Category Archives: architecture Thursdays

Writing City Sounds and Architecture

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It’s about noon when I take my first stroll out of the hotel. There is no destination until later in the day when I must procure a SIM card and stockpile some food at the groceria to keep expenses down. I’m absorbing the sounds. A car slowly pulls into the hotel’s adjacent parking lot; a single woman walks out of the gym and, judging by her attire, back to her professional job; a young man talks quietly on the phone while riding his old-fashioned bike toward the residences on the next street; the doorman bids ‘Buenos Dias’ to all who pass his way; a truck with a delapidated muffler labors down the main thoroughfare on the opposite side of the hotel.
A few puffs into my L&M Blue cigarette and a curiously designed house at the end of the block toward the more residential side of my hotel’s street grabs my attention.

Two fine wooden doors welcome guests to this building, which appears to be two residences, if I’m to understand the difference between the slatted and the paneled doors. These doors are tall like a Medieval King’s throne chair and block the views of what’s surely a driveway and parking spaces for two or three cars. The next possible visage is of the second story where large windows reveal the inhabitants’ piquing design sense. Later that day when the hazy day has grown somewhat darker I will see that behind the bay window of one residence is a major candy apple red wall trimmed in white and bearing a large Asian art canvas. Above that wall however is another aperture that seems didn’t fully evolve into a window. For days I will contemplate that void.
It resides in such contrast to the staircase seen at the forefront of the artful window and the openness of the pergola immediately beside it on the duplex’s other half. There a glass-enclosed patio, bedecked with plants and indoor trees invites. This embrace of the outdoors becomes more apparent as I walk around the house and along the streets surrounding the hotel: Peruvians like outdoors spaces designed within their buildings through which they can optimize the sunlight, air, and weather.
With the contrast of the inviting and the restricted elements of the residence, I walk to see its side facade. A couple of minor yet visually appealing windows lend mystery. What’s behind the long ribbon windows of the top story, and who are these residents who prefer tight, short vases of tight, white flowers visible on the second story’s rectangular window?
I continue to ponder the house as I make my way back to the Doubletree El Pardo Hotel here in exclusive neighborhood of Miraflores in Lima, Peru. An ambulance van rushes by, evaporating my contemplative thoughts when a voice over a loudspeaker directs pedestrians and traffic away in Spanish. Its cheap, unrefined gasoline punctures the air momentarily until fading into the overcast day. I’ve returned to the hotel. It’s time to change from my tie-dye tee, Birks, and brown yoga pants into something a bit more professional to commence my first shopping experience in Peru.

Rant about Architecture Journalism in the US

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How thrilling to see the things I’ve discovered or learned more deeply about writing becoming habit. Yes, it is grand to be able to begin a piece in the middle of a sentence or paragraph I left at during the previous session. Yes, it’s effortless to continue writing for more than an hour without looking at the clock. Yes, it’s possible for me to sustain a long-term project. I can also mix writing styles and lengths, including blogs, journalistic pieces of varying lengths, and two books.
All this is fine and good, but if it doesn’t bring in more bacon my words aren’t worth the cyber space this is written on.
Show me the GD money!
Admittedly it’s nice to have just sold four articles to magazines I write for in Hong Kong. But it would be nicer if the magazines who’ve accepted my work in the US and the UK would continue. It would also be nice if the designers I contact would recognize good publicity when they bloody see it. (Yes, this has turned into more of a rant than a semi-literary post.)
I wish I could completely forgo the desire to recommence writing for publications in the US. I wish I could forget about goals and having a decent bloody income in the US. I wish I could sell at least one out of every three bloody pitches in the US. I’m tired of exerting this much effort when nothing comes back to me. If the only publications who consider my work worth buying are those in other countries why should I remain here, why should I have such patriotism, why should I bother to think so highly of US publications? By now means am I the best writer alive or even the best writer I’ll ever be. But for gracious sake I know I can write as well as anyone I’ve read for the past four months.
This period has also given me a desire to diversify and alter some of my angles. Please, God, just don’t tell me I’ve wasted this many years of striving and praying and ruining myself financially and almost physically for a goal I can never reach: to make my living by being a self-sufficient journalist and author.

Writing: Back to Architecture Journalism, Blogging, and Books

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Finally to be far enough along with the transfer of content between the PC and my new Mac! It’s now possible to commence on weekly blogging for an Indian client and for this very blog, and, even better, to be back at work upon my own two books.
Three pitches complete today and one article accepted on Chicago-based internationally renown architect Jeanne Gang. Momentarily it’ll be back to writing up a sample chapter on a simple yet exceptionally informative book on US architecture. Specifically I’ll be churning out the content on Art Deco, Art Moderne, Art Nouveau, Craftsman, and others.
The trip to Peru is approaching at least, too. I’ll be leaving as of 5 June for six months.