Tue, 16 September 2014
Colin Marshall sits down in Studio City with Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the popular zine-turned-blog Boing Boing, founding co-editor of Make magazine, and author of Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. They discuss whether he still thinks about Los Angeles dingbat apartments, and the extent to which their owners have customized them today; all barriers falling for the modern maker except for the one asking who's interested; how his daughters' fascination with card tricks preceded their interest in making things; what kind of project kids can complete under their own steam; Los Angeles as a place for makers, the current state of its maker spaces, and the making heritage offered by its historical hot-rod culture as described in Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby; his history with this city, which goes back to 1987, albeit one interrupted by periods in Japan, on a South Pacific island, and elsewhere; the semi-agricultural life- and making style Los Angeles affords him; how growing your own food allows you to think more clearly about food, and making your own media allows you to think more clearly about media; how his grasp of media improved as he engaged in every stage of the D.I.Y. publishing revolution; learning through mistakes, as opposed to school's pressure not to make mistakes in the first place; the debilitating world of the "smart kid"; the "freedom to be foolish" offered in Los Angeles; the dueling temptations of broadminded generalism and singleminded obsession; his role in the cyberpunk culture of the 80s and 90s, and to what extent we live in the utopian and/or dystopian future it envisioned today; his hope for an increasingly tech-focused San Francisco to continue exporting progressive ideas; the rise of meta-making, and the promise of large-scale decentralized making of solving some of "the world's problems"; how he deals with the firehose of amazing stuff to feature on Boing Boing and in Make; and what his daughters have taught him about making while he's taught them about making.
Tue, 9 September 2014
Colin Marshall sits down at the University of Southern California with School of Architecture professor James Steele, author of many books on architecture and architects, including, just over twenty years ago, Los Angeles Architecture: The Contemporary Condition. They discuss the how the city's conflict with "autopia" has gone since then; the obsolescence of not just the freeways, but the city itself; whether Los Angeles has gone from too architecturally crazy to not architecturally crazy enough; the evidence for downtown's non-revival, and what a fatal inertia and incrementalism may have to do with it; the Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything (BANANA) mentality as expressed not just in Los Angeles but the whole of America; how creative individuals can somehow add up to an uncreative city; what the Case Study houses meant to Los Angeles architectural history, and why they failed; whether the "L.A. School" of architects like Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, and Eric Owen Moss every really cohered into a movement; how current Los Angeles architecture doesn't express the zeitgeist, possibly because the city no longer has one; what he would change in a new edition of Los Angeles Architecture (and how much more grim his assessment would become); the emergence of a dense, connected city within a less dense, less connected one; the most fascinating architectural ideas to come out of USC; what he sees in his students' attitudes toward Los Angeles' built environment; the "excitement combined with confusion" he feels on his increasingly frequent trips to Asia; popular fantasies of changing Los Angeles, like halving distances or vastly increasing its transit; and how we nonetheless feel curious about what lies ahead in the city's future.