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Strangers grow old together, courtesy of home share program 11 MIN, 1 SEC

Pearlie Biles, left, and Jo Slee found each other through an agency called Affordable Living for the Aging, and became roommates at Slee’s home in Westchester. Photo by Jenny Hamel.

More and more older people in Los Angeles are struggling to stay in their homes. Life expectancy is rising, and an increasing number of seniors are finding it difficult to care for themselves. Many others are on fixed incomes and can’t keep up with rising rents.

But for some people, the answer doesn’t lie in constructing new buildings, but rather in figuring out how to stay in the house you already have. Or, how to find a new home because the landlord just increased your rent by several hundred dollars a month.

Two women facing those challenges came together to create a solution. Jo Slee, 86, and Pearlie Biles, 73, have been roommates since January of this year. They live in Slee’s Westchester home where she raised her four children and shared with her husband of 59 years before he passed. Two seniors, who were complete strangers only a year ago, now share space, meals and laughter.

They connected through an agency called Affordable Living for the Aging, which provides housing for low-income seniors. It’s one of a growing number of groups that play matchmaker for older people who could use roommates.

“Home sharing is an innovative housing model because it addresses two issues at once,” said Miriam Hall, Director of Affordable Living for the Aging’s Home Share program.

“Each unused bedroom in Los Angeles is a potential housing unit. And so when occupied, those housing units naturally increase the supply of affordable housing in a community by utilizing homes that already exist. And then secondly, home sharing addresses the financial or service needs of older adults who are struggling to live independently in their homes.”

Slee’s kids explored options that would allow her to stay in her home and they found the home share program. Slee interviewed four pre-screened applicants. That meant background checks, employment records and so on. Slee had three rules: her new roommate would have to have a car; not smoke and have no overnight male guests. Biles fit the bill. Plus, they liked each other right away. Slee says it’s because of her “well-rounded personality.”

After a two-week trial period, they signed a rental contract. And this is their agreement. Slee provides a bedroom with a big window facing the yard, and use of the whole house. In exchange, Biles drives Slee to places like the grocery store, church or to doctor’s appointments. She helps with light chores and she’s around to provide companionship and will know if an accident happens, let’s say Slee takes a fall. Biles also cooks some meals for Slee, but that’s not required. And she pays 360 dollars a month in rent.

In the nine months they’ve lived together, Slee and Biles say it’s working out great. They’ve met each other’s friends and family, and they’ve celebrated birthdays together. Slee will acknowledge that although at first she didn’t want a roommate, “I like it better the way it is now though.”

“So I’m just really happy,” said Biles of her roommate situation with Slee. “I just recently had to redo my driver’s license and it has her address on it. So, this is official!”

Jenny Hamel, KCRW (@HamelKCRW)

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The soaring design of Concorde 10 MIN, 5 SEC

Lawrence Azerrad visits KCRW to discuss his new book “Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde.” Photo by Frances Anderton.

It’s been over 40 years since Concorde first entered service, and no commercial plane has ever flown faster.

This month two books about the supersonic airplane are being published. One, released today by Smithsonian Books, is called Last Days of the Concorde.

The other is Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, based on a huge collection of Concorde memorabilia amassed by LA-based graphic designer Lawrence Azerrad.

Azerrad, who first flew Concorde -- using frequent-flier mileage! -- the year the supersonic airplane ceased flying, tells DnA about his excitement at the experience of flying “faster than a speeding bullet.”

He discusses his love of the elite plane’s design and branding -- “everything from napkin rings to travel maps and luggage tags, everything that a passenger came into contact with had design forethought in it.”

And he talks about the optimism the Anglo-French project represented and “how sad it is that we had this glimpse of the future, and we now live in a world that is lacking this kind of innovation and spirit.”

An image of the book “Supersonic” shows objects from the Air France Concorde, circa 1970s: Raymond Loewy stainless steel flatware (left) and a matchbook.

Many countries, the Trump White House notwithstanding, are however coalescing around innovative efforts to combat climate change. And in this regard Concorde was old school. It was, grants Azerrad, “a gross offender on emissions.”

But now a new age of supersonic flight is in development. Wired reports that “Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace are developing private jets for the wealthy and Boom Supersonic is creating plane for less well-monied flyers.”

However, don’t expect any aspiring Concordes to fly as fast. The new models, expected to enter the skies in a couple decades, will fly “just a hair under supersonic speeds… maybe a mile slower than breaking the sound barrier,” says Azerrad, adding, “so there is no sonic trail that comes from it.”

“It’s the first time ever that an airplane has never had a successor,” John Lampl, a retired public-relations manager for British Airways, told The Atlantic.

For now, books like Azerrad’s are keeping the memory alive. He will sign copies of Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde on Thursday at Il Caffè at Acne Studios DTLA.

Concorde brochure designed by SYNELOG and printed in 1975, offered to passengers of the first commercial flight, January 1976.

Lawrence Azerrad, Grammy Award-winning Creative Director, Graphic Designer. Owner of LADdesign, and author of “Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde.” (@LADdesign)

Lawrence Azerrad signs copies of “Supersonic”
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With Concorde, there’s this idea that design could change the way people lived
Wired reports on the revival of supersonic flight.

Does the Walt Disney Concert Hall dream of electric symphonies? 6 MIN, 7 SEC

WDCH Dreams, rendering by Refik Anadol Studio

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is celebrating its centennial this weekend with Celebrate LA. That’s a free, eight-mile street party connecting Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

There’s also an art spectacle on the billowing metal sails of the Walt Disney Concert Hall itself.

WDCH Dreams is the work of Turkish-born artist Refik Anadol and his team of data visualization specialists.

Anadol’s focus in on media art and architecture. His data-driven installations have appeared in cities ranging from Boston and San Francisco to Istanbul and Amsterdam.

“I believe every space, every available architecture, can be a canvas for media artists,” he said.

For the project, he mined a massive treasure trove of digital archives culled from the LA Phil’s history -- audio, video, photos and more, amounting to nearly 45 terabytes of data -- and worked with the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google Arts and Culture to turn these millions of data points into beautiful, flowing, brightly-colored displays that will be projected onto the steel shell of the concert hall.

“Archives are divine information for humankind where the cultural artifacts and memories and emotions are stored,” Anadol said.

Other parts of the show include video clips of past music directors -- including Esa-Pekka Salonen, André Previn, Zubin Mehta, Gustavo Dudamel and others -- waving their conductor’s batons while the orchestra plays. The images dissolve into each other, they way they might in a dream.

The show is 12 minutes long, and there will be a performance every half-hour, starting at 7:30 pm with the last one at 11:30 pm, from September 28th to October 6th.

Anadol’s aim was to create something new in image and sound that combines the virtual and the physical, and brings forth the metaphorical “consciousness” of Walt Disney Concert Hall. It's almost like he's plumbing the memories of the building and the dreams are surfacing to the top.

Data artist Refik Anadol at his Silverlake studio, in front of a model of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photo by Avishay Artsy.

It also fulfills architect Frank Gehry’s vision for the concert hall. He had dreamed of having images projected onto those surfaces, and WDCH Dreams was made possible because Gehry shared the 3D files of the building with Anadol, so he knew the exact contours of the building.

WDCH Dreams is also the latest in a series of Anadol’s site-specific collaborations with the LA Phil. After a multimedia presentation of Edgard Varèse's Amérique in 2014, in which Anadol used algorithmic sound analysis to listen and respond to the music in real time, he says Gehry congratulated him in the green room.

“That's one of the unforgettable times of my life, because it was my very first performance in this beautiful country,” Anadol said. “It’s the first time I met with Frank Gehry and he was just extremely happy and saying, ‘we don't need screens anymore,’ he was saying these conventual 2D screens, maybe we don't need that, when the architecture becomes a canvas. So it was a great appreciation and a huge motivation that lead me probably to this next challenge.”

Visitors to the Walt Disney Concert Hall can continue their exploration of the LA Phil’s digital archives in the Ira Gershwin Gallery, with an immersive and interactive companion installation that can be accessed 90 minutes prior to performances. The visitor will enter a mirrored U-shaped room with two-channel projection and can use a touchscreen interface to explore milestones in the LA Phil’s 100-year history.  

The LA Phil’s archives and online exhibitions will also be available on Google Arts & Culture. There’ll be behind-the-scenes footage and a short film about the development of WDCH Dreams.

Avishay Artsy, Producer, DnA: Design and Architecture (@heyavishay)

Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall Is Technodreaming
Dazzling projections will cover Walt Disney Concert Hall
Artist Mines LA Philharmonic’s Archives to Create Projections that Mimic Dreaming

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