You are here (and the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters but no pearls)

It’s a grim post for a title but as the dust settles on the festive period realities start to preoccupy. It’s like the feeling you have late Sunday afternoon after the shininess and freedom of Friday and Saturday wane. It was a great sabbatical, and before declaring it done and dusted, I’ll manage a quick recap in my normal cryptic list format (with plenty-o-quotes). The first post is really a logistical recap (getting to and from) whilst the second will focus on the highlights. I am an absolute rail geek so time on trains and at stations is a huge part of the adventure.

I spent my sabbatical in the UK. My trip started with a stay at the TWA Hotel at Idlewild Airport (JFK). I’ve stayed there several times, but never solo and never during Christmas when it’s all decorated. I also committed to travel to and from the airport via mass transit. It was also a test to compare transit/transport infrastructure between the UK to the US. In order to get to JFK, I used Lyft ($13.69) to Amtrak ($61.00) to LIRR ($11.25) to AirTrain ($8.25). I had to use Lyft because Metro-North services started later than my Amtrak departure. It was $94.19. The return trip was AirTrain ($8.25) to LIRR ($11.25) to Amtrak ($97.00) to Metro-North ($3.00). The return was more expensive at $119.50. Overall, it was $213.69 roundtrip which is cheaper than tolls, gas, and long-term parking at JFK. There’s also a cheaper (albeit longer) route via Metro-North to GCT and the New York City Subway. I also splurged and travelled in business class on Amtrak. One benefit was departing from the relatively new Moynihan Train Hall. It’s a beautiful space, and whilst it doesn’t offset the destruction of the original Penn Station, it is a nice nod to the classical architecture of the golden age of rail travel. Coincidentally my first stay in the UK was at St Pancras Station (Renaissance Hotel) and the poet John Betjeman had something to do with its preservation.

Upon arrival in the UK, I used the London Underground from Heathrow. My destination was west London, so it was Piccadilly to District. My trip to St Pancras was via National Rail/SWR to Vauxhall to London Underground via Victoria.

I was at the hotel at St Pancras just long enough for a little exploration, but my ultimate destination was Westminster Cathedral for Matins and Solemn Mass. Mass started at 11:15 PM and I arrived via Victoria and Jubilee. There was NO London Underground services on Christmas Day so returning from Matins and Solemn Mass at Westminster Cathedral at 1:30 AM was an adventure. I used a bike from Santander Cycles to make the 3.5-mile trek back to the hotel. It was my first time using a bikeshare scheme (usually have the Brompton) and the app and google maps made it super easy. It’s also very (very) affordable. I also used the bikeshare on Christmas Day to get from the hotel to the Victoria Coach Station which was about 4+ miles from the hotel.

The trip to Southampton was via the aforementioned coach service. It was clean and fairly direct (mostly university students). I was in Southampton for 5 days and left via rail. It was a direct service from SWR via Southampton Central to Waterloo. I used 5 stations with national rail services in Central London (Waterloo, Vauxhall, St Pancras / Kings Cross, and Liverpool Street). I was in Richmond overnight before departing from Kings Cross on a Great Nothern service to Norwich via Royston and Cambridge. Engineering works prevented direct service to Norwich, so it was coach service between Royston and Cambridge. My return to London from Norwich was direct via Greater Anglia to London Liverpool Street. There were catastrophic signaling problems on the line between Norwich and London and departure on earlier trains were delayed / cancelled, but service was restored by the time my train departed.

My trip ended at the SOFITEL at Heathrow. I started on the Elizabeth Line from Liverpool Street, but services were cancelled from Ealing Broadway when power was disrupted. All travelers were forced to complete the journey via District and Piccadilly (London Underground). On the morning of my departure, I used the Heathrow Express between Terminals 5 and 2/3 and this service typically runs to/from Paddington Station.

Related
Protesters Picketed the Demolition of the Old Penn Station 60 Years Ago (Untapped New York)
A fitting tribute to Betjeman (The Guardian)
Travelling in London (National Rail)
Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras International (Flickr)
TWA Hotel (Flickr)

Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies.

(1) A quote from Naked Airport by Alastair Gordon

“Everything inside the terminal—flight information board, lights, staircase, railings—was designed to be part of a total environment in which each part was the natural consequence of the other, all belonging to what Saarinen called the same “form-world.” Even the heating ducts (“air fountains”) looked like free-from sculptures rising off the floor. The semicircular waiting lounge was a softly cushioned environment, a bit like the conversation pits that were popular in the 1960s—with deep red carpeting and a convex window that slanted out toward the airplanes and the drama of flight.”

(2) On my desk…

Designing TWA: Eero Saarinen’s Airport Terminal in New York by Kornel Ringli

(3) At this time in 1941, a Clipper plane was trying to get home the hard way — flying around the world! (Navy Times)

(4) A cartoon from Robert Day / Saturday Review, April 25, 1970

Weekend 568.0 (Sparsa Collegit)

There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost…but you’ll never see the end of the road…while you’re traveling with me.

(1) Impressions of a Soulless New Airport (The Imaginative Conservative)

“There is little architectural daring or upward movement. It is a place without a sense of place—it could be anywhere or nowhere.”

(2) Folding bike-maker Brompton rides towards £20m stake sale (Sky News)

(3) Scan from Helvetica and the New York City Subway System by Paul Shaw

Architectural Drawing. 86th St-Lexington Av Station Modernization of Control Areas

(4) A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Middle Ages (The Imaginative Conservative)

It was the Christiana Res Publica. “I saw monarchy without tyranny, aristocracy without factions, democracy without tumult, wealth without luxury,” Erasmus later wrote, idealizing the past. “Would that it had been your lot, divine Plato, to come upon such a republic.” Perhaps most important, medieval man believed that he knew his place in the Economy of Grace, in God’s universe.

(4a) Women’s rights…medieval style… (The History Jar)

Notes
The Brothers York by Thomas Penn (Pages 491-92)

Portland

Christ The Teacher Chapel / University of PortlandThe one on the west coast. I was there for a long weekend and in traditional limestone fashion wanted to draft a top ten…

(1) The Hollywood Theater at PDX. My favorite shorts from the Summer Program are Oregon: Only Slightly Exaggerated and The Famished Frog. I also liked The Water’s Fine because it reminds me of the work we’re doing on the Bike and Pedestrian Committee. 

Tip: The Fish & Chips at Mo’s Seafood and Chowder at PDX is delicious.

(2) Bikes, bikes, bikes! There are bike lanes and bike shops everywhere. Bike culture is thriving in Portland. If cycling had a patron saint it would be Elly Blue.

A couple of notable shops are North Portland Bike WorksCommunity Cycling Center, Upcycles, and Clever Cycles

Tip: Don’t miss the mural at the Community Cycling Center and stop for a cup of coffee at the Fresh Pot if you’re at the North Portland Bike Works.

(3) Union Station.  The ‘Go By Train’ neon sign beckons would be travelers / adventurers.

(4) The Chapel of Christ the Teacher at the University of Portland. The chapel/campus is on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River. 

“Slowly the procession advances, across the meadows and over a bridge…

Bonus: Ed’s story: Lose a dream, find a life

(5) Boys Fort, Powell’s Books, and the Portland Outdoor Store. You could get a one-of-a-kind journal at Boys Fort, a travel guide at Powell’s, and a coat at the Portland Outdoor Store before heading to Union Station to start your adventure in the Pacific Northwest. 

Tip: Budget plenty of time (and pack a really comfortable pair of shoes) since there is some amazing (and unique) retail in Portland like Chrome Industries.

(6) Pearl District. You could spend a full day with just a camera immersed in the architectural detail of this developing area. Visit the Bridgeport Brewing Company when you’re thirsty. 

(7) St. Johns / Cathedral Park. Stand in the shadows of St. Johns Bridge before enjoying the neighborhood retail/restaurants.

“…Finally, we enter a vast forest, and the branches of its trees interlace in the likeness of gothic arches…”

Bonus: Dinner at Wood Fired Eats.

(8) Portland Saturday Market. Impressive array of arts/crafts/food along the Waterfront Park Trail. 

(9) Bridges. A trestle of delights for bridge enthusiasts like the Broadway, Steel, and Fremont.

“…Soon we emerge into a blaze of morning light. Once again, the powers of life and death have triumphed over the hosts of death and despair.”

(10) Entrepreneurialism. The industriousness and creativity of Victor Atiyeh endures in so many Portland businesses (everything from breweries to messenger bags). There is a statue of this former governor at PDX.

*Photo is from the marble tabernacle inside the Chapel of Christ the Teacher. Quote is from The Legacy Collection: Fantasia.

São Paulo

Graffiti in San Paola I was in São Paulo last week for work. It was a quick trip, with a packed agenda, so the opportunity for exploration was limited. I have a top ten list though…

(1) Cargo Bikes (Copenhagenize Design Company)

(2) Eisenbahn Pale Ale (BeerAdvocate)

(3) Estação da Luz

“Ever since this station was completed in 1901, it has remained among the most important buildings in São Paulo and Brazil’s history. For decades its clocktower ruled over the city’s skyline to give its residents a reference point to set their clocks, and today the station houses the Museum of the Portuguese Language, a huge repository of and tribute to Portuguese art, language, and literature from around the world.” (THRILLIST)

(4) Street art/graffiti/building art (THRILLIST)

(5) The Estaiada Governador Orestes Quercia is a beautiful bridge near the Anhembi Convention Center

(6) Museu de Arte de São Paulo on (7) the Av. Paulista

(8) Minhocão / Via Elevada Presidente João Goulart (Architectural Digest)

(9) Municipal Theatre of São Paulo

(10) Whether on the Av. Paulista or the Sao Paulo International Book Fair Mickey Mouse was ubiquitous.

Gruen on Eero Saarinen

“An illustration of how this desire for publicity can influence the architect’s work can be found in comparing two air terminal buildings designed by the same architect, the late, extremely gifted Eero Saarinen. One of these buildings, the TWA terminal at Idlewild, New York (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), obviously was based on the client’s desire to outdo all its competitors’ displays of originality and glamour as they are lined up in that “World’s Fair” of air terminal buildings at the International Airport. The result is a tour de force that offers some excitement but little comfort or convenience to the air traveler. The second air terminal building designed by Eero Saarinen is at the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., and inasmuch as it is one central structure serving all competitive airlines, the desire for advertising was not present. The result is an excellent, handsome structure offering innovations in the transport of the passengers to the plane which will probably pioneer similar arrangements all over the world and which, as far as human users are concerned, will provide quietude, convenience, comfort and “delight.” Yet I will not be surprised if that superior terminal in Washington will create less furor and excitement in our mass communications media and in the architectural press than did the first one.”

Weekend 283.0 (You’re the bloody barrister!)

Model Building Lobby(1) Miniature City Models Around the World: From the Panorama of the City of New York to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, downscaled versions of real places (WSJ)

“Why do tiny things delight us so? From early childhood we’re captivated by model train sets and dollhouses, miniature worlds that can inspire flights of imagination. We needn’t relinquish those pleasures just because we’ve grown up: Meticulously crafted models of real-life landscapes await discovery around the globe. One of the most intriguing, the Panorama of the City of New York, built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, reopens to the public today, as does its home, the Queens Museum, fresh from a three-year overhaul.”

(1a) Panorama of the City of New York

(2) Icon of a Fair, a Borough, the World (WSJ)

(3) 101 Airports (Dwell)

(4) When Being Alone Turns Into Loneliness, There Are Ways to Fight Back (WSJ)

“Researchers at Brigham Young University studying the correlation between social relationships and mortality did a 2010 meta-analysis of 148 studies encompassing more than 300,000 participants. They found loneliness was as strong a predictor of early death as was alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it was a stronger predictor than obesity or a sedentary lifestyle.”

(5) Artist Do Ho Suh Explores the Meaning of Home (WSJ Magazine)

(6) GIANT tyre/tire

2 from the ‘Son of a Florist’ files…

(7) 101Florals – a collaborative pattern project by illustrators Lindsay Nohl & Llew Mejia

(7a) A Thanksgiving Centerpiece Inspired by a Cy Twombly Painting (WSJ)

(7b) Patterned paper flowers @ Folksy

Weekend 280.0

I always post lists without any context so this post concludes with some [context]. And highly experimental since pronouns are rubbish.

(1) ‘Mars Attacks’ again, 50 years later (USA Today)

(2) The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival Ends

(2a) Chris Ware: ‘There is a magic when you read an image that moves in your mind’ (The Guardian)

(3) What Do Pedestrian Traffic Icons Say About Your Culture? (WSJ)

(4) On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History (Publishers Weekly)

(5) Iconic Airports: Where Are They Now?

(5a) This Weekend, Your Last Chance to See Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center at JFK (The Daily Traveler)

Limestone Roof Bucket List

(5b) Standard Hotel Heads to the Airport with Plans to Takeover TWA Flight Center

(6) Why All the Fuss About Proust? (WSJ)

“After all, the story couldn’t be simpler. It’s about a young man of an unspecified age who enjoys reading, who is shy and introspective, but not necessarily awkward or antisocial, who likes his mother, who wants to travel to Venice but, because of poor health, never quite manages to do so until later in life. Marcel, the hero of Proust’s autobiographical novel, loves nature, music, restaurants, hotels, beaches, churches, art, theater, Paris, fantasizes about friendships and girls, dissects the grown-ups around him with no less unforgiving irony and acuity than when he studies himself, and ultimately worships the good and beautiful things of life, hoping one day to craft the story of his maturation as a human being and as an artist.”

From the ‘Son of a Florist’ files…

(7) A Flower Arrangement Inspired by Balthus (WSJ)

*Illustration by Herb Ryman, 1959

Context
(1) My friend was cleaning her desk at work and gave me a pack. They are very reminiscent of the Bowman: Jets, Rockets, and Spacemen set from 1951.

(2 and 2a) Biked to the festival last November in search of an autograph from Chris Ware. Met Mr. Ware BUT the highlight of the show was the discovery of a little comic by Jen Tong called Find My Light. This was a great show and sad to see it end.

(3) Unhealthy preoccupation with icons and signage.

(4) A complement to Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom.

(5, 5a, 5b, and 5c) Missed the tour because of the Con but one day in the not so distant future it will be a hotel! This article from the Wall Street Journal on September 13 on Eero is a must read.

“The structural and rational cannot always take precedent [sic] when another form proves more beautiful.”

(6) Found Proust via Alain de Botton (A Week at the Airport and The Architecture of Happiness) and In Search of Lost Time is worth a gander (use your library card). I also like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce

(7) My beautiful mum is a gifted florist.

Weekend 276.0

Nice weekend in the northeast (weather-wise). Was able to bike a bit and noticed that the abandoned Free Spirit at the train station has been robbed of its tyres.

My home office is in shambles but slowly being reconfigured/reassembled. One of the most amazing things about moving is uncovering and re-discovering “stuff” packed and forgotten in bins and boxes. There is NOW a serious backlog of ephemera waiting to be scanned and posted.

(1) Rose Pogonias by Robert Frost

“For though the grass was scattered,
Yet every second spear
Seemed tipped with wings of color,
That tinged the atmosphere.

We raised a simple prayer
Before we left the spot,
That in the general mowing
That place might be forgot;
Or if not all so favored,
Obtain such grace of hours,
That none should mow the grass there
While so confused with flowers.

(2) Office-Friendly Bike Clothing: Don’t Sweat the Commute (WSJ)

(2a) Bike Pron: Bianchi Metropoli

(3) Rethink Chrysanthemums (WSJ)

(3a) Detailed Digital Flowers Radiate with a Magical Glow

(4) All Lift, No Weight (WSJ)

(5) Explore Britain…From Post to Post (WSJ)

Weekend 274.0 (Baskets Encouraged)

Finished A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line by John O’Farrell and The 32 Stops by Danny Dorling. The latter is a clever work using facts to provide insights into the human geography of London along the Central Line.

Also, finished A Northern Line Minute by William Leith last night. It was like method acting (in book form) in preparation for the lead in a biopic on Woody Allen.

*Updated graphic!

(1) Heathrow’s Future Is Up in the Air: Debate Over Expansion vs. Building a New Airport (WSJ)

(2) Railroad company logo design evolution: 100 logos from American and Canadian railroad companies

(3) That time a giant airship darkened Toronto’s skies

(4) These Bikers Race for Last Place: Cyclists say slow riding is response to hard-core fitness world (WSJ)

“Cyclists who are looking for tough workouts have plenty of company. But for other bikers, that is just not how they roll. Instead, they are meandering over to ‘slow-bike’ clubs that are cropping up around the country. There was even a Slow Bike Race last month in Newburyport, Mass. The last one to cross the finish line won.”

“In 2011, she [Molly Peterson] launched the Slow Bicycle Society on the Eastern Shore, an Alabama club with 100 members and a mission statement: ‘No Spandex needed!’ In Tennessee, the Murfreesboro Slow Ride Cyclists, which formed two months ago, calls itself ‘a never-get-left-behind fun bicycling group’ with ‘baskets encouraged.’

(4a) Orange Bike Pron

(4b) Fluttering About: the Papillionaire Sommer (Lovely Bicycle!)

(5) Bonzart Ampel Tilt-Shift Camera: Fun With Tilt-Shift: The Ampel isn’t the only camera you’ll ever need, but it might be the most entertaining (WSJ)

(6) The Autobiography of George Orwell: The author of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” disdained biographers, so we must rely on his correspondence for insights into his work and life. (WSJ – Registration Required)

(6a) George Orwell from ‘On a Ruined Farm near the His Master’s Voice Gramophone Factory’ (1933)

There, where the tapering cranes sweep round,
And great wheels turn, and trains roar by
Like strong, low-headed brutes of steel —
There is my world, my home; yet why

So alien still? For I can neither
Dwell in that world, nor turn again
To scythe and spade, but only loiter
Among the trees the smoke has slain.

(7) A Writer’s Daily Bread: J.F. Powers made great fiction from the mundane obstacles and triumphs of everyday life (WSJ)

From the ‘Son of a Florist’ files…

(8) A Rothko-Inspired Flower Arrangement (WSJ)

(9) Tidying up loose ends…

(a) You Can Do Anything: Must Every Kids’ Movie Reinforce the Cult of Self-Esteem? (The Atlantic)

(b) The Innovation of Loneliness