I've been pretty busy the past week, and I'm headed out of town, so light posting is likely to continue. In the absence of time to compose the really long rants (and to continue the Two Way Love series, for that matter, here's some generic photoblogging.
This is a shot I took of the Performing Arts Center construction site last month. The skeleton that's rising is the beginning of the "fly tower," or the large structure which sits above the stage and houses some of the most important technical aspects of the theater. Building a very large stage, with no skimping on fly space (the area directly above the stage) or wing space (the areas to the side) accounts for roughly half of the cost of the theater, but makes all the difference in the world in whether or not you can stage top shelf technical productions there. To the immense credit of the city and Phil Szostak, the architect, there was no skimping on the fly house. For a little over $20 million, we could have had an okay stage, decent seats, and the most minimal of technical facilities, and the city could have dressed it up as a "world class" venue, and probably could have convinced most people. However, it would have hamstrung ADF, and it would have severely limited the kinds of performances we would be able to bring in from out of town. The "Yanni on Ice"-type shows we all feared would have almost certainly become the norm, rather than being a major stop for touring Broadway shows.
But all that aside, I think one of the reasons why I continued to support the theater when many of my downtown and arts promoting friends were looking on with a skeptical eye is that I still really love "the theater" in the most general sense. The thing I love about this picture is that it almost passes as a modern art sculpture of the theater, with just the barest outlines of the proscenium arch and the framing of the stage. I haven't been involved in theater really since leaving college, with jobs, music, school, and activism taking up the time and effort that might have otherwise gone there. But I still have fond memories crawling around the catwalks in the middle of the night, hanging half-functional lights and fighting with them to fuzz out more, burning my hands, bashing my head on stuff, and getting the occasional mild electric shock, or of frantically changing costumes from playing one bit part to another. The performing arts center, whatever else its flaws from a design or an arts development perspective, is a chance to occasionally bring the best of theater to Durham, even if its among snoozers and stinkers. I do think it will help downtown's nightlife considerably, and help improve Durham's image, giving people from Raleigh and Greensboro another reason to drive to our downtown to enjoy themselves. But I think underlying all that, the idea of a well designed, well built theater calls to me at some base level, beyond rational considerations.
The last time I drove down Mangum, the steel skeleton had risen further to outline the full fly tower. It's a nice effect too, but I like this one with just the proscenium a bit better. _
I need a bit more time to finish up the maps for the rest of the "Two-Way Love" series about converting downtowns one-way streets to two-way, but in the meantime I've got some pictures documenting one of the biggest sticking points in returning both Mangum/Roxboro and the Loop to two-way streets, the old rail bridge at the southwest corner of the Loop.
One consequence of living in a metro area with two national universities is that you're always meeting grad students and others who tell you how great the part of the country they just came from was. And, of course, if you believe everything you hear out of San Fransicans, finding anything less than the very garden of Eden there is a bit of a disappointment.
San Francisco is indeed a beautiful city. Among a host of gorgeous buildings, the old port authority definitely caught my attention, as I
visited it shortly after Gary's did his post about Union Station in Durham, a much different affair but with a similar tower-and-platform feel.
On the other hand, this was the view out my hotel window when I was out there for AAG. I think this might win the prize for the ugliest building I've ever seen in my life. It's a high-rise monstrosity that has an entire broad side which is nothing but windowless corrugated concrete. I honestly want to know who thought this was a good idea. I mean, it's truly spectacular in its badness. I am in awe.