Let the Labor Day Weekend Begin (edited)

The Skyscraper Museum’s survey indicates that the Chrysler Building is a popular skyscraper (just in time for the Chrysler Building’s 75th birthday). NY Times’ David W. Dunlap writes:

Happy 75th birthday, Chrysler Building. New Yorkers in the know think you’re the best.

One hundred architects, brokers, builders, critics, developers, engineers, historians, lawyers, officials, owners, planners and scholars were asked this summer by the Skyscraper Museum in Lower Manhattan to choose their 10 favorites among 25 existing towers, from the Park Row Building (1899) to the Time Warner Center (2004).

Ninety of them named William Van Alen’s Chrysler Building of 1930, which may come as close as any – despite or because of its ebullient eccentricity – to expressing New York’s cloud-piercing ambitions. [….]

“These are irreconcilable choices if you try to evaluate them by one single system,” said Carol Willis, the director of the Skyscraper Museum. Rather, she said, the voting showed that people judge some skyscrapers emotionally, others rationally.

Ms. Willis’s own favorite, the Empire State Building, tied with Lever House, behind the Flatiron and Woolworth Buildings. The most recently built of the Top 10 was Eero Saarinen’s CBS Building of 1964. [….]

Donald J. Trump checked off none of the buildings proposed by the museum but instead nominated Trump Tower, Trump World Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower and 40 Wall Street. Yes, that would be the Trump Building.

There were some exceptions to self involvement. I. M. Pei did not chose 88 Pine Street, which his firm designed and where it has its office. [….]

The World Trade Center was not on the list and did not appear as a write-in on anyone’s ballot. Leslie E. Robertson, a chief engineer of the twin towers, chose the Woolworth Building as his personal favorite. It, too, was once the tallest building in the world, 40 years before the topping out of 1 World Trade Center.

Curious that the article ended with that above last paragraph. I don’t think Dunlap meant to editorialize, but there’s a hint of poignancy in that paragraph. I’ve heard that architectural critics never quite liked the World Trade Center – it was more of a technological feat (the tallest buildings in the world at the time of their completion) than masterpiece of art. I had a fondness for the WTC mainly because I spent more time visiting there than I ever visited the Empire State building. Guess the real question is how do you define “favorite” skyscraper? What makes them your favorite? It very much is tied to emotion and experience. I like the Woolworth as a pretty nifty looking thing (very ornate even on the inside), and I can see why Chrysler is popular (I always saw its top as a hubcap looking design), and I like the Flatiron for being unique. But a “favorite”? That’s hard to decide.

Slate.com’s Jack Shafer was probably among the first columnists/journalists considering the issues of race and class in this New Orleans situation, having posted his column on Wednesday. Nightline and others ended up covering the issues by Friday night. Oh, and of course, so were various politicians discussing this topic on Friday. Talk about timeliness – or maybe everyone’s finally deciding they couldn’t ignore this. Hmm.

I watched “Nightline” on Thursday night – some of Ted Koppell’s classic stuff – he ripped the FEMA director, questioning him about how the heck did FEMA not know that there were people inside New Orlean’s convention center. I think I winced with Koppell when the FEMA director responded “Well, we factually didn’t know until we got there…” or words to that effect – although, let me say that he definitely said “factually.” Factually?! Come on! You need to see with your own eyes, as if watching the major news networks, CNN, etc., wasn’t enough? Everything’s just so heartbreaking.

And, in Friday’s column, Slate’s Shafer observes this development of the Angry Reporters. He observes that when the reporters get mad, the story or the interview gets more interesting – if not making a point (rather than no point at all). Shafer links to this amazing clip of Anderson Cooper ripping out Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisana (and I will, too, [video/transcript] since it’s quite interesting). I don’t think what Cooper did was nearly as entertaining as Koppell’s ripping the FEMA guy, but Cooper was passionate and, well… clearly an Angry Anderson Cooper. Methinks that not only Cooper really empathizing with the deeply troubled New Orleanians, but being in New Orleans the last several days must have really gotten to him; he needs a break. It’s obvious from the video – the stress and heavens know what else.

But, as Shafer notes, maybe anger in a reporter isn’t a bad thing – it puts a spotlight on a story, recognizing that this situation is dire, so dire it knocks the supposedly imperturbable reporters off their pedestals and make us feel this madness no less – that there is indeed something wrong with the pictures of tragedy we’re seeing versus the words out of the mouths of politicians (not that I’m necessarily slamming the politicians, but these are not pleasant times we’re living in).

Tim Russert notes:

Second-guessing is easy, but it is also, I think, a requirement of those in a free society to challenge their government, when the primary function of the government is to protect its citizens and they haven’t been protected.

At least Friday night’s Nightline ended on a good-news story, about the town of Houma, Louisiana, helping out their fellow Louisianians.

Finished reading “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Well written; incredibly sad.

What am I thinking? Go out and get some cheer; we all need it.

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