So I’ve eaten my cake, had my song, and now the next day it’s time to reflect, right? My own personal New Year. I’m supposed to start paddling to Sweden. So to speak.
For this one I’m taking a raincheck. This year, aging is a constant process with no milestones. One cannot celebrate the incremental. One can only enjoy it.
Like most people that aren’t angling for a dictatorship or corner office (or both, as I suppose the former would provide the latter), my first reaction to learning a person’s age is to compare my position in life to theirs. Thus, when I discover that White Teeth was published when Zadie Smith when she was 25, brief existential panic ensues, but when I find out that Ira Glass was born in 1959 I calm back down. I sometimes think that I chose my profession because early fame is nearly nonexistent; architects are like novelists, “young” until 40. Actually, I prefer to think of architects as more like ninjas– plenty of young hotshots, but nobody can beat the sensei (at least not without a long backstory and a longer showdown). And, many of us are bald, and we wear lots of black.
My new book on infrastructure tells an easy way to discern between AC and DC high power lines:
“DC transmission lines sound quite different from AC ones. They click and crackle rather than buzz; the DC line sounds just like a Geiger counter. And when you walk under the conductors, the pace of the clicking accelerates, as if you were radioactive.”
Forget cancer, or sterility, or even the pervasive hum. Our grid is watching us.
So, if old novels and movies are to be trusted, in the time of our greatest generation people only drank two things: whisky and black coffee. I unfortunately can’t remember back to a time when my psyche hadn’t been aquafina’d— after fuzzy mornings, sore throats and headaches, and more than a few hangovers that combined all three, any ailment that strikes must first be treated through an immediate water infusion. It’s the modern equivalent of swinging a dead cat or butchering a goat over the local shrine. Beer and coffee are bad primarily for their water-depletion effects, not for any kind of liver damage or addictive qualities they might contain. I don’t even drink any more. I hydrate. I have special containers that are not cups for storing water to drink, at work.
I feel that I am not alone in this. But if our grandparents got such a great collective nickname only drinking things that were brown and damaging, what are we achieving through a proper ion balance? Better skin?
There isn’t really a good way of ending this post without an apology (of course water is good for you) or an absurdity (going on a diet that consists solely of hydrogenated oils thickened with refined sugar.) So I’m just going to fade out, imbibing equal quantities of my liquid trifecta: coffee, whiskey, and water. With any luck I’ll look just like Walter Cronkite in a few years.
Our house, like many in Southern California, features a gas floor heater. It’s a metal box of flame that heats and draws air in from beneath the house. At full blast it creates a small, hot, dry wind in the hallway outside of our bedroom.
Unlike a forced-air system, there is no return. Our heater is gently pressurizing our home, pushing warm gusts out the cracks around our windows and doors and making the water boil a tiny bit faster. A microclimate, complete with artificial light and sound, as our house hurtles through the cold silent dark.
I’d be willing to bet that the development of Disneyland and Los Angeles is roughly parallel. 1950’s: both coming into existence with seas of parking surrounding points of attraction, obsession with automobiles, futurism, and eclecticism. Fifteen years later, a belated (and somewhat failed) attempt to add mass rail transportation in a spasm of progressive action, followed by a 10-year slow leak of belief in founding principles. 1990’s, expansion through densification, as well as an increasingly self-aware critique of the California condition in general, but at the loss of any belief in futurity or progress. In recent years a partnership with other massive corporations and conglomerates to produce thrilling, controlled simulacra of urbanity, as well as a “rediscovery” and celebration of the mid-century roots.
The question is, which one is mirroring the other?
1. They’re cold.
2. They rarely have any odor, so the flavor comes to you all at once, without a preview.
3. You eat them with spoons, but they are not liquid. The spoon is there more as a digging tool than a reservoir.
4. There is a point, however, where they liquefy in your mouth, usually between the palate and tongue, like the ice is letting go and preparing to be swallowed.
5. They take on the shape of whatever they’re scooped or extruded with, but then slowly degrade through heat, gravity, and spoon attacks into a tiny bubbly swirly delicious animal.