Friday, April 14, 2006

What's the Opposite of an Eyesore?

On the news tip, the grand jury decided yesterday to indict Trooper Larry Norman in the shooting death of Erin Hamley. Read Matt's take on the story, the Daily Record's story, the ADG story or a short blurb from KNWA that is posted on Arkansas Tonight. I'm pretty sure this case will never go to trial, especially with a new prosecutor likely in office by that time, and Norman's eagerness to avoid a jury trial. It's kind of shocking that the maximum penalty is a year in jail and a $1000 fine, but his career in law enforcement is probably over and he still faces the possibility of a civil trial by the Hamleys.

On a lighter note, be sure to read my neighbor Rita's hilarious tale of an encounter with a crazed possum at 7 in the morning a few days ago...

On a sadder note, gather with me and mourn the passing of the Quantum Launch. One of my favorite blogs. Join me in dancing around the fire with red paint smeared on my chest while I intercede for its return. Or actually...uh...let's just buy Jennifer a new computer so she can drop her daily bombs of wit, clarity and reason on us once again.

I'm probably out of here until Monday, trying to keep the posts to M-F. Later.


So most of you know that I publish an "Eyesore of the Week" photo every so often. I keep talking about putting up more photos of houses, new and old, that aren't ugly. So I finally decided to start doing that every so often. My fear was that all the non-eyesore photos would be all old houses, since I live in an area with mostly old houses. And I really do want to prove the fact that there are houses with pleasant exteriors being built around here today. It's just that there are entire neighborhoods of schizophrenic, ugly houses.

And there's the fact that most houses that have been around for 50 years or more have survived for a reason. They've been built to last, and the architectural style wasn't a mish-mash, or a style that completely discounts the last 300 years of architectural history. There are 3 houses on my street that were all built before 1900, and are all still around, looking just as fantastic as ever. I can't imagine 3 houses on many new streets in Bentonville still being around 100 years later. Can you? You think St. Valery Downs will still be around in 100 years? (Good God, I hope not!)

I'm reading James Kunstler's Home from Nowhere right now, and he offers an interesting hypothesis about this circumstance:

...during America's financially richest period, 1950-1990, we put almost nothing but the cheapest possible buildings, particularly civic buildings. Look at any richly embellished 1904 firehouse or post office and look at its dreary concrete box counterpart today. Compare the home of a small-town bank president dating from the 1890's, with its masonry walls and complex roof articulation, to the flimsy house of a 1990's business leader, made of two-by-fours, sheetrock, and fake fanlight windows. When we were a far less wealthy nation, we built things with the expectation that they would endure. To throw away money (painfully acquired) and effort (painfully expended) on something guaranteed to fall apart in thirty years would have seemed immoral, if not insane, in our great-grandfathers' day.

The buildings they constructed paid homage to history in their design — including elegant solutions to age-old problems posed by the cycles of weather and light—and they paid respect to the future through the sheer expectation that they would endure through the lifetimes of the people who built them....

The antithesis to this can be seen in the way we have built things since 1945. We reject the past and the future and it shows in our graceless constructions. Our houses, commercial, and civic buildings are constructed with the fully conscious certainty that they will disintegrate in a few decades.

So here is a house from my street, the Elliot-McGinley house, built for James Rice, a former mayor of Bentonville, in 1879. It's been renovated at some point, but the house is still completely intact, looking mostly like it did for the last 120 years. So it was an important house built for an important leader in the community

You think Lee Scott's country club house will still be around in 120 years?

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