Notebook on Cities and Culture
(Formerly The Marketplace of Ideas.) Colin Marshall sits down for in-depth conversations with cultural creators, internationalists, and observers of the urban scene all around Los Angeles and beyond.

Colin Marshall sits down at Copenhagen's Husets Biograf with Jack Stevenson, programmer of the theater and author of books on both Scandinavian and American film. They discuss Lars von Trier as the world's representative of Danish cinema; the difficulty of creating scandal within unshockable Denmark; revival theaters across the world as a nation of their own; the film education he drew from haunting the revival houses of Boston; his plan to serve ten White Russians during a screening of The Big Lebowski; Copenhagen as Scandinavia's most "real urban environment" in which to show films; the slow emergence of the strengths of the current generation of independent cinemas; the question asked about both Denmark and Korea, "How does that small country make such interesting films?"; his own introduction to Danish film, through Lars von Trier and others; how, in the era in America when "Scandinavian movie" meant, more or less, "porno movie," Danish film helped make porn chic; the ideal grind house experience evoked by Jack Kerouac in On the Road; the days when every train station in Germany, "a special place," had a porno theater; America's lack of an "off cinema" scene like the ones in European countries; why Danes can't accept film noir (and don't know about soul food); the history of the Husets Biograf's 19th-century industrial building, overtaken by anarchist squatters in the sixties; the surprises of filmgoing in Brussels; his resolve to program Halloween shows in the face of Danish indifference to Halloween; and his current work with traditional Danish ghost stories.

Direct download: NCC_S4E17_Jack_Stevenson.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:15am UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in Vesterbro with Mikael Colville-Andersen, urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize. They discuss where Los Angeles, with its "pockets of goodness," ranks on the global scale of Copenhagenization; what it takes for a city's population to become "intermodal"; his experience growing up in an English-Danish-Canadian household, biking all the time before the onset of the "culture of fear"; the qualities of a mainstream bicycle culture, including a lack of specialized cycling clothes of the type worn by the sport cyclists who have "hijacked" the practice; learning how not to promote cycling from environmentalism, the greatest marketing failure of all time; the need, in some places, to sell urbanism before you can sell urban cycling; his work busting myths about why Copenhagen allegedly differs so much from all other cities; why he settled in Copenhagen himself, beyond not needing to explain his name so often; the photo he took that "launched a million bicycles" and made him into a modern-day Jane Jacobs; the failed science of traffic engineering and how to rebuild it; cycling's "modal share" and what it tells you about a city, especially when it rises above five percent; the bicycle as "the symbol of the future, man"; how helmets kill cycling culture, and his TED Talk on riding without one; our innate need, as human beings, to fear stuff; and what urban cycling promoters can learn from the success of automobiles, and especially their introduction of the term "jaywalking" and the very concept of playgrounds.

Direct download: NCC_S4E16_Mikael_Colville-Andersen.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:46pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in the Copenhagen offices of Gehl Architects with founding partner Jan Gehl, architect, Professor Emeritus of Urban Design at the School of Architecture in Copenhagen, and author of books including Life Between BuildingsCities for People, and How to Study Public Life. They discuss what important change occurred in Copenhagen in 1962, and what led to it; the midcentury "car invasion" in Europe and the first modern shopping mall's construction in Kansas City; the re-emergence of the notion that "maybe pedestrians should walk"; the connectedness of walking in Copenhagen, which ultimately forms a "walking system"; the dullness of the anti-car position versus the richness of the pro-people one; the two movements of modernism and motorism, at whose intersection he found himself upon graduating from architecture school in 1960; what it meant to study "anti-tuberculosis architecture," and what it meant to build for the old diseases rather than the new ones; his marriage to a psychoanalyst and ensuing interest in increasing architecture's attention to people; how his PhD thesis became Life Between Buildings, and why that book has endured for over four decades in an ever-increasing number of languages; how first we form cities, and then they form us; what we can learn from Venice; the urban "acupuncture" performed on various American cities today; his long enjoyment of Melbourne; why we've only so slowly awoken to our dissatisfaction with the built environment; the loss of cheap petroleum and stable nuclear families, which propped up suburbia; how he and his team systematize and use their knowledge of cities to examine and assist the use of public space across the globe; and all he finds totally unsurprising about man's use and enjoyment of place.

Direct download: NCC_S4E15_Jan_Gehl.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:11am UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in Nørrebro with Classic Copenhagen blogger and photographer Sandra Høj. They discuss the city's current enthusiasm for tree-cutting; the small things in Copenhagen that draw her eye, from pieces of street art to weird details on houses; how she started blogging in the wake of the Muhammad caricature crisis with an interest in disputing the global perception of Danes as living obliviously in a land of pastries and fairy tales; her mission to describe "the good, the bread, and the ugly" of Copenhagen; the Danish tendency to nag about problems; what time spent in "cozy" Amsterdam taught her about her "sexy" home city; what time spend in Paris taught her about how Copenhagen could better respect itself; the bewildering array of political parties putting signs up all over the city, and how rarely their actions match their words; her desire for children to grow up in the same Copenhagen she did; the evolution of Amager, also known as "the Shit Island", and what gentrification looks like elsewhere in the city; the scourge of Joe and the Juice; and her continuing search outward for more "traces of life" in Copenhagen.

Direct download: NCC_S4E14_Sandra_Hoj.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:56pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in Copenhagen's Nørrebro with Lars AP, author of the book Fucking Flink and founder of the movement of the same name, which aims to make the Danish not just the "happiest" people, but the friendliest as well. They discuss just what it feels like to bear the label of "happiest" and whether "most content" might not suit the country better; the difference in impact of the word "fucking," especially in a book title, between Denmark and the States; the seemingly inward-turned people foreigners feel as if they encounter when they first visit Denmark; his TEDx Copenhagen talk about his realization that he acted less friendly when speaking Danish than he did when speaking English; "negative politeness" versus "positive politeness"; the importance of internalizing a culture in order to speak its language; how the Danish once had to meet few non-Danes, and how they can still feel the effects of that in American questions like "How you doin'?"; the process and impact of "baking a little meaning" into each social encounter; his tendency to act, when in the Danish countryside, in a way that makes his wife call him "homo jovialis"; how compliments and other acts of friendliness require not just honesty but creativity and surprise for maximum effectiveness; the origins of the Fucking Flink movement, and the stunts he has pulled off with it, such as giving out positive parking tickets; the similar misery of commenting on the internet, driving in traffic on the highway, and staying too embedded in your own culture; the Avatar handshake, and what we can learn from the accompanying greeting of "I see you"; how best to address the needs we have when we get to the top of the Maslow Pyramid; the need to use not just what's between our ears, but what's between us; and how this all relates to the 4,000 years' worth of city building coming very soon.

Direct download: NCC_S4E13_Lars_AP.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:41pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down before a live audience at the New Urbanism Film Festival at Los Angeles' ACME Theater with Tim Halbur, Director of Communications at the Congress for the New Urbanism, former Managing Editor at Planetizen, creator of the two-disc DVD set The Story of Sprawl, and author of the children's urban planning book Where Things Are from Near to Far. They discuss the anti-Los Angeles indoctrination he received in San Francisco, and what that indoctrination might have had right; the two "nodes" of Hollywood and the beach that outsiders tend to recognize in Los Angeles, and why people claim to live here even when they live thirty miles away; why cities actually build for the car aren't as often derided as "built for the car"; the hard-to-place unease we grew up with in the suburbs; his past producing museum audio tours, and how he would produce an audio tour of Los Angeles that navigates by subcultures; whether Los Angeles is too big, and what it means that we continually try to define and connect it all; what the Congress for the New Urbanism does, and how it addresses the way we once "carved out" our cities for parking lots and freeways; the Jetsonian vision of the future that carried us away after the Second World War; what Disneyland gets right about urbanism; the constant change that defines a living city, and San Francisco's unhappy experience trying to halt it; the Beverly Hills 90210 model of denser-than-suburbia living he found in Los Angeles; his weekly commute to the CNU in Chicago, and what he learns from living in these two quite different cities at once; how he'd like to see Los Angeles change in the next ten years; how Eric Brightwell's neighborhood maps surprise people, and what that means for neighborhood awareness; and the importance of "theming" urban places.

Direct download: NCC_S4E12_Tim_Halbur.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in Silver Lake with showman, "histo-tainer" and "Ambassador of Americana" Charles Phoenix, curator of vintage midcentury slides and author of books like Southern CalifornialandAmericana the Beautiful, and Southern California in the 50s. They discuss the postwar period's appealing mix of the highest and lowest American sophistication; how the country's new middle class became "buying machines" and "cultural monsters"; the "time travel in a box" he experienced when he found his first set of old slides in a thrift shop; the "luxurious" nature of Kodachrome; what makes any given slide a keeper, and how he can tell, say, a 1960 from a 1961; the layers of history visible in a photo, which he looks through as if through a window; the meaning of the first freeway-side mall with fallout shelter-equipped hidden delivery tunnels; the many midcentury innovations Southern California didn't invent, but perfected; his Disneyland tours of Down Los Angeles, and Disneyland as both a comparison to and metaphor for much in the human experience; how we gave up the joy of cars and let driving become a chore; the 1950s' love of speed in contrast to our modern tendency to " get it over with"; how he finds the good in every era, the seventies included; our hard-wiring to reject the past and buy new; his more recent interest in processed foodcraft, including work with Cheez Whiz and Jell-O molds; his Los Angeles architecture show, with which he intends to reveal the structures not yet properly acknowledged; how social media empowers the sharing of our aesthetic fetishes; whether modern designs like that of the iPhone express the optimism he sees in midcentury Americana; and the importance, often neglected today, of creating anticipation.

Direct download: NCC_S4E11_Charles_Phoenix.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:54pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in Hollywood with lawyer turned social dynamics expert Jordan Harbinger, co-host of the Pickup Podcast and co-founder of confidence education program The Art of Charm. They discuss how much time he spends explaining that he isn't Tom Cruise from Magnolia; how he conceives of The Art of Charm's mission to teach confidence, which involves teaching emotional intelligence; whether and how our generation of men have come out especially socially inept; the still-strong number of pickup artist types wandering around Hollywood, and the equally strong number of low-self-esteem women with whom they match; the importance of asking oneself the question "What can I learn from this person?", an entirely different question from "What can I get from this person?"; the Pickup Podcast's origin in someone else's basement, and how that developed into coaching and teaching; the skills of networking through his short law career, and how he realized they also applied to, say, meeting women; the day he found himself ostensibly studying for a law exam while remotely coaching a man for his imminent move from Africa to Denmark; knowing how to use Los Angeles, a land of "towns packed together for tax purposes," especially its areas of dense "city life" like Hollywood and Koreatown; everyone in Los Angeles' essential nature as a foreigner, and how that opens up the question, "Where are you from?"; his dull childhood in Troy, Michigan which led to an adolescence of conning and wiretapping, and then into Germany as an exchange student; language and travel as the engines of good social-habit development, and the advantages of becoming foreign and shifting your linguistic context; how "networking" became a dirty word; specificity, the enemy of relationships; the importance of people as vectors; and the sentiment "it's all who you know — and thank God for that!"

Direct download: NCC_S4E10_Jordan_Harbinger.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:21am UTC

Colin Marshall sits down above downtown Los Angeles in the U.S. Bank tower with Stephen Gee, senior producer at ITV Studios and author of Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles, the first book on the man who designed such landmark structures in the city as Union Station, the Memorial Coliseum, Bullock's Wilshire, and City Hall. They discuss how such a visionary could have gone unknown so long; Los Angeles' relationship to its public buildings; Parkinson's notion, during a time when Los Angeles set about defining itself, of putting up a built environment that would leave people inspired; the neatness, elegance, and organization that characterize a Parkinson building; the city's assumption that Parkinson would remain a household name for generations to come, and how World War II and the years after threw that off; Parkinson's move from England, and his own move from England in 1995; his struggle to find information related to the architect, and how everything new he learned made him want to learn more (as also happens with knowledge about the city of Los Angeles itself); how you engage better with Los Angeles after coming to understand its original intention; how to break down the false images of the city the rest of the world gets fed; Los Angeles as "the city of the future" in most or all eras of its existence; the modern repurposing of Parkinson buildings, into apartments and retail spaces and law schools; Iconic Vision's origin as, and possible future as, a television documentary; the new relevance of Parkinson buildings in an era when Angelenos have begun to regard and use the city differently; what he learned when he assembled of Parkinson's buildings, from Los Angeles and elsewhere, "in one place"; and what might architecturally excite the always forward-looking Parkinson in this always forward-looking city today.

Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed or on iTunes.

Direct download: NCC_S4E9_Stephen_Gee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:46pm UTC

Colin Marshall sits down in North Hollywood with Carren Jao, Manila- and Los Angeles-based writer on architecture, art, and design. They discuss what rain does to the aesthetic of Los Angeles; the role of the river here as the connection people don't realize they have; the difference between the floods Los Angeles used to routinely endure and the ones Manila routinely endures now; how, growing up in the Philippines, she got interested in the shape and form of cities; Manila's "improvisational" nature not centered around always having functioning systems; the Filipino inclination to make guests' lives easier in any way possible; her entry into the United States, but not the one that "everyone knows"; public transit as amusement-park ride; the important role of the Jeepney in Manila's transportation; her life in the San Fernando Valley, very much a place distinct from Los Angeles itself; how writing has forced her to explore this city and its environs, including still-developing ones like Pacoima's "mural mile"; how to get the wide-openness of the Los Angeles experience across to friends, family, and readers; the "third-world" contrasts of nice homes next to squatters' villages in Manila and the Arts District next to Skid Row in Los Angeles; the boom in interest related to architecture, design, and space-making, and the importance of leaving openings for people to construct their own environments; what she'd look at first after five years away from Los Angeles, and from Manila; this city's long-confused relationship with its water; what the Philippines have learned from other countries; what America could learn from the Asian sense of accommodation; what she learns from having to attend neighborhood council meetings; how fast word and social knowledge travel in Manila, how slow they can travel in Los Angeles, and how both have their advantages.

Direct download: NCC_S4E8_Carren_Jao.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:49am UTC