austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Shopping will set you free

(Busy day; explanations later.) A thought on box stores: they may be essentially large rectangular piles built to a uniform height, but they still had to be designed. So what architect was the first to draw the pattern? Presumably each chain has their own master plan, but how many plans? Is a new architect brought in for each store location, or have they just settled on a couple and trust that they can sink a cement base or whatever to make the topsoil conditions irrelevant? Is there a box store template in leading architectural software? I'd guess that each box chain store has its own design, since you clearly wildly different basic floor, door access, bathroom, office, and lighting to make a Wal-Mart as opposed to a Target, but there are clearly common elements too. Does the original architect get a royalty for each new store built? Or did they do something chintzy like set it out as a prize for architecture majors and give a $5,000 prize in trade for turning over all rights to the design forever?

There are many harsh words to be said about Brutalism -- yet still not enough, really, by some measures -- but can we really be so smugly superior when we have big featureless rectangular blocks descending on suburbs like an infestation of 2x3 Lego blocks, robbed even of the nubs on their tops? At least the concrete monstrosities of old would put in a tower or a cross-bar for no reason and include forty-foot-tall, three-inch-wide windows, and sometimes throw in a higher floor with twice the square footage of the floors below it for show, and maybe hang an odd polygonal prism hanging underneath something. The result may not be attractive, but at least it had shape.

What is this Zwinky stuff and what will make it stop putting commercials on TV?

Trivia: Thomas Farriner, at whose bakery the Great Fire of London of 1666 started, returned to baking after the fire. A permanent replacement to his home and shop on Pudding Lane began construction on 20 January 1668. Source: The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666, Neil Hanson.

Currently Reading: Dominant Species, George Warren. Atomic blasters in a world of demons!, the cover promises, which shows what a used book has to do to get me to pick it up. That and the cover art shows aquatic aliens swimming about, and that's a theme I like even if I can't say I've found many examples of it that satisfy me. Yet after the stirring buildup in the introduction by Larry T Shaw, promising that what looks like a simple days-of-sailing-ships fantasy starring Oak is really a magnificent stirring accomplishment from a writer who has to do it the hard way since in these days of 1980 you can't necessarily build up a career with practice in short stories in magazines anymore the result is ... I don't know; it doesn't seem to be piling on the surprises, maybe because it's clear early on that this is Futurey Science Fiction like Pern and not (sniff) Fantasy, which undercuts what I think are supposed to be revelatory moments.


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