i’m in nyc. and it goes without saying that nyc is chock full of amazing buildings. but here’s the issue: most of them have been photographed and documented a few trillion times.
so, i mean, i could go take a picture of the seagram’s building or the chrysler building, but i figure i’d rather search out something a little bit weirder. and today’s building is one of my favorite odd-ball buildings in nyc. it’s tribeca’s ‘synagogue for the arts’, as designed by William Breger (who was a student of Walter Gropius, the bauhaus bigwig).
decades ago i remember walking by it with a friend of mine and we had a pretty heated pro-con debate regarding the relative merits of this buildings. i was pro. he was con.
my pros were: it’s bizarre, it has no windows on the facade, it’s sculptural, it stands in stark relief to every other building in nyc (except the guggenheim) as it’s curvy and weird when almost all other nyc buildings are exclusively composed of right angles, it looks like an odd fluid wave, it kind of looks like a candle flame or a scroll, and etc.
his con was that he thought it was weird an ugly.
to this day he thinks it’s weird and ugly, and i think it’s one of the best buildings in nyc, especially as it hearkens back to a time in nyc when real estate was cheap and architects could be truly experimental (kind of like parts of l.a today). as new york increasingly becomes a very cohesive theme park for the very wealthy i like to visit buildings like this, as a reminder that nyc still has some awesome weirdness hiding out on it’s side streets.
ok, i don’t know what this is. nor, to be clear, do i have any interest in knowing what it is. or what purpose it serves.
from my perspective it’s a giant plastic people mover tube that goes from nowhere to nowhere. maybe it has a real world utility.
i don’t want to know what that real world utility might be. but isn’t it amazing?
this giant long plastic centipede.
what if it’s a time travel portal?
or is that too obvious?
maybe it connects wormholes?
i’m working under the assumption that yes, that’s what it’s designed and built for. i’m including it in my architecture blog because it’s architecture. someone designed it and someone built it and it holds people (as far as i can tell. well, it held me for a minute while i was inside taking pictures).
it’s nice that it’s clear, so that when people go from wormhole to wormhole they can look outside. that’s very considerate on the part of the architect and engineer.
i ran into someone at sage in echo park the other night and they asked me, ‘i know you have your studio in your lautner house, but what does it look like?’ so… here’s my studio.
i know, it’s small and underwhelming (just like some musician architectural bloggers i know). but i’m including it because:
- it’s where i work
- it was challenging building a small personal recording studio in a lautner bedroom. the challenge was to respect and not compromise or damage lautner’s paneling and original millwork. (also, to be honest, some of the wood in the lautner house was in REALLY bad shape, so we had to go out and try to replace the damaged wood with newly stained wood that matched lautner’s original work. it was challenging.).
- i’m putting out a new record in the autumn and i thought i’d put up some pictures of where i work.
(and, a caveat: in taking/posting these pictures i’ve learned: it’s hard to take beautiful and artistic photos of a small bedroom studio… so, mea culpa).
ok, basically: i’m a bedroom musician. my first studio back when i was 18 years old and had a tascam 4 track was in my bedroom (eventually a basement, but it started in my bedroom). then i moved to an abandoned factory and my studio WAS my bedroom. then i moved to a slightly less abandoned factory and once again my studio was my bedroom. then i renovated a small loft in manhattan and put my studio in the bedroom and decided to sleep in a closet.
yes, glamorous and true. the bedroom in my loft in nyc is soundproofed and has good air conditioning, so that’s where i put my studio. and the closet in my loft in nyc is kind of cozy, so that’s where i sleep. and now i have my studio in a bedroom in los angeles. granted it’s a bedroom in a very interesting john lautner guest house, but it’s still a little bedroom.
many of my friends have HUGE GIGANTIC AMAZING STUDIOS. but i’m just one little guy, so why would i need A HUGE GIGANTIC AMAZING STUDIO? plus i like working in small spaces (maybe i was a monk in a past life. or, given my veganism and sobriety, maybe i’m a monk in my current life. or maybe i’m just little and dull).
so, architecture. a beautiful but crumbly john lautner bedroom that we turned into a small one person recording studio (oh, p.s-i apologize for not tidying up for the pictures, but this is architectural blogging verite). trying to make it efficient and practical and sonically sound (no pun intended) while respecting all of lautner’s original work and detailing was, as i mentioned, the interesting and challenging part of the renovation. and now that it’s renovated and nice and small and functional it’s where i work on music and where i made/recorded/wrote all of the music for ‘innocents’, my next record.
oh: much less glamorously… i keep my drums in the basement. maybe someday i’ll take pictures of my drums in the basement but i can almost guarantee that no one wants/needs to see a picture of a basement filled with drums and microphones.
and oh, i’m off to tahoe and nyc and canada for a few weeks, so my architectural updates won’t involve l.a for a little while.
p.s any fans of musical gear will notice that 99% of my musical equipment is kind of old and broken down. for some reason i really love old and broken down musical equipment (thank you ebay). especially as i try to make music that has a quality of vulnerability it just makes sense to use broken down equipment that also has a quality of vulnerability. or so i believe. plus old equipment smells nice.
p.s.s i also have really good alarm systems at my house, so just because i’m going away doesn’t mean anyone will be able to break into my house… or, rather, you could break in, but THE LAW would be here real quick. so, no ‘bling ring’ (or ‘analogue drum machine ring’) will be happening here, i’m guessing.
hi from mexico.
and, i’m ashamed to admit, today’s architecture update was taken super quickly from my hotel room, as my schedule in mexico city is really busy and i unfortunately don’t have time to go out and take pictures of the great buildings in mexico city. mea culpa, i’m sorry.
but i’m standing here in my hotel room looking at the back of the this building and from here it looks pretty amazing. this big, beautiful art deco fortress.
i’m assuming ‘imss’ has something to do with social security? if so, then i’m positing that this is probably the most beautiful art deco social security fortress on the planet. i could be wrong. i’m often wrong. but i stand by my posit.
also i took this picture in the rain, as it’s raining. or was. now it stopped. so the streaks in the pictures are not some fancy photoshop rain plug-in effect. they’re just rain. old timey rain.
i wish i had time to go and take a picture of the front of this amazing art deco fortress, but as i mentioned before: busy, busy, busy. i like busy, it saves me from having to spend time with my thoughts of mortality and the human condition. art deco fortresses are way more entertaining than thoughts of mortality and the human condition.
a part of me wishes that this building were some big, top-secret center for alien communication. like the ‘international mexican space studies’ building. but i’m sure that social security is nice, too.
maybe not as nice as aliens, but few things are.
ok, back to work.
i just got back from detroit, where i was playing at the movement festival (which was as festivals go, i say with some objectivity, amazing).
i’ve been going to detroit since the late 80’s (as it is the birthplace of modern electronic music), and i’ve always loved it.
culturally and musically and artistically it’s a fascinating place, but it’s also fascinating in that it has more remarkable abandoned buildings than any other city in the western world (this might sound like hyperbole, but i’m guessing it’s actually true).
it’s worth stating that there are big parts of detroit that are not filled with abandoned buildings. and those are nice, too… but the parts of downtown detroit that are filled with beautiful old abandoned buildings are aesthetically amazing (as evidenced by the fact that lots and lots of people have taken pictures of them).
on saturday i had the afternoon off, so my friend shannon (who lives in a former abandoned building) took me on a bike ride around detroit to look at her favorite abandoned buildings (what she refers to as ‘ruin porn’).
here are some of my favorites.
and i hope that these buildings at some point get the love and care that they deserve. but in the meantime: ruin porn.
ok, i’m including this in my oddball architecture blog for a few reasons…
- i think it’s a really beautiful video (as made by my friend colin rich).
- with clearly no objectivity i like the song a lot (as made by mark lanegan and i).
- it’s all based in and around los angeles (salton sea, joshua tree, and the angeles national forest).
- it’s kind of an entropic love letter to los angeles and the desert around los angeles.
- there are lots of buildings in the video (even if some are very far away…)
oh, and i highly highly highly recommend watching it full screen, as it’s really beautiful.
just got back from coachella (which, i feel the need to state the obvious, was amazing: the weather, the line-up, the audience, the location, etc, etc).
and i posit that these are architectural photos… (or, rather, photos of architecture). in that: they’re photos of a space expressly designed and constructed for a specific purpose. it’s temporary architecture (well, from a broader perspective of impermanence i guess all architecture is temporary), in that it’s erected, filled with technology and people, and then disassembled.
it’s also quite unique, as far as the history of structures is concerned, in that there aren’t too many open-air but enclosed structures designed to hold 25,000 people (the whole festival is around 100,000 people each day, i believe. this is the sahara dance tent, designed to hold around 25% of the festival attendees). it’s also a fascinating structure in that it’s aesthetics are utilitarian but powerful and impactful.
oh, and i just realized that i failed to take a picture of the outside of this gigantic people-hangar… hm. oops.
maybe i’ll try to do that next weekend.
in the meantime: the inside of the sahara tent at coachella.
ok, not sure if this is architecture.
or l.a. (actually i’m pretty sure it’s not l.a).
but it’s coney island and it’s the mermaid parade, and coney island and the mermaid parade are two of my favorite things, so i’m going to stretch the boundaries/criteria of architecture to include old amusement park rides and mermaids (both of which are sort of architectural, well, broadly speaking. or under the influence of peyote).
so today (saturday) i joined a bunch of luminaries (like darren aronofsky and his adorable nieces) to observe and judge (benignly) the mermaid parade. the sun was shining, the mermaids were shining, the old amusement park rides were shining.
generally things were very shiny.
and here are some pictures of/from coney island and the mermaid parade.