Mayday Post

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Zipcar: Destroying Monogamy

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la-zipcarI’ve been practicing driving on the narrow streets of Brooklyn, though I try to avoid doing so most of the time. It’s not really necessary to drive often, because of the plentiful public transportation; I also have bad memories of that night in a MINI Cooper (another story, lads). But on those rare nights when I want to gallivant around Red Hook, make a Target run, or just go “cruisin,” I turn to my trusty Zipcar car-share. I log onto Zipcar.com, reserve a smokin’ Toyota Matrix and I’m on my way.

The concept of car-sharing has certainly gained popularity over the past few years. I first heard of car-sharing in California and thought it was merely a hippie phenomenon. However, Zipcar has spread from Albuquerque to Milwaukee to my neighborhood in the span of a few years. If Zipcar, and others like it, are successful, it will be because of the positive aspects of car-sharing as well as an easy to use web interface.

At Zipcar.com, I find my nearest Zipcar garage and see what cars are available at what time on the time-line. If my Matrix is already reserved, it is marked with the color gray. If I reserve it, my time shows up as green. Simple, absolutely. Click on the car of your choice and you see more details: cost, special features, etc. I only wish I could return my car early for credit instead of having to overestimate usage, or worse, pay a fine.

Can we learn to share the most our most prized possession, our identity as red-blooded Americans? In spite its great service and easy to use website, Zipcar assumes that we are willing to give away this one-on-one relationship. Zipcar offers a new type of experience, not exclusive, but open. My Matrix can see other people if it wants. It even has a name: “Mantilla.” But then again, I can drive other cars as well. I’ve had my eye on “Micklos,” a red MINI. I guess this could work out.

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Written by Wegener

March 22, 2009 at 1:50 am

I Think This Building is FIT

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Paul Shaw, typographer and calligrapher extraordinaire, can find the positive in anything (or maybe just the lettering). He recently led a group of design critics (me included) by the Fashion Institute of Technology, pointing out the unique lettering that displays FIT’s namesake. The three-dimensional type casts a shadow on the brutalist concrete facade. This might be the only celebrated feature on this building nowadays:  the majority of its inhabitants (I assume), probably hate the behemoth. Quirky, weird buildings seem to be on their way out, or at least those from the 60s are.

It is only a matter of time before this building is added to the hit list, destined to join St. Vincent’s O’Toole Building on death row. I appreciate how it interacts with the street, the building arching over 27th Street like a sky-bridge. Do you like the building, or do you think the only positive is the lettering?

Written by Wegener

March 22, 2009 at 1:11 am

Posted in architecture

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LoMEX Revisited

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Never has a map sent chills down my spine (okay that’s a lie). The Lower Manhattan Expressway probably seems like a bad idea in retrospect–but Robert Moses almost built it. We know what happened to cities throughout the country as freeways sliced them apart: usually the affected neighborhoods were destroyed or at least separated from one another. This is what would have happened to SoHo and the LES, had Jane Jacobs not intervenied in the 1960s.

How would Manhattan have been different if the LoMEX came to pass?

Written by Wegener

March 22, 2009 at 12:35 am

Adaptive Reuse?

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I was walking down the street today and saw something strange. A lady was wearing a babybjorn… for her dog!

No, I didn’t see this guy. It just illustrates my point. 

There are a bunch of things that can be said about this. But what struck me was that a product was being used in a nonconventional way. BabyBjorns aren’t meant for dogs, but they work for dogs. I’m always interested when people find new and unconventional uses for products. Can you think of any?

Written by beckyquintal

March 18, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Did You Know?

Old Navy’s SuperModelquins Kind of Freak Me Out

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I gave it a shot. I really tried. But I’d be lying if I said that Old Navy’s new ad campaign featuring plastic mannequins wasn’t creepy. The big smiles, back-stories and facebook profiles just aren’t connecting with me. The mega-retailer hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the same firm responsible for Burger King’s (also creepy) plastic king mascot, to implement a “multipronged marketing effort.”

I think I’ve figured out why I find them so unnerving. In past years, mannequins have gone in a more faceless direction. Sellers emphasize the product (and not the piece of plastic that’s wearing it). In a way, we expect mannequins to be monochrome and relatively unobtrusive. Some stores, like the Gap, have done away with the face completely.

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And oddly, we’re ok with that. It’s when they don’t blend in that we notice. If you’ve ever walked by a really old store and caught a glimpse of an eerily realistic mannequin, you know what I’m talking about.

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I get it, they’re creating characters and trying to connect with the core customers (which, interestingly, they have lost over the past few years. Blame it on slutty bathing suits and micro-mini shorts!). The company is trying to revert back to the old, family oriented Old Navy. That’s fine. But are SuperModelquins and Goga pants (yoga pants on the go!) the answers?

Written by beckyquintal

March 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Death of Modernism, Part II

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If you didn’t catch the link at the end of the previous post (“Watching, Hearing The Death Of Modernism”) Then here is that clip again. Remember to fast forward to about 0:35:00 for some “deconstruction.”

Written by Wegener

March 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Posted in architecture, Did You Know?

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Watching, Hearing The Death Of Modernism

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While watching The Watchmen (at some point during the OMFG AWESOME slow motion fights) I noticed an inserted Philip Glass composition “Pruit-Igoe” from the 1983 art-house classic Koyaanisqatsi. I’m not sure if there is a deliberate intention of connecting the movie’s (and graphic novel’s) violence and themes of human corruption etc, etc. to Koyaanisqatsi (too many themes to count). Judging by the other musical choices (“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “The Times They Are A-Changin” by Bob Dylan, etc), I would bet $1 there is. 

 In the film (Koyaanisqatsi that is), humans and nature are juxtaposed with buildings, and shot silently in time-lapse with no narration. The viewer is transported from “Organic” nature to “Resource” lakes and power-lines to “Slow People” moving through New York City. The sequence “Pruit-Igoe” captures bleak housing projects, including the bleakest of the bleak, Pruitt-Igoe itself (correct spelling here) which was built in St. Louis, Missouri in 1955 by Minoru Yamasaki (architect of the World Trade Center). And so we hear the Glass score: circular, churning horns and evil voices that build up to explosions and the dramatic demise of Pruit-Igoe. It was demolished in 1972, and captured in this film. Historians called this demolition the symbolic if not literal  “Death of Modernism.”

I’m always perplexed by this film, but come back to it again and again to find new things. What do you gather about Pruit-Igoe, or about the tone or meaning of the film? Don’t listen to what I think, It’s best to enjoy Koyaanisqatsi and figure it out on your own. And wouldn’t you believe I found the whole thing on the YouTube? So sit back, relax, and enjoy:

Pruit-Igoe:  fast-forward to 0:34:29

Written by Wegener

March 16, 2009 at 6:10 am