Posts Tagged ‘City Life’
October 17, 2016 | by Martin Herbert
The hopeful dystopia of Pushwagner’s Soft City.
Where does art begin? In the case of Soft City, the straightforward answer is this: it began in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1969, in a sea captain’s house converted into a writer’s retreat by the novelist Axel Jensen, after Pushwagner had ingested Sandoz LSD. He doodled a man in a car, whom he intuited was called “Mr. Soft”—five years before Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel would have a hit song of that name—and, along with Jensen, envisioned a day-in-the-life narrative structure for the character, along the lines of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and James Joyce’s Ulysses. And then?
A hiatus of some three years (hardly the only sharp left turn in Pushwagner’s tumultuous life), during which time he lived on virtually nothing in London (subsisting by selling drawings on trains for pennies) and Oslo, went back to his mother’s, was arrested for trying to board a flight to Madeira on his hands and knees, was institutionalized, walked back to Fredrikstad, escaped a hotel in Paris, sojourned in Lisbon, returned to London, and became a father. After these adventures, he once again began Soft City, with, he’s said, his beloved baby daughter, Elizabeth, on his lap, and with thoughts of the future in mind. Mr. Soft now had a family of his own, and a fearful projected dystopia to live in. Pushwagner finished the book, or rather the 269 bleak yet blackly comic ink drawings that would comprise it, in 1975; and then, after a few luminaries of the London music world had admired it (including Pete Townshend and Steve Winwood), he lost it. Read More »
September 15, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The Paris Review’s offices are in Chelsea, where we attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every day. (What, you thought all those people were here for the High Line?) But now there’s a new attraction in town: stairs. Lots and lots of stairs, beautifully arranged, and going nowhere. It’s part of an ambitious new sculpture that some have dubbed “the social climber”: “Big, bold and basket-shaped, the structure, Vessel, stands fifteen stories, weighs 600 tons and is filled with 2,500 climbable steps. Long under wraps, it is the creation of Thomas Heatherwick, forty-six, an acclaimed and controversial British designer … Mr. Heatherwick said Vessel was partly inspired by Indian stepwells, but he also referred to it as a climbing frame—what Americans would call a jungle gym—as well as ‘a Busby Berkeley musical with a lot of steps.’ ”
- If you’re not into steps, just visit the city for the pavement. There’s a lot of it—and if you squint a bit or take the right drugs or just give it a good long think, you’ll see how interesting it is. Edwin Heathcote argues that “the pavement is the skin of the city, a membrane that separates the veneer of civilization from the darkness of the earth … The pavement is a paradoxical thing. It begins as a symbol of civilization and liberation but also becomes a kind of final resort, the domain of the homeless, of beggars and of defecating dogs. A city’s attitude to its street surface reveals much about its ideas of civic space, of ownership and generosity … ‘I think that our bodies are in truth naked,’ wrote Virginia Woolf in The Waves. ‘We are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence.’ ”
May 24, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
“I guess we’re all going to the same place,” said one of the women, as we all entered the elevator and hit twenty-three. “Are you a lawyer?” she asked, turning to me. I privately congratulated myself on the authenticity of my costume. “No, witness for the plaintiff,” I said. “You?”
“Court reporter,” said the other woman.
After loading up on coffee and quartered bagels, we all traveled another ten stories and were directed to our respective courtrooms. I was assigned to wait in a nearby office with a few other witnesses. “Who are you?” asked a man already sitting at a desk.
“Number thirty-six, mother of two, work in tech,” I said. “You?” Read More »
May 16, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool. —William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
I feel sorry for people who don’t suffer fools. They’re missing out on so much! The quotidian, absurd human comedy; several of Shakespeare’s finest characters; TV.
I can speak with total authority on this point, because I am a fool. I am also descended from a long line of fools. I don’t mean we’re given to gnomic utterances on the futility of existence: we’re just idiots who don’t know how to do practical stuff. We’re also very prone to prancing around and singing. True, some of us are also asses, a couple are gullible, and a few are jerks—and there are occasional exceptions that prove the rule, like my brother, for instance. But I think fool is our genus. Read More »
May 11, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
As a young woman, I went on a few highly improbable dates with a guy who did something in the realm of what, in my family, we call “beeswax.” After a few absurdly adult dinners at real restaurants, I told him we shouldn’t see each other any more. He said, “You’re probably right. I have a feeling you sometimes have dirty feet, and I can’t handle that.”
His “feeling” may have been based on certain clues—at this time in my life (the “pre-makeover Harlequin-heroine” phase) I dwelt exclusively in vintage heeled sandals, and these often proved so fragile or painful that, in the cases where my ever-present moleskin and tube of Crazy Glue didn’t work, I was forced to take them off and trudge around New York barefoot. So, yeah, maybe my feet were sometimes less than pristine. Read More »
May 9, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
As I write this, there are six workmen constructing a building within five feet of the window, as has been the case for the past eight months and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s not a quiet business at the best of times, and at the moment they’re blasting “Rockin’ Robin.” They start work at seven A.M., and they have one of those special permits from the mayor’s office that allows them to work on Saturdays, too. Along with the two preschools and the slew of amateur musicians who inhabit the surrounding buildings, it makes for a cacophony.
I used to wear noise-canceling headphones and sometimes earplugs, and I’d fume like an angry cartoon character, but now it doesn’t bother me much. In balmy weather, it even feels sort of Rear Window–ish and picturesque. Or so you can tell yourself, especially when one amateur musician noodles on his sax for several hours at a time. I realize I have come to love it. Read More »