Fortified Base

Let’s face it: The new Freedom Tower, designed by a series of mishaps, committees, politicans, and egoist architects is a superbad idea. Today, The New York Times today shows some examples under the banner headline Redesign Puts Freedom Tower on a Fortified Base. The base itself looks shimmery and light but the reality of it is that it’s made to withstand heavy duty terrorist activities.
It’s not necessary to make the case this is a collosal waste of money. There are still no takers for office space in this tower and I can’t think of one person who lives in New York who would eagerly go to work every day in this Freedom Tower. It’s too big a target, too rarified a structure and too high in the sky for any sane person’s self-interests.
The best critique I’ve read of the plans for the area is by Ron Rosenbaum in his piece called Ground Zero Hype: Is Giant Skyscraper A Freedom Folly? in the Observer.
I do understand the general desire of polticians and heros to “buck” the terrorists and stand up to their depravity by building something bigger and better than the Twin Towers. I also understand the interests of a few to make a clear pronunciation that the Freedom Tower is a sign of our willingness to transcend, to embrace “life,” and to construct anew. But what better way of signalling this is there than to use the entire area as a public arena – a museum, a park, a memorial, a preserve, a place of rest and repose and a symbol of our belief in living?


I have an MFA in Painting. One of the great things about getting an MFA in Painting is that you get to paint (a lot) for 2 to 2.5 years in a studio and spend a tremendous amount of time with paints, canvas, tools, sanders, wood, gesso, frames, pencils, crayons and other colorful ephemera. You also get to produce a ton of artwork, most of which is total garbage and the rest of it will only see the light of day for perhaps a few days during your thesis show. That’s when a selected body of your artwork gets displayed in a gallery or museum for the “world” to see. Mostly, the world is your mom and dad, your professors, friends and family and your MFA student colleagues. It goes without say that it’s a momentous day for you to display your works in a space with other like-handled works and that day does go quickly.
Today, I chucked almost all of that work. It’s been sitting at the very top of the storage closet in the yellow hallway of the apartment. Sitting, mostly rolled up, high above the ground on wood planks, wrapped in plastic and labeled carefully. With strong intention, this morning I went up there like some crazy hunter and took those bodies down out of their dark lair and bundled them into large black plastic Hefty bags and tied them up and put them out front. It was weird. The entirety took three hours total.
In the pile of bags outside sits “Empire,” a huge painting (perhaps 10 x 12 feet) of a world ensconsed by a cross. The painting was created on a huge tarp which I hand-grommetted and sewed on a sewing machine so that the whole thing could be stretched taut against the wall with nails or screws. Mostly screws. “Empire” is no longer.
The reality is that this work and about 10 others like it were no longer as soon as my MFA was gotten. I went on to make some more beautiful, persuasive, and technically competent artworks aftewards up until about 2000 when it all fell away. These I have and I won’t let them easily depart from me. If I do, the paintings will end up with friends who knew me then or know me now and who want a piece of that painting-dedicated life I led in the late 1990s.

New Vista

I often feel like a shill for Emigre but they recently came out with a beautiful new typeface that has a tremendous amount of versatility and typographic dignity. It’s called Vista Sans and, to me, it provides a new vista without the “without.”
Vista is apparently based on many of the shop signs found in Sumatra by type designer Xavier Dupre.
In some ways it’s a sweet and more sophisticated combination of Linotype’s commercial Trade Gothic and FontBureau’s overused but fantastically clear-eyed Interstate. The range of odd weights and different kinds of numbers in the set makes this a bit of a must-have, at least on my wish list.


It’s been too long since I’ve written a Deckchairs entry because the following things have occurred:

  • My daughter is now toilet trained. It’s a big deal in the field of parenting and it took a lot of cajoling, bribery, shenanigans, and generalized anxiety. But she is and her parents are relieved that, when she goes to a new school in the Fall, the teachers won’t have to do any training around the potty. I must say that I already miss the days of holding her hand while she went to the bathroom in her diaper and watched her as she gave permission to herself to do what she needed to do.
  • On the moving scene, I’ve confirmed with the mover that we’re moving. I’m about to detail and sell the car and I’m thinking about loading Tiger so that I can simultaneously worry about something other than moving and shipping and packing and saying goodbye to all that. Up to Canada.
  • I experienced a Father’s Day that was filled with much joy. In particular, we went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and I fell in love with Brooklyn generally again. The Museum, having recently undergone reconstruction (remont in Polish, which always made more sense to me), installed an incredible fountain that is beautifully choreographed in the most minimal and yet most pleasurable ways. It’s hard to describe but imagine about 20 propelled water streams forced to different levels above a marble base, each one in some sort of synchronicity with the others, falling up, falling down, and then falling flat. The sounds of the water hitting the stone and the droplets hitting each other was mesmerizing and it has completely transformed that busy corner of Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights.
  • I’m equally mesmerized with the recent fate of public radio and television. It’s as if the Republican administrators of our fair country have decided that the small amounts of funding provided to keep public-oriented programming on the public airwaves is too much to bear for our debt-ridden nation. It’s hard to believe but their position seems to be that the federal deficit can be helped along by cutting out a few culturally rich parts of the popular arena so that the gap can be filled by benefactors. Bill Moyers has been predicting this for some time and so have I.
  • At the same time, I’m impressed by the audacity of Con Rice going around to Arab countries lately pronouncing the importance of democratic institutions and civic values. I always think that the person the person that doth protest too much is always the most guilty of crimes.
  • More tidbits and better posts coming up.

Trump Watches

Blech. They’re unbelievably ugly. Today’s paper showed an ad for the Trump watch.
They have all of the neo-historical styling of other popular watches but none of the appeal. The logo itself, with a brash serif “TRUMP,” looks about as fake as any Citizen, Bulova, or Rado sold on the streets of Canal. Trump obviously thinks he can sell $125 watches to the masses. But the designer of these time pieces of crap ought to be hung out to dry. Gag, ugly.

Big Health Businesses

Totally could be wrong on this one, but I have a small prediction to make, partly in light of the last post on Deckchairs a few days ago:
“In the next year or three, big business will begin to petition the administration for long-range and transformative heathcare changes that will not be called National Health Care but will feel like it when they’re provided to citizens.”
Here’s the logic: Companies can no longer afford to provide good health care for their employees. It will soon be nearly impossible for even companies like GM to continue lining the pockets of the insurance industry. They recognize that all other countries to the North and South and to the East and West provide healthcare and that they can no longer compete by providing what is essentially two salaries to every American employee. They will argue for a nationalized plan that will ration health care (and probably pretty poor care at that) to the working and middle class and will allow them to cut down dramatically on their insurance premiums.
I’m assuming that there will be an industrial consortium or PAC that will get this done and that the name of the plan will be something Orwellian like “Health for America” or “Heart America.”
I’m also assuming that the average worker will be paying for part of the plan through increased taxes.
I’m also assuming that the new plan will offer less overall insurance to Americans but it will guarantee that employed (not self-employed, those on Medicare or Medicaid, illegals, or generally just plain poor) citizens will have a modicum of healthcare during their lifetimes. I also imagine that the plan would go along with a national ID system to make sure that citizens are in the “system” and are not abusing it; this national ID system (used in many other countries as well) with be a persuasive component of the new laws.
The funds will probably have to come out of additional tax revenue from businesses, but the lionshare of the burden will be on smaller companies because they will be perceived as getting the biggest “break.”
All of the very smart, able, and excellent activist health and labor organizations like Working Today will need to quickly provide education to the media about these initiatives and weigh out the public versus private benefits. Big business, in hand with the Administration seeking to make a dent in its domestic policies before 2008, will be depicted as the saviors of the American economy and the American workingman.

The Bubble Bubble (or Double Bubble Trouble)

I’m not trying to be cute (well, that might be hard at this point) but the number of stories in The New York Times about housing, market, economic, and other types of bubbles is starting to reach grand or grandiose proportions. I’ve long thought that residential housing was a big ol’ bubble just waiting to burst and still think it is in most of the metropolitan areas of the country but it does seem that the hype of bubble myth-making will have its own bubble.
Here are just a few pieces in The Times lately. Each on is more persuasive than the other. Our new deficits, now owned and managed by the Chinese, coupled with massively over-financed housing, tied with over-leveraged families with credit debt and no savings, wrapped around an economy based on a war-time footing rather than an investment-side caravan, strapped together with shaky free-trade markets and a speculative oil and gas system does indeed seem like disaster waiting to happen. The house of cards has to fall at some point.
But I also wonder out loud whether the bubbles that all these journalists are prognosticating are actually missing a larger piece of the puzzle that we’re not thinking about. I don’t know what that puzzle piece is – perhaps it’s AIDS or avian flu or terror or just some new technology – but my guess is that something else will make the cards fall and not the house itself. In other words, it will take some outside force to push the the thing over; cards themselves have no desire to change their position in the fine hierarchy of various advantageous positions.
The bubble stories are coming fast and furious but they, too, probably represent a bubble that can’t see the next prick on the horizon.

The Dears

Always just slightly a few weeks behind the times, I downloaded from iTunes The Dears new album No Cities Left. It took a couple of listens but it’s quite a strong and sophisticated album, except for the occasional dumb-ass lyric. The musical styles purposefully switch, as do the lead singers, but I don’t hold it against them any more than I do U2 or other ambitious bands. It’s hard to say everything you want to say the way The Strokes do, after all.
The Dears, which perform well at many venues, is a Montreal-based boy-girl band that mix up a range of styles and musiques. Here are the apparently references: Blur, The Smiths, Leonard Cohen, Clash, Godspeed You Black Emperor, TMBG maybe. They were recently nicely featured on NPR and their moodiness, odd orchestrations, and full sound all feel appropriate to these mixed up times. My bet is that Leonard Cohen would like this album quite a bit.