excellent for them. I took a good look at one at the State Fair a couple of years ago and was impressed. Hope you don’t mind two foot thick walls.

    There is very often another party in the owner, architect, contractor let’s put up a building group. That’s the construction manager. The CM is the conductor of the orchestra. He (for the sake of brevity) coordinates the activities of all the other parties, makes them play nice and is in charge of the three Ss – Scope, Schedule and $Budget. It’s his job to shepherd the architect and client through the design phase ensuring that everybody understands just what is and is not going to be done. It is the CM’s role to manage the contractor when the construction phase begins and to oversee submittals, requests for information, schedule, pay and the like. The architect is a poor project manager because, as Prospero noted, he is an interested party, having done the design, and might tend to make decisions based on self serving reasons.

    Here at the State of CA, copies of a new planset are given to reviewers. The marked up sets are then given back to the designer so that she can incorporate the comments in a new plan set. When that’s done a set of the new plans goes to the inspectors for a constructability review. Plans are also reviewed by the State Fire Marshal for Fire Code compliance and by the Office of the State Architect for Access compliance. We still end up with lots of problems on site.

    In the case of all those dream houses that leak, etc., it’s my opinion that the contractor is at fault. The contractor needed to coordinate with the architect and work to solve gaps and deficiencies in the design. A PM would help! Somebody made my argument for me when they noted that the roof of the Snyderman house was done by a carpet layer. ???

    My argument was made again several years ago when the “This Old House” people restored Wright’s Falling Water property in PA. It was a PBS special. They noted the design problems and the construction problems and went about solving all of them. The finished project was indistinguishable from new but sound and tight and fully functional. If the original contractor had been worth his salt, he would have noted and solved the problems then.

  21. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Prospero, thanks for defending architects. I used to know some architects like your friend Gabriel, but in the last 10-15 years or so you can’t get away with that, nor should you. Sustainable design is huge, most architects are certified, and have LEED after their names to prove it. And you would like IIT where my husband teaches. They are into materials and structural techniques big time. My hat’s off to you for being a spec writer, that is an art that many people don’t know about. A good spec writer can make all the difference in the final product.

    We have other neighbor’s in Abiquiu who have used straw bale construction. The house we are designing for ourselves in Abiquiu will be off the grid with solar panels for power, and will have passive solar design elements, that’s where you let the angle of the sun through glass and thermal mass flooring and walls do most of the heating. We considered straw bale but have also thought about rammed earth, which can be quite beautiful http://thetyee.ca/Life/2008/10/22/NkMipCentre/.

    edit: and Michael G, I’ve been to Falling Water since it was renovated, it’s stunning, worth every penny they spent on repairing it.

  22. MichaelG said on August 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Here in CA we have a new “Green” building code that took effect this year. The requirements are graduated with the size of the building and the type of project (new or remodel) but they are very stringent including a tough commissioning process. I’m not a fan of LEED. It seems a little too points and guys getting their picture in the trade rag shaking hands. I know we need a standard, but here we have the new code. For me, LEED is too much those two guys in MA or wherever milking a cash cow.

    Writing specifications is indeed an art. I don’t do tech specs but I’ve written many a front end.

  23. LAMary said on August 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I know a married couple, both architects, who are big advocates of rammed earth. I think they are living in the Sacramento area these days in case you’re in the market, MichaelG.

  24. Jolene said on August 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    On another topic: HBO is showing a new documentary re Gloria Steinem tonight. Commentary about the film here.

  25. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Yeah, I hear you Michael G, about LEED. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Most architects in my office use LEED guidelines and are certified but they really go way beyond the LEED points. It is sometimes ridiculous what gets you points and what doesn’t. Everyone in this firm is expected to eventually take the LEED exam or they won’t get promoted, that goes for graphic designers and admin people too. It’s intimidating.

  26. brian stouder said on August 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Most dated line, from the ancient archive article? I vote for this one:

    To understand, it helps to know that the family never saw the house the way most of us see our own, as a piggy bank you can live in.

    That is classic turn-of-the-century American thinking

  27. paddyo' said on August 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Deborah @5, love the link to the “turbulence house” — and looking through it, photo-wise, I couldn’t help wondering: Why is it that in the bedrooms of most such fascinating but impractical houses, the beds seem to be merely a mattress on the floor?
    (The Sleeper House excepted . . . and yes, the Woody Allen movie house still lurks on a mountainside above Interstate 70, visible to all who head west into the Rockies just out of Denver).

  28. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    And another weird thing about the Turbulence house Paddyo’ is there are no walls around the bathroom. The toilet just basically sits in the bedroom. All of the furniture is completely in ruins, they have a small table with mismatched chairs that looked like they were left out in the weather for decades. Richard Tuttle is an artist who has pieces in many museums, his work sells in the 6 figures. There are some other buildings on the property, very modest. But they have spectacular art by major artists. She is an accomplished poet.

    Edit: I just looked at the photos again and realized that they brought some different furniture in for the photo shoot. That’s not what they normally have in there, but the bed is on the floor like that.

  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    For the record, I’ll defend Frank L.W. for livability based on a very modest amount of data, but I’d say his houses are not all created equal: some of his Usonian homes with tile floors & built in furniture are remarkably homey, especially when the fireplace draws well. I’ve heard the stories of nightmare skylight troubles and chill drafts in wintertime for Wright homeowners, but Wingspread and the Usonians are all delights to spend time in, from the kitchens to the porches right down to the cozy bedrooms.

    On the other hand, Edward Larabee Barnes built a seminary in Indianapolis I have four years of intimacy with, and along with his near pathological dislike of restrooms, he was militantly disinterested in maintenance costs, human flow & ergonomics, or basic climate control. Beyond all that, he made pretty buildings. Just don’t try to use them or live in them. If you try to add lighting to the complex as designed, for safety and to find your footing, he would threaten legal action; let’s just say he and his associates did nothing to make all of us going through CTS feel well disposed towards architecture as an art.

  30. Bowditch said on August 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Michael @22 and Deborah @25, we live in a net-zero energy house that was a product of the ideas/experiences of a very competent contractor/project manager, an architect with no prior experience in LEED and energy efficient design, and a sailor/ecologist/homeowner (me). We never applied for LEED certification, because our remodel didn’t conform to the “points”, but over the course of 6 years of data tracking, we’ve averaged 300KW-hrs per year more production than consumption (we’re net-metered). The project won some local design awards and has been featured in local and national media and even a green design book, but I don’t have and don’t really miss the LEED certificate. On the other hand, I’m pretty happy about my diminutive CO2 footprint, and I like giving my excess KW-hrs to my neighbors. I give house tours to interested folks who are looking for ways to cut their electricity bills (highest municipal rates in the nation here), and it’s a good opportunity to get beyond the “how long will it take to pay itself off” question. Most of the people I talk to have grandkids too.

  31. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Where’s Peter? He must be on vacation.

  32. basset said on August 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Cooz, here ya go on the concrete culverts:

    http://www.gizmag.com/mexicos-recycled-concrete-tube-hotel/19142/

    and Jolene said: “The CBS Sunday Morning show has twice shown a piece about the Sydney Opera House…”

    The CBS Sunday Morning show has twice shown a lot of pieces, and occasionally they repeat a whole show. I miss Charles Kuralt. Hell, I miss Hughes Rudd.

  33. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Yeah Basset but show me the bathroom in one of those concrete culvert hotel rooms.

  34. Deborah said on August 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    http://vimeo.com/27246366 happy! That’s it for me in one day, I’ve never commented this much.

  35. brian stouder said on August 15, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Hughes Rudd was great. Hard to say precisely why, other than he reminded me of a really good teacher.

    Regarding the stage collapse at the state fairgrounds here in Indiana, we just got back from Logansport. Saturday night, after the storms rolled through (and after we got power back) I thought I’d like to see the 10:00 headlines before knocking off, and CNN was running coverage from WTHR Indianapolis. Then we changed it to WTHR channel 13 itself, as they receive the signal there. We then followed the story off and on for the rest of the weekend, through the memorial service this morning.

    Let me just say, Governor Daniels struck me as defensive and somewhat off-putting. This event is certainly terrible, and difficult to deal with. But instead of vowing to fully investigate what the hell happened, and what failed, and how this whole tragedy actually played out – instead of that, literally the first statement I heard him make, Sunday morning in a ballcap and on a stage in an empty pavillion, was that there was no blame here – and there would be none. He has reiterated that sentiment several times, and while I understand the impulse, I am fairly certain that Indiana Ocuupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) would not accept statements like that from a CEO of a corporation that had just accidently killed 5 people – whatever the circumstances.

    I am not asking for a rush to judgement, but indeed I do want a methodical march to judgement; and if that turns into blame, so be it. Let’s find out what broke (whether mechanically, in the structure, or methodically, in the organization).

    Aside from that, the memorial service (as a whole) from the fairgrounds this morning was equal parts beautiful, and troubling! One guy’s sermon (or whatever) invoked a needlessly graphic image of a jewish boy being tortured to the point of death, in a Nazi concentration camp; and the boy’s terrible death was being prolonged for whatever reason (he was being hung, and his life was being choked out of him) – and the question the speaker was building toward was “Where is God?” at such a moment.*

    Someone should have reminded that guy that he was going to be addressing a crowd including people who had just come through a terrible event 48 hours earlier, and who did not need to be reminded about injuries and agony and random death. He should have been asked to drop that passage about the lynched boy; and if he didn’t want to – then he should have been told to go fly a kite.

    Sometimes, it is hard to believe what other people somehow conclude is reasonable and/or appropriate.

    *I went googling and didn’t come up with the guy’s actual remarks. Suffice it to say, they made me groan

  36. Kirk said on August 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    When I was getting up early enough to catch him on the CBS Morning News, the thing about Hughes Rudd that I got a kick out of was that he always came across as grumpy about having had to get up that early to go to work.

  37. coozledad said on August 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Basset: That’s the leading edge of a dystopic idea I used to entertain about poured concrete hovels. The Romans actually used something similar in an effort to house retired legionnaires and other urban poor. They hadn’t quite mastered prefab technology, and their housing projects frequently collapsed, killing hundreds at a pop.
    Theoretically, you could pile those cylinders several stories tall. With a little additional skeletal steel, you could make cities for laborers in a couple of weeks.

  38. Jolene said on August 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    The CBS Sunday Morning show has twice shown a lot of pieces, and occasionally they repeat a whole show.

    Only in the summer, basset. 60 Minutes repeats shows in the summertime too. It annoys me, but many Sunday Morning pieces are so good I don’t mind seeing them twice–or sleeping late knowing that I won’t miss anything new.

  39. april glaspie said on August 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, wee actually made money on our investments today, This is hilarious when Obama is croaking the Dow. Repupblicans have been attacking my investments mightily, but i made money today. These people are fucking withe the stock market like it is going out of style, and it seems to be they despise a brown guy running the country. The clear pattern of screwing with the black guy is a little annoying to me, I’,m not, black, that is, but the pattern is clear. They took advantage of W deregulation. They crashed the markets. They sold derivatives that Phil Gramm let them make up out of pure air. and they stole our cash. If that isn’t what happened, please explain differentlyy. That is what happened. These fickheads stole our money. They screwed us over and paid the cash to the Kock Heads. These are facts. and those assholes pay no taxes. They take money from the Feds, same as Bachmann takes farm subsidies and Medicare cash and they convince morons that somebody else is taking ttheir money. How would you feel if you were a Teabagger and you found out Bachmann’s were slutping deep at the federal trough? Well they have been. Fed money to pray away the gay? Holy shit, gives whole new meaning to welfare. All those kids? Welfare.

  40. april glaspie said on August 16, 2011 at 12:33 am

    If the folks liked the house, in the long run, that;s a success, even if they messed up the caulk and the flashings. Tjese things are not rocket science, It’s qiite simple, Water flows down. And it flows over. Sorry, but this is something that frequwntly escapes architects. They screw this up all the time. I can’t explain why. it seems so obvious. Flashings are meant to shed, not to contain. The so-called stucco on the house? Was it stucco or soft-shell fake stucco, which absorbs water and gets heavy as shit? Seems like they should have gone with hard=shell, that actually stands up to elements. The soft shit is long gone. Noboody would spec that shit. It is garbagee. It doesn’t work in any situation.Only a moron would would have anything to do with it. And it is not stucco. Stucco is something else entirely from those coatings on mesh and poly insulating boards.

  41. april glaspie said on August 16, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Hughes Rudd was the anti-Andy. Good enough for me.

  42. basset said on August 16, 2011 at 8:27 am

    >>show me the bathroom in one of those concrete culvert hotel rooms.

    as Roger Miller is reputed to have said after he allegedly insisted that a private aircraft he was on land so he could empty his bladder… “a man should p*** on the ground.”

    We are looking at finally moving out of the flood zone after going on 22 years a few yards from the river… I told our realtor that we didn’t want to be crowded up in any subdivisions, the new house had to be one where I could pee off the back porch. He took that as fair and reasonable.