Due to excessive tinkering, this site went kaboom. If you’ve stumbled here from some dark corner of the Internet (how, I’m not sure—according my site metrics this shit is more clandestine than Tor): Welcome. If you were looking for something that was once posted here, please bear with me. I’m slowly uploading all the old posts, except for the ones that I would prefer to forget. It might be a while.

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Just the cutest little forklift in all of South Beach. Cheek pinches.

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No Name Pub

The No Name Pub on No Name Key is an establishment simultaneously ripe for unmet expectations and underestimation. From the outside, it’s all tourist schmaltz and curly Q’s. The oldest bar in the Keys! Built in 1936. One couldn’t be faulted for failing to believe either claim. The venerable institution is housed in a ramshackle cottage made watertight with layered coats of yellow paint. One of 43 buildings on a sparsely populated island, it could have been built anywhere, at anytime. Only its pastel hue suggests South Florida, and only its laissez-faire attitude toward maintenance suggests the Keys.

 

Out of sheer stubbornness, I was prepared for the No Name Pub to suck—possibly in a good way, but in spite of itself. The menu didn’t immediately suggest a diamond-in-the-rough. Instead, it offered the full spectrum of domestic beers in addition to its own amber ale. The house amber was fine, but like most house ambers, there’s a good chance it’s somebody else’s house amber as well. Generic, but without charm, it’ll get you from Point A to Point B. Also, the bar specializes in pizza. Bars do not specialize in pizza.

 

My healthy skepticism met its match the second I stepped into the bar. The Pub’s walls and ceilings are lined with cash—a quarter million I was told. The dining ambience is fishing wharf chic spun through an upturned strip club. That is, it’s awesome. You needn’t linger on the artistic merits of this style (Too PoMo? A hyper-gauche capitalist critique?). Just order the grouper sandwich. A half hour later your vision will be hazy and your stomach content. Since you’re not from South Florida, you’ll also wonder what, exactly, a grouper is. It doesn’t matter. It’s damn good.

 

Whatever’s in the grouper, or maybe the house amber, is clearly in everything else the bar serves. Through the haze, your friends are acting weird. Is T-Bomb trying to take a call in a loud bar, or is that just a ruse to swipe a few bills to cover tip? Both options are equally plausible. The night rolls on. The haze fades. And when it’s all said and done, it turns out the pizza was pretty good.

 

Two thumbs up for the No Name Pub.

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Miniature was the theme of the weekend.
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GPS navigation on the Florida Keys
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Stunted Deer and Lots of Underbrush

 

A recent trip to Key West found a group of high school friends and me backtracking a few islands to Big Pine Key in search of midget deer. No, it’s not nice to say, but I’m certain those pint-sized Bambies won’t mind my crude language. Being island dwellers, its doubtful they’ve ever seen their full-sized brethren. They don’t actually know that they’re really small!  Also, because the key deer are so tinty-intsy, they run that island. They cross the street without looking and ain’t scarred of nada. It’s as if nobody has told them that they’re endangered. (They are.)

 

At the Blue Hole, the freshwater lake that occupies a former rock quarry, we scoped a four-point stag. This little creature was surprisingly friendly and unintimidated by our cabal of bloodthirsty hunters. (Only one amongst us was an actual hunter, and he talked tough about mounting the deer’s small head on his wall. The deer was unfazed). He was so disarming that I forgot to get a selfie with him. Instead, all I got were these shots of vegetation and brush. There were signs about the various plants that I read—poisonwood stands out, for obvious reasons—but I retained exactly none of the knowledge that loitered briefly in my head before departing with the wind.

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El Rey de las Fritas
Jeremy is in town seeking refuge from responsibility, life decisions, and—briefly—the mature adult communities of Boynton Beach. Never one to miss an opportunity to shirk the duties of my own advancing age, I ditched the gym and treated baby boy right: A double serving of fritas on Calle Ocho.

 

We bellied a thick coating of pork grease and chips. Jeremy tried flirting with the waitress in Spanish (my interpretation). Only a couple of drinks later after I’d thoroughly buttered him up did I start casting shade on his current idol and borderline doppleganger, Drake. That’s when things got interesting. Always good to see homeboy. 
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 The Cherokee Restaurant, Muskegon, MI

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Empty Pavilion, McLain Clutter and Kyle Reynolds, 2012

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The Bull on Mack Avenue

I don’t want an explanation for the bull’s head that looms over an empty storefront along Mack Avenue. The intrigue and mystery are certainly more interesting than any historical account. It seems apparent that the building used to be some sort of carryout joint. One hopes that the remains locked inside are more than a few discarded industrial sinks or some pots and pans.
Like I said, I don’t want the answer. I never got too close. It’s more fun to assume that the bull stands guard over this relatively vacant stretch of the city, and because of its very isolation, still holds a secret or two within.

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Hacking Geodemography, Master of None, 2013

The Unveiling of Dimensions, Vol. 26

Video by Adam Smith

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Etching a camouflage patterned relief into aluminum sheets for a wall panel mockup on the 3-axis CNC router
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Cart pusher at the Mercado Centro in Manaus

Bertrand Goldberg in Color

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago is under threat of demolition. Too young to be designated historic, many want it preserved as an important work of Brutalist architecture. That’s fine, just don’t expect a wholesale embalming. 

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East of Caochangdi

Despite Beijing’s apparent density, the city is dotted with expanses of unused and marginal land. These landscapes are generally rubbish, demolished villages, or other seemingly temporary condition. Some of it is former agricultural land that villagers have simply stopped farming. During the Olympics, areas like this were often walled off with construction fencing. This was also true of the occupied urban villages that the government thought to be too unsightly for Western eyes. China’s modernization has rendered these lands, both inhabited and desolate, as by-products of urbanization—spaces obscured and thus assumed as a null condition. They are the blank spaces on the map between two places of note.
This man was coming out of a 10-acre trash dump when I encountered him just east of the village. Whether he lived there, was discarding trash, or found the poor child amid a heap of refuse (my preferred sensationalized narrative), I have no idea. After he left, I walked in to take a few more photos and was promptly kicked out by a woman that I assume was the gatekeeper. My attempt to claim ignorance on the basis of language–my default technique to continue doing something that I know I shouldn’t–didn’t get very far.

Don’t drink the water

I realize that there doesn’t appear to be any logic or unfolding narrative behind the sequence of these posts. There isn’t. If you’re one of the tens of people that have managed to find yourself on this website with any recurrence (shout out to my creators), I’ll eventually get around to our trip to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the rest of things you want to hear about.

In the meantime, this photograph comes from the neighboring village of Nan Gao, whose name we have begun using as an adjective. If in the future I say, “you smell like Nan Gao,” refer to the image to the right and take appropriate action.

 

How putrid is the creek, you ask? Up until this point, my travel companion, Jordan, had exhibited an iron-like digestive system. A culinary adventurer, he has consumed everything put in front of him–including the tap water. The morning after our trip to Nan Gao, Jordan woke up green-faced with stomach cramps. Coincidence? Possibly, but probably not. Thankfully, I don’t share a bathroom with Jordan. I can only assume that it also smells like Nan Gao.

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Links (November 2, 2010)

If polls are to be believed, today’s midterm elections will be a depressing day for anyone on the left side of the political spectrum. To help you wallow in sorrow, read these links:

Thomas Friedman, NY Times Can’t Keep A Bad Idea Down
Though not normally a Friedman fan, I think he gets it right. It remains a mystery to me why this type of succinct argument wasn’t more prevalent on the Democratic stump:

 

“Let’s have more tax cuts, unlinked to any specific spending cuts and while we’re still fighting two wars — because that worked so well during the Bush years to make our economy strong and our deficit small. Let’s immediately cut government spending, instead of phasing cuts in gradually, while we’re still mired in a recession — because that worked so well in the Great Depression. Let’s roll back financial regulation — because we’ve learned from experience that Wall Street can police itself and average Americans will never have to bail it out.”

If voters are angry with incumbents in Washington, specifically by inaction in Washington, how did Democratic candidates expect to be reelected when they were running away from their accomplishments? Outflanking this group of Republican candidates on the right would have been a nearly impossible. Also, I don’t think people are as angry at government as an entity as they are at the perception that government is incompetent. If that’s the case, the Democrats, as they always seem to, proved their opposition right.

Planner’s Dream Gone Wrong  Storm in a Teacup

Echoes my thoughts on the coming elections, with regards to the libertarian/populists roots of the Tea Party and their Democratic opposition:

“When human lives are lost in bridge collapses, when congestion causes countless millions of dollars to be squandered in lost productivity and wasted fuel, and when anybody with half a brain can tell you we need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels for a host of reasons both environmental and strategic, my level of appall at the arrogance of the opposition is matched only by my disgust at the ineffectiveness of our supposed champions.”

The Infrastructurist The Survival of High Speed Rail Comes Down to Tomorrow

Governors races will likely determine how the federal appropriation of high-speed rail grants are used—or not used as seems likely. The outlook is bleak in the Midwest, where Democratic candidates in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio trail by sizable margins. Republican candidates in those races have been outspoken opponents of rail projects, presumably given their federal origins. Projects at risk include $150 million for the Dearborn-Kalamazoo (via Ann Arbor) line and $230 million for the Iowa City-Chicago line. Maybe next decade.

Christopher Leinberger, The New Republic  Toronto Takes Off to a Great Walkable North
From a moderately tall building in Detroit, you can see the shores of Windsor, Canada. It is close, so close, and looking more and more appealing each day.

2010 [designintelligence] Michigan Number One

Links (September 12, 2010)

Detroit

Next American City Film Industry Takes Root in Detroit

“Detroit. We’re Cheap and Easy.” Honest, perhaps desperately so. The city’s tax credits for film production (42% tax abatement) and infrastructure development and training (25%) have been bringing in major Hollywood blockbusters such as Transformers, Up in the Air, and Gran Torino, resulting in a $350 million into total revenue over the past two years.

Next American City Right Size Fits All
An interview with Toni Griffin (lecturing at the University of Michigan on September 10th) and Marja Winters on future planning initiatives in Detroit.

Palladium Boots Detroit Lives
… Apparently so does Johnny Knoxville. Who knew? An interesting three-part video series on the selective coverage of Detroit, the realities of urban decay and the opportunities of a blank canvas.

Elsewhere

Chicago Tribune Daley, Boss and Builder, Changed the Face of Chicago
“During his 21-year reign, Chicago planted more than 600,000 trees, constructed more than 85 miles of landscaped medians and built more than 7 million square feet of planted roofs—more than any other city in America.”

Streetsblog Investing in Transit Could Create 180,000 Jobs, for Free
According to a report by University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers, each billion dollars spent on transit creates 36,108 jobs compared with only 30,319 jobs funded by road dollars.

The Atlantic Five Things America’s Strongest Economies Have in Common
Here’s the cliffnotes version:

1. Education and Healthcare Industries

2. Military Bases

3. State Capitals

4. Texas/Great Plains (Really?!)

5. Cheap Labor

Financial Times Suburbs Shape Up to Compete with City
Thirty percent of respondents to a Pew survey preferred to live in a small town while only 25% opted for the traditional suburb. Still, this preference seems to be manifesting itself in the form of re-engineered suburbs that allow residents to maintain their current lifestyle while frequenting superficially urban centers. Baby steps…

NY Times White House Spurns Solar Panel
I can’t think of a single reason why the White House would want to pull out an old relic from the Carter Administration. What exactly was the point of this stunt?

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Out the Bus Window from Essaouria to Marrakech

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Essaouira, Morocco
Brown pup has a rock and a piece of folded cardboard for a pillow! Black pup needs to step up his game (or swipe that from brown pup.)

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Snails for dinner in Marrakech’s central square, Djemaa el-Fna,

Valenica, Spain

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The incomporable ambience of exurban hospitality

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Nuevo Centro
Valenica, Spain

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Nuevo Centro
Valenica, Spain

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Torre Agbar, Jean Nouvel, 2005
Barcelona, Spain

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Parc Guell, Antoni Gaudi, 1914
Barcelona, Spain

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Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudi, 1886-present
Barcelona, Spain
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Casa Batlló, Antoni Gaudi, 1887; Renovated 1904-1906
Barcelona, ES

Links (July 23, 2010)

Slate The Nimblest City
With cities projected to be home to 3/4 of the world’s population, Tom Vanderbilt looks at the top 5 reader suggestions for improving urban transport.

Kaid Benfield: NRDC Tax revenue from downtown mixed-use outperforms big-box superstores and malls
With dwindling public budgets, every dollar from property taxes county. In Sarasota, Walmart and Costco produce just slightly more tax revenue than a single-family house on a per acre basis, and the high-end mall produces $22,000/acre annually. Meanwhile, a downtown mixed-use development earns a whopping $800,000/acre each year.

Affordable Housing News Bridging the Gap Between Preservation and Transit
A National Housing Trust study of 20 US cities reveals nearly 70% of the 250,000 subsidized apartments within a half-mile of transit have expiring federal contracts. In an effort to maintain the subsidized housing supply, state and local governments have created local TOD Funds or included transit provisions in state Qualified Application Plan (QAP) for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).

Think Progress Libertarianism on the Road
Matt Yglesias takes issue with Randall O’Toole for failing to acknowledge the government’s role in subsidizing automobile usage while lambasting government operation of public transit.

Washington Post Amid Montgomery cuts, planning agency to go dark for a week to save money, jobs
My former employer is shutting its doors for two weeks in an effort to save energy and maximize savings from furlough days.

Treehugger Tiny Transformer Kitchen Occupies Less Than 10 Square Feet When Closed
Unlike the article’s title, the kitchen is compact, and quite cool.

Wall Street Journal The Transforming City Seen From Above
This a pretty fascinating way to spend an afternoon. City cartographers have added aerial photos from 1951 to NYCityMap, a tool that lets users find city services and information about buildings. Maps are also available from 1924, 1996, 2006, and 2008.