Category Archive 'Urbanism'

17 Jul 2008

Eloquent Poster

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A reader sent Steve Bodio this picture with the title: “Why City People Shouldn’t Move to the Country.

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I see this, and think immediately: “California!”

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Hat tip to Karen K. Myers.

18 Nov 2007

Karl Rove Debuts in Newsweek

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Newsweek recently signed up Karl Rove to editorialize from the Right, and none other than Kos (Markos Moulitsas Zúniga) himself to be Rove’s foil acting as spokesman for the Infernal Regions.

Karl Rove’s first column, How To Beat Hillary, is up and running. And, so far, all’s quiet on Kos front.

I’ve seen up close the two Clintons America knows. He’s a big smile, hand locked on your arm and lots of charms. “Hey, come down and speak at my library. I’d like to talk some politics with you.”

And her? She tends to be, well, hard and brittle. I inherited her West Wing office. Shortly after the 2001 Inauguration, I made a little talk saying I appreciated having the office because it had the only full-length vanity mirror in the West Wing, which gave me a chance to improve my rumpled appearance. The senator from New York confronted me shortly after and pointedly said she hadn’t put the mirror there. I hadn’t said she did, just that the mirror was there. So a few weeks later, in another talk, I repeated the story about the mirror. And shortly thereafter, the junior senator saw me and, again, without a hint of humor or light in her voice, icily said she’d heard I’d repeated the story of the mirror and she … did … not … put … that mirror in the office.

It is a small but telling story: she is tough, persistent and forgets nothing. Those are some of the reasons she is so formidable as a contender, and why Republicans who think she would be easy to beat are wrong.

29 Aug 2007

Things Have Gotten Worse

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Lewis Mumford on The Plight of the Prosperous in the New Yorker, March 4, 1950.

I sometimes wonder what self-hypnosis has led the well-to-do citizens of New York, for the last seventy-five years, to accept the quarters that are offered them with the idea that they are doing well by themselves. Apparently those of them who have chosen to remain in New York instead of migrating to the suburbs have forgotten what a proper domestic environment is. Lest someone think that my notions are fancy ones, let me put down what seem to me the minimum requirements for anyone’s living quarters. Whether the structure is a single-family house or a thirty-story building, the first necessity is that every room have light and air. Rooms that are in fairly steady daytime use should be oriented to get the maximum amount of winter sunlight. In this latitude, that means that the major exposure should be a southern one, a fact that Socrates discovered twenty-four hundred years ago. To insure enough light and air, the distance between buildings should increase with their height. Our municipal setback regulations make a hypocritical acknowledgment of this principle, but since they were framed to keep land values high rather than buildings low or widely spaced, they have never come within shooting distance of achieving an ideal. The space between buildings should be dedicated to gardens and lawns, partly for beauty, partly to compensate for our tropical summer heat, partly to purify and sweeten the air. Bedrooms should have cross ventilation, or at least through ventilation, and should never face a street. …

The common row houses, such as those built in the Washington Square district before 1860, met most of these requirements, but the standards have been gradually whittled away…

16 Mar 2007

London, Greatest City in the World

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But it is infested with the same left-wing supercilious elite as all the other great cities are, Gerard Baker tells us. New York City, eat your heart out!

For someone who has not lived in the city for more than a decade, the occasional trip to London is a reminder of how richly it deserves its new reputation as the world’s capital.

As my colleague James Harding wrote in times2 this week, there’s a vibrancy about London these days that easily eclipses New York or Paris or Tokyo. To many residents, perhaps, life in London may be a struggle against rising crime and a crowded Tube and overpriced housing, but from an international perspective, it is truly the world’s preeminent urban locale.

In fact, in anything other than the most literal, geographic expression of the term, London is really no longer an English city at all. Its great economic dynamo, the City, powers corporations from Shanghai to Seattle. Its labour force, drawn to it by the opportunities of its free markets, is much more polyglot and multinational than any other urban concentration in the world.

But there’s salt to this strawberry. London’s political culture has been uprooted from its English heritage. It is run — if you can call it that — by a sort of postmodern communist Mayor, whose political voice — minus the annoying nasal whine — would sound right at home in Paris, Bologna or San Francisco. It hosts a metropolitan elite that loftily gazes three ways: outward, at the supposed superiority of anything not British; inward, at its own ineffable genius; and down its elegantly pampered nose, at the provincial trivialities that consume the dreary lives of the rest of the population.

Read the whole thing.


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