« Phoenix and skyscrapers | Main | Historic red alert »

April 25, 2019

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My native amigas y amigos enjoyed this.

Sad news: the Tucson Rialto project died.
Bad News: White collar crime at ASU?
Good news: Summer comes to the Desert.

It's astonishing to think that a dusty little city with a four-digit population could build such beautiful things. Today, it's a vast megalopolis and the last thing anyone thinks about doing is something timeless and enduring. This isn't confined to Phoenix obviously. Everywhere in the world buildings are less an expression of an aching need for the heartfelt so much as a desire to anesthetize ourselves with physical comfort . What a miserable aspiration.

Nothing lasts forever except the dust. Notre Dame in Paris nearly burned down and will, eventually, suffer the fate of its creators. We can't and shouldn't save everything but there should be just enough soulfulness to create new wonders that will continue to enchant long after we're gone. We have an innate need for beauty and the price we pay for its absence is measured in violence and alienation.

Last night I went to hear the Portland Baroque Orchestra, perhaps the greatest cultural gem this gamma city has to offer. The concert took place in an old Baptist church downtown so lovely it could make me take up Bible thumping. Eventually a massive earthquake will reduce it to rubble and new architects will replace all that with something iconic, say a pile of shipping containers haphazardly arranged over a concrete pedestal. The public will be perplexed, which is proof of one bad thing or another. I can say this now because I no longer pretend to be hip. I really don't care if something is rigorously contextualized with eye-arching irony. I just want to be surprised with a joy I can't begin to explain.

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