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Kurt Vile & The Violators at the 4Knots Music Festival (6/29/2013)

29 Jul

4 Knots BookletI turned my girlfriend on to Kurt Vile last year when I played “Baby’s Arms” for her (on my stereo…I can’t finger-pick a guitar for shit) from his 2011 Continue reading

An Architectural Bike Ride: Part 2

31 Aug

I will try to explain The Big Dig in the simplest of terms.  Officially beginning in 1982, the Big Dig buried the six-lane, elevated portion of  I-93 that ran directly through downtown Boston and replaced it with a park system. There was once a tangle of steel, cars and smoke and now there are flowers and merry-go-rounds . . . seriously.

A discussion about The Big Dig and Continue reading

An Architectural Bike Ride: Part 1

22 Aug

I woke up early on Saturday August 11th with a mission. I was going to ride my bike across the city to explore and document two of Boston’s newest architectural additions. One a recently completed Massachusetts College of Art high-rise dormitory designed by architecture firm ADD Inc; the other Continue reading

Monolithic Architecture

12 Apr

I came across an article about a month ago entitled “Megaexterior,” which according to the blog I found it on ( was originally published in the moon issue of Volume magazine. A friend of mine sent it to me and when I first read it I thought it was a joke.  This is not unusual since we send each other funny things we find on the internet with some regularity. The article was strangely written in my opinion and lines like “ the proverbial ‘really good’ science fiction movie” and “boxes he notoriously had specially fabricated so that they fit snug; just so” threw me off; however, the more I read the more I realized it was not a joke and by the end I was captivated.

Focusing on the monolith, featured originally in Continue reading

Swept Away: Dust Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design

21 Mar

submitted by Vanessa

About a month ago I saw a Time Out New York listing for a show at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) called Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design (on view February 7- August 12, 2012), which immediately intrigued me. I’ve always been a sucker for sculpture, probably due to my brief excursions into ceramic, glass, and stone as artistic mediums in my teens and early twenties, and combined with my interest in the artistic use of “alternative” and reclaimed materials (Garbage sculpture? Statue of Ulysses S. Grant made entirely of human hair? Elephant dung replica of ancient Rome? I’m all about it. Continue reading

New American Ruins

26 Feb

A few summers ago while in graduate school at the University at Buffalo, I was lucky enough to be accepted into a study abroad program that allowed me to spend an entire summer studying architecture in Barcelona, Spain. I took a course which comprehensively explored the evolution of the city in terms of its urban planning and architecture. It was a great class.  I came away from the course knowing more about Barcelona than I did about my hometown. I also came away with a slight sense of jealousy; I was jealous that Barcelona and other European cities had so much historical wealth inherent to there built environment compared to American cities. I was amazed when I visited Rome that I could stand next to the ruins of a Roman aqueduct, which stood next to a gothic cathedral, which was across from buildings constructed in the 21st century. So many periods of time existed within the same moment.

I left Barcelona and returned to Buffalo resigned to Continue reading

Radiohead Silence

13 Feb

It’s rare that something I saw on a friend’s Facebook status would compel me so far as to write a post about it. The status in question, among other things, touched on whether or not people still care about Radiohead.  Yes, that Radiohead.  The one with the skipping, prancing, manic ball of ??? for a lead singer, the one with the spaced-out composer of a lead guitar player, not to mention an underrated drummer. While this is less a question about their earlier material, to what is the appropriate response to the band now that it really feels like there is nothing left.

I was at a wine tasting over the weekend. That sentence is a lot less cool than it sounded in my brain, but nevertheless, Continue reading

Exit Through the Gift Shop

12 Feb

I hesitate to call this a movie review, rather I hope that it sparks some interesting discussion about Banksy and how much of a cheeky fuck he is. In addition, I hope that everybody reading this has already seen the movie, making this here article beautifully irrelevant. All that being said, let us begin.

Firstly, let us look at the name of the film: Exit Through the Gift Shop. On the surface it stands as an obvious Continue reading

Alternative NFL Awards 2011

4 Jan

The NFL closed the door on its regular season this past Sunday, with the New York Giants defeating the Dallas Cowboys on national television to secure the last available playoff spot.  It was a wild season that saw the revival of football in places like Cincinnati and Detroit.  We saw the meteoric rise and inevitable unraveling of Tim Tebow in a span of eight games.  Carson Palmer is on the Raiders now.  Santonio Holmes hates Mark Sanchez.  Ndamukong Suh decided to Nstomp a guy on Thanksgiving.  The Packers almost went unbeaten, and the Colts almost lost them all.  (Not to mention both streaks ended the same week.) This was the first full season without either Terrell Owens or Randy Moss since 1995. What the hell is going on?  Instead of giving awards based on the normal guard (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc) I am going to make some of my own up, and award them as I see fit.   I would like to also accept all of these awards on behalf of whoever I decide to give them to.  Thank you so much, me.

Most Times Responsible for a Play Ending in My Audible Laughter – Mark Sanchez, QB (NYJ)

Let me be the first to tell you, I do not like the Jets.  I would never allow that to cloud my journalistic integrity though, and simply want to let you know I find the way Sanchez plays quarterback hilarious.  It’s like he’s blindfolded, or at least not wearing his contacts.  He throws a football like how Jackson Pollack threw paint, which is to say completely reckless.  He is on the cutting edge Continue reading

Building vs. Architecture

4 Dec

Architecture is meticulously designed with the explicit intent of expressing a concept; building is the result of economics.

While architecture is more complex than the statement above, I think it succinctly expresses the difference between careful thought and mindlessness. I bring this up because while home for Thanksgiving, I encountered an example of mindless, economic driven construction that has actually made me a little bit angry, though annoyed may be a more accurate description. The building I am talking about is the new drive-through CVS at the intersection of Balltown and Van Antwerp roads in Niskayuna.

There has always been a CVS at this location, but originally it shared a building with Blockbuster Video and later Hollywood Video. The original building wasn’t great but you could tell it was specifically designed for the site, the front or main entrance faced the major intersection, the shape of the building conformed to the shape of the site and maintained the edge of the existing streets, all basic principles of good design.

As a result of the Internet and Netflix taking over the world, Hollywood Video went out of business, and so for a while that part of the building was vacant. Eventually CVS acquired both the vacant portion of the original building as well as an adjacent property on which a single-family residence stood. They demolished the residence and the original building in which it occupied and constructed a brand new building to house themselves within.

The new building is horrendous; unlike the original it does not take its specific site into consideration. I am almost positive CVS has something like three or four stock designs from which they choose. This makes constructing a new store really cheap and easy. Once a site is acquired all they have to do is pick a plan, orient it on the site and then do some minor site design, like deciding were the parking spaces will be and how the drive-through lane will circulate cars.

In this scenario, there literally is no design; it is simply a result of economics. Stock plans eliminate the need to hire an architect.  There is no cost in producing construction documents, and coincidently the same design for every CVS in the country is good marketing.

The result in Niskayuna is a building which has a scale slightly larger than the scale of the surrounding buildings, a shape with no relation to the streets or site, and a front entrance that doesn’t face anything! To top it off, I don’t think it is that much bigger than the CVS that was there before. It is my suspicion that the entire project revolved around incorporating a drive-through window. This hardly makes sense to me because one shouldn’t be driving on certain medications.

I’m mostly upset because it is my opinion that buildings like the CVS I have just described damage communities. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Christmas Tree Shops all fall into this category. Architecture is important, design is important, it connects with us internally and I believe as human beings we need this connection to live a healthy life. Even before humanity conceptualized money, people were adding art to the place in which the lived; not because it was directly necessary to their survival, but I suspect it was necessary for there psychological survival. As a society we have a choice. We can choose between “buildings” or “architecture.” I hope we stop passively allowing buildings to acquire more space in our built environment and start actively demanding architecture.