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HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNE LAMOTT!
Anne Lamott is an acclaimed novelist and non-fiction writer, as well as a passionate political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher. But, it’s her tireless support of public libraries that we would like to spotlight and celebrate today. In that spirit, we are proud to present Anne’s moving contribution to our just released book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.
Steinbeck Country
In Salinas, word went out. This is how many tribal stories begin: word goes out to the people of a community that there is a great danger or that a wrong is being committed. This is how I first found out that the governor planned to close the public libraries in Salinas, making it the largest city in the United States to lose its libraries because of budget cuts.
 Without getting into any mudslinging about whether or not our leaders are clueless, bullying, nonreading numbskulls,let me just say that when word went out that the three libraries—the John Steinbeck, the Cesar Chavez, and El Gabilan—were scheduled for closing, a whole lot of people rose up as one to say, This does not work for us. Salinas is one of the poorest communities in the state of California, in one of the richest counties in the country. The city and the surrounding area serve as the setting for so many of Steinbeck’s great novels. Think farmworkers, fields of artichokes and garlic, faded stucco houses stained with dirt, tracts of ticky-tacky housing, James Dean’s face in East of Eden, strawberry fields, and old gas stations.
 Now think about closing the libraries there, closing the buildings that hold the town’s books, all those stories about people and wisdom and justice and life and silliness and laborers bending low to pick the strawberries. You’d have to be crazy to bring such obvious karmic repercussions down on yourself. So in early April, a group of writers and actors fought back, showing up in Salinas for a twenty-four-hour “emergency read-in.”
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My sad sixties heart soared like an eagle at contemplating the very name: emergency read-in. George W. Bush and John Ashcroft had tried for years to create a country the East German state could only dream about, empowering the government to keep track of the books we checked out or bought, all in the name of national security. But the president and the attorney general hadn’t counted on how passionately writers and readers feel about the world, or at any rate, the worlds contained inside the silent spines of books.
 We came together because we started out as children who were saved by stories, stories read to us at night when we were little, stories we read by ourselves, in which we could get lost and thereby found. Some of us had grown up to become people with loud voices, which the farmworkers and their children needed. And we were mad. Show a bunch of writers a free public library is a revolutionary notion, and when people don’t have free access to books, then communities are like radios without batteries. You cut people off from essential sources of information—mythical, practical, linguistic, political—and you break them. You render them helpless in the face of political oppression. We were not going to let this happen.
 Writers and actors came from San Francisco and San Jose, from all around. Maxine Hong Kingston came from Oakland. Hector Elizondo drove up from Los Angeles, as did Mike Farrell. The poet José Montoya drove from Sacramento, four hours away. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez flew all morning to be there. I drove down from the Bay Area with the Buddhist writer and teacher Jack Kornfield.
When we arrived, the lawn outside the Chavez library held only about 150 people—not the throngs we had hoped for—but the community was especially welcoming and grateful, and the women of CODEPINK, who helped organize the event, kept everyone’s spirits up. It’s hard to be depressed when activists in pink feather boas are kissing you. Many people had pitched tents on one side of the library, where they could rest through the night while the readings were proceeding onstage. 
 Can you imagine the kind of person who is willing to stay up all night in the cold to keep a few condemned libraries open? Well, not me, baby.
 I was going home to my own bed that night. But then I saw some of my parents’ old friends who were planning to stay, people who have been protesting and rallying in civil rights and peace marches since I was a girl, people who had driven from San Francisco because they’ve always know that the only thing that keeps a democracy functioning is the constant education of its citizens. If you don’t have a place where the poor, the marginalized, and the young can find out who they are, then you have no hope of maintaining a free and civilized society.
 We were there to celebrate some of the rare intelligence capabilities that our country can actually be proud of—those of librarians. I see them as healers and magicians. Librarians can tease out of inarticulate individuals enough information about what they are after to lead them on the path of connection. They are trail guides through the forest of shelves and aisles—you turn a person loose who has limited skills, and he’ll be walloped by the branches. But librarians match up readers with the right books: “Hey, is this one too complicated? They why don’t you give this one a try?”
 Inside the library were Hispanic children and teenagers and their parents, and a few old souls. They sat in chairs reading, stood surveying the bilingual collection, and worked at the computers. These computers are the only ones that a lot of people in town have access to. The afterschool literacy and homework programs at the libraries are among the few safe places where parents can direct their children, away from the gangs.
 On this afternoon, parents read to their children in whispered Spanish, and the air felt nutritious. As Barry Lopez once said, “Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
 I went back outside. Poets of every color were reading. People milled around with antiwar placards—“¡Libros si!¡Bombas no!” Older members of the community told stories from legends, history, their own families. Fernando Suarez stepped up to the mike and spoke of his nineteen year-old son, who had died not long before in Iraq. Suarez spoke first in English and then in Spanish, as he does frequently around the country, and your heart could hardly beat for the sadness.
 Maybe in Oaxaca children are still hearing stories that the elders tell, but these kids in Salinas are being raised by television sets: they are latchkey kids. Their parents work for the most part in the fields and in wealthy homes. If you are mesmerized by television stupidity, and don’t get to hear or read stories about your world, you can be fooled into thinking that the world isn’t miraculous—and it is.
 The media attention brought in enough money, partly as a result of that day, to keep the libraries open for a whole year. You might not call this a miracle, exactly, but if you had been at the emergency read-in, you would see that it was at least the beginning of one.
A bunch of normally self-obsessed artist types came together to say to the people of Salinas: We care about your children, your stories, and your freedom. Something has gone so wrong in this country that needs to be fixed, and we care about that. Reading and books are medicine. Stories are written and told by and for people who have been broken, but who have risen up, or will rise, if attention is paid to them. Those people are you and us. Stories and truth are splints for the soul, and that makes today a sacred gathering. Now we were all saying: Pass it on.
[Pictured] John Steinbeck Library, Salinas, California, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNE LAMOTT!

Anne Lamott is an acclaimed novelist and non-fiction writer, as well as a passionate political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher. But, it’s her tireless support of public libraries that we would like to spotlight and celebrate today. In that spirit, we are proud to present Anne’s moving contribution to our just released book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.

Steinbeck Country

In Salinas, word went out. This is how many tribal stories begin: word goes out to the people of a community that there is a great danger or that a wrong is being committed. This is how I first found out that the governor planned to close the public libraries in Salinas, making it the largest city in the United States to lose its libraries because of budget cuts.

Without getting into any mudslinging about whether or not our leaders are clueless, bullying, nonreading numbskulls,let me just say that when word went out that the three libraries—the John Steinbeck, the Cesar Chavez, and El Gabilan—were scheduled for closing, a whole lot of people rose up as one to say, This does not work for us. Salinas is one of the poorest communities in the state of California, in one of the richest counties in the country. The city and the surrounding area serve as the setting for so many of Steinbeck’s great novels. Think farmworkers, fields of artichokes and garlic, faded stucco houses stained with dirt, tracts of ticky-tacky housing, James Dean’s face in East of Eden, strawberry fields, and old gas stations.

Now think about closing the libraries there, closing the buildings that hold the town’s books, all those stories about people and wisdom and justice and life and silliness and laborers bending low to pick the strawberries. You’d have to be crazy to bring such obvious karmic repercussions down on yourself. So in early April, a group of writers and actors fought back, showing up in Salinas for a twenty-four-hour “emergency read-in.”

Please join Conversations on the Hudson author Nick Hand at these upcoming NY events where he will discuss his five-hundred-mile journey through the hills, mountains, and countryside of the Hudson Valley.

Sunday April 13, 4pm
Oblong Books & Music
Montgomery Row
6422 Montgomery Street
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
http://www.oblongbooks.com

Tuesday April 15, 7pm
Best Made Company
36 White Street 
New York, NY 10013
http://www.bestmadeco.com

Wednesday April 16, 7pm
Rapha Cycle Club NYC
64 Gansevoort Street
New York City 10014
http://pages.rapha.cc/clubs/new-york

Happy Birthday Jorn Utzon!

Pritzker Prize winning architect Utzon (1918-2008) is the celebrated designer of the Sydney Opera House among other stunning works. Here  he is with his family in his house in Denmark, along with his most famous building, as seen in our recently published monograph Jorn Utzon: Drawings and Buildings.

April is National Landscape Architecture Month!

It’s also the month that The American Society of Landscape Architects New York announces the winners of their Annual Design Awards. We are thrilled to report that this year’s winners include James Corner Field Operations.

On May 20th, we will publish The Landscape Imagination: Collected Essays of James Corner 1990–2010. In his follow up to the acclaimed Recovering Landscape, Corner discusses two decades of projects, including Tongva Park & Ken Gensler Square, the High Line and Fresh Kills Park in NYC, University of Puerto Rico Botanical Garden in Puerto Rico, Qianhai Water City in China, and competition entries for parks in Helsinki, and Toronto.

We join an international chorus of well wishers when we say congratulations to Shigeru Ban for his much-deserved 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

A very revealing interview with the architect appears in our 2011 book of conversations with leading Japanese architects and designers Matter in the Floating World.

Here is just one gem from the discussion:

"I believe the strength of a material has nothing to do with the strength of a building. Even a paper tube structure can be made to withstand an earthquake that a concrete building cannot outlive."

Happy Birthday Mies van der Rohe!

He was born on this day in 1886. From our own Conversations with Mies van der Rohe are his Lake Shore Drive apartment buildings under construction in Chicago and the master himself staring out through a just completed window. 

A hearty congratulations to PAPress author Lois Weinthal who just received the 2014 Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Book Award for Toward a New Interior!
It was also a Designers & Books Notable Book of 2011:
"If you are looking for good books on interior design theory, the pickings are quite slim. Lois Weinthals massive 648-page reader redresses this with a carefully curated collection of 48 essays, with texts by Wim Wenders, Le Corbusier, Beatriz Colomina, and (my favorite) Juhani Pallasmaa.” —Paul Makovsky of Metropolis magazine

 

A hearty congratulations to PAPress author Lois Weinthal who just received the 2014 Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Book Award for Toward a New Interior!

It was also a Designers & Books Notable Book of 2011:

"If you are looking for good books on interior design theory, the pickings are quite slim. Lois Weinthals massive 648-page reader redresses this with a carefully curated collection of 48 essays, with texts by Wim Wenders, Le Corbusier, Beatriz Colomina, and (my favorite) Juhani Pallasmaa.” 
—Paul Makovsky of Metropolis magazine

 

Today over at the always interesting A Daily Dose of Architecture, John Hill reports on the Graham Foundation’s new pop-up bookshop which will open on December 17th. Designed by architect Ania Jaworska, it occupies the former dining room of the foundation’s historic Madlener House on Chicago’s Gold Coast.  Photos courtesy of Travis Roozée.

In this provocative new video, Breakthrough! author Alex Cornell imagines what he calls “our drone future.” Cornell describes the project further on his website alexcornell.com: ”The video explores the technology, capability, and purpose of drones, as their presence becomes an increasingly pervasive reality in the skies of tomorrow.”  

Just a few brownstones down from 37 East 7th Street you will find McSorley’s Old Ale House, established in 1854. Artist Istvan Banyai captures much of its essence in his illustration “Tis the Season,” as seen on the cover of the December 9th New Yorker magazine. For more on it’s creation, including an alternate version featuring Winnie The Pooh, visit the New Yorker Online.

Just a few brownstones down from 37 East 7th Street you will find McSorley’s Old Ale House, established in 1854. Artist Istvan Banyai captures much of its essence in his illustration “Tis the Season,” as seen on the cover of the December 9th New Yorker magazine. For more on it’s creation, including an alternate version featuring Winnie The Pooh, visit the New Yorker Online.

Holiday Shopping | Pocket Dept. Notebooks

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Pocket Dept. will share a table with the Brooklyn Art Library at this year’s annual Brooklyn Night Bazaar — a holiday market that combines local vendors and nightly musical performances.

When • Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight
November 15 & 16, November 22 & 23

Where • 165 Banker Street, Brooklyn

Five Things | Adam Lerner

This week we asked Adam Lerner, author of From Russia with Doubt: The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde, to share five things that have been on his mind.

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1. Letatlin
I often think about the great Russian constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin spending 1929 to 1932 in the bell tower of a monastery in Moscow, dressed as a medieval craftsman, while trying to build a thing he called Letatlin, an orinthopter, which is a human-powered bird-like flying machine. I don’t know what exactly he thought he was doing making an aircycle years after the invention of the airplane but the fact that he went whole hog on such an utterly ambiguous, let alone impractical, enterprise, makes it feel to me like one of the most profound and moving endeavors in the history of art.

2. Drunk History
I feel a strange kind of hope for the future of American culture when I watch the television series Drunk History, where schnockered historians narrate episodes of history while actors “lip-sync” their slurred lines. Somehow it manages to feel both DIY and sophisticated, like the kind of thing that only the coolest person you know could make. My only hope is that my new book with Princeton Architectural Press will earn me an appearance on the show.

3. Machine Project
As an art museum director, I have strangely never found myself feeling envious of anything happening at another art museum. But I continually find myself wishing that I had thought of any number of ideas that come out of the art space Machine Project, in Los Angeles. Founded by Mark Allen and based in an unassuming storefront space, among its many oddball programs, Machine has organized a museum sleepover for houseplants, a poetry delivery service and an auto theft workshop for children. Who can touch that?

4. Cassoulet
Growing up in an immigrant Jewish household in Queens, virtually every week my father would make a stew called Cholent. With a precise way of placing every piece of potato and meat and a method of spreading lima beans that seemed to be prescribed by rabbinic tradition, my father would prepare this sacred dish on Friday night before sundown and allow it to simmer overnight so that we could eat it for lunch on Saturday. And about a year ago, the thought occurred to me: It’s a cassoulet. I love cassoulet!

5. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson helped me see that our best self is our child-self. I take the film Moonrise Kingdom, and everything else he made, to boil down to a single imperative: We may never have connected with our child-self as a youth and we are even less likely to tap into it as an adult, but it remains our task to try nonetheless. When we are able to lighten the heaviness of the world, then we are truly artists and the world is ours.

Tianjin Museum (Tianjin, 2004)
Shin Takamatsu Architect & Associates with Kawaguchi & Engineers

Architect Shin Takamatsu on his inspiration:
“I was at a loss as to how to find a context—a clue to the design,” he continues. “At that time, I saw white birds flying in the contaminated and mud colored sky that was typical in Tianjin. This appealing sight gave me the direct source of my creation’s inspiration.”

From New Museums in China from PAPress.

Paul Rand: Defining DesignOctober 27, 2013 - January 26, 2014Museum of Design Atlanta
Paul Rand: Defining Design examine the trajectory of Rand’s career by juxtaposing his iconic designs with discussion of the design principles by which they were informed. In addition, short films, interviews, and Rand’s own writings will further illuminate his thoughts on the design process. The exhibition is curated by Daniel Lewandowski, creator of the website www.Paul-Rand.com.
Designer and author Steve Heller will give a lecture called “Learning from Rand” on November 7th at 7pm in the Hill Auditorium of the Woodruff Art Center and will be followed by a reception at MODA.
For more on Paul Rand, don’t miss Paul Rand: Conversations with Students published by PAPress in 2008.

Paul Rand: Defining Design
October 27, 2013 - January 26, 2014
Museum of Design Atlanta

Paul Rand: Defining Design examine the trajectory of Rand’s career by juxtaposing his iconic designs with discussion of the design principles by which they were informed. In addition, short films, interviews, and Rand’s own writings will further illuminate his thoughts on the design process. The exhibition is curated by Daniel Lewandowski, creator of the website www.Paul-Rand.com.

Designer and author Steve Heller will give a lecture called “Learning from Rand” on November 7th at 7pm in the Hill Auditorium of the Woodruff Art Center and will be followed by a reception at MODA.

For more on Paul Rand, don’t miss Paul Rand: Conversations with Students published by PAPress in 2008.

Guangdong Museum (Guangz hou, Guangdong, 2010)
Rocco Design Architects

Guangdong Museum joins a library by Nikken Sekkei, a children’s activity center by Steffian Bradley Architects, and a much discussed opera house by Zaha Hadid Architects to form a new cultural center in Guangdong’s Zhujiang New Town.

From New Museums in China, new from PAPress!