Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Removing all doubt.

Just got out of a long boring meeting--one at which my presence served only to use up valuable space and air. Had one of the neighborhood officers in, along with an academic planner person, going over a proposed master planning project they want to do. The rest of the room was our staff--my boss, a department head, three of the planning folks, and me.

We were there to discuss and coordinate what sorts of information we could provide, so the pedagogue started talking and was promptly interrupted by one of the planners.

This is the guy I've talked about before who tries to put on airs of great insight and depth of thought, all the way down to affecting this weird sort of I'm-trying-to-talk -like-I- grew-up-somewhere-other-than -Alabama accent, that only winds up making him sound like he has a speech impediment. Frankly, he's dumber than a stump. Can't spell worth two cents (although, that may not to matter), atrocious grammar, rational thought process similar to a squirrel. All wrapped up in that cozy coat of pretentiousness that makes me want to dope slap him in the back of the head.

Anyway, he interrupts, wanting the complete backstory of why he's in the meeting, who all these people are, what's the frequency Kenneth--everything that most normal people could figure out after a few minutes of actually LISTENING to what was being said. After a nice ten minute recitation of history to placate him, we got on to the business at hand.

Basically, the professor is going to get her students to help the neighborhood with an analysis of their area and offer some suggestions for future development. The nature of these things is that they are relatively limited in scope and that they don't go into all the necessary policy and budget falderol, just some neat ideas put down on paper. On our side, it usually takes years to get anything on paper, bogged down as we get on worrying about all the bureaucratic silliness.

Both approaches have some value, believe it or not. In this case, the professor and her neighborhood client both realize that the end product has some limits when it comes to working it into the implementation phase, but also know the finished pretty pictures can be useful in helping people see beyond what's in place now, even if some of it turns out to be a bit pie-in-the-sky. It's done by students, after all, and you want them to learn some abstract thinking.

Interruption! "Well, you're saying you want to do a master plan, but without doing some sort of costing, you just don't know what you're getting into." ::sigh:: And then he fulfilled Twain's famous dictum..."You know, I realize Berman said "Make no small plans", but without something to guideblah blah blah blah..."

I stopped listening after "Berman".

Now, I don't expect people who haven't studied architecture or city planning to realize the gaffe here, and professional courtesy would usually dictate that I give fellow designers the benefit of the doubt about such stumbletongueitis. But when some it comes flying out of some pretentious, put-on-accented, can't-spell-"cat", twit who has taken it upon himself to lecture a visitor (who just happens to have a doctorate) and can't get BURNHAM right, well...no quarter.

Daniel Burnham was one of the big dogs of the late-19th and early 20th Century architectural world, and his work in Chicago included the Rookery, the plan for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and the 1909 Chicago city plan--a landmark work in American comprehensive city planning. And he is the one who said, "Make no small plans."


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