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February 27, 2003

Le plus haut: World Trade Center

Studio Daniel Libeskind has won the design competition for the rebuilding of Ground Zero. The design features a 1,776-foot tall tower enclosing a “vertical world garden,” exposure of the original towers’ subterranean slurry walls, and a “wedge of light” allowing the sun to illuminate the site each September 11th between the precise time the first plane hit and the collapse of the second tower. In general the design looks quite fragmented and crystalline - typical of the deconstructivist “style” of architecture he helped found.

Although it’s nothing like the kind of stuff I do for architecture studio, I find it incredibly intriguing and quite poetic. The concerns I’ve read about leading up to this final decision have dealt with whether the site should engage itself more with the tragedy and memory of the terrorist activities or more with the altruism and recovery afterwards. I, personally, think Mr. Libeskind’s proposal deals fairly with each without neglecting or over-emphasizing the other.

A few of the other Tech students here in France went to Germany last week and saw Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin. The museum’s design is based on a rather involved process of connecting lines between locations of historic events and locations of Jewish culture in the city, and it’s generally considered his best work to date. Like the proposal in New York, the museum deals with issues of absence, voids, tragedy, continuity, defiance, and hope.

I read somewhere this morning that no construction will begin until at least 2005. I just hope that this doesn’t get watered down too much before it’s finally completed. For instance, Libeskind’s proposal for having the memorial sit 70 feet below street level on the exposed bedrock of Manhattan has been raised 40 feet to allow for underground bus parking. Is it just me or does standing on the roof of a parking deck looking up a couple stories not have the same affect as feeling the terrestrial foundations of one the world’s largest cities pressing against the soles of your feet while being dwarfed by walls that are holding back the forces of the Hudson River?

February 24, 2003

Al Gore et moi

In case anybody was wondering (Matt), here’s full disclosure of my connection to Al Gore.

  1. Al Gore was in The Last Party with Laura Dern
  2. Laura Dern was in Novocaine with Kevin Bacon
  3. Kevin Bacon was in My Dog Skip with Clint Howard
  4. Clint Howard was in You’ll Never Wiez in This Town Again with Pauly Shore
  5. Pauly Shore was at the Marriot Bay Point in Panama City, Florida with me once upon a time.

Le week-end passé

On Saturday morning I headed out via train to Amiens, just over one hour north of Paris. I took a medieval architecture class a couple years ago where we mainly studied the cathedrals of Italy, France, and England. I had been planning on going to Amiens since I arrived - its cathedral being the tallest in France. (The choir of the cathedral in Beauvais is technically taller, but that’s all it is - the nave was never completed.) It’s been consistently sunny here in France for over a week now so I got some really good photos both inside and outside.

I made it back to Paris in the afternoon just in time for a Scottish parade. Yesterday the Scottish national rugby team played the French team here in Paris so in honor of the Auld Alliance, linking the two nations back in the 1295, they held a pipe band parade at Montmartre. The parade was supposed to start at 4 o’clock but didn’t commence until sometime after 5 o’clock. The French seemed to blame the delay on the Scottish stopping in at a bar (or two) on their way to the starting area. The Scottish appeared to blame it on the French for putting so many bars along the eventual parade route! When the bands (from Scotland, England, and France) finally got their acts together any harsh feelings were quickly abandoned.

And any true Scotsmen running up the steps to Sacré Coeur in Paris, please note that your actions might cause on-looking lassies to fall down the steps! Trust me; I’ve seen it happen.

February 21, 2003

J'ai 23 ans.

According to the birthday card I received from my parents today, I’m “the greatest kid in cyberspace.” This means:

  1. at the ripe old age of twenty-three they still consider me a kid
  2. they are disillusioned about their son and his possible connections to Al Gore, inventor of the internet
  3. they are tired of only email contact these past few weeks and are trying to subliminally ask for a phone call

I’ll focus on item #3 and give them a call before I go to bed tonight… that is if they don’t call me first!

February 20, 2003

J'ai 22 ans.

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Today I’m straightening up my room. Yes, things truly are that exciting here in Paris!

February 18, 2003

Arrête-moi si tu peux

Last night Ann and Fiona (both down from Scotland for a long weekend) and I went to see Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can, based on the true life story of one of the most successful con artists in history - Frank Abagnale, Jr. What did I enjoy most about the movie? Well, I had read elsewhere on the web that the opening credits were incredible, and yes, they were! One of the opening sequences of the film is at a Rotary meeting - funny, indeed. Part of the story takes place in France which the French audience seemed to enjoy; part of the story takes place in Atlanta, Georgia which I enjoyed.

February 10, 2003

Le passport

One factoid I kept hearing repeated time and time again last year in Scotland was that Americans don’t have passports. Nearly every time the statement was made with the qualification that the United States is a huge country and that there’s plenty to explore without traveling abroad. Most people however were uninformed that American citizens don’t need a passport to travel to Canada, Mexico, or many Carribean countries.

February 02, 2003

L'attaque des fourmis

Bugs have never really bothered me. Be it camel crickets annually invading our bathtub back home, fist-sized moths slamming into our Coleman lantern during late-night card games at Boy Scout camp, or a near-plague of mosquitos in an Alaskan summer — I’ve always managed to keep my cool and handle the situation without getting too unnerved. But these days things are starting to change!

For the past couple months we’ve had ants in our Parisian apartment. They’re tiny and originally were content to live in the kitchen. Let a baguette sit out too long and you can’t really complain when some ants find it. But these ants are not just any ants - they don’t seem to care too much about food. So if they’re not seeking nourishmen, maybe they’re here for the warmth. So as long as they hang out near the water heater, no problem. We’ll place some ant traps there and that’ll get rid of them. No luck - they quickly discovered the coziness to be found underneath a laptop!

Up until now, I’ve been quite a humanitarian (or whatever the equivalent is when dealing with ants) and merely swept them onto the floor. Now it’s time for them all to die!

Why the change in policy? They’ve finally conquered the bathroom! It’s not cool to have ants in the bristles of your toothbrush; trust me!

NOTE: During the typing of this entry, I have helped at least half a dozen ants “shuffle off this mortal coil.”

UPDATE: Do you think I’m over-reacting to ants being on my toothbrush? Well, I’ll have you know that according to MIT, as an American, I can’t live without my toothbrush!

February 01, 2003

In memoriam