Sam O’Hare’s “The Sandlot” is an absolute masterpiece. It certainly helps that its subjects are the buildings, people, and public spaces of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but it’s the impeccable composition and delicate pace with which they are handled that really shines.

It’s comprised of more than 35,000 still photographs shot over five days and two nights in August of 2009, a herculean effort in and of itself. Each image was manually tilt-shifted and then assembled in time-lapse. What you see here is New York in miniature, yet vivid motion. It’s more humane, more comprehensible, and more attainable, all things not often said about it.

While you can watch it here, it’s worth clicking over to Vimeo to watch “The Sandlot” in full-screen high-def.

As for the music by Human, owners of what looks to be a website designed and developed in the late ’90s (no, that’s not a compliment), Sam says:

I wanted the track to speak to what it is like to experience the many rhythms, pulses and moods of the city and the composition, especially the peak, does this beautifully. The vocals add narrative and pacing to the piece, and really help draw you through it.

Yes, and how. This track, untitled and completely unavailable as best I can tell, would fit perfectly in the Morr Music catalog, slotted between Styrofoam and The Go Find. The male vocals are gentle but spirited, calm but not sedate, and the female vocals remind me of Kirsty Hawkshaw’s work on Opus III’s “It’s a Fine Day,” perhaps best known as the sample in Orbital’s epic “Halcyon and on and on.” High praise indeed.

The lyrics are stunning, especially the last line and inspiration for the title of this post:

Here we go
Start over
Motion fills the air

C’mon c’mon
C’mon c’mon
C’mon c’mon now

And we know
The fragments
Revealing all the patterns
everywhere

C’mon c’mon
C’mon c’mon
C’mon c’mon now

And we are
The story
Turn the page
And see what happens next

Here we go
Here we go
Here we go

We walk outside
All afternoon
All afternoon
All afternoon

All afternoon

Over and over
All afternoon

Rivers of light
Flowing home again
A flicker and its gone

As much as I love music, I often find that the video gets in the way. I can think of only a handful of that serve as more than just a compliment, they provide a means to access the music in a totally new way, something like The Books “Smells Like Content” (like tiny fragments of a finger snap). I will always love this quick “Glowing Cities Under a Nighttime Sky” clip, but the music is secondary. The only one that really comes close is this gem by Andrew Paynter for Tortoise:

That’s the San Francisco I know and love, so cool and crisp, but it pales in comparison to the warmth and glow of Sam’s New York. Makes me wonder why I’m still here and not there.

I have a great and lasting fondness for compiling these lists, making these mixes, and writing these posts. In years past, I spent nearly 16 hours doing a simple ten track list+mix+post, and then quietly resolved to never spend that much time again, but chances are I won’t be all that far from it once this particular effort is done. Fact is, this is a painful process, but still something I find much joy in doing.

↓ Download all 20 songs I had no intention of compiling such a lengthy retrospective on the music of the naughties, but once I saw that others were doing it, and then combed through my list, I found a bunch of albums that deserved recognition. However small and insignificant my words may be, these 20 songs from my favorite 20 albums of the 2000s meant so much to me.

So here they are, mixed to perfection. Enjoy!

Jamie Lidell · “Yougotmeup” · Multiply · 2005

I bought this album the moment it came out — without bothering to preview it or read the reviews — even though his previous efforts left me scratching my head as often as waggin’ my booty. “Yougotmeup” is completely out of this world, and not only sets the tone for the rest of the album, it set me on a five year journey to see him live as many times as I could. No one else even comes close to the creativity and ingenuity of Jamie Lidell, especially in front of a crowd.

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Vampire Weekend · “A-Punk” · Vampire Weekend · 2008

Had my friend Maroney not passed along this album, and had Abby not fallen in love with it, I doubt I would have ever listened to it. I’m not even sure it belongs on this list — I have seen countless arguments for The Strokes over anyone else of their type — but there’s something so pure and simple about Vampire Weekend. On top of that, this album speaks to me much like the Violent Femmes self-titled debut did some 27 years ago. No small feat there.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah · “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth” · Clap Your Hands Say Yeah · 2005

This song and this album (really, everything about CYHSY) just scream New York City for me. I even lost $300 trying to see them play on NYE in NYC (and I always thought I was street-smart) but eventually saw them twice. I credit them with bringing the feel of a dj set to the typical rock show, stringing each and every song together with some sort of whimsical musical transition. Now (almost) everyone does it, but they were the first.

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Radiohead · “Bodysnatchers” · In Rainbows · 2007

I was waaay late to the game with Radiohead, so much so that the first album I purchased was Hail to the Thief. Sure, I complained about the 160kbps thing when they first released In Rainbows, but paid for it anyway and then paid again when the cd version came out so I could have higher fidelity copies. I raved about Bodysnatchers in my list of favorites from 2007, so please go read about it there if you care. Chances are you already feel the same way about this song, it’s an absolute masterpiece.

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Thom Yorke · “Black Swan” · The Eraser · 2006

As I wrote about The Eraser in general and “Black Swans” in particular in 2007:

It’s quirky and downright weird at times, but songs like this one are so completely infectious that I can’t stop listening to them over and over again. There’s that innocence again, and a rawness that runs counter to the polish of Radiohead. This is a definite favorite of 2006.

I still find myself drawn to this album, and finding new twists and turns with each and every listen. It seems wholly unfair that one man should have such impeccable taste and immense talent, but at least Thom Yorke sees fit to share his gifts with the rest of us.

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Plaid · “Masato Shuffle” · Heaven’s Door · 2008

Whereas most of the more traditional bands on this list have an electronic(a) edge, Plaid is the purest expression of that sound. I spent all of 2009 anticipating their still unreleased album entitled Scintilli, and almost slept on Heaven’s Door (the soundtrack for a Japanese film) in the process, but I am eternally grateful I found it. I have no fewer than seven favorites on this album, but “Masato Shuffle” is at the top of my list. It’s the most exquisitely delicate song, so seemingly effortless you might be tempted to ignore it. Take a minute or two and let it pull you in — I can and have listened to this song on repeat for hours on end — you’ll soon go back for more.

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Ulrich Schnauss · “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn” · Far Away Trains Passing By · 2001

Many, many moons ago, I coined a phrase to describe music not at all unlike Ulrich’s: “a motion with emotion.” Far Away Trains Passing By first appeared to me in the form of what seemed to be hundreds of messages on the idm list-serv I once followed, all of which raved about his enchantingly melodic and indelibly rhapsodic sound. Still to this day I remain in awe that so many loops can be so perfectly placed, never crowded, always balanced. “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn” — roughly translates to “flower meadow beside the freeway” — is the most pristine gem on an album full of them, one I can’t recommend enough.

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Animal Collective · “Graze” · Fall Be Kind · 2009

Animal Collective and its many permutations so thoroughly dominated the latter half of my musical decade that I have no choice but to dedicate 20% of these songs to them, and I easily could have added more. Fall Be Kind is the only EP on the list, but more than holds its own, even more so as it comes on the heels of the esteemed Merriweather Post Pavilion (found below). All five songs on FBK are instant classics, and light years beyond anything else out there, including MPP. I don’t know how they do it but I hope they never stop.

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Grizzly Bear · “Southern Point” · Veckatimest · 2009

Were it not for two back-to-back Animal Collective shows, including the one in the Big Sur fog with only 299 other lucky souls, Grizzly Bear would have been the show of the year for me, and “Southern Point” its absolute highlight. While the album comes across as soft and even somewhat delicate at times, their presence onstage was anything but and their sound was big, Big, BIG. This was the song they opened with, featuring Daniel Rossen on lead vocals and Ed Droste as his primary backup, and it instantly brought an already revved up Fillmore crowd to a fever pitch. I have a feeling this band is just hitting its stride, and will be back bigger and better than ever with their next album.

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Battles · “Atlas” · Mirrored · 2007

Battles delivered one of the most unexpected and absolutely epic albums of the decade, and two of the most spectacular videos too. I still get chills when I think about the show they played in San Francisco, and remember being somewhat disappointed that they looked like such normal guys — I half expected robots. Tortoise, aka TRTS, might be the only other band that can play as tightly through a subtle change in pace and as frenetically for such lengths of time as BTTLS. I always want to call John Stanier, John Stamos. Not even close.

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!!! · “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” · Louden Up Now · 2004

Those ungoogleable bastards, !!!, completely won me over with 2004′s brilliant Louden Up Now, and then sealed the deal with their tour in support of 2007′s Myth Takes. Imagine a high school pep rally gone awry, with a bit of Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies, some New York punk, and late 90′s rave culture thrown in for good measure. Oh, and some killer lyrics too:

People always ask me, “What’s so fucking great about dancing?”
How the fuck should I know? Yeah, even I can barely understand it
But when the music takes over, the music takes control

“Me and Guiliani” was one of my Songs of the Day in 2008, and I’m quite fond of that post if you’re interested in reading more. I love !!! and can’t wait to hear what they do next.

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Hudson Mohawke · “No One Could Ever” · Butter · 2009

Thus far, my list feels fairly conventional, even to me. Sure, there’s a handful of outliers, but nothing quite like Butter. In fact, I think it sticks out like a sore thumb, whatever that means, and “No One Could Ever” is the biggest red blister of all, pulsing with an insatiable beat and ridiculously hyperactive drums. I love, love, love everything on this album, and anything else I have heard from HudMo. To be sure, not all of his music sounds like chipmunks on crack, but his best stuff certainly does.

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Squarepusher · “Tetra Sync” · Ultravisitor · 2004

I can’t say that I ever really fell for Ultravisitor top to bottom quite like the way I fell for Hello Everything and Just a Souvenir, but every time I come back to it I find another gem. Squarepusher is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorites, top five in fact (on the active list at least), and “Tetra Sync” is one of his finest efforts. Tom Jenkinson has a way of making music that in which everything sounds like a remix of one or more of his earlier tracks, but this one sounds like his entire career rolled up in one. I can barely wrap my mind around what a killer track this is, and more often than not am reduced to dropping f-bombs to describe it — it’s *that* good. I have seven other songs posted if you want more: Love Will Tear Us Apart, Star Time 2, Port Rhombus, Iambic 5 Poetry, Iambic 9 Poetry, A Real Woman, and Star Time 1. All every bit as epic.

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Animal Collective · “Daily Routine” · Merriweather Post Pavilion · 2009

As I wrote about “Daily Routine” earlier this year:

Normally, I play a SOTD over and over while I write these posts. Not so with this amazing new song from Animal Collective, in fact I can’t do anything beyond marvel at its absolute perfection: so sparse yet so full, so chaotic yet so incredibly peaceful. And that bass, those drums, the claps, the carnivalesque keys, and that seemingly endless outro, I defy you to find a more spectacular song, at least one that isn’t on the very same album!

I remember this one more than any other song that they played at both of my shows earlier this summer, especially since they extended the doodling at the beginning and let Panda take the outro even further. Merriweather Post Pavilion may very well be the album of the decade, and this song is a big reason why. Is is still sacrilegious to say that Animal Collective is my generation’s Beatles?

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o9 · “Terminal Silver” · Church of the Ghetto PC · 2004

Much like Ultravisitor, I initially found a couple of songs I instantly loved, and more or less stopped listening to the rest of Church of the Ghetto PC. I don’t know what prompted another listen in the past year or so, but ever since then I have been hooked on o9. As best I can tell he dropped off the face of the earth, so if you’re out there, Jesse Legg, and still making music, I want to hear it! If nothing else, please see to it that some 45rpm mp3s of No Delay for Days are added, I can’t stand it so slow.

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Burial · “Ghost Hardware” · Untrue · 2007

It never really mattered whether it was called dubstep, grime, or wonky, I simply didn’t care for it. The entire genre always felt too contrived, too of the moment without any regard for the one prior or post. Somehow Burial came out of the very same movement, only to rise above all else with an album so perfectly situated not in the present, past, or future, but simultaneously in all three. Abby put it best when she said:

It sounds like Jamie Lidell meets Boyz II Men meets Autechre.

Yep, classic.

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Flying Lotus · “Roberta Flack (feat Dolly)” · Los Angeles · 2008

FlyLo burst on the scene as quickly and vividly in 2006 as HudMo did in 2008, and like Butter I could point to any number of songs on Los Angeles that deserve special mention here:

[B]ut for me the one that truly stands above and beyond all others is “RobertaFlack (feat. Dolly).” The sparsely spaced rhythm track shines on its own, but that gives Ellison plenty of room to add Dolly’s beautiful voice for color and depth. And then he tops it off with the most unexpected breakdown at the end, so ridiculously sultry and seductive I could listen to those last 52 seconds on repeat for the rest of my life and die a very happy man

It’s totally and completely unfair to call it easy listening, but whenever I need to find a groove to get something done, I always reach for Los Angeles. The entire album flows so well, and the music itself is neither in my face nor so distant that I don’t notice it. It’s full of songs as eloquent as “Roberta Flack,” one masterpiece after the next.

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Panda Bear · “Take Pills” · Person Pitch · 2007

Person Pitch was my first Animal Collective experience, and at the time it seemed like I was the last to find out about it or them, but it didn’t take me long to want much more. From there I jumped into Strawberry Jam and my first show at The Fillmore, then a deep dive into their back catalog. There’s something so raw and immature about this solo effort from Noah Lennox, it’s such a scattered amalgamation of sounds and themes, but there’s a knowing wisdom about it too, like this is the way music is meant to be. I always imagined that the creatures on the cover lent the music its eclecticism, especially that gigantic sea lion. I bet he plays a mean bass.

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Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan · “Lay Lay Off Faselam” · Pullhair Rubeye · 2007

Believe it or not, this is the only album on my list that I did not personally pay for, and as far as I know it’s not even commercially available in its reversed form. My brother Kevin sent this to me, and it instantly became one of my most cherished possessions, for lack of a better word. The music is flimsy and gauzy, Kria Brekkan’s voice is dainty and wispy, and the lyrics are dreamy and distant. What it lacks in mass is more than made up in mettle, for this is a deeply heartfelt album, one-of-a-kind, and not likely to be duplicated ever again.

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Bjork · “I See Who You Are” · Volta · 2007

Speaking of the heart, I can think of no greater love song than “I See Who You Are” from Bjork and Mark Bell. This is such an intensely beautiful piece — the underlying music itself is perfectly restrained whereas Bjork’s voice is anything but — and each element embodies the message so well:

Let’s celebrate now all this flesh on our bones
Let me push you up against me tightly
And enjoy every bit of you

Do not miss that crescendo at the end with the horns and the pipa (a traditional Chinese string instrument, much like a sitar) played by Min Xiao-Fen. It all adds up to one phenomenal track, and a perfect end to this mix and post.

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If you made it this far, I thank you for reading and listening. I am truly honored.

I would love to hear which ones resonated with you, and please let me know about anything I might have missed from your best of the decade list.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed making it. Happy new year!

Eric of San Francisco’s Transbay Blog writes:

City streets, unlike freeways, naturally support a variety of transportation modes; and they can support those modes even better if we implement complete street design principles that calm traffic, and prioritize a high-quality pedestrian streetscape above moving cars faster. By proposing that intersection-dense street networks qualify as a single project unit for the purposes of stimulus funding, CNU’s proposal shifts investment away from freeways and toward our nation’s neglected city centers.

Under the proposal, any street in a qualifying network could be enhanced with stimulus money. Note that this does involve spending money on the roads themselves. Roads should be kept in good working condition. Given that some money must be spent on road networks, it is preferable to invest in city streets, because funds can be applied both to repaving and to creating complete streets that are friendly and accessible to all users no matter their travel mode.

The result will be increased concentration of human and economic activity in our cities — in the exact areas where trips are generally shorter, and where it is often easier to walk, bike, or take transit than it is to drive. And as noted above, a high-quality pedestrian experience is absolutely central to the success of this vision. Attractive, walkable, complete streets encourage people to shift to other modes and reduce their automobile usage, and they carry great economic benefits for cities.

My emphasis in bold, line breaks added for legibility. Eric’s thoughts heavily influenced my previous riff on urban infrastructure.

Imagine streets oriented to the human scale: peaceful, walkable, supporting both a density and diversity of development. This is not only a vision for New York or San Francisco, this was the blueprint of small towns and close-knit communities before the birth of the automobile, and as such it can be applied anywhere in America to reinvigorate what was once lost. Coupled with light rail to link adjacent communities, it forms the basis for a genuine rebirth of our neighborhoods and cities.

Again, I don’t expect Obama to fund these projects in year one, but I do hope that his administration strongly advocates for sustainable development, and shifts to making wise investments in the infrastructure that can benefit the greatest number of people. We can no longer afford to support the suburban model, we must recognize that and get over it, then move forward with more a sustainable approach to organizing our communities and cities.

Completely ungoogleable by their proper spelling, !!! is more often both printed and pronounced Chk Chk Chk, but any other three monosyllabic grunts will suffice in a pinch. Like Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance, !!! is another New York band (with some from Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR too), and I thought their epic “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” track would be an excellent followup to Monday’s GGD Song of the Day.

It’s difficult to escape the reality of our current situation in America: our economy is crumbling under the weight of its own inequity; our government is in crisis-mode with the Bush administration trying desperately to conceal the true extent of the damage they have done; our environment is changing, rapidly, perhaps beyond the point of no return; our human race is at war with one another over the last remaining drops of oil, soon to be water and food as well; and the list goes on and on. Yet through it all, there is an unmistakeable sense of hope, and a deep desire to find another way forward in the world.

People always ask me, “What’s so fucking great about dancing?”
How the fuck should I know? Yeah, even I can barely understand it
But when the music takes over, the music takes control
Here’s a message to you, Rudy and you, sir, Mr. Bloomberg
And the rest of you ties-too-tight dudes
Y’all could learn a lesson, by losing inhibitions, yeah
Losing yourself in the music, losing yourself in the moment
Because we have nothing more than this very second
You can’t count on the one coming after, no one’s sure about the one before

At the risk of getting all raved out on you, and believe me I was only barely on the periphery of that mindset in the mid 90s, what can and will unite us is love, and dancing, and living each and every moment to the fullest. I truly believe a singular focus on the here and now, with an eye toward our comparable struggles and common dreams in life, can bridge our most historic gaps.

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My generation is on the cusp of taking control of our country, and all involved deserve a little dancing in the streets. Our work to end oppression and discrimination may be difficult, but it need not be drudgery, and I for one plan to keep on dancing, laughing, and loving for the next four years and well beyond.

Edited slightly after posting.

That’s how I feel about tankt right now.
Too many other more enticing ideas on my mind:

  • I wanna see who. (Not really sure how.)
  • Building and simultaneously demolishing grids.
  • User vs. Designer vs. Developer. And the astonishing difference in my expectations depending on my current position.
  • Apathy, decency, and subtlety. Fuck ‘em.
  • The future. It’s about time.
  • Too many tees. (They’re a walking banner ad.)
  • You say you want a revolution. Get up. Stand up. Save your own damn self. Take the time to think.
  • Is it feathers on a bird or lotsa different chickens?
  • Machines for living.
  • Embrace the glitch.
  • Fragments. Bridges. Limited editions. 10″ wax presses. Social mixes. Unconventional remixes. Oh, and a Truitt / Brown collaboration known as TruBro. Is that offensive?
  • Outside.in in Brooklyn. Warp Records in London. Family in Ohio. Three in San Francisco.

And,

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

- Steve Jobs

What was once and always ‘all in my head’ is now ready to see the light of day. Like branches on a tree, some will thrive, while others whither and die. It matters not which is which, merely that they exist.

The rich tapestry of life seems especially so these days. After several years of deep and difficult introspection, I feel whole again, and stronger than ever. I am loved and loving more than I ever thought possible. I (really, we) feed and sustain me.

I am grateful for my lot in life, truly blessed, and finally prepared to share it with the world, not for gain or glory, but for the chance to make new connections, gain new experiences, and maybe just get a little closer to a deeper understanding of the world.

As always, more soon.

My neighborhood in San Francisco, known as SOMA (South of Market Street) or South Beach (even though there is no beach) or Rincon Hill, is in transition in nearly every possible way. What was once an area full of relatively low-slung and often derelict tenements and warehouses stretching down to the wharfs that once lined the bay, SOMA is not only gentrifying but rapidly going massively vertical.

I do not pretend to understand the myriad reasons why it is so difficult to build in San Francisco. Suffice to say it involves a fair amount of the classic NIMBY syndrome cleverly disguised as high-minded civic activism. By intention or pure accident, it creates the impression that “no one” wants San Francisco to change so that in the end very little can, and what does get built is often watered-down in the process.

SOMA, on the other hand, is very much a blank slate. Soon there will be thousands of new residents, but since there is no incumbent community upon which to intrude today, there is no one to advocate for it when it matters most (Jamie’s voice is one very strong exception). Thus, the SOMA of tomorrow is being shaped almost exclusively by the developers building luxury high-rise towers for their ultra-rich clientele…

Please know I have no qualms with the height of these new buildings, no issue with the added density in the neighborhood, and no care or concern with respect to their inhabitant’s wealth. I simply disagree with the way it’s being done, specifically the over-reliance on pairs of isolated towers set on opposite corners of an entire city block, with its perimeter ringed by townhomes.

There is no excitement in this approach, no variety in its rhythm, and absolutely no visual interest at the ground level. Even more to the point, there is no community space, no common oasis, no shared experience for all San Franciscans — all of the “public spaces” in these new buildings are in fact private by virtue of being placed above the townhouses, often five or six floors above street level. These new developments are fortresses, nothing more and nothing less. The entire design scheme exists to preserve the space around (and the admittedly great views from) the towers.


I am in New York City this week, and have been writing this brief manifesto while sitting in beautiful Bryant Park, at the very center of midtown Manhattan. You would never know it from sitting here, but I am just a five minute walk from Times Square, six blocks from the Empire State Building, and a hop away from the busy 5th Avenue thoroughfare. Sure, it’s loud as traffic whizzes by on three sides while sirens wail in the background, but it is truly an oasis. All day long, people wander in and out. Some stop for a brief minute to enjoy lunch, some linger for an hour with a book, and some like me stay all day for the free wifi. Interactions are incidental and ephemeral, but there is a feeling of being connected to something much greater than my own existence…

To be fair, it’s somewhat absurd to compare New York to San Francisco. New York’s fate was sealed many, many years ago with the street grid and the unique constraints it imposed on the city. But, with some notable exceptions, very few blocks are filled with a single monolithic development, most in fact are quite varied with new and old, small and tall, squat and sharp buildings all condensed together. The result is a richly-textured urban fabric.

There are obviously other differences in the two cities, not the least of which is the fact that most people in New York do not own automobiles and therefore rely on walking and/or public transportation. In this regard, the sidewalk is the city’s great unifier: age, gender, race, and wealth are all wiped away by the shared experience. Bryant Park feels much the same way. No, it’s not perfect, but it feels so much more real here than anything back home in San Francisco, and it is precisely the kind of public space that we desperately need in SOMA.


As an architecture and urban planning buff, I was very excited to see the new design proposals for the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, and I was instantly drawn to the Pelli Clark proposal for the elegant tower and the lush-green carpet of its rooftop garden (shown below). Then it hit me: all of the health and vitality of the street is once again removed and placed in the sky. Sure, it’s public, unlike the other developments being built, but it’s completely divorced from the city itself…

Pelli Clark proposal for the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco

San Francisco, SOMA in particular, has its problems, not the least of which is the incredible number of homeless men and women living on the street. It seems we have decided that it’s more expedient to pretend this issue doesn’t exist, and to retreat within these fortress developments for comfort and protection. I submit to you that this is a strategic error with huge implications. We are quickly creating a community in SOMA that has no connection to the city in which it resides, one which is increasingly off-limits to the vast majority of its residents.


I strongly believe that inclusion is the way to solve these kinds of problems and create a deeper understanding for all involved. Our culture’s tendency to segment and segregate entire populations is archaic and entirely unacceptable in this day and age. We know better, now we must do better. It’s time that we take a hard look at the world we are creating, even if we have no power to change it today, we can at least begin to recognize our future opportunities and position ourselves to demand better results.

In the end, our built environment has a tremendous effect on our collective psyche. We owe it to ourselves today, and future generations tomorrow, to create a world in which everyone has a right to participate, and everyone has a chance to belong.

On the subject of the four seasons, and the joy of being back in the sweltering heat and humidity of my youth, rather than the distinct lack of either in my current coastal California life, Doc Searls saidbest:

So I’m thinking that now, in the middle of a summer night on a Baltimore porch, soaked in sweat, that I’m getting my edge back. If you’re not actually burning or freezing, heat and cold are just sensations. You can call them discomfort if you like, but they’re a small price to pay for experiencing nature’s cyclic perfections.

I wholeheartedly agree. I am back in Bryant Park again, where I have been for the past few days, sitting beneath a canopy of London plane trees and watching for my caterpillar friend. The sun is shining brightly, puddles from this morning’s thunderstorm are slowly burning off, birds are chirping above the din of sirens and traffic, and people are moving at a much more leisurely pace…

It’s 10:45 am in New York City, and already the temperature is above 80°, which feels like 100° due to the humidity. Gone are the three layers of clothing I normally wear just to get through a typical day in San Francisco. I am in shorts and a shirt, and already drenched with sweat. I am in heaven.

As I finished that last sentence, Jason Kottke twittered:

The city is in chaos today. Hot + flooded subway + fistfights to get on buses. Can the humidity be over 100%?

I <3 NY.

I met my caterpillar friend this morning in Bryant Park, which is this incredible public space directly across the street from our hotel in New York City. I sat down, looked up, and immediately saw this crazy furry monster crawling up the chair next to me. I grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots (all of which were as fuzzy as he was), then sat back down and went to work on my computer. I completely forgot about my new friend, until I saw him at my feet about ten minutes later.

I have always wanted to find a way to calm my initial reaction when I find a bug on me, but as with every other time before I freaked when I felt him crawling up my leg. I politely brushed him off, then moved him farther away from me, only to find him crawling up my table a few minutes later. He made it all the way to the top, and promptly went right for me again, coming up to the edge as though he wanted to jump into my lap. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before…

At this point, I grabbed a leaf and moved him to the ground cover behind me where I could watch him without fear of attack. I was mesmerized by the way his body moved, his five sets of antennae, and his tiny suction-cup feet. Whenever I got too close to him, he immediately stopped moving and pulled his brilliant red head into his yellow body. See Harry in action here:

I loved watching the way he surveyed the scene as he came to the edge of each leaf. He methodically but quickly examined his options, picked his path and moved forward, making the most of his caterpillar time on earth. I was especially surprised to see the strain he put on those leaves and the way they bounced back as such tiny creature shifted his weight to the next one. Truly, all of us, even the smallest living thing, leave a mark on earth with each and every step…

When I mentioned this story to my friend Sharon, she suggested that this experience was not a random accident but a gift from the universe. I could easily spend a lifetime reflecting on this very moment, dissecting each and every second in a million different ways, proposing any number of well-known and richly-detailed symbols to help make sense of it. But for tonight, I simply want to delight in the experience itself, and the account of it here.