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Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again. Here’s JHK’s holiday classic: A Christmas Orphan.

11-year-old Jeff Greenaway hears his mom and dad argue one night after an office Christmas party. He infers from their garbled squabble that he is an orphan, found in a willow basket on the welcome mat outside their New York apartment. Thinking now that his parents are imposters, he steals away to Grand Central Station and buys a train ticket to Drakesville, Vermont, where he intends to start life all over again.
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JHK’s lost classic now reprinted as an e-book
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Behold the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech in Pasadena, California, designed by Thom Maynes’ Morphoses team. I’d call the style “Bizarro Corbu” after the early Modernist, Le Corbusier (human name: Charles-Édouard Jeanneret). Bizarro derives from the trope in the old Superman comics, “Bizarro World: an alternative universe of industrial madness populated by sub-humanoids with crystalline bodies. Note the surpassing dreariness of the ground floor with its squashed down entrance portico, dull concrete “pilotis” and ghastly chain-link fencing (a material that should be relegated to dog kennels and prison yards.) Horizontal windows, of course! And that’s a great color choice: monkey-shit orange!
Thanks to Patrick T. Lynch for the nomination.

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Corbu

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

12 Responses to “November 2016” Subscribe

  1. JimInFlorida November 2, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    The greater marvel, or horror, is all the various parties that signed off on its construction in the first place!

    How do freakshows like this get all the necessary approvals before the first nail is driven? And who actually funds this after seeing the proposals?

    It is more disturbing to ponder the sociopathic proclivities of the bourgeois group mind that celebrates such visual dissonance than Mr. Jeanneret’s audacity for offering it up in the first place.

  2. twomartinilunch November 2, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    I am travelling to India in early December. My first stop after flying into Delhi is to head west to Chandigarh, capital of the Punjab. Here is what Wikipedia says about the place: “Chandigarh was one of the early planned cities in the post-independence India and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. The master plan of the city was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, which transformed from earlier plans created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer. Most of the government buildings and housing in the city, were designed by the Chandigarh Capital Project Team headed by Le Corbusier, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry. In 2015, an article published by BBC named Chandigarh as one of the perfect cities of the world in terms of architecture, cultural growth and modernisation.”
    I will let you know what I think!

  3. macseamus1 November 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    Inspired by the sand crawlers from Star Wars, no doubt. Jawas will emerge at any moment to zap some droids.

  4. carboncommute November 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    the metal cladding color was imposed on them by a local review board. it’s supposed to match the color of the monotonous spanish style stucco buildings around it.

    having personally visited this building it sits very quietly within the site and is a good neighbor. the entrance is easy to find and leads to a fantastic staircase that gives views into adjacent spaces.

    the classrooms etc are also well appointed and in good condition. overall this building is a winner despite the extreme design conservativism in pasadena.

    • jimofolym December 9, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

      Pasadena actually has some very nice older buildings. The city hall with its drive-through dome and the public library (beaux artes) are outstanding!

  5. swhite November 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    No, no, don’t you see, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s an astronomy building. I was designed by people who think that space is not Euclidean (parallel lines actually meet or diverge if you follow them out far enough);-) But of course it still is an eyesore.

  6. HappyMotorist November 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    It looks like an earthquake already happened.

  7. AKlein November 10, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Most people are not aware of this – in his later years Picasso held most of those who sang his praises and bought his execrable paintings in utter contempt. In fact, he said he deliberately painted worthless rubbish just to demonstrate how devoid of genuine appreciation of the arts they actually were. I remember years ago reading an article in a British paper how Picasso made no secret of his disdain, yet the customers of the rubbish still paid astronomical prices for the crap – because they wanted to brag they owned “a Picasso.”
    What should we expect from people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
    Perhaps this explains at least some of the Eyesores of the Month. They are jokes.

  8. WoozyCanary November 12, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    The spoilers/trimtabs are curious. I wouldn’t have thought the building was capable of reaching liftoff velocity.

  9. Timo November 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    It is the perfect architectural representation of our financialized ‘economy’ and stock market – soaring while collapsing into nothingness, and the color of the monkey shit they are. Bravo!

    Timo

  10. RobH November 21, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    That’s harmless enough surely. Some of your eyesores are really dreadful. That’s just like something the council might come up with; a box build with a slightly angular corner

    Interesting that they didn’t have enough engineering to get rid of that huge concrete pillar blocking the entrance

    Maybe they could have clad it LOL

  11. thwack November 30, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    Hmmm…

    To quote Jim;

    “it will never be renovated”

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