Friday Homestead Dispatch
Tense Tacet Tartar
Visiting space aliens, upon seeing humans oppress—or kill—one another over who they worship, who they sleep with, what side of an arbitrary line they’re born on, or how absorptive their skin is to sunlight, would surely race home and report no sign of intelligent life on Earth. —Neil deGrasse Tyson
I’m sure you’ve seen, either in person or in print, one of the BEST stores across the country that seemed to be in the throes of falling down.
Architect James Wines, founder of architecture and environmental arts organization SITE, was commissioned to design a series of nine “big box” shopping centers across the US. These self-referential, concept-driven stores have gained legendary status in retail design and typify a rather cheeky, ruin-obsessed moment in architectural Postmodernism.
Pin-Up Magazine interviewed Wines and he had this to say about those stores: It was a huge advantage that the clients Sydney and Frances Lewis were major art collectors and really understood art. It wasn’t a battle, although many couldn’t understand how they ever agreed to construct buildings that were basically critical overviews of this whole idea of the big box shopping center. At that time, there were already big box shopping malls, usually located along highways, which we treated as found objects or as existing situations just waiting for assault. People accepted the always-same signature of this architecture, its services and its work. Therefore, we found it interesting to invert this meaning, to play with it by including both the environment and the audience as a physical part of the space. We wanted to turn the stores into highway art, because we have always said that it gives us the biggest pleasure to place art where you least expect it.
On the Ghost Parking Lot: “There was the problem of fossil fuel consumption. So I thought it would be interesting since automobiles consume petroleum, putting asphalt, which is a petroleum product, over cars—in a sense, the petroleum consumes the car.” Completed in 1978, the work was removed in 2003, having been damaged by ‘cleaning’ (the cars had been re-coated in concrete), neglect, and use – skateboarders and stunt cyclists would use the increasingly indefinable lumps as ramps and obstacles.
The Highrise of Homes was a theoretical project that offers apartment dwellers the unique advantages of garden space and personalized architectural identity in a multi-story condominium. The building is a steel and concrete matrix supporting a vertical community of private homes, clustered into village-like communities on each floor. One of the objectives is to offer an alternative to conventional housing design in the cityscape - replacing it with an anti-formalist urban collage of indeterminacy, idiosyncrasy and cultural diversity created by residents themselves.
“Buildings were being plotted or being approved green or whatever, and you look at them and they’re even uglier than normal. It’s almost as if they went out of their way, that there’s some kind of correlation between the badness of design and accommodating the environment. So my opinion was that bad buildings are not going to be preserved or they’re not going to be sustainable simply because nobody wanted them around. And I thought that we should see if there is an aesthetic that would, at the same time, accommodate the environmental movement and look good when finished. To say that my buildings are about demolition and ruin is just as stupid as saying Giacometti’s sculptures are about starving people.” —James Wines
My friend Kaz sent me this video which triggered a deeper dig into Wines’ work. Thanks, Kaz!
Arizona is up to hijinks once again, this time to rid the state of the dreaded DRAG QUEENS! Yes, SB 1028, sponsored by Senator Anthony Kern, the Republican chair of the judiciary committee, makes it illegal to host drag performances at any public place or at a private location where the show “could be viewed by a minor.” A first offense is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and nearly $4,000 in fines. A second offense is a felony that could mean a maximum of nearly six years in prison and fines of $150,000.
And not to be left out of the act, Tucson’s own State Senator Justine Wadsack, yes, WADSACK, said she frequently attends and enjoys drag shows. But some of the things she has seen at those shows, she claimed, haunt her to this day. (Then why did she keep going?) She said, “I’ve seen them stand on stage in a g-string, with breast implants, and a 5-year-old girl places a dollar bill in the g-string.” Then, she claimed, the drag queen asked, “Are you thirsty for some milk, little girl?” She also described how “drag queens make children lie down on top of them. That’s why we have to write laws.” She also brayed that drag performers are “targeting children in a pedophilia manner. It’s absolute debauchery and evil that is behind this.” She introduced her own bill, SB 1698, that defines drag shows as adult-oriented performances and compares them to bestiality, child sex trafficking, second degree murder, and sexual assault. Under the proposal, adults who allow children to see drag shows could receive prison terms of five years and be required to register as sex offenders.
In other news, the Justice Department has ruled that wealthy white men can shtup young girls with immunity. Did I mention Matt Gaetz? His lesser-known buddy, Joel Greenberg, is serving time with charges that include trafficking a 17-year-old girl, but Gaetz what? Voters in Florida’s First Congressional District, in the westernmost part of the state’s panhandle, seemed largely unfazed by all the stories about him. They elected him to a fourth term with 67.9 percent of the vote against his Democratic opponent in November, by an even greater margin than he had won two years earlier.
The Keystone Pipeline spill on December 8th of last year in northeast Kansas is still kicking up the dust. Since it began operating in 2010, the 2,687-mile-long TC Energy pipeline has spilled 23 times, dumping more than 26,000 barrels of oil. This particular one dumped well over 12,000 barrels alone. Let’s hear it for faith-based leaders who are stepping up along side environmentalists to create a stir. According to the Kansas Reflector, Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action, said the organization has been vocalizing concerns regarding the pipeline for more than a decade. And at vigil held at the Statehouse in Topeka earlier in the week Rev. Rachael Pryor, of Lindsborg, spoke; “Now that our minds are one, can we agree that humans and creatures matter — no matter where they live, or how much income they produce? Can we agree that the poorest places and the most marginalized communities are bearing the heaviest weight of this environmental harm?” Rep. Lindsay Vaughn, an Overland Park Democrat who serves on the House Water Committee, also criticized TC Energy for preventing media access saying “We still don’t know the answers to so many questions. There’s an overwhelming feeling that the story we’re getting is filtered, that TC Energy is telling us what they want us to know. We’ve heard reports from people who have been on site that the spilled oil has the consistency of wet asphalt, and there’s no way to clean that up. It can only be taken from the site.” Vaughn called for TC Energy to have a hearing in the state Legislature, giving the company 90 days to report the initial cause and present a plan of action to prevent any more oil spills.
And what the hell happened in East Palestine, Ohio with the tonnage of train cars derailing carrying vinyl chloride, which is used to make polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a hard resin used in plastic products? According to Vox, Rail workers, government officials, and industry analysts have long warned that such disasters are an expected consequence of an industry that has aggressively cut costs, slashed its workforce, and resisted regulation for years. After a similar derailment in New Jersey in 2012, that sparked a push for further regulation of the rail industry over how it handles the transportation of toxic materials, including crude oil and hazardous chemicals. It ultimately led to a law that required trains carrying toxic substances to be retrofitted with electronic braking systems, which brake trains cars immediately altogether, rather than front to back like conventional brakes. The Trump administration, under pressure from lobbyists who argued the change was costly to rail companies, rescinded the rule. According to Inside Climate News, Jan Dell, a chemical engineer who founded and runs The Last Beach Cleanup, a nonprofit group that fights plastic waste, said that “PVC is by far the worst” of the plastics. And thank the lawd almighty that Norfolk Southern has managed to round up $1000/person for folks who fled their homes and $25,000 for the Red Cross. They’ve won the lottery! This on the heels of Norfolk Southern making $4.8 billion in operating profit in 2022 while paying shareholders $4.7 billion in stock buybacks and dividends, as reported by More Perfect Union.
And Heather Cox Richardson reported that According to David Sirota, Julia Rock, Rebecca Burns, and Matthew Cunningham-Cook, writing in the investigative journal The Lever, Norfolk Southern supported the repeal, telling regulators new electronically controlled pneumatic brakes on high-hazard flammable trains (HHFT) would “impose tremendous costs without providing offsetting safety benefits.” Railroads also lobbied to limit the definition of HFFT to cover primarily trains that carry oil, not industrial chemicals. The train that derailed in Ohio was not classified as an HHFT.
Yep, the Republican way of private enterprise with no oversight (over socialist guvmnt tampering) strikes once again.
We knew the time was coming. Milo was diagnosed with kidney disease late last summer and his doc said he might not see the new year. He had been really lethargic early in the week and barely ate on Tuesday. No appetite at all on Wednesday—several vomits during the previous night along with bloody diarrhea—so we knew it was time. The last shot below is him in his favorite bed where he could look out at the world and get some sun on his sweet face. RIP, Milo the reading cat. Best boy. You were one of a kind.