Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Road Trip

http://savingplaces.org/stories; July 31, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Summertime and time to hit the open road. One of the great American traditions is the road trip.  Pack up the car, bring the family, heck bring the dog, and just go.  Our friends at the National Trust for Historic Preservation did just that; minus the dog(?).  This summer NTHP packed up the Silver Bullet Airstream and road tripped along historic Route 66.  The trip is intended to draw attention to the "mother road" as part of a campaign to have designated a Historic National Trail.  You can help by going to savingplaces.org and sign the petition.  The Silver Bullet Airstream played an important part in the shaping of modern America.  Recently, Carson Bear sat down with Jay Cullis, the content manager of Airstream, to learn about the brand's history and its appeal.  Below are excepts from that conversation.

NHTP: "Tell me more about the history of Airstream.  How and why did the company get started?"

JC: Airstream was founded in 1931 near Los Angeles by a guy named Wally Byam...-he worked in advertising, as a shepherd,... and on a variety of boats like fishing boats and merchant marines.  And he loved camping having adventures.

His first wife, Marion, did not like camping or sleeping on the ground.... Byam took s Mide, T Classic and built a travel trailer on top of it.  It was a very crude tent on plywood, so that his wife wouldn't sleep on the ground and they'd have a bed with them...

... By 1931, there were lots of travel trailer manufacturers popping up all over the country, and Byam started to sell his design for a travel trailer.  You could buy the [travel trailer] plans for $1, or a kit for little more, or a pre-made trave, trailer.  Some other trave, trailers were being built with riveted aluminum at the the time, but Byam thought he could build a better mousetrap.  He designs and built the Clipper Model in1936, and that was the first Silver Bullet style.  [There have only been] five major changes to Airstream's body style over the last 90 years.

NHTP: "Why does the push to designate Historic Route 66 as a National Historic Trail matter to Airstream?"

JC: Route 66 is part of the fabric of American history.  The Route isn't just about trips, it's about cultural migration.  [Similarly], it seems counterintuitive that the travel trailer industry would born in the Great Depression, but we see a lot of evidence that being able to follow work and to migrate to new jobs really helped the industry.

To us, [the Road 66 road trip] is a tremendous opportunity to preserve a part of Americana that is part of,....  It makes so much sense to explore Route 66 in an Airstream, to show people what's going on here and why it's so important--the cultures and the people, the sites and sounds and the food.  It's not just a road, but a community that's thrived over the years....

NHTP: "Tell us more about the new Airstream museum. Where did the idea come from?"

JC: Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.  Later this month [July 2018], we'll break ground on a new manufacturing facility about a mile down the road.  This is the first new production facility that Airstream has built in almost 50 years.  It's a big deal for us, and part of hat expansion is a heritage center.

We have s pretty amazing collection of vintage Airstreams, at least one from every decade of production.... We see the heritage center as an opportunity to give those vintage models a new home, where people can see them and learn about the history of the company, plus how ingrained it is in the story of our country in the 20th century and beyond.

NHTP: "What about Airstream's design make it an enduring brand?"

JC: Art Deco was the artistic and architectural movement of the 1920s. It was followed by... Art Moderne... and Streamline Moderne... Byam's early designs drew from both of these traditions.

Frank Lloyd Wright [savingplaces.org; date accessed July 31, 2018] best work was about organically [connecting] it to a place.  With Byam, it was about travel and movement. He was inspired by airplanes and worked in the aircraft industry early on... He was also an innovator. He was the first person to use refrigeration, screen doors, and running toilets [in travel trailers]. He created partnerships with other manufacturers and helped companies that are still supplying these amenities to the entire RV industry today.

I see Wally Byam as an American figure on par with someone like Frank Lloyd Wright or Henry Ford. He came up with a timeless design that's instantly recognizable.... there were over 400 travel trailer manufacturers, and Airstream is the only that's left.  There's a reason for that--Byam hit on something that has stayed in our psyche.

NTHP: "Do Airstream lovers have any interest in older model?"

JC: A large part of our following--... Airstreamers--really loves the vintage style....  A kind of cottage industry had exploded over the last five years of folks doing renovations on vintage trailers [a-vintage-airstream-expert-on-the-cult-brands-enduring-appeal]...

70 percent of all Airstreams that have been built are still on the road. There's something to be said for that quality of construction of the shell, and it's kind of fun to see.  But we really feel that the best years of Airstream are ahead of us. We're constantly trying to live up to our founder's creed to find new ways that help people make their dreams come true.

NTHP: "What about Airstream do you think speaks to Americans?"

JC: When you talk to Airstreamers, they're all over the board in terms of politics, profession, and demographic, but the one thing that ties all these people together is curiosity and self-determination to get out there and do things--I think that's uniquely American.

We have a huge country that's full of amazing sites and cultures and experiences.  Our products allow people to go explore these places.  And at the end of he day, it's about the experience you're getting as soon as you park and step out the door.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

True Gold

http://www.citylab.com; July 23, 2018

Hello Everyone:

It is a very tropical Monday and Blogger is hiding out somewhere air conditioned.  Monday also means a Twitter rant from the White House.  This time, the object of the rant is Special Counsul Robert Mueller.  Things must be getting desparate for the White House because the tweets are getting more shrill.  The Special Counsul is coming up against a bit of deadline.  The midterm elections are less. 100 days away--if you have not registered to vote, stop reading and go to USA.gov and register now--the Mueller team will need to back off, lest they be accused of influencing the election.  Alright, shall we move on?

On July 21, the City of Los Angeles lost true gold. Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold passed away from pancreatic cancer.  He was true gold because there was not your typical food snob critic rather, he championed the food trucks, mini-mall restaurants, and the cafés that would normally be bypassed by other food writers in favor of the fancier places.  Yours Truly first encountered Mr. Gold through his columns for the local alternative newspaper L.A. Weekly.  They were unpretentious musings over a meal at some local restaurant that no one had ever heard.  One place caught Blogger's attention was the late lamented Magic Carpet.  It was a local Yemeni restaurant with very generous (emphasis on generous) delectable food, served with fresh hot pita.  Blogger would not of heard it if it were not for Mr. Gold's glowing review.

More than just write reviews, Jonathan Gold showed his loyal readers and everyone else a side of Los Angeles that defied the usual clichés attached to the city: unending sprawl, eternal sunshine, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.  Laura Bliss writes in her tribute to Mr. Gold, "No One Looked at Los Angeles Like Jonathan Gold," "These words are used so often as the city's wide-angle establishing shot that it's easy not to inspect closer.  If you drive past quickly, the strip malls and palm trees like a blur."  Mr. Gold stopped, parked, and went inside the strip mall restaurants and cafés

Food was the way Mr. Gold filtered his hometown.  Food was his way of putting Los Angeles in the spotlight and helped "redefine the way the rest of talk, write, and reflect on it."

Jonathan Gold's decades of writing restaurant reviews for the Weekly and the Times was cherished for two main reasons.  Ms. Bliss explains, 

First, though he wrote magnificent reviews of the city's finest dining estsblishments, a tour of East Side taco trucks was the multi-course tasting he preferred.  Before it was cool.  Gold focused on holes-in-the-wall more than haute cuisine.  Second, similar to Anthony Bourdain's culinary globe-trotting [citylab.com; June 8, 2018; date accessed July 30, 2018],  Gold's writing was never just about food.  It was about the people and places that made food worth eating--as good a way to understand the extraordinarily multi-ethnic city as any other.

Jonathan Gold also inspired a new way to travel through L.A. beyond the typical manner.  Allow Bligger to be blunt, L.A. traffic sucks.  It is a soul sucking experience for even the hardiest of souls.  The challenge is finding the fastest most direct way to get to your destination. Mr. Gold was not a competitor, he took the long way, wandering through side streets, keeping a sharp eye open, a "food flâneur."  Reviewing a restaurant never meant just going to that restaurant.  On the way to sample the latest goat stew often meant multiple stops.

Peter Meehan, the former editor of the now-defunct food magazine Lucky Peach, told the Times (latimes.com; July 21, 2018; date accessed July 30, 2018) about a spontaneous detour his longtime friend and dining companion took off the freeway, on the way to the latest French restaurant.  Mr. Meehan said,

Mid-ride, he swerved, across four lanes of traffic and took us to eat chicken neck tacos in East L.A..... We were sitting there, gnawing at bones, next to a family whose kids were doing their homework while eating those tacos, and he was beaming.  He loved the entirety of the landscape of L.A....

Focusing on the places he visited was another way Mr. Gold show some love.  In one of his best known columns for the L.A. Weekly, "Gold described the year he spent after college trying to eat his way down Pico Boulevard."  Pico is very unglamorous east-west artery that runs from the downtown fashion district to the ocean.  Laura Bliss describes, "... a perfect subject for him because it was (and is) relatively overlooked, compared to neighboring Sunset, La Brea, and Wilshire boulevards."

Jonathan Gold wrote in a 1998 column (laweekly.com; Sept. 23, 2018; date accessed July 23, 2018),

No glossy magazine has ever suggested Pico as an emerging hot street; no real estate ad has ever described a house as Pico-adjacent...

He argued that the dodgy nature was precisely the reason why Pico was he epicenter of the L.A. food scene.  He argued that "it allowed a staggering array of cuisines to take root:"

Pico is home to Valentino, which specializes in preparing customized Italian food for millionaires, and Oaxacan restaurants so redolent of the developing world that you half expect to see strived chickens scratching around the floor; to Billingsley's, a steak house, which could have been transplanted whole from Crawfordville, Indiana, and to the Arsenal, steak house decorated with medieval weaponry; to chai. Mexican restaurants, artist-hangout Mexican restaurants of such stunning authenticity that you're surprised not to stumble outside into a bright Guadalajara sun.  Green and Scandinavian delis still flourish on stretches of Pico that haven't been Greek or Scandinavian since the Eisenhower administration.  (Ibid)

"Mexican restaurants" is not a monolithic term.  Ms. Bliss explains, "That is four types of Mexican restaurants, with the Oaxacan variety earning its own evocative sentence."  Pico Boulevard, in the hands of Mr. Gold, transcended its dodgy image to become "a string of beads, each with a particular character when inspected up close."

Little wonder Mr. Gold was known for his protectiveness of his hometown and its culinary cornucopia.  He championed restaurants, not trolled them.  When out-of-town critics missed the mark, Mr. Gold was quick to let them know (latimes.com; Jan. 7, 2017; date accessed July 30, 2018).  Yes, he was proud of L.A. but not to the point of boosterism.  Boosterism requires a gauzy filter to obscure the unattractive details.  Laura Bliss writes, "The Pico Boulevard essay ends with Gold disappointed with s joint he'd once loved and wondering if he'd romanticized it in his youth."  Seven years prior, he wrote honestly and painstakely about watching his Koreatowm neighborhood put itself back together after the 1992 riots:

Most of the supermarkets are open again--my neighborhood was luckier than those a few miles south--and shoppers no longer fistfight in the aisles over chickens.  The restaurants are mostly open again too--the several burned tended to be unluckily close to liquor stores or discount outlets--though the atmosphere these days is far from merry.  Monday night I went to one of my favorite Korean restaurants, Yee Joh, close to the burned-out complexes on Hoover and Alvarado.... Yee Joh was emptier than usual, brightly lit and fairly grim: The Korean-American community doesn't have much to smile about this week.  The food was good as ever, but I almost felt like crying, and they seemed relieved to see us go. (laweekly.com; Sept. 23, 2018)

Los Angeles is recovering from the heartbreak of losing Jonathan Gold.  Local critic Norman Klein once said that Los Angeles is the "most photographed and least remembered city in the world" (books.google.com; date accessed July 30, 2018). The endless pavement grid and palm trees are part of the familiar backdrop. Jonathan Gold brought us in for a close-up.  If you want to truly learn about a city, stop at a food truck or at a local diner.  Bon appetite.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Les Bleu Banlieue Fin

http://www.citylab.com; Nov. 16, 2017

Hello Everyone:

It is a toasty Tuesday and Yours Truly is hiding out in her very air conditioned work space.  Today we are finishing up are discussion on the French working class suburbs.  We are going to look at the perception that these suburbs are "No-Go Zones."  The most laughable recent example of a "No-Go Zone" is Birmingham, England predominantly immigrant working class neighborhood. One more time, our guide is Tanvi Misra's 2017 CityLab article "The Othered Paris."  Allez (Onward)

"Sense and Probed"

One of the best known reference to "priority neighborhoods," in the American media came during the 2016 election cycle, when Fox News (in)famously called them "No-Go Zones" (theatlantic.com; Jan 20, 2015; date accessed July 24, 2018), "...suggesting that police officers were too scared to enter these areas."  The French translation is Zones de non-droites--"no rules apply.

Well, not exactly.  In fact the opposite is true: "...the police are a constant presence in many of these areas,..."  One way to understand this is to analyze at the architecture of the police station in relationship to the stations in more affluent Parisian neighborhoods.  Architect Léopold Lambert inventoried the buildings and plotted them out (thefunambulist.net; Dec. 20, 2016; date accessed July 24, 2018). Ms. Misra writes, "The new ones [the large circles in map below], which disproportionately stances near the cités [red blotches], are cold, fortress-like, windowless, and uninviting; the ones in richer, whiter areas in Central Paris are historic buildings with large windows and welcoming entrances."  Mr. Lambert told CityLab,

That says a lot [a] bout the way the police, many by extension the state,more presents itself within those areas,.... as being engaged in some sort of phantasmagoric civil war or something.

However, it is not only how the police are presenting themselves that is different.  The difference is also in their approach.  Ms. Misra reports, "In the early and mid-2000s, anthropologist Didier Fassin conducted an ethnography [cairn.info; 2011; date accessed July 24, 2018] of priority zones, in which he detailed how police harassed youth, Roma populations, and undocumented migrants to  make daily quotas."  In 2012 Le Monde op-ed on the conduct of the powerful national police branch Anti-Criminality Brigade (BAC).  CityLab published a a translated excerpt from the editorial on the "priority neighborhoods" where the deploy,

Contrary to the popular notion that the banlieues, and notably the cités, are supposedly destroyed from the inside by crime and delinquency, the statistics of the Interior Ministry reveal a less somber situation.  Most of the serious crimes have been declining for decades, and their incidence in the sensitive urban zones isn't higher than in the surrounding urban areas.  (lemonde.fr; Oct. 12, 2012; date accessed July  24, 2018)

It is a very well known fact that the French police disproportionately target minorities.  Ms. Misra reports, "A 2012 Human Rights Watch report [hrw.org; date accessed July 24, 2018] found that black and brown residents--even if they were as young as 14--were more likely to be stopped, frisked, and often verbally and physically abused."  In 2016, the French high court also found (apnews.com; Nov. 9, 2016; date accessed July 24, 2018) that the police illegally profiled young men of color.  However, in the priority zone, the police presence continues to grow.  In 2012, interior minister Manuel Valls disclosed "security priority zones" (leparisien.fr; Aug. 4, 2012; date accessed July 24, 2018) for targeted policing operations.  In accordance with a 2016 government report (onpv.fr; date accessed July 24, 2018), "77 out of 80 of these zones are in priority neighborhoods."

Tanvi Misra sat down with Henry Shah, a researcher who studies slum populations in and around Paris, at a café in Sarcelles-- a banlieue sometimes called "Little Jerusalem" because its large Jewish population.  Mr. Shah explained the language of the priority zone label:  Sensible doesn't mean 'sensitive,' it means an area that needs to be sensed or probed. He pointed out a "parallel here,..., between the rhetoric employed by the Sarkozy government in 2010when it designated the clearance of Roma slum [spiegel.de; Sept. 15, 2010; date accessed July 24, 2018] a priority."  Mr. Shah said, 

The fact of an area being a 'priority' for the government is tied into controlling public space and controlling populations deemed risky.

The Minstry of Interior, which oversees the national police, did not respond to CityLab's request for comment.  However the spokesperson for Colombe Brossel, the deputy mayor of security, prevention, popular areas, and integration, emailed CityLab, although the deputy mayor "agrees with the previous government's designation of priority security zones, she believed more work needs to be done in improving relations between the police and communities."  This includes better communications regarding police actions, improved police identification, making identity check fairer and more effective.

Former President François Hollande promised to implement a system of accountability "in which officers gave out receipts each time they stopped someone, but that didn't end up happening [washingtonpost.com Feb. 16, 2016; date accessed July 24, 2018]."  Just the opposite, following the 2015 terrorist attacks, President Hollande declared an emergency (diplomatie.gouv.fr; date accessed July 24, 2018) that extended law enforcement powers.  Tanvi Misra points out, "It lasted longer than the one called during the Algerian War--finally ending on [newindianexpress.com; Oct. 31, 2017; date accessed July 24, 2018] October 30, 2017."  Replacing it is an all encompassing anti-terrorist law, codifying some of the enhanced police powers.  Human rights organizations are concerned (theatlantic.com; July 11, 2017; date accessed July 24, 2018) that this will further stigmatize France's Muslim population.

One change that politicians are particularly proud of (liberation.fr; June 20, 2008; date accessed July 24, 2018) as a politique de la ville success story is a group of nice buildings put up in the suburbs.  "Since 2003, a bulk of the funding had been allocated toward these urban renewal projects.  The idea is that replacing the run-down public housing complexes with more open, new buildings will attract a mixed income population to these areas and allow for more 'eyes on the street.'"  [metropolitiques.eu; Feb. 12, 2016; date accessed July 24, 2018]

Tanvi Misra spoke with a resident  of Aulnay-sous-Bois who expressed skepticism about these projects. Rightly, many are concerned that the new new housing projects, like the transit expansion (theatlantic.com; Mar. 2016; date accessed July 24, 2018) would increase real estate prices and cause further displacement.  Another concern is these "face lifts" (nytimes.com; date accessed July 24, 2018) are cosmetic, not tangible investments in the banlieues.  Chayma Drira said, They are changing the physical space, but not creating social links.  Ms. Drira grandmother's building in La Courneuve is set for demolition this year.

Thomas Kirszbaum posits, what if the politique de la ville never existed?

The situation would be much worse,... That would be the common sense evaluation.  

The big "but" in this line of thought: "politique de la ville doesn't seem to have made the situation all that much better."  The Banlieue residents believe their situation has not changed over the past decade  (the guardian.com; Oct. 22, 2015; date accessed July 24, 2018). 

The $64 million question, "what's the solution?"  Naima M'Faddel, a civic official from Dreux, suggests completely doing away with these designations (lexpress.fr; June 4, 2017; date accessed July 24, 2018). In a 2016 with L'Express, she said, It has resulted in too many perverse effects (Ibid).  Patrick Simon, a researcher at INED, believes that politique de la ville "needs to refocus on its original intent--to help people gain access to opportunities, rather than to simply alter the physical attributes of the space live in."  Mr Kirszbaum, a sociologist, also stressed the importance of empowering the communities and paying attention to conversations taking place (bindyblog.fr; date accessed July 24, 2018).  Out these recommendations, a theme emerges: "any workable solution needs to address people, not just the place.  And if officials are making policy decisions without listening to what the banlieue residents want and need, then, there is litt,e chance they are going to succeed in tailoring their solutions."

Recently, President Emanuel Macron announced a "new approach"(lemonde.fr; Nov. 13, 2017; date accessed July 24, 2018) to politique de la ville, which included doubling funds for urban renewal programs.  Ms. Driria is not impressed by President Macron's promises.  She said, "If the French government were really sincere about helping, it would acknowledge it own role in creating the banlieue; take responsibility for [arteeast.org; Fall 2017; date accessed July 24, 2018] colonialism and slavery and understand how the legacies of these action persist in the way these urban spaces are policed today."  Although Paris recently expanded its physical boundaries (citylab.com; July 29, 2013; date accessed July 24, 2018) to incorporate many of the suburban jurisdictions, Ms. Drira said that the "city has yet to fold the residents of these spaces into its imagined community [en.m.wikipedia.org; date accessed July 24, 2018]--into France's idea of itself."  It needs to acknowledge the banlieues are the other, they are othered by the state.  She said, 

They keep blaming the problems [of these neighborhoods] on us,... and yet, it's they who are not making an effort. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Head Spinning

Hello Everyone:

It is a hazy Wednesday and time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Blogger needed a break from le bleu banlieue but promises to pick it up next week.  In the meantime, we have so much to talk about.  Mr. Donald Trump's embarrassing trip through Europe, culminating in a jaw-dropping press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was enough to shock Blogger.  The president tried to back track on his comment saying he meant to say "wouldn't" instead of "would."  Right.  He went on to say that he now accepts the findings of the intelligence community and the Senate but now believes that Russian would not attempt to do it again.  Head snapping, right?  It is enough to make Blogger want to hide under the covers with a large box of chocolates.  The only relief from all this chaos was Queen Elizabeth II trolling Mr. Trump.  Royal badass.  With that in mind, let us try to make sense of all this madness.  Pass the chocolate.

Where to begin?  We begin with a blunt assessment of Mr. Trump's trip to Europe--Bigly sad. Disasterous as a matter of fact.  The president's first stop was Brussels, Belgium for the annual NATO gathering. Should have been an easy trip, right? but no.  During the meeting, the president proceeded to excoriate Germany and other member countries for not spending enough on defense.  To add insult on top of insult, he slammed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for being subservient to Russia.  Then he wondered why the United States has to always defend its NATO allies. Ever hear of Article 5? An attack on one is an attack on all.  Guess not.

In an interview today with Fox's Tucker Carlson, the president was asked "why should the U.S. should protect a country like Montenegro, which joined NATO last year,.... (huffpost.com; date accessed July 18, 2018).  The president responded,

Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,.... They're very aggressive people, and they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you're in World War III.  But that's the way it was set up.

Seriously? Yes, Montenegro is a member country and NATO members are required to defend it, regardless.  The president also patted himself on the back of the increased spending by member nations, "taking credit for funds member countries had previously pledged." (Ibid).  He told Mr. Carlson,

It was very unfair,.... They weren't paying.  So not only were we paying for most it, but they weren't even paying and we're protecting them.  Add that to your equation on Montenegro. (Ibid)

Eventually the president did re-affirm Article 5 at the just completed NATO conference but not before blustering his way through.

Following the mind numbing NATO conference, Mr. Trump made his first visit, as president, and was greeted by protests and Baby Trump.  For the most part, this was a fairly head spinning-free trip.  His meeting with Prime Minister (for now) Theresa May was, interesting especially the part where he "mansplained" Brexit.  Mr. Trump told PM May that she was not being tough enough with the European Union and should sue them.  Thank you for your input, next. However, tea with Queen Elizabeth was, how shall Blogger put it, not quite as graceful as one would prefer.  First, he arrived 15 minutes late.  Word of advice, never keep The Queen waiting for you.   During a review of the Household Guard, which Mr. Trump claimed it was the first in 70 years (wrong), and he walked in front of her.  Fortunately for all, the visit was short and sweet because it was on to the main event, a highly anticipated meeting with President Putin.

Let us start with the basics: Both President Putin and Mr. Trump met in Helsinki, Finland.  This meeting came after the Special Counsel indicted twelve Russians for meddling in the 2016 election. Rather than cancel the meeting, the president went ahead with the summit.  Perfect opportunity to confront President Putin about the matter.

 The two spoke for over two hours on subject ranging from denuclearization to election interference.  Then things went truly off the rails.  The leaders came out for a joint press conference that can only be described as complete disaster for an American president.  During his remarks, Mr. Trump rambled about everything from the ever popular "no collusion," "witch hunt" (the Special Counsel), how he won the electoral college, her emails, blamed former President Barack Obama before finally answering the million dollar question, what did he say to President Putin about election interference.  The president answered the question, don't see any reason why it would be Russia (cnn.com; date accessed July 18, 2018). Essentially, siding with Russia over his own Department of Justice and intelligence agencies.  He went on to say that both countries were to blame for it; basically parsing out blame the United States for having its election hacked.  This had members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, pundits howling treason, and throwing the White House into category 6 damage control mode and President Putin relishing the moment he separated the United States from its European allies.

In an interview with CBS, Mr. Trump said that he does hold President Putin responsible because, after all, he is the Russian leader.

I would because he's in charge of the country just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country,.... So certainly as the leader of the country you would have to hold him responsible. (Ibid)

Mr. Trump tried to walk his key statement, saying he reviewed the transcript from the presser and needed to clarify what he said.  Attributing it to a grammatical error,me said,

In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'.... The sentence should have been: I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.... Sort of a double negative.  (Ibid)

Yes, of course, that explains it.  

Finally, today the White House was doing another round of damage control when the president answered "no" when asked if the Russians were still targeting the United States. Once again Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fumbled her clarification when she said the president was actually answering another question.  When pressed during today's interview on whether his acceptance of American intelligence analysis meant that President Putin lied when denying Russian involvement, Mr. Trump said he

...didn't want to get it into whether or not he was lying... I can only say that indonhave confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted... (Ibid)

He added that he warned President Putin,

I let him know we can't have this.  We're not going have it.  And that's the way it's going to be.  (Ibid)

Sure, whatever

The president, thus far, has been able to survive all sorts of controversy but this one does not show any signs of going away soon.  The shock of American president siding against his own country may be too much for all but the most hard core Trump supporters to take and could have serious concerns nsequences at the ballot box.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

More Bleu Banlieue

http://www.citylab.com; Nov. 16, 2017

July 17, 2018

Welcome back.  Before we continue our discussion on les bleu Banlieue, a quick update on the eye-popping, mind numbing performance of the president in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Donald Trump walked back on his comments saying that he meant to say "would" instead of "wouldn't."  Right, of course.  Moving on, we will discuss the concept of spatial stigma in the Banlieue.

"Spatial stigma: a long tradition"

Journalists refer to the banlieues as the "Other Paris" (nytimes.com; Nov. 9, 2013 date accessed July 17, 2018) is, according to Tanvi Misra as a "diverse, varied and most of all, normal."  It is the part of Paris that is not part of any tour, not the place to sit in a café and sip tea.  Ms. MIsra sat down to talk with Chayma Drira, a journalist and student at Sciences Po, at café directly across from a gothic basilica where French queens were crowned.  Ms Drira's family came to France in the sixties following the Algerian War for Independence.  In the seventies, they moved to public housing in La Courneuve--also in Department 93.  This was the place that then-minister of interior, Nicholas Sarkozy, famously promised to "clean up" the cités in 2005 (ina.fr; date accessed July 18, 2018).  Ms. Drira told Ms. Misra, "Home prices in La Courneuve are prohibitively high for many because the suburb has a metro stop,..."  Some areas of the Banlieue have amenities but go a few blocks, and it can be a ghost town.  Ms. Drira said, Uniformly, though, they lack book stores, libraries, and other "third spaces,...

To the residents, the "Other Paris" is home like any other place. However, people in the city center have a different perspective.  They do not see it as a place to sit and sip tea or any beverage.  The city center dwellers are frequently too frightened to come and visit because they think it is unsafe--particularly for women.  Ms. Drira said, There is a lot of stigma in this town...because of politics...

The suburbs' bad reputation is not a contemporary phenomena, according to American University sociologist Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (american.edu; date accessed July 17, 2018).  Mr. Castaneda-Tinoco studies the stigmatization of marginalized urban spaces  (american.academia.edu; date accessed July 17, 2018) and says that "It goes all the way back to medieval times, whe Paris was walled off so that peasants who lived outside and sold their goods inside could be taxed upon entry."  In the mid-nineteenth century, Baron Haussmann designed the famous elegant boulevards that the city  specifically for the elite, relegating the lower classes to the outskirts.

Architectural historian Jean-Louis Cohen told New York Magazine in 2009,

In the time of Haussmann, the Paris bourgeoisie often spoke about 'les classes dangereuses'--the dangerous classes,... He sought to expel the popular classes from the center, to push them out, to push them out, to the north and northeast of the city.  But it marks the beginning of a long conflict (nytimes.com; June 8, 2009; date accessed July 17, 2018). 

When the factories opened outside Paris, the employees were the people who lived in the immediate area.  In the beginning of the 20th century, the French Communist Party established a firm foothold, casually referred to as the "red belt" (books.google.com; date accessed July 17, 2018). After World War II, France rebuilt with the help of migrant laborers from other parts of Europe and it's former colonies.  Like Chayma Drira's family, many first lived in shantytowns on the margins of the city.  In the sixties, they were collapsed into public housing projects--"many of them designed with utopian idea,s in mind by famous architects such as Le Corbusier.  This was done strategically."

Thomas Kirszbaum (isp.cnrs.fr; date accessed July 17, 2018), a sociologist with a specialty in urban policy at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, told CityLab,

During the relocation process, the choice was made not to mix these people with he other but to separate them into specific neighborhoods or in specific housing within these neighborhoods--so from the outset, the segregation model was in place,....

Tanvi Misra writes, "Whike French ghettos emerged in a different political context and in response to different historical stimuli than the ones in the U.S. [metropolitiques.eu; Dec. 16, 2010; date accessed July 17, 2018], they were similar in that they were created intentionally and they trapped their poor residents of color in poverty, often for generations.  Essentially,

All this means is that the French government, but also the mayors and so on, they have a huge responsibility in the construction of the French model of segregation. 

Today, the suburbs are thriving sprawling places with narrow sidewalks and wide streets, however, their islands of "high-density public housing" are archipelagos of social exclusion (thefunambulist.net; date accessed July 18, 2018), according to Paris-based architect Léopold Lambert.  Mr. Lambert has been writing a series on discrimination and design in the banlieue (Ibid) for his magazine Funambulist (Ibid).  He plotted the spatial disparities in transportation (Ibid; Aug. 6, 2015) and pedestrian infrastructure (Sept. 16, 2015). He posited that "decisions perpetuating racial and economic segregation are still being made today."  To buttress this argument, he illustrated the Parisian municipalities in the metropolitan areas that have less than 25 percent social housing in their communities, mandated by law update in 2013 (inta-aivn.org; date accessed July 17, 2018)--"Municipalities have until 2025 to reach this threshold."

The warmer colors in map (available at citylab.com; Nov. 16, 2017) highlight the lower amounts of social housing.  The dark grey area have more than 25 percent of their portion.  When you look at the map, pay attention to where the pockets of red, orange, and yellow are.

The Muslim population in the banlieues has grown, so has the fear that these spaces have become breeding grounds (nytimes.com; Apr. 5, 2017; date accessed July 17, 2018) of "anti-state sentiment and extermism--even though the evidence that terrorists come from practicing Muslim families [worldpoliticsreview; date accessed July 17, 2018), particularly from the banlieues [newyorker.com; Aug. 31, 2015; date accessed July 17, 2018]."  Further, the notion that Islam "is incompatible with national identity [Ibid] and values is supported by politicians on the far right [independent.co.uk; Feb. 5, 2017; date accessed July 17, 2018] and the left [middleeasteye.net; date accessed July 17, 2018]. 

The French government has responded by aggressively controlling public spaces.  The best known example of this is the longstanding ban on Muslim attire in the name of laïcité (secularism) (theatlantic.com; Feb 10, 2017; date accessed July 17, 2018).  However there are other cases. ms. MIsra reports, "Just recently, 100 or so lawmakers, led by Valérie Pécresse, the head of the regional government [fr.m.wikipedia.org; date accessed July 18, 2018] in the Laris area, disrupted street prayers [bbc.com; Nov. 10, 2017; date accessed July 17, 2018] held by Muslims in the birth day rubs who were demonstrating the closure of their mosque.  Worshipper Abdelkader told the BBC,

They were singing the Marseillaise, throwing it in our faces, even though we're French people here... We're French.  Long live France! [Ibid]...

To be continued. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Vive Les Bleu Banlieue

http://www.citylab.com; Nov. 16, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog and fresh outrage over the Mr. Donald Trump's shocking performance at a press conference, today, in Helsinki, Finland.  This was a joint presser with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a summit between the two leaders.  Ideally, the summit should have been cancelled in the wake of Friday's indictment of 12 Russian agents for meddling in the 2016 election.  Today, a Russian gun-rights activist was charged for posing as a foreign agent. What makes the president's conduct so shocking is that he, to be blunt, trashed his own country.  In a tweet (of course), he blamed the U.S.'s own stupidity for its frosty relationship with Russia.  He, as always, went on to blame the Department of Justice, the American intelligence community, President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton before concluding with the usual "witch hunt" and "no collusion."  Never has an American president ever abased himself so much, ever.  This is disgraceful conduct unbecoming to an American president.  Rant over.

Vive les bleus. Congratulations to 2018 FIFA World Cup champions Team France.  What makes France's victory so unique is that the team was primarily made up of sons of immigrants from Muslim countries. The team members grew up in the banlieues (the suburbs). These suburbs are not exactly the white-picket-fences type of suburbs, rather, the balieues are on the outskirts of Paris and home to immigrants from former French colonies, now independent nations in Africa including tourament teen sensation Kylian Mbappé.  They are not the glamorous Paris that have been filtered through the media.  No tree-lined boulevard or charming cafes, just monolithic apartment buildings and small businesses. Therefore, Blogger thought it might be a great time to go back and take a look at the banlieues.  With help of Tanvi Misra's 2017 CityLab "The Othered Paris," we begin looking at the place most of Team France calls home and the concept of spatial segregation.  Allez (Onward)

We begin in Aulnay-sous-Bois on the Boulevard Marc Chagall where a rally protesting the questionable death of Yacine Ben Kahla is taking place.  On September 14, the 24-year-old young man was last seen alive at 4:50 a.m., telephoned his mother to say he on his way up.  He never made it.  Instead, he was found dead, the next morning , dead with his pants around his ankles.  The police attributed the death to a cocaine overdose but to his family, "the pattern of contusions on his body appears consistent with the way the French police immobilizes people,..."  The family felt they were not getting straight answers from the police and modestly demanded a real and transparent investigation into his death.

Mistrust in the police's account of the event is familiar to the residents of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a suburb in Seine-Saint-Denis--"the 93 Department and one of the poorest regions (insee.fr; June 2, 2015; date accessed July 16, 2018)--nor is it incidental."  Mr. Ben Kahla's death came months after the police were accused of allegedly raping a 22-year-old person with a baton from the area.  Ms. MIsra reports, "The police called it an accident.  And last year [2016], another young man named Adama Traoré died under suspicious circumstances [theguardian.com; Feb. 17, 2017; date accessed July 16, 2018] in police custody in another town further north."  Dubbed "France's Ferguson" (slate.com; Feb. 1, 2017; date accessed July 16, 2018), it ignited France's Black Lives Matter movement.  The police claimed Mr. Traoré died of a heart attack but contradictory official reports of what happens (mobile.lemonde.fr; Sept. 15, 2016; date accessed July 16, 2018) surfaced during the investigation.

At the rally, which took place last October, Yacine Ben Kahla's family addressed the crowd.  His brother Bilel told the assembly of friends, neighbors, and everyone else,

This is geographic injustice,.... People in the 'quartiers populaires' do not have the same access to rights and justices.

Tanvi Misra describes, "The outskirts of Paris are not--and perhaps have never been--neutral spaces.  Today, the term 'banlieue' or 'suburbs' have become a euphemism for the racial other; these spaces embody the stereotype that plague their residents, many of whom are working class immigrants of the Middle Eastern and North African descent."  Young Muslim men from these areas are often considered "aimless delinquents" (rassemblementnational.fr; Mar. 31, 2016; date accessed July 16, 2018) at best and imminent terrorists (newyorker.com; Aug. 31, 2015; date accessed July 16, 2018) at worst.  The female population needs liberation.  The spatial stigma is not an abstract concept.  "It prevents residents from getting job [washingtonpost.com; Nov. 23, 2015; date accessed July 16, 2018] and getting into good schools [letudiant.fr; July 6, 2015; date accessed July 16, 2018]; it investors stricter policing; it creates a positive feedback loop for unemployment, poverty [bbc.com; Oct. 27, 2015; date accessed July 16, 2018], anger, and political apathy [nytimes.com; Apr. 30, 2017; date accessed July 16, 2018]."

An affirmative action program to correct the socioeconomic problems is not part of the discussion in a country that stubbornly clings to "color-blind Republicanism" so much so that questions on race are not even on the Census form.  Ms. Misra reports, "As a workaround solution, a territory-based aid plan was created."  Since the eighties (cohesion-territoires.gouv.fr; date accessed July 16, 2018), French urban policy (politique de la ville) singles out specific areas--mostly in the banlieues--that are in need of extra attention. Referred, at first,mas "sensitive urban zones"--later re-named (legifrance.gouv.fr; Dec. 30, 2014; date accessed July 2018) "priority neighborhood of the city (cohesion-territoires.gouv.fr; date accessed July 16, 2018)--"these area have been sites for direct government interventions in housing, economic development, education, and security for the last forty years."

However,mother residents, activists, and scholars that Ms. Misra spoke with believe that this policy may have simply "'institutionalized the stigma, eclipsing the benefits [lexpress.fr; Oct. 15, 2009; date accessed July 16, 2018] it currently provides."  Many are concerned that it does not address the roots of these issues in the spaces--"that it's a 'solution façade,' as Bilel Ben Kahla puts it."  Essentially what remains is the distinct feeling that banlieue residents are not only being physically marginalized but also their histories and identities....

July 17, 2018

Welcome back.  Before we continue our discussion on les bleu Banlieue, a quick update on the eye-popping, mind numbing performance of the president in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Donald Trump walked back on his comments saying that he meant to say "would" instead of "wouldn't."  Right, of course.  Moving on, we will discuss the concept of spatial stigma in the Banlieue.

"Spatial stigma: a long tradition"

Journalists refer to the banlieues as the "Other Paris" (nytimes.com; Nov. 9, 2013 date accessed July 17, 2018) is, according to Tanvi Misra as a "diverse, varied and most of all, normal."  It is the part of Paris that is not part of any tour, not the place to sit in a café and sip tea.  Ms. MIsra sat down to talk with Chayma Drira, a journalist and student at Sciences Po, at café directly across from a gothic basilica where French queens were crowned.  Ms Drira's family came to France in the sixties following the Algerian War for Independence.  In the seventies, they moved to public housing in La Courneuve--also in Department 93.  This was the place that then-minister of interior, Nicholas Sarkozy, famously promised to "clean up" the cités in 2005 (ina.fr; date accessed July 18, 2018).  Ms. Drira told Ms. Misra, "Home prices in La Courneuve are prohibitively high for many because the suburb has a metro stop,..."  Some areas of the Banlieue have amenities but go a few blocks, and it can be a ghost town.  Ms. Drira said, Uniformly, though, they lack book stores, libraries, and other "third spaces,...

To the residents, the "Other Paris" is home like any other place. However, people in the city center have a different perspective.  They do not see it as a place to sit and sip tea or any beverage.  The city center dwellers are frequently too frightened to come and visit because they think it is unsafe--particularly for women.  Ms. Drira said, There is a lot of stigma in this town...because of politics...

The suburbs' bad reputation is not a contemporary phenomena, according to American University sociologist Ernesto Castaneda-Tinoco (american.edu; date accessed July 17, 2018).  Mr. Castaneda-Tinoco studies the stigmatization of marginalized urban spaces  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Game Of Points

Hello Everyone:

It is a beautiful, not too beastly hot Wednesday and time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Congratulations to Team Croatia.  They go through to the final on Sunday, where they will take on Team France. England will Belgium in the B final on Saturday. Blogger is consoling herself over England's loss with chocolate.  Blogger feels better. 

The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to United Supreme Court has put the spotlight on the Senate.  One of the Senate's duties, according to the U.S. Constitution, is the timely confirmation of presidential appointees, including federal judges.  Today, Blogger thought is might be useful to take a look at the upcoming senate races.  The Senate Democrats poised to take an aggressive approach, which might include block Judge Kavanaugh's nomination. Right now, the math does not favor the Democrats.  Of course that could change on November 6--by the way, now is as good as time as any to register to vote. For information, please go to usa.gov to register, confirm or change your voter registration information.  Sorry for the momentary but necessary digression.  Therefore, let us take a look and see what the senate landscape might look like after the midterm elections.

As we speak, the Senate stands at 51-49, in favor of the Republicans.  If a vote, by the full Senate, were taken today, the Democrats would need to flip three Republicans to avoid Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaker vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh.  Thus, the Republicans cannot afford to lose anyone.  However, if the Democrats proceed to drag out the nomination beyond the election, Judge Kavanaugh will find his bumpy road to the bench, even more perilous.  The Senate Democrats first have to gain control of the upper chamber first.  The road to achieving that goal just got more narrow.

Axios, together with Survey Monkey, just released a large batch of polls from the 2018 Senate battleground states, which depending on your perspective, is either cause for cheer or worry.  Alexis McCammond reports, "To win the Senate, Democrats need to keep all 10 seats they're defending in states President Trump won in 2016--plus pick up two more seats" (axios.com; July 10, 2018; date accessed July 11, 2018).  Not likely to happen, according to the new poll of key states that shows Democrats losing three of the battleground seats, while picking up two Republican held seats--still not quite the majority (surveymonkey.com; date accessed July 11, 2018).  Democrats in those states are digging in their heels.

In the ten states won by the president in 2016, incumbent Democrats are playing defense (vox; June 28, 2018; date accessed July 11, 2018), while having a couple real opportunities to capture Republican-held seats (Ibid).  The most likely candidates for flipping are in Nevada and Arizona.  Nevada Senator Dean Heller is in serious trouble in his race with Representative Jacky Rosen (D).  The two are virtually tied, only a minuscule .4 percent separate the two.  Senator Heller's biggest problem could be Mr. Trump.  The president is not exactly the most popular person in Nevada with a 39 percent approval rating coupled with White House scandal, legislative stumbles on healthcare and immigration. Senator Heller is only Republican running in a state won by Hillary Clinton and voted with the president 91 percent of the time (Ibid; Apr. 25, 2018).

Representive Jacky Rosen has her work cut out for her.  A poll released in April found that she still trail behind the senator in name recognition (Ibid). Senator Heller is polling better with independents (Ibid). Meanwhile, things look wee better in Arizona.

Democrat Representative Kyrsten Sinema, the presumptive candidate, is leading establishment candidates Rep. Martha McSally, conservative former state Senator Kelli Ward, and, why was he allowed to run, Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Ibid; Apr. 19, 2018).  However, Democrats are narrowly trailing Republicans in Florida (Ibid; Apr. 9, 2018) North Dakota (Ibid; Feb. 15, 2018) and Indiana (Ibid; May 2018). This would mean the Republican majority would hold  at 52-48.  Which means that if the Democrats successfully dragged out Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination past the the election, the likelihood of his confirmation would be greater. 

Tennessee is more of a long shot for Democrats, if the Axios poll holds true. Dylan Scott writes, "A Democratic win always seemed a stretch; the state pretty consistently votes for Republican, and Trump is still pretty popular here (Ibid; July 10, 2018).  All is not lost for the Democrats.  They have a strong candidate in popular former Governor Phil Bredesen, who is leading in the polls. The Axios poll paints a different picture: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) is running away by 14 points.  In earlier polls, Gov. Bredesen had maintained a 5-point average lead (realclearpolitics.com; date accessed July 11, 2018).

There is an even better case for Democratic optimism in Montana and West Viriginia.  According to the Axios poll Joe Tester been consistently ahead by 12 points (vox.com; June 6, 2018; date accessed July 11, 2018). West Virginia incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is also looking good, holding a steady 13-point lead in the Axios poll (Ibid; May 8, 2018) and polling 6-point ahead on average (realclearpolitics.com; date accessed July 11, 2018).

The Axios survey found incumbent Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) (vox.com; Apr. 17, 2018; date accessed July 11, 2018) a mere 2-points ahead of Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley (Ibid; Apr. 19, 2018).  Indiana and North Dakota are the toughest races for Democrats.

Dylan Scott reports, "Axios found incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly down 2 points to Republican Mike Braun in Indiana, and the only other poll put Braun ahead by 1-point."  In North Dakota, incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is 5-points behind Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) according to the Axios survey.  The polls suggest a close race.  The survey did not include the Texas senate race where Rep. Beto O'Rourke is challenging in incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R) (Ibid; Apr. 18, 2018). 

It is still a while to go before the voters have their say.  Mr. Trump and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) want Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed before the November 6 election.  They may get their wish but not without a fight.  The Senate Judiciary Committee wants time to sift through Judge Kavanaugh's deep paper trail of legal opinions. Blogger believes that Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) fully understands the landscape and may use different tactics to, at least, stall the process until after the election.  This is a game whose winner will be based on points. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Moscow Metros

http://www.citylab.com; July 2, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Big news of the day.  First, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALS and the Thai government who successfully rescued the Wild Boar soccer team and coach from the cave they were trapped in for over weeks.  The young team and coach are currently recovering from their ordeal and Blogger sends her best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.  Second, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by the president to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Judge Kavanaugh now faces a long nomination process, which could stretch beyond the beginning of the next Supreme Court session in October.  Stay tuned, this is going to be good. Finally, France is set to play in the 2018 FIFA World Final on Sunday. The French will either England or Croatia, who play tomorrow.  The Belgians will face the either team on Saturday for third place.  Speaking of World Cup, let us chat about Moscow's metros.  

The labyrinthian Moscow Metro is one of the busiest underground systems in the world; currently undergoing rapid expansion.  Mark Byrnes writes in his CityLab article, "Understanding the Architecture of the Moscow Metro," "...Between 2015 and 2020 [citylab.com; May 6, 2016; date accessed July 10, 2018], the system is adding dozens of stations."  Fortunately for us, architectural historian Nikolai Vassiliev is there to cover it all.

Mr. Vassiliev curated the recently released Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map (bluecrowmedia.com; date accessed July 10, 2018) which provides descriptions and images of a little over 40 of the system's architecturally best known stations.  The history of the Metro system is layered with political and architectural significance (npr.org; June 2, 2015; date accessed July 10, 2018) imprinted by every generation wanting make their mark on the Stalinist-era ornate station to the more current utilitarian facilities. To understand how the Moscow Metro is designed and where the new stations will fit into the historic trajectory, CityLab sent Mr. Vassiliev a few questions via email; below are excerpts from that conversation.

CL: "For much of the world, Moscow's Metro conjures up images of very palatial, neoclassical stations.  What percentage of the system actually looks like that?"

NV: The first order of construction was primarily designed in a Soviet version of Art Deco, with some remains of avant-garde forms.  Parts of the second and third orders, which opened in 1938 and 1943, are like this.... Stations built from that point until the end of the 1950s can be described as Neoclassicak with Empire-style motifs,.... These make up a little less than a quarter of the total stations in the system,.... Only 44 of total 214 stations are listed as historical monuments, including a few from the '50s and nothing since.

CL: "Politically, who's in the room when it's decided where Metro is going to expand and what it will look like?"

NV: Throughout the Metro's history that has always been a complicated process,.... In the middle of the 1930s roughly a quarter of the city's budget was spent on Metro needs....Lazar Kaganovich--who was Moscow head at the time, as well as Party Secretary--curated Metro construction in its advent.... he was succeeded by Nikita Khusshchev, who had previously served as First Secretary of the Moscow Regional Committee.

Since the 1960s, Metro construction has been nearly as important for the economy and for transit planning, but it's not nearly ideological.  Decisions are made in the Moscow Ciy Department of Urban Planning and Architecture.  Some technical questions, are done through the Department of Transportation.

CL: "Each period of the system's growth seems to be attributed to whoever was running the country at the time.  So what are the defining design feature of a Putin-era Metro station?"

NV: We can't organize Metro's post-Soviet architecture so simply.  From 1992 to 2010, it was all Luzhkov Style [calvertjournel.com; Jan. 23, 2013; date accessed July 10, 2018]--named after longtime mayor Yuri Luzhkov....

The current mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Metro director Dmitry Gayev envision a more pragmatic style focused on improving transits efficiency and making construction profitable for their affiliated contractors.  The stations that have opened in the last year or two...are built in the traditional paradigm, mostly by the Metroprotrans Institute [artlebedev.com; date accessed July 10, 2018]. But a new approach contains two main aspects: to spend less money on architecture and invite more young architects via competition. They cut costs and add to the positive public image of a new urban policy by doing this, but they lose out on expertise of older architecture.  Contrary to the Sochi Olympics and World Cup, this architecture has no significant political meaning,me cent to present a general approach funding public infrastructure...

The Putin-era style started not when he took office in 2000, but in 2010 and through 2014, with a new Moscow mayor taking office and the construction for the Sochi Olympics.  A contemporary style was introduced during this by State contracts, not private developers. For the most part, these designs are pretty neutral--even boring.  But on the average they show significantly improved technical quality.

CL: "How much of the attention to Metro design and planning is for convincing weather people to ditch their cars?"

NV: Personal car use became such a strong marker of social success [nytimes.com; Sept. 7, 1997; date accessed July 10, 2018] in the 1990s and 2000s in Moscow and the city [is known for its (Ibid; Apr. 20, 2008)] many, many Maybachs and Porsches.  It seems impossible [td-architects.eu; Sept. 2, 2014; date accessed July 10, 2018] to get the generation that is now between 40 and 55 years old to switch to public transportation.

CL: "Which are some of the younger architecture firms behind these new stations?"

NV: Some of the younger offices that won recent competitions specialize in above-ground projects like shopping malls and apartment towers but I can't say these works are distinct.  The same goes for Russia's new airports, a few of which were built in time for World Cup.  We're seeing a slow dec,I don't in Soviet-origin institutions and the rise of new architecture firms.

CL: "What does the Metro and its architecture symbolize to the typical, Muscovite today and how has that meaning changed over the years?"

NV: For today's typical Metro user, the modern stations prevail as the standard image of the system.  But except for few recent ones made with monuments, mosaics or clever forms, these stations aren't perceived as architecture at all.  The historical stations, however, still play a very special role in the city's image, like its Stalin-era skyscrapers and pre-Revolution tenements, churches, and mansions.


Monday, July 9, 2018

A Memorial Long Time Coming

http://www.citylab.com; June 26, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog. Blogger is back, fresh from a very toasty long Fourth of July weekend.  The heat is slowly easing but it is still too warm spend any length of time outside.  Fortunately, Blogger found a cool air conditioned place to write.

Today we are going to talk about the newest memorial, dedicated to Native Americans veterans. This long overdue memorial is marked by a circle.  The circle is symbolic of life, nature, the seasons, and elements.  Kriston Capps writes in his CityLab article "Here's D.C.'s Memorial For Native American Veterans," "The circle is also the anchor for a special, and highly unique, mistake in Washington D.C.: a space for ceremonies for hundreds of different Native tribes and nations."

"The fire and water frame the symbolic infrastructure for the memorial."  The steel circular sculpture emerges from the center drum-like pedestal.  The drum also functions as a fountain, "whose waters will bless sacred ceremonies."  The fire at the base of the steel circle will be lit on Veterans Day and other holidays.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (nmai.si.edu; date accessed July 9, 2018) recently announced the winner of the international design competition to create a new monument.  The Native American Veterans Memorial (Ibid) will pay tribute to the Native American military personnel who service in every American conflict.  Harvey Pratt, the memorial's designer, told CityLab, "The memorial is meant to be active site for healing, prayer, and storytelling."  The concept is completely unique for the National Mall.

The jury chose Mr. Pratt's design--Warriors' Circle of Honor--from five finalists, out of 120 submissions.  Mr. Pratt's concept rights a complicated design brief.  Mr. Capps describes, "The memorial needed to facilitate a potent and reflective experience for veterans and their family members.  But it also needed to be legible and meaningful across many different cultures and conflicts."

Harvey Pratt, an Arapaho and Cheyenne Marine Corps veteran, told CityLab, "that he relied on a handful of symbols and conceits to build something essential and, he hopes, transportive."  Specifically,

Of the 650 tribes, we're all the same, but we're different,.... We all use those elements, but maybe all a little bit differently.

The Native American Veterans Memorial is unique in another respect because it does not highlight a specific conflict, instead it showcases an entire people.  Many people, as a matter of fact.  Mr. Capps writes, "The memorial honors all Native American veterans--including American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Natives Hawaiians--from the Revolutionary War to the present, across all braches of service."

Rebecca Trautmann, the project curator for the Native Veterans Memorial, told CityLab,

That's already quite a challenge, for any design to be meaningful to all of those group, and to honor all of them,.... It also needs needs to be a timeless memorial that will honor veterans going forward into the future.

The memorial is composed of "Concentric circles of golden Kasota limestone--the same material used to build the museum--will serve as benched for reflection and participation."  The seals of each of branches of the military will carved into each ring. Mr. Pratt's wife, Gina, and son, Nathan, worked with him on the design.  Hans E. and Torrey Butzer of Butzer Architects and Urbanism (butzerarchitects.com; date accessed July 9, 2018)--the firm that designed the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (oklahomacitynationakmemorial.com; date accessed July 5, 2018)--will collaborate with the Pratts to bring the memorial to fruition.

One of the most important features of the memorial is a group of four lances placed at cardinal points around the concentric limestone rings.  The lances will act as focal points for ceremonies: "Veterans, families, and tribal leaders may attach prayer clothes to these lances."  Harvey Pratt said "that most nations have sings that they will want to play or perform for gatherings at the memorial, from flag songs to veterans to victory songs."  Mr. Pratt told CityLab,

Most Natives will recognize those elements and will take advantage of them and use them.  They can spend some time in there, and make promises to the Creator,.... I'm going to tie a prayer cloth for my nephew my nephew, who's in Iraq, and I'll say this prayer and promise to do something for next year.  It becomes a place of power, a place of strength, a place of comfort.

Rebecca Trautmann said "that the museum hopes to break ground on the memorial in September 2019 and unveil the finished project in late 2020."  In the interim, Ms. Trautmann is preparing a book and exhibit in conjunction with the memorial's debut.  Among the artifact that will be included in the exhibit is a ceremonial drum used for a powwow held near Fallujah in 2004 (1stmlg.marines.mil; Sept. 24, 2004; date accessed July 9, 2018) as well as ceremonial jingle dresses used by active military personnel.

The Native American Veterans Memorial is more than 20 years passed due.  Congress authorized legislation creating the memorial in 1994, before the National Museum of the America. Indian was brought to life. Kriston Capps reports, "A national search for a memorial designer began in earnest in 2013, when the museum, in concert with the National Congress of American Indians [ncai.org; date accessed July 9, 2018], convened an advisory committee of about 30 Native veterans and their communities in 16 states and the District of Columbia."  Those gatherings informed the main concept of the project: "to build an inclusive and healing memorial."

Currently, over 140,000 veterans identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian; right now, more than 31,000 Native men and women are on active duty.  Mr. Capps observes, "In proportion to their population, Native Americans serve in the military at higher rates than any other ethnic population."  Blogger recall meeting a Mexican-Native American woman who served in the military. Much love and respect to her.  Beyond a few notable contributions--"...the Code Talkers, who helped send coded messages in Native languages in both world wars"--the sheer number of contributions by Natives Americans to national security had been largely ignored.

Harvey Pratt said,

Washington D.C., has sacred places all over,.... Different memorials, they're all to the American people.  I'm proud to have the National Native American Veterans Memorial, included with the rest of his sacred places,mplace where people come to be healed and be comforted.

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