FROM B. Alexandra Szerlip
Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of 20th Century America Do you feel overwhelmed by huge technological change? Well, imagine how folks felt when they saw Futurama, a model of a Utopian future city shown at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The huge model displayed cars racing down seven-lane automated highways between suburban homes and high-rise office towers, floating airports and experimental farms. Shot of Futurama's interior (1939 New York World's Fair) Six hundred visitors at a time flew on a simulated airplane ride across this vision of America circa 1960. General Motors sponsored the immersive exhibit which cost today's equivalent of $90 million and attracted around 27 million people during its two-season run. The designer Norman Bel Geddes created Futurama. Born in 1893, he was a ninth-grade dropout who went on to become a towering innovator of the early 20th century -- shaping products, advertising, stage design, buildings, aircraft, dance clubs and cities. His designs ranged from an Art Deco cocktail set to the bright orange, round-cornered Patriot Radio, a streamlined ocean liner, the Palais Royal nightclub in 1922, and plans for a pilot television studio for NBC in 1954. Photo of B. Alexandra Szerlip by Adam Keker But he never got his due, says writer B. Alexandra Szerlip, and was upstaged in design history by near contemporaries Frank Lloyd Wright and Raymond Loewy. So she decided to correct the record by writing a book about him, called The Man Who Designed the Future: Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America . The book traces the journey of a penniless man who made his way from the Midwest to New York, armed with the gift of drawing and plenty of grit.
Farewell LA freeways, but what takes their place? San Gabriel communities have fought for years over a long-planned 6.3 mile extension to the 710 Freeway, connecting it to the 210. Last week the Metro Board killed it off for good and Mayor Eric Garcetti called it a sign of times, noting that “Los Angeles has moved on from freeways.” LA Metro Rapid Line 760 at Flower Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo by George Instead, miles of new mass transit is planned for the region, along with improved streets for pedestrians, cyclists and cars, all paid for by Southland voters most recently through Measure M. But it turns out Angelenos are not using the transit they have paid for. Ridership has dropped, especially on LA-area buses. We look at why, how the humble bus could deliver a better experience, and why freeways -- once part of an optimistic vision for the future -- have reached the end of the road.
'Dandelion and Quince,' food and crime, 'All About Eggs' Sarah Lohman talks about the murder and historic recipes that form the backbone of her new book, “Ohio 1910,” and Rachel Khong shares highlights from Lucky Peach’s last cookbook, “All About Eggs.” Michelle Mckenzie tells us how to cook oft-forgotten fruits, veggies and herbs, and Jonathan Gold reviews AR Cucina in Culver City. Plus: raspberries at the market and a special guest DJ set from Alton Brown.
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?