Photo: Detail from Xavier Viramontes, "Boycott Grapes," 1973; Oakland Museum of California, All of Us or None Archive; gift of the Rossman family, © 2017 Xavier Viramontes
FROM THIS EPISODE
Brandon Jernigan talks on a cell phone while riding his bike through flood waters.
Photo by Marvin Nauman/FEMA
This morning at Apple's new corporate campus, CEO Tim Cook and colleagues announced a reinvention of their retail stores, transforming them into town squares, as well as the new iPhone X, and a big change to the iWatch: the addition of cellular.
But what's the point of a fancy phone if you can't make a phone call? His announcement comes on a day when much of the state of Florida and the Caribbean are without power.
Nancy Klingener with NPR member station WLRN wrote that in Key West, "It's like we've been transported to the pre-digital pre-cellphone era. In fact, it's the pre-telephone era for most of us."
As our lives become increasingly dependent on digital devices, what happens when the juice stops flowing? And how are cell phone companies making sure the lines of communication stay open even when the cell phone towers take a hit?
Amazon's front door
Photo by Robert Scoble
The hottest parlor game in urban circles right now is guessing who will be the bride of Amazon. The tech giant has announced it is looking for a city to become its second headquarters, housing up to 50,000 employees.
The company says it is seeking a metro area with: more than one million people, a stable, urban or suburban location that can retain tech talent, proximity to major highways and an international airport, good quality of life, access to mass transit and a "business-friendly" environment.
But cities trying to win Amazon's hand have to provide a dowry, in the form of "business-friendly" tax breaks and other financial incentives.
Urbanists and reporters are abuzz with ideas for which city will be picked. The New York Times, for example, narrowed down the options to one city -- Denver -- while Curbed made the case for 13 cities, among them Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. Their list did not include Denver.
Curbed's Patrick Sisson described this RFP as the $5 billion Super Bowl of economic development and told DnA that one of the world's largest tech companies has the power to transform the fortunes of a North American city.
Francisco Artigas and Fernando Luna,
House at 131 Rocas, Jardines del Pedregal, Mexico City, 1966
Photograph by Fernando and Roberto Luna, 1966
Courtesy of Fernando Luna, © Roberto and Fernando Luna
Mexico, our neighbor to the south, has long influenced California's design and architecture. Turns out, the inspiration flows both ways, a story that is told through art, artefacts and architecture in LACMA's new PST LA/LA exhibition, Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico 1915-1985."
The goal, co-curator Wendy Kaplan tells DnA, was to recontextualize the "usual suspects", the "dreamy evocation of Spanish dons, the hacienda, the noble native, as opposed to the decimation and appropriation of indigenous Mexican culture. So we present the myths and we dispel the myths, but also discuss the persistence of myth and how that has affected perceptions up until today."
The exhibition covers four main periods -- Spanish Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism -- from Bertram Goodhue's Mexican-influenced designs for the Panama California fair; through posters, furniture and sculpture by Mexican artists inspired by indigenous art traditions; to Op-Arts' influence on the look for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and Mexican influence on Deborah Sussman's color palette for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Along the way the show questions why for so long Mexican influence was credited to Spain; and why we put up walls between two countries that have been sampling each other's cultures for so long.
The LA Times arts writer Carolina Miranda talks to DnA about a subset of this cross-pollination: the "colonial californiano" buildings in 1930s Mexico City copied from Hollywood's "Spanish-style" architecture.
Describing the exchange as a cultural "hall of mirrors," she says, "It is not American culture. It is not Mexican culture. It goes back and forth. People are influenced by each other's culture. People build on each other's culture. People appropriate each other's culture all the time. And that's what you see going on here."
More From Design and Architecture
Silicon Valley disrupts cities, Stacy Michelson Apple has rebranded its stores as "town squares;" a vending machine startup called Bodega caused outrage; cities are lining up to woo Amazon's HQ2. DnA looks at tech's impact on cities. Plus, artist Stacy Michelson (creator of KCRW's Good Food tote bag and picnic blanket) tells us how Japanese snack food packaging inspired her goofy illustrations.
The crosswalks of Bunker Hill are alive with color Four crosswalks in front of the Broad in downtown Los Angeles got a colorful paint job this weekend. Local high school students helped paint intersecting diagonal stripes in a design created by 94-year-old Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. The Broad invited him to re-imagine the crosswalks as part of the city-wide Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
Berggruen Institute, 'Condemned to Be Modern' Nicolas Berggruen, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, has likened his planned research center in the Santa Monica Mountains to a secular monastery. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron is designing it. What is the Berggruen Institute, and will the building please the neighbors? And we visit Condemned to Be Modern at LA Municipal Art Gallery, in which Cuban, Brazilian and Mexican artists examine the rhetoric and legacy of modernism.
Angels Flight soars again A downtown Los Angeles landmark returns this week. Starting Thursday, you'll once again be able to ride Angels Flight from Grand Central Market to the top of Bunker Hill and back. The newly-upgraded train has been dark for four years, following a series of derailments and other issues.
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