NOW with Bill
Moyers has got to be one of the most surprising, and
coolest, shows on PBS. After last year's election, Bill Moyers
snapped and said what he really
thought about the results and what they meant for America's
future. It was breathtakingly honest, and the show continues to be
harshly critical of the Bush regime and other issues dear to the
hearts of Bush's corporate masters.
Last night's NOW featured a report on
Copyright in America that hit all the right notes, with excellent
people making excellent points about the importance of the commons
(Eben Moglen, Siva Vaidhyanathan), and excellent people making the
not-so-great case for monopoly (Jack Valenti, Pat Schroeder).
You might be able to catch it again, but if not, PBS has provided a
Finally ventured into downtown L.A., which is definitely one of the
scarier downtowns I've been in. Very weird combination of rundown
bodegas and yuppie apartments, with government buildings, performing
arts venues, and museums scattered around.
Met up with my old friend Greg and his housemate, and visited the A + D Architecture and Design
Museum, which was exhibiting a huge stainless steel sculpture by
Edward Tufte called
“Escaping Flatland” along with a number of prints from his three
well-known design books, The Visual Display of Quantitative
Information, Envisioning Information, and
Visual Explanations. There were also several prints from
his upcoming book, Beautiful Evidence, which is supposed
to be completed sometime this year for publication this year or next.
Based on the prints from the new book, it'll be great—we'll
definitely buy it. The sculpture left me kind of cold. On the one
hand it has an amazing subtly reflective finish, but on the other hand
it's huge slabs of stainless steel. There are photographs of the
sculpture installed in several outdoor locations in the exhibit's
catalog and on the website, and I think it's better outside where it
can reflect the environment and can also be viewed at a greater
distance so you can get a better sense of its scale. Indoors, it's
As it happens, the A + D museum is inside the Bradbury Building.
Yeah, that Bradbury Building—Blade Runner,
“Demon with a Glass Hand”, and so on. It's been completely
restored, and it looks great. Annoyingly, you're apparently not
supposed to go outside of the exhibit spaces. As they'd posted no
signs and hadn't blocked the stairs, however, M snuck up to the top
floor to take some pictures. The guard went after her, but she played
innocent and said she was just taking some pictures and would come
down as soon as she was done. These Americans and their baby
From there, we headed off to the MOCA, specifically to
the Geffen Contemporary, which is currently featuring an exhibit
The Car Design of J Mays”. Mays worked for Audi for a while,
designing a car that was the basis for their TT. Then he went to
Volkswagen, where he designed the new Beetle. Now he works for Ford,
and is in charge of all of its divisions, which now include Volvo,
Jaguar, and Rover, after a spate of acquisitions.
Some of the car designs were interesting, but definitely out there.
They included a race car/sports car that looks just like a Hot Wheels
or Matchbox toy I remember from kidhood, a minivan that looks
suspiciously similar to the Honda Element, the new Thunderbird, and a
very strange kit car made up of slats that looks more like a model
than a functional vehicle.
We then walked over to the main MOCA museum, taking the scenic route.
We finally got to see City Hall close up, a building I remember best
for its appearance in Dragnet, and, more importantly, the
“MathNet” segments of Square One TV. We also saw the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and associated cultural buildings.
The main MOCA museum was a bit disappointing, although it still seemed
more interesting than the vast majority of the material in the Tate
Modern. About half the museum was blocked off, presumably while they
were tearing down or putting up a new exhibit. Much of the rest
featured an exhibit of the work of Sam Durant, who I'd never heard of
before, and whose work mostly consisted of somewhat subversive
Once we were done with the MOCA, we headed back toward the Bradbury
via the Angel's Flight funicular railway (closed because of some
accident that happened a year or so ago) and the Central Market, where
we had dinner—excellent Mexican food from a place with cooked
animal skulls on proud display next to a variety of other food
We parted on the corner, after a vigorous discussion of region-coding
in DVDs and DVD players and why disabling it is good and our first
direct encounters with some of the weirder people living in the area.
Then it was back onto the 10 and off to our quiet suburban home, where
crowds of noisy people managed to set off car alarms several times in