April 25, 2006
There are very few public figures whom I would mourn more than Jane Jacobs. She died this morning in her adopted home of Toronto, where she moved with her family from New York City so that her son would not be drafted during the Vietnam war. Of course, her life and letters are well known by most anyone reading Polis, but her impact has been so personal for me and many others. Reading a magazine interview with Jane Jacobs many years ago led me to The Death and Life of Great American Cities (her seminal work published in 1961, although it reads as if it could have been written last year), which then took my journalism career in the direction of urban planning and design, economic development, and all the concomitant issues of city life. She was a maven for citizens everywhere.
April 19, 2006
Against my better judgment,* I’m veering way off the usual course here at Polis to comment on the turmoil at the Village Voice. See, its been purchased by the New Times company, ending a long-standing rivalry between the two competing alt-weekly chains in order to dominate what has rapidly become an obsolete media market.
The breathtaking inanity of this otherwise little league media story became evident with a quote by New Times editor Mike Lacey, who has been firing Voice people en masse since taking over last fall. His main complaint has been that the Voice writers are all commentators and navel gazers, and that they don’t do any real reporting. New Times reporters do real reporting, he declared to The New York Observer. They actually get on the phone and talk to people!
“We can our wrap our hands around the throat of the beast, find out what happened, and give that to readers,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s a kick-ass way to make a living.”
“Wrap our hands around the throat of the beast”? A “kick-ass way to make a living”? Is this guy serious? To my ears, that sounds as retrograde as if David Schneiderman had said when he bought the Village Voice in 2000, “We’re going to stick it to the man! It’s a groovy way to make a living.” Lacey’s absurd bravado is just as amateur and outmoded as the Voice’s unreconstructed leftism. There’s something sad about a fat, middle-aged man in the throes of total irrelevance talking about “kicking ass.” Read the rest of this entry »
April 5, 2006
I have a piece in today’s Times about the Toll Bros. (i.e. builders of McMansions) moving into the New York market, but the paper didn’t use any renderings online. So here’s three. The first is 110 Third in the East Village, and the second is North8 in Williamsburg, and the third is the first tower of three also in Williamsburg (click to enlarge).
April 2, 2006
Ah, Tompkins Square Park on a beautiful spring Sunday…. who needs blooming daffodils and singing robins when you have witty social commentary? UPDATE: Curbed alerts me to MySpace – The Movie!, a satirical series of short videos about MySpace idiocy. Totally hilarious.