April 20, 2009

Some skyscraper notes:

Last night I noticed they no longer leave the Chrysler Building on after midnight. At least they didn’t last night. And if it’s true and they really don’t anymore and last night wasn’t just an anomaly, that really bums me out. The Chrysler Building is my favorite skyscraper (every mid-twenties white person oughta have one) and part of the reason for that is its art deco crown glows all night, whereas the Empire State Building extinguishes itself after midnight. It’s as pretty and astounding in the daylight as it is at night, in a totally different way, but at all times it’s the best example I know of a building that makes me go “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” but is also timeless, hell, futuristic: predictive of a future that still hasn’t (and will probably never) arrive where everything is classy glittering steel. A World’s Fair world. It has big eagle-head gargoyles jutting out at the top and if every time you see them up there you don’t think of a superhero standing on one of them, cape billowing around them in the wind, then you don’t deserve your imagination and you should trade it in the next time you get the chance.

It makes sense that they would start turning it off late at night. It’s probably a big waste of energy, and money, and it’s the goddamn CHRYSLER building, even if they still have the money it’s probably not a good time for an American automotive company to be perceived of as wasteful of energy or misspending the money they’re supposedly so short on. But it bums me out nonetheless. You want your skyline to be on all night and shining. It’s totally insignificant, and totally significant.


Also on the way home last night: I saw a taxi-top ad for the Empire State Building that said: “TAKE ME TO ESB! OPEN ‘TIL 2 AM.” People responsible for this ad campaign: your client is the fucking EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. Nowhere, nowhere in the world are you going to find a thing so impressive coupled with a name so goddamn cool. Why, in some incredibly misguided bid to seem youthful and hip, would you shorten it to “ESB?” As though that’s how anyone refers to it? It’s a dumb ad, I’m not worried that calling the tallest building in New York “ESB” is gonna take off, I just think it’s indicative of a general cheapening impulse I hate. The monolithic, powerful, and impressive never want to stay that way. They want to be perceived as young and hip. And in awkward bids at imitating something they could never be (that is, new and young) they end up diminishing the capital they had.

The Empire State Building, you’re cool because you’re the Empire State Building. Don’t try and pass yourself off as a cool young hangout called “ESB.” No one is fooled. EMPIRE. STATE. BUILDING. What unironic fucking majesty. It makes me sad that somebody in marketing somewhere thinks you need to be more than that, especially when pretty much everything on a remotely similar scale that’s been built in the past twenty years is called, like, “THE COSTCO ARENA.”

We need big imposing stodgy institutions and we need tiny responsive of-the-moment movements. It’s when we start cheapening ourselves to be something we’re not that we run into trouble. Sometimes good things forget what makes them good. Our quality of life goes down every time that happens.

I would like a world with more mystique and dignity. They’re ineffable, intangible qualities. They’re not practical in the least. They rarely feed or clothe anyone. So I get why they’re the first things out the window a lot of the time. But sometimes it’s silly not-practical stuff like leaving your skyscraper’s top burning all night that make what we do every day feel more like living than surviving.

Posted by DC at April 20, 2009 07:18 PM
Comments

Is this why you never come to my ESB raves?

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