Category Archives: urban observations

Bad City Planning is a BFD AKA Don’t Build A Mall There

Realistic look at city planning challenges

I know that we live in a nation in which taxes going to the unemployed and “death panels” are grave fears held large swaths of the population, but in reality regulation should have a place in the hearts of even the most fiscally conservative/greedy when to comes to city planning decisions. It doesn’t, of course, but, it ought to.

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I’ll Meet You At Claire’s And Then We Can Go To Starbucks

Buy Things!

You know the mall, right? It’s like a 15 minute drive from you. Located on Rt. NUMBER right next to Lowes? The fluorescent-lit indoor garden filled with palms? Food court full of fast-food stalls and chain coffee shops? Modern world’s answer to the need for public restrooms and enforced civility? To the right is a visual reference.

This picture is of the ABC Mall in Beirut, Lebanon, not AWESOME BUYING CENTER in SUBURB, SoCal, but I forgive you for the mistake. Mall architecture is pretty much the same everywhere. And by that I mean that all malls feel vaguely desolate despite being optimistically lavish and somehow simultaneously Midwestern-looking.

This uniformity is intentional.

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Oh, People Are Just So Stupid and Funny and Stupid

A BoBo rebellion is brewing. Yesterday, a tipster (I have a tipster!) pointed me towards un scandale extraordinaire involving Lululemon, a yoga wear retailer that has an enormous following among the sort of yuppies inclined to pay $100 for stretchy pants.  Apparently the stroller mafia is in uproar because Lululemon’s founder, an avid Ayn Rand enthusiast, decided to print “who is JOHN GALT?” in huge block letters on the store’s shopping bags.

My reaction to Ayn Rand

I may not be the greatest person to speak on the the nuances of this scandal, because I have never read an Ayn Rand novel. What I understand about Rand’s “individualist” philosophy, plus the weird, fanatical way she is spoken of by a certain type of man (i.e., the type I would never ever want to date), plus her books’ mammoth size has been enough to scare me off. But these articles on Gawker and NPR gave me enough background to understand what all the fuss is about. And BOY is it hilarious and stupid.

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The Fauxhemian Rhapsody

I recently had occasion to do some reading up on the life of novelist Carson McCullers, and I found what I read quite engrossing. She was a passionate, unconventional woman who, in spite of being plagued by a recurring illness that left her entire left side paralyzed by her early 30s, possessed an incredible drive to live and create. And here’s where it got really fun for me:

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Authentic Copies of Fake Originals

As I mentioned before, my local community Christmas tree is located in a privately-owned open-air mall and last week I was appalled to discover that the tree is really a tree trunk fitted with imported branches attached with pegs.  Branches that are made of real tree matter but odorless, oddly life-less and dispatched to replace the actual branches that once grew out of this very real tree’s trunk.  Since my last posting the entire tree has also been painted a bright, unnatural shade of green.

Painting a Live Tree Is Tricky Business

The last time I went to see the progress on the tree operation, a man and woman came up behind me and asked if the large, bright green thing in front of them was real.  (With it’s new coat of paint, the tree looks odd, to say the least, and fake to say the worst.)  I replied with what I knew, that it was all technically real tree parts but none from the same tree.  To this, the woman exclaimed, “It’s the perfect metaphor for LA.”  She was right, though she was also telepathically copying my idea, which is rude.

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Driving While President

These guys

When I arrived at work the other day there were snipers on the roof of our office building. Snipers, ready to snipe things with their rifles. All aflutter with this turn of events, I filled several people in via gchat. The exchanges usually went something like this:

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