Monday, September 30, 2013

The radio-ridden villas of the Sussex coast

They are all over England, these models of civilised buildings, and of later years we have been turning to them again in our convalescence from the post-war Corbusier plague that has passed over us, leaving the face of England scarred and pitted, but still recognizable. For ten or fifteen years we all had the pest-mark scrawled across our doors and the watchman cried nightly: ‘Bring out your dead!’ From Tromso to Angora the horrible little architects crept about – curly-haired, horn-spectacled, volubly explaining their ‘machines for living.’ Villas like sewage farms, mansions like half-submerged Channel steamers, offices like vast bee-hives and cucumber frames sprang up round their feet, furnished with electric fires that blistered the ankles, windows that blinded the eyes, patent ‘sound-proof’ partitions which resounded with the rattle of a hundred typewriters and the buzzing of a hundred telephones. In England we have an artistic constitution which can still put up a good fight; our own manifold diseases render us impervious to many microbes which work havoc upon the sounder but slighter races. We suffered less from the concrete-and-glass functional architecture than any country in Europe. In a few months our climate began to expose the imposture. The white flat walls that had looked as cheerful as a surgical sterilizing plant became mottled with damp; our east winds howled through the steel frames of the windows. The triumphs of the New Architecture began to assume the melancholy air of a deserted exhibition, almost before the tubular furniture within had become bent and tarnished. It has now become par excellence the style of the arterial highroads, the cinema studios, the face-cream factories, the tube stations of the farthest suburbs, the radio-ridden villas of the Sussex coast. We have had a fright – a period of high fever and delirium, a long depression, and now we are well on the way to recovery. We are again thinking of stone and brick and timber that will mellow and richen with age, and we have instinctively turned to the school in which our fathers excelled.

Evelyn Waugh, A Call to the Orders, 1938

Waugh, Evelyn, and Donat Gallagher. 
The essays, articles and reviews of Evelyn Waugh.  
London: Methuen, 1983, 216

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another beige world

Look. What's Happened to Auckland!

In ten years the number of overseas visitors has doubled.

Fortunately, the tourist facilities have expanded in quantity and quality to satisfy the sophisticated expectancies of the new arrivals.

We date the initial breakthrough from the opening of the 427-room Sheraton in 1983. Its stunning beige marble and brass lobby with an elegant indoor fountain would win applause anywhere.

And, my dear, there was an indoor/outdoor swimming pool with a Jacuzzi bath, saunas, and exercise room on the second floor!

John W and Bobbye Lee Hughes McDermott.
How to get lost and found in upgraded New Zealand.  
Honolulu, Hawaii: ORAFA Publishing, 1986, 1.

Captain Sensible with Dolly Mixture.
Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, September 23, 2013

She's so modern

It hardly seems possible that it should be necessary for me to define the meaning of a
word so common to the tongues of this generation as “modern.” Yet the word is often misinterpreted, and I desire to have it distinctly understood that, when I make use of the word modern in the following pages, I use it in its true meaning. The correct definition of modern is: characteristic of today. It in no sense implies that which is radical and cannot possibly be considered as synonymous to futuristic and other words of a similar suggestion. To avoid any misunderstanding, therefore, I prefer to call myself, along with those whose work is illustrated in this book, a progressive rather than a modernist, in order that we may not be confused with that school of radicals whose efforts to create and to be original have their incentive solely in “doing something different.”
A great many people, including not a few members of the architectural profession, are of the opinion that “modern architecture” is a sort of outburst of a certain group of radically-minded architects to gain the center of the stage by “doing something different.” Actually, modern architecture is not a mere fancy or passing fad. We have now become accustomed to modern music, to modern painting, to the modern drama and even to modern women. Modern architecture is a logical development. Rather than being a mistake, caused by not heeding the proverbial words, “look before you leap,” modern architecture has been actually forced upon us, whether we like it or not. The last of the arts to yield to the demands of the times, architecture, fighting against it to the end, has finally been obliged to succumb.

Randolph Williams Sexton
The Logic of Modern Architecture
Architectural Book Publishing Company
New York

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crossing the Red Sea with Alex Müller

Sometimes, you post things on Internet, things you think are wonderful, things you want to share, things like this piece of film:

Then people come to your website and are astonished by your film, by what it says about nature. Your film makes many happy.

And then along comes Alex Müller.

You see the thing about Alex, don't you? Alex knows better than everyone else. Alex posts after everyone else, so that Alex can have the last word.  Alex has a Facebook page. His pictures speak a thousand words. There are many Alex Müllers on Internet. They help make it a more miserable place.

Speaking of raw footage, here are The Adverts on 25th May1977 at Sussex University. Star Wars was realeased on the same day, if that sort of thing matters to you. This has been posted here to show you kids that everything you know about Punk is wrong. Note if you will, the absence of punks. Although the Adverts were playing support to the Clash on the now legendary White Riot tour, things are a bit quiet. This was a Wednesday night in Brighton and the usual crowd turned up.  Gaye Advert is probably the only woman in the room. You can see the "ferocious" performance by The Clash here.

This blogeur saw The Adverts in 1977 at Maidstone College of Art. The usual crowd turned up. It was one of the best nights of my life.

You get bonus points (and points mean prizes) if you can identify the source of the picture. It is a film.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Grey Lynn state of mind

Today is the day for the Fundy Post Quiz of the Day. The rules are simple: examine carefully this photograph from yesterday's Glucina and answer the following questions:

1) is that Sally Ridge or estranged wife Carita?

2) Can they be easily distinguished or do all these people look alike?

3) If one were one of these people, would it really matter with whom one went home, given that they are all alike?

4) Would the children know the difference?

5) Who is that large man who made the unfortunate decision to dress up as an Arab?

6) Could it be Duncan Garner, who always appears in the weekly Glucina?

7) Am I the only member of the twittering class who reads this column?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address. The Editor's decision is final. The winners may be announced at a later date, but don't hold your horses.

In the meantime, here is David Bowie again, singing that song again and telling a story about Steve Marriot.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Can't help thinking about me

NYM V56I Ayn Rand Enthusiast — Upscale male, handsome, successful, culturally literate, a high achiever who finds time for serious fun. Seeks classy, career-directed female equal. 20s-30s, 5'5" or under, with brains and beauty. If you share my passion for great books and ideas, stimulating conversation and rational, secular values, let’s talk. Recent photo a plus.
New York Magazine - 12 Feb 1990 - Page 117 

One asks: did it ever happen? Did he meet his 5'5" brainy beauty? Did he enjoy stimulating conversation and rational, secular values? Or is he still reading The Fountainhead alone?

David Bowie and the Lower Third: