aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, December 19, 2005
From Salon, new lows in reality TV:
Crew members from the WB reality show “Cheaters” have been indicted on charges of assault after a caught-on-tape adulteress tried to flee the show’s cameras. The host, director and two security guards from the show allegedly assaulted the woman to try to keep her on camera. The woman’s husband, too, was indicted for violating a protection order she had against him, and is awaiting trial for previous charges of assaulting her, which should clear up any question of why she was cheating on him—with a police captain.
Don’t fence them in
Also on the front page of the Times today (though oddly not in any of the RSS feeds I subscribe to), In Minnesota, an Odd Request:
In 40 years here, Dennis Hron has never worried about the women living across the street - not even the murderers, the robbers and the kidnappers among them.
What Mr. Hron and other residents are up in arms about now is a plan to wall them off.
The women live in the Minnesota Correctional Facility, separated from the tidy suburban neighborhood that surrounds it by nothing more than a three-foot hedge, pruned to ground stubble in some spots in winter.
State corrections officials, concerned about the rising number of violent women in prison, want to cordon the facility off with a 12-foot fence. They argue that it is the only prison in the country with a maximum-security wing and no perimeter wall.
But residents and city officials say good fences would be wasted on good neighbors.
Then there are these wise words:
“We have to think about assimilating them back into society,” said Mr. Hron, a former county commissioner. “Now they come out and play ball, they see us cutting our lawns or coming and going, they see what life is like out there, that people are enjoying it. It gives them a good picture, something to aspire to.”
Mayor John Schmitt suggested that the fence might actually inspire more walkaways. “If suddenly you’re inside a wall, and you can’t see your neighbors,” Mayor Schmitt said, “it will give you other thoughts. Your natural inclination is to say, ‘I want to get outside those walls.’ ”
Sick monsters should be hung II
Justin’s dark coming-of-age story is a collateral effect of recent technological advances. Minors, often under the online tutelage of adults, are opening for-pay pornography sites featuring their own images sent onto the Internet by inexpensive Webcams. And they perform from the privacy of home, while parents are nearby, beyond their children’s closed bedroom doors.
The business has created youthful Internet pornography stars - with nicknames like Riotboyy, Miss Honey and Gigglez - whose images are traded online long after their sites have vanished. In this world, adolescents announce schedules of their next masturbation for customers who pay fees for the performance or monthly subscription charges. Eager customers can even buy “private shows,” in which teenagers sexually perform while following real-time instructions.
A six-month investigation by The New York Times into this corner of the Internet found that such sites had emerged largely without attracting the attention of law enforcement or youth protection organizations. While experts with these groups said they had witnessed a recent deluge of illicit, self-generated Webcam images, they had not known of the evolution of sites where minors sold images of themselves for money.
This story must be read in full; to answer the Romenesko reader’s question, this is the Times at its very best. It’s exposed a problem that we must address but one where I’m afraid that because of our distorted dealings with the myriad issues raised effective action is unlikely.
For the nightmare here is not only child sexual abuse. It is parental abuse and neglect, law enforcement targeting the wrong people and using the wrong strategies - egged on, significantly, by our sensationalist pundocracy - businesses large and small, legit and illegit cashing in and, most significantly, the problem of pornography.
I have resisted coming out broadly and completely against pornography, buying into liberal adult freedom of speech arguments. Today I let that go. I am against the closet because of the shame based damage it does. I am against pornography for many reasons, but shame based damage is high among them.
As to my headline, I don’t actually believe the people doing this are sick monsters; I believe it would be an easier problem to address if they were. This story suggests the USA Today article I quoted the other day is sadly wrong, and that each of us is going to have to come to terms with the monsters in our midst.
Modernism, here and there
I am a I was a New Yorker who looked up. I love the skyline; I’m dazzled by it. I want to look at it, appreciate it, stand there and be awed and overwhelmed by it. A proud amateur who once gave his own walking tours - to friends, family and anyone else who tagged along - modeled on those I took with… was it Mosette Broderick while a student at NYU? Oh, the memory lapses.
I also interviewed Paul Goldberger (then at the Times, now The New Yorker architecture critic) for a student documentary on the Times Square redevelopment plan. In those days I absorbed both an admiration for modernism’s intentions and the critique of it as an assault on the American cityscape - cheap architecture masquerading as modern architecture undermined modernism’s moment. I’m still inclined to like the postmodernist design guideline development of, for example, a Battery Park City.
The building I work in now is the only modernist building - by a New York architect no less - within a 40 mile radius of our town. It reflects modernism’s aspirations. It tries, it has elements I like and that the students like and in some instances it comes close to achieving its aspirations. But it is considered by many who are born and raised there as an architectural assault on the town and the campus.
No columns, no culture.
Like Norman Foster‘s ”shiny missile shooting out of [its] stone launching pad” - the Hearst Headquarters building in New York - our new building is attached to a beloved old campus structure, but Paul Goldberger’s not there to interpret this for us. Me, I can’t do it either. And that’s because, frankly, I don’t get it.
I’m enough of a post modernist fan that I agree with those in my town who want, at least, some gesture towards the rest of the campus. Or maybe it’s just that the building is not a strong enough modernist accomplishment to persuade me on its own.
Foster is at his best when solving puzzles like this one; unlike most ÃƒÂ©lite architects, he isn’t obsessed with creating his own pure forms. His gift for building a meaningful conversation between new and old architecture became apparent six years ago, with the unveiling of the renovated Reichstag, in Berlin: Foster placed a glass dome atop an ornate nineteenth-century masonry structure, reinterpreting the building’s monumentality in modernist terms. And, in 2000, he enlivened the courtyard of the British Museum with a steel-and-glass canopy that casts a delicate geometric shadow on the floor.
Foster’s gift is one the ÃƒÂ©lite HHPA architect assigned to our project may not have. In our building, there’s no conversation between new and old. If anything, there’s an argument; though I am quick to add that students do love a good argument.
When I looked up at the Hearst Headquarters building last night it wasn’t immediately clear that the building worked for me. It’s an awe-inspiring structure, fascinating to look at and in an awesome setting. The AOL Time Warner headquarters is just a block away, with its 95’ illuminated prow light sculpture (this was the first time I’d seen it working).
I’ll be eager to come back when it’s open and I can see it alive in the city and walk through what Goldberger calls “one of the most dramatic entrances of any tower in New York.” And back home in my town where a culture of conformity is the norm, I will welcome our modernist argument. It’s exactly as it should be that this is the building I work in.