No Longer Just a Living Legend

Leonard Cohen died at age 82.  I was introduced to his work in the early 1970s by a friend and colleague named Perry Youngblood.  In his biography, and at other times, Cohen wrote that he was first and foremost a poet, but turned to song because he could not make a living just writing and publishing poetry.  His poetry became beautiful songs, sometimes dark and sultry and sometimes spiritual and sexy.

Before his muse Marianne Ihlen died in July, Leonard Cohen penned her a final letter: ‘Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon.”

Norwegian filmmaker Jan Christian Mollestad was a good friend of Marianne Ihlen — the woman who inspired Leonard Cohen’s “So long, Marianne.”
One of my favorite movies is McCabe and Mrs. Miller, starring Warren Beaty and Julie Christie.  Leonard Cohens songs are the sountrack for that movie which needed dark and sultry songs.
I must get his final album which was recently released.
I believe the closest to his like now living is Bob Dylan, the recent Nobel Prize winner.  I believe he and Leonard were great friends.

A Message for the Bigoted Donald Trump


Donald Trump claims to want to make America Great.  What has he done during his life to make America Great?  Wish he would tell us how bilking investors and students at Trump University has made America Great.

PHILADELPHIA ― The father of a Muslim American war hero addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, delivering a brutal takedown of Donald Trump and his inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Khizr Khan spoke about the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

With his wife standing beside him, Khan brought Democratic delegates to their feet by denouncing Trump and his proposed ban on Muslims.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” he said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, and even his own party leadership. Donald Trump loves to build walls and ban us from this country.”

Khan then addressed the Republican nominee directly.

“Let me ask you, have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said, pulling a copy of the document from his pocket.

“Look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’ Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending this country,” he said.

“You have sacrificed nothing,” he said, to roars from the crowd. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls. We are stronger together. We will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our president.”

Khan’s speech even impressed some Republicans. John Noonan, a former national security adviser to Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, tweeted:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

Also on HuffPost

Plate Tectonics

Oliver Morton The Music of Science
What does the Pacific have that the Atlantic doesn’t? Earthquakes. Why? Plate tectonics

PETEplate tectonics



THERE IS NOTHING peaceable about the Atlantic, as my father, who went back and forth across it in wartime convoys, could attest. Its inexhaustible palette of moods includes all manner of awfulness. There is, though, something happily pacific, and distinctly un-Pacific, about the shores on to which its tempests blow. The edges of the Pacific are endlessly subject to earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. The edges of the Atlantic, by contrast, are startlingly stable.
Yes, there was the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which killed tens of thousands. But that is remembered precisely because it was so exceptional, and had profound effects. The levelling of Lisbon changed not just Portugal’s history but Europe’s ways of thinking about good and evil. In Japan you can expect such things in every lifetime. And until about 50 years ago, this global asymmetry was both inexplicable and more or less unquestioned.
In the 1960s, a few geologists from both sides of the Atlantic worked out how the ocean that separated them – and all the other ocean basins – had come to be. Their plate-tectonic revolution, like all scientific revolutions, did more than just answer outstanding questions. It realigned them, turning apparently separate questions into aspects of the same problem.

At the heart of plate tectonics was the idea that the Earth’s crust is forever being created and destroyed. It is created at the ridges that run through all of the oceans. It is destroyed in subduction zones at the edges of oceans, where it plunges back down into the depths. Both ridges and subduction zones, the revolutionaries told the world, were boundaries between things no one had previously imagined called tectonic plates, the former being where plates pull away from one another, the latter where they converge.
Plate tectonics thus explained a range of things which had seemed to have nothing in common. In the 1950s measurements of the magnetic fields in rocks had shown that the continents had once been at different latitudes; this was explained by the continental drift brought about by the plates. Half a century of seismology had shown that small earthquakes clustered along ocean ridges and big ones at some ocean margins; this was explained by the stresses the crust underwent as it was stretched and compressed.
The most ancient of the puzzles solved was the way the east coast of the Americas echoes the west coast of Europe and Africa. It had been the subject of speculation in the 18th century by the natural historian Alexander Humboldt, who saw the Atlantic as something like a winding river valley, and it had even been noted in the 16th by the philosopher Francis Bacon. Plate tectonics showed it to be the result of the sundering of an ancient supercontinent.
In 1964 the Cambridge geophysicist Teddy Bullard put these observations on a firmer footing. Using computers and spherical geometry, he showed exactly how the zigs of the east and the zags of the west could nestle against each other if the ocean were removed from the scene and the continents snuggled up together.

Since then the history of the break-up has been mapped with some precision. About 200m years ago, what is now Mauritania and what is now the eastern seaboard of the United States began to pull apart; as they did so, new crust formed at the nascent mid-Atlantic ridge between them. The process has continued, albeit with fits and starts, ever since, widening the Atlantic a few centimetres a year – roughly the pace at which fingernails grow. And because crust is being made at the ridge, not destroyed at the edges, the basin has little earthquakes at its heart but none on its rim.
This is not a sustainable arrangement. Even at fingernail speed, the Atlantic cannot grow for ever on a finite planet. There are, though, two different ways it could end. Either the Atlantic keeps on widening, the Pacific shrinking, until America pushes up against Asia, or the Atlantic starts to develop subduction zones of its own, which eat up old ocean floors faster than the central ridge can produce new ones; the ocean narrows and eventually collapses. The process may already have begun: the fault that produced the Lisbon quake could be the start of a subduction zone.
Like all the best scientific revolutions, plate tectonics did not only answer old questions, but posed new ones. It does not promise to resolve them – I doubt anyone will ever be able to say with certainty whether the Atlantic will keep opening or start closing. But whichever course it takes matters not a whit in human terms. Just as there are some questions that no one bothers to answer, so there are others which no one needs to answer.
Some questions fascinate because they can be answered, others because they can’t be. Knowing how the Atlantic arose falls into the first category; an origin that can, in principle, be unearthed or explained is exciting, one that is for some reason necessarily obscure or unobtainable is by and large not. Questions about where things are headed tend to fall into the second. Clear answers about future events may have practical value, but they have little else to recommend them. The undecidable future, though? That never palls, any more than a seascape can exhaust itself.
OLIVER MORTONis briefings editor at The Economist and the author of “Eating the Sun”


Architecture A Modest revival – from Intelligent Life
Once everyone wanted buildings of glass, steel and outrageous curves. But Robert Bevan sees the twilight of starchitecture falling

stacked house
THE 2015 STIRLING PRIZE, Britain’s biggest architectural award, was won by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) for six buildings it designed for the Burntwood School campus in south London. A modest exercise in neo-Brutalism in which the composition of concrete panels recalls the stately public architecture of the 1950s and 1960s, they fit tactfully within the school’s existing campus. In September, meanwhile, the Walkie-Talkie won the Carbuncle Cup, Building Design’s annual prize for the worst building in Britain. A 37-storey skyscraper in the centre of London, the tower is named for its bulbous, top-heavy profile – it’s an office that has steroidally bulked up its chest and shoulders but allowed its legs to wither. Prizes don’t make taste but they can point towards the direction in which it’s shifting, and the coincidence of these awards suggests a weariness among tastemakers with the exuberances of contemporary architecture.

walkie talkieOver and out: the bulbous “Walkie-Talkie” building in Fenchurch Street, London
This a far cry from the mania for instant icons, which first emerged with the opening of Frank Gehry’s 1997 Guggenheim Bilbao. The art gallery’s shimmering, titanium bulges were credited with putting a run-down town in northern Spain back on the tourist map. The “Bilbao effect” was born and a thousand outlandishly shaped buildings sprung up across the world. The face of London is now marked with thrusting figures. First came the Gherkin, then the Shard. The Can of Ham is on the horizon.
The capability to create novel, gravity-defying curves and cantilevers stems from the expansion in computing power in the early 1990s and the innovative digital design tools that developed alongside it. Unconventionally shaped buildings had always been imagined and even, on rare occasions, achieved – think of Erich Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Gaudi’s still-unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona and Jørn Utzon’s nose-bleedingly expensive opera house for Sydney. But digital made complex forms, especially curves in multiple directions, easier to design, engineer and construct – and thus more affordable. Information coded into a digital drawing could be used to manufacture components of the buildings themselves – in the precise laser cutting of titanium sheets, for example.

Even more significantly, architects could now fix the limits of a virtual three-dimensional form, then manipulate shapes with these parameters. This technology, dubbed “parametric architecture”, made Zaha Hadid’s architectural vision, for example, more readily buildable. Previously Hadid had built physical models, sliced them into cross-sections, then scanned the slices onto a computer to render her ideas virtually. With computer-aided design (CAD), the limitations of working with paper were obliterated. Architects could now toy with surfaces. They folded and bent thin skins, so that buildings imitated rolling natural terrains, geological formations and biological structures. Architecturally speaking, the past, with its imprecise and unflexible bricks and mortar, had been left behind.
Cities, companies and institutions across the world suddenly demanded similar buildings as the centrepiece of a regeneration initiative, or for the new wing of a museum or a corporate HQ, hoping for their own Bilbao effect. In the commercial world, para­metric design, as Zaha Hadid’s sidekick Patrik Schumacher observed recently, perfectly responds to the demands of market-conscious developers, because computers can maximise the rentable floorspace on expensive but constrained sites, like those found in the City of London. The swollen Walkie-Talkie, its upper floors much wider than the plot on which it sits, is a shining example of this phenomenon. And while the curvaceous can waste space conspicuously – impractical extravagance has always been a measure of luxury – it does so with digital efficiency.

Going straight: plans for the V&A East development in east London by O’Donnell + Tuomey


Digital design tools also hastened the rise of the global designer, whose signature style could be airlifted in to brand a development as forward looking. The Guggenheim Foundation led the trend in the cultural world, commissioning leading architects in order to present itself as the outrider of the avant-garde. Hadid was joined by Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Jean Nouvel and Peter Eisenman, among others. The global starchitect was born and won all the prizes.
Yet the past has persisted and now it is fighting back. All architects these days, bar the occasional crank, use digital drawing packages. But increasing numbers of designers are insisting that they should be the masters of technology, not its slaves. Colour-washed sketches to convey the mood of a place are again being produced after decades of demands for the sterile photorealism produced by CAD. Because creatives are no longer enthralled to its giddy novelty digital technology has become just another tool for those who can maturely blend different approaches – using lasers to cut traditional letterpress type, for instance, or software to extrude a brick arch. Brick is now in such demand for tall residential towers in Britain that there is currently a shortage.
Concerns are being raised about imposing buildings that ignore the urban contexts in which they are built, fail to make any concession to the human scale, and serve only as three-dimensional branding for their creators. These critiques echo an earlier generation’s displeasure with the anonymous global products of post-war Modernism. One response was Critical Regionalism, an approach that sought to humanise Modernism by making it more sensitive to place. The reaction this time around is more akin to the return to analogue that can be observed throughout contemporary culture – in the enthusiasm for vinyl records and handicrafts, for example. In an increasingly virtual world, there is a longing for human touch and a spirit of resistance to the invisible forces in which we find ourselves enmeshed.
There has also been a slow realisation that the beguiling, computer-generated images of glossy and curvaceous parametric buildings often work better on screen than in reality. Their construction still too often depends on a precision that is hard to achieve in practice. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects of the recently opened Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles, promised a diaphanous, perforated veil as its sweeping cladding. Instead, it is far more static, regularly shaped and solid – a concession that had to be made in the course of building.
In Britain in particular, ostentatious architecture did not guarantee the public’s affections. Many ill-conceived National Lottery-backed projects relied on the presumption that an impressive building alone would entice people to flood through the doors. In the case of Will Alsop’s arts centre The Public and Sheffield’s drum-kit-shaped pop-music museum, they didn’t. New uses for the vacant icons had to be found.
THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM in west London is perched on the cusp of the two architectural philosophies. It is in the middle of building a new extension to its South Kensington home, a conspicuously folded form by Amanda Levete. But for its next large-scale project, the V&A East – part of the planned Olympicopolis cultural quarter in the East End – it has appointed Irish architects O’Donnell + Tuomey, who have been quietly crafting buildings on the edge of Europe for some decades now.

Rise of the red bricks: the Saw Swee Hock student centre for the London School of Economics, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey

red bricks
Kieran Long is keeper of the design, architecture and digital department at the V&A and involved in the development of V&A East. He sees a deliberate move away from the formal excesses of parametric architecture’s high noon. “I am super happy that O’Donnell + Tuomey were appointed,” he says. “They don’t lapse into the abstraction that the big shape-makers fall into.” He admires the craft that the practice brings to a project. Their buildings, such as the Saw Swee Hock student centre for the London School of Economics, may be made of brick but they are far from conservative. Indeed, digital tools were employed to achieve the inflected brickwork walls of the LSE centre. Long contends that O’Donnell + Tuomey will provide a monumental character for the museum’s new building. It achieves this – in drawings at least – through a measured, rectilinear massing of materials, rather than by resorting to an architectural caprice which reveals all it’s got in a single glance. The V&A East will be a weightier affair: “A more permanent architecture”, says Long, “that contrasts with…the thin, powder-coated steel and glass of a lot of those shape-making buildings nearby.”
English practices such as Caruso St John, Eric Parry, Sergison Bates and Patrick Lynch are also devoted to the craft of construction, and willing to quote historical examples and to use ornament in their work – the antithesis of the slick futurism of the parametric. The same counter-tendency can be found elsewhere in Europe. The work of Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura’s work has been described as “slow architecture”, not because it takes an age to build but because it can only be appreciated slowly and through repeated viewing. And while this reaction is primarily European – North America lags noticeably behind European architectural practice – instances of this approach can be found as far afield as China and Vietnam, where architects are reinterpreting the vernacular.


Dissatisfaction with the hegemony of the blob – and with the profusion of architecture graduates who can make a nifty digital image but don’t actually know how to design a feasible building or even sketch an idea by hand – is rippling through the profession. One of the consequences has been the launch of the London School of Architecture in October, a collaboration between academics and architectural practices. It is the first new architecture school in the capital for more than a century. Did it, I asked the LSA’s founder Will Hunter, emerge out of desire for a richer, contextually informed design approach? “Definitely,” he says. “The building of icons to stand out, the fetishisation of the digital, is definitely out of fashion in favour of what’s good for the urban fabric.”
Hunter accepts that parametric design can be an important element of the architect’s toolbox, especially if devoted to more ecologically minded and culturally relevant buildings, but he wants his students to think through drawing, to analyse a site and respond with nuance. What once seemed daring now is obvious and gauche, a novelty act whose shine is losing its lustre. Hunter is blunt about the era of the big, simplistic architectural gesture: “It’s over.”
Grandiloquent, digitally driven architecture will doubtless continue to land in our cities. The tech sector in particular is still in thrall to the parametric. Its latest fashionable exponent, the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, has been commissioned by Google, alongside English designer Thomas Heatherwick to design its “Truman Show”-like HQ in California. In London, Google is reported to be thinking of ditching the current design for its King’s Cross building by this year’s Stirling prize-winner AHMM in favour of something by Heatherwick.

Stirling work: the collaged reworking of the ruined Astley Castle in north Warwickshire, by Witherford Watson Mann
But this style no longer represents the avant-garde. In recent years the Stirling prize has been anointing a quieter kind of architecture: the subtle rebuilding of the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins; and Astley Castle, the collaged reworking of a ruined castle by Witherford Watson Mann, who have layered the contemporary on top of the historical, creating a dialogue between the two. This year’s shortlist was especially notable for the absence of bloated buildings. Even the Guggenheim, the original sinner of parametric architecture, did not commission Gehry or one of his acolytes for its latest outpost in Helsinki; it chose instead the sober-sided Parisian architecture practice Moreau Kusunoki. Their design incorporates curves, but as gentle inflections to the walls and roofs of rectilinear pavilions – more Japanese temple than overinflated blobology. The bubble, it seems, may finally have burst.

Who is Leading?

Who’s most likely to be the 2016 Republican nominee?
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Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz during a campaign stop in Oklahoma City last month. (J Pat Carter/AP)
By Chris Cillizza January 3 at 6:39 PM
It’s 2016 (finally)! Iowa voters will head to their caucuses in four weeks. The country will pick a new president in about 10 months. It’s all happening, people.

Given all of that, it’s time to revisit my rankings of the candidates who could be the Republican presidential nominee. It’s a shrinking list but still far longer than that of the Democrats’ side, where it’s Hillary Clinton’s race to lose (still).

The candidate ranked No. 1 below is the most likely, as of now, to be the GOP nominee. And, for the record, I think it’s possible (if not probable) that we go into Cleveland for the Republican National Convention in July with no candidate with enough delegates to be the nominee.

1. Ted Cruz: The senator from Texas has been underestimated and underrated at every step of the primary process. No longer. Cruz is solidly in first place in Iowa and, barring some sort of unforeseen collapse, will win the first-in-the-nation caucuses. He also should run well in South Carolina on Feb. 20 and in the “SEC primary” on March 1. Cruz, thanks to Donald Trump, is now being seen in some GOP circles as a conservative, non-disastrous alternative to the real estate mogul. And, unlike other conservative insurgents of the past, Cruz has the money — in his campaign committee and in a constellation of super PACs backing him — to last for the duration of the race.

2. Marco Rubio: He has emerged as the establishment favorite, a designation made apparent by the number of major-dollar donors who jumped off the fence to be on his side over the past few months. The problem for Rubio is that he doesn’t have an obvious win among the first few states to vote. Iowa looks to be a lost cause — although maybe finishing first in the “establishment” primary might be enough? — and New Hampshire is a place where everybody is looking up at Trump. South Carolina may be Rubio’s shot — much of the senior command of his campaign is made up of Palmetto State operatives — but that’s not a given. The Nevada caucuses, where Rubio is a favorite, are Feb. 23; can he wait until the fourth vote to get a win?

3. Trump: The most likely scenario is that he finishes second behind Cruz in Iowa and wins New Hampshire. Where does that leave him? Who knows. Polling puts him ahead by double digits in South Carolina, but that state’s voters undoubtedly will be affected by what Iowa and New Hampshire do. And what does losing Iowa mean, if anything, for Trump’s psyche or how he is viewed by supporters? Does he get angry, redouble his efforts and actually start spending his own money? Or does he throw up his hands and walk away? I think the former is the more likely option. Trump loves what he has done in this campaign and has little to no interest in giving it up anytime soon.

4. Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor has fought his way back to credibility largely thanks to his intense focus on New Hampshire, where he has lavished attention over the past year. Christie spent a few days last week in Iowa, evidence that his campaign thinks he could sneak out a surprising showing (and crucial momentum) from the relatively open field behind Cruz and Trump in the state. Christie’s greatest asset is himself. He is a talented retail campaigner, which plays well in Iowa and New Hampshire. What remains to be seen is whether Christie can weather an attack on his administration’s politically motivated George Washington Bridge lane closures. That ad is coming from some opponent if Christie starts to look like a real threat to win New Hampshire.

Big Sur Bus


I took this photo on a recent trip to Carmel,  Several years ago, we rented a cabin in the Big Sur woods and hiked for several days.  We were fortunate that the weather was so clear and dry.  Hoping to do it again next year.

Crossing Lines

Crossing Lines

I recently watched on old Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel movie, The Border. The theme song, written by Freddie Fender, is a tutorial on ethics and not crossing lines. It made me recall times clients asked me to cross lines. What helped me was my parents were honest people and I know that everyone has a price and I was able never allow myself to be in a position where I learned mine. During my lifetime, I have not tarnished my family name. Here are the lyrics:
“There’s a land where I’ve been told
Every street is paved with gold
And it’s just across the borderline
When it’s time to take your turn
Here’s a lesson that you must learn
You could lose more than you’ll ever find
When you reach the broken promise land
Every dream slips through your hand
You’ll know it’s too late to change your mind
‘Cause you’ve paid the price to come so far
Just to wind up where you are
And you’re still just across the borderline
Up and down the Rio Grande
A thousand footprints in the sand
Reveal the secret no one can define
The river flows on like a breath
In between our life and death
Who’s the next to cross the borderline
Hope remains when pride is gone
And it keeps you moving on
Calling you across the borderline
When you reach the broken promise land
Every dream slips through your hand
You’ll know it’s too late to change your mind
And you’re still just across the borderline
And you’re still just across the borderline.