SCI-Arc (Marlin Watson)



Jun '05 - May '06

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    By Marlin
    Jun 5, '05 1:39 AM EST
    TiradeI walk up to the homie Joe�s desk and pore over his beautiful, artfully and anally crafted final model for a midreview. �Damn, Joe, This is a dope ass study model� I say.

    UbiquitousOn Wednesday, Sam Hall Kaplan and Ray Kappe opened studio with a brief discussion on the early late Phillip Johnson. At the time, I was in my car heading away from a final, calculating to the minute every penny of my tuition I was losing because of traffic. If I multiply that number by .0108, it amounts to what I could have made purchasing more AMD with that same amount of money. In addition to sunk opportunity cost, I was missing the ever direct and scathing New Yorker Sam give a talk on Mr. Phillip �Really? Who built a museum on this campus a decade ago? Who�s that guy? Anyways, mine are better, except for where they�re not.� Johnson.

    VindictiveThe scantron is still everywhere. It is the penultimate Turing machine, surpassed only by Mr. Al Turning�s original sketch of his theoretical computer. Insert my cumulative knowledge in one end, out the other end shoots my intellect objectively criticized, replete with ego crushing red ink. Technology has yet to render the scantron obsolete. No. 2 has perpetual market share.

    Wry �Don�t piss on my leg and tell me it�s raining,� said Al Sharpton, looking Mexican President Vicente Fox square in the eye. Man, I love New Yorkers. Sharptons�s punk rock for real. Boogie Down balls out represent.

    X for PedroSam was asked by Oculus to write a piece on Johnson�s passing. Sam forwarded the studio his piece, and pointed out that the majority of magazine entries were naturally sappy. Sam closes the article with, �Philip Johnson served himself well, but not architecture, and his cultivation of the architect-as-celebrity, I fear, will haunt us and the profession long after he is confused with the ubiquitous Howard Johnson's food and lodging chain.�

    YearnThere�s nothing left to be said on Phillip Johnson. I�m reminded of a scene in Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon is sitting on the stairs, meticulously pencil shading some mythical beast. The girl inquires. Napoleon explains the animal is a Liger, a combination Lion Tiger, the toughest beast in the land. Napoleon draws the Liger over and over and over, getting better at pencil shading every time. Of course, the measure of the best drawer in high school was the level of skills in pencil shading. At some point, I imagine some member of the comic book bunch known for being a better pencil shader than Napoleon, will inform him that in Anime, the toughest beast in the land is the samurai centaur. This will lead Napoleon into the abyss of self-rediscovery, and eventually he�ll meticulously shade the same illustration of a samurai centaur over and over, trying to be better than the best comic book bunch samurai centaur pencil shader. However, if you were to ask Napoleon about the legitimacy of his Liger drawings seeing as how the Liger is no longer the toughest beast in the land a la Anime, Napoleon would still be able to herald the last remaining merits of the now penultimate Liger. In the end, Napoleon is a lovable character whose final act of kindness is unadulterated self-minstrelization for the benfit of those he respected and admired.

    ZeitgeistThe pencil I always have available. For tests, it�s the scantron sheet I normally forget. Thursday night was my very last final at Valley (a class I enjoyed, because the professor at least had a PHd. And she�s absolutely stunning. The most amazing shape to her shoulders�sorry). I pull into the parking lot and discover me be sans pencil. The fat white eraser is in the outside pocket from the final a day prior, but no lead holder. This is a bad sign. I propose a bright side: maybe this is bad signage. Time to trek across campus to buy a pencil.

    ApotheosisIn a digression on activating the streetscape with John Cook in Conversations with Architects, Johnson asserts that, in the case of the Piazza, it is not the architecture that makes it a successful public space. It is the congested conditions of the surrounding buildings and a street odor appalling it drives people from their apartments and into the fresh air of the piazza. The fact that the Piazza works is a matter of circumstance. Johnson continues, furthering his stance on the activation of the streetscape by citing the failures in the Smithson�s notion of a fourth floor public walk, �All the action always happens at the street.� The best public, activated street Johnson ever saw was what he calls a Stricht, or the old German model of the red-light district, except that again it was a matter of circumstance. The street was great because of all the whores, Johnson asserts. There was no architecture or landmark that told people when to turn around and walk the opposite direction; they did so when there were no longer any hookers.

    Bombing foolsWith time to kill on the walk, I decide I will assign the eventual pencil a ceremonial value. This is my last final; I�ll splurge on a super duper expensive pencil. But that, is too easy. Journeys being what they are, I�m supposed to find the special pencil, stumble upon the singing bush. I pass my class building, the halfway point to the store. On the ground, in the void where the central lawn stops and the walkway concrete begins, is a sparkly silver broken pencil. Instantly I know this is the pencil I�ve been waiting my entire life for, all twenty eight cumulative years! This is the pewter goblet! I pick it up. A fraction of lead is exposed, and if I pick back enough of the wood, I�m sure it�ll be good to go. No dice. The graphite fragment falls out. Again, journeys being what they are, I can�t give up. Only sculpted is this pencil to be mine. Instead, this will be the carpenter�s goblet. I gently pick back small splinters and stay with the grain. I realize I�m mildly fooling myself. So, I resolve to break the pencil in half hoping another piece of lead may peek out enough to turn this sparkly silver sliver of a dowel into a pencil. Nope. Fuck this. I drop the pencil and continue to the store.

    Conflict of interest ��on the fourth floor? That�s not where the action is! Not on anyone�s fourth floor! The action is where the girls are with the loosest blouses, wiggling their asses. They don�t do that on the fourth floor! No sir! They do that on the ground floor.� �New Yorker Howard Johnson
    �My style is tempestuous, my defenses impregnable, Ima eat his children. His wife�ll get wet from the smell of their blood on my breath.� �New Yorker Mike Tyson

    Dixie Fried To paraphrase Mr. Johnson, the best activated public spaces alleviate from the day to day stench, and offer the promise of loose women and easy money. My studio project involves activating a riverfront. Regarding Johnson�s opinions, currently the side of me that believes in the power of architecture is arguing with the side of me that buys Tobacco stocks.

    Eighty Six I pass another classmate late for the final. �You have a pencil?� she asks. I drop my bag at the counter and head for the super pencil aisle. Here it is! Its own special case and everything! The most expensive one! A useless cliker pencil with a grip handle. This blows. I suppose I forgot the pencil is an item not normally subject to over-design. I speculate there�s no pencil collector conventions. I continue down the aisle to the pragmatic pencil section, and observe the masses of art pencils, arty pencils, pencil pencils. I go for the most atrocious and gaudy: A pink glitter Power Puff Girls pencil. Perfect. Save that it�s not pre-sharpened. None of them are, probably to keep people who forgot their pencil from stealing them. I�m royally fucked here.


    Fable Kazys Varnelis was a Graduate student at Cornell the same time I entered and left as an Undergrad. A few years later he became my History and Theory professor at SCIArc. Stuck in LA, we could briefly amble on about whatever, sipping on Angelino Haterade with a common ground between us. He relayed a story once that while researching his thesis on Phillip Johnson at the New York Public Library, he noticed all the pages that referenced Johnson�s association with the Nazi party had been torn out. I wondered if the same was true at Johnson�s NYU library.

    Gunsel Suddenly, there, in the corner, I spot Old Faithful: a display case of Steadtler lead. I rejoice and throw my hands in the air gun clapper-style. Bo! Instead of a power puff girls pencil I�ll invariably feel silly about buying later or an awful faux drafting clicker pencil, I can get a brand new bright blue lead holder! Now we�re cooking with gas. This lead holder will inaugurate the rest of my career. I find the tube of 2B. I look to the lead holders. Nada. None. A myriad lead, no lead holders. Talk about vendetta. As far as journeys and ceremonies go, this is my generational ostracism from my African tribe culminating in a Bris. Even at the risk of me being me, I am unwilling to submit to this breakdown in the system. This makes absolutely no rational sense. Why sell lead, and no lead holders? I pore through the display to no avail. I am crushed. The ceremonial pencil is not to be.
    I put the 2B lead back, and notice next to where I place it is a lead tube with a silver top. What�s this? Special lead? Nope. The one very last lead holder. All the gun clappers put their hands in the air scream bo.
    I clutch my lead and lead holder candy to my chest and hurry to the counter now fifteen minutes late to my Human Geography final. The cashier swipes the lead under the scanning gun, but has no idea what to do with the lead holder. There�s no SKU. �Where�d you get this?� she asks. �With the leads, it�s the last one.� I say. �Oh.� She says. �I don�t think we even sell these anymore.� I am now officially spent. I�m seconds away from going full blown postal, which means I�m going to have to reschedule my final from a drunk tank.
    �Just take it,� She says. I whisper a thank you and leave.
    Inside, the super duper ceremonial pencil came into being a random act of kindness from a total stranger. Outside, Staedtler leads come out the tube pre-sharpened.


    • It's so much like spoken word :) W3RD!

      Jun 5, 05 2:23 am  · 

      it's writing like this that leaves me with only shame when re-reading my own journal entries. "yeah, the drive home was bitch today... my arch history class was freaking bore..."

      even one's safe and sacred written repository can't follow without personal criticism. i don't even know why i keep a journal anymore... damn you and you anais nin types!

      Jun 5, 05 2:55 am  · 

      every comment humbling
      pleasure mine


      Jun 6, 05 7:12 pm  · 

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