beware falling through:
Lerup's 'holey plain', perceived at a certain scale, is the result of outward-expanding leapfrog development, a sense of distance reliant on the car, non-existent zoning, and stick-frame building.
the roads here careen and are temples to speed, revealing beneath a forest of columns in diminutive proportion (coming from the Bay Area's herculean seismic-minded structures). the ubiquitous presence of slowly running, barely carving bayou water (this is the Buffalo) violates the otherwise straight-shot city, a squiggly reminder of weather's force which replenishes, decays, clouds, and bungles the attempt to tidy and erase.
58. to japan and back again...
1. Uguisudani, Tokyo (above)
this is one of Tokyo's 'Love Hotel' hotspots, one stop north of the Ueno hub on the Yamanote line. this thicket of neon signs circumscribes the western edge of the area, which is squeezed between the railway and the major avenue of Showa Dori 2 blocks away and running parallel to the west. rather than feeling like a seedy railside sex nexus, the two massive infrastructures of rail and road provide the neighborhood with an almost cozy, village-like atmosphere and scale. here, couples of all ages (young urban hipsters, burnt-out business-men with mistress, the occasional prostitute picking up dilapidated soul and vice-versa) stroll afternoon and evening, darting in and out of these hotels which, on average, boast only a dozen rooms or so. on a Sunday morning at 10am (typical check-out hour), there was a mass-exodus of over-nighters heading back towards the train station, hand-in-hand, smiling.
2. Arata Isozaki's Art Tower, Mito
built in 1990, this twisting triangulated tower is near my uncle's home in Mito and thus, has been part of my visual radar for several years. Mito, capital of Ibaraki-ken, and even Hitachi, my mother's hometown, are increasingly becoming part of the Tokyo conurbation (ex. both are included in urban railmaps of Tokyo). as this happens, their characters evolve, the streetscapes increasingly closed up and shut down as chainmalls spread their made-elsewhere efficiency.
having moved so frequently, my sister and i realized that Hitachi is the only place in the world that we continue to visit where we have childhood memories, which doesn't quite make it home but makes it...something, a place where we can register the change of a sandy beach now covered in concrete. still, it's a 10+ hour flight for both of us from our respective abodes, which once again highlights that intimacy and distance, memory and proximity, need not be connected.
i snapped the triptych of the tower from the car, stopped at a red-light and beginning to move.
on Sunday we went to a design charette in the historic downtown of Pittsburg, CA. (the northeast terminus of the Pittsburg/Bay Point line). the BART ride takes a near-hour and reveals BART's ex-urban reach; en route, the smoothe golden hills of livestock agriculture and cookie-cutter developer housing take over to the south, while to the north the flat land and proximity to Suisun Bay historically made it a prime area for heavy industry + rail, which remain semi-salient local economies. we walked 2+ miles from the current BART terminus to the town-center, and along the way had access to the wide, flat right-of-way of the Union + Southern Pacific railroads. in this area the wall is king, and separates rail from house, house from power-line forest, everything beyond the wall of the rail-bed apparently endless until the horizon of smoke-stacks and windmill fields takes over, fading into briny haze near the water. it's an orderly, quiet, and melancholy landscape.
on the way home, i snapped the above blurry last minute photo of the Lafayette Mock War Memorial on a hillside adjacent to Hwy 24 and the Lafayette BART station: http://zombietime.com/lafayette_mock_war_memorial/. not knowing what it was i was struck by its dense, helter-skelter informality. its placement at a BART station along the highway makes it extremely visible, and the reaction to the memorial when it was first erected a year ago was immediate. it has since been controversial, as ownership over how to memorialize the war's victims is ambiguous.