Prophets at a Picnic: Bridges, Chairs and Toys Reconsidered on DnA

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                                                                                                                                                                                             “Bridges have a way of capturing the spirit and exciting people even more than buildings do.” That’s according to Alex Ward, architect, Chairman of Friends of LA River (FOLAR), and…

                                                                                                                                                                                             “Bridges have a way of capturing the spirit and exciting people even more than buildings do.” That’s according to Alex Ward, architect, Chairman of Friends of LA River (FOLAR), and guest on this week’s  DnA. That might be how first-time users feel as they set car or foot on this newly opened Aizhai bridge in southern China’s Hunan Province, the highest and longest valley suspension bridge in the world (shown in this photo in The Independent newspaper).

It may not span 1,176 meters at 335m above the ground like this one, but the City of LA has its own plans for a bridge that could excite the imagination. The 6th Street Viaduct, connecting Boyle Heights and downtown LA (shown, left), is crumbling and needs to be replaced, and the City’s Bureau of Engineering has thrown open the selection process and invited architects and engineers worldwide to compete for the design commission. Find out more about it on DnA, and on Curbed LA

But the bridge was not the only topic on this DnA, as a very opinionated Good4Nothing Connoisseur explains right here:

“Tax day’s 2012’s edition of DnA bristled with moral imperatives, in my humble opinion. Did anyone else happen to notice? First, the topic of LA receiving A NEW BRIDGE in this Boehner/Cantor/McConnell/Romney/Ted Nugent/Grover Norquist “Let’s Starve The Beast,” kill the poor, bludgeon the weak and funnel all remaining resources to the richest millionaires and billionaires, civilization be damned climate–was utterly breathtaking. To hear that one city in America at least is getting a tiny symbolic piece of desperately needed infrastructure made me feel like Pandora, after being panic stricken for opening the box of life’s plagues and terrors, and then find squirming at the bottom the little flea called hope.

Second, to then hear James Rojas and Jay Griffith make a very calm and heartfelt plea, like prophets at a picnic, and I paraphrase: Parents do not overprogram your children by buying them toys that are predesigned to perfection, thus leaving nothing to the imagination. Parents, don’t buy your kids so many hypertechnologically advanced and pre-assembled toys thus destroying any last vestige of curiosity and wonder in our youth. Give them rougher raw material-like gifts, like a lump of clay or cardboard box, that incites the youngins to want to make things… again. And maybe one day ours, once again, will be a nation that makes things.

Third, Michael Boyd helped me to stop panicking about the super slicko world of fake and endlessly procreating infotainment storms moving so fast across our phones and laptops, constantly blowing us back, making us feel like we’re not on the edge of hipster fabio coolville. The problem with all the dot commies and trash content purveyors on cable and internet channels, in my humble opinion, is 1, it is causing the ability for sustained concentration to be all but vanished and banished–hold on, I’m just checking a text that came in–oh it’s my pal Mike telling me he just grabbed a double mocha xtra shot with steamed soy and saw a blond hotty in pink hot pants on Nike blades. Now what was I saying? The other cool, important, sanity restoring item Boyd shared was that because our culture is getting so slick and fast, and shallow and small minded, all the while guilt tripping you to neurotic death for daring to turn your nose up at even one instant of its shallowness is that he EDITS furniture. Takes the elements and forms from classic high points in chair design and reshuffles them. So he is, like Dr. Dre or Tupac, taking his favorite tunes and sampling to make original and new compostions. I think I want to grab me one of them hip hoppity styled desk chairs and sit back and breathe deeply in.”

See Michael Boyd’s PLANE series at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, opening April 28.