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April 18, 2017

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Any aesthetic process is fraught with misrepresentations by nature, matters of taste being what is really being examined. The taste arbiters are as clueless as everyone else, just less self-aware of their lack of critical faculties. Adding to the mess is there are no clear metrics by which anyone judges finished creations. Initially they rely on critical opinion and finally and most importantly, it's the test of time rendering the defining verdict, something that no one can foresee.

The Phoenix Art Museum, completed in 2006, serves an exemplary model of this cultural mayhem because many of the mistakes made in the selection process are so concrete and incontestable. Start with reviewing the before and after pictures of the new versus old museum. From the most heavily trafficked corner in the city, Central & McDowell, instead of a pleasing Moorish/Mission style building floating on a cool oasis the new museum that replaced it looks like a loading dock and garbage facility. As I drove my niece past it while I was showing her the city she said, “It looks like the back of a Safeway.” This reveals a design executed without any knowledgeable oversight even though it had been reviewed by hundreds of 'experts ' and tens of millions spent in the process.

Phoenix has historically made civil building selection a total exercise in disappointment when the odds say 50/50 could prevail. Here's a progress report for PAM's architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, on their most noted projects:

Neuroscience Institute, 1990s: Now abandoned.
NY Folk Art Museum, 2000s: Now abandoned.
Phoenix Art Museum, 1990s: Contemplating redesign since this posting.

The Art Museum isn’t Phoenix’s first aesthetic boondoggle: Previous artistic choices include:

Civics Center, 1970s. Lucky Assoc. Sewage Treatment plant aesthetics. Urban Rape-razed
Sandra Day Oconner Bldg, 2000s. Solar array meant to incinerate occupants and blind onlookers.
PAM. Enough said.
Phoenix Civic Sculpture. Whereabouts Unknown after $2.5M spent.
Crown Plaza Hotel: City disowns.
Patriot's Park. Tea Party garden site--razed.

A particular and peculiar aspect of municipal governance that promotes these kinds of urban cancers is the council/manager form of government. Without a totemic representative of the city as in Strong Mayor, the various political constituencies are allowed to have their input, permitting the final decision to not have an author; there is no blame to give or honor to take.

The complexity of judging something rooted in fantasy by citizens chosen for their campaigning or monetary contributions guarantees mediocrity. Even the best selection process overseen by an individual with a strong curatorial sense guarantees bruised egos and poor judgments. But at least there’s a chance of getting something incredibly good or so aesthetically challenging it becomes that which it was supposed to represent by dint of its cultural impact. There’s no chance of that here because it will scare away the Midwestern retirees escaping the cold and wanting a respite from the challenges of life.

It's interesting that the Library makes a much more successful and attractive "artistic statement" than the Art Museum.

Perhaps "interesting" isn't the right word.

I'm sure if they can scrape together enough money to keep fiddling with the Museum, eventually they'll get it right...maybe.

And once the building is finally "fixed" they can turn their attention to the mediocre permanent collection.

Bravo, Dravo
and
Detective Mapstones office is here.
in a photo of my recumbent at the old Maricopa County Court house at 17 S Second Avenue, which also was the Phoenix Police station and jail.
thx Jon.

1. Wright used an architectural symbol for a toilet fixture to design the shape of Gammage theatre.

2. Soleri built a futuristic city in the desert in order to seduce coeds.

3. The first thing any architect/developer/builder should do in AZ is stand in front of a mirror and repeat one thousand times in a row "this is a desert". Then going forward, select materials, building height, locations, landscaping, etc., that coexist with its desert environment.

Nature's desert dwellers live underground. In the years to come, Phoenix is going to wish it were underground.

I think obsessively about architecture, its varying qualities and attributes, and how it informs our collective social reality. (see: Winston Churchill's dictum, "first we shape our buildings, then they shape us"). James Howard Kunstler has written brilliantly on this subject although his political writings are that of an unhinged crank.

The problem with modernism is that it is not oriented to human feeling and intimacy. Rather, it's speed, cars, consumerism, and alienation, which define the modern project for mostly ill. It's why Phoenix will always have problems with being a city attractive to "young creatives", or anyone desiring a built environment that is beautiful and sane. Make it too much about cars and there's hardly anything left for people and their needs for scale and relationship.

Ours is a nation that, pace Kunstler, has grossly misallocated its resources to creating not a civilization but an economic project that values investment returns to the exclusion of actual human values.

Because I now live in an older, better established city, I can see the contrast between the traditional neighborhoods and the modern wreckage of auto-centric development. Portland's newness is no better than that of Phoenix despite have a number of great architectural firms. There are two things at work here. One is the demand of every developer to maximize profits at the cost of things like design, building materials, ornamentation, and sensitively contributing to the existing streetscape. The other is the helplessness of modern man living in cities that assume human needs are all material. It's this radical reductionism that creates cities like Phoenix. We are all guilty here, literally driving ourselves to distraction for the phantom pleasures of material excess.

I live in a neighborhood called Sullivan's Gulch. It has a mix of traditional and modern styles that show the steady descent of architecture into complicity with our growing spiritual impoverishment. The craftsmen houses from a century ago are lovely beyond words. After World War II, modernism took over but architects still kept the scale and relationships human-sized. There are a half dozen or so apartment complexes from the 1950s which still show respect and love for human beings. By the 1960s, this stewardship had vanished almost completely. Instead of gracefully landscaped grounds and entrances, there was the scorched earth of asphalt for what they knew was our real love: cars. The apartment complexes from this period look mostly like the kind of places you would buy your meth or opioids. An extraterrestrial anthropologist might wonder what we were thinking. My guess is that the Big Bright Tomorrow of post-war American simply hypnotized us with the allure of fun and mobility.

Phoenix has paid a heavy price with its Fast and Cheap ethic. A few starchitects can't remedy this horror with trophy buildings to their own egos. At the risk of drawing an extravagant conclusion, I can't help but think this "Phoenix problem" is the soul-sickness of the country as a whole. We now live in a place we neither value nor love. It's why we're so neurotic and hostile. We've abused ourselves for a couple of generations now with a built environment that could be any city's road to the airport. It's killing us collectively and spiritually. Our civic soul might as well be emblazoned with the word TRUMP on top. Yes, we're that marooned in a hellscape of our own making.


Brilliant, Soleri. Thank you.

Good post, soleri. I'd bet I agree with you much more on architecture than I do on politics. I agree it is regrettable and undeniable that our society doesn't seem to value good architecture like it did decades or even centuries ago. I would question your identifying our architectural malaise with Trump. The president probably even now still thinks of himself as a builder more than a politician. His company's buildings reflect the man: big, brash, extravagant. You could question the taste of some of them, but you couldn't say they are boring, especially the ones originally built by Trump. After all, he doesn't just want to build a wall, but a GREAT BEAUTIFUL wall.

http://www.trump.com/real-estate-portfolio/


As a firefighter, I have a keen interest in fire station design. Fire stations often reflect the values of the communities that build them. Cities that want to make a statement of their place in the world will build an impressive, interesting structure. Other cities will build the most spare, utilitarian building possible. Arizona, of course, abounds with the latter, but a few examples of proud flagship stations can be found. Glendale station 7 and Mesa station 1 come to mind. Many cities will build both types and more often something in between. 75-125 years ago, many cities built some amazing stations. Unfortunately, few have survived as these buildings above all have to be functional, and the fire service has changed so much in the last hundred years. The 50's to 80's were generally horrible for fire station architecture. At least in Arizona, that is partly related to that being a period of such rapid growth that cities were just building them as quickly and cheaply as possible. The design has improved somewhat the last couple of decades and there are many cities that are spending money to show civic pride in their fire department buildings.

If you're interested, here's a good site that shows some of the best of newer station buildings.
http://www.fierofirestation.com/awards.php


Here's Seattle Fire Station No. 2, from the 1920s, and still operating:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Seattle_-_Fire_Station_No._2_-_03.jpg

I love it! It looks like it's been renovated, which is fantastic.

Jon7190, you are a pleasant and agreeable person, which makes partisan differences blur to vagueness. That's how it should be! Instead, we have Rorschach politics dividing us. Someone who will NOT build a "great beautiful wall" has mesmerized your tribe. I say this with as much respect as I can muster: Donald Trump is a bullshitter. He is not going to "repeal Obamacare and replace it with something terrific". He's not going to tear up trade agreements, drain the swamp, bring back coal, or make the Rust Belt gleam again. It's a mystery to me why anyone would vote for someone whose rhetoric was extremely and blatantly at odds with reality although the explanation may not be that mysterious at all. Trump is signaling tribal affinity more than achievable goals. He's the Dumb White Trash president of an America that really thinks everything is extremely simple and you don't need "experts" or a political roadmap so much as a box of matches to burn down the edifice or reality.

Speaking of edifices, Trump likes flashy and tall. They're all about him. But Trump's persona is not really pleasant at all, unless you think bullies are underrated as good company. Most Trump voters would probably hate being around a blowhard this malignant for longer than a few minutes, but they would be exciting before the cracks in the facade indicated he was bored with you. Then it would be time to extend your hand, check for you wallet, and bid your fond farewell. Trump will not be your next best friend.

About 10 years ago I was wondering through this nation's most surreal wasteland, Las Vegas, when I came upon a building that looked like it was plopped down in the middle of nowhere. There was no context for it all. It looked utterly marooned, much like someone who had spent their last dollar at the slots and was wandering vaguely in the direction of the bus station. At the top of this blank golden slate was the name TRUMP. I remember thinking it looked like a mausoleum, possibly a tomb for a modern pharaoh. I thought for a moment who in their right mind would want to live here before I realized no one with any inner life would even bother to walk through the front door in the first place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_International_Hotel_Las_Vegas

This nation's soul sickness is not merely that some people are lonesome for a childhood home that was paved over for a Walmart but that we look for solace in wealth and ostentation. Trump is our era's Citizen Kane. He has no taste or sensibility but he does have raw assertion as a core existential principle. "I alone can fix it" is not a cri de coeur that resolves ambiguity so much as flipping the bird at anyone who would dare challenge his alpha male primacy.

Soleri, said Trump is a bull shitter. I think most everyone I know knew that long before he decide to run for president. But that didn't keep fools from voting for him. And now we are paying the price as he appoints the Bilbys and science deniers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_G._Bilbo

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=roe4LQW5&id=9AF780B12FA9411865042F739174402C08F483B6&thid=OIP.roe4LQW5ND2_IODQYf1PNwEsCo&q=science+deniers&simid=608025104046623457&selectedIndex=0&ajaxhist=0

The Architects:
Beautiful buildings, cute babies:
All in the eye of the beholder.
Personally any man made structure over one story I generally find offensive.
Tonight I venture down to the Hyatt Compass revolving dining room so as to be able to see the city landscape. Standing on the sidewalk in downtown now affords you an obstructed view of “ugly” walls holding up tall buildings.
I understand Sprawl! But had Teddy declared Arizona a wilderness instead of approving a dam we would likely not be having this discussion about Phoenix architecture. (Note: the heat has driven the Canadians and other interlopers away from my desert dwelling. Quiet has set in as Wiley coyote and I feed and feed on the desert quail and rabbits.)
Jon and I have had different thoughts about this issue since I first became aware of Jon when he published something about cities in the Arizona Republic. As I recall he was advocating tall buildings and I was pushing to blade Phoenix and plant cactus. Sajuaros will grow there!
Intellectually and architecturally I am unable to compete with the brilliance of Jon and Soleri but following are my likes on manmade edifices.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=c2cet6LV&id=D7F1C7813A92B14C5F64E09E8D28AE4921F405C1&thid=OIP.c2cet6LVHq3H5Yfnybn_MgEsCo&q=indian+tepees&simid=608027552189056122&selectedIndex=50&ajaxhist=0
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=A0mOatLr&id=4028FC7D85993109AAB41EEEE04852601C5B4F4D&thid=OIP.A0mOatLr1L3X-hbylpU0sQEsDI&q=old+southwest+ranch+house+photos&simid=608007928482434758&selectedIndex=7&ajaxhist=0
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=VtMmZDeW&id=5F99A6AD38E9D7BD2EBD70BA7BF330054C4AB84D&thid=OIP.VtMmZDeWDHKAvI1ek6dAdQC9Es&q=old+southwest+ranch+house+photos&simid=608048099319350190&selectedindex=180&mode=overlay&first=1
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=30MjNvd%2b&id=4D66B8AAA2841581CA3E5F202EAA82B8F451CE7A&thid=OIP.30MjNvd-H4FsjNRWwmFYjAEsDI&q=Arizona+san+rafel+ranch+house+photos&simid=608006266331270293&selectedIndex=22&ajaxhist=0
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=41EfCY10&id=95961F0B9ABEB6A5C8F5B27D0B7BC5B997D5B1BF&thid=OIP.41EfCY10mk8F8JBw6d2pcAEsDI&q=white+washed+houses+greece&simid=608055688513982240&selectedIndex=0&ajaxhist=0
And for those that are into building here are some different structures.
http://www.msn.com/en-au/travel/news/are-these-landmarks-the-worlds-ugliest-buildings/ss-BBz5vYs#image=18

Trump and immigration:

In 1947 cartoonist Bill Mauldin published his book, Back Home. It contains a cartoon about immigration and keeping “the Scum of Europe" out of America. The cartoon states, “America First Rally, Let’s keep America in the hands of Pure-Blooded Americans.” In the cartoon a roadside Billboard of this message is being read by a number of American Indians. Mauldin’s cartoon was intended as a lampoon of the Daughters of the Revolution, D.A.R. that was anti-immigration of their “European Cousins”.


Soleri, thanks for the kind words. I do believe that partisan differences shouldn't divide us as much as they do these days. We're all operating from a position of ultimate ignorance (D.P. Moynihan?) and no one has a monopoly on all knowledge and truth.

I actually agree with you to a point. Donald Trump is obviously a bullshitter. Is he more of one than the typical politician? Maybe, but my feeling on the topic is that all politicians are full of it and the successful ones are usually full of themselves, too. Has there ever been a president elected who hasn't promised big and delivered smaller? As they say, campaigning is easy, governing is hard. If Trump didn't know that, he's learning. I believe he will do everything he humanly can to get the wall built, because if he wants to get reelected, he has to. It wasn't just a typical campaign promise, it was the centerpiece promise of his whole campaign, from day one. If the wall doesn't get built, the president had better have a damn good reason for it being despite his best efforts or he could never face voters. No amount of political, rhetorical BS could cover that failure. Personally, I believe it actually will get built, unless the left can find a way to tie it up in the courts.


I think most voters are like me in that they understand there is always a lot of hyperbole in campaigns. We know a president may not be able to get through all the great, specific plans he or she rolled out in the campaign.  One wouldn't have to research for long to come up with a wealth of grandiose Obama campaign speechifying that got doused by cold, D.C. water. You're really just voting on a direction for the country. Is one candidate more in line with your values and more likely to do things you agree with than the other? That's my main criteria, at least. Most of the campaign nonsense I take with a grain of salt. Except the wall. I always thought he would have to follow through on that. 


Wait a minute, how did this nice architecture post get back onto the election? 

Jon7190, Obama was roundly scorned for campaigning on the gossamer wings of hope and change. I got what he was saying: he would somehow make government work by transcending the toxic partisan divide. Nonetheless, he did try. He watered down the necessary stimulus bill with tax cuts in order to accommodate a few Republican moderates (three to be precise). His health care reform bill was the foundation for Mitt Romney's credibility as a national candidate while governor of Massachusetts. It emerged from the right-wing Heritage Foundation in 1993 as a conservative answer to Hillarycare. It didn't garner a single Republican vote. Hope and change only work if both sides are willing to try it. Republicans don't do compromise or cooperation anymore. The base won't allow it.

Why is Trump, a man without any political experience or policy fluency, president? Because he campaigned on a platform of dividing Americans against one another. White against everyone un-white. Christian against Muslim, and exurbia against cities. Since assuming office, he has reneged on most of his promises, from draining the swamp to not playing golf. His administration is a shambles of incompetence and factionalism. Yet he speaks as if he is the most successful new president in history. The man is so detached from reality that psychiatrists suggest he has a profound psychological disorder. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/trump-and-the-pathology-of-narcissism-w474896

Trump is a builder who loves big, flashy, and often tasteless. He has used bankruptcy laws to enrich himself at the expense of his investors. He routinely stiffed small-fry contractors who worked on his projects. He brags about not paying taxes. He described his sexual history as his "personal Vietnam". Somehow, he became the hero to traditionalists and the white working class. The discontinuities and absurdities are too many enumerate but they suggest an ethically unmoored individual with no moral center. His ignorance of American history and government would flunk a high school student.

As citizens we are no better than our willingness to critique our own assumptions. Once we divide the fabric of reality into Us and Them, there is no peace or functional democracy. This is why we must make every effort to find the center or fulcrum point in self-government. When we don't make that effort, we end up with ideologues and zealots making a hash of our noble experiment. It doesn't matter if you're Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders, democracy fails if you don't make an effort to bridge the divide.

That said, thank you for your civility. I think the only way we rescue this nation is by talking to each other as if the decency we can't find in our politicians we somehow locate in one another. We need to turn off cable news, give up social media, and revive the most fundamental sanity we have in this world: trust. We can model it politically by voting for those people who don't demonize others. I know quite a few Trump voters in my own life who are decent people. But as this blog entry suggests, bad architecture makes for bad communities. Trump, to my mind, is a symptom of our collective disease. We can cure it by tuning out the shrieking monkeys on the fringes. We are better than this.

Obama's 2004 convention speech and his campaign rhetoric about avoiding partisanship and there not being a Red America and a Blue America was very appealing to me. It wasn't enough for me to vote for him based on my criteria mentioned above: I knew I wouldn't agree with the general direction he would take the country or many of the things he would do. As it turned out, he unfortunately didn't make much progress on moving us past partisan divisions. In fact, three days into his administration he told Republicans objecting to aspects of the stimulus bill, "Elections have consequences and at the end of the day, I won". Here's a good article on the Republican perspective on Obama's partisanship: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/08/13/too_bad_obama_didnt_follow_his_own_advice_123650.html
After eight years, it's pretty obvious that politics and the country are even more divided and partisan. You can blame that all on Republican resistance to Obama if you want, but not plausibly, IMO. Lack of bipartisanship is the one truly bipartisan achievement in Washington and the Democrats are lined up to now to resist Trump even more. Naturally with less eloquence, Trump has even said things reminiscent of Obama about desiring to work across the aisle and do bipartisan things. President Obama struggled to achieve anything bipartisan, I think, because he was fundamentally an ideological progressive. Trump, not being fundamentally ideologically driven, could maybe surprise us all and work across the aisle in his desire to make deals and "win". But I doubt it with the current toxic environment in D.C.

On your last two paragraphs: +1. I worry that our country will become so divided as to be practically ungovernable. It seems to me that in the past, despite party differences and policy disagreements, the vast majority of Americans had the foundation of a similar worldview. Not so anymore. Our society has become unprecedentedly pluralistic and the modern trend of social media to reinforce folk's preexisting beliefs is exacerbating it.

I have been both fascinated and distressed to see all the incidents in the news of the scary lack of tolerance on elite college campuses. This is exactly the sort of thing that is symptomatic of our society's divisions and growing inability to work through them. After the Middlebury College incident, many of the faculty there had a wonderful response: https://freeinquiryblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/free-inquiry-on-campus-a-statement-of-principles-by-a-number-of-middlebury-college-professors/

Many Americans today lack intellectual modesty. Knowing what you don't know. I had the quote all mixed up before. It was Robert Frost :

Courage is the human virtue that counts most--courage to act on limited knowledge and insufficient evidence. That's all any of us have

None of us knows everything or are presently right about everything we think. Listening to somebody you disagree with isn't dangerous or threatening, it's the first step to being intellectually honest.

Well, since soleri and Jon7190 turned this post political:

I always get a kick how some of you folks over analyze and over think everything.

Simple is better and clearer.

1. The DNC just got knocked out cold. It is currently on it's knees. It doesn't know which way is up, which way is down. It would like to get to it's corner and regroup, but it has no idea where it's corner is.

2. The RNC is currently in a struggle to keep it's limbs from being pulled apart in all directions. It's getting drawn and quartered. Painful. I love it.

3. Meantime, while the two failed parties are trying to survive, I hope they don't, the usual suspects are making hay while the sun shines: the MIC and the Intelligence industrial complex. They are having the time of their lives.

Burn the house down and may the Phoenix that rises from the ashes be better than the forty years of crap we've lived thorough.

Amen Bro!

"Burn the house down"?

What would that look like?

Civil War? Martial Law? Blood in the streets? Complete economic collapse and chaos? Cities in ruin and packs of survivalists communicating by smoke signals? Make a great Cormac McCarthy book. Oh, wait, he already wrote it.

And from the wreckage comes...who and what?

Sounds like a really good, well thought out plan.

You think the MIC is just going to disappear? Chaos only makes them stronger, and they have a 70 year track record to prove it.

To make it as simple as possible, be careful what you wish for.

Who is the MIC?
More in tune communists?
U will be ok Frank, U live in Scottsdale.
I recall when Scottsdale was a nice village.
Not to worry, after the intellectuals have brought us this far.

A few observations on Phoenix's built environment from a longtime resident (1958-)...

Most commercial buildings are actually temporary structures. There are many commercial corners that are on their second, and even third or fourth, crop of buildings: You enclose as many square feet as possible, as cheaply as possible, barely meeting not-very-demanding building codes, and, after 15 or 20 years of collecting rents, you tear it down and replace it. All that construction lumber, fiberboard, and cheap EPS sheathing gets hauled off to the landfill to be replaced by new lumber, fiberboard, and EPS.

When I was a kid, I asked my uncle why there weren't any houses in Phoenix built out of wood. (1950s Phoenix was a Superlite monoculture.) He said it was because of the termites and so wooden houses weren't allowed. Now wood seems to be the almost exclusive building material for all residential construction, even McMansions and multihousing. Stewart Brand said that when you build in wood, you are still building a shack, no matter the square footage or stucco adornments.

I often wonder what kind of problems Phoenix will face in 50 years, after the termites, heat, and damage from monsoon storms have had their way with Douglas-fir 2x4s, medium-density fiberboard, and the stucco paste that covers them. The housing stock created from 1980 to 2020 is going to be in just terrible shape, and there will be a million shacks to deal with. Who will pay to have a million shacks removed or repaired?

Hell, the whole place is just a temporary encampment, one that hogs space and energy.

Earth day. I just spent 2 days in "downtown" Phoenix immersing my self in the fine things that are offered inside the walls of boring buildings. Maybe manana after I rest up from mingling with throngs of "Earth Day" and "Science Day" marchers I might find the energy to offer my humble opine.
PS, Frank, Scottsdale is just another sprawling armpit but one that can afford to shave away the ugly ones.
Hasta luego

Good post Joe.
"Temporary encampment"
History speaks to us if we
Ask the Dust.

I like that reference B Franklin makes to Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The movie was good, too (unlike Ask the Dust).

There's something a little off-putting about middle-class people vamping their apocalyptic sangfroid to others. "Burning down the house" is brave, empty-headed rhetoric coming from those who will not suffer the consequences of their own cynicism. Steve Bannon is probably the most obvious example out there in the public realm, a millionaire who doesn't care who suffers as long as his sui generis ideology triumphs. Trump, the ultimate narcissist, is shielded only by his complete ignorance. We who read, think, and argue here have a deeper responsibility than a man-child desperately craving love and respect. Trump won an election with the votes of the unlettered and thoughtless. What an apt metaphor to end the world as we know it.

Of all the apocalyptic scenarios out there, climate change is paramount. Its effects will likely be "permanent" in that a 10,000 year period of much higher temperatures will effectively end civilization as we know it. We are whistling past this graveyard with bravado and resignation. I seriously doubt authoritarian politics of the right or left will find a path forward. Nihilism, to paraphrase Francis Bacon, makes a great breakfast but a lousy supper.

Earth Day, 042217
Note: I have almost 70 earth days in the Valley of the Sun
The evening before we had dinner at 5pm at the Compass Room atop of the Hyatt Hotel. My companionship was marvelous, the service was good, and the food was just OK and as usual expensive. The view was depressing. The valley of the Sun is just one big vison of sprawl. Probably my last time at the Compass restaurant. The view from the room looking west at sunset and after sunset was still particularly spectacular. However the San Carlos Hotel has been dwarfed by new structures and appears dusty and forlorn. The Hyatt Hotel was busy. The population had good diversity and Police Chief Jeri Williams was speaking in the Banquet room to members of the NAACP.
On Earth Day morning we went to the Breakfast Club at the Palomar Hotel but it was jammed and the wait was over a half hour. We ended up at the Old Adams Hotel, now the Renaissance and formerly the Wyndham. The white women’s barber shop musical groups were holed up here. The Hotel spent a lot of money attempting to make it look good, I wasn’t impressed and it will never be the “Adams”. We had breakfast at this hotel and never again.
Off to the march and the stopping point at the Cesar Chavez Memorial. The crown was big and the event went well. It appeared to be mostly populated by folks with placards and T-shirts for science. I blew five bucks for a couple of Green party buttons.

Riding with Attila and his wandering horde or UBITUB: We caught the lite rail from Central and Washington to Central and Roosevelt and walked back a few blocks to the Phoenix Market for the Farmers market where my companion’s kid sells Organics. We walked back to the light rail station and then got off at Central and Thomas. We then walked to 8th Street and Thomas. The rail was jammed, standing room only. My biggest objection is one can’t pull a cord and get off where you want. The security of light rail seemed nonexistent. No one checked for ride tickets and I saw no Phoenix uniformed transit police at all. I did see three overweight white guys in uniforms that said they were “private” (?) transit security standing in the intersection of 1st street and Washington.

Camp fire: The Canadians have gone and the other winter visitors are packing up and getting out of the Valley of the Sun. However the campfire boys are staying to sit around the campfires in the desert evenings and inhale the smoke of braggadocio individualism and crow about what a great job the Donald is doing. Personally I am feeling encroached upon by too much civilization and look to move further SW into the desert. Have a great summer. Cal from the Great Sonoran desert, What’s left of it!

http://www.aaroads.com/west/arizona082/az-085_n_seq_069.jpg

Dear Soleri, with all due respect to your huge intellect, your ability to write some of the planets best political poetry and your great experiences and insight, I feel sometimes you mistake the rather simpler statements made by others that might not be quite as bright. We cant all be geniuses but do on occasion like to make emotional and bizarre statements as we feel better later.
Personally (probably because I am not a genius) I do not care for Cormac McCarthy or Bill Brysons writings. I read little fiction but on occasion break away from bizarre reality and immerse myself in somebody like James Lee Burke. And I just finished Bill Mauldins book, "Back Home" Next up,a reread of "Carnival of Fury" and a first read of "Firebrand and the First Lady".

Note: Due to my personal experiences and genetic and learned desires and emotions I have put "Ask the Dust" in my top five favorite movies after, Day of the Jackal (European version), Three Days of the Condor, and Star Wars (first release only).

And I like John Fantes Book Ask the Dust

(U should publish such).

Don't go Hollywood on me. Burn down the house doesn't need to be apocalyptical. More like turn out the current leadership/donor ruling class of both parties. They would think it was the end of the world. It would be a new beginning for us. If Obama succeeds in battling against gerrymandering that would be good.

As it stands now, and it's early, I wouldn't put it past the DNC to run Hillary and Bernie again. Can you believe the "in your face" America about that from the DNC? You know the usual clowns will run for the RNC.

That's what I want destroyed, the national leadership of both parties, so that new blood has to be brought in. For you Hollywood fans, if it takes an asteroid or local earthquake at each of their headquarters, so be it.

I guess what I'm hoping for is out with the boomers in both parties, in with the millennials. Let's see what they can do.

Ruben, the guy you voted for president wouldn't even endorse Joel Ossoff, a Millenial, in that special election in Georgia. Of course, Bernie is not a Democrat. He's simply the leader of his own personality cult. He's not unlike Trump in that way.

Once you get rid of the political parties, their leadership, pesky details, complexity, unintended consequences, etc., you can come back and instruct everyone how to do it your way since you have everything figured out. Good for you, I guess. But reality is a tough taskmaster. You can wish for the implosion of a frustrating system but don't be surprised when today's saviors turn out to be all-too human. We won't solve our situation by pretending some people are better than others. It's rather more complicated than that. All we have is a process to hash things out, trade horses, compromise, and come back the next day for more of the same. Until then, work with others for common goals. Nothing teaches humility better than realizing even your teammates have different ideas on how to do things from you. That's life as we know it and there's no cure for it.

But reality is so fucking boring.

"It was easier to die in hot blood than to watch your death take place incrementally"
Jame's Lee Burke

I did not vote for Trump, Hillary or Bernie.

Are you telling me that after the tier one leadership in both parties there does not exist a tier two or tier three group of people ready to step in and take the reins. If that is so, that could present a problem.

I don't know everything. All I do know is that if you try the same thing for decades and it doesn't work, you really do need to try something else.

I've spent a lifetime watching problems with the following choices:

The correct answer.

The answer based on money.

The answer based on politics.

The voters said in November, "We're tired of the money and politics answers" We pick the guy who says he'll use the "correct answer".

You and I know they were conned. But that doesn't change the nature of their request. They want the correct answers applied to our problems.

I spent a career choosing the correct answers. The heat was intense. I spent countless hours in HR and before angry superiors. In the end, I won. It can be done.

Thinking with my gut: Despite all the intellectual geniuses that said Bernie couldn't beat Trump. My brainless gut tells me Bernie would not have lost the Votes Hillary did and he would have thumped Trumps ass.

After all the geniuses got it all wrong about Hillary's big win. But not them dumb drunks that sit around the campfire. Oh yeah I know Putin did it! Along with the Help of Israels prime minister, Jillian Assange, FBI director Comey and the KKK.

Soleri said "Of all the apocalyptic scenarios out there, climate change is paramount. Its effects will likely be "permanent" in that a 10,000 year period of much higher temperatures will effectively end civilization as we know it. "

I AGREE.

http://pre01.deviantart.net/cf38/th/pre/i/2010/240/c/0/dune___ride_the_sandworm_by_leywad-d1z1vt4.jpg

Once you start a fire, literally or metaphorically, you better hope there's a Fire Department handy, or things will just continue to burn until there's nothing combustible left.

The idea that Trump offered the "correct answer" is intriguing. Since he has shown that he is capable of taking every side of every issue, at least temporarily, to think that he was "correct" about anything would mean that you completely disregarded all the incorrect things he said immediately before and after his momentary stumble into whatever you consider "correctness". And that is a novel way to choose who to vote for.

PS Cal, for what it's worth, I live in central Phoenix, in a neighborhood that dates from the late 1920's.

Ruben, let's hit the pause button here. Why is money an out-of-control force in our politics? Hint: birdbrains voting for the Republican and lefty-gadfly candidates in 2000. Al Gore was the Hillary Clinton candidate that year. Remember him? You never liked him. So, what happens is that George W Bush gets to appoint two hard-core righties to the Supreme Court, who then green-light pay-for-play politics in the Citizens United decision.

A bit of background: it was Democrats who provided 95% of the votes for the McCain/Feingold bill that checked campaign spending. Al Gore would have nominated justices that perserved it. But Al Gore was impure, and even worse, boring. So, we voted for a genial ex-alcoholic instead. The rest, they say, is history.

I've beaten my head against the brick wall of purity politics for over a year and I've yet to get a single person to admit that sabotaging elections is probably not a good idea. Bernie Bros are all outraged about the "corrupt" system. They conveniently forget about Ralph Nader's helpful assist to the Republican Party which made this corruption possible.

Unless there are 65,000,000 voters out there who all think exactly like you do, why not choose the good over the perfect? I know: Hillary was not sexy enough for you. Her pant-suited physical form was less than pleasing to the eye. And like Al Gore, she was a bloodless wonk who knew more than her opponent by a factor of about 1000. No smarty-pants types for Real Americans! We want someone we can relate to! And now we're stuck with a far-right Supreme Court for the rest of our biological lives. And it's all the fault of the Democratic Party because.....er.....never mind.

Cal, Bernie would have been toast the moment Republicans started running ads detailing how much more in taxes the middle class would have to pay in order to fund a single-payer health care system. That, and morphing his face with images of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Fidel Castro would have been brutal. I grant you that Bernie is an authentic presence and voice that resonates deeply in Howard Zinn's America. But that America has never elected someone president. Worse, the collective purity pout of the far left ensured that Donald Trump would win. Sadly, the siren song of purity is an opioid and we've got a national crisis on our hands.

Sorry Framklin, must be another Frank. Mi Amiga lives south of 7th Street and Thomas.
At nite sleeping is near impossible for the constant sounds of sirens and helicopters. And the American Lung association says downtown Phoenix is one of the nation's most dangerous places to take a breath.
Enjoy.

Soleri, likely U R right but we will never know as Hillary somehow managed to lose a contest "you all" were "Absolutely" sure she couldn't possibly lose. You want try calling the French election winner?
The campfire guys like Le Pen but don't think she can pull it off as "its France".

And what do U think Assange has to get a pass from Trump? Lets ask the pro Russian, Englishman, La Farge.

The little positive energy I have believes Trumps election has become a driving force against everything he stands for. We could have used that energy in 2016.

Cal, I would rather be wrong about an election result than wrong about the essential decency of this country. Hillary Clinton, as personally flawed as she is as a performer, got significantly more votes than the man who has no business within 100 yards of the White House. I'll say this, too. Bernie Sanders is the left-wing analog to him. Politics is not vile or ignoble. It's what keeps various interests and factions working with each other instead of slitting one another's throats. Bernie is nearly as childlike as Donald. He thinks that if something isn't perfect it must be wrong. No, a thousand times, no. Politics is how the system works. And it would work infinitely better for all of us if the American left stopped sabotaging the progressive coalition. I totally get it that Boomers have to make way for a new generation of political leaders. But if they mistake zealotry and purity as substitutes for necessary compromise, then they are no better than the current firebreathers on the right.

Personally I blame no one for the outcome of the 2016 election. Blaming is as shaming something I try and avoid. 2016 was just another notch in Mother nature's gun as she moves foward in her for sure progress in eliminating Manunkind.

And we just keep pouring fuel on the raging fires.

Time for my evening stroll into the quiet desert.

Hasta Manana

I found this interesting. It goes against the Bernie as uncompromising hard core leftist idea. This kind of makes him look like the adult in the room:
http://www.npr.org/2017/04/20/524962482/sanders-defends-campaigning-for-anti-abortion-rights-democrat

Jon7190, except the evil Democrats have long supported candidates who deviate from the majority position. I'm happy Bernie got off his Pedestal of Virtue here. Indeed, I wish he'd make a habit of it. He even endorsed Joel Ossoff after the election.

Political parties need to be broad-based coalitions. One reason why a spectacularly unqualified candidate won the GOP nomination has to do with the Republican collapse into the Politics of Id. Real coalitions accept differences. Ideological movements, by contrast, have litmus tests. This is definitely true on the right as the threat of being primaried makes Republican officeholders take increasingly extreme positions. The sanctimonious left wants to do the same thing to Democrats (at home, see the teeth-gnashing over Kristin Sinema).

Back from the desert.
The old democratic party in Arizona is a gutless, toothless piece of flatulence blowing in the dust. And it has few to many minorities in the ranks. May the youngsters breathe life back into it.

Jon 7190 and Soleri, have a go at this.
https://medium.com/@kevinsarpei/3-reasons-why-bernie-sanders-might-be-controlled-opposition-b6884c492cef

Cal, thanks for the link. There's nothing like a conspiracy theory site to make you think everything is lost (unless we all rise up in unison, overthrow the corporatist swine who oppress us, and institute mandatory something or another).

It's at moments like this when I realize I'm pissing in the wind. There will never be an end to objections from people on the fringes of reality. Never. It's impossible. So, do we litigate everything until we are absolutely certain that the Clintons are probably the Evil Masterminds of the Universe? No. We grow up and realize we're not as smart as we think we are. I know I'm not. Contra your compliment, I'm NOT a genius. I don't even consider myself an intellectual. I'm just this lonesome dude on the internet struggling to keep politics in the realm of reality. The last thing I want is for it to become a doomsday cult.

I noticed over at The Huffington Post a story about Bill Nye, the Science Guy, objecting to CNN including a climate-change denier on one of its Earth Day panels. And who was this guy? Well, he's quite impressive per his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Happer The problem here is that he's in a very small minority of scientists who believe this stuff. Yet the right (and that includes Donald Trump) will trot him out as proof! that AGW is a hoax. We know how they roll. They will spin anything into a froth to deflect from the real debate. That's exactly what your alt-left sites do as well. We have one real debate going on, but Consortium News, The Intercept, and the one you linked to will suggest it's all darker than we can ever know. Therefore, don't believe anything unless you're absolutely certain that the messenger is a purist loon.

This is insanity and props to Bill Nye for calling it out on CNN. The left marginalizes itself this way. For some reason, this blog has become a magnet for this heavy breathing. It's all very intoxicating. Only we know the REAL score!

No. You. Don't. I feel like a jerk for bringing this up but you have this excellent reality-based friend named Jon Talton. Please: the next time you think reality is a bummer and that the left needs a cadre of its own Alex Jones types to blow the lid off a conspiracy, take a deep breath and e-mail your friend. You're spinning your wheels in the Sonoran sands of paranoia. Or, what's left of it.

Not much, thanks.

The candle in the dark.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/15/bernie-sanders-remains-one-of-americas-most-popular-politicians/?utm_term=.bc2b0711ed59

Bernie is the candle in the dark? If so, why didn't he release his tax returns? There's something about "saints" that gets under my skin. The real world is not one way or the other. It's good, bad, and a million gradations in between. If we think one person has the truth and everyone else is sorta in the dark, what does that say about our collective efforts we make to keep this unwieldy project called democracy alive?

Bernie is out there trashing the Democratic Party, which is near as I can tell, the only organized effort to keep real darkness at bay. I'd rather have a million Nancy Pelosis and Chuck Schumers than one sanctimonious gadfly telling me how corrupt they are. Most people are willing to settle for the cheap narrative that "both sides do it", that "they're all the same", and "we need a third party". This may be why they subscribe to Bernie's romantic fiction that everything sucks except for him and his wide-eyed followers. Cults make for great group think, but democracy? Not so much.

I'm now actively sick of Bernie. He's toxic.

Back to real estate for a moment.

I have two acquaintances (children of friends) who are going into a year and a half waiting for their move into condos downtown. Do any of you who follow the downtown housing scene know the cause of this delay?

B + S = R,
I got tossed out of ASU for not being smart enough to continue my college educstion and told to get a job in the trades. However I did get couple of A's in elementary Psychology.

It may unfortunate that silly ole Bernie is a rambling cult messiah to 57 percent of the population but "what cha gonna do"?
Draw back in to your shell?

I got a suggestion; The Democrats run Michelle Obama for president.

The Pelosis, Schumer's and Hillary's are old albino hollow zombies.

I find it amazing that "smart " young people would want to live in a ugly hot place with some of the planets foulest air?

Cal, it's also true this country elected someone who in a better nation would by under the watchful eyes of a psychiatric nurse.

Politics isn't about feeling good about yourself. That's religion. And if you need Bernie to get those warm fuzzies, you're mixing categories. We have politics to split and settle differences. We don't need guns when we have democratic self-rule. A left-wing gadfly is running around telling people he has all the answers. This isn't politics, it's a messianic delusion. That people are charmed by this fraud is still not a reason to collapse the political process. It's all we have short of authoritarians telling what to do.

Thanks Soleri. I hope my jabs at stimulation are not keeping you from your rides.
I'm just finishing my coffee and observed that a bunch of the "Campfire " boys are back from gun practice. They shoot six days a week with some of the "best" guns America makes. And they hanker to make America All White.

In my experience, young people, "smart" and otherwise, don't think much about their health.

They do, however, crave experience and excitement and contact, things they probably won't get living way out on the outskirts of town removed from what passes for civilization.

Regarding the air downtown, their response would probably be "so what?"

Now, if Trump's EPA has its way, and we burn all the coal and tar sands oil we can get our hands on, and Phoenix starts to look like Bejing, then maybe they'll take notice. Until then, not so much.

As far as the downtown condo situation, it might be the case that there are so many under construction at the same time that there aren't enough qualified tradesmen to get any of them finished on schedule.

The same thing applies to the boom in restaurants. Not enough good line cooks and competent waiters to go around.

And finally, about guns: I'm constantly amazed that the White's Only crowd thinks that they're the only ones who have guns and know how to use them. This is America. We all can have as many guns as we can afford.

When I mention the air quality downtown I get disbelief. So much for checking the science page. But who has time when your trying to arrange a sex engagement on the free WI FI at Starbucks. Just dot breathe too heavy. A warning from the American Lung Society.
But are liberals with guns "planning"?
Planning to make America Brown? Best to keep the guns in your walk in safe and get out the vote.

Conformity by Henry Steele Commanger.
"The concept of loyalty as conformity is a false one. It is narrow and restrictive, denies freedom of thought and conscience, and is irremediably stained by private and selfish consideration ".

Just rolled into downtown from theSuperstitions. Air is so bad U can't see the mountains. Putting on Still Suit.

Some great Front Pages today.
One about Sanders should make Soleri feel good. I really liked the Princess and the psycho fairy tail.
Did I just write tail, must have been a mental slip?
but then its a story about a lewd gross psycho and his daughter.

Well yes, President Trump does happen to be in the care of a devoted psychiatric nurse (her name is Ivanca).

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