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.
Morgan Parker: There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé Morgan Parker says that the poems in her book There Are Things More Beautiful than Beyoncé take a stand against the clichés of the dominant culture.
Revisiting showrunner Steven Bochco on his memoir Steven Bochco, the writer-producer behind record-breaking Emmy winners Hill Street Blues, LA Law and NYPD Blue, fought battles with everyone from out-of-control actors to network censors in his long career. He isn’t afraid to tell those tales in his memoir, Truth Is a Total Defense. This week we revisit the conversation where he shared some of his favorite stories with us.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.