Sunday, January 8, 2017

Small Losses, Likely Unnoticed (or, Bauhaus Bon Voyage)

My regular commute involves time on the mostly unremarkable stretch of Olentangy River Road between Dodridge and North Broadway. I say mostly unremarkable because there are but three features that distinguish it from any of the other four lane roads in Columbus dotted with hotels, chain restaurants, and car friendly retail. They are the Clinton Predestinarian Baptist Church at Dodridge and Olentangy, Union Cemetery, and a modest Bauhaus-by-way-of Richard Neutra inspired office building that's stood its ground since, oh, I don't know, 1965 or so.

Wait...a what? Where?

Yeah, the building at the entrance to Kohl's, the one that looks like a rectangular box with another rectangular box stacked sideways on top of it, the building with the crazy carport, the building you probably never looked twice at. That building, in its low-slung and unobtrusive way, was actually a pretty dramatic bit of period architecture. 

Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not like Architectural Digest was going to do a spread on this place. It's not a World Heritage site. It's not even a Lustron home. There's probably no architect of record either. Still, this is Bauhaus design at its purest, holding forth on half an acre of commercially-zoned Ohio real estate. Form follows function. The construction is honest; it looks like what it's made of. There is a decided lack of ornamentation. It's nothing fancy to be sure, but if you were ever curious to know what it looked like when high modernism trickled down to the retail parcels of  middle America, this was it. I mean look at that cantilevering! It's over the top! (pun intended). There's a cantilever, and then, "Oh go ahead and stick another on too".

Richard Neutra's Linn House

Anyone familiar with this area knows that over the last few years this stretch of road has seen something of a building boom. Mostly it's been in the form of cookie-cutter hotels to service THE Ohio State University, but there have been some retail additions too. Through it all, this boxy mid-century gem held fast. A couple years ago a "For Sale" sign materialized in front of it. Even then, no one seemed in any particular hurry to buy. Heck, I was tempted to make an offer.

Well, it apparently sold. I drove by a couple weeks ago and our humble Bauhaus wannabe had been transformed into an empty lot. I suspect some manner of development that doesn't pay homage to spare modernist design principles will likely take its place. We'll see.

I don't usually get sentimental about buildings and I know there's not really a compelling case for saving ones like this. Still, it doesn't seem right. It's a small loss, but given the fact no one will build anything like that again, it's permanent. I'm sure I'll feel differently though when I can swing in there for a Latte Macchiato on my way to work or a Diavolo Piada on my way home.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Publishing Trends: Top Non Fiction Titles for 2017

Publishing houses are already exploring the impact of November's election on our national conversation.

To that end, here's just a sampling of the non-fiction titles we can expect in the new year:
  • What to Set on Fire: Essays and Actions for a New America

  • Punching Down, Moving Up: Harness the Power of Racism and Misogyny to Achieve Career Success

  • At Least I Didn't Live to See the Day: Phil Ochs in the 21st Century

  • "It Weren't Raycess": Explaining Your Trump Vote to People of Color

  • The Only Green that Matters: Megaprofits in an Age of Environmental Collapse

  • Flying High: Drones, Firearms and the Inviolability of the Second Amendment

  • Fake News is Good News

  • Plundering Toward Armageddon: a Guide to Graft in the Age of Trump

  • Power Words: 1001 Slurs, Slights and Epithets You Can Start Using Today!

  • Forms of Address: Revised and Updated

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Clothes Make the Man Child

When people talk about men's ties, you can expect to hear opinions about width, pattern, and color. At a higher level (and usually among tie aficionados and devotees), the conversation inevitably drifts to the knot; the shape of the knot, the size in relation to the collar, and the number of moves it takes to execute a particular knot.

What's rarely brought up in these conversations is proper tie length. Maybe people don't notice. Maybe they think it doesn't matter. Maybe they assume that length is simply a function of the cut and shape of the tie (and therefore beyond the wearer's control).

To these points, I offer the following: there is a proper length, you should notice, it does matter, and it can be controlled.

To be clear, the tip of your tie should land at the middle of the waistband/belt buckle.

"Tie length? Yuuuge, right?"
Donald Trump consistently wears his ties at cartoonish lengths. Maybe it's part of the Republican platform.
Photo copyright (c) Getty Images

As our friends at Fine Young Gentleman point out,  "When a tie is worn at the proper length it helps balance out your legs and torso, wearing a tie at an incorrect length can throw the balance of the ensemble off.  When worn too long it can make the whole look look frumpy and sloppy.  When worn too short the look can look clownish."

Mixed messages: My French cuffs say "sophistication". My tie length says "drunk uncle at your wedding".
Photo copyright (c) Getty Images

Since I've had at least an  inkling of this guideline for most of my tie-wearing life, I assumed it was common knowledge (or at least common knowledge among those whose occupations might require them to wear a tie on a regular basis). Clearly it's not. This week's RNC Convention in Cleveland highlighted the Right's apparent predilection for long, sloppy ties.

A white tie over dark slacks highlights both Mike Pence and his tie missing the mark.
Photo: Carrie Devorah /

Props to Peter Thiel. He probably wears a tie less than any of the Republican power brokers, and still managed to get closest to the correct length (Also, please don't sue me.).
Photo: Copyright (c) Just Jared Photo #: 3713426

Obviously set against the backdrop of xenophopic fear-mongering, racism (both implicit and explicit), divisive and dangerous rhetoric, and hypocritical opportunism, the length of a tie isn't a particularly egregious sin.  

Karl Rove and his water boy sporting laughably long ties. Apparently Karl's influence in the Party remains strong.
Photo: Copyright (c) Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Still, these are grown-ass men, powerful men, men who would presumably either know how to dress themselves or at least have people around them smart enough to help them out. If you've recently blanched at the idea of giving the nuclear codes to a thin-skinned narcissist, think about giving them to a thin-skinned narcissist who CAN'T EVEN TIE A TIE PROPERLY!.