Category Archives: Architecture

A.H. Scott: Happy Time Press Conferences

Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2020

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Photography and Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2020

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Happy Time Press Conferences (A Dispatch From New York City)

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New York City never stops – until one day it does.

I’ll admit that sentence is one that I never thought would be possibly use in describing my hometown.

Welcome to New York City in life during wartime.

‘This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco.

This ain’t no fooling around.

No time for dancing, or lovey dovey.

I ain’t got time for that now’ – Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”, 1978 [1]

How did I get here? Let me take you back just a little bit over one month ago.

The last week of February 2020, I could see a few things here and there; but, I’ll admit that I just brushed off what I saw as a trickle of anomalies.

Back on that final week of February, when I would pass by one person walking down a crowded New York City street coming in the opposite direction from me in a surgical mask; I would barely pay it any attention at all. I probably chalked it up in my own mind as the person being a hospital worker going on their way to start a shift. I mean to me, it was nothing unusual or out of sorts in seeing a person in a surgical mask and sometimes hospital scrubs under their jackets or coats. It seemed unremarkable back then.

God, it was only a month ago.

February 2020 came and went drifting by with a droplet of ripples as the tide of March 2020 rose upon my hometown.

For those of us in New York City, our arms outstretched in a greeting for embracing family, friends and even acquaintances in hugs; has now transformed into a physical manifestation of estimating social distancing.

Elbow bumps have gone the way of an Edsel.

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

In March, the sidewalks were becoming life-size chessboards with all of us spreading out a little more and more.

On March 9th, I caught myself for the first time in my life; making physical movements in public that I suddenly became more aware of.

Oh no, I’m not making light out of how my own body was motioning. Uh-uh. And, it was not a twitch, spasm or malady. On that Monday of March 9th, I felt almost as if I were being choreographed by Bob Fosse in making a few side slides to move out of people’s way. For me in that span of moments walking around the lower east side of New York City, that was when I felt a change within.

There was ‘something’ in my hometown. It was that ‘something’ which my own words find complex to explain in expressing it in writing.

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

By March 16th, we pieces upon that chessboard were less and less. The social distancing was taking hold. Or, so it would seem upon the surface. Yet on March 17th, it was evident that some of my fellow New Yorkers seemed not to heed the warning.

Inconsiderate souls make it hard for those of us who follow the rules of social distancing.

For those not familiar with New York City, the subway system is the heart and lifeline for New Yorkers to make our way around our four boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and the one leading to the ferry to Staten Island.

In a time when there should be space between seats on all trains and staggered travel times by New Yorkers; 5 to 10 people is the model for social distancing in a single train car, while 15 to 28 people that are situated ass to jowl with babies crying and kids scurrying about is not.

Oh, and by the way, this event occurred after New York City schools have been closed and the stay-in-place order has been enacted in New York State.

My advice to that oblivious smattering of my fellow New Yorkers is blunt – “Don’t be an asshole!”

Oh, and by the way, this advice goes to the insipid ass-shakers on Florida beaches, parade goers whooping it up with beads and booze at Mardi Gras, and fools that have Coronavirus Parties.

C’mon, what part of social distancing can you not get through your thick skulls? Holes of asses make it hard for the rest of us masses!

Damn, people! Be smart, Be wise.

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Now back to this dispatch from New York City. March 27th the subway schedules have been cut-back severely. The ridership is sparse and the train stations are consumed with desolation.

Ironically, as I was riding the subway on that day, a troubadour with guitar strummed and sang a melody in his native tongue. You see, even in the middle of my fellow riders with face masks on and the reality of an unspoken heaviness filled the air; New Yorkers can always find a flicker of faith. I guess that guy with the guitar singing was expressing his own type of faith in these harsh times surrounding each of us.

I’d like to give a word of thanks to the men and women of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for keeping our subways rolling and New Yorkers moving around. THANK YOU, MTA!!

Thank you to all NYPD, FDNY, New York City public employees, hospital workers, delivery workers, grocery store workers, wireless phone store employees, FEDEX, UPS, bodega owners,, USPS, convenience store employees, truck drivers, farmers, for everything you have done in the past days and will do in the present and future.

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

Uptown, downtown, east side, west side, and beyond the borough of Manhattan; the shift has taken hold. Pulse of life here is descending in pace from how it was just within the last month of February.

Near my own apartment building, seeing an ambulance with EMTs gathering their equipment was something at this point in time that was ordinary. Yet, for the first time I have ever seen it, there was a second vehicle that rolled up behind it. It was a red FDNY vehicle with two technicians who were adorning themselves in a light yellow, plastic gown over their dark blue uniforms.

Once seeing that, I was totally done emotionally and got myself inside my building and upstairs to my apartment. To know something is far away across an ocean is one thing you come to understand exists. But, seeing it in less than a block’s area of proximity can really scramble your mind a bit.

Sounds of the city are now few and far between, compared to how it used to be around here. Mostly now, all that I hear from outside my apartment are sounds of ambulance sirens, which send an immediate chill down my spine.

When things were ‘normal’, the sirens were most drowned out by the integrated rhythm of the city. From car horns blaring, music wailing from open windows, a swirl of arguments or laughter being heard on the streets, or even that of an errant firecracker being set off beneath the cover of moonlight every now and then was the melody. That’s how it used to be in my hometown.

A light whizz of sound would roll by and fade into distance. But, now those sirens can loudly fill the silence in a five to six mile projection from Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital southward to Harlem Hospital, and even further downtown to near where some members of my own family reside in the area around Mount-Sinai Hospital.

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

I’ve got to admit it’s quite eerie when those sirens blare and you realize time is of the essence for the ambulance to make it to a hospital. Whenever I hear it, I actually stand still for a few moments.

Damn, even the sound of dogs barking is no more. That would be a relief to hear something aside from the nothingness and the heaviness that is enveloping the air around us in New York City.

Heaviness is that invisible thing you can’t put your finger on it; but, it’s there, all around you. It’s the haunted look in the eyes of the few souls I pass at a safe distance when trying to just purchase a few items at the grocery store. That glint in the eye of another person that appears to exhibit elements of being shell-shocked has arrived in New York City.

Oh, I’ve lived through strikes, blackouts, September 11th, 2001 and Hurricane Sandy; but, this thing – and, I don’t know how else to call it – yet, it is an unseen entity that is taken lives ever so quickly – it is an asphyxiating beast that sees no age, creed, economic status, or artificial borders of humanity.

Unlike the various threads of strife that had been experienced in New York City before, this is not a situation which is uniting but disuniting. Although, we are all unified in our valiant struggle to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic, we are doing at arm’s length for the prudency of our health. Or, to be more precise, it is at the pace of six feet of distance. There will be no embraces of sisterhood or fist-bumps of brotherhood.

Going outside has become more slight, strategic and mired in the protocols of the present moment.

Cover up! Glove up! Have your sanitizer!

I use caution with Clorox wipes and gloves whenever I have to embark on a quick trip to get food, supplies, or run a much needed errand around my hometown. Luckily, if I have to take off those plastic gloves, I have my handy Purell at the ready. And, when I am blessed to get back indoors, I wash my hands for more than the suggested 20 seconds. Usually as soon as I get in, I go for a good foaming of soap for over 2 whole minutes and then scrub my hands to the extent of making them look like prunes and become a bit raw at times. But, for me, a little soreness in the present is more than worth it to prevent the spread of this disease.

Wash your hands, wash your hands!!

I guess you could say the isolation has a way of taking a toll on a person. Texting and calling another human being is way different than sitting next to them, touching their hand or looking in their eyes when laughing at memories of days gone by.

There are members of my family that I can’t visit, because of their age and others with medical vulnerabilities. So, my contact with them right now is only a call or texts.

My 80-year old neighbor who leaves next to me used to have his grandchildren stay with him afterschool until his son would pick up after work and a home health aide who’d come by every other day. Now, there are no sounds of youth running up and down the hallways playing. For the past couple of weeks, the only visitor outside of his son coming by to check up on him every day has been a deliveryman with his prescriptions from the pharmacy down the street. Everything has changed, even in the way goods are delivered. The guy from the pharmacy actually has to leave the prescription in a bag on the doorknob without making contact with my neighbor.

You see, as I pointed out earlier; this damnable disease is disuniting us in so many small and large ways. Even to the extent of how a package is delivered to an apartment door.

I make sure I always tell my family I love them when we can connect over the phone or a quick text. You never know what the next 24 hours holds, or even the next 60 seconds in the way the world is spinning today.

Spinning away and slipping away is that topsy-turvy feeling that has a way of coming over a person when they least expect it; as also is that which is the polar opposite that reveals itself to you.

With life whirling and spinning about, things have a way of revealing clarity. For me, it’s pulling my thoughts together in some formation of resemblance’s order.

Labeling three elements loosely in the percolation of the feelings and emotions I have inside of me are the following:

First – Stillness     

Second – The Absence of Distinction

Third – The Un’s Have It

Stillness –

Stillness can be a blessing, as it also can be a curse of sorts. Stillness which is solace is that calming reverie in silence that rejuvenates the soul. Stillness that is stagnancy can reveal itself as a queasiness stirring in the pit of a person’s stomach. For me, I’ve been touched by both aspects of what stillness is. Staying at home, I got a lot of time to feel the calmness of not being out in the calamitous crossfire of Coronavirus. At the same time, this stillness is the unease that can pepper one’s thoughts.

I say to anyone who has any trickle of creative flair in their disposition to find a way to focus a little time in their days creating small bits of something. Anything!

It could be just one silly sentence on a page of paper. But, please make sure it isn’t “Jack is a good boy”, typed over and over again, because that would be another can of worms you would have to be dealing with. Sorry, I just had to toss a little icebreaker in the mix with that one in.

Whew, so I’ll continue with my dispatch.

I haven’t been writing anything at all since this whole crisis has taken shape in New York City. For me, it seems that nothing else has been able to break through, because all the space in my head is engulfed in the here and now of uncertainty.

One thing I am realizing is that I have got to get out of my own head. Unplug from the news for an hour or two. Watch a comedy, game show, or soap opera to take you away from the darkness of the day.

Speaking of the latter; I’d like to give a hand of applause to the casts and production crews of CBS’ “The Bold and The Beautiful” and ABC’s “General Hospital” for allowing me as a viewer to just sit back and enjoy a respite from what exists outside my window in New York City.

Suddenly, I cherish cleaning my apartment, watering my plants and doing a little re-reading here and there. As for exercising, that’s where my friend, Good ‘Ol Mr. Treadmill comes to my rescue. Flip on the radio or pop in a cd and I’m off into focusing my mind and body somewhere else.

Sounds boring, I know. But, it is a window into my world right now.

These things that I have noted above may seem like such frivolous actions to partake in during this era of sadness. And, maybe they are. But, I just have to unplug, unwind and let my senses recharge in some way. 

Not forgetting what is going on, but putting it on pause just for a breather.

What you are reading now is actually the first thing I have written, or even focused on outside of what’s going on outside in the city that I was born in and I love.

Instead of giving anyone who is reading this out there any form of advice I’m going to take my own and make sure a few words get scribbled on a piece of paper or flipped across my keyboard. And, that’s whether I have the motivation to do it or not. I have got to start pushing back against the stagnancy that’s starting to creep up.

The Absence of Distinction –

The absence of distinction has worked itself into my life, as coming to wonder which day starting with the letter T of the week it is without looking at a calendar. Or, exactly what time of the day it actually is without looking at my phone or hearing it on a radio. Days casually slip into becoming a run-on of minutes and hours.

The Un’s Have It –

Unexpected cessation of my daily routine; which may have been boring before this second in life, would be a beacon of hope. Unknown and insidious infection can touch anyone at anytime with a finger of fateful sorrow. Unnerved, unsettled, and unbalanced feeling I have within myself caused by the shift that the present moment has fallen upon. Untaken actions in the past when foolishly being under the illusion that time would continue and anything a person could desire to come to pass would happen down the lane of life.

The un’s have it. And, they maintain the control over the curveballs in our lives that none of us can ever predict or steal the signs of the future to prevent what will happen to any of us.

Unease is that fearing of the evaporation of control many of us attempt to have over our lives. That’s gone, for now.

But, maybe, just maybe something can return.

You know, as I’m sitting here writing this and if I didn’t know it was me writing it, I’d think it were some sort of end-of-the-world, apocalyptic work of fiction. I know that sounds weird, but it’s how it feels to me.

I hope and yes, of course I believe it is not the end of the world or the end of New York City; but, what I have experienced is such a devastating blow to my own simple existence and psyche. I wish I could close my eyes and it would not be as it is.

But, it is real. All of it is real. The first responders and other essential workers that are on the frontlines of keeping this city going are real. The social distancing of keeping away other people and being vigilant in staying home most of the time is real. Even catching a glimpse in the bathroom mirror gazing with a faraway look in my own eyes is real. All of it is real.

Days go by…..dread has settled in. And, that is whether a logical person wants to admit it or not.

I’ll admit it; I am afraid of what happens when the peak of this wave occurs in the coming days.

The pulse of New York City is slowing as its’ heart is breaking with the sorrow of what is happening here and soon to come in days across the United States of America.

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

Make no doubt about, it is us in New York City today. But, to all the small towns, hamlets, cities and states across this country; it is coming to your doorstep also.

New York City may be a bit knocked about, but, New Yorkers are not down for the count.

As I am writing this now in 2020, I by happenstance came upon a quote I wrote back on March 28th, 2012 about fear and courage in the harshest moments. Re-reading my own words, I think they are quite fitting for the present:

“Fear can liquefy your spine or solidify your backbone. Cowering in the face of fear is almost as if you’re wrapping a fuzzy blanket around yourself on a cold night. You will be enveloped in comfort and calmness. Courage in facing your fears is placing an invisible armor upon your heart and standing against the onslaught of criticism and diminishment of a person’s worth. Brisk wind of bitterness will become sand against your face and nothing will come so simple. Yet, each sting of those grains of sand will prove that you are stronger than you ever thought you could be. You do have courage to face fear and stand up straight to any corner of your world. Life may be static in oh, too many moments for all of us. But, there is a satisfaction to be held within the soul, which comes in certain stillness of conviction.” – A.H. Scott, 3/28/12

#NewYorkStrong #AllInThisTogether

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

So, in this time of unease, maybe I could look beyond New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio or New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to another individual at the federal level of government.

A hero of some sorts; maybe one who holds levers of power way beyond a local or a state official might just be a logical answer to questions which a citizen may seek.

Hey, and if I’m lucky it could be someone born locally. You know, a native New Yorker; just like me.

Who is this person that could be a hero and send the full request of ventilators (and supplies from the national stockpile) to the city of his birth?

“You know, a ventilator is a machine. It’s a very complex machine. And to think that we have to order hundreds of thousands – nobody has ever heard of a thing like this. With that being said, General Motors, Ford, so many companies – I had three calls yesterday directly. Without having to institute – like, “You will do this” – these companies are making them right now. But to think of these numbers, it’s pretty – it’s pretty mindboggling” – President Donald J. Trump, March 21st 2020, in response to calls for him to invoke the Defense Production Act [2]

You would figure that someone born in New York City, specifically the borough of Queens would actually give half a damn or even have a twinge of a pang of solidarity with his fellow New Yorkers. But, then again, the man who now resides in the house of white has no compunctions, pangs or solidarity with anyone.

Pity, that this person can’t even fake giving a fig about others in this time of sorrow and uncertainty.

I just gotta write it as I feel it; but, damn man, where is your empathy, sympathy or even a cast-off crumb of humanity?

Twinge of commonality is nonexistent within him, as that poisonous tinge of a tangerines’ nauseous nightmare is at the core of his consistency.

One would figure that when a person drapes themselves under the hallowed banner of being a ‘Wartime President’ there would be an accentuation of a critical element of leadership. Someone that would take charge, take the helm, grab the wheel of the ship of state.

Hopefully it could be a man that wouldn’t feast on his own pettiness of a bruised ego in not being appreciated and fawned over enough by other elected, public officials who are begging for federal assistance in this expanding pandemic.

“Don’t call the woman in Michigan” – Donald J. Trump, March 27th 2020 (in referencing Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plea for medical supplies)

Yet, what occurs from the White House briefing room is a dizzying mash-up of front-loaded “Happy Time Press Conferences” filled with rah-rah’s of Presidential self back-patting, with a side order of sobering scientific reality coming up the back.

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx seem in some ways  the visual props of propriety that are validate the puffery which is spoken at the beginning of the Press Conference, with Vice-President Mike Pence as the bridge between his boss and the scientific facts.

Although, there a statements made by the illustrative and well-respected Dr. Deborah Birx that have me scratching my head in wondering if she’s picked up her pom-poms to lead us all in a celebratory cheer for him.

“He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data” – Dr. Deborah Birx, March 26th, 2020, Christian Broadcasting Network [3]

It seems just like everything else in the United States of America, division of halves comes into view in that briefing room.

One half is a self-serving smattering of blathering minutes from a man devoted to only himself and his constant craving for the spotlight. He’s gotta get that campaign rally fix any way he can. And, these briefings are his narcotic to hold him over for a good 24 hours.

When a person says they are a “Wartime President”, but act as Chief Commander of Snarkiness; that aforementioned label proves the buck of responsibility is one which does not stop on their desk. Mr. Oh No Not Me acts as if he hasn’t been in office for three years as of now. 

The buck is on your desk and in your briefing room every time that you speak to the American public and world. I respectfully implore you to deal with it wisely, Mr. President.

As for the other half, it is a concise and factual rundown of what’s going with the pandemic is given by medical professionals in the room.

Dr. Fauci speaks with clarity and facts behind what he says, as the man in charge seems to project a clueless character of the magnitude of the tragedy transpiring across this nation.

But it’s nothing new for him to push what is so evident right off the table and onto someone else’s lap. He’s done it before, and he’s doing it right now.

What? Who me? Mr. Responsibility? Oh, no, you must have me mistaken with someone else.

“I don’t take responsibility at all.”  – President Donald J. Trump, March 14th 2020 [4]

Within a ten-minute period of give and take between the most powerful man in the world, President of the United States of America and the assembled White House press corps, the act of cluelessness came about once more:

“I don’t know anything about it” – President Donald J. Trump, March 14th 2020 [4]

Insults and Donald J. Trump are like peanut butter and jelly; they go together even when they are apart.

For me, the final insult among oh too many coming from the occupant of the White House was two seemingly innocuous words from an overall odious quote made on the final Saturday of March 2020.

Specificity of these actions that were pondered by him had been targeted at New Yorkers, as well as the residents of the tri-state area.

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined.” – President Donald J. Trump, March 28th, 2020 [5]

I’m a mellow and laid-back person, but this really grumbled my granola. Yeah, this is a low blow from someone in the highest position in this country.

Two words, ‘some people’.

No, Mr. President; it is not ‘some people’ that will be the ones who will sign off on that type of critical declaration of quarantine that you bandied about so recklessly.

The signature would not be Vice-President Mike Pence, a Governor who lets spring-breakers shake it while it’s hot on a beach down in Florida, or anyone on a platinum plateau who whispers in your ear of what to do or what to say.

It is you. You, and you alone.

If you huff and puff and tell everybody that you are the Grand Poobah then own it. Own it outright and not hide behind saying something as inane as ‘somebody’ else wants something done; almost like the wizard behind the curtain is pulling the strings. Don’t shrink from it. Don’t shirk from it. Own it! Own that YOU are the person who wants a specific outcome or action taken. Own it!

Because, right now we who are here on the ground in New York City are in need of leadership, not word salad tossed up in the air and hoping it will look good for ‘middle America’ to get your poll position up in excoriating New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as scapegoats.

It’s real – right here on the ground in New York City. It’s not some Happy Time Press Conference you can just half-heartedly adlib from the White House briefing room.

Then there is one Coronavirus Task Force member who sometimes looks so embarrassed when standing behind the President of the United States speaking at the lectern.

It’s almost as if we can all read a thought bubble above Dr. Anthony Fauci’s head that has flashing lights which would say: Let the science speak for itself!

To anyone who is reading this now, I give the platform over to the words from a man of science, Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s, January 23rd, 2020 article, titled, “Coronavirus Infections: More Than Just the Common Cold”; published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he and colleagues Dr. Catharine I. Paules and Dr. Hilary D. Marston delve into Coronavirus and the origins of this pathogen.

In this fascinating article, the final paragraph pretty much sums up the dire situation of this present pathogen and also those in the future:

‘While the trajectory of this outbreak is impossible to predict, effective response requires prompt action from the standpoint of classic public health strategies to the timely development and implementation of effective countermeasures. The emergence of yet another outbreak of human disease caused by a pathogen from a viral family formerly thought to be relatively benign underscores the perpetual challenge of emerging infectious diseases and the importance of sustained preparedness.’ – (source, Journal of the American Medical Association, January 23rd 2020)[6]

I have no doubt that the man which Dr. Deborah Birx described as being ‘attentive to the scientific literature and the details’ did not peruse this article by this member of his own Coronavirus Task Force.

He may call himself ‘a very stable genius’, but, uh-uh, I don’t think so.

And, if the ‘very stable genius’  missed the above mentioned article of Dr. Anthony Fauci, he definitely would have gotten more information about COVID-19 in reading another insightful bit of analysis, written almost a month later.

In the February 28th, 2020 article titled, “Covid-19: Navigating the Uncharted”, of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, along with a pair of colleagues, Dr. H. Clifford Lane and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, gave a bit of roadmap on where the medical community should focus upon involving global health threats of today and tomorrow.

As they write, it is obvious that this current outbreak may just be a harbinger of things to come in the future:

‘The Covid-19 outbreak is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenge of emerging and reemerging infectious pathogens and the need for constant surveillance, prompt diagnosis, and robust research to understand the basic biology of new organisms and our susceptibilities to them, as well as to develop effective countermeasures.’ – (source, New England Journal of Medicine, February 28th, 2020)[7]

Using part of the title from the article listed above, “…Navigating the Uncharted”; for a person calling himself a ‘Wartime President’, he should easily be able to stand at the helm of the ship of state and lead into calmer waters.

But, who the Hell am I kidding in thinking that could be done with the occupant in the house of white.

“It will go away” – President Donald Trump [8]

The first known case of Coronavirus in New York State was diagnosed on March 1st, 2020; that is 29 days ago. And, the roll call of those being called to heaven continues to rise as I write this article on March 30th, 2020.

As I sit here in New York City, I am a witness to tell you that it’s not going away any time soon. In fact, the wave which Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio continue to warn of us here in my hometown is coming within days. And, New Yorkers are in some ways on our own. Oh, of course the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the members of the USNS Comfort Hospital are with us and doing their job. As are the countless and nameless first responders who are selfless in providing courageous care in a war zone of diminishing PPE’s and accelerating numbers of patients stricken with this damnable respiratory disease that was recognized in December of 2019.

Right now, we have the Jacob Javitz Convention Center reconfigured as a hospital, also in a section of Central Park a field hospital being constructed, as well as the arrival of naval ship Comfort along Pier 90 along the West Side Highway.

Oh yeah, this is real!

Those of us who are not touched personally by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and kept safe from the spread are not really safe at all; for we’ve been changed. We’ve shifted who we were the day before, the month before, the year before the droplet of ripples began.

We are New York! We are New Yorkers!

We’ll be here. Different, but still here.

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President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America

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HAPPY TIME PRESS CONFERENCES (A DISPATCH FROM NEW YORK CITY)

A.H. Scott

March 2020

FOOTNOTES

[1] “Life During Wartime” -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_During_Wartime_(song)

[2] “Trump’s Premature Claim About Ventilator Production” – https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/trumps-premature-claim-about-ventilator-production/

[3] “Deborah Birx Praised Trump As AttentiveTo Scientific Literature And Details” – https://www.vox.com/2020/3/27/21197074/deborah-birx-praised-trump-scientific-literature-coronavirus

[4] “Trump Says He Had No Idea His Pandemic Response Team Was Disbanded” –

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/14/trump-says-no-idea-pandemic-response-team-disbanded-thats-true/

[5] “Trump Considers Quarantine for States Near Epicenter of U.S. Coronovirus Outbreak” – https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-trump-new-york-new-jersey-a8aadeac-fb71-4cdf-97eb-295c7a8f0306.html

[6] “Coronavirus Infections – More Than Just The Common Cold” –

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2759815

[7] “Covid-19 – Navigating the Unchartered” –

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2002387?query=RP

[8] “5 Times Trump & US Officials Downplayed Coronavirus” – https://www.businessinsider.com/five-times-the-trump-administration-downplayed-the-coronavirus-2020-3

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-the-spartacus-effect/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, History, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Joy Bao: Habitat

Photography by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

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HABITAT

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noun

  the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

  informal: a person’s usual or preferred surroundings.

The dictionary told me these are the definitions of “habitat.”

I found the word surprisingly fitting for the photo shoot, as the location itself is never quite the habitat for anybody. The room is located in my friend’s home, who also modeled for the project. It is not her or the other girl’s habitat, because it is the “animal room;” however, this room is also not a habitat for an animal, as it is man-made and not “natural,” and the shorthair cat is a type of domestic animal.

What we express emotionally, most of the time, largely depends on the environment around us. With a seemingly natural yet slightly off daily-life setting, I hope to achieve a gradation not only of human emotions, but also artificiality in terms of the project itself. Having the two models making relatively obvious and dramatic facial expressions while standing beside a cat tree that is clearly not designed for human use, the upper part of the photos shows the self-awareness of a deliberate art project. But as if the true loving and caring nature inside the model have precipitated, the bottom half shows the model looking at the cat, and the whole setting becomes more “habitat-like” as it cannot be more suitable for the emotion and atmosphere. While the cat tree is the main prop in this project, I still wanted to emphasize the homely and domestic setting by using only natural light coming from the windows. Through a series of contrast and paradoxical settings, I hope to draw attention to our emotional state with material surroundings, and, ultimately, the question of where exactly can be our habitat?

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Portrait of Joy Bao by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Contemporary Architecture, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Huiping Tina Zhong: The Stories We Tell

Photography by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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THE STORIES WE TELL

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The Construction of Narratives Through Performativity of Emotions

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This is the first time for me to use an analog camera, hence every aspect of each strip of film fascinates me. The shape of the film reminds me of comic strips, which inherently signify the progress of a narrative, usually chronologically. I set the shooting space to be a space with arches, while each emotion is performed in a different arch, as if the arches are the frame of a stage or a painting, or a hole through which people peek through to view early forms of motion pictures. Different emotions are signified through different pieces of accessories on the same body, and sometimes even only through accessories, in other words, the absence of a body. In the schema, time proceeds both horizontally and vertically, and hopefully creating various storylines for each inspector.

In the first arch is sadness. The signifier of sadness is a pilot helmet. In my understanding, a pilot is isolated in the plane, and the helmet reminds me of war. In the first scene, the pilot is sitting by herself, and in the second round, she is embracing herself with sorrow. What happened? Maybe she has lost her fellow soldiers.

In the second arch is love. Looking out, she seems to be waiting for someone, and she seems to be enjoying her time. I chose a colorful skirt to represent the passion and the exuberance of young love. And when the lover arrives, she joyfully jumps in the air.

In the third arch, despair is represented through index, a trace of a body that was once here: gloves, shoes, a big coat, and a hat. It can be interpreted in various ways, but it can signify the loss of a life, which resonates with war, and even with love. Perhaps it is the lover that was lost to the pilot. The two scenes of despair is the same, because an absent body remains absent.

The last arch is happiness. She wears a pair of extravagant sunglasses with a golden frame, in the first scene she seems to be greeting someone happily, but in the second scene she is gone. Where is she? Is happiness now lost? It is open to the readers’ interpretations.

But let us return to the notion of the construction of a narrative. Although the inherent nature of an analog film strip is that it is indexical and chronological, life often does not have a clear plot line, and our memory of life gets entangled together to form our perception of the world, of our existence. This messy mixture of emotions and anachronistic events becomes the narrative that we construct for ourselves, while the difference between reality and performed memory becomes imperceptible.

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Portrait of Huiping Tina Zhong by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020.

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About The Author:  Huiping Tina Zhong is a senior majoring in Art History at Bryn Mawr College.

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Bob Shell: Finally Something Good to Report

Prison. Photo: Julie Chu Cheong, Copyright 2020

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

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Finally Something Good to Report

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Finally something good to report! In early January, I was transferred to the GLU (Good Living Unit, pronounced like ‘glue’). It’s for people who don’t cause trouble, and there are 88 of us out of a population of a thousand. You have to be charge-free for a year to get in, and I’ve been charge-free for almost three years.  Nobody will steal from me here, and I won’t be attacked. It’s great to be able to relax for a change.

We get incentives to be good. Once a month we get a pastry, cookie, etc., we have a small library of books we can read, we go to chow first every day, and every weekend we see recent movies on one of our big HD TVs. Recently, we saw Once Upon A Time: In Hollywood, which I found very slow-paced and way too long. The whole mood of this pod is radically different from others I’ve been in.

I take Celebrex twice a day for arthritis, and have to stand outdoors in a long line to get it, regardless of the weather. All my other pills are ‘self med,’ which means they give me a thirty day supply to keep in my cell and take every day. In the year and a half that I was at River North, I had Celebrex as self med, but here at Pocahontas they won’t let me have it that way. Pocahontas is security level 2/3, while River North is 4/5. So it makes no sense that I can’t have my Celebrex as self med here.

Recently, I stood in line for more than forty-five minutes to get my morning pill, the temperature below freezing, in a mix of rain and snow. I complained about having to do this for a single pill, and took my complaint all the way to the VDOC head office in Richmond, who said my complaint was ‘unfounded.’ Standing out in the weather aggravates my arthritis, the very thing the pill is for.

But, that’s typical of the VDOC. When I first came into the system back in 2008, I was complaining to a Sergeant about some policy. He said, “Mr. Shell, your problem is that you expect things to make sense. This is the DOC. NOTHING MAKES SENSE! Get that through your head and you’ll do just fine.” He was right, nothing in the system makes sense.

I read recently in Prison Legal News magazine (www.prisonlegalnews.org) about a man in another state who was given a belt by prison staff, and later given a charge for having it. Reminded me of the time I wrote a letter to a lawyer on a prison law library typewriter, and was given a charge for doing it, even though that’s one of the stated purposes of the typewriters. I was kicked out of the law library for six months over that! I appealed, of course, but my appeals were denied at every level. So that ridiculous charge is still on my record, and I was set back six months in my legal work to get my false convictions overturned.

My book COSMIC DANCE has received many positive reviews. If you haven’t read it yet, please buy and read it. It’s on Amazon under my name, also available from www. odalysllc.com, the company that did the grunt work on it and got it published.

I’m in good company. Amazon recently signed Dean Koontz and Patricia Cornwell to write books directly for them, bypassing traditional publishers. This move has publishers terrified, and for good reason. Amazon can get a book into its distribution channels faster than regular publishers. Unfortunately, it’s another nail in the coffin of independent bookstores, who won’t have access to these books. I love the bookstore experience. Browsing online just can’t touch it. When I was in college at Virginia Tech, I worked in an independent bookstore, and have fond memories.

I go up for geriatric parole again in March. So far I’ve gone up before the parole board eight times, and been turned down eight times. I’m a perfect candidate for parole, and was dismayed by all these turndowns, until I figured it out. Someone is sabotaging my parole attempts. I don’t know who it is, but I have my suspicions. Probably the same person who kept going onto my Wikipedia bio page and putting lies on there. Research has indicated that this was Marion’s aunt, who still must believe the nonsense spouted at my trial by the medical examiner. I’ve had proof that his testimony was nonsense, to use a polite word for it, for some time in the form of statements from prominent pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. William T. Gormley, Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia. Anyone who hasn’t read it should go to my website, www.bobshelltruth.com and read Dr. Gormley’s interview. I’ve sent this to the Parole Board several times, but they choose to ignore it.

Dr. Gormley did tests that proved conclusively that Marion was never dead in my presence, disproving the prosecutor’s idiotic theory that she was dead the last time we had sex. I’ve never had sex with any woman who was not a fully aware consenting adult in my entire long life. I’m 73 as of last December, and my reputation on that score was unblemished until the Radford cops and prosecutors set out to destroy me. Their reasons were political, having absolutely nothing to do with any alleged crimes.

Many of you continue to ask about and wish me well in my quest to get my precious forest back. The case is still in court, but a lawyer suggested a new tactic to me, and I’m pursuing it. I’m going after the two lawyers involved in the sale, whose actions were certainly unethical, possibly illegal. I will pursue this to the end, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs.

On another topic, most of the contents of my photography studio are in a rented storage unit. Some of you have already helped me keep the monthly rent paid, but any who haven’t and are willing to help, please let me know and I’ll let you know how to help. All my contact info is on my website, www. bobshelltruth.com , the website friends built for me

Until next time, my friends, you have all my best wishes.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/photography/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

 

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Men, Politics

Steve Cohen: Frank Gehry’s Spectacular Architecture

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Text by Steve Cohen, Copyright 2020

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Photo Credits: Frank Gehry Studio and the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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When the most flamboyant architect in the world was awarded the job of redesigning the interior —  just the interior —  of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the choice appeared to be puzzling.

Frank Gehry’s fame comes from spectacular curvaceous structures covered with reflective metal, but he will not be able to alter anything on the exterior of this building. Therefore the assignment seemed like a mis-match. Or could it be a brilliant upsetting of expectations?

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“So you want to know why I’d do a project where nothing will show on the outside? Because what’s always been important to me is the inside, the purpose, the function,” Gehry told me in an interview in November of 2007, right after the assignment was announced..

Gehry’s challenge at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was to create new spaces for art and for visitors without disturbing the classic exterior of a building that is a landmark in Philadelphia. He is in charge of excavating under the Museum’s east side on the hill of Fairmount, and will renovate the Museum’s existing interiors. A 60% increase in the museum’s public space is anticipated, with 80,000 additional square feet.

I point out to Gehry that he’s been criticized as a proponent of the DeCon Movement in architecture, the deconstructionist movement that gives more importance to impressive exteriors than to functional necessity.

“That just isn’t true,” he cheerfully argues. “Everything I design is from the inside. All my projects started with the function. Disney (the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles) started with the sound of the orchestra, and Bilbao started with the gallery. And my buildings do function. Just ask any of my clients.”

“To say that what I care about most is the exterior look is wrong. Thank you for giving me a chance to rebut what those people say. When I was a kid, people said that I killed Christ, and that wasn’t true either.”

Before the Disney concert hall, Gehry had never been hired for a large, expensive building. “I heard that one of the Disney people said he’d never set foot in the building if it was designed by Gehry, and I remembered the reputation Walt Disney had for being anti-Semitic.”

Despite all his acclaim, Gehry often feels vulnerable and afraid. For example, afraid to wish for things because he fears he won’t get them. “I’m always scared,” he says. Of what? “Scared that I won’t know what to do when I start a job, for instance.” And he’s aware of negative things that are said about him.

These qualities are endearing. Friends describe him as a Columbo, shuffling and self-effacing. He confirms that. “I want to be a nice guy, the aw-shucks type, but inside I’m competitive as hell.”

“Some people say that I repeat myself. That Disney and Bilbao are similar. But they’re not. I’ve been careful not to repeat myself. Disney and Bilbao have different shapes, different functions. Even the metal isn’t the same.” Gehry goes on to observe that sculptors use plaster and painters use canvas but that scarcely indicates that all their work looks alike.

Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, completed in 1997, is such a stunning achievement that it’s what people see in their minds when they hear his name. The architect concedes that maybe some people hire him because they expect another Bilbao, “but I tell them it’s not what I do. What you want from a building is that the public likes it and that it functions.”

Anne d’Harnoncourt, former director of the Philadelphia museum, said: “The decision to hire him was based on the exceptional range of Gehry’s accomplishments, his love of art, admiration for our collections, respect for the neoclassical building, and the firm’s success even in smaller projects, such as the renovations to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena where the hand of the architect is discreet yet wonderfully sensitive to the needs of great works of art.”

Gehry told me that he sought this project because he loves Philadelphia and he respected d’Harnoncourt. “I resonate with its collections, and Anne is one of the best museum directors in the world.” [d’Harnoncourt died unexpectedly at the age of 64 in June of 2008.]

“I always wanted to do something in Philadelphia. It’s an architects’ city. I look up to Bob Venturi; he’s a mentor and I treasure my friendship with Bob and Denise (Venturi’s wife and partner.) I attended lectures by Louis Kahn and we spoke afterwards. I loved his work. Ed Bacon was a hero of mine in the area of city planning.”

This grouping is a bit surprising when you realize how Bacon and Kahn disliked each other and criticized each other’s plans. Gehry’s choices also surprise because Kahn was hailed for emphasizing the pipes, ducts and other inner functions of buildings and Venturi has been complimented for his “modest, self-effacing” architecture while Gehry’s work fits neither of these descriptions.

“Our architecture is different,” says Venturi, “but we are good friends. We — Denise and I — would have liked to have gotten the job but, since we didn’t, I’m glad Frank did. He’s a noble person, kind, intelligent, understanding.” Speaking at his headquarters in Manayunk, the Philadelphia-born Venturi says that he and his wife became friends of Gehry when they all lived in Santa Monica forty years ago. Fifty years ago, Venturi worked in Kahn’s office on Walnut Street in Philly.

There are parallels between the careers of Kahn and Gehry. Both were Jewish immigrants to the USA (Kahn from Estonia, Gehry from Canada.) Both toiled for years before they received sudden acclaim in middle age and went on to international stardom.

“I told Anne that I’d like to do this project many years ago,” says Gehry. “I wanted Philadelphia but I never pursued the subject after that one conversation. I tried to push it from my mind. I’m superstitious. I don’t yearn for things because I know I won’t get them. When you go after something, you get rejected. So don’t ask me what type of projects are on my wish list.”

Still, under gentle pressure from me, he discloses one thing on his wish list. He admits that he always wanted to design a synagogue and has not yet had a chance to do so.

Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1929. He drew a picture of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, at his Hebrew school and the rabbi told his mother, in Yiddish, that young Frank had goldene hent, golden hands. When he was 17 his family moved to California where his dad worked as a truck driver. For three years Frank also drove a delivery truck and studied at Los Angeles City College before graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. When he was 24 and newly married, Frank changed his last name from Goldberg to Gehry to counteract the anti-Semitism that he saw in the architectural establishment.

He and a partner ran a commercial architecture firm that designed homes and small businesses, then began to build stores for the Kay Jewelry chain and large malls for the Rouse company in Maryland. “Shopping centers don’t give much leeway; everything’s proscribed. At my home in Santa Monica I had freedom to be creative and try new ideas.” [Gehry’s design for his own home was radical; some critics said it looked like a pile of junk.]

“The CEO of Rouse, Mathias DeVito, pointed out that what I did at my home was the direction I should take. I took his advice and I resigned the Rouse account. I let 45 people go and reduced my staff to three people.”

His home and the buildings he designed in the 1980s feature rudimentary construction materials, throwaway things like corrugated metal and chain link, and random objects arranged artistically. His use of corrugated steel and chain link was partly inspired by spending Saturday mornings at his grandfather’s hardware store.

He feels that a breakthrough came in 1989 when he designed the thrusting, soaring, Vitra furniture museum in Weil-am-Rhein in southwestern Germany, that juxtaposed curved shapes with rectilinear ones. From there, his work became bigger, broader, wilder.

His buildings look like sculpture. When he was young he liked to make things with his hands but says he never had aspirations to sculpt or paint. “I have sculpture on an emotional pedestal. I revere artists and sculptors; they’re like my Holy Book. But I wouldn’t dare to try it myself. Sure, I create shapes, but the ones I produce are to keep heat in and the water out, to support the walls, to enclose utilities.” Self-effacingly, he concludes: “If it has plumbing it can’t be art, can it?”

Many of Gehry’s buildings are museums and concert halls. He always has loved art and music, and artists who know him since the 1960s say they always saw him at exhibits and at parties. “I have artists and musicians as friends,” he explains, “because they’re outside the politics of my profession. With them I can be an observer instead of a participant. There’s less pressure.”

In the early 1960s Gehry hung out with the rebellious young artists who were known as the Cool School in Los Angeles. Their work often was described as abstract expressionism but there were many individualistic variations. Frank, with long hair, a droopy mustache and a cigar, partied with them and attended their exhibitions. “I grew from here to there (reaching ‘way up) because I spent time with them,” Gehry says.

His artist friends included people like Jasper Johns, Bob Rauschenberg, Ed Kienholz, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Schnabel. “They were working with very inexpensive materials — broken wood and paper, and they were making beauty. They made beauty with junk. That inspired me. I began to explore the processes of raw construction materials to try giving feeling and spirit to form.”

Gehry’s love of music came from his mother, who studied violin and took him to concerts when he was a child. In 1970 he got a contract to redesign the Hollywood Bowl and its director, Ernest Fleischman, introduced him to Zubin Mehta (then the conductor of the LA Philharmonic) and “through Mehta I got to know the Israeli mafia” — Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman and Jacqueline DuPre — who performed and socialized with each other.

“Contemporary music interests me most. John Adams. Boulez and his friends. The electronic composers. Metaphorically, they try to answer the same questions I have: How do you react to changing conditions? How do you adapt to a changing world filled with disparity and inequality?”                          .

Before the Disney hall, Gehry designed the Merriweather Post Pavilion of Music in Columbia, Maryland, and the Concord Amphitheatre in northern California. More recently he designed a lovely little concert hall on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The music directors of the San Francisco and Los Angeles symphonies are among his pals. Gehry worked closely with Esa Pekka Salonen in the development of the Disney Hall. And Gehry and his first wife used to babysit for Michael Tilson Thomas when Thomas’s parents lived in the San Fernando Valley. Now Gehry is designing a concert hall for MTT’s New World Symphony in Miami.

Because of his lifelong connection with music and his friendships with musicians, Gehry reacted strongly when I brought up the subject of Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center: “It’s lazy to design a hall that has movable parts to change the sound of the music. Flexible, movable walls are in vogue but it’s intellectually dishonest because no one has 500 years’ experience playing that instrument. Making musical instruments, however, has that background and that tradition. An architect should design, to the best of his ability, an auditorium that will enhance the sound of an orchestra and then the players and the conductor will make their own adjustments. Musicians adjust to the room.”

The Walt Disney Concert Hall does not have movable panels, flaps, baffles or anything of that sort. “It’s all fixed. Nothing moves. The interior is a box because that reflects sound the best. Then I covered the outside of that rectangle with large curved panels, like sails.”

He is glad that a major part of his Philadelphia Museum redesign will be making a space for the museum’s contemporary collection. Although Gehry will leave no imprint on the outside of the building, look for unusual design and wall treatments inside. “I hate sterilized white cubes and the artists don’t like it either. Everybody has been making galleries with plain white walls and it’s time for things to change.”

One example of Gehry’s design for an art museum is the MARTa museum in Herford, Germany, which has nary a rectangular wall. Interior shapes range from trapezoidal to curved, using the colors of blue, yellow, grey and off-white with contrasting textures ranging from soft to reflective.

Gehry says that his walls are more flattering to the art that hangs on them: “I could show you love letters that I’ve gotten from artists.” Julian Schnabel is one who says: “I feel comfortable in his spaces. I want to stick my stuff in there.”

His work is so popular that Gehry’s firm now employs a staff of 150. Frank travels a good part of the year and when he is at his office in LA he runs between client meetings, contractor meetings, phone calls and design sessions. On the road, he carries tracing paper so he can create new designs on site. When he was in Philadelphia for a week he spent his time exploring the art museum and meeting with its staff, turning down requests for media interviews and photo sessions.

He says he’ll start slowing down now that he’s  80, in 2009. “But I love my work, I love what I’m doing. I don’t ever want to retire. I have friends who retired and I could see their deterioration when they left their profession.”

When asked why he has taken on new, commercial projects such as designing jewelry for Tiffany, he says: “Do you mean, why did I sell out? I didn’t seek it but I went along with it because I can play with my children, so-to-speak. It’s one-on-one between the idea and the craft. I’m designing three-dimensional objects, working directly. Vases, silverware, candlesticks and jewelry have a visceral gratification, and I do all those things for Tiffany, not just jewelry. Architects throughout history have designed jewelry; there’s nothing wrong about it.”

His real-life children are daughters in their fifties and sons in their thirties from Gehry’s second marriage. The older boy is an artist and the younger is interested in architecture.

He says that his buildings are like his children, but with a difference: “After they’re done I’ll see them only three or four more times in my life!”

Among his many buildings, Gehry spoke especially fondly of what he called “my Israeli project,” the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. Gehry said the project had awakened memories of his grandfather who taught him about the Talmud and Zionism. ”If you’re raised a Jewish kid, Israel’s the most important place in the world where there’s some sense of belonging when all else fails.”

But in 2010 Gehry withdrew from the project amid controversy over the fact that the museum was to be built on the site of a former Muslim cemetery. (He had no input on the location.) The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the project had to be radically changed because of what it called “the affront to the honor of the dead as a constitutional right.”

The American architect and critic Michael Sorkin had stirred up opposition when he claimed in Architectural Record that the Gehry design’s use of large, irregular stone blocks ”uncomfortably evokes the deconstruction of Yasir Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah into a pile of rubble by Israeli security forces.”

The end of this project left Gehry feeling unfulfilled and angry.

More recently, in 2014 two significant museums designed by Gehry opened: the Biomuseo in Panama City, Panama, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a modern art museum in the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris. In February 2015 a new building for the University of Technology in Sydney opened, with a facade constructed from more than 320,000 hand-placed bricks and glass slabs.

Gehry said he drew inspiration from folds in the skin and clothing. Some say it resembles a “squashed brown paper bag.” He responded, “Maybe it’s a brown paper bag, but it’s flexible on the inside, so there’s a lot of room for changes or movement.”

Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s Governor-General, described it fondly as “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I’ve ever seen. It’s bold, it’s inspiring and the traditional notions of hallowed sandstone quadrangles, spires and large lecture halls as symbols of tertiary education have been reinvented, reinterpreted and reinvigorated by the building.” 

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Steven Cohen

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Editor’s Note: This is a repost with permission granted by the author, Steve Cohen. For additional access to Steve Cohen’s writings on art, theater, music, books and travel, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/steve-cohen-louis-kahn-and-i/

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To access Mr. Cohen’s web site, click herehttp://theculturalcritic.com

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, commentary, Contemporary Architecture, Engineering, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Popular Culture, Science, Travel