Summer slowness.

Monday might be my least-favorite blogging day of the week. Nothing ever happens to me on a Monday. Usually I go to the downtown office, so that’s something. But usually nothing interesting happens there, either. You see movies about journalists, and you think it’s all running around to fires and stuff, and there’s some of that, or used to be. For me and my colleagues, it’s mostly talking on the phone and staring at a computer screen.

I once had lunch with an editor who worked in the same office complex, or cluster, or whatever, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page. He could walk by and see them at work. What did he observe, you might wonder? Spells being cast, raucous staff meetings, Nerf basketball?

“Emails,” he said. “Lots and lots of emails.” That’s journalism today.

And since I brown-bagged it, I didn’t even get the fun of going out onto the sweaty streets to see what’s up. Except at the bus stop, which was pretty quiet. I think the whole world goes on vacation in July and August.

I did get a road report from the Deadly Vipers: The three shows so far have been in small spaces that were tightly packed with sweaty, moshing, toilet paper roll-throwing celebrants. They’ve been called back for encores all three shows, and “we’re selling a lot of tapes.” Yes, tapes, because some guy in Brooklyn is releasing their music on cassette. As I recall, the last time I was there people were gathering under a tent at a street festival to take a turn working on that wacky wayback machine known as a typewriter.

The rest of you can check out two tracks from the four-track EP via Soundcloud.

I know Americans have hardly covered themselves with glory abroad. I know idiots have scratched Ryan + Amber 4Ever on the Stonehenge monuments, touched stuff they were told not to and otherwise stumbled and bumbled their way through the world’s glories — don’t even get me started on that stupid locks-on-the-bridge thing in Paris — but honestly, there’s something about the lead of this story that makes me want to drop a bomb on France, just to get this guy:

Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist. He owns nightclubs in Paris and New York, works as a top editor of the men’s fashion magazine L’Officiel Hommes and has appeared in countless glossy magazines as a tastemaker and bon vivant.

Two months ago he showed up on the decidedly un-fashionista website Modern Hiker, along with a photo of a boulder he tagged in Joshua Tree National Park. Since then, Saraiva, who lives in France and is known by his fans as Mr. Andre and Mr. A., has been scorned by American nature lovers and thrust into a highly charged debate.

Saraiva is of a new generation of graffiti artists who regard nature — not just the built environment — as their canvas. They tag national parks, then post photos of their work on the Internet.

The next bomb goes on the front office of the magazine whose editor offered this priceless observation:

“This is a very complex issue,” said Casey Schreiner, editor of Modern Hiker. “How different is graffiti in national parks than street art? If street art is OK, is this OK? Is there a correlation?”

Answers, in order: Very, no, no. Next question.

This is an interesting piece to consider, as demographics and trends move the wheel around. Remember the anonymous suburban office park in “Office Space?” Remember how you thought, “God, there are a million of those in my city alone?” Well, there are. And they’re falling out of favor:

The building in North Bethesda has eight floors. It is 98.7 percent vacant. There is one life form within its nearly 210,000 square feet — not counting the lobby fern on life support — and she wears a security uniform, sits at the front desk and listens to the muffled whine of a faulty alarm for hours at a time, every day between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“It’s quite annoying,” say Lum Tumentang, the guard. The building engineer sometimes stops by and turns it off, but it inevitably trips again. There’s one or two IT people who do IT stuff one flight up, but they’re not here right now. The building was built in 1989, and it shows: a mountain of tinted glass and beige concrete in commercial dullsville. Over the past decade, its value dropped by 64 percent. The largest tenant, the National Institutes of Health and its contractors, started packing up two years ago as leases expired. By 2014, the owner reported cash-flow problems, foreclosure arrived this past January, and that was it for 6116 Executive Blvd.

That’s in D.C. Your town is likely not far behind.

So, then, Monday is in the books and Tuesday lies ahead. Enjoy whatever it holds for you.

Posted at 12:20 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

47 responses to “Summer slowness.”

  1. David C. said on July 21, 2015 at 5:57 am

    I wonder, is the vacant office building vacant so occupied office buildings can value themselves accordingly and perpetrate the big box store tax scam. I suppose another possibility is tenants want new a new building even if an existing building can be filled with cubicles and drones just as easily.

    People still have cassette players?

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  2. Linda said on July 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Well, you figured out how to get my blood boiling by noting that sh***y little narcissistic vandal and one of his dumbass apologists. He is like the halfwits who gets offended when you ask them to turn down their music in the library, and who generally see the universe as an extension of themselves. Yes, everything is an extension of both you and your ego, it’s not like you are SHARING it with anybody else, so have at it.

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  3. alex said on July 21, 2015 at 7:24 am

    There are so many semi-vacant strip malls and office parks around here that never got tenants in the first place that I cannot conceive of them falling out of favor. They were never in favor.

    Nance, there’s one in Cedarville occupied by guess who? Runestad Financial Services. For those not in the know, Mr. Runestad is a libertarian looney-tunes who guest-writes columns in the local fishwraps that are so full of obscure conspiracist arcana they’d even make a right-wing nutter’s head explode. I don’t know who would entrust him with their finances, but evidently he has managed to mesmerize enough people with his charismatic insanity that he can afford a half-decent building.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

    What about encouraging graffiti artists to go to abandoned office parks and tag buildings there? #EveryoneWins

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  5. Suzanne said on July 21, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Yes, Jeff!

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  6. coozledad said on July 21, 2015 at 8:36 am

    In the Research Triangle, drug companies like Glaxo are shuttering large portions of their campus to move back to PA or just cut their losses. When they were undergoing crazy expansion and picked up Burroughs Wellcome, they acquired three or four gym facilities (that I know vaguely of). They bought the old Southern Durham High school(with its gym) and converted it to office space.

    When they finish bugging out you’ll have several square miles of building stock suitable for a public university campus, which NC can afford once it grows up, or the feds might want it for an alternative energy research facility. It’s bargain basement eighties architectural atrocity shite, so it would be perfect for sciences or tech.

    They could have bought hundreds of these and staffed them with teachers with the money they pissed away in Iraq.

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  7. Dorothy said on July 21, 2015 at 8:59 am

    My niece got married (in my reconfigured wedding dress!) in Joshua Tree two months ago. The pictures I’ve seen have been so wonderful! It is sickening to think someone thinks it’s okay to ‘tag’ in such extraordinary surroundings. Yesterday I spent about $60 at the wedding photographer’s website to order some prints for me and my mom.

    May I ask all of you about some books I’ve read or am reading? I finished “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. I don’t know how to describe how it made me feel. I was mesmerized by it, but also deeply disturbed by it, and yet the characters really came alive to me. I got “My Sunshine Away” on audio books at the library the other day. We listened to it going to Columbus and coming home from there on Saturday evening. We could finish it this coming weekend when we go to Pittsburgh for the weekend, but I’m not sure I want to listen to only a book for 7 hours (that’s about how much time is left to listen to on the audio book). I just wondered it anyone else read it and thinks it is worth finishing.

    I love singing and bouncing along to music when I’m in the car for long drives. Not the whole time, mind you, but you have to have SOME exercise while trapped in a moving vehicle, right?! And I’m almost done with “The Warmth of Other Suns” on my iPad and/or iPhone, and I love it. It’s been good to intersperse some reading along with my quilting and knitting projects lately. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to read, in my opinion.

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  8. Peter said on July 21, 2015 at 9:08 am

    There’s always a silver lining: the great thing about companies moving back into the cities is that they’re doing it because the young workers in demand don’t want to commute to a suburban office park. Finally, ownership is responding to the workers, not the other way around.

    I had a client in the ’90’s who wanted to move their company, lock stock and barrel, out to Charlotte. Why? The golfing’s great! No other reason.

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  9. Suzanne said on July 21, 2015 at 9:18 am

    I’m reading Gawande’s Being Mortal. Excellent, excellent with so much food for thought about the very elderly’ place in society.

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  10. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Office burgers, that’s what we call those speculative commercial office buildings. What a scam they are. Slimy developers, convince dumbshit investors that they’re going to get rich quick, then a shoddy construction company gets to work, no real architect in site, except for an unethical one they pay to give the error filled drawings a once over and sign off on. After they’re built the real estate agents swoop in to persuade the equally shortsighted, incompetent, company facilities managers that they’re getting a great deal on a property. It’s a racket. They are a blight on the landscape, and they have miserable, toxic interiors that depressed office workers are forced to endure. Shudder.

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  11. Dave said on July 21, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Alex, I can’t believe I’m defending him but he did, at least, resurrect a building that was setting empty after time as a pizza place and then a family-style restaurant, instead of building a new building. I hate all the empty buildings that are scattered about here and throughout the country.

    I daresay he’s got plenty of folks who think he’d do well with their money.

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  12. alex said on July 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Come to think of it, Dave, that was the location of a pizza place. A really crappy one. I thought for sure that must be a new building because the old place looked so disreputable and this one looks like suburban office space.

    As for people trusting him with their money, he set up shop in the right town. In those parts they thought Mark Souder was the Second Coming until they found out he had a sex life.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on July 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Peter is correct. In Chicago, Kraft is the latest company to exit their exurban corporate campus for the Aon Center (formerly the Standard Oil, formerly the Amoco Building) because younger workers do not want to work in the suburbs. United Airlines moved to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) earlier and others are on the march.

    Yet when we went to a Memorial Day cookout in Barrington, a suburb which is pretty far northwest of our North Side neighborhood, my wife and I were kind of amazed that several large-scale subdivisions were still rising from the farm fields out that way. Someone still wants those five-bedroom, six bath, three-car garage McMansions, but I honestly don’t know who.

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  14. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Yes Peter and Jeff B, it’s true and it has been going on for a few years. Before I retired the company I worked for was doing a lot of interior fit-outs for companies moving back in to the city from the suburbs. There isn’t much new construction, but a lot of interior renovation.

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  15. Connie said on July 21, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Construction of new suburbs has kicked off here with a boom this year. All of them big houses on tiny lots priced from $300,000 and up. I would prefer half the house with twice the privacy.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on July 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

    We looked at a villa last year: tiny lot, tiny rooms, big price plus $1200/year common fee. The newness and everything looked really tempting, but we decided to stay in our paid-for house with large rooms and a large lot. When it comes to it we can pay to get the mowing and snow removal done.

    But living IN the city? Been there, done that, got tired of the noise and teeny-tiny yard. I wonder what happens to the city-dwelling millennials when they have kids who need a yard to run around in and good schools. Maybe they’ll figure out a way to make it work.

    The AP says high car insurance rates in Detroit mean that half the drivers don’t carry it: Is it the same in the burbs?

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  17. Julie Robinson said on July 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Dang, I miss the edit button. The maintenance fees were $400/quarter, which means $1600/year not $1200. And I work in finance. Sheesh.

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  18. ROGirl said on July 21, 2015 at 11:30 am

    The high Detroit car insurance rates affect everyone who lives in the area, too. The closer you live to Detroit the higher your car insurance rate, no matter any other factor that goes into determining the amount.

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  19. Icarus said on July 21, 2015 at 11:33 am

    “Someone still wants those five-bedroom, six bath, three-car garage McMansions, but I honestly don’t know who.”

    me. me. me.

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  20. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Hearing about gigantic McMansions on small lots always reminds of the story about Celebration City in Florida, a Disney housing development, where the biggest problem the cops have to deal with was spousal abuse. The enormous houses are so close to each other that the neighbors hear the screams of the wives when their husbands are beating them. When the lived in houses with larger yards no one had a clue.

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  21. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I’m sitting outside at the plaza of the Hancock building having a coffee and Danish, it’s quite distracting, that’s my excuse for all the typos in #20. Beautiful day here in Chicago, high of 77 forecasted with low humidity. Yay!

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  22. Jim G said on July 21, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I’m pretty firmly against the death penalty, but I’d make an exception for people who vandalize national parks. Burn ’em, and make it hurt.

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  23. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Really, the suburban American lifestyle isn’t sustainable ecologically or fiscally. The cost of maintaining the infrastructure of sprawl is enormous. Density is the answer, she says as we’re in the middle of a building project in Abiquiu, NM.

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  24. Heather said on July 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Well I wish my company would get in on the back-to-the-city trend. It’s in a suburb about 20 miles west of Chicago with zero practical public transportation options. That means I get to spend almost two hours in the car almost every day! I get to work from home one day a week, but it’s a “privilege.” I don’t mind being in the office (even though the suburban office park ambience is de-pressing), but I do mind the drive. However both bosses are going to be out for a week starting on Friday, so I am taking full advantage of the lack of oversight.

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  25. Icarus said on July 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    @Heather, oh you work here?

    I live in the city but drive to OBT four days a week. I have the same issues as you. I try to take advantage of what I can – being able to transport a workout bag in the car instead of carrying it on the El, but the traffic does beat one down.

    I should clarify, I want my McMansion in the suburbs with a big lot, not in the city where I’m right up against a neighbor because the developers used every inch of space for the building with no thought to a backyard or appropriate gangway between buildings.

    and instead of dull cookie cutter McMansion I’d prefer an updated older house with character like this

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  26. Julie Robinson said on July 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    A friend’s law firm moved to the Chicago suburbs and she eventually followed, buying a house in Naperville in 2007. You see where this is going, right? They went back to the city but her house is nowhere worth what she paid, so now she’s doing the reverse commute. Sometimes you just can’t win.

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  27. Sherri said on July 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I live in the burbs and my husband’s job is in the burbs. It’s a suburb that has more jobs than residents, and the commute direction is towards my suburb, not towards Seattle. Transit is not great, but slowly, slowly, may get better; the intervening suburb’s battle against light rail from Seattle has finally been defeated, so light rail will (probably, hopefully) make it out to the transit center next to Microsoft. Unfortunately, it won’t be taking the more obvious northern route across the lake, because the very affluent northern suburbs and neighborhoods between Seattle and Redmond wouldn’t have any part of that). Besides, why would you want a convenient, direct connection between UW and Microsoft?

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  28. Heather said on July 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Julie: Yeah, every time I complain about the drive, I’m told, “Well, living in the city is a lifestyle choice.” As if I’m going to sell my condo at a loss and move for a job. This isn’t the 50s. I’m not planning on working here until my retirement.

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  29. Mark said on July 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    By the way, the Vipers sound great!

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  30. BellaGP said on July 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    lcarus, what a coincidence! I am the listing agent for 1035 Yorkshire. I think you are meant to buy this wonderful house. Let me know if you would like to see it.

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  31. LAMary said on July 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I live in the city, one of the oldest residential neighborhoods, but I have a big yard. Yay. When we bought the house we had no kids but we did have two big dogs. The yard was just as important as the house. Raising two kids in the small house has been fine. One television, small kitchen, bunk beds for the boys in a small bedroom, but it all worked. The boys had a big yard to play in, trees to climb places to hide and two big dogs to play with them.

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  32. Deborah said on July 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Nancy, do the Vipers have a different lead singer? She doesn’t sound the same to me.

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  33. brian stouder said on July 21, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Love the Pearl-Jammmy sort of sound, especially on Pesticide

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  34. kayak woman said on July 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I was looking at facebook a while back and one of those so-and-so-is-attending-an-event things flew by. It was my adult daughter (a Detroiter) signing up to attend a Deadly Vipers concert. Hmmm, Deadly Vipers, that sounds familiar. Oh yeah! My daughter was tickled to learn that Kate attended her own grade school (Haisley) for a year. Glad their tour is going well and not at all surprised that they’re selling tapes.

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  35. Sue said on July 21, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Kasich is in, and Walker is raising buckets of money, but Trump is still taking all the air out of the room.

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  36. Icarus said on July 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    @BellaGP I don’t know if you are pulling my leg or not but it is on my Redfin Favorites. We talk about moving to Michigan because my wife is from there and her sister lives there now.

    Tell you what. you find a buyer for her South Loop condo and you will have a buyer for 1035 Yorkshire

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  37. BellaGP said on July 21, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    lcarus, I am actually the agent. We used to live in Chicago ( Bucktown,West Loop and Ukranian Village) but moved back to Michigan after having twins. It’s a great house in a fantastic neighborhood. Crazy small world.

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  38. Icarus said on July 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    crazy small world indeed. our twins turn 10 months tomorrow.

    **apologies to the board for this lurker monopolizing the thread today

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  39. coozledad said on July 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    They murdered this woman. This is the country the shabby ass both sides do it NPR shit has created. History tells me there’ll be no justice in this case.

    But one day, white motherfuckers will be hanged by the dozens in a jail for lighting a cigarette. It all works itself out.

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  40. Carter Cleland said on July 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    I was selling vinyl at Pitchfork this last weekend and found myself moving more cassettes than I usually do, though every year I bring great titles from the 80’s and 90’s. Anyhow, while talking to another dealer who has a label which puts out NEW stuff on cassette, I was informed that the kids have turned away from 45’s and are into cassettes now. Who knew?

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  41. Sherri said on July 22, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Why Cooz, I never took you for an ‘arc of history bends towards justice’ kind of guy. You need to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book. You’re getting far too optimistic.

    On a lighter note, I enjoyed this list of translation of foreign policy phrases:

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  42. Dexter said on July 22, 2015 at 1:53 am

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  43. coozledad said on July 22, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Sherri: You’re right, but I keep hoping that the arc of justice bends against the way I was raised, and that might be enough. But that’s fucking ridiculous.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on July 22, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Cassettes, for even crappier sound than vinyl. I got rid of my Walkman too soon.

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  45. jcburns said on July 22, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Let me know when the kids have re-discovered dial telephones.

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  46. Diane said on July 22, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I’ve asked our collection development librarian to order the Coates book for the library. She did, happily, but she thinks mine will be be only checkout it gets here (Colorado).

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  47. Brandon said on July 23, 2015 at 12:49 am

    “[A] wacky wayback machine known as a typewriter…”.

    “The customers go for it – it’s so old, it’s new.”
    –Tana (Marlene Dietrich) in Touch of Evil

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