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Friday, March 25, 2011

Talkin New York City Lyrics

"Half of the time we're gone
but we don't know where,
and we don't know where.

Tom, get your plane right on time
I know you've been eager to fly now.
Hey let your honesty shine, shine, shine.
The only living boy in New York.
The only living boy in New York.

Here I am..."

-Paul Simon, "The Only Living Boy in New York" from Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mergers and Aquisitions

In these heady economic times, there are a great many changes occurring. No neighborhood is immune from the devastation. Mine is no different. Most of my neighborhood was built in the mid-1960's as a bedroom community for those who wanted to escape the hub bub and bustle of Atlanta. If most of those first time homebuyers were in their twenties, and the 1960's were almost fifty years ago, you can imagine what is happening to those first time homebuyers. They're dying. In droves. This is bad for them, but really good for me, because it means that basically every weekend there is a really kick ass estate sale. Estate sales usually mean a whole lot of interesting antiquey furniture, bad shoes and clothes, and books galore.

Judging from the books at the latest estate sales I've gone to I can make a few guesses about what this neighborhood must have been like in the 60's. Either it was the type of neighborhood where the parents got together and had key parties and got wasted on martinis and foreign beers and spent most of their adult lives having interesting convos about politics and race relations and stuff. It was like that, or it was the most boring place on Earth and their kids spent their teenage years reading awesome books to escape the boredom of their lives, and eventually left home never to return, leaving behind their awesome book cache.

I don't care which it was, just that I keep finding amazing deals on paperbacks at these things.

So, all of this is to basically segue into a new post series I'll do occasionally when I feel like it: Mergers and Aquisitions. By merger, I mean things that are knocking me out for whatever reason. I'm waaaaaay behind the times so it'll prolly be stuff that y'all thought was cool like back in tenth grade, and I'm just now getting around to. Aquisitions is all the stuff I pick up at these estate sales.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The New "The" Bands

What the hell is up with bands named "Blank the Blank"? I mean, right now the radio is populated by bands like Young The Giant, Portugal The Man, Cage The Elephant, Foster The People. Was there some indie-rock conference where these sorts of things are decided, or is it further evidence of the pervasive hive-mind of American culture? Not only are these stupid names*, but any novelty that might have been derived from them has been completely obliterated by there being a billion other bands with the same darn naming structure. Instead of being the one crazy bunch of guys at the party wearing panda suits, there's, like, half the party in panda suits and everyone's just standing around shuffling their feet and mumbling about it sounding better when they were stoned, or something like that.

For what it's worth, Cage The Elephant is the best name of the bunch because it's evocative and can possibly spark some conversation about what the "elephant" is and why it should be caged. Foster The People is a stupid name because the band doesn't sound even remotely as revolutionary as the name would suggest. They're basically warmed over Peter, Bjorn, And John. But Young The Giant's song "My Body" has been playing on constant rotation in my head for about two weeks, and Portugal The Man has a song that's preety alright too.

*Mainly because they're awkward to say, and hard to remember, which are two of the cardinal sins of band naming. Yes, I am aware that Oblivion is a stupid name. We knew it at the time, but were loathe to change something we'd spent years building into a mini-brand.

Pocket Review: Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

In the mid-1990's three respected architects (Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck of DPZ Architectural Firm) who had been influential in building the Congress of New Urbanism, decided to write down all the aspects of suburban sprawl which made it such a wasteful and psychologically damaging way to build, and contrast that with the ways in which traditional neighborhood structures correct for these mistakes. Those writings would eventually become the book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, a comprehensive guide to the evils of sprawl and the common beauty of traditional neighborhoods.

Originally published in 2000 to a skeptical architectural community, Suburban Nation has taken a long and winding journey from outsider manifesto to growing acceptance to canonization in the latter part of the last decade. Now, ten years after its first print, the book has been reproduced in a nice 10th Anniversary edition with new forewards by the authors. Largely written by Speck, from the ideas and principals pioneered by Duany and Plater-Zyberk, the prose is easy and concise and filled to the brim with snarky honesty. Speck takes full aim at the main purveyors of sprawl and pulls no punches in explaining how ugly and dysfunctional modern American design is. No one is immune from his pen, architects, designers, zoning boards, politicians, everyday consumers, and developers all get their moment under the heat lamp.

But this is no dry, political manifesto, this is a field guide for a revolution, with pictures, diagrams, and plenty of suggestions for what each an every one of us can do to affect change in our neighborhoods, and cities, and regions. What I liked so much about this book was exactly that, that it didn't simply bemoan the ways that sprawl is ugly and dysfunctional and terrifying, but devoted nearly two thirds of its pages to ways in which traditional design can be fashionable, forward-thinking, beautiful, and profitable.

This is necessary reading for anyone whose spent an hour in traffic, gazing out over the sea of cars and wondering how the hell we got here as a nation. This book is for anyone whose ever wished they could just walk to the supermarket, or walk their child to the playground, or grab a beer with friends without worrying about car accidents and DUI's and blood on the highway. This is the future, if we choose to grab it and make it our own.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Publication is Mine!

So, Patrick and Amber and all the other beautiful people over at Emprise Review saw fit to publish my zombie-but-not-really story "Stillborn" in their totally rad magazine. Not only that (which would have been enough), but they also featured the darn thing on the front page of their newly-renovated website. I'm tickled. I really am.

You can read the story here*. And make sure to peruse the rest of the magazine. It's really awesome.

*FYI, the story has some swear words in it and has zombies and stuff, but otherwise it's a touching look at the inner workings of a marriage. I promise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

I have lots of little sproutlets growing in my greenhouse now and I'm so excited. About half the broccoli plants have poked their little green heads out of the soil, but almost all of the iceberg lettuce plants are peepin. The green beans are keeping it coy, but I planted them about 1 1/2" inches deep so I imagine it'll take longer for them to find their way to the surface.

Anyway, the next week is gonna be mostly focused on clearing out the backyard of all that god-forsaken ivy and getting things set up for the garden and my son's playground. It's gonna be an exciting week, folks.