You know how occasionally the comments section that follows certain blogs drifts off into “Big Picture” territory? When we do a podcast on something simple like air sealing or home energy monitoring, for some reason someone has to bring up population control, lack of focus on urban retrofits, or how Frank Loyd Wright was a racist. (For the record, I’m not trying to bring that one up again—so let’s leave it alone, please.)
Anyway, this one’s for you, “Big Picture People.”
Phil and I were very pleased to have James Howard Kunstler on for a discussion about where we’re headed as a nation and the role we architects, designers, and planners play.
A Black Irish: Our drink (due to a last-minute change of plans). While recording, we wondered if this is a racist or slanderous term. Even after Googling it, I’m still not certain. We mean no offense. It’s a black drink (Kahlua added to Irish whiskey).
What’s going to hit us first: the downfall of our global economy or the end of cheap oil? After some discussion, Jim seems to lean toward economic downfall, given recent history.
Is the Occupy Wall Street movement going to have an effect? Jim discusses how the seed has been planted. Regardless of what happens, if anything, it has entered the consciousness of our culture.
Is “green” a real movement? It began as a genuine movement, but Jim talks about its history and its co-option.
New Urbanists vs. landscape-as-artists. Plenty of name-dropping (and name-calling) here. Good stuff.
Who’s got a good bead on the right path forward? The New Urbanists, who are trying to correct the poor choices our society has been making for decades. The details are fascinating.
Jim’s place. Phil and I were curious about where and how a guy with such dynamic visions for the future chooses to live.
What’s the public’s impression of architects? We discuss the architect’s “PR problem.”
What would Jim tell the architects and builders out there? We don’t need more “mystifying” buildings. And also, no more skyscrapers. A green skyscraper is a contradiction in terms, and possibly not for the reasons you’d imagine.
Is there an architect out there doing great work? New Urbanists like Victor Dover. Jim explains why.
Are any of our leaders on the right track? For Jim, one economist came to mind: Laurence Kotlikoff , of Boston University. Political leadership is failing. Architecture is failing (e.g., Rem Koolhaus’s “prank” on Harvard). Jim likens our current condition to that of the late 1850s. He explains.
Will technology save us or bury us? Jim talks about his upcoming book, Too Much Magic, and the concepts behind this tenuous relationship with technology and the drastic mistakes we’re making.
Be sure to visit James Howard Kunstler’s web page. There you can find links to his blogs, books, articles, paintings, and podcast. (If you subscribe to ours, chances are more than likely you’ll enjoy his as well.) Phil and I are especially fond of his Eyesore of the Month blog. Be sure to check it out. He also has a nice TED Talks Presentation, wherein he dissects suburbia. And of course he had a nice appearance on The Colbert Report.
As usual, Phil shares a song at the end that he believes we should be listening to in the studio. This episode it’s “Holy Holy” by Wye Oak.