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robertogreco : norcal   11

Gnamma #25 - Undoing Los Angeles
"I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, as a place to work a little bit but mostly see friends and re-center myself in my favorite city.

I find myself having to justify an affinity for LA nearly anywhere I go (but especially in the Bay). My parents were confused when I moved, but I think that their understandings were rooted in memories of what LA was portrayed to be through the 1992 race riots and before the Clean Air Act had really kicked into gear—slightly more apocalyptic.

The social world I lived in before the moving West was full of Northeast Ivy League bullshit and otherwise inherited from my parents (cerebral, university-centric). This sphere did not seem to think much of Los Angeles, probably because its cultural production is not seen as high-brow enough to be accepted by Brahmin standards. Or maybe because Los Angeles makes little sense, from an urban planning perspective if your reference points are Boston, New York, DC. Or maybe because LA's legendary vapidity is assumed to create an intellectual wasteland of vice and appearance.

I read Geoff Manaugh's post about Los Angeles [http://bldgblog.com/2007/10/greater-los-angeles/ ] just a couple days before I moved to the city (having never been before), and can't imagine a better tone-setting read. It celebrates how you can find anything in LA if you drive around the right block. In this vein, I've enjoyed collecting quips about what I call "LA Phenomenology" [https://www.are.na/lukas-w/la-phenomenology ]—how can a short paragraph speak to the deep plurality, dynamism, and strangeness of this place?

I found most critiques of LA to be both true and not true, which is one of the reasons I became intellectually attached to the place. LA is incredible at self-narratizing, which leads to a wonderful weave of narrative and reality in the city—where the line between the two becomes irrelevant. Lots of people have opinions about what LA "is" and how LA "feels," and these could seem true or false depending on how far you drive along the freeway. I don't mean to deny that every city has plurality within it; my particular experience of Los Angeles' forced me to reconsider my terms of engagement with a city. LA forced me to slow down to the pace that the freeways permit and meet it on its own terms, closely examining my assumptions about the place versus what was actually going on, in front of my eyes: a highly navigable city full of thoughtful people, deep roots, and fascinating ecology.

(I need to credit at least some people in furthering these thoughts. My friend Tristan has been my primary influence on theorizing Los Angeles. One of my first conversations on the subject was at a cafe in La Jolla with Sascha Pohflepp, who passed away recently. He welcomed me warmly to the bizarreness of Southern California and was the first to tell me about Reyner Banham—I am so thankful that our paths crossed.)

A discussion I've had a few times in the Bay revolves around Northern vs. Southern California water rights. In order to supply drinking water to their populations, San Diego and Los Angeles share an artificial watershed that is 1.5 times the area of the state of California [https://www.are.na/block/1912858 ]. ("Artificial Watershed" here being the combined natural watershed and area that delivers water via hydraulic infrastructure to the place.) They are sucking the Owens Valley and Colorado River dry. Northern California, just by being more rainy but also having more proximity to Sierran snowpack, has much smaller artificial watershed. Northern California views Southern California as parasitic as it pulls precious water down the Aqueduct that otherwise could have stayed where it was, upholding ecological or hydrological process rather than fulfilling urban uses.

Of course, we can't undo Los Angeles. Southern California is fully terraformed, home to millions, and a key cultural player—cutting the water supply would be an extreme human rights abuse. Sustainability in water and otherwise will be some difficult ongoing complex of cultural shifts, technology, policy, and luck. "Sustainable Cities" are both slippery to define and difficult to achieve—is a sustainable Los Angeles one that is affordable? That has enough water? That produces zero waste? That celebrates a diverse population? All of the above and more, of course, I hope, but hard triage decisions are upon us.

I found Los Angeles lovely not because it "works" in the sense of how Monocle magazine thinks a pleasant city should work, but because I reframed its demonstrated dysfunction (celebrity-centric culture, ignored public transit, punishingly walkable streets, landlord-as-investor model) as fertile symptoms of the difficulty of making a city address its own reality and be livable. Perhaps I love Los Angeles because I feel like if LA can make it, anywhere can.

Getting gas at the Arco on Figueroa where the 5 and 110, and Arroyo Seco and LA River, meet,
Lukas"
losangeles  lukaswinklerprins  geoffmanaugh  2019  cities  socal  california  norcal  saschaphflepp  place 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Where Exactly Is “the Bay Area”? | SPUR
"The San Francisco Bay Area has long been understood as a region made up of the nine counties that touch the Bay. This definition has a simplicity that other large metro areas lack; not all can be organized around a natural feature that is significant in geologic time and scale. But the nine-county border doesn’t always hold. The reality today is that counties such as Merced and San Joaquin are growing quickly and housing more and more of the people who work in the nine counties.

SPUR has launched a multi-year project, the SPUR Regional Strategy, to develop a civic vision for the Bay Area over the next half-century. The goal is to collectively imagine what kind of region we want to be and develop an actionable set of strategies to get us there. Addressing many of our current regional challenges — such as job access, housing affordability and congestion — will require working at many scales: at the local level with cities, at the nine-county level with regional agencies and sometimes at the level of the Northern California megaregion.

Given this, is the traditional nine-county definition the correct scale for this project? Should we consider including more counties? Or should we look instead at systems instead of counties?

To answer these questions, SPUR gathered experts, looked to other efforts to define geographies, and studied maps and data to decide which scale(s) will work best for addressing the region’s greatest challenges."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  norcal  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  transportation  transit  policy  population  2018  spur  megaregions 
june 2018 by robertogreco
California Today: North vs. South, That Fading Rivalry - The New York Times
"California was once defined by the differences between Northern California and Southern California. But as the state grows and becomes more prosperous, has that begun to change? That question was put to Conor Dougherty, a Times reporter in San Francisco who grew up in the Bay Area, and Adam Nagourney, who moved to Los Angeles seven years ago to run our bureau there.

What do you think differentiates the northern and southern parts of the state and what makes them similar these days? Send us your thoughts at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

Conor: Adam, I think that the classic NorCal/SoCal rivalry is fading. More than a decade ago when I was living in Los Angeles I went and saw a fabulous art exhibit about a fictional war about San Francisco and L.A. I just can’t imagine that today.

Adam: Hey Conor. As a transplant, I defer to you, of course. Well somewhat. The rivalry might be fading. Still, I have to say the Bay Area seems strikingly different to me from Los Angeles, in terms of attitudes, sensibilities, and, to a lesser extent politics. (Different shades of blue).

Conor: It used to be San Francisco was the union town while Southern California gave us Ronald Reagan. Today, the entire state is run by Democrats. When I was a kid, L.A. was the big bad city that stole our water. One thing that’s softened the rivalry, I think, is the growth of the tech industry. How can you resent Hollywood when your companies are trying to eat it?

Adam: The difference I notice, and maybe this is because of the history of San Francisco — the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and the cultural turmoil in the Haight and the Castro — is that politics there have always been more intense and a bit more left. Political interest in Los Angeles has always been more intense than New Yorkers (just kidding, Mom!) might think, though I don’t think it’s quite as intense as San Francisco. (Or wasn’t that is, until last year’s presidential election).

Conor: Fair enough. In the ’90s people said the NorCal/SoCal rivalry was mostly a one-sided affair in which people in San Francisco were jealous of L.A.’s status as a global capital and people in L.A. thought San Franciscans were cute. But now, with the growth of the tech industry, S.F. is taking on Hollywood and the Bay Area has become a Los Angeles-like slurb with 405-grade traffic. My overall argument comes down to this: In various ways, San Francisco and L.A. are a lot more alike now, and that makes L.A. hard to hate."
conordougherty  adamnagourney  california  socal  norcal  losangeles  sanfrancisco  bayarea  rivalry  culture  hollywood  siliconvalley  influence  2017 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Raina Telgemeier's Graphic Novel 'Ghosts' Takes On A Tough Topic For Children : NPR
"Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel Ghosts is about death. But it's written for children.

Telgemeier tells NPR's books editor Barrie Hardymon that stories serve as a way to begin difficult conversations. "Stories are such a powerful way of communicating ideas and in comforting people," she says.

Telgemeier has been writing and drawing graphic novels for years. Her 2010 memoir Smile recounts what it was like to be teased by other children face after losing two front teeth in sixth grade and wearing "embarrassing headgear," braces and "even a retainer with fake teeth attached."

In 2012, Telgemeier's Drama told a "colorful tale of teenage intrigue, but this time the mad crushes and mood swings take place among the stage crew of a middle-school theater production," said NPR's Glen Weldon, who called it "an unabashedly sunny, funny and warmhearted read."

Her latest graphic novel Ghosts is about two sisters, middle-schooler Catrina and little sister Maya, who has the incurable lung disease cystic fibrosis. Their family has just moved to a new town on the Northern California coast where their parents hope the cool sea air will help Maya breathe.

The town turns out to be full of ghosts — and Maya wants nothing more than to befriend them, though her older sister can't accept that Maya may soon join them. The story carries themes of acceptance, packed with imagery of the town, its ghosts and its Day of the Dead celebrations.

Telgemeier talked with NPR's Barrie Hardymon about broaching difficult topics with children, why she likes skeletons, and the similarities between characters and real people in her life."

[See also: https://boingboing.net/2016/10/04/ghosts-raina-telgemeier-upbea.html

"YA graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier is a force of nature; her Babysitters Club graphic novels are witty and smart and snappy; her standalone graphic novels are even better, but her latest, Ghosts, is her best to date: an improbably upbeat story about death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis.

Catrina doesn't want to move to Bahia de la Luna in Northern California; she's a So-Cal kid and she loves her middle-school friends. But the sun only shines 62 days a year in Bahia de la Luna, and that's important for the health of her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis.

Realistically, everyone knows that Maya's illness will kill her someday, and maybe someday soon. Practically speaking, they put it behind them, adapt, try strategies for making the most of their time together. So they move to foggy northern California, where Cat and Maya go looking for friends -- and find them, sorta.

Carlos is a local kid in Catrina's grade, and he specializes in giving ghost tours. That's fertile ground, because there are really ghosts in Bahia de la Luna, who come through in the thin places, like the old Spanish Mission, and who are decidedly friendly -- and, if you can give them a little of your breath, they get decidedly lively. The problem is that Maya doesn't have any breath to give -- her first encounter with the friendly spirits sends her to the hospital.

Catrina tries to make it work. She makes more friends, stays clear of the ghosts, gets settled in at school. But the ghosts won't stay clear of her -- they keep manifesting around the house, where Maya is now on a respirator full-time.

The change of location, and the family's friendships with Carlos's family, triggers a long-overdue discussion with Maya and Cat's mother about her own Mexican heritage, the difficult times she had with her mom, and how much of their family heritage disappeared when their grandmother died.

As Halloween and the Dia de los Muertos approach, all of the story's threads begin to gather, heading for a conclusion that seems like it could be wrenching and/or terrifying -- but rather than going for a cheap scare or cheap tears, Telgemeier pulls off an ending that is emotionally complicated, nuanced, and, if it's a little sad, it's also equally joyous. It's a stupendously executed tale, and handles difficult themes related to culture, assimilation and chronic illness in children, and when I finished reading it to my eight-year-old yesterday, we were both riveted."]
classideas  graphicnovels  rainatelgemeier  death  2016  ghosts  california  norcal  books  socal 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Dinner, Disrupted - The New York Times
"The tech-boom economy also infects everyone inside and outside of it with both dreams of striking it rich and fears of getting priced out of town. That’s why chefs don’t just open that one restaurant they’ve always dreamed about. They invent catchy new restaurant “concepts” and borrow mountains of money to create dining rooms that end up with no human touch and food that looks remarkably similar to Instagram photographs of dishes created by trendsetters like Mr. Kinch and Mr. Patterson.

“The concern,” Ms. Borden told me, “is that when the economy slows, who is going to survive? We’re already seeing quicker openings and closings because restaurants open with so much debt” — hundreds of thousands to a million dollars or more, from construction and months of astronomical rent before anyone sells a single $17 grilled-octopus appetizer — “that if you’re not full from Day 1, it’s really hard to stay open.”

The net effect is an ever-more frantic pursuit of eye-catching innovation and, as everyone trades in whispers about a cooling venture-capital market, a mounting fear that a restaurant apocalypse is nigh. As Mr. Patterson explained, “The food has never been better and the business climate has never been worse and so we are speeding toward a cliff.”

One delicious irony, for Californians of a certain age, is the inversion of an old joke about Northern Californians hating the superficial glitz of Los Angeles and Los Angelenos never thinking much about Northern California. This made sense for the mid-to-late 20th century, when the entertainment and defense industries secured Southern California’s place at the center of West Coast economic power. Now Los Angeles is where San Franciscans move when they can’t afford Oakland. Every young artist and musician I meet in San Francisco tells me that he or she wants to move south for cheap rent and a better creative scene.

And while San Francisco restaurant culture is driven by Michelin stars, Los Angeles isn’t even included in the Michelin guide. Sure, Los Angeles has expensive restaurants, but its biggest food celebrities are Jonathan Gold, a critic famous for supporting affordable eateries, and Roy Choi, king of the food trucks.

Sang Yoon, the chef and owner of Lukshon in Culver City, sees it as a difference between hyper-glorification of the chef and the farm in Northern California and, in Los Angeles, celebration of middle-class immigrant culture. “Half the restaurants I go to, I don’t know who the chef is! It’s not so personality-driven,” he said. “In L.A., we can celebrate a cuisine and not rouge it up.”

Mr. Choi explained it to me like this: “All these mom-and-pop restaurants that really are California cuisine and that have been here for 30 years cooking for their own community are now filled with patrons they’ve never seen before because of social media and instead of becoming angry or skeptical, they’ve embraced it — that’s the soul of a cook, you never discriminate against the people eating your food nor do you judge them, you are so happy they have arrived. And their food is getting even better.”

In yet another sweet twist, the pop-cultural reach of Mr. Choi and Mr. Gold has Los Angelenos teaching San Franciscans left out of the gold rush how to find fellow travelers. Last week, my friend Wen Shen recommended an affordable Vietnamese place called Yummy Yummy in the unpretentious Inner Sunset neighborhood. A wall-mounted video monitor played scenes of daily life in Vietnam, where I have never been. I felt as if I had come home, mostly because, race and ethnicity aside, Yummy Yummy’s clientele appeared to be blessedly middle class. I also liked it when our waiter saw me fumbling with a rice-paper wrap for the lemongrass shrimp and said, in the most common of California languages, that I should roll it up “just like a burrito.”"
food  california  losangeles  sanfrancisco  2016  money  economics  losgatos  sangyoon  chefs  jonathangold  oakland  socal  norcal  power  labor  inequality  roychoi 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Experiments in Environment: The Halpin Workshops, 1966-1971
"January 22 – May 1, 2016

How do you perceive the environment?

In the summer of 1966, renowned American landscape architect Lawrence Halprin (1916–2009) and his wife, dance pioneer Anna Halprin (born 1920), began a series of experimental, cross-disciplinary workshops in northern California that offered a new approach to environmental awareness. Drawn from architecture, ecology, music, cinematography, graphics, choreography, and lighting, Experiments in Environment brought together artists, dancers, architects, and environmental designers in avant-garde environmental arts experiences.

From June 27 to July 22 that summer, they engaged multi-sensory activities in alternating environments according to loosely structured, written guidelines—from movement sessions, to blindfolded awareness walks, to collective building projects, to choreographed journeys in urban plazas, parks, and rail cars. As an article in Progressive Architecture magazine described, “They built their own ‘city’ on the shore of the ocean and recreated the impact and atmosphere of a metropolis in a multimedia presentation. Dancers became architects and architects became dancers.” The series continued in 1968 and 1971.

Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971 presents to the West Coast public for the first time original photographs, films, drawings, scores, and other archival documentation of the workshops, which were staged in the streets of San Francisco, on the shores and cliffs of Sea Ranch (a coastal community designed by Lawrence), and on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. In an observation reflective of Sixties culture, Anna Halprin said, “I want art and structures which express individual creativity and collective living. I want all the personal responses of my company members to be evident in themselves and also to unite into a communal experience.”

Organized by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania.

Also on display are Selections from the Collection: Countercultural Art and Lifestyle Movements, an examination of artistically and politically engaged, collaborative lifestyle movements that flourished in the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s, around the time of the Halprin workshops, including posters, flyers, newspapers, and other ephemera drawn exclusively from the collections of the California Historical Society, and a contextual exhibition familiarizing visitors to the broader careers of Lawrence and Anna Halprin—both organized by the California Historical Society.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by: George Lucas Family Foundation, Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund, John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, Gerson Bakar, Levi’s Plaza, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, John and Lisa Pritzker Family Fund, Diane Wilsey, CAW Architects, TMG Partners, Flora L. Thornton Foundation, Barbara and Ron Kaufman, William A. Witte, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, & EHDD."



"The California Historical Society opens The 1960s Revisited: A 50th Anniversary Celebration with the San Francisco premiere of its new exhibition, Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, at the California Historical Society (678 Mission Street, San Francisco). The exhibition continues through May 1, 2016. For detailed information regarding affiliated events please click here. General exhibition info can be viewed on experiments.californiahistoricalsociety.org/exhibition.

Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971 brings the original documentation (photographs, films, drawings, performance scores) from the famed interdisciplinary workshops of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin (1916–2009) and postmodern dancer Anna Halprin‘s (born 1920) to San Francisco audiences 50 years after the first workshop. The exhibition is organized by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. This San Francisco presentation also includes rarely-seen items from the Halprins’ personal archives and selections from CHS’s collections. The exhibition is made possible by generous donations from donors who have worked with Lawrence and Anna Halprin, including film director George Lucas, real estate pioneer Gerson Bakar, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, John and Marcia Goldman, and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund."
exhibits  exhibitions  sanfrancisco  norcal  california  history  1960s  1970s  annahalprin  lawrencehalprin  art  design 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Boontling - Wikipedia
"Boontling is a folk language spoken only in Boonville in Northern California.

Although based on English, Boontling's unusual words are unique to Boonville, California. Scottish Gaelic and Irish, and some Pomoan and Spanish, also influenced the vocabulary of the language.[1] Boontling was invented in the late 19th century and had quite a following at the turn of the 20th century. It is now mostly spoken only by aging counter-culturists and native Anderson Valley residents. Because the town of Boonville only has a little over 700 residents, Boontling is an extremely esoteric dialect, and is quickly becoming archaic. It has over a thousand unique words and phrases"

[via: http://twitter.com/thisandagain/status/89424538575712256 ]
history  writing  language  storytelling  california  norcal  boonville  andersonvalley  dialects 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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