The tale seems ripe for tabloid exploitation: the fresh-faced blond elementary schoolteacher and mother of four just couldn't keep her hands off that year-old boy. Worse yet, Mary Kay Letourneau had become obsessed with the slight, Samoan teenager while he was still a student in her sixth-grade class--and he fathered two babies with her. Yet in the hands of true crime writer Gregg Olsen, If Loving You Is Wrong becomes a poignant profile of an emotionally stunted young woman tightly wound up in a web of lies too fragile to sustain the weight of her own compulsions.
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The facade the Letourneaus presented to the world was that of a devoted, upwardly mobile young couple. In reality Steve and Mary Kay were on the verge of financial and emotional bankruptcy. They married because she'd become pregnant and appearances were everything to Mary Kay's parents, ultra-conservative, family-values-promoting politician John Schmitz and his icy wife, Mary. We do not sell or rent your personal data to third parties.
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Data Security Our servers comply with ISO , a code of practice that focuses on protection of personal data in the cloud. But that rupture means that architecture becomes something imposed upon people. We are not meant to live in modern buildings; they are made for people who do not poop. In fact, everyday good architecture should not even be about the building , it should be about the people. Rather than being concerned to give people comfortable houses that fit in with their surroundings and suited the preferences of the residents, Gehry designed houses that screamed for attention and were fundamentally about themselves rather than about the people of the city he ostensibly cared about.
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Like the streaker at the football game, the building parades in front of us with such vulgar shamelessness that no amount of willpower can peel our eyes away. This is partly a function of the free market approach to design and development, which sacrifices the possibility of ever again producing a place on the village or city level that has an impressive stylistic coherence.
Because decisions over what to build are left to the individual property owner, and rich people often have horrible taste and simply prefer things that are huge and imposing, all possibilities for creating another city with the distinctiveness of a Venice or Bruges are erased forever. Once upon a time, socialists liked to make beautiful things; the works of William Morris, John Ruskin, and Oscar Wilde are filled with both celebrations of classical aesthetics and pleas to liberate human beings from the miseries of economic deprivation. The core idea of leftism is that people should be free to flourish, in both body and mind, and they should thus be able to do so materially, spiritually, intellectually, and artistically.
Handcrafts and ornament are not bourgeois, they are democratic, in that a society of artisans is a society of people who are getting to maximize their creative capabilities, whereas a society of people in clean-swept Corbusier-style skyscrapers have been reduced to specks, robbed of their individuality, stripped of their ability to make the world their own. How, then, do we fix architecture? What makes for a better-looking world?
If everything is ugly, how do we fix it? Cutting through all of the colossally mistaken theoretical justifications for contemporary design is a major project. But a few principles may prove helpful. Postwar architecture has been characterized by fear and taboo. Architects are terrified of producing so much as a fluted column, because they believe their peers will think they are stupid, nostalgic, and unsophisticated.
As a result, they produce structures that are as inscrutable and irrational as possible, so that people will think they are clever. But they need not be afraid! Their architect friends might think they are stupid if they put in a decorative archway. Without developing a language to talk about beauty, we will end up confusing the impressive with the attractive and creating spaces that are extraordinary from an engineering perspective and yet dead and discomforting.
The idea of decoration as decadent is particularly ludicrous in the age of monumental design projects. When we sacrifice the possibility of decoration we forfeit a slew of extraordinary aesthetic tools and forgo the possibility of incredible visual experiences. An allergy to ornament sentences humanity to eternal tedium, with nothing interesting to look at, nothing that we will notice on a building the second time that we did not see the first time.
We have inherited a palette of possibilities from the architectural practice of all prior cultures, and to squander it is both ungrateful and needless. Memory and continuity are not mere nostalgia. Recreations and pastiches are not the solution, and the mindless conservative love for everything Greek, Roman, and Victorian is a mistake.
The point is not to just mindlessly love old things; that gets you McMansions. Rather, instead of recreating the exact look of traditional architecture, one should be trying to recreate the feeling that these old buildings give their viewers. Build a city with canals and footbridges and ornate pastel houses dangling above the water, and give that city its own special identity.
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McMansions are an attempt to superficially remind people of beautiful things rather than doing the real work it takes to make something beautiful. Symmetry is nice. Multiple overlapping symmetries can be dazzling. You can line the windows up. It will look better. Designing a comforting, pleasing, and, yes, nostalgic space is simply not smart enough.
But it should be okay to say those things. They should be comforting and attractive, because we have to live in them. One of the elements that makes a place truly beautiful is a careful balance of complexity and simplicity. Contemporary architecture frequently just goes for the simplicity and forgets the complexity, or it makes up for the simplicity of its appearance with complexity in the technical processes necessary to build it. But the old buildings that please us most are frequently simple at the larger level and complex at the micro-level.
Most of them are simple, rectangular structures in a straight line along the street. But they are given pleasant colors, and adorned with colorful shutters and intricate iron galleries, and decorated with flowers and tropical plants. The harmonious balance of simplicity and complexity, the complexity of a floral arrangement combined with the simplicity of a plain building painted well, make a place a delight to stroll through. Plant life is actually one of the most important elements of architecture. One of the most serious problems with postwar architecture is that so much of its entirely devoid of nature.
It presents us with blank walls and wide-open spaces with nary a tree or shrub to be seen. Generally speaking, the more plant life is in a place, the more attractive it is, and the less nature there is, the uglier it is. This is because nature is much better at designing things than we are. In fact, even Brutalist structures almost look livable if you let plants grow all over them; they might even be downright attractive if you let the plants cover every last square inch of concrete.
Every building should look like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
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We need plants and water to be happy. One of the reasons tower blocks are so insidious is that they deprive people of access to gardens. Gardens should be integrated seamlessly into everything; there is a reason being banished from a garden was the most terrible fate God could think to inflict on humankind. There is, generally speaking, too great of a desire for architecture to convey ideas. Architects obsess over the ideas that they are embodying in their buildings. Most of the theoretical justifications for these forms are transparent nonsense.
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I got angry with it—all the historical stuff, the pastiche. I said to myself, If you have to go backward, why not go back million years before man, to fish? I think the study of fish allowed me to create a kind of personal language. Aesthetic coherence is very important; a sense of place depends on every element in that place working together.
The streets of the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston are beautiful because there are many different elements, but they are all aesthetically unified. Capitalism eats culture, and it makes ugly places. Money has no taste.