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Keith Richards on Chuck Berry

"She remembered a statement that Keith Richards once made regarding a famous R&B musician whose hostility to his own audience hid just beneath his skin: 'Chuck's tragedy is he doesn't realize how much joy he brings to other people'."
-from Swan Peak, by James Lee Burke

Elizabethan barn with rare hammerbeam roof restored


"An Elizabethan barn with a rare hammerbeam roof usually found in palaces has been restored to its former glory…The barn was built in the grounds of Westenhanger Castle near Hythe in Kent in around 1580, and features one of only two such roofs to be found in barns in the country. The two-and-a-half-year project to restore it was funded largely by a £500,000 grant from English Heritage, which has given almost £2 million to the castle's owners over the past 12 years. The castle originated as a Saxon manor house, before its later incarnations of a 14th century moated castle and the grand country house which stands today."
From the Telegraph, 14 Sept, 2009

Rainy day in London town


We walked up Primrose Hill with our friend Richard, and had a spectacular 220° view of London as the sun was setting Monday night. This is a magic spot, all the more so because London is basically flat. Rain was vaguely threatening, and this rainbow appeared. The next day, it poured.

Dress by Fortuny


At stunning fashion exhibit at Victoria and Albert Museum

Finally tuning in to big city

This is our seventh day in London. It's an exciting place, especially compared to California. People are extremely kind, often offering help with directions. When we came up out of the tube (subway) on the way to the hotel, we got to a long flight of stairs, and when I started struggling to wheel my (50 lbs or so) bag up the stairs, a guy rushed up, picked it up and walked with me to the top. Dude!

A lot of the time I feel bewildered, a somewhat-country boy in fast-moving urbanism. But there are moments of sheer thrill, the excitement of things different. The first day here, I went to the basement bookstore of the Architectural Association (a trendy school of architecture) on Bedford Square, and found a wonderful selection of books. I discovered the German publisher Burkehäuser, which has a list of maybe 100 books in English. I'm going to buy three of them: Building with Earth, by Gernot Minke; Sustainable Design by Control and Review; and Building Integrated Photovoltaics.

We've got one week "Oyster" passes, which allow free usage of the tube and buses and they work great. Otherwise, the tube is about seven dollars a pop. Cabs are ultra-expensive. In fact this is the priciest place I've ever been, but you get a lot for yr. money. Food ranges from pretty good to great. Buildings, at least in this part of town, are mostly immaculate. The masonry has been cleaned of city soot, I would guess power-washed, so you see lots of magnificent design and craftsmanship.
By coincidence, our son Will and his bride Aine are here on their honeymoon, and were meeting them this afternoon to take a trip on the Thames and then walk down the south side of the river to London Bridge, to Tate Modern, Saint Paul's, walk on the Millennium Bridge. Tomorrow the four of us will explore the city, and the next day Lesley and I are flying Ryanair to Cork, Ireland, where will pick up a small Volkswagen rental car and explore the West Coast of Ireland.

London sidewalk art



New book by Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand has just come out with a new book, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto: which sounds like it may be his second major statement, the first being the Whole Earth Catalog. Let's see what Stewart's concluded after lo, these 40 years: http://www.longnow.org/projects/seminars/

Stewart does it again

Stewart Brand has discovered an amazing artist, Arthur Ganson. "You follow the feeling of the piece," Ganson explained, "and then wrestle it into physicality."
More: http://bit.ly/Gy9Mm

The old, the new—sigh!

Wooden sculpture at Architectural Association


This structure was an award winner in a design contest at the Architectural Association, a London college of architecture and is on display outside the school, on Bedford Square. It consists of 28 layers of very thin plywood, which conceal an internal structural system

Fab cap slaps sex ban on wags


The day we arrived, this was the headline in the Sun. Boy, the witty headlines of sleazy London tabloids! Translation: England football team coach Fabio Capello to ban Wags (wives and girlfriends) from seeing much of their spouses during the forthcoming World Cup tournament.

Hummingbird exhibit


"In the bird gallery of The Natural History Museum in London there is a nineteenth-century glass cabinet the size of a circus car that may have once belonged to William Bullock, the London Museum curator. The cabinet is large but easy to overlook--from a distance it looks like a neglected herbarium, one in which the foliage has been allowed to go brown and twiggy. Up close, this desiccated forest blooms with hundreds of hummingbirds posing stiffly on every branch, their iridescent plumage only slightly dulled by the passage of two hundred years."
-by Judith Pascoe, Questia

Natural History Museum a Stunner



This stunning building was designed by "…Alfred Waterhouse who… designed the façades in his own idiosyncratic Romanesque style…terracotta tiles (were manufactured) to resist the sooty climate of Victorian London."
It's a gorgeous building, with wonderful exhibits.
We were there a few hours ago.

3rd Day in London

Big Ben is an elegant structure (although slightly out-of-whack-looking here from a 3-photo collage). I haven't been to London in 25 years, and first impressions are that— at least in central London and Westminster—it's clean and well tended (and very expensive!). I remember it being much grittier 20-30 years back. It seems as if all the wonderful old buildings have been sandblasted or water-blasted. Maybe it's just early fall, but the air is clean. We've got a fourth-story walk-up room in a modest hotel on a quiet block, two blocks from the British Museum. We look out the window into an inner courtyard, where there's a beautiful tree with almost iridescent yellow leaves. I'm on the road for the next five weeks, and will post photos and observations whenever I can.

2009 Natural Building Colloquium In Oregon 18-24 October

The 2009 Natural Building Colloquium will take place in Oregon in about four weeks. It is hosted by the Natural Building Network and includes: Pre-fabricated strawbale panels with Chris Magwood; Earthen floor contracting for residential and commercial buildings with Sukita Crimmel; Bamboo roof structure for cob entry way project with Darrel Deboer; Integrating natural building into the urban environment in Portland with new codes and techniques, with Joshua Klyber; Report on the first code approved straw bale in Portland from Lydia Doleman.
DATE: 18-24 October 2009: LOCATION: Camp Latgawa, Rogue National Forest, Oregon. "This beautiful camp is nestled in a secluded valley in the Rogue National Forest in Southern Oregon. Beautiful fir trees tower above 2 crystal clear streams that boast populations of endangered Coho Salmon. The grounds of the camp are home to several natural building projects created during previous colloquiums. These include earthen ovens and sculptures, stone benches, round-wood furniture, wood sheds, a sweat lodge, a labyrinth, and a naturally renovated cabin from the early 20th century.Colloquium participants will stay in one of several comfortable dormitory-style cabins (no need for a tent!). All meals will be freshly prepared by the camp hosts, Eva and Greg."
Info: http://groups.google.com/group/nbco-2009