Such an unexpected and timely show, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia is a great provocation to remember the soft socialism of Yugoslavia's past, consider the benefits and limits of mass housing, state planning, and one-party ideology, and learn from the good and the bad of the first socialist experiments at a time when we urgently need to rescue the welfare state from the party of criminals currently in power. Mostly this is a small window into a universe in Eastern Europe that is worlds more sophisticated, complex, and technologically savvy than our political cliches give it credit for. Fondly remember discovering Plecnik in Slovenia with friends in the 1990s, crossing the border into Croatia across my friend's uncles farm, swimming in Lake Ada and romance in the blocs of New Belgrade in the mid-2000s, and reporting on the poetry, revolutionary graphics, and social and political fractures of ex-Yugoslavia in the Milosevic and post-Milosevic years.
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Sylvia Hardy collected archival images and other historical references and digitally printed them on thin IPhone-shaped aluminum sheets to interpret the abandoned pergola in Downing Park, Newburgh, NY, designed by local architect Frank Esterbrook in 1908. Another great installation organized by Diana Mangaser and curated by Kiyoto Koseki as part of the Newburgh Community Land Bank's Artist in Vacancy program to activate vacant spaces in the city. @newburghcommunitylandbank @syl_via_h #artistinvacancy
Another perspective on Greenpoint and the digesters of the sewage treatment plant from the slow-moving traffic of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway onto the Kosciusko Bridge. I got hooked on the summer's hip-hop hits cycled all day on Hot97. Drake's In My Feelings and Nice for What, Cardi B's I Like It and Be Careful, Childish Gambino's This is America, DJ Khaled, Ella Mai's Boo'd Up, and 6ix9ine's FEFE. It took a week before they started infiltrating my dreams, and I had to turn back to WBGO jazz. Anything but the news, the unending stream of Republican criminality and lies, and the chirpy, cloying sincerely of NPR.
The city was a noble cause, and it can be one again.
The Hovagimyan-Castleberry estate on a rainy morning. The barn architecture of the Catskills. The well-tended flowers and a pathway to the door cleared of roots. In the morning the birds chase each other through the flowers and tomatoes and herbs. I run electric through the walls and install plugs for video and a switch for the track light. Up the road a house for rent has chairs sitting on a decommissioned trailer hanging over the stream, which rolls over the rocks and the remnants of a mill. The water fills the verdant landscape and I am ready to be replenished.
At my favorite place, McCarren Park Pool, the reopening has been a huge success, but I was noticing these crowd control barriers are a fixture of the park rather than a designed fence system that recognizes that queues happen at least twice a day throughout the pool season, and the back side of the pool is permanently occupied by equipment storage in front of the school. Why?
At Open Source Gallery Paul Amenta of Site:Lab has a show with Chris Fox about the use of eminent domain to claim several buildings at the end of the Gowanus Canal for the Superfund cleanup. Site:Lab is doing great interim-use art installations in Grand Rapids, most recently in a closed high school with a troubled relationship to the white flight of the mid-to-late 20th century. Nonetheless cleanup of the Gowanus seems like a perfectly legitimate use of eminent domain for a good public purpose. The old Mr. Saturday and Mean Red dance place by the Gowanus is now a pretty tame barbecue place called Pig Beach that has mostly severed its physical connection to the water by building a big wooden terrace.
On Broadway I passed by @browdertown Amanda Browder's Electric Diner installation of a wild fabric tapestry mural above the old-school south side bistro.
At McCarren Park, they just finished installing barbecues on the grass, which utterly changed the neighborhood character of the park, bringing out large gatherings of Puerto Rican families where there used to be only young people lounging and tanning. The Montalvo family reunion was quite a scene, with five generations of cousins from around the region, some from as far away as North Carolina, gathered around a table of food and drinks, and the younger generation playing softball in the field, all wearing purple T-shirts, organized by one of the cousins who still lives on the south side of Williamsburg. #montalvofamilyreunion #montalvofamily
On the next corner, at Lafayette Grocery, three dudes were drinking beers at the picnic tables and listening to a live recording of Jimi Hendrix playing Are You Experienced? and singing out loud to the chorus. When the long solo ended one of them said, whatever acid trip he was on, I want to go there.
For all of the sturm und drang around neighborhood change, during a random bike ride around Brooklyn I couldn't help seeing abundant expressions of autonomous local culture, like Ralph's grocery in Fort Greene, proudly displaying this protest sign broadcasting opposition to the federal government's systematic terrorizing of immigrant families, with a bunch of older guys hanging out drinking on the benches out front.
Jacob Riis Park on Rockaway Beach is more popular than ever and kind of glorious, but the U.S. Park Police were riding around on horses like a federal occupying army handing out tickets for open alcohol containers on the beach, only a few hundred yards away from where licensed venders are selling drinks. Why?
In which I go to see Ginny Benson play and leave before she goes on because of the high-pitched guitar feedback of the lead-up player I'm so bored with Trump TV the only thing I am willing to watch is him setting himself on fire. Russia invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine And harassed gay people And the US is trying to get out of Afghanistan And wants to stop the refugees from Guatamala And Nicaragua And Venezuela Because it thinks they're Mexican And doesn't know it invaded all of them And let Syria drown in blood While millions fled to Europe As Russia bombed the terrorists Who came from Iraq Which the U.S. or IS Bombed to the Stone Age And now the President is standing with the other President And there is no equivalency And our best friend Israel is slowly committing genocide While espousing high ideals Like we used to. And Europe is our foe But what is Europe? Britain is our specialest relationship But also bloody annoying Having invaded everybody except the Romans And France won the World Cup But doesn't want its players And America is seeming more and more like a settler colony That erased its inhabitants And wants to be proud of its conquest Or self-righteous because it is no longer proud. And all I want to do is swim laps in McCarren Park Pool And remain ignorant Of world affairs Like Joschka Fischer said And win the second-place trophy Because the people who want first place are insane. Nobody knows how to get rid of the goddamned fool that got elected as a result. Music and visuals by #Octonomy
This is me at Steven Holl's T Space residency feeling pretty chuffed (as they say) about Holl's enthusiastic response to my cover story on the Ex of In house (pictured here in image # 8) in the April issue of Abitare. (He said, you should be the New York Times architecture critic. I said, that would be a fun job.) Tatiana Bilbao opened her show at T Space on Saturday, which plays with volumes, recesses, and projected views through her perspectival drawings, collaged with bright paintings, and the mounting of 2D work beyond the surface of the walls. Joined by Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss (standing among the lotuses) and ran into the amazing Juan Puntes and his group of White Box interns (pictured in Holl's painting cabin), along with Russian architect Grigori Fateyev and artist Anton Ginzburg (pictured with Richard Nonas's new land art sculpture), Eirini Tsachrelia of OIIO Architects, and the great architecture journalist and critic Fred Bernstein and Ben Prosky, director of the AIA-NY Center for Architecture. Congrats Dimitra Tsachrelia on organizing. @fabnyny @benprosky @antonginzburg @tspaceandsmhf @tabilbao @stevenhollarchitects @abitare_magazine @whiteboxny @oiiodesign
Mildred's Lane near Narrowsburg is a pretty idyllic place for a birthday dinner cooked by Coco Fusco (for the residency) beside a sculpture by Amy Yoes (ceremonially burned the next weekend) with a reading by Pablo Helguera. Belated thanks for all of the birthday wishes and love back to you all.
Charlie Ahearn @twincharlie gave a deep lecture on the Afro-futurist graffiti legend Rammellzee at Red Bull Arts Space a few weeks ago. Ahearn has a unique perspective as a witness to Rammellzee's presence on the scene as a visual artist, b-boy, and rapper who created his own personal mythology, mathematical system, and extra-planetary worldview. The must-see show at Red Bull gathers together Ram's work by means of loans from collectors and work from his estate, programmed with weekly events like this one where Ahearn played selections from a radio interview, film and music clips, and a taxonomy of graffiti letter styles as they were emerging among the young mainly black, mixed-ethnicity, and Puerto Rican kids in the subculture at the time. What he recognized was that a new group was claiming the right to represent themselves in the physical space of the city. Rammellzee was the most far-out and beyond categorization among them. Big coup for Red Bull to put together such a significant show.
Tomorrow morning I will be cooking from the old menu at Sunview Lunchenette in Greenpoint with Dylan Gauthier as a part of a celebration of Bea Koutros, her diner, and the community social space she harbored in her building. From the Sunview: In memory of Demetra (Bea) Koutros, please join us at the Sunview Luncheonette on Sunday, July 22nd from 5 am - 11 pm for an all-day 'cook-in' and celebration of her life, as we cook from Bea and Lou's old menu (at pre-recession prices). Bea and Lou kept the Luncheonette open from 5 am - 11 pm every day of the year, and never missed a day in the 63 years they ran the diner (1945-2008). They kept their prices low, so up until they closed in 2008 you could still get a hamburger for $1.15 or a cheeseburger for .25 cents more. Our neighbor Peter tells us if you tried to give Bea a tip, she'd refill your milkshake or bring you more fries. As Bea put it in an oral history with DW Gibson a few years back, when asked how the neighborhood had changed in 63 years: I was in the diner every day, and every day was beautiful. As a memorial to Bea, we thought we would bring the old diner back for a day, invite in neighbors, and cook everything on the Sunview's original menu. The day will be punctuated by remembrances and music, projections by Bradley Eros and friends, poetry, risographed posters by Partner & Partners, healing rituals, a reverse stoop sale, and dancing, but the main thing is to be together, to prepare, share & eat together, as an active tribute and memorial to celebrate Bea together in the spirit that she & we helped create together in this wondrous space we all love. We hope you'll drop by. -> No need to RSVP, but if you want to sign up for a cooking shift, to play music, or to project/read something, please sign up for a time slot: https://goo.gl/forms/ieQjACEZYNIdZZnq1 Where -> Sunview Luncheonette: 221 Nassau Avenue, corner of N Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY (G to Nassau Ave/L to Graham or Bedford) -> Thanks to Lea Bertucci, Ed Bear, Bradley Eros, the Koutros Family, Greg Mihalko and Erik Riley at P&P, and all Sunview members for organizing.
Anyone looking for a place? Know someone searching? Looking to split large Red Hook loft and build out a couple of rooms.
This was the next to last stop on my Skid Row to Pritzker Row architecture tour of the Bowery. The 18th floor terrace bar of Herzog & de Meuron's Public Hotel, developed by Ian Schrager, with a picture-postcard view of Gotham, its new towers backlit by the sunset over New Jersey. We started at the Center for Architecture on La Guardia Place (formerly West Broadway) and walked through the urban renewal areas across the street, which the federal government paid to demolish and redevelop as modern housing in the late 1950s. It became the Washington Village and University Square apartment complexes, which destroyed many blocks of Greenwich Village. NYU now uses them as housing for faculty and grad students. Along Washington Square South, we passed Bobst and the Kimmel Center, where New York University defeated neighborhood activists and built several large buildings by Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche, and noted the Judson Church, an organizing center for the Village Independent Democrats and the Committee to Save the West Village, led by Jane Jacobs. We passed through the XYZ- redesigned Astor Place, pointing out the preserved Jim Powers mosaics and the restored Alamo cube by Tony Rosenthal. I turned it, which everyone enjoyed. And we had a gander at the Jeff Koons sculpture in the lobby of Fumihiko Maki's 51 Astor Place (where hedge-fund trading meets the birth of punk) and the Keith Haring Self-Portait in the plaza. Most of the Bowery was protected by community activists led by the Cooper Square Committee, reflected in the senior housing center and a new development for LGBT youth. It was developed more incrementally, with NYU building dorms, Cooper Union hiring Morphosis for its engineering school, and other parts using the 80/20 formula of condo bonuses to incentivize affordable housing. Further south you can see the knock-on effects of the New Museum's relocation with the Sperone Westwater gallery by Norman Foster. A strip of restaurant and kitchen supply stores remain, and a few homeless shelters. The YMCA building where William S. Burroughs lived is still there, but looks to be for sale, and CBGB is a designer clothing store. @centerforarch