Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Colossal Failure

My parents returned safely from Denver today.

My brother was an excellent host, as I knew he would be.

Most of the time during their visit, my parents simply visited with my brother in his condo. There is not much to do in Denver—it is “a frightful cow town”, according to my mother, and my brother readily agrees with her—and my parents long ago had seen pretty much everything worth seeing there.

My brother did take my parents out to dinner on Saturday night, and on Sunday afternoon he took them to see the new Libeskind building, which my parents had seen during its construction phase. Otherwise, however, they all stayed in all weekend. My mother did some cooking for my brother, and they all watched a couple of movies on DVD, and they talked about our upcoming London trip and other things, and the weekend passed too quickly.

My parents had been very curious to see the completed Libeskind building, because they had seen it so many times during its construction phase and because they had read the disastrous reviews of the building when it opened last October.

My father’s judgment: “The New York Times was kind”. He was referring to the New York Times architecture critic’s celebrated review of the Libeskind building, which declared the building to be a spectacular and colossal failure, inside and out.

My mother’s judgment: “It looks like a shopping mall. Maybe they can take advantage of that, and finally unload all of that Remington stuff.”

The new Denver building has veritably destroyed Libeskind’s reputation, as many have noted (some with glee). I don’t think that Libeskind’s reputation will ever recover from such a major disaster.

Paul Goldberger has written that one of the problems with the Denver building was that there was no person on the Denver Art Museum’s Board Of Trustees who was knowledgeable about art or architecture, and who could have pointed out some of the more glaring deficiencies in the design and demanded that certain changes be made. Goldberger, somewhat uncharitably, pointed out that a building so problematic could never be erected in a “first-tier” city, where talented board members are abundant.

The repercussions are not expected to end anytime soon. According to the art press, the Director of the Denver Art Museum is expected to get the ax very, very soon—and things at the museum are in such a dismal state, widely-known within the field, that Denver will not be able to attract anyone serious as a replacement.

Tonight my parents drove to our apartment straight from the airport. The dog was very glad to see them, and they were very glad to see him. The dog was jumping up and down in excitement as soon as he heard my father’s car, so Joshua and I took him outside to greet my parents as soon as they stepped from the car.

“Didn’t you feed this poor little thing?” my mother asked us, in jest, as the dog practically climbed all over her and my Dad.

Joshua and I gave my parents a nice dinner: barbecued chicken, and potato salad, and baked beans, and sweet corn, and cole slaw. We had orange cookies for dessert.

As soon as dinner was over, my parents went home. They wanted to get settled in, and unpack, and read their mail, and get the dog settled in, before bedtime.

Tomorrow night, Josh and I will play basketball, but the rest of the week should be uneventful. We loved having the dog with us, but we are also looking forward to a little peace and quiet. In a small apartment, he can be exhausting.


  1. Andrew I agree with your mother's assessment of Denver 100%. I've lived here now for 12 years and continue to find myself bored out of my skull while shooting PBR cans off the fence out back.

    On the rare days my Duster's transmission does work I USED to make it down to PTO Drinky's until that incident with the county commissioner and the stripper from Cheyenne shut the place down indefinitely.

    I've considered moving, but my wages from the tool and die factory are barely paying my upside down mortgage as it is.

    Screw it. I need to win my disability case already - in which case the first thing I'm doing is moving to a more learned town who's only famous landmark is a gargantuon cathedral to the American pastime of shopping. Oh wait there's that other thing too.

    You always have, and will, continue, to have, a wonderfully keen, eye.

    All the best! James...

  2. Good luck on your disability case. I don't think you'll have any problems.

  3. Drew, you are so funny.

    I can just hear you say those words.

  4. Thanks - I only wish it were mental...

    Seriously, and just my observations - I find the broad strokes and compartmentalizations curiously and almost morbidly facinating. After I realized your blog wasn't parody I started wondering how everything in life could be classified into "Exuberantly Masterful" or "Not Worthy of Respect from paupers."

    You're educated and intelligent if not savant smart. But the absolute concrete assertions of abstract subjects is quite baffling, especially among such subjective fields as art, theatre, and life in general.

    This isn't physics, science, and technology, where something works or it doesn't, and there's no proof of when it does or it doesn't! You muse about things that mean different things to different people - which can't possibly be qualified as "mantle or dumpster".

    If a local bumpkin gets insight and culture from watching the "Music Man" in a crappy park band shell I find that just as special as sitting front row at the Teatre Colon in Buenos Aires. (I've done both, although I prefer and financially support local theatre, which needs the support most and has the most important effect on communites.)

    And similar to art - cities are a fabric of people, neighborhoods and communities. Pity anyone that paints an entire community as "frightful". If I can find culture, good food, and intelligent coffee shop discussions back in my home of Grand Rapids, MI, (a conservative outpost where people still consult Corinthians 1 AND 2 in order to decide if it's right to consume Country Buffet on the Sabbath), then a big city like Denver, New York, or S.F. couldn't possibly be as bad you you detail.

    Anyway my apology for the ramblings, just my insight. I'm obviously a fan. (But then I always like MacGyver). When are you guys going to put pictures up already? At least the dog. He seems to be receiving quite a bit of attention lately.

    All the best-seriously james...

    p.s. On a related museum note you should send your parents this and tell them you bought them a vacation home there:

  5. I had to spend a week i Denver in 97 or 98. It is a cow town. You have to like otudoors to live in Colorado. No cultural life there at all.