June 08, 2012
Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s star has been rising for what seems like an eternity. His fame rests largely upon a number of almost absurdly heroic acts, which have varied from harrowing to Hollywood-esque: saving a resident from a burning building, cradling a twelve-year-old dying from gunshot wounds, hunger-striking for better police protection in the projects, sleeping in a trailer for five months to halt open-air drug markets. Along with Booker’s media-friendly persona, these superhero moves have ensured a steady stream of adulation.
Meritocracy Gone Wild
April 27, 2012
I hate it when somebody tells a joke and blows the punchline. The Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles auctioned off an internship in the office of Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.)—without actual authorization from Pryor’s office, which the donor, a venture capitalist named Chad Brownstein, a Pryor pal, figured he could get later—and the winner was soft-porn entrepreneur and Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, who pledged to give it to the next winner of his current show, The Search For The Hottest Girl In America.
Contracting for Railcars and Jobs in Los Angeles
April 25, 2012
March’s job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were bleak. The 120,000 jobs added to the economy fell far short of the 200,000 that were expected. While the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent, in California it remains stubbornly high at 11 percent. Against this backdrop, an interesting and complicated discussion is taking place in metropolitan Los Angeles over the best way to spend public dollars, create jobs, build needed infrastructure, while simultaneously boosting U.S.
Architecture is a great subject for an aesthete with a flair for dialectical thought. And Esther McCoy, in the collection of her writings just published by East of Borneo Books, knows how to invigorate art-for-art’s-sake hothouse subjects with a cooling blast of analytical precision. McCoy, who was in her mid-eighties when she died in 1989, has long been a hero among students of modern architecture in southern California, a subject scarcely defined until she came along.
Global Cities’ Success Isn’t A Zero-Sum Game
March 30, 2012
Two of the country’s best-known urban thinkers have a discussion underway at Atlantic Cities and New Geography about changes in the urban hierarchy brought along by globalization. It paints a picture of globalization as a zero-sum game in which one city’s growth comes at the expense—at least relatively—of another’s. They suggest that peaks—concentrated centers of population and prosperity—get higher while valleys—economic left-behinds—get lower. Global competition certainly can sap a region’s assumed strengths and lead to periodic even multiple decade long population decline if a transition in
The Subtle Beauty of Renzo Piano’s New Building in Boston
March 29, 2012
The architect Renzo Piano is unpredictable. He has designed museums of extraordinary beauty and refinement, from the Menil Collection in Houston to a recent addition at the Art Institute of Chicago. And he has produced work that is downright bombastic, especially the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles, done around the same time as his work for Chicago. What attracts so many different clients to Piano is the sophisticated yet playful feeling for intervals, proportions, and materials that he brings to the cool geometric forms of mid-twentieth-century modernism.
Global Innovation: The Metropolitan Edition
March 16, 2012
It is increasingly well understood that cities are the primary location and mechanism of innovation and, in turn, prosperity (see “The Triumph of the City” or urban scaling). But which cities are the most innovative on earth? For a long time, getting sub-national economic data for a large number of countries was impossible, but no longer. New data from the OECD show which cities have the most inventors in the world, measured by those who apply for patent protection in multiple countries (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty).
Santorum and the Idiocy of Home Schooling
March 03, 2012
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.
Thomson on Film: Why ‘The Artist’ Just Might Win the Oscars
January 05, 2012
“The Artist is a silent film!” … until the end, when tap dance and a few words give way to our applause. The whole thing is so damn clever and charming, it might just sneak off with Best Picture. Something will, and this film is unexpected, a crowd-pleaser, and promoted by the Weinstein brothers—a pattern that has worked before. Never mind if it’s not exactly a “best film.” Though The Artist borrows its storyline from A Star is Born, it drops that film’s sad ending.
What's Behind The L.A. Arsons?
January 02, 2012
A spate of arsons is rocking Los Angeles this week. More than fifty cars have been set on fire over the last three days. Authorities have detained a man identified as a “person of interest” in the case, but so far very little other information is available. What drives a person to set fires? A 1994 study of 153 adult arsonists provides some insight. Some arsonists have obvious financial motives, but for many the urge to set fires is psychological.