Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ann Jarmusch Shit Canned!

That may be too harsh, but with the continued blood letting at the UT, several arts writers and staffers have been let go, including the recently more than reclusive Ms.Jarmusch. I really hope she was able to get a buyout offer - it has never been clear if she was a stringer or a staffer.

This is a real bummer for architectural discourse in San Diego as we are the largest US city without a fulltime architecture critic at a major newspaper. Oops, Dallas and Phoenix may not have one either… Great company I guess if you like Texans or Zonies.

I never cared for Ms. Jarmusch’s content, but her writing style was crisp, direct and, when her knickers were in a twist about the Port Commission, confrontational. She also was a shameless shill for the UT when needed. Her bizarre and overheated defense of the Copley Addition to the Baggage Handling Building for the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art praised an unbuilt building with purple prose that would have embarrassed the sadly departed Herbert Muschamp.

Though too numerous for my taste, her pieces on San Diego’s ubiquitous Craftsman neighborhoods were always educational and fun. Her other strength was for Historic Preservation, and though that angle may have made Ada Louis Huxtable a career, the pickings for significant buildings left in San Diego are pretty thin. She totally missed the Mid-Century Modern revival and the destruction of important Tiki restaurants (Islands! What a waste!) .

Which leads to my other gripe - her yearly article on Wayne Donaldson and her yearly article on James Hubble. Both admirable architects, each with a great body of work, but with so few articles about architecture in San Diego being published by the UT, her choices - if indeed they were hers to make - struck me as lazy or disinterested in what was going on around her.

San Diego was transformed while she was on duty at the UT and I don’t ever recall her slapping some of the more egregiously ugly buildings that grace downtown. During the “debate” on the Copley building she took a really unnecessary potshot at Carrier Johnson’s condo across the street. Why pick on that one? What gives?

I spent some time rereading her articles on the Broadway Naval Development... Why couldn't she say it was a cluster fuck and be done with it? Oh, no, San Diego deserves a WORLD CLASS waterfront. Gee, didn't Rob Quigley develop a masterful plan for the entire embarcadero about five years ago? Despite her penchant for history, Ms. Jarmush seems to have selective memory about some development proposals.

Great buildings may be printed in the UT, but the coverage is limited to how cool the building is, what the buzz is, how sophisticated the architect is, what furniture has been used, which countries the clients just traveled to, and all that other shit. No analysis, no opinion on how a building works in the City. Get ready for more AP or New York Times reprints of stories about other cities that actually give a damn about the urban environment.

All in all, I kvetch not so much for her, frankly, admirable and straightforward body of work, but the general lack of discourse in the burg.

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