Robert Nason's Culture Café

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:48 pm

Frank, thanks for reposting that video of James Kunstler. I'm extremely sympathetic to his views on architecture and city and town layouts, which echo much of whar Norman Mailer was railing about from the 1960s until his death in 2007. I've made similar criticisms myself for years. When I was a student at SUNY/Purchase, we all cursed the soul-deadening brown brick postmodernist campus which embodied many of the wretched qualities Kunstler is talking about. His presentation was trenchant and funny, though he seems more optimistic than I am that substantial changes will be made in the next 50 years. But at least he's pointing us in the right direction.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:31 pm

Robert I think that's what I love most about living in DC. It's still a human sized, walkable city. And it has plenty of street life and what our english friends call "commons", open areas where groups of people can interact. All the ugly shit is kept across the river. There are some blighted areas but it's mostly in the suburbs. The only major fuckup I can find is deciding to run the highways right at the bank of the Potomac. All the highways should have been kept at least a quarter mile away from the river. But if you want to escape there's Rock Creek Park the largest urban park in the US. I sound like the chamber of commerce but I just don't see myself going back to Atlanta which has the worst urban planning imaginable (if you can even call it planning).
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:34 pm

Ezra, you are dead on son. Georgetown is lovely, too bad it is so expensive. Boston is nice as is Cincy. We still have italianette and Germanian buildings. We have the usual ugly sky scrapers, which have to go some day.

Disney did do one good thing with that planned community in Florida. How we make it cheaper to live in is anybodies guess.

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:23 pm

How we make it cheaper to live in is anybodies guess.


That's happening in Los Angeles on the Westside right now, or more specifically Santa Monica.

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:49 pm

Here's something I found interesting.

THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN is somewhere in my top 10 favorite movie comedies ever!
Image

French comic book writer Rene Goscinny, who created the international comic book Asterix in collaboration with artist Albert Uderzoa, apparenty wrote a Pink Panther script in the mid-seventies because he was a big fan of the series, and sent it to Peter Sellers. He never heard back about it. The following year Blake Edwards came out with the movie! A plagiarism suit was filed but, sadly, Goscinny passed away and the lawsuit was dropped. Amazing how in-your-face the pilfering can be!

Image

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:30 am

Santa Monica cheap? I do know they welcome or did welcome the homeless.

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:10 am

Right now, Santa Monica is doing its best to herd the homeless out because of massive building projects, including the new cross-town train. The city counsel, Democrats, btw - Blue Dog types, I think - are VERY private sector-driven and they are pinching everyone with insane parking tolls in the area for dollars. The only thing they haven't been able to touch is the districts that have rent control. The city STILL does assist homeless people, mind you. But the goal is to move their numbers to downtown LA or elsewhere whenever they can.

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:36 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Robert I think that's what I love most about living in DC. It's still a human sized, walkable city. And it has plenty of street life and what our english friends call "commons", open areas where groups of people can interact. All the ugly shit is kept across the river. There are some blighted areas but it's mostly in the suburbs. The only major fuckup I can find is deciding to run the highways right at the bank of the Potomac. All the highways should have been kept at least a quarter mile away from the river. But if you want to escape there's Rock Creek Park the largest urban park in the US. I sound like the chamber of commerce but I just don't see myself going back to Atlanta which has the worst urban planning imaginable (if you can even call it planning).

I've always cherished my all-too-infrequent trips to DC, perhaps the most "European" city in America, far more so than New York. After all, DC was largely designed by the same man who designed much of 19th-century Paris. Those wide avenues, geometrical lines splaying outward from a central monument, the relatively low buildings except for one main attraction (Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower) -- to me, that's what a capital should be. But DC needs the literary and artistic worlds of New York to fully be a European-style capital. I wonder if that will ever happen. Nobody ever dreamed Boston would be supplanted by New York as the literary capital of America. But young writers can't afford to live in New York anymore (although a hell of a lot of them seem to live in Brooklyn). San Francisco put in its bid as the "alternative" literary mecca during the glory days of the Beats. But in the 21st century, the space that anybody really cares about is all cyberspace. Physical reality is getting the bum's rush.

I've walked around in Rock Creek Park with a friend who used to live nearby, and it was truly one of the great parks of my experience -- a veritable forest you can lose yourself in, far from the madding crowd. In New York, there's always a highway close by to remind you that industrial civilization is just around the corner. My friend in the suburb of Atlanta usually takes me to places from from the city proper, such as Warm Springs or Dahlonega, the "other" gold rush town, the one where the phrase "there's gold in them thar hills" comes from. Lovely place. But downtown Atlanta is only really enjoyable when DragonCon is in town. I rmember once standing on a corner waiting for the red light to turn, and ahead of me were four or five guys dressed in full Klingon battle outfits (do Klingons have any other kind?) A friend commented to me that he wished he'd taken a picture of the Klingons patiently standing still, waiting for the green light. Certainly the most well-behaved Klingons in the universe.

But you're a lucky man, Ezra. Georgetown is beautiful, and I had one of the best Indian dinners of my life at a restaurant there.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:13 pm

You are calling Ezra French. Take that back smart guy.

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:48 pm

DC, perhaps the most "European" city in America, far more so than New York


Which makes sense, as you probably know, because the streets were designed by Pierre L'Enfant around 1790.

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:44 pm

robochrist wrote:
DC, perhaps the most "European" city in America, far more so than New York


Which makes sense, as you probably know, because the streets were designed by Pierre L'Enfant around 1790.

THAT was the name I was thinking of. I could have looked it up, but I was hoping it would just "come" to me. And finally it did, thanks to you!

It's amusing to consider that L'Enfant designed the "new" Paris with those very long, wide boulevards because they would make it easier to control crowds of rioting citizens, a not-infrequent feature of Parisian life (the French Revolution, the revolution of 1848, the Commune of 1870, the "events" of May, 1968, etc.)

Frank, the French have one of the most revolutionary traditions of any nation on earth. So what do you have against them?
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:14 pm

Don't sweat it! I knew of this guy but, likwise, couldn't remember his name and had to look it up.

But here's the important part of the story, because credit does not ultimately go to L'Enfant. I consider it one of the most important aspects of American history, and amongst those that had been long and shamefully obscured by white society: Benjamin Banneker - a brilliant black mathematician whose genius flowered despite the 18th century oppressive backdrop for those of his race - did the calculating and final planning of our capital! L'Enfant walked off the job for whatever disagreements, and TOOK all the plans WITH him! Banneker was placed on the planning committe by Thomas Jefferson, and he reproduced the entire fucking project from memory! In just 2 days, he completed layouts of the streets, parks, and major buildings!

Far as I'm concerned, this is among the history lessons that should be incorported into normal high school curricula.

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:30 pm

Shameless self-promotion: I welcome the good folks here to take a look at my new blog, Robert Nason's Culture Bog, and see what I've been writing about lately. Enjoy!

http://nightwriterblue82.blogspot.com/
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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robochrist
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby robochrist » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:23 pm

Shameless, Robert! Truly shameless! :wink:

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:30 am

I learned how it's done by watching countless "guests" on TV talk shows and news programs mentioning the name of their new book in the first sentence of every answer they give to a question. Utterly shameless, but that's how the game is played these days. As the old saying goes, we all eventually become what we once loathed. (But I'm proud of some of the pieces I've done for my bog/blog, especially the tribute to my late mom. It made my dad very happy.)
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion


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