Friday links

by Yule Heibel on April 6, 2007

Ok, I don’t really have a “Friday links” convention, but thought I’d do one today.

First, there’s a google video of Reyner Banham narrating his own Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles film. It’s from 1972, made as a documentary for the BBC. The sound and visual quality is in places quite atrocious, but it’s still worth 51+ minutes of your viewing time if you’re interested in architecture, urbanism, Reyner Banham, LA, cars, and even branding. He has some incredibly prescient things to say here.

Also: check out Strange Harvest‘s post on London’s Ugliest Buildings. I don’t agree with all of it — some of the buildings look good enough, and maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments if you really want to understand why this or that building is “ugly.” But I do find these observations very interesting and useful:

…many London buildings move from ‘ugliness’ to ‘beauty’ through changes in attitude over time. Many of the ugliest buildings are assimilated, becoming part of the cities narrative – just as its population absorbs waves of immigration over hundreds of years enriching London’s grand narrative.


Ugliness however, isn’t an aesthetic. It’s about a mean-ness, a lack of generosity. In urban planning terms a grabbing of public resource for private gain.

Trying “to look nice” (as Strange Harvest puts it) sometimes results in the worst ugliness of all. And doesn’t that sound familiar?

Another nugget from that entry:

It’s the fact these are monsters that have no idea of their own self. What is more terrible – the idea that developers are trying to hoodwink the entirety of public life? Or the fact that this is honestly an attempt to make sense of contemporary living?

Well, that’s it, though, innit? Crossroads.

“…thunder, lightning, or rain?”


Can I point to something I haven’t even read yet, but which comes from an online source whose Vol.2, #4 cover illustration absolutely floors me? Mute Magazine features an attack dog’s massive tooth gear rearing up behind …well, what? a Soviet woman, or a Nazi one?, blonde, holding a blonde child, her rear flank assuredly safeguarded by red flags of solidarity waving in fascist unison… O dog, my hero? And what does that say about us, eh? The article in question is called On the Creativity of the Creative Industries: Some Reflections. It intrigues me because the idea of cities depending on “creatives” has been attacked from a traditionalist p.o.v. (Stephen Malanga in City Journal) and maybe it’s under fire from the other side, too.


And last, but not least — just for fun — there’s a hilarious video on YouTube (very short), Monkey Dust – The Cyclists. This is for all the stuck up cycling (and anti-car) snobs who think they’re above the rules because they believe that they’re saving the planet.

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