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California’s housing bills failed—and so did California’s lawmakers - Curbed LA
"Democrats hold a supermajority—but failed to exercise any of their power to fix the housing crisis"

[See also:

"“I Got Mine”" Like college debt and climate change, the housing affordability crisis is generational warfare."
https://slate.com/business/2019/05/california-housing-crisis-boomer-gerontocracy.html

"California Democrats “Dropped the Ball” on Housing Package"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/politics/california-democrats-dropped-the-ball-on-housing-package/article_04dbccf2-80bd-11e9-b573-9fb7ef8d99d8.html

"America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.: The demise of a California housing measure shows how progressives abandon progressive values in their own backyards."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/opinion/california-housing-nimby.html

"The revenge of the suburbs: Why California’s effort to build more in single-family-home neighborhoods failed"
https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-sb50-failure-single-family-homes-suburbs-20190522-story.html ]
alissawalker  2019  california  losangeles  sanfrancisco  housing  democrats  politics  economics  fauxgressives  inequality  realestate  propoition13  gavinnewsom  farhadmanjoo  henrygrabar  nimbyism  anthonyportantino  diegoaguilar-canabal  liamdillon  sb50  nimbys  generations  boomers  babyboomers 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Los Angeles, Houston and the appeal of the hard-to-read city
"This is not going to be a column about all the things the New York Times got wrong about the Los Angeles Times in its recent front-page story by Tim Arango and Adam Nagourney, "A Paper Tears Apart in a City That Never Quite Came Together." It is not, for the most part, going to be about all the things the New York Times got wrong (or simply failed to mention) about Los Angeles itself in that article, which argued that recent turmoil at this newspaper is emblematic of the city's broader lack of support for its major institutions. Plenty of smart people have already weighed in on both fronts.

And yes, every word in the previous sentence links to one of those smart people. Here are a couple more for good measure. When Josh Kun, Carolina Miranda, Daniel Hernandez, David Ulin, Alissa Walker, Matthew Kang and Carolyn Kellogg are united in knocking your analysis of Los Angeles, it might, you know, be a sign.

Anyway. This is going to be a column, instead, about something slightly different: about the legibility (and illegibility) of cities more generally. About how we react — as reporters and critics and simply as people — when we're confronted with a city that doesn't make sense to us right away.

Ten days or so before that story appeared, I spent a long weekend in Houston, meeting up with three old friends ostensibly to see the Warriors, the NBA team I grew up rooting for, play the Rockets — but also just to hang out and eat barbecue and visit the Menil, my favorite museum building in America (just edging out another Texas landmark, the Kimbell in Fort Worth).

Houston is casually written off even more often than Los Angeles, which is saying something. Now the fourth largest city in the country in population — and gaining on third-place Chicago — it's an unruly place in terms of its urbanism, a place that (as Los Angeles once did) has room, or makes room, for a wide spectrum of architectural production, from the innovative to the ugly. Like Los Angeles, it's a city that invested heavily in freeways and other car-centric infrastructure last century and remains, in many neighborhoods, a terrible place to walk.

It's long been a place people go to reinvent themselves, to get rich or to disappear. The flip side of its great tolerance is a certain lack of cohesion, a difficulty in articulating a set of common civic goals. (Here's where I concede that the instinct behind the New York Times piece on L.A., if little about its execution, was perfectly reasonable.) As is the case in Los Angeles, the greatest thing and the worst thing about Houston are one and the same: Nobody cares what anybody else is doing. Freedom in both places sometimes trumps community. It also tends to trump stale donor-class taste.

Roughly one in four residents of Houston's Harris County is foreign-born, a rate nearly as high as those in New York and Los Angeles. Houston's relationship with Dallas, the third biggest city in Texas, is something like L.A.'s with San Francisco; the southern city in each pair is less decorous, less fixed in its civic identity and (at the moment, at least) entirely more vital.

I've been to Houston five or six times; I like spending time there largely because I don't know it as well as I'd like to. That's another way of saying that while I'm there, I'm reminded of the way in which much of the world interacts with and judges Los Angeles, from a position of alienation and even ignorance. I just happen to enjoy that sensation more than most people do.

If I had to put my finger on what unites Houston and Los Angeles, it is a certain elusiveness as urban object. Both cities are opaque and hard to read. What is Houston? Where does it begin and end? Does it have a center? Does it need one? It's tough to say, even when you're there — even when you're looking directly at it.

The same has been said of Los Angeles since its earliest days. Something Carey McWilliams noted about L.A. in 1946 — that it is a place fundamentally ad hoc in spirit, "a gigantic improvisation" — is perhaps even more true of Houston. Before you can pin either city down, you notice that it's wriggled out of your grasp.

People who are accustomed to making quick sense of the world, to ordering it into neat and sharply defined categories, tend to be flummoxed by both places. And reporters at the New York Times are certainly used to making quick sense of the world. If there's one reason the paper keeps getting Los Angeles so spectacularly wrong, I think that's it. Smart, accomplished people don't like being made to feel out of their depth. Los Angeles makes out-of-town reporters feel out of their depth from their first day here.

Their reaction to that feeling, paradoxically enough, is very often to attempt to write that feeling away — to conquer that sense of dislocation by producing a story that sets out to explain Los Angeles in its entirety. Because it's a challenge, maybe, or because they simply can't be convinced, despite all the evidence right in front of them, that Los Angeles, as cities go, is an especially tough nut to crack.

Plenty of journalists have left Los Angeles over the years and moved to New York to work for the New York Times; none of them, as far as I know, has attempted, after two or three months on the job, to write a piece explaining What New York City Means. I can think of many New Yorkers — each of them highly credentialed academically or journalistically or both, which is perhaps the root of the problem — who have come to Los Angeles and tried to pull off that same trick here.

That tendency — to attempt the moon shot, the overarching analysis, too soon — is equal parts hubris and panic. It usually goes about as well as it went this time around for Arango, not incidentally a brand-new arrival in the New York Times bureau here, and Nagourney.

Among the most dedicated scholars of Houston's urban form in recent years has been Lars Lerup, former dean of the Rice University School of Architecture. In his new book of essays, "The Continuous City," he argues that the first step in understanding Houston and cities like it is to begin with a certain humility about the nature and scale of the task.

This kind of city has grown so large — in economic and environmental as well as physical reach — that it begins to stretch beyond our field of vision. The best way to grasp it, according to Lerup, is to understand that it is not Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco or Chicago — to recognize it instead as "a vast field with no distinct borders."

"The old city was a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill surrounded by a collectively constructed wall; the new city is everywhere," he writes. "Only when we accept that we can only attain a partial understanding can work begin."

Lerup stresses that huge, spread-out cities like Houston — which he also calls "distributed cities," places where "the spiky downtown is just a blip in the flatness" — have long been tough to read, in part because they are "always in the throes of change." But the relationship between urbanization and climate change has added a new layer of complexity, because big metro regions and their pollution are exacerbating the ecological crisis. The city now "owns everything" and must answer for everything, "even the raging hurricane bearing down on its coast." The vast city has grown vaster still.

If there's one place I part ways with Lerup, it has to do with his insistence that "few conceptual tools have evolved" to help us grapple with the distributed city and its meanings. At least in the case of Los Angeles, the literature on this score is richer, going back many decades, than even many locals realize.

There's not only McWilliams' superb, clear-eyed book "Southern California: An Island on the Land," which I would make required reading for every new hire if I were running the Los Angeles bureau of the New York Times. (Especially the part where McWilliams admits that he hated Los Angeles when he arrived and that it took him "seven long years of exile" to understand and appreciate the city. Seven years! And that was with a brain bigger and more nimble than most.) There's also architect Charles Moore's 1984 guidebook, "City Observed: Los Angeles," which he wrote with Peter Becker and Regula Campbell.

Right at the beginning, Moore, as if to anticipate Lerup, reminds his readers that L.A. is "altogether different from the compact old centers of Manhattan and Boston." (It is not a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill.) Making sense of it, as a result, requires "an altogether different plan of attack."

That simple bit of advice is the only one journalists newly arrived in Los Angeles really need to get started on the right foot. It's also one those journalists have been ignoring for 34 years and counting."
houston  losangeles  cities  illegibility  vitality  urban  urbanism  nyc  christopherhawthorne  2018  socal  california  larlerup  manhattan  boston  sanfrancisco  chicago  nytimes  careymcwilliams  joshkun  carolinamiranda  danielhernandez  davidulin  latimes  alissawalker  matthewkang  carolynkellogg  timarango  adamnagourney  elitism  legibility  population  place  identity  elusiveness  hubris  panic  urbanization  climatechange  complexity  charlesmoore 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Jacarandas are LA’s future - Curbed LA
"For a few particularly grey weeks of spring, the lavender blossoms of jacaranda trees are everywhere you go, a parade of pastel fireworks exploding along Los Angeles’s streets. You not only see them, you hear them, too, as their rubbery petals render sidewalks squeaky and produce that satisfying snap under bike tires.

Yet after the flowers fade, after their annual brush with fame, the showy celebrities become unremarkable nobodies, their fern-like foliage fading back into the canopy, quietly providing shade and shelter.

I am not here to convince you of the jacaranda’s aesthetic merits nor of its place in Southern California culture—for fine coverage of both those topics, please read Julia Wick’s elegant jacaranda appraisal at LAist.

I am here to tell you that the jacaranda is the future.

The city has lost a shocking number of trees over the last decade, according to a group of USC professors from the Spatial Sciences Institute and Urban Wildlands Group who used aerial imagery to track the de-greening of LA. Their study, published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, showed an astonishing decrease in tree cover in certain neighborhoods, a correlation which paralleled with increased development on single-family lots.

McMansions in particular, with their widened driveways and lot line-to-lot line construction, are eliminating LA’s trees at an alarming rate, something we noted back in 2015.

Then there is the havoc that water scarcity has wrought upon LA—the city estimates we lost 14,000 trees just in parks due to the drought. And that doesn’t even count all the street trees that died because people who killed their lawns forgot that their trees still needed to be watered.

Now consider that LA’s urban forest was already seriously lacking compared to other cities. Despite several high-profile mass-planting efforts—a “Million Trees” campaign, which has worked well in other cities, hasn't delivered here yet—and the fact that anyone can get free trees from the city (did you know that?), our streets remain glaring and unsheltered.

The need for a true tree canopy for the city is becoming critical. Trees are now our best line of defense to protect the city from the reality of extreme heat and the public health risks of air pollution, and their presence alone can help promote pedestrian activity. The city is spending a billion dollars to repair its sidewalks—and yes, some of those sidewalks have been buckled due to trees—but we need at least a billion more dollars to properly replant the parkways and complete the walking and biking experience. To finally make LA a livable city.

For a better part of a century, we placed palm trees in our most prominent lands, the tree we now associate with LA the most. But from an urban forest perspective, the palm tree is easily the worst, which is why the city no longer plants them. Palms—which are, technically, not trees—don’t produce any shade. They don’t possess any air purifying qualities. And there’s a fungus that’s slowly destroying them. We need a new tree to symbolize the cooler, cleaner, shadier LA.

Enter the jacaranda: drought-tolerant, fast-growing, wildlife-friendly, shade-providing, sidewalk-protecting. There are many LA trees that check all those boxes: sycamores are nice; oaks are native, and planting locals should be our priority, of course. But there are few trees that do all those things—and also provide such stunning, exotic, instantly Instagrammable enchantment.

I’m not saying we need to Johnny Appleseed the city with Jacaranda mimosifolia seeds. Nor should we line entire streets with one species—that’s not great for biodiversity. But wouldn’t it be incredible to plant enough of them all over the city, in great enough densities, for people to make pilgrimages here just to see them—and at the same time, to stroll along our newly reimagined streets?

Think about the trees on your street—and not just the ones that bloom once per year. In 50 years, most of the palms that you see today will be dead. Yet the trees we plant today will be thriving. When we’re thinking about our city’s forested future, we need to think green—and we can also think purple."
losngeles  2017  alissawalker  jacarandas  trees 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/24-sara-hendren ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Unsupervised Kids of 'Stranger Things' Would Be a Nightmare for Today's Parents - Curbed
"These days, only kids in movies are free to explore"

"If Stranger Things feels even more eerily familiar, that’s because the show’s aesthetic is meant to evoke great ‘80s thrillers like Stand by Me, The Goonies, and E.T., in some cases, providing shot-by-shot references. As in those classic films, the kids are left at home by themselves to get spooked, then make their (sometimes gruesome) discoveries deep in the nearby woods, without an adult in sight.

It’s the bike moments of Stranger Things that really resonate. The kids ride their banana-seat and BMX bikes to school, to each others houses—even at night!—and without a single helmet. Bikes also represent a type of freedom compared to car-bound adults that works to the kids’ advantage. One of the best scenes shows the kids evading the bad guys by navigating a network of cut-throughs that slice through the culs-de-sac.

Those who grew up in the suburban US probably have similar memories. But this was in fact the real-life experience for those who grew up in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983—or rather, the Hebron Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, where the subdivision scenes in Stranger Things were filmed.

Even the cut-throughs the characters use are actually there, says Valerie Watson, an urban designer who works for LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, whose childhood home was featured in one of the chase scenes. She rode her bike everywhere, including the creepy forest nearby where old trucks and burnt-down cabins were draped in kudzu.

Watson absolutely believes that being allowed to navigate her neighborhood on her own led her to become an active adult bicyclist and also influenced her decision to choose a career in street design. But she’s worried this might not be the case for today’s kids.

"I think our generation might have been at the turning point where society shifted on this," she says. "I remember getting the talk about what to do if a stranger approached you—’don't talk to them and ride away!’— and to move over to the side when cars were coming. Parental direction was more about ‘be polite and smart’ back then instead of ‘be afraid of everything’ like today."

And yet, statistically, kids in the US have never been safer.

This is a uniquely American problem, of course. Children in other countries are still allowed to roam unsupervised, which has inspired what’s been called the "free-range kids" movement here in the US, championed by parents who believe kids should be allowed to ride transit and walk to local parks by themselves.

The free-range kids movement even believes parental-induced paranoia might be deterring kids from biking. A recent article theorized that forcing kids to wear helmets and ride on sidewalks is scaring kids away from bikes, when in fact, American kids are far more likely to suffer brain injuries in car crashes. (Interestingly, as prop manager Lynda Reiss told Wired, the ‘80s-era bikes in Stranger Things were the hardest thing to find, thanks to the idea that older bikes are unsafe—so they ended up building replicas.)

My own suburban upbringing mirrors the setting of Stranger Things almost exactly. I, too, was allowed to wander freely—hoisting flimsy rope swings high into trees, building structurally unsound bike ramps, and wading a little too deep in the pond—as long as I came home before dark. The woods that backed up to our house served as both the innocent landscape of adventure and the horror film backdrop of my nightmares. It was often dangerous and sometimes scary. But mostly, it was awesome.

Then I look at my own daughter, whose hand I grip with white knuckles as we make our way along the incredibly busy street on our corner. The speed at which cars travel through this intersection is somehow far more frightening than anything I encountered in those woods.

I wonder at what age I’ll let her cross the street alone. Or if I’ll ever let her ride her bike to a friend’s house. I worry that the idea of letting kids explore their cities on their own is something she’ll only be able to see on TV."
alissawalker  parenting  strangerthings  2016  supervision  freedom  children  exploration  film  fear  movies  bikes  biking  goonies  et  standbyme  autonomy  mobility  helmets 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Seriously, Stop Demonizing Almonds
"Look at this report using Department of Commerce figures which shows how demand from places like the UAE have exploded over the last few years—which have also been the years of extreme and exceptional drought in California. Now look at how much more alfalfa has been going to China. This is due to the trade deficit with the US, which hit a record high last year. The US is importing so many manufactured goods from China that the containers are often going back empty. It’s a steal to ship anything in them. It is actually cheaper to ship alfalfa to Beijing than it is to truck it from one side of the state to the other. This isn’t improving the economic standing of the US.

The equivalent of 100 billion gallons of water per year is packaged up in shipping containers and floated over the Pacific Ocean.

Californians don’t get any healthy local food, and California doesn’t get a healthy local economy.

These countries don’t have the water or the space to grow alfalfa, and California is sacrificing both to feed their growing penchant for beef and milk. Effectively they have outsourced their own droughts to California. Growing Asia-bound alfalfa is by far the poorest use of our resources no matter which way you slice it. And soon, it might be too dry here to grow it at all.

Suddenly, almonds are starting to look really, really good."
2015  drought  agriculture  farming  water  alissawalker  food  exports  commerce  california  almonds 
april 2015 by robertogreco
When It Comes to Tech Dystopia, Portlandia Is Better Than Black Mirror
"UK series Black Mirror is being lauded as the first show that really tells the truth about our dystopian tech destiny. But the best critique of technology in today's culture is not this science fiction import. For the most scathing commentary on the high-tech world we've designed for ourselves, you have to watch Portlandia.

The series' fifth season finished airing last week on IFC (full episodes are on YouTube), and I went down a P-hole, rewatching every episode all the way back to 2011. I expected to find some greater takeaway about artisanal culture or the evolution of urbanism. Or, like, raw food restaurant trends.

I was stunned when I realized that the series' greatest strength comes from its disturbingly on-point takedowns of technology, each delivered like a crisp smack of an iPad to the back of our Instagram-addled heads. So many anti-technology diatribes miss the mark because their authors are clearly late-adopting haters. But it's obvious that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are tech fans at heart.

It's easy to lose sight of the show's intelligent vision when 85 percent of the chatter about it revolves around the chirpy chorus "Put a bird on it." And yes, this not-so-alternate universe inhabited by bike messengers and coffee baristas focuses heavily on the handcrafted rejection of contemporary mainstream culture. Except that's also why the tech-focused sketches are so skewering: Even though the characters pride themselves on their pickling prowess and sustainable jewelry-making, they still can't bear to delete their Facebook accounts.

[video]

In fact, it's one particularly good sketch about leaving Facebook which launched my theory that Portlandia tackles these issues better than anyone else. In order to remove herself from the internet, Carrie goes to what looks like a bank branch to declare social media bankruptcy. When she goes to see Fred at a bar, he doesn't recognize her without an avatar to validate her existence. At the end, she is placed in a room with the handful of other people without online presences. It's hilarious, but it also confronts our deepest fears about being forgotten when we don't file a status update.

Each tech sketch serves as a kind of worst-case scenario for all the products and services that touch our lives. The owners of a feminist bookstore attempt to confront a negative Yelp reviewer in real life. A sharing economy startup implodes spectacularly. Patton Oswalt plays a man who becomes famous for his witty Evite responses. The city buys a 3D printer, as if this might be the answer to all civic problems—"Portland is finally a world-class city!"

[video]

But it's really the characters' relationships with television that highlight our most bizarre and hypocritical behavior with technology. "I don't have a TV" is the smug refrain uttered by more than one character, but binge-watching shows is a running theme. In season 2, characters played by Armisen and Brownstein alienate friends and lose jobs while watching all the episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Their lives fall apart in the quest for one more episode. Yet, you know, we don't watch TV.

Another sketch, "Spoiler Alert" is maybe one of the smartest pieces of TV-related satire in history, as four characters at a dinner party talk about how much they hate spoilers — and manage to reveal all the spoilers in the most talked-about shows.

[video]

Looking back at some of the older episodes, it's almost depressing how much Portlandia's plots have mirrored real life. In an attempt to avoid the questionable labor practices of foreign-made fashion, two characters hire local seamstresses to make their clothes by hand in their home, and in turn, end up transforming their own basement into a sweatshop. It's disarmingly poignant for a sketch comedy show—I found myself thinking for days about claims that Etsy sellers are essentially doing the same thing.

Like the way The Daily Show claims to cover fake news but really provides a maddeningly accurate evisceration of journalistic practices, Portlandia is purportedly about hipsters (I got almost all the way through the story without using that word) but it's really shining a light on the perplexing dilemmas that we all face when we choose to buy into the latest hype. Who hasn't had some version of this dramatic flashback montage like Carrie does when she drops her iPhone? It's all way too close to home.

[video]

And besides, isn't sketch comedy the most palatable way to examine the stranglehold these concepts have on our lives? You could watch a show like Black Mirror to fret about the way technology will ruin civilization in the future, or you could watch Portlandia to think about the way it's ruining us today—and laugh your ass off while you're at it."
alissawalker  portlandia  blackmirror  technology  dystopia  2015  humor  facebook  religion  media  attention  smartphones  socialmedia  3dprinting  portland  oregon 
march 2015 by robertogreco
highly prized | A Walker in LA
"When I first moved to Los Angeles I would take long runs high into the hills around my Hollywood house to learn the lay and splay of the land—to clear my head from the unsettling visual cacophony of this strange city, where beauty existed uncomfortably close with ugliness.

Almost every day I ran by the Immaculate Heart College, oblivious to its significance, until one day I noticed a tiny sign on the gate written in what looked like hastily-dashed script: Corita.

For 20 years during the ‘60s and ‘70s a Catholic nun named Sister Mary Corita Kent ran a tiny printmaking studio here that became an internationally-recognized art institution, one visited by Buckminster Fuller, Saul Bass, Charles Eames. Her messages of peace and love were tempered with a raw, visual urgency, ushering in a new language of democratized design which would influence an era of protest banners and pop art. In the spring her students organized a massive public art show on the school’s lawn for Mary’s Day, unfurling banners out the windows and stacking silkscreened cardboard boxes into towers, as they whirled between them in a pastel blur of sundresses and hats sewn from daisies.

Kent took her cues from what she called “marvelously unfinished Los Angeles,” gathering imagery from field trips to car washes and supermarkets. The serigraph highly prized was ripped quite literally from the streets of L.A., slathered in traffic-cone orange paint, and transformed into an appropriately-messy, hand-scrawled celebration of urbanity, freedom and hope. All this, I marveled, happened right up the street from where I lived.

Years later I attended a Mary’s Day celebration. Wearing floral dress and carrying a screenprinted sign, I walked onto that same grassy hill poised at the edge of the endless gray grid and gazed out over the city I which I now so proudly called my home. It was Corita Kent’s radical work that taught me how to truly embrace Los Angeles, for all its freeways and freakishness, all its ugliness and unfinishedness. This serigraph now hangs in my living room."
alissawalker  2011  sistercorita  coritakent  losangeles  seeing  unfinished  screenprinting 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The colorful world of Deborah Sussman | A Walker in LA
"The last story I wrote about Deborah was an as-told-to about the 84 Olympics published in Los Angeles Magazine’s 80s issue this summer. As soon as I heard we had lost Deborah, I decided to publish the entire interview here, not only because she tells some fabulous stories about the Olympics, but also because the whole conversation reveals so much about Deborah herself. Just as I was typing it all in here, I could feel her personality leaping off the screen.

I spent several hours at Deborah’s home, which is filled with colorful trinkets gathered from around the world (and Eames loungers, of course). She insisted on pouring us tall flutes of cava at 4 in the afternoon. “It’s much better than champagne,” she said as she set the bottle on the counter, definitively. I took a sip and held up the flute to the light. She was right. The bubbles were tinier and sparklier than any effervescent drink I’d ever had. How had I never noticed this? Of course Deborah had.

For those of us who were lucky enough to know her work—and her blue fur boas and her Rudi Gernreich dresses—you can see that it is that same attention to detail which drove all her creative decisions, from her adamant insistence to use native LA flowers for the athletes’ bouquets during the Olympics, to always selecting the perfect shade of hot pink.

When I wrote a story for New York Times about the opening of her retrospective, one thing she said still resonates with me:
“Isn’t this something?” Sussman remarked, her turquoise-lined eyes glittering behind purple-framed eyeglasses. “All my life, I was a hard worker, and I would add that much of the time, I loved what I was working on.”

I hope one day I can stand in a room looking back at my life like that and think the very same thing. I think she would really enjoy me sharing with you some of these never-before-heard tales about one of the things she loved working on the most."

[See also: http://blogs.kcrw.com/dna/deborah-sussman-passes-after-long-and-vivid-career
http://www.designboom.com/design/deborah-sussman-interview-12-11-2013/
http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/on-view-the-designer-who-helped-give-l-a-its-look/ ]
deborahsussman  2014  losangeles  design  interviews  eamesstudio  graphics  graphidesign  alissawalker  eames 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The New Yorker needs more photos of LA | A Walker in LA
"You may remember this image and some of the language below it from few months ago when the article “Leaving Los Angeles” received an impressive 629 points on the LA Haterating scale.

Well, this week, The New Yorker published another article about Los Angeles, and I thought for a moment I had clicked upon the very same hatery article.

[image of article]

I will not be giving Gabriel Kahane’s essay an #LAhaters rating—frankly, because it’s pretty and honest and slyly winking in all the best ways—but I do want to mention something here about the story. I’m really worried about The New Yorker. Apparently the publication only owns this one photo of Los Angeles.

It’s a beautiful photo, no doubt, shot by one Bruce Davidson. Surely it’s not the only photo of Los Angeles by Bruce Davidson, seeing as they’ve made an entire video about him taking photos of Los Angeles. But for two very different articles about two very different people experiencing two different parts of a city, they have chosen to use the exact same photo. There’s no other explanation for it: They must only have one.

Here’s the more upsetting fact to some: As several people have pointed out, this photo is of a part of town that most people would identify as San Pedro, which—while still technically LA—is its own place (and at one time, was its own city).

For a publication that sometimes runs a department called “Postcard from Los Angeles,” you’d think they’d have, perhaps, one postcard from Los Angeles?

Unfortunately, they don’t. But it makes sense to me now. It makes sense now why The New Yorker would have this skewed, stereotypical view of our city. They’ve only seen this one image of it. And it’s not even in color.

Let’s send The New Yorker our photos of LA so they might believe that there is more than just this one street, this one palm tree, this one black-and-white vista. I want to help show this publication what LA is really like. You can dispatch your images as tweets to @NewYorker. I just did."
newyorker  losangeles  alissawalker  2014  photography  routine 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Deborah Sussman loves Los Angeles | A Walker in LA
"Sussman/Prejza along with the Jerde Partnership designed one of the most important things to ever happen to Los Angeles. Olympic games are legendary for going over budget and out of control, sometimes leaving cities in worse economic and infrastructural shape than they were before. The brilliance of the 1984 Olympics was that organizers vowed to stay fiscally responsible, electing not to build monumental new stadiums, for example, and use almost all existing structures as venues. The branding elements were made from inexpensive materials—inflatables, scaffolding, cardboard—which carried a huge visual impact with a light touch. A foundation was established with the profits that continues to support local athletic programs. It remains the only financially successful Olympics in history.

And the colors. OH THE COLORS. With shades drawn from Pacific Rim cultures in the Americas and Asia, the palette was amazingly prescient for its time. Just looking at that hot coral color reminds me of a certain new iPhone…

The Olympics are of course not the only project that Deborah and her team worked on—she started her career working under Charles and Ray Eames and has completed projects all over the world—but her legacy is best seen through the work she did right here in LA, in the shops, parks, museums, and many public spaces that built this colorful, contemporary city.

And that’s why I’m so excited that Woodbury University is mounting an exhibition to bring Deborah’s work to life for the next generation of Angelenos."

[See also:
http://observatory.designobserver.com/alexandralange/feature/la-loves-deborah-sussman/38169/
http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/making-la-deborah-sussman-loves-los-angeles.html ]
losangeles  2013  graphicdesign  deborahsussman  1984  olympics  alissawalker  graphics  design  typography  color  eames 
november 2013 by robertogreco
LA Cowboy
"After reading this article about Los Angeles in one of New York's better journals, my first thought was to check if it was  posted on April's Fools Day - or if it was a reprint from the Onion. Alas - neither assumption, however logical, proved true.

In this recent blog post at the New York Review of Books (not to be confused with the New York Times Book Review section), Martin Filler reviews two local museum shows about LA that should be seen by everyone who cares about this city.  And I will discuss them both in later posts.  

Unfortunately, the review  -  'LA's Alternate Realities' - appears to use the word 'alternate'  in the exact way authors Timothy Leary and Carlos Castaneda meant to have it used.  He also excavates practically every old cliche  about LA verbatim - some of them so hoary they are approaching the hundred year mark - though he does try to update some of them in attempt to keep up with the times."

[Regarding: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/may/03/los-angeles-alternate-realities/ ]

[See also Alissa Walker: http://www.awalkerinla.com/2013/05/07/hi-los-angeles-hater-rating-las-alternate-realities/ ]

[Another New Yorker piece of LA bashing (found in the comments of Alissa's post: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/05/leaving-los-angeles.html then taken down by Alissa: http://www.awalkerinla.com/2013/05/08/haterating-leaving-los-angeles/ ]

[Also related: http://www.awalkerinla.com/2012/03/29/rakish-small-town-charm/ ]
losangeles  2013  martinfiller  bradywestwater  alissawalker  labashing  california  cities  cliches 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Watching Huell, Reading Ada | Gelatobaby
"I don’t think it will come as any surprise to people who know me when I admit that I aspire to become a Howser-Huxtable hybrid in the course of my career. I can’t just watch Howser or read Huxtable, I find myself studying them. Because although their approaches were wildly different, they both used their strong and distinctive voices to help us—their loyal, hungry audience—to see, appreciate, and protect the places where we live."
noticing  observation  wherewelive  lookaround  exploration  appreciation  local  adalouisehuxtable  huellhowser  2013  alissawalker 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Rolling on the LA River | Gelatobaby
"It was 90 degrees at 10:00 a.m. when I stepped off the Orange Line in Van Nuys. A perfect day for the beach, as one might say in L.A., or for the pool, or for positioning yourself directly beneath those little misters you can find at finer restaurants in the Valley. But I was about to embark upon a very different Los Angeles experience, one that I’d guarantee a large percentage of the city’s population doesn’t even think is possible. I was heading out on a two-hour kayak trip down the LA River."
gelatobaby  alissawalker  2012  losangelesriver  lariver  losangeles 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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