happy halloween brew

happy halloween brew for y'all:

father of the cocktail @ the nyt + the most ludicrous story on the origins of the world (king axolot viii of mexico? huh?)

father of the monster mash, bobby picket

cosmic halloween special @ the bachelor pad

mexican horror movie list

santo vs. las momias de guanajuato


border horror picture show

throughout its history, the mexico-u.s. borderlands has been a grim scenario for unsightly horrors: vice barons, anarchists, fugitives, shakers, "apache" wars, conmen, bunkos, pochos, cabrito westerns, cartolandias, minutemen, narcosatanicos, polleros (people smugglers), womankillers...

and now blackwater mercenaries...

oy vey

spotted @ bldgblog



fall brings images of dead yellow leaves falling from the trees, candied skulls for dia de muertos and the october '73 global oil crisis. to celebrate, the centre canadien d'architecture is preparing its 1973: sorry, out of gas exhibition (and pre-exhibition short-film cycle).



oztotepec rules

i've had a crush on mauricio rocha's mercado de san pablo oztotepec for some time now. but this quaint profundo subtown in milpa alta (the near-rural southeastern corner of mexico city) seems to hold other little wonders...

could become a sort of diamond-in-the-rough alternative cultural pilgramage spot...if they manage to kick the local habit of lynching maybe...

*great pics by israfel67




levittown, 60. more : nyt

distraction / user

benjamin states that, in contrast to the concentrated contemplation of the individual absorbed work of art, ‘the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. this is most obvious with regards to buildings. architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction. stan allen writes: ‘benjamin’s definition of distraction oscillates between an active form –distraction as deviation from habitual behaviour- and a passive form –a state of absent-mindedness enforced by habit and repetition.’ benjamin considers both forms of distraction preferable to the absorbed concentration of contemplation but status that the passive form of distraction is the usual experience of buildings.

according to benjamin the type of distraction, whether passive or active, is a result of the medium not the individuals who experience it. he associates distraction with shock; individuals are first passive and then made aware by the artwork. but the user does not necessarily need the stimulus of an outside agency in order to act. sudden realization is one way for the user to acquire understanding and awareness of architecture but habit is not necessarily passive because it enables understanding to growth and experience. rather than benjamin’s model of passive and active distraction, which should more accurately be called reactive distraction, i suggest three types of use: passive, reactive and creative. the passive user is predictable and unable to transform use, space and meaning. the reactive user modifies the physical characteristics of a space as needs change but must select from a narrow and predictable range of configurations largely defined by the architect. the creative user either creates a new space or gives an existing one new meanings and uses. creative use can either be a reaction to habit, result from the knowledge learned through habit, or be base don habit, as a conscious, evolving deviation from established behaviour.

jonathan hill, actions of architecture



pop is dead. love, starfucks


i walked into starbucks the other day. i was faced with this poster of a grinning dark-skinned woman from guatemala or whatever, standing in a green field with a basket on her back. i thought the poster should read "thank you for exploiting me!"



the motif i want to fix on is that of ennui. "boredom" is not an adequate translation, nor is langweile except, perhaps, in schopenhauer's usage; la noia comes much nearer. i have in mind manifold processes of frustration, of cumulative désoeuvrement. energies eroded to routine as entropy increases. Repeated motion or inactivity, sufficiently prolonged, secrete a poison in the blood, an acid torpor. febrile lethargy; the drowsy nausea (so precisely described by coleridge in the biographia literaria) of a man who misses a step in a dark staircase -- there are many approximate terms and images. baudelaire's use of "spleen" comes closest: it conveys the kinship, the simultaneity of exasperated, vague waiting -- but for what? -- and of gray lassitude:

rien n'égale en longueur les boiteuses journées,
quand sous les lourds flocons des neigeuses années
l'ennui, fruit de la morne incuriosité,
prend les proportions de l'immortalité.
--désormais tu. n'es plus, ô matière vivante!
qu'un granit entouré d'une vague épouvante,
assoupi dans le fond d'un sahara brumeux;
un vieux sphinx ignoré du monde insoucieux,
oublié sur la carte, et dont l'humeur farouche
ne chante qu'aux rayons du soleil qui se couche. *

[les fleurs du mal]

"vague épouvante," "humeur farouche" are signals we shall want to keep in mind. what i want to stress here is the fact that a corrosive ennui is as much an element of nineteenth-century culture as was the dynamic optimism of the positivist and the whig. it was not only, in eliot's arresting phrase, the souls of housemaids that were damp. a kind of marsh gas of boredom and vacuity thickened at crucial nerve-ends of social and intellectual life. for every text of benthamite confidence, of proud meliorism, we can find a counterstatement of nervous fatigue. 1851 was the year of the universal exhibition, but also of the publication of a group of desolate, autumnal poems, which baudelaire issued under the significant title les limbes. to me the most haunting, prophetic outcry of the nineteenth century is théophile gautier's "plutôt la barbarie que l'ennui!" if we can come to understand the sources of that perverse longing, of that itch for chaos, we will be nearer to an understanding of our own state and of the relations of our condition to the accusing ideal of the past.

george steiner. in bluebeard's castle. read now

nothing is as interminable as those limping days / when, beneath the heavy flakes of snowbound years / ennui, fruit of dreary apathy, / takes on dimensions of everlastingness. / henceforth, oh living form, you are nothing more / than a block of granite surrounded by an aura of indistinct terror, / drowsing in the deeps of a misty Sahara; / you are nothing more than an old sphinx disregarded by a careless world, / forgot on the map, an old sphinx whose fierce temperament / gives echoing reverberation only to the rays of the setting sun.


what next

a collective shame in the wake of this fiasco has left a massive crater in our understanding of modernity and modernization. what makes this experience disconcerting and (for architects) humiliating is the city's defiant persistence and apparent vigor, in spite of the collective failure of all agencies that act on it or try to influence it – creatively, logistically, politically.

yours, rem



contrary to what many say, humans did not invent waste; nature did...the difference, however, is that nature has mostly perfected its "waste management system."... all forms of waste are eventually consumed, used and recycled in a chain of matter and energy flow. but humans have persistently mismanaged their waste, creating new types at an increasing pace and in excessive quantities without establishing recovery mechanisms that enable their flow and circulation back into the cultural/natural systems. the key to this disparity might be our cultural constructs of and taboos regarding waste. these have largely interfered with wise management, confusing real and percieved dangers.

mira engler

*detail: andreas gursky, mexico (2001)



waste is what is worthless or unused for human purpose. it is a lessening of something without useful result; it is loss and abandonment, decline, separation and death. it is the spent and valueless material left alter some act of production or consumption, but can also refer to any used thing: garbage, trash, litter, junk, impurity and dirt. there are waste things, waste lands, waste time and wasted lives...

kevin lynch


the parable of the bee and the architect

have some marxy:

a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. but what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is that the architect builds the cell in his mind before he constructs it in wax. at the end of every labor process, a result emerges which has already been concieved by the worker at the beginning, hence aready existed ideally. man not only effects a change of form in the materials of nature; he also realises his own purpose in those materials...

from capital