Friday, February 29, 2008

Lily-White Cracker Day - 2008

This drawing was done in colored pencil, scanned and then a digital watercolor filter was added. The original colors are very garish, it is a loud, loud building. This was done in the fourth year studio of a five year program. The project was on the corner of Rampart and Canal, right across Rampart from the Saenger Theater, there is an old Woolworths there now. Know where I mean, Gnutcase?

Working on this project is where my mind was finally made up to do something like "Blackuary." Lemme tell you about the project and the absolute dumbass that came up with the concept. The professor was a guy that was born in Wisconsin, educated at Harvard, and came to Mississippi State to let us in on how smart he was, that fat, stupid bastard. He never worked as an architect, he had never been in the South, and judging by his background, it was lily-white. Judging by his bulk, he had never picked up his shoes and oddly enough, he always wore Birkenstocks. I guess that was because he could not see his feet to actually put shoes on, forget tying them. Peaches and I actually saw him at Burger King with a bag the size of lawn and leaf bags, unbelievable! By the way, I am not harshing on Wisconsin at all, I had a blast the one time that I actually traveled to Wisconsin, (Didn't we, Gnutcase?) but you know you folks don't show up in a blizzard. Harvard can blow me, well after they get their shots.

This Leftard came into our studio and presented a project based on the premise that New Orleans was a former slave trading area and that we were going to design the Ujima Wellness Center to atone to the people in the area. Folks, I was not a traditional student, I went back to college when I was thirty-three, this proposed project blew my mind. (Remember "Ujima?" It is one of the tenets of Kwanzaa, it means "collective work and responsibility." My flesh crawled and my blood boiled.)

Anyhoo, we formed discussion groups and talked about the concept behind the whole project, trying to consider what Blacks would want in their gym. This made me lose my damn mind. I sat there and listened to a bunch of people try to decide what an entire race of people would want for a building. To this day, almost eight years later, I am still dumbfounded by some of the things that were said. And to make matters even weirder, there was one Black person in the group. He did not throw a tantrum, and that amazed me. Seriously, I cannot even explain how idiotic this was. Peaches, you know that I love you man, but I would have busted a cap if I had been you.

I think that I sat there long enough with my heart rate elevated and just gaped at these idiots. One girl in particular made this comment, "Black people do not want carpet or wood lockers, they are there to workout." That comment stemmed from the fact that the New Orleans Men's Gymnastic Club is directly behind the site and that building is wicked nice. That is a photo of the pool. At the time, the membership was only thirty-five bucks a month. My question was, "If we want to give the Blacks a gym, why don't we just give them all thirty-five bucks a month and let them go to the damn nice gym next door?" Awww Hell naw! Gotta have separate and shitty for the Blacks!

My real money shot of this discussion was "Are you really trying to tell me that Blacks want a 1977 Toyota Corolla and Whites would rather have an new Escalade?" WHAM! Right in your mouth!

There were other constraints on the project as well that made me very angry. The building could not look like a gym and it could not be "heroic." To me that was just mindboggling. You want to do something to represent the reparations for slavery, which I think it very highminded (I'm against reparations.), but you do not want it to be heroic. Hmm. You suck. You are stupid.

We also read Elaine Scary's "The Body in Pain", which is a bunch of gibberish written by a moron. The book tried to group every single human being into the same big homogeneous blob. With her own special brand of emphasis on slavery, and she has never been one. Wow, lemme read that book again, it was so helpful. On to the show.

This is the brief synopsis of what I stammered about with this stupid design and concept:

The exterior form of the building draws from the designer’s conception of the historical slave pen. This form was then deconstructed and reconstructed to abstract those original forms. The intent was to allow for a historical reference, albeit not the most pleasant one. This tension could draw an emotional response that would allow for a different understanding of the plight of captured and sold slaves. Although the forms of the designer’s conceptual slave pen have been retained in their abstracted form, the references are intended to allow for an environment that dissolves the historical repression felt by some of the descendants of the unfortunate victims of slavery.

I designed a building that was a slave pen for Blacks. And I told them exactly that, the above italicized text is from my actual design concept proposal. I designed the building with a bunch of glass with different viewing heights where you could look in and watch the Blacks exercising. How offensive is this? The professors ate it up. I basically had just taken today's Blacks and thrown them back in the pen and the professors thought it was grand. They sickened me. I could not tell anyone this, I was already an outcast, but seriously, how demented and sickening is this?

In architecture school, your final project is pinned to the wall and the professors and visiting architects and designers offer critique, this is called a jury. For our jury, we were to produce four 22" x 22" boards that would explain the entire concept. I made eight. One set of four was a white field with black text and drawings. The other set was a black field with white text and drawings. I pinned them up side-by-side in a straight column very close to each other. Both sets had the exact same information, the only difference was the color.

A prominent architect from North Mississippi attended the jury and spent a lot of time standing near the boards studying the content, switching his gaze from one black board to the white counterpart. After about fifteen minutes of comparison, he turned to me and asked, "Two, is there anything different between the two sets of boards other than the color?" And then he got it. He smiled and sat down.

There was an interior designer there from Italy, Spain, or another one of those third world countries that actually cried. I mean half of the people from the states are dumb, but our dumbest look like Einstein next to someone from Europe. (Irony, get it?)

Long story, huh? I got an "A" on the most offensive thing that I have ever done in my chosen profession. I refuse with all of my mind, heart, and soul to ever allow anything to ever occur like that in my presence ever again as long as I live. I call those on the Left by their proper name, "EVIL."

Toby.

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