Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Questions for the end of the year

Political akido? Part of akido is using the force and energy of your
attacker against him. 2006 ends with several surprising examples. The
Democrats have managed to turn the moralizing of some Republicans into
an advantage by emphasizing hypocrisy. So the only people currently
vulnerable to charges of moral turpitude are Republicans. The Mark
Foley scandal vividly demonstrated this. The end of the election focus
on Foley was the final nail in the coffin for Congressional
Republicans. But this pales besides the mystic martial arts skills
used by President Bush. To listen to NPR you would have thought that
the Iraqi Study Group was presenting something close to a bill of
impeachment, but the report's muddy conventional thinking was
translated into "a surge" that would increase troops. How did that
happen? It may or may not be the correct action but the President has
emerged undamaged despite his usual absence of rhetorical skills.
Nothing like this has been seen since Chow Yun Fat's fight on the train
in God of Gamblers.

What's with the fans of Boston Harbor? When the dull-as-can-be and
very expensive Federal Courthouse was built everyone praised its views
of Boston Harbor. Now that the new Institute of Contemporary Art is
plotzed down next to Anthony's Pier 4 everyone is again singing the
praises of harbor views. When Mayor Menino announces his strange plan
to move Silly Hall to the same neighborhood everyone agreed that
anything built there will also enjoy great harbor views. Boston Harbor
is a pretty dull-looking place, on a par with Tallin, Estonia. There
is a good view of the city from East Boston, another from the top of
the Mystic Bridge and the view from Castle Island of the Outer Harbor
is striking. But there are no good views of anything from the new
South Boston waterfront, or whatever anyone wants to call it.

This is another example of mass delusion, lead -as usual- by The Globe.
And The Globe often invokes design ideals when they are noticeable by
their absence. The new buildings of the South Boston waterfront look
like the edge of downtown Atlanta. On the nicest of days a reasonable
reaction is to leave the area quickly, going east to the older parts of
Southie or west to the Ft. Point Channel area. There are no trees and
the street plan is a very confusing mess of unusually broad
boulevards. Everything is too far apart.

The extension of the Esplanade will glide by the new Suffolk County
Jail, which lacks any punitive drama that the old jail might have
possessed. The new jail looks like a particularly unfriendly Holiday
Inn Express.

There was a period when Bob Campbell was praising Lane Frenchman for
their planning acumen. Its difficult to understand what he was talking
about when you look at the Tip O'Neil Building next to the new Garden,
or the two towers across from Symphony Hall and Horticulture Hall. In
fact has there ever been a worse response to two handsome, important
buildings? And since the old elevated rail lines have been removed
from the North Station area the O'Neil Building is now visible to all,
looking a lot like a US Embassy in an unfriendly Islamic country.