Month: December 2017

My Cars by Charles Bernstein

This fifth installment is Charles Bernstein’s meticulous detailing of the cars that have moved him on his journey. More than just metal (or today’s plastic bumpers and fascias), cars are among the technologies that tell the stories of our evolving life/work.    My Cars My first car I got from a friend of a college friend who fixed up cars in his backyard in New Jersey.  This must have been in 1970 and if memory serves (and why should it?).  It was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala: a beautiful car in not such great shape; my sense is that I...

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A Tale of Too Many Cities: The Trial of Black Nationalism in the Debate between Coates and West

How often does something you read change your mind, or unsettle your beliefs? It happens to me every six months or so, when I venture into a field—ancient history, say—where I have no skills, only curiosity and anger, and I find myself in the midst of strangers who dazzle me with their confidence and erudition. This is different. I have been defending Ta-Nehesi Coates against his critics on the grounds I thought were afforded by Harold Cruse, in The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967)—a book that was renovating the tradition of black nationalism on grounds, Cruse believed, afforded...

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The Oculus: Santiago Calatrava’s Space of Alienation

The Oculus at World Trade Center in New York is a genuine, honest-to-god tourist attraction, at the same level as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and to be honest, a couple of steps above the Brooklyn Bridge and Grant’s Tomb. Visitors from around the world gather in its main concourse amid a chatter of hundreds of different languages, and look up in awe. “It’s amazing!” “C’est merveilleux!” “Alguna vez has visto algo así?” “Das ist wie ein riesiges Raumschiff!” The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s vast design is certainly visually arresting; it was meant to be, to...

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Company, and the journey by Susan Rudy

In this fourth installment, Susan Rudy offers glimpses into a story of profound transitions. Moving back and forth between cities and families–her past and her present–during a year of loss, Rudy contrasts the unlikely comforts of public transit with the aseptic silences of driving alone. *** Company, and the journey Susan Rudy, 6 November 2017, London   A feeling of peace overcomes me as I bound up the stairs of the #91 double decker from the British Library. I love travelling with company on the journey. In London, I travel on foot, by bus, train, the underground. It’s a...

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Inner Space

Photo by José Hevia courtesy GuillermoSantoma.com [Originally published in Azure Magazine November 2017] For an up-and-coming advertising agency called The Keenfolks, following the rules is not necessarily top of mind. Creativity – read: less polish, no budget – is more important, as is experimentation, and letting ideas fall where they may. It made perfect sense, then, for the founders of the Barcelona firm to let local designer Guillermo Santomà do as he liked for their new office space, situated in a former factory complex where a half-dozen or so other start-ups are neighbours with automotive and metal workshops. Santomà chose to model the office after the white-cube paradigm of an art gallery, and he built the project himself – an approach more like an artist than that of a designer. In fact, Santomà’s designs are often hard to distinguish from fine art. His interiors can be wildly chromatic, and his one-off objects are a cross between form and function: a chair, for instance, that is made from Plexiglas and a found rock, and a set of chairs covered in tiny blue swimming pool tiles. Visitors enter the Keenfolks office – a bright, 300-square-metre single room with windows on two sides – from a large stairwell off the street. The first object they encounter is a dome, crowned with palm leaves, that resembles one of Italian artist Mario Merz’s “igloos,” replete with...

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