Archive for May, 2010


the new NYC subway map…


more Manhattan to love…


Next month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will unveil a resized, recolored and simplified edition of the well-known map, its first overhaul in more than a decade. Manhattan will become taller, bulkier and 30 percent wider, to better display its spaghetti of subway lines. Staten Island, meanwhile, will shrink by half. The spreadsheetlike “service guide,” along the map’s bottom border, will be eliminated, and the other three boroughs will grow to fill the space. A separate, stripped-down map will also be produced, to be displayed only inside subway cars. Neighborhood names, parks, ferries and bus connections will not appear on this version, making for a less cluttered composition that may be easier to read over a fellow rider’s shoulders. Indeed, the current map, and its imminent successor, are direct descendants of a 1979 version, introduced when the authority did away with Massimo Vignelli’s abstract design because its right-angled routes and nondescript background left riders puzzled. Central Park, for instance, now a green rectangle, appeared as a grayish square. At the time, the authority wanted geographical accuracy so that passengers would not be confused upon ascending back to the street. Hence, subway lines that wiggle and curve, reflecting the exact route of the train, and a simple street grid that highlights popular attractions and neighborhoods. Over time, however, the map acquired new elements like ferry routes and obtrusive balloons showing bus connections. The authority now concedes that the map became overcrowded. For the latest iteration, Mr. Walder decided that the service guide, which purports to show a weekend schedule, was theoretical at best. The guide was removed, along with a growing list of handicapped-accessible stations that had begun to dominate the bottom right corner. Small wheelchair symbols will continue to denote those stops. To improve contrast, the taupe background took a lighter tone, and subway lines gained a gray border. The bus balloons stayed, but they have been made smaller, making room for geographical features like Rikers Island, which will now appear in its entirety. The maps that will be inside subway cars eliminate the balloons. The authority has ordered 1.5 million copies for distribution in June, with 6 million copies a year expected to be printed.

(NY TIMES  5.27.10)

the predecessors… maps from 1968, 1972, 1979 and 1998…

read the entire article here

About these ads



a nine year old cop just doing his job…


Bugsy Malone may have won the Golden Palm in 1976, but the real deal, the true gem in kids-masquerading-in-adult-clothes-and-shooting-each-other films is “Hawk Jones” — think Serpico on training wheels! When a local gangster turns our fair city into one of blood feuds and despicable violence, the only shred of light in the darkness is not unlike Shaft, John McClane and the kid from Cop And A Half all rolled into one tough nine-year-old package, one who won’t stop until the mobster’s head is served to him on a cafeteria tray, with a Capri Sun to wash it down. To make matters worse, he’s teamed up with the most vile of creatures — a cootie-coated dame! This unlikely pair have no choice but to sweep through this rat cage of spoiled brats, young ruffians and floozies (acting just a little too sexy for comfort) until it’s left spotless. Be prepared to watch a whole bunch of kid gangsters die graphic, yet adorable deaths.

“HAWK JONES” 1986 directed by Richard Lowry

screening saturday 5.29 @ 10:30 pm as part of the “Fucked Up Kids’ Movies” program at The Cinefamily, Los Angeles — plus a Q&A with Richard Lowry after the show…


1927 Studio Map of CA…


location, location, location…


This 1927 Paramount Studio map of California’s geographical facsimiles for feature films was used by the motion picture industry as a basis for bond financing. Who knew that the New England coast could be found in Santa Cruz?

(SLASH FILM  5.24.10)




the seminal skate-horror film “Blood Shed” will screen this weekend along with assorted shorts that include loads of unseen Andy Kessler footage…

films start at dark @ Mollusk Surf Shop in Williamsburg — a 9’9″ longboard and other stuff is being raffled, all funds raised will benefit the Andy Kessler Foundation

“BLOOD SHED” 2010 directed by Rick Charnosky and Buddy Nichols




more waves from Macro Sea


For David Belt, a developer who created a stir last summer by installing do-it-yourself swimming pools made from Dumpsters in a semi-secret location in Brooklyn, the answer was once again in trash.

His latest project, called “Glassphemy!” is billed as a psychological recycling experiment. The idea is to make recycling a more direct, visceral experience and to purge some New York aggression simultaneously. The installation, set like the previous project in a private space along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, is a 20-foot-by-30-foot clear box, with high walls made of steel and bulletproof glass. People stand on a high platform at one end of the box and a low platform on the other. Those on the higher platform take empty glass bottles and just chuck ’em into the box — aiming, perhaps, at their compatriots across the way, who are safely outside the onslaught zone. The bottles smash fantastically, artfully designed lights flash, and no one is harmed.

With bottles donated by neighborhood bars, “Glassphemy!” will officially open on May 20 to invited guests. The shards of glass collected will be recycled onsite. To finish out the project, ReadyMade magazine will run a contest asking readers for their best recycling ideas, and Mr. Belt’s company, Macro Sea, will make the discarded glass into the winning design. A few potential reuses have already been explored: designers from Hecho, a Brooklyn company, developed a DIY glass polisher out of a cement mixer that is powered by a couple of bikes chained together; the smooth, colored shards created after hours of pedaling are pretty enough to become part of lamps that light the space. Another machine will pulverize the glass into sand for use in the beer garden that Mr. Belt plans for the site, the sort of add-on that helped make the Dumpster pools a must-know-about spot last summer.

The immediate and visible reuse also helps counter the widespread suspicion that recyclables are just thrown out anyway. Though for logistical reasons, “Glassphemy!” will not generally be open to the public — the lot where it sits is hidden from the street — people who send good recycling ideas to the Macro Sea Web site,, may earn an invitation with the address, Mr. Belt said.


Belt (left) and Weyland…

Macro Sea, the company Mr. Belt formed with author Jocko Weyland and creative director Alix Feinkind, has a history of turning loopy ideas into cutting-edge coolness. Their Dumpster pools caught on in unexpected ways: Hollywood party planners came calling, as did TV show hosts, Mr. Belt said. Macro Sea is now working on a mobile version of the pool, which is expected to be used as part of New York City’s Summer Streets program this year. What started out as a lark in industrial Brooklyn has gone legit.

Mr. Belt, a successful developer and construction consultant and manager — his main company, DBI, has a spacious loft office in SoHo, and works on commissions all over the world — said he viewed his Macro Sea projects as a creative mission, to help turn underused objects and areas into covetable destinations. It makes things on the cheap so people can copy and improve on them. (The Dumpster pool, a concept borrowed from a musician in Georgia, cost barely $1,000.)

J.W. and Danny:Macro-sea Pools:June 2009 by D. Belt

Tinneny (left)…

Danny Tinneny, the 64-year-old owner of the industrial space, gave it to Macro Sea rent-free. “To tell you the truth, when they first came here, I thought they were nuts,” he said of Mr. Belt and his partners. But the success of the Dumpster pools and Mr. Belt’s belief in his own ideas persuaded Mr. Tinneny to welcome “Glassphemy!”

At the preview party a few dozen of Mr. Belt’s friends and colleagues donned safety glasses and drank beer kept on ice not in a cooler but in the shovel of a backhoe. Heavy metal blared from a boombox, and Mr. Tinneny operated the scissor lift to get people to the top of the installation, which has a twinkling view of the city beyond. The inaugural bottle was thrown at Mr. Belt by his wife, Antonia. She really seemed to enjoy it.

“Ideally, people will think it’s interesting, and they’ll want to do something with the broken glass,” Mr. Belt said. “If not, it’ll be fun, and we’ll just break some glass.”

(NY TIMES  5.12.10)




this week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts is presenting a 35th anniversary screening…

with an all new digital cinema presentation and the original quintaphonic soundtrack — Ken Russell will be on hand for a panel discussion with Who documentarian Murrary Lerner and editor Stuart Baird…

“TOMMY” 1975 directed by Ken Russel, starring Roger Daltry, Ann Margret, Keith Moon, Elton John, Jack Nicholson, Tina Turner and Oliver Reed

May 21 @ the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, L.A…




to commemorate the 101st birthday of John Fante, the City of Los Angeles has designated the corner of 5th and Grand as John Fante Square…

the square is located at the foot of the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Fante lived, adjacent to the Central Library where many years later a young Bukowski discovered “Ask the Dust” and was inspired to become a writer…

see the old neighborhood brought to life – tunnel, Red Car, Angels Flight and all – in Robert Towne’s film adaptation of the novel, where Towne turned a South African rugby field into ’30s L.A…

“ASK THE DUST” 2006 directed by Robert Towne

check out a deconstruction of the film’s version of old Bunker Hill…

and for more information from LAVA — the organization behind the inception of John Fante Square — go to the Los Angeles Visionaries Association




an interview with Harmony Korine…


“I won’t say too much about the movie except that maybe it’s not even a movie. The fact that it’s even playing in theaters is mindblowing for me. Uh… so… I’ll come back to answer some questions if you have any afterwards but this movie was meant to be more like the kind of thing you could imagine being buried in a ditch somewhere or floating in a Ziploc bag down a river or if a convict had shoved it in the ass of a horse or something. It’s just a—well anyway, you’ll see. It’s like that. I’ll see you afterwards.”

And that’s how Harmony Korine introduced his new movie, Trash Humpers, to an audience at Cinema Village in New York last Friday. The lights came down veee-eee-eeee-eeerryyyy slo-oooo-ooowly and the movie began. Trash Humpers has a real loose narrative structure. Four old people (played by Harmony and his friends in scary masks) break shit, terrorize people and hump all sorts of inanimate objects. There’s a lot of chanting, people performing for one another, and repetition. The whole movie was shot on VHS and the surprise noise burps and static that creates, as well as the grain of the VHS, are beautiful to look at. I’d forgotten how nice VHS looks. What once looked mediocre now looks special.

I don’t know if there’s more to discuss about the movie beyond the things that Harmony Korine volunteers. While the end credits were on the screen, Harmony came out and did a Q&A.

Audience: “Did you shoot on VHS?”
Harmony Korine: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

“How much footage that was shot made it into the movie and how much was cut?”
The movie’s presented in the way it was shot, so each day was like a chapter. The characters would sleep out in the woods or behind strip malls or under bridges. We’d get these big tractor tires and we’d fill them up with hay and sleep there, like nests. We would wake up the next morning and knock on doors. Usually we’d start filming an hour or two before it got dark. It was easier to disappear. Pretty much everything we shot is in the film. There was no coverage the way you’d cover a movie. I wasn’t even thinking of it in terms of narrative moviemaking where there are scenes. It was more of a collection of moments. I would never do something more than once. If it happened and we happened to be recording it then it would be in the movie, kind of like a home movie. If I started to edit the film and think about it, it would be more like a [air quotes] “movie.”

“Is there a pure way to watch this? Is it ideal to watch it on VHS?”
With this movie, I really don’t care. It’s weird. It doesn’t matter to me if you project it into the toilet bowl. It makes no difference to me.

“Where did the masks come from?”
These people who live out in California. Uh… tweakers? Guys who do a lot of crystal meth. But they’re talented.

“Did you guys get in trouble with residents or cops or anything?”
No, the thing that was most surprising is how accommodating everyone is. When I started making it we were all preparing ourselves for getting hassled or arrested or whatever. Maybe it has to do with being from the South. For the most part nobody even noticed. I think it’s easier to get away with actual murder now than it ever was. People don’t really pay attention. I remember one specific time it was two or three in the morning in an alleyway by where these hunchbacks that I know live. There’s a group sex scene with all these trashcans and they were fucking the hell out of these cans and I heard a door open and this old woman walked out and I heard her say, ”Can I turn those porch lights on for you to make things easier?” I said “Yeah, go ahead,” and she did and she just sat there and watched it. She seemed excited by it. Nowadays people are very accommodating.

”One thing that gave it continuity were the audio motifs like the cackling laughter and the little lullabies. Was that something you thought about before making it?”
Not really. You know that “Three Little Devils” song? Someone played me a recording once of a woman who had most of her larynx removed and she’d been abandoned in a well. This was probably the early 20s somewhere in North Carolina and I think they were throwing dirt on her head while she was singing, so she was getting buried alive. It was one of the most horrific sounds I’d ever heard. I don’t know if you ever heard what a fox sounds like when it’s in heat but it’s something very awful. It just stayed with me and when were filming this it seemed like a natural place to insert it.

“The scene with you and the women, how did that come about?” (referring to a scene in which the characters interact with prostitutes).
The black one was my girlfriend in high school and she looked much better back then. She let herself go. She married this guy, he worked at this place called the Doughnut Den. It’s really strange to see her now because she’s probably four or five times the size she used to be. I heard through the grapevine that she’d got into that Craigslist dominatrix scene. So when we were doing this, I thought she’d be a good person to call. That was her house in the movie. That was a daily occurrence at the place.

“You mentioned that you could imagine them shoving the tape into a horse’s ass. What were the characters going to do with the tape they were making?”
I don’t know. I think it’s just like a record they were making. I had a friend who recorded every single minute of CNN from 1988. I don’t think he ever watched it, but I think he had the whole year.

“Did you have a lot of fun doing this and if so is it going to be hard going back to making movies the way you have in the past?
I really enjoyed it because I feel like the way conventional filmmaking is, it’s stacked up against you. The process is in conflict with creating. The people involved and how long it takes, I find that it kills the excitement for me. I was always a person who wanted to be able to work as quickly as I could think and kind of act on impulse. Film could never be as immediate as this. But I still have a fondness for traditional moviemaking as well.

“What came first, wanting to shoot on VHS or the idea and the characters?
I grew up very close to where I live now. When I left New York I moved back down to Nashville. When I was a kid there were a lot of alleyways where I lived. It was an intricate system of alleyways that you could basically get around anywhere if you just used these back alleyways. You don’t have to see the fronts of houses. In junior high, a couple blocks from where I lived there was a retirement home that was really just someone’s basement. For nineteen dollars they would house these people who you’re trying to get rid of. It was a strange place. There was always a smoke machine that was on. You know that band, Herman’s Hermits? They would only play that one record for them, over and over again on repeat. I guess there must have been fifteen or twenty people living there and they would always wear white nursing shoes and black turtleneck sweaters. I had a pretty hot next door neighbor and I’d see these guys staring at her late at night, doing God knows what. It stayed with me. When I moved back I would walk my dog down these alleyways and it made me remember them. And there are all these trash bins that look like humans to me. Some of them look like they’d been beaten up or abused. There were all these spotlights and it looked like a war scene. Something post-war. I just combined the two things. So I would dress up my assistant in these really crude masks like a burn victim, like someone whose face looked like a marshmallow. Like a burnt marshmallow. And he would walk around at night and he would just vandalize the neighborhood. And I would take photos with disposable cameras and stuff. I don’t know why it just seemed like a natural thing to do. Once I saw the photos I thought there could be a movie. The look of it reminded me of VHS and that’s how it came to be.

“How did you make a movie out of a memory.”
There were certain things I wanted to see. I wrote them down on napkins and showed them to the other guys and we would wake up and do it.

“So it was just totally random?”
No, because I knew there were things I wanted to see. You know sometimes in life it’s good to just close your eyes and not think about it too much and just let someone take you there. If it felt right to destroy that thing or fuck that thing or set this on fire or to speak then that’s what we did and I didn’t think about it. What’s a home movie mean? What’s the story of a home movie? Sometimes I just don’t think about what anything means because people can mean too much.

“Could you tell a story about Paige Spain?”
Paige is dead. He died. He was one of my favorite characters. He was the guy who does the exercises with his neck. I was going to see him because a friend of mine’s house had just washed away in the flood. So I knocked on his door and when he answered he was wearing a pink bathrobe and he was, you know, gay. He was like, ”Oohooh, what’s going on?” I was like, ”Is Mac there?” And he was like, “No, but come on in.” And I said, “Look man, I’m… straight.” And he goes, “So’s spaghetti till you boil it.” So I walked into his house and he was watching nine or ten televisions simultaneously. They were all on car racing and game shows and the sound was turned down on all of them. He’d had a special bed made and he was very big into alcohol. He was a busboy or something at Holiday Inn. He was a great wit and a really amazing guy. What happened is actually a sad story. He would tell dirty jokes to the people he worked with. He worked there for thirty years. One day there was a new manager and he told a joke and the manager was some right wing zealot, a real bastard, and they fired him after thirty years. They found Paige dead. He was naked, in his house. He also collected a lot of Nazi memorabilia.

“Who was the kid in the beginning?”
The kid who smashed the doll in the head? He’s a well-known preacher. He hangs out at these 7-11s and sits on milk crates. He’s memorized the Bible. He’s another very interesting guy.

“Why are the characters murderers?”
Murder is just part of their vocabulary. It’s what they do. They are artists of evil, not evil… destruction. They’re vandals. They see vandalism and destruction as a creative act. They turn it into something beautiful. In the way that creating is artistic, they think that destroying is. So murder, it’s part of their language.

“Where’d you get the baby at the end?”
It’s best not to talk about those things.

(VICE  5.13.10)

“TRASH HUMPERS” 2009 directed by Harmonie Korine

opening friday at the Nuart — enjoy the trailer at the film’s official site and listen to Korine discuss Humpers via podcast




100% medically accurate, 100% making people angry, and somwhat creatively inspiring


In Tom Six’s torture-porn game-changer “The Human Centipede”, an evil German doctor (Dieter Laser) kidnaps a Japanese man and two vapid American girl tourists, imprisons them in his basement lab and shows them a presentation of simplistic hand-drawn slides that illustrate his diabolical plan: by surgically connecting all three via digestive tract, he will turn three beings into one. Just like that, an iconic movie monster is born.

The notion of a human centipede assumes that live bodies are interchangeable widgets, and thus as long as there are more available, the centipede can keep growing indefinitely, and it’ll be exactly the same, except more horrible. The sequel possibilities are endless. But even with a confirmed follow-up on the way, the film also mocks the idea of a traditional horror franchise, where the monster/threat/body count gets bigger with each iteration. (This Godzilla movie is just like the last Godzilla movie, except now he’s even more radioactive! Human Millipede is just like Human Centipede, except with even more gastric extension!) Either way, Six has created a marketer’s dream — if not for the whole “ass to mouth” thing.


the cat toy…

Yes, The Human Centipede depicts three live humans surgically attached so that food fed to one has to pass through the other two, but the film itself is not as scat-pornographic as you might think; there’s no excrement on-screen. (That said, when spoken in Centipede, the line “Swallow it, bitch!” gruesomely transcends its usual hard-core-porn context.) Never as explicit as a Saw or Hostel film, Centipede disarms the viewer with comedy early on (the doctor is so demented and the Americans so stupid that at first, Centipede plays as parody), then swiftly shifts into the shit (literally and figuratively), managing to maintain a steady aura of stomach-churning dread purely through performance and suggestion. It’s definitive psychological horror, positioning the viewer to identify with the victims’ suffering and lack of free will, even after harshly judging what they did with that free will when they had it.


the necklace…

In fact, The Human Centipede is startlingly relatable: Six uses the centipede to talk about being human. In the tradition of the first Frankenstein films, various contemporary “enhanced interrogation techniques” and certain interpretations of Catholic purgatory, Centipede plays on the notion that the only thing more frightening than death is a state bridging life and death, in which, though one’s body is no longer his or her own to control, the mind remains conscious. In Six’s view, the moral imperative to preserve life only goes so far — eventually, death is a relief.

…and — wtf?

Centipede may fit into a certain horror tradition by hyperintensely depicting the fundamental fear of limbo, but it zigs where most of those films zag. If the standard cinematic way of dealing with that fear is by giving victims a last-minute burst of heroism to arrange their own reprieve, then The Human Centipede is truly subversive in its hopelessness, its refusal to transform its victims into self-saviors with dubious impromptu powers. Centipede ultimately manages to correct mainstream horror’s bullshit conservative ideology. It’s become an old film-theory chestnut that the horror heroine who says no to sex gets to live while her friends die — thus, the Final Girl. There’s no sex at all in Six’s beyond-twisted vision, but in the end, the final girl is well and truly fucked.

(LA WEEKLY  5.6.10)

“THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE” 2009 written and directed by Tom Six

a sequel is due out net year — for now, the original is playing at IFC in NYC and as the midnight movie 5.14 at the Nuart…




Brian Jungen has become the first living Native American artist to exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

“Cetology” a 40-foot whale skeleton made of plastic lawn furniture…

(click on image to enlarge)

in “Prototypes for New Understanding” reconfigured Air Jordans become Aboriginal masks…

Brian Jungen’s exhibition “Strange Comfort” is on view through August 8 at the NMAI on the National Mall, Washington, DC…

“Little People in the City” is a book by London based artist Slinkachu that documents his projects — placing tiny hand painted figures out on the city streets and leaving them to be discovered by giants (people)

please don’t step on the art

“Little People in the City: The Street Art of Slinkachu” 2009 (Macmillan) forward by Will Self

lots more on Slinkachu here




replace the sign with a hotel?  file under: not gonna happen…

a very Hollywood piece of concept architecture from Danish firm Bay Arch (could it be the name?) led by architect Christian Bay-Jorgensen…

the facade is designed at about three times the surface area of the real sign — which Hugh Hefner saved from developers last week by throwing down almost a million bucks (thanks hef!)…

for more projects go to Bay Arch




welcome to Roky ‘X…


It’s Record Store Day, and Roky Erickson has just finished signing autographs at Waterloo Records in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Now, he’s treating himself to ice cream—rocky road!—as his partner, Dana Morris, shows him a book of bumper-sticker photos she just bought. One is written upside-down. “If you can read this,” Erickson begins, reciting it word for word, “then you are crazy as a nut.”

That’s not how the bumper sticker ends—it says something about rolling your SUV—but perhaps this is Erickson’s way of acknowledging what he is not. Namely, crazy as a nut.

Most crazy people don’t come back from the insane asylum, electroshock treatment, illicit drug use, and alien encounters that have besieged Erickson these past 40 years, as is startlingly conveyed in the 2005 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me. And they certainly don’t record a triumphant comeback album at 62, as he has now done with True Love Cast Out All Evil, a glorious new collection of autobiographical numbers culled from his old songbooks and meticulously recast by Will Sheff and his Austin rock band, Okkervil River.

“When I heard the songs,” Sheff explains, “there were 60 to choose from, and there are songs like ‘Please, Judge’ [a broken-down piano ballad with a chorus of cicadas, written by Erickson while at Rusk State Hospital following a drug bust in '69] and ‘Be and Bring Me Home’ [another incarceration song, with redemptive effects fit for an Irish pub following a wake] . . . I just really fell in love with the songs. I knew that as long as I didn’t screw it up, the songs would speak for themselves.”

True Love is truly symphonic, with tranquil touches and a rise-and-fall-and-rise completeness. It’s a much different feel from when Erickson’s 13th Floor Elevators beat the Grateful Dead to psychedelia with 10-plus-minute, peyote-laced jams, later inventing horror rock (heavy metal, really) with songs like “Two Headed Dog” and “Bloody Hammer.” True Love is the at-peace Erickson, his voice front and center, shedding his various myths. (Have you heard the one about the time he levitated?)

Sheff asks Erickson to name his favorite song on the album. “Well, the one you like,” Erickson replies. “I like ‘Fore’ [as in "Forever," a dreamy Roy Orbison–inspired song about "the pleasure of knowing one's own name"]. And I like ‘I Am’—’I Am Satan’s All-Purpose Love,’ or something like that.”

“Wait, which song is that?” Sheff asks.

“I am,” Erickson starts singing softly, “dum, dum, I am Satan’s all-purpose love.” He then quotes the Greek-Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff: “Life is only real, then, when I am.”

Erickson drank a lot of vinegar and honey to preserve his voice for these songs, a trick he learned from his mom, a classically trained singer. Sheff also helped him prepare by playing him old r&b music before each session. Indeed, the Okkervil River gang helped him focus. “Sometimes, you just have to make sure that you have guidance,” Erickson says. “Because some things can really be, I guess, annoying to people, and so I try to always just have faith that I’m doing the right thing and have patience. If you do it, do it right.”

I ask Erickson what love means to him, in reference to True Love’s title track, a song he says his mom asked him to write, and whose titular refrain he sings with Elvis-like bravado.

“Well, I like that song by the Beatles,” he replies, attempting to sing it: “All you need is . . . help . . . somebody to help you write a song.”

“Do you think love is a really important thing to have in your life?” Sheff asks.

“Love is a good thing, yeah.” Just then, a little boy comes over, says hi, and grabs Erickson’s doughy hand, as if to shake it. Erickson obliges and says, “OK, thank you.”

(VOICE  4.27.10)

see Roky with Okkervil River @ the Mayan Theatre L.A. 5.18, the Fillmore S.F. 5.20, and Webster Hall, NYC 5.25…




LAX’s landmark structure is open again…


For the last three years, it was shrouded in scaffolding after a 1,000-pound chunk fell off one of the upper stucco-covered arches and landed on the roof of a restaurant. No one was injured, but the need for serious renovation was highlighted.

As the building was being repaired, and retrofitted to better withstand earthquakes, it served as a disorienting eyesore, rather than a welcoming icon. Its completion was delayed several times, to the consternation of airport officials.

But now the $12.3-million project is nearly done — all but some roof treatments and a few coats of paint — and it will soon be back to its former glory, only with earthquake protection.

Maintaining the Theme Building’s midcentury flying-saucer shape while correcting for significant flaws in the design that threatened its structural integrity was a major challenge for architects, engineers and contractors.

Rather than reinforcing the building with lots of new concrete, which would be expensive and change its physical features, the designers built a 1.2 million-pound steel weight that sits on flexible bearings — known as a tuned mass damper. It anchors the existing roof of the central cylinder of the building and essentially serves to counteract the movement of the structure in an earthquake.

The Theme Building, designed by the futuristic architects William Pereira, Charles Luckman Associates, Welton Becket & Associates and Paul R. Williams, was built in 1961 to serve as the center of the airport, a ticketing spot through which all passengers would pass.

But as a result of the manner in which LAX developed — highly decentralized without a single point of orientation, much like the city it serves — that plan never came together. However, the building’s other features, like the observation deck — where people could watch planes take off and land and peer through the mini-telescopes — still attracted visitors. (The deck was closed to the public after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but airport officials are contemplating a way to make it accessible again to visitors, possibly by appointment.)

In 1997, the Encounter, a totally round restaurant, was opened in the building, with interiors and retro lighting created by Walt Disney designers, and it has remained a trendy drink spot.

After the chunk of building fell onto the Encounter in March 2007, the restaurant was closed for eight months, while the Theme Building was dressed for renovation and its flaws were attacked.

The center of the 135-foot-high arches, for instance, had inadvertently allowed condensation to collect on the steel supporting the plaster around them. The architect Gin Wong Associates addressed that by having the air outflow from the restaurant — once directed outside — piped through the arches as a continual drying system. The arches themselves were reinforced with new steel and flexible polymer-based plaster.

A screen wall that surrounds the building — a disaster waiting to happen, according to Jaime Garza, a project manager for Miyamoto International, the earthquake engineers behind the renovation — was reinforced at the top with carbon fiber.

By far the biggest feat was the tuned damper, 22 layers consisting of six two-inch steel plates each, and each layer ranging from 8,000 to 11,000 pounds, lined up with 164 bolts through the plates on top of the existing center cylinder of the building to absorb shocks.

Cranes had to squeeze in under the arches. And the restaurant had to remain open the entire time, or the contractors would face a daily $5,000 penalty for any day it was closed.

read the entire article here

(NY TIMES  4.17.10)


mayday! mayday! mayday!


nearly forty years before Steven Soderbergh’s four-hour biopic — 20th Century Fox released the first Hollywood film about Che Guevara, Richard Fleischer’s “CHE!”…

“the t-shirt profits alone will be revolutionary…”

tonight, Soderbergh presents his digital production “The Girlfriend Experience” at the Billy Wilder Theatre as the U.C.L.A. Film Archives kicks off the series “From Nitrate to Digital: New Technologies and the Art of Cinema

the evening’s program will begin with Josef von Sternberg’s “The Devil is a Woman” — a prime example of his extraordinary collaborations (one of seven) with Marlene Dietrich…

CHE!” 1969 directed by Richard Fleischer

THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN” 1935 directed by Josef von Sternberg

THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE” 2009 directed by Steven Soderbergh

the series continues through 5.9…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers

%d bloggers like this: