Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Swarm: Getting friends into the same neighborhoods.

This is the full text for our redesigning suburbia contest (Reburbia,, sponsored by Inhabitat and Dwell.)  Unfortch, the entry concept statement was only 1500 words so it was significantly chopped.  However, the full statement should live somewhere on the internet for posterity.

Swarm: Friends make the best neighbors.

The recent economic decline has left us with vacant suburbs in various stages of decomposition.   Foreclosed homes and abandoned properties devalue real estate, splinter communities both economically and socially, and foster a high crime rate. Vacant suburbs are also a waste of resources and a visual mockery of the American Dream.

To revitalize, we must repopulate.  So how can new residents be enticed to move in?

The answer is Facebook.  Everyone is on the ‘book, and popularity is growing, especially those over 25.  Existing online social networks can physically congregate to fill vacant suburbs with friends. Essentially, if every vacant home in a neighborhood was filled with new residents that are friends with each other, than it would be a ready made community.  We need to get clumps of friends to descend on these areas of opportunity, much like bees gathering around spilled soda.

Swarm is a social networking plug-in application that that targets groups for bundled real estate sales.  A person would go on Facebook, add this application, and alert friends that they are searching for a home.  They would invite friends to help build a community (search for homes together by area, price, needs).  This application allows for online collaboration (gives the ability to rate the homesleave comments, tag things, align on needs/wants), view maps of communities, view existing residents of a community and other people who are interested in living there.

For people about to move to the suburbs, a common concern is the lack of culture there.  If one were to move and bring their social culture, that concern may be rectified.  Among those already ensconced in the ‘burbs, most have issues with neighbors: either not knowing them or not liking them.  A virtual representation of a neighborhood space would allow for way more interaction, with virtual awareness priming the residents for real-life contact.

Social benefits include good health from living close to friends (those with many close friends live longer), sharing life together with people of the same life-stage (moving, having kids, buying a home)Economic benefits include bulk discounts, bundled services, carpooling, group discounts for entertainment, education, food, services, utilities, insurance, cheaper childcare among friends/family or shared costs. Political benefits include collective interests with increased leverage in negotiation within community.

Environmentally, it's almost always better to use what you have than build anew.  After all, "today's exurbs are tomorrow's suburbs."  These suburbs are built, and we cannot change that, but we can seed vital communities in order to maintain and improve on what we have today.  If enough people come to the downtrodden areas, if enough swarms are established, then the communities will be able to demand public transport or walkable spaces.  Traditionally, first come the homes, than the transit, then the people, then the taxes and relationships and the reputation of the school system.   With Swarm, we are counting on the positive impact of human relationships begetting all the other makings of a desirable community.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is the future of bad porn music videos??

(suggestion: watch on mute while listening to Yeah yea, below)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sexual Fetishism in the Music Videos of Matt and Kim

I spent a summer reading everything Wikipedia had to offer about sexual fetishes.  Interesting stuff.

Since then, I've been able to pepper everyday conversation with vocab like hybristophilia (hot for criminals) and ABDL (adult baby diaper lover), as well as confidently make assertions like "Stacey London from What Not To Wear has a following among nostril fetishists."  In short, it has enriched my life and the life of those around me.

Being an expert in this area has made me highly attuned to deviations from the norm.  I can smell a fetishist from a mile away.  I suspect some of my closest friends and neighbors are fetishists.  I can tell when someone is a fetishist before they even know they are.

So anyone in my position would freak out when they saw the Yea Yeah video for the first time.  Wet and messy, anyone?


A wet and messy fetish (WAM) is a form of sexual fetishism whereby a person becomes aroused when substances are deliberately and generously applied to the naked skin, or to the clothes people are wearing. [1]

Messy substances can include whipped cream, mud, shaving foam, custard, baked beans, pudding, chocolate sauce, peanut butter, Japanese-style lotion, paint, oil or gunge/slime, etc. A subject will often be pelted with cream pies or sit on cakes. Wet substances are mainly water but can also include other liquids such as fruit juice, milk or alcohol (usually beer).

Matt and Kim are obviously giant pervs.  Onward.

The second video, for Daylight, is a little more difficult.  At one point, they do get garbage dumped over them, and Matt gets water in the head, so WAM.

But they also spend the whole thing crammed into small spaces.  A combination of crushing and total enclosure that we can call claustrophilia.  Even if I cannot find an entry in Wikipedia, someone is into that shit.  And I'm guessing it's Kim.

The latest video renewed my sense of purpose.

Lessons Learned is a straightforward exhibit of exhibitionism.


Exhibitionism, known variously as flashing, apodysophilia and Lady Godiva syndrome,[1] is the psychological need and pattern of behavior involving the exposure of parts of the body to another person with a tendency toward an extravagant, usually at least partially sexually inspired behavior to attract the attention of another in an open display of bare "private parts" — i.e., parts of the human body which would otherwise be left covered under clothing in nearly all other cultural circumstances. Some researchers have claimed that telephone scatalogia is a variant of exhibitionism.[2][3]

So Matt and Kim, a couple in band and IRL, are fetishing all over us, their public.  Imagine the hijinks they get up to behind closed doors!  Or, maybe they are laying on this fetish business in an attempt to drum up some sexual interest in the band.  It's cool though, because Matt is staggeringly handsome.

Remember, fetishizing is not a crime at low levels.  It becomes a paraphilia when it interferes in your life.  Matt and Kim, by all accounts, are healthy, functioning adults who provide entertainment to millions.

In closing, each video is a paean to a different fetish.  It's a cool strategy because they will never run out of ideas.  Unless they are unaware of what's going on, then that is troubling and they are in for a brain shakedown shortly.  (Someone will come home and find someone tied up...) Anyway, I can't wait to see what they do next!

Also, on a side note, is the future of music videos band porn?

Friday, July 17, 2009

In Response to: Everyone Just Shut Up

Rose, I think that you largely agree with Kunstler but are repulsed by his presentation style.

The two points you pulled from his talk are key ideas:
1. Degrade public realm, degrade life
2. Places not worth caring about are places not worth defending

Kunstler is criticizing the public’s complacency with the environment we allow to be created. I have to agree with him when he says, “architecture informs who we are and how we live,” and that we have settled on a “national automobile slum.” We have.

And to your assertion that he criticizes those who go to wal-mart or target or whatever is completely untrue. What he is saying is that if young men and women are willing to die in order to promote or defend the American life, then this country had better have it’s shit figured out. Saving the parking lots of Target and Walmart are not reason enough to get shot at (even if you did lose your virginity there).

Architecturally, his examples are good examples of commonly made mistakes in public design. These may be nostalgic for you personally, but that doesn’t make them good. He demonstrates problems with scale, inappropriate use of materials, the two-dimensional design of suburban architecture, and our acceptance of terrible design.

I agree with him that we have a duty to increase the quality of our lives and that the quality of our lives is reflected in the spaces around us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Everyone just shut up.

OK so Sean provided this, because we are thinking about the future of the suburbs.  And let me just say that I find it upsetting.

So James H Kunstler begins with a litany of insults in an infuriated George Carlin-style gravelly screech.  However, two ideas in his opening are interesting, and they should be filed away for further inspection:
1.  Degrade public realm, degrade life
2.  Places not worth caring about are places not worth defending

Unfortunately, the last statement was accompanied by a tug on "the troops" heartstring, accompanied by a visual of a sad intersection.  So Wal-Mart and Target aren't worth defending?  What about the people who work there?

Anyone watching this talk probably has no need for Wal-Mart (actually, everyone's in Wal-Mart this recession).  But the people who do need Wal-Mart, who Kunstler is burning in effigy, may not have the resources to posture on stage.

The intelligensia of America has no interest in solving the problems of the majority, only viciously criticizing them.

Kunstler talks about a "sense of place."  Shouldn't something be said for the way a familiar intersection ceases being the cross between two roads and becomes a marker on the way home?  For all he knows, those "young men and women spilling their blood in the sand" look back fondly on that Wal-Mart, where, say, they bought their first TV with their own money, or, more likely, they lost their virginity in the parking lot.

Kunstler then shows his example of the right way.  "Public spaces worth caring about" are stupid bougey outdoor weekend breakfast joints policed by ponytail'd and necktie'd servers festooned with Bellinis.  Imagine a family of "little houses," (Wintour, 2009) eating there.  Let them stay in their Wal-Mart.

Then he goes on an on about aesthetic travesties, which is cheap, because he shows empty spaces and backs of buildings.  Boston's city hall, by no standards a pretty place, is "despotic."  It makes people "termites."  Um, isn't that good, 'cause don't termites eat buildings?  It's weird because he takes issue with rectangular, boxy design.  But the Bauhaus was boxy and unadorned.  We're totally dealing with a Victorian-era sympathizer cloaked in self-righteous rags of new urbanism.

He's preaching to a choir of apologetic suburban-reared nerds.  So devoted to his missive that no one called him out on the stupid pop-culture reference joke of one large bush being the "mothership" and two smaller (and equally sized) bushes being C-3P0 and R2D2, respectively.  (The same bush or type of bush shows up in his new urban solution drawing, which also bears more than a passing resemblance to early 90's Zelda.)

Finally, on the topic of growing food locally, IT'S NOT FEASIBLE.  You'll never live off your victory garden, and coaxing inappropriate crops out of the earth is a fool's pursuit that wastes resources.  Just because it's local doesn't mean it's sustainable.  The mantra should change to any of the following:
1.  Grow and eat only food that thrives in your local climate
2.  Eat food that grows where it is meant to
3.  Eat up all the canned food on this earth and standby while the problem is solved

After poking around his personal website, I discovered that Mr. Kunstler also paints.  Interestingly, he paints and sells images of the waste-scape he criticized!

Isn't that it?

Anyway, judging from his painterly hand, one can surmise that the guy deals in broad strokes.  He does the fun stuff first, and then fills in the boring parts in a perfunctory fashion.  His buildings are structurally questionable in a lazy rather than artful way.  His unwillingness to examine details is tiresome.  He paints small town genre scenes, questionable in fidelity.

I think I would like these better if he was ordered by a doctor to do a gentle hobby to calm an ulcer or something.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Paneled Doors.

Wooden doors originally had panels because no piece of wood was large enough to be a door in entirety. Also, framing a door and letting panels hang within accommodates the warping and waxing of wood as the temperature changes. Also, panels were a fancy decoration.

Source: A Field Guide to American Homes, Susan

Next time you see a vinyl door, remember you are looking at a pretender.