Split Pediment

The musings of a Brighton-based architecture dweeb and town planner in training.

Category: Serious


I make no apologies for once again speaking of Mr Michael Chabon and quoting him at length. It turns out that I hadn’t actually read everything he’s written and published (although I believe I soon will have. Get me) and, whilst moseying about in The Strand bookstore I found a paperback copy of some collected essays of his. The first essay, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights”, begins as follows:

Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights. It gives off a whiff of Coppertone and dripping Creamsickle, the fake-butter miasma of a movie-house lobby, of karaoke and Jägermeister, Jerry Bruckheimer movies, a Street Fighter machine grunting solipsistically in a corner of an ice-rink arcade. Entertainment trades in cliché and product placement. It engages regions of the brain far from the centers of discernment, critical thinking, ontological speculation.

Naturally MC goes on to debunk this and argues for a restoration of entertainment – specifically in the form of the short story – to what he sees as its hallowed place.

This morning I read an interesting piece in the Graun, following the Royal Ballet‘s tour of Cuba (Carlos Acosta‘s fine presence in said company playing no doubt some part in said arrangement). You should read it too, if you have an interest in ballet or Cuba (“Aw, shucks. Tap and Bolivia – that’s all I care about. What a gosh darned shame”). These sorts of pieces, I find, tend to end with some concluding thought – like Jerry Springer – and usually it’s some platitude masquerading as profundity. Not this time:

Sitting above Havana, gazing over a city slowly being rebuilt, [Edward] Watson [one of the RB’s principle dancers] suggests that back in Britain the link between dance and reality has become tragically worn, that in our wealth we’ve lost the understanding of what a tour like this should mean. “Here, people come to be entertained,” he tells me. “In London, too many come to criticise, to form their opinions, but here they just come for a good time.”

To form their opinions… There’s a phrase. The challenge, then: to allow oneself to be entertained, to revel in and celebrate art; to admit and incorporate one’s ignorance; to shrink from the quick opinion; to forgo the easy lament of one’s own inadequacies and to cheer the fine, hard work of the creator and the performer and the stagehand.

Saw these guys yesterday doing this. They were brilliant.


Coming to you LIVE AND HOT from the East Vill

Hello fair readers both! And mainly, you’ll be thrilled to hear, I’m sunning it up in NYC – East Sixth, to be fairly precise. What a treat! Sorry about the lack of a teaser but I didn’t want to give any game away to my fair Aunt, who has just celebrated a certain milestone of agedness and whom I was surprising with my visit. Anyway, it’s lovely here, as always, and I’ve enjoyed such architectural delights as the (nearly finished) new Cooper Union building and the demi-centurian Guggenheim. Pictures will be forthcoming just as soon as I can get the camera to plug into the computer and do the transferral and such.

In the meantime, I would very much like to talk about the PM. Oh cripes, he’s dreadful. Can’t string a sentence together, can’t even think properly. No ideas that man. Heartless, uncompassionate, unfunny. He’s a walking disaster.  Clarkson has it spot on. We might as well have elected (or rather not elected) a walrus with tusk-ache. Etc. Oh, hang on…

So OK. I don’t agree with everything he says (I’m not so much a passionate advocate for global organisations) but this video goes to show that there’s more to GB than we’re getting. I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but I suspect that there’s a fascinating essay to be written on how this Premier came to be seen as such a rotten failure. Here we have a decent speaker, with interesting, well-presented ideas; yet what we get on our screens is a useless dullard. Where did this come from? Whilst GB can’t escape responsibility, surely we must look to the peculiarities of our media and the wider political landscape for a full explanation. But I think we also must try to understand how we’ve come to a point in our national politics where listening to this sort of speech from (arguably) the most powerful man in the land becomes far, far less important than arguing over the ex-Home Secretary’s plugs and porn movies.

Anyway, that’s today’s ranting lament over. Now I’m going to listen to Seth MacFarlane at the Proms. I could literally not have any more of my boxes ticked right now.

Much love,