Tuesday, September 09, 2003

New stuff:
Um...well I've got a banana plant.
Which is somewhat odd (and fairly diddy). Originally bought this oh-so-simple kit thing from Hawkins Bazaar in Exeter about 3 years ago. Much blurb about incredibly quick foolproof stuff. So did as it said...and waited, and waited a bit more, and then waited. Repeated for quite a long time, and then started forgetting about it. So would remember it's existence every so often, dunk then entire thing in water overnight, take out and leave for 3 months. Occasionally forget. Then remember again, studiously ignoring the large amounts of mould that have appeared, and repeat the process. Then semi-bury it under junk, go and holiday for a fortnight, come back, still not thinking of it. Then decide to tidy up, rediscover it and think "there's a lot of algae in that". Open, and go "Oh!". And then happily go off and plant in a bigger pot. And it's growing quite fast.
So for all horticultural success, all you need to do is be vaguely optimistic, and absent-minded [and have a ridiculous heat-wave for ages]. So what saved the potential plant from being chucked out aeons ago? Idleness or hope? Don't know, but I have a plant now. The venus fly traps are still in hiding though. But hope springs eternal even if germination doesn't. And why does that phrase sound like it ought to be somewhere in America? Yep I've just moved to Hope Springs, Eternal (EL 45281), 2 hours out of Denver, on the I95. And for the pedants out there, yes I know there probably isn't an I95 anywhere near Denver, and 2 hours out would probably still be part of the suburbs, and the Zip code's wrong...but well, it's not like America's a real place anyway - it's one of those made-up places like Outer Mongolia and Timbuktu.

Oh dear, just had an eek! moment [and no I'm not saying "also" in Chaucerish]. Did you know that a random combination of keystrokes in the lower left part of the keyboard will publish this?

And now I can't remember what I was going to say. Except mmm...pie! In joke, sorry. But why's the nicest part of pies (of the cold actual meat-containing, not flour dissolving in gravy, variety), the technically least appetising. I am of course referring to the weird squidgy jelly bit that comes between the pastry and meat. Yay for salty gelatine, and who cares that it's about the only thing you can make out of the animal's hooves. And if you look hard enough you'll find it's in most nice stuff anyway. Like chocolate. And why does Walls make ice cream as well as sausages? Except they use the much healthier sounding "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" instead now. So that'll be direct from sun drenched palm trees, or peanuts, or sunflowers, or the sludgy remains of olives, or those wonderful yellow fields of oilseed rape (but obviously not any of that GM stuff, even though rape pollen can spread rather large distances on the wind. Just study the insect pollinated transfer routes and it'll be fine). How long before someone makes WD40 flavour ice cream?
Reverting to chocolate, apparently Cadbury's is made with Irish milk because it's thicker. Bit of a non-sequitur, but when has that stopped me? Not sure where the rest of the stuff in it comes from, but like most things it tastes nice, and that's all that matters. Except with some products it actually is.

Other stuff. Dan Cruickshank. Gets about a bit doesn't he? First the World Trade Centre thing, then last night's Afghan odyssey. [clunkingly insensitive on] Two big things get blown up, people get very upset. WTC or the umpteen centuries old Buddhas that the Taliban didn't like? Which is the greater loss? Depends how you measure it (or who you ask). Both seem to be such pointlessly tragic epic follies. Just realised that could be misinterpreted - I was referring to the destruction of the WTC towers, not their construction (although that could equally be argued, if it wasn't for the current blasphemous implications of that). But speaking of follies: the whole succession of replacement suggestions, and the mechanisms of the competition. Of the ones demonstrated on the LMDC's website (it says there were 9, I make it seven shown, so go fig [but hey I am somewhat late in doing this - Blame the BBC for only showing it on Sunday])...well there's the SOM, SANAA "left in the sun too long" clutter. Nah, it just isn't really anything, it manages to be fairly bland and bad at the same time. Next! Peterson/Littenberg. Okish, but distinctly Sim City. Amphitheatre - cool idea, but...US public opinion not to keen one the filling in, plus, it's New York. Open air theatre? Thought it was all steam rising though rain, sleet and snow? So: United's steroidal version of Portcullis house, one giant chimney. Leaden and clunky, and does New York need what looks like an industrial incinerator on the skyline? Well it would be apt for the site, but possibly a bit too apt. On to Meier et al's effort, Noughts and Crosses House. Maybe if you were building an entirely new city and everything looked like this...maybe. Not sure how shipping would react to the green peninsulas, drawing a line in towards the target for next time.
So that leaves us Foster, THINK and Libeskind. THINK may have got through to the final two but...it's just a mix of the usual team-building/school technology project of building stuff with spaghetti, with a hint of DNA on acid. It's a bit art student's project, art for the sake of it. An Easter egg here, an Ikea uplighter there, and a bit of Blu-tack to hold it all together. Somehow you'd expect the shapes to move within the tubes, like lifts in shafts, or pistons in their cylinders. A scaffolding to what can never be.
Foster: there's just something about the sheer gung-ho-ness of it. Yes some of his stuff is just taking the piss, but it's damn impressive none the less (Jubilee line stuff, The Gherkin, half the cool stuff in London). Somehow it works, more gracious and less unthinking than the predecessors, yet still there. Referencing the past, yet not aping it. Ok so it does seem that something should fold out from it like the solar panels, or water lily-like dishes on satellites, but it just is delicate yet resoundingly definite. Ok so the subterranean warrens juxtaposed with the light-leaking voids doesn't really seem a good idea, but then I don't like places devoid of an outside.
Libeskind: Well he seemed a nicer man than the THINK Italian on the film. Seriously...the liberation aware hypodermic, the Stongehengeing layout, both so...continually alternating between inspired and downright tacky. It fits New York though - the ramping skyline (from across the Hudson), with each building doffing it's cap in recognition, crystal shards refusing to conform beneath. Interesting reaction to the leaseholder's (Silverstein) suggestion that the move the tower to make it more profitable.

Now all we need to do is wait to see what emerges, and how unlike the intention it is.

And how many years before it becomes a folly? Or am I not allowed to ask that yet? (and have I cancelled the clunkingly insenstive bit yet?).
And it's strange how so many architects desperately want to go and plant trees all round Manhattan.

And back to the Buddhas and the rest of that Afghan programme - v impressive, v worrying, but maybe for a later date as I've been typing to long.
Anyhoo, I'll give up on the bananas and Buddhas, and pies and plans, for the time being.

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