Saturday, October 01, 2016
Understanding that people and organizations should update their websites every five or six years, I recently went through the experience, on two fronts: my own author's website, a debut on Wordpress, and the much larger and more complicated overhaul of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, where I am a fellow, transitioning from a patched-together custom CMS to Drupal. I must say it was a bit of a wild ride in both cases, and I learned more about File Transfer Protocol (FTP) than I ever cared to know. But the payoff is clear. A new website forces a re-thinking and a fresh start. It's an exercise in stepping back and figuring out what the most important themes are, and how they might best be packaged. So, here is the new and improved anthony.flint: a simple About homepage to start things off; a repository of Published Work, Travel Writing, and Videos; citations in In the News and Reviews; and a page for speaking engagements, called Appearances. I'll keep working on it and remain open to suggestion. I feel like websites have become ubiquitous, necessary as ever, but not necessarily to be overdone -- sort of like owning a Prius, just basic, efficient transportation. Come to think of it, with that dent in the rear passenger, I've been meaning to refresh my ride.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
50 years ago today, the death of Le Corbusier
here). In the 1950s he built his famous cabanon, attached to the restaurant L'Etoile de Mer, and steps from the five camping cubes he had designed in coordination with the owner, Thomas Rebutato, a retired plumber from Nice. This fragrant slope, perched above the aqua and blue waters of his beloved Mediterranean Sea, was his getaway. He continued to come to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin after the death of his wife, Yvonne, dining on sea urchins and drinking wine, and telling a friend he loved it so much he was sure he would end his days there. And indeed he did. When he plunged into the waves on August 25, 1965, he would not return alive. Somewhere out there on those rolling waves, he had a heart attack. Two visitors to the area discovered his body as it washed up on shore.
The funeral, memorial and processions that followed, culminating in Paris, were worthy of a head of state. Streets were named after him, and his visage graced currency in Switzerland, La Chaux-de-Fonds being the place of his birth. He achieved saint status at architecture schools across the land, particularly at places like the Harvard Design School. But just as inexorably, he was vilified as the destroyer of cities, the man who gave us the blank wall, elevated urban freeway, towers in the park, soulless concrete; arguably the original "starchitect," who initiated the obsession with form. Just this year, two books (mercifully, in French) highlighted his time in Vichy and alleged fascist leanings (though I could not detect a single new piece of evidence that had not already been uncovered by Nicholas Fox Weber, much less me). The Pompidou Center was criticized for not pumping up his dark side in its recent exposition. As a leading figure on the stage of the 20th century, he has become the architect a lot of people love to hate.
So whatever would we do without him?
I am resisting the temptation to compare him to a certain presidential candidate in the news these days. But when it comes to design and citybuilding, there is value in shaking things up, challenging the status quo, and making propositions that can then be challenged, to forge a better way. He had some really bad ideas. But he also appreciated the need for density and abundant housing, and a sense of regional scale. His Unite d'Habitation in Marseille presaged micro-apartments -- not to mention Crate & Barrel -- by several decades. We're going to need outside-the-box thinking like that to accommodate the many millions of people migrating to ill-equipped cities throughout the developing world.
I took the same swim off that crescent beach in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. You have to want to get out there -- the waves push you back, the stones underfoot are really annoying. Some suggest Le Corbusier staged a kind of suicide, knowing that if he exerted himself, he would never return. It's certainly possible, in the tradition of the Cathars of Languedoc, with whom he identified. Like Hemingway, maybe he had seen enough. I sometimes wonder how he would react to the way the world views him now. But it's part of history, him walking out the front door of the cabanon barechested in his bathing suit, sashaying down the sloping path to the water, fifty years ago today.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Freed Man in Paris
The buzz about Modern Man began in earnest over the weekend. On Sunday, my story In the Footsteps of Le Corbusier appeared in The Boston Sunday Globe Travel section. I was delighted to recall the destinations in France and Switzerland that were dutifully required to research the book, from the Swiss Riveria and Lake Geneva to the South of France, Marseille, Lyon, Ronchamp, and of course Paris. Also on Sunday, my interview with Rachel Martin aired on NPR's Weekend Edition. The headline was "Like it or Not, Architect Le Corbusier's Urban Designs are Everywhere" -- giving me a taste of how this controversial figure is likely to be greeted, that is, with some considerable skepticism. Rachel Martin did tell me at the beginning that she had no idea who Le Corbusier was, and was not particularly interested in the subject -- but really enjoyed reading the book. She asked some challenging questions. I'll be very happy if readers find this story compelling, and relate it to our present built environment and the landscape all around, and the future of cities in the 21st century.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
The tumult and the joy of writing Modern Man, my forthcoming biography of Le Corbusier
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Jane Jacobs strikes again
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Staying up late in Bellagio
I'm a tiny bit sheepish about my latest contribution to The Boston Globe Travel section. The Lido nightclub splashed on the scene in Bellagio, and seemed to be changing the nature of the place as a day-tripper destination. The untold story is that it has also been driving the locals a bit loco. The thumpa-thumpa of the music rattles around the peninsula on Lake Como, particularly at The Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center at Villa Serbelloni. I was honored to be a fellow there this summer, working on my book on Le Corbusier. I only spent one indulgent night on the town. So here it is, appearing in today's editions of The Boston Globe in the Travel section: BELLAGIO, Italy — The latest addition to the scene here is a feisty, flashy, and thumping one: The Lido (www.lidodibellagio.com/index_eng.html), a beach club by day and a fabulous and groovy Euro-trash convening place into the wee hours. The parade of impossibly stylish Italians starts marching over from the ferry dock on Lake Como at 1 a.m., when the party is just getting started. A typical cover is about $26, a justifiable splurge to watch the class of people stepping off the big power boats tied up just a few steps from the dance floor. Midweek nights feature delightfully cheesy cover bands of Pink Floyd and the like. If you have the stamina, bracket a visit with a stroll through the Villa Melzi gardens (www.giardinidivillamelzi.it/html/menu_-_eng.html) to the adjacent hamlet of Loppia for dinner at Ristorante Alle d’Arsenne (www.ristorantedarsenediloppia.com/en/home.html), a favorite of nearby resident George Clooney ( no, really). Then crash at the exquisitely restored Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni (www.villaserbelloni.com), where a dive in the lakeside pool is just the thing for the morning after.