What Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy: be afraid of war

January 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm | In architecture, ideas, social_critique | Comments Off on What Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy: be afraid of war

I’m reading Deyan Sudjic’s brilliant 2005 book, The Edifice Complex; How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World. I won’t even try to synthesise this book, which covers what one might call the architectural impulse — the desire to shape the world according to one’s convictions, the will to stamp evanescence with some sort of “eternity” — as evinced in both the large and small egos that people 20th century history. It’s a great history lesson, given from an angle we don’t usually study it from, and even if you thought you already knew quite a bit about Hitler & Albert Speer’s plans for a “new” Berlin, or had a grip on Philip Johnson, or thought there wasn’t anything new to know about Edy and Ely Broad and Los Angeles, you’ll still be enlightened by Sudjic’s work. Besides, you probably don’t know enough about televangelist Schuller and his Crystal Cathedral at Garden Grove, and how many Presidential Libraries can you describe?

Sudjic quotes from a note written by Nikita Krushchev to President John F. Kennedy, presumably during the height of the Cuban missile crisis. Declassified by the CIA in 1968, it is displayed today at the Kennedy Library in Boston. On the eve of President Bush the Junior’s address to the American people, an address in which he will argue the case for a “surge,” Krushchev’s words seem even more urgent:

I think you will understand that if you are really concerned about the welfare of the world everyone needs peace. Both capitalists, if they have not lost their reason and still more we Communists, people who know how to value not only their own lives, but more than anyone the lives of their people. I see Mr.President that you are not devoid of a sense of anxiety for the fate of the world. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends only when it has rolled through cities and villages everywhere sowing death and destruction. (p.284)

We can cast a jaundiced eye on Krushchev’s somewhat sanctimonious plea for his Communist ethics regarding the people’s welfare, but the clarity with which he describes the reality of war’s progression — that it doesn’t end until it has “rolled through cities and villages everywhere sowing death and destruction” — well, that part is hard to argue with. It’s something the Iraqis are experiencing, and one can only assume that Bush thinks more of the same would be a good thing because he has never experienced war, whether at home or in service abroad.

If Bush had half the brain that Kennedy had, he might comprehend what Krushchev wrote. As it is, he seems not to have the “anxiety for the fate of the world” that Krushchev wanted to conjure in Kennedy. Peace escapes him, war surges on to find fresh victims.


January 23, 2007 at 7:46 pm | In ideas, media | Comments Off on Meanwhile…

I can’t retrace my steps to figure out how I came across this site, but Stock Exchange of Visions (as in “for the future, what it has in store for us [maybe]”) has eaten up 10 minutes of my time here, 10 there. I’m especially partial to Bruce Mau‘s clips. They’re funny, intelligent, and he has the most interesting thing to say about sex, too.

But I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to watch any of the War and Peace clips…

Trend Blend Map

January 23, 2007 at 7:37 pm | In ideas, web | Comments Off on Trend Blend Map

I haven’t entirely figured out why I’m reading a marketing blog, but IF! is a really good one, full of weird and wonderful links. Today, it pointed to Ross Dawson’s blog, who published the Trend Blend 2007+ (PDF!) map on December 18/06.

I love visual stuff like this, and just spent half an hour redrawing all the coloured lines and connections after printing the map out on my b/w printer…

Trend Blend 2007+

Cultural marks

January 12, 2007 at 1:28 am | In architecture, fashionable_life, scenes_victoria | 4 Comments

On Jan.8, J.C. Scott, a local designer who has “an upcoming role promoting arts and culture through Tourism Victoria,” mused in the local paper about how Victoria might go about being “in search of our cultural mark” (that was the title of the article). He used the article to think out loud about how we don’t have any signature cultural landmarks in town, buildings that testify to the fact that Victoria is more than just “olde England” heritage or overpowering nature, and that it has a thriving art scene. He referenced several other cities, and asked his readers to stretch their imaginations: land in Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum, visit Santiago Calatrava’s building in Valencia, think about what an I.M. Pei structure could add to our tourist centre, or a Tadao Ando museum further north, perhaps.

Well, I have another addition to this mental wish-list.


This is the new Philharmonic Hall on the Elbe (**)in Hamburg. It’s like a pirate ship sailing into the city, isn’t it? And why not? It’s a concert hall in what used to be a warehouse (capitalist storage space to you, comrade!), with the sails of capital (i.e., luxury condo & hotel development) powering the whole thing from above, in the guise of a post-modern signature structure that reminds one of a galleon unfurled. Culture and capital, in unabashed union. [(**)= Note: The link takes you to an over-engineered start page for a flash site, but it’s actually worth the visit: best flash animations I’ve seen, very smooth, absolutely excellent.]

This project is part of a larger urban revitalisation known as HafenCity Hamburg. The pages accessible from this link are positively crowing over this achievement, and admittedly, the project looks unrelentingly ambitious. It’s especially intriguing to notice how the planners are triumphantly crowing over the private-public partnerships they managed to engender, which got some of these developments off the ground. The concert hall, for example, is possible because that airy structure resembling a pirate ship’s sails plunked on the dour solidity of a hull (in this case, ex-warehouse) is a private condo & hotel development, strictly luxury, of course. The dour bits at the bottom, meanwhile, have been alchemically transformed (by all that money, including the profits from the condos) into an orchestral hall of culture.

Hummel, hummel!

Mors, mors…!

translation (sort of)

n.b.: if you land on the German-language versions of the architecture/ Hamburg sites, no fear: there’s a link for the English-language version, too.

Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival

January 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm | In media, scenes_victoria | 2 Comments

The 13th annual Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival (VIFVF) runs this year from Feb.2-11. The organisers put the “My Victoria” short entries on YouTube. Of the 3 or 4 I’ve watched, I really liked Rachel Smyth’s ironically titled “My Victoria?” (Click the title to go straight to the video on YouTube.) This little movie has a story, it plays with being slightly obnoxious (the two teenage boys, chasing “Victoria,” each thinking that she is theirs — hence the question mark, perhaps), and has a surprise ending, too. Plus, you get some of the city’s tourist beauty spots, as well as easily identifiable shops (A&B Sound’s rabbit-warren-ry store exterior, with its “entrance” and “exit” doors is practically a co-star) and other mundane views. Nice work.

Super, girl….

January 4, 2007 at 11:44 pm | In fashionable_life, just_so | 2 Comments

Your results:
You are Supergirl

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

(Via Spiderman. 😉 )

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