Hey, Lamster at the News: Get up to Speed on Fear of Black People Here. Otherwise, You're Doing Great.

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg


Wouldn't want you to miss a very interesting
letter to the editor in today's Dallas Morning News from architect/civic activist Bill Booziotis about a recent review by Mark Lamster of the star-crossed arts district condo building called "Museum Tower."

(Hey, do me a favor. Get a sandwich, a cold drink, pop an Adderall, click on all the links in that first paragraph, then in half an hour or so c'mon back and we'll get going on the article.)

fortification_smaller.jpg
Library of Congress
Original design, Dallas Museum of Art. Boiling oil vents nixed later for being "too on point."

Lamster is the News' new architecture critic. He's from New York, sounds like a nice guy. His job here is like the job just announced for Rick Brettell, the paper's new art critic: Both jobs are joint posts paid for on some kind of sharing basis by the paper and local universities. So that gives both guys a lot of people to get along with. Both have distinguished backgrounds and should be up to the task, professionally and socially.

Museum Tower you know. It's the new glass-skinned condo tower in the arts district accused by D Magazine editor demeritus Tim Rogers of deliberately incinerating its across-the-street next-door neighbor, the Nasher Sculpture Center, by aiming magnified death-ray sunbeams at it.

Here we have ironies heaped on ironies: The Nasher, for all its sunbeam whining, was itself designed by Renzo Piano, one of the world's more notorious incinerati, having designed an enormous highly reflective glass spike of a tower in London, "The Shard!" The Shard! was described in The Guardian newspaper as "a monument to greed, money, inequality, foreign influence and broken Britain" and by Prince Charles as "an enormous salt cellar."

But when people like Piano come to Dallas, they typically have a certain awareness of our city's past, its culture, heritage and place in the world, often derived from fading memories of having watched the TV show a quarter century ago while their mothers were ironing.

So when Mr. Shard! comes to town to defend the Nasher, he plays some kind of weird Italian mendicant friar role, telling the Morning News, "We are not aggressive people," suggesting that Museum Tower, by contrast, sort of is -- you know, like that guy, Zhay Erra, who was on that show, you know, Dulles.

In his review of Museum Tower, Lamster did pretty much the same act, referring in fact directly to the show and then calling Museum Tower a "mean girl ... condo for plutocrats" in "a city often derided, with a certain justification, for nouveau riche ostentation."

Yeah, I'd like to jump on him for saying that stuff, but I happen to like those lines a lot. In fact, I think I need to make one thing perfectly clear here: I am not -- repeat not -- involved in an elaborate conspiracy to ghost-write Lamster's anti-Dallas lines for him by feeding everything through Dallas media consultant Lisa LeMaster. (Sorry, Mark, if you are reading this: It's a very inside joke, not worth trying to figure out, not that funny.)

Back to Booziotis, a Dallas-based architect whose work gets written up in Architectural Digest and who has been involved in everything civic from the museum of art to the symphony to the arboretum (Mark, I will send you some good dis' lines on all of these next week). Booziotis is especially conversant in the politics and planning of our vaunted arts district.

In his letter this morning, Booziotis takes Lamster to task for saying Museum Tower has an anti-pedestrian design -- no funky coffee shops or tattoo salons on first floor, only a wall and guards. Basically Booziotis says, "Yeah no kidding, welcome to the arts district, buddy."

He starts out by asking, "Was this piece written from 30,000 feet?" As in, from an airplane? Booziotis reminds Lamster that the reality, if not the original design, of the entire arts district has been seriously anti-ambulatory from the get-go: "The Sasaki plan called for a 'lively, attractive, downtown pedestrian environment.' The city followed through by approving a theater center with the entrance, parking and connection underground."

In fact everything built since the museum has been based on guaranteeing patrons that they will never have to set foot on a public sidewalk when they come to visit. Hence, when you drive through the arts district on most days now it has a certain dystopian aura, as if somebody set off one of those bombs that incinerates all the people without harming the buildings. Otherwise known as the sun, in Dallas.

So is that about pretentiousness? Don't be silly. It's about avoiding black people. We talked about this in May when I was writing about an attempt by the performing arts center to shut out the one serious black cultural institution in the arts district, the Dallas Black Dance Theater.

I told you the whole arts district was inspired by a so-called consultant's study in 1977 finding that the art museum, then still in Fair Park in black South Dallas, was in "a poor location for a facility whose patrons came primarily from North Dallas."

Ahem. Say what? What could that possibly mean? Oh, gosh we don't know, do we? Well, we wouldn't want to say. In fact, for a big brash ostentatious zhay erra city like that one on TV, the cat's just got our tongue, don't it? We're just all knock-kneed squiggle-toes when it comes to why rich white people don't want to go to South Dallas.

It's about rich white people being afraid of black people. That is why the arts district was created. That's why it's there. That's how the whole thing is set up, and, yes, that's why Klyde Warren Park is so remarkable.

The new freeway deck park along the district's northern border is not armed or walled like Museum Tower or, may I mention, the Nasher, which is one of the district's more notably medieval, defensive, plague-city fortifications, while we're on the topic of nobody walking around.

As for the rest of the arts district except Klyde Warren, once you have your basic walled plague city architecture on the ground everywhere else, it's hard to be the first guy to put a pizza joint on the first floor. Pizza what? Who walks in? Is your clientele going to be made up entirely of off-duty arts district security personnel? (Hey, wait. That could be a good idea for a business, come to think of it.)

Meanwhile, we all know what the huge incredible cannot-believe-it headline would be around here. NEWS ARCHITECTURE CRITIC SLAMS NASHER. Or, ART CRITIC MILDLY CRITICIZES MUSEUM. We're not holding our breath, right? Like newspaper readers in the old Soviet Union, whose architecture inspired most of the arts district, we must be satisfied with furtively insurrectionary quips slipped cleverly between the lines of our local version of Pravda.

Loved those "mean girl," "plutocrats" and "ostentation" lines, Mark. By the way, have you sent your family back to New York yet to live? Sorry, another insider. Forget it. It will all come to you soon enough if you stay, and I do hope you will. We should do lunch (wink-wink, like we haven't already, eh?)

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43 comments
holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

“Fear of Black People”?  Is that a prejudice or a phobia? (ha!) 

You’d think the latter would be a covered malady under the Americans with Disabilities Act, like alcoholism in the workplace. 

Since everyone is a victim ‘n all. 

But let’s not outrun the virtues of prejudice in our zeal to be politically correct at all costs (which itself is an affliction).  Prejudice is of ready application in an emergency. It previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical and unresolved.  As Albert Einstein observed, "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18." 

So lighten up, man!  You too discriminate from the moment you open your itty bitty eyes in the morning, in the name of safety or caution.  And you ignore your prejudices at your peril.   It is a throw of the dice each time.  Continue to turn your back on your judgment based upon your accumulated prejudices, and one day you will come up snake eyes. 

Here in Fair Park, we already know these truths.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

What's the over/under on the percentage of Dallas (and burb) residents who care about the Museum Tower or a random architecture critic (whatever that is)?

parisrec
parisrec

Any serious discussion about crime should focus on poverty, not race.

HappyHooker
HappyHooker

I think it’s preposterous to simultaneously claim to believe in evolution while insisting we all somehow wound up equal. As a believer that the evolutionary process is real and ongoing, I believe their sub-Saharan ancestry may have lent them certain physical advantages and certain cognitive disadvantages.

I know. Horrible, isn’t it? How could anyone in this day and age, after all we’ve been through as a society, believe in what all the evidence suggests and zero evidence disproves? HATE must be the answer; logic has nothing to do with it. Only the unenlightened don’t realize this.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: No one is created equal. I also realize that this self-evident truth is so heretical these days, people want to kill you merely for expressing it.

Equality is our modern religion, the glue that holds our shaky social coalition together, and it is never to be questioned. The notion of innate blank-slate human equality must be supported with torch mobs and moral panics and mass delusions and speech codes, because there’s nothing—not a shred—in science or logic to support it.

Egalitarianism cannot operate like a science, because there is nothing scientific about it. Since it goes against human nature and biological reality, it eventually must depend on totalitarian tactics in order to sustain itself. In the philosophical realm, it is not supported by logic, so it must operate like a religion instead.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

It wiuld be interesting to see what percentage of crime-beat coverage in UP concerns minority crime. If the coverage exceeds the statistical representation, then UP is not only racist, its reporters are guilty of stoking white fears of minorities.

scholarmom
scholarmom

They are redesiging BoA for walkability (I hope) as it was the least ped friendly bldg dwntwn. I live with the blinding interrogation light streaming death rays into my living room every evening (based on the

ryan762
ryan762

Are there any towers anywhere in Dallas that were designed toward pedestrians?

That's been my observation of downtown is that there aren't a whole whole lot of places to put little shops and restaurants and whatnot. There are a bunch of glass lobbies and brick walls. I don't know if it's specifically because of a fear of minorities (other cities I've lived in have had the same design aesthetic, even ones that are 93% white). it just seems like that when we tore down all the storefront buildings and replaced them with skyscrapers or parking lots, we were specifically going for something that wasn't geared toward walkability.

And even today, walkability doesn't seem to be foremost on the minds of people who pay to have buildings designed and built.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

So when are you moving from your nice Swiss Avenue house over to, say, south Fair Park, Jim?

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Why the hell would anyone fear blacks? It's not like they make up only 13% of the country's population but commit over 50% of the murders and over 40% of the rapes or anything like that.

bill.holston1
bill.holston1

one thing, I'd like to point out Jim is the AT& T patio sessions. Walked over from my office last night to hear Kristy Kruger sing in a free show. Its a lovely lawn, and it was filled with couples, kids and dogs all listening to good music. Becki Howard books the music and she's done a GREAT job of featuring some of our better local musicians and people are hanging out, buying food from food trucks and listening to a free concert. I think that's all pretty cool. Really, you should check that out sometime. http://www.attpac.org/series/patio-sessions/ I've also taken to having coffee at the Pearl Cup there and it's a lovely space for meetings. Free wifi adn you can hear the church bells on the hour from the Cathedral. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

Until reading this column, I never realized that all of those downtown tunnels connecting all of those major office buildings were built so the white people working in all of those buildings could avoid encountering BLACK PEOPLE. Who knew?

As far as criticizing the Nasher for being walled off, it seems to me that if a museum elected to exhibit valuable sculpture outside in any urban setting, building a wall to keep the ass-hole taggers away from the works is a pretty solid idea. The wall might also keep the homeless from using the courtyard as a toilet or crash pad, which seems reasonable to me.

Jim, you see racism everywhere and in everything, just like Jesse and Al. I used to shake my head, but now I understand.....it's just the way you roll. 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Yay! A column that isn't about the DISD!

observist
observist topcommenter

"Booziotis, a Dallas-based architect whose work gets written up in Architectural Digest"

Oooooh  Dis!!!!  No architect ever wants his work written up in a gaudy interior decorating magazine.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

I guess Jim didn't read the review. Lamster skewers it for a lot more than walkibility.  

I don't live near the arts district but when I visit, I either park at the surface and walk or take the train and walk. I don't see what the fuss is except for the Museum Tower. Lamster's review is spot on.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@HappyHooker 

Literalists.

*sheesh*

Nobody with any real understanding of the human condition believes that we are all created equally, in any absolute sense. This is why here in the U.S.A. created and uphold a constitution that holds that, ". . .all men are equal - in the eyes of the law."

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski 

I think Mr. Schutze confuses "Fear of Blacks" with "Fear of Other Classes".

That jaunty bunch who darken the doors of the Arts District is, in the main, part of his crowd.  You know the ones.  Liberals who croon over an abstract painting they do not understand.  Those who care deeply about racial equality but demand to observe the human condition only from the W Hotel infinity poolside thirty stories up.  Elysians. 

The Observer is fetched or delivered, never read where it is put in the newsstands. 

Affluent blacks attending the Art District functions are fawned over no doubt.  

The divide is class-based, not by race.

AND no doubt, this crowd also does not shrink from Mr. Schutze's light and genteel flogging with the race whip, ceremonial in nature only..

kduble
kduble

@scholarmom  Guess again. The grove of trees was cut down fronting Main and Griffin, and the outdoor sculpture removed. It's all being replaced with valet parking.

Wowitishotout
Wowitishotout

@ryan762 There are definitely small areas of downtown that have a pedestrian-friendly design, mostly in the Main Street District and near the train stations.  I would also argue that downtown is extremely walkable, this coming from a resident who lived there for five years.  I even took the dreaded walk to the Government District often, right past all of those super-scary homeless, sometimes black people. *sarcasm*


Aside from bad, one-way-street design, there is one huge factor that gives downtown it's empty persona, unless you visit Thursday-Saturday night; a vast array of tunnels exists under those lovely glass towers full of restaurants, starbucks, shops, etc.  The city absolutely abhors the tunnel system, therefore it is not advertised, and, for the most part, only residents and workers know about it.  Hell, I used it every day, explored, and still haven't covered the whole thing due to it's ramshackle design, and lack of maps. 

Even though the tunnels close right around the time the workers leave, I think architects and owners would be forced into pedestrian-friendly design were they to be closed permanently. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

After I get my nice Swiss Avenue House. Do you know who's got it?

Just_wonderin
Just_wonderin

@yrlibsnaive I'd say North Dallas whites also fear poor people.  Isn't poverty contageous?

The downtown tunnels are patrolled by a security force.  You won't find homeless folks in there.

observist
observist topcommenter

@yrlibsnaive  There are about 36m black people in the US, and between 2000 and 2010, 69,000 murders were committed by black people.  If every one of those murders was comitted by a different person and every one of those murderers was still on the street, the rough probability of any black person you encounter being a murderer is .0019.   Given that miniscule chance of encountering a murderer, the chance of them murdering you in that encounter is a miniscule proportion of .0019.  Although, I suspect the odds would increase dramatically if you were open your dumbass racist mouth.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Sounds pretty cool

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Yeah except you

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I find it hard to characterize the sponsors of the art district, i.e, those persons with their names on the buildings or collections, as liberals. I also doubt if an interest in art, for want of other easy definitions being museum attendance, is correlated with political views. I would also wager immodest sums that neither liberals, conservatives, tea partiers, or any other political club, gang or party, being able to understand abstract art any better than other political cohorts. The Fire Tower controversy is a public space versus private space face off. The Museum has rich supporters and public constituents, while the Tower has private supporters and private constituents. They both talk up their own book, but the Tower/pension fund alliance augments their nice talking and CGI videos with threats and legal thuggery. If a union were to advocate its objectives like the Tower alliance this town and board would go ape shit.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@observist And considering that the victims of violent crime are disproportionately black, the odds are even smaller.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

So when are you moving to a black-majority neighborhood, city, or country?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@robbie.good @James080 I have never been there, but how in the name of all that is good and holy do they manage to keep all ONE of their sculptures from being tagged or vandalized???? We could learn from them.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

1: that's a park, not a museum

2: a lot of seattleites hate that park

3: Seattle is a piss-stinking shit hole overrun with heroin junkies, meth-heads, and other assorted bums.

4: even though black people make up only 6.8% of Seattle's population, somehow every year at least half of all murders in Seattle are committed by blacks.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

The difference between architects and decorators being mainly in the minds pf architects.

observist
observist topcommenter

@JimSX  Since I'm not an architect, I wouldn't mind.  It might jump-start my gaudy interior decorating side-business.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

When are you moving to one of Dallas' black-majority neighborhoods, Bill?

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@yrlibsnaive Have been to this "park"; don't know about the race angle but do know it's over-run with hyper aggressive panhandlers.  And yes it does smell 

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

"but how in the name of all that is good and holy do they manage to keep all ONE of their sculptures from being tagged or vandalized????"

They don't.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2003544884_danny28.html

Leaving their mark on art park

"Vito" apparently liked Seattle's new Olympic Sculpture Park so much he signed his name to it.

As did "Cameron." "Andy." "Cheb." And "Mom." Someone else looked upon the 8.5-acre waterfront expanse, with its 18 sculptures, and felt moved to let us know that "David is a gay."

These writings, alongside hearts, stars and smiley faces, have been doodled onto the rusted surface of just one artwork -- Richard Serra's "Wake" -- in the park's first week.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

What "racist garbage"?

Oh, you mean THE FACTS. Half of all annual murders in Seattle really are committed by blacks, and blacks really do make up only 6.8% of Seattle's population. See the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's detailed annual year-end homicide tally articles.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@yrlibsnaive For all the racist garbage, above, naive does make one good point: Olympic Sculpture Park is a park, not a museum. BIG difference,

bmarvel
bmarvel

@JimSX Figured that you would be unable to distinguish betwen the two.

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