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Post-Katrina ark heads for New Orleans

September 28, 2008|Christopher Knight; Booth Moore; Margot Roosevelt


If you've driven down Leimert Boulevard lately, you might have wondered about that big boxy thing being built in the parking lot next to the L.A. Third Church of Religious Science. Wonder no more: It's an ark.

Yes, an ark -- like the one Noah built in order to save his family and all the animals. Actually, it's a sculpture by Mark Bradford, destined for "Prospect.1 New Orleans," billed as the largest biennial exhibition of international contemporary art ever in the United States. The nicknamed "[P.1]" opens in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city on Nov. 1.

The imposing ark -- 22 feet high and 64 feet long -- is constructed from plywood barricade fencing salvaged from local construction sites, already adorned with weathered and tattered posters advertising assorted movies, rock concerts, TV stations and such. Working with architect Eve Steele and a construction crew headed by Sam Clay, Bradford built the form around two massive shipping containers, one stacked on top of the other. It weighs 93,000 pounds, and the job took a six-man team five weeks to build.

The modular pieces are being dismantled over the next several days. Cleverly, the numbered pieces will be stacked inside the big metal containers for shipping to New Orleans. Once there, the ark will be reassembled in the Ninth Ward for the 2 1/2 -month show.

Last April, on the roof of a Wilshire Boulevard gallery across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bradford made another Katrina-themed work -- an enormous SOS sign visible only from the air, which pleaded "Help us."

-- Christopher Knight

From Culture Monster: All the arts, all the time

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Economic woes hit bag brigade

You know it's bad when the recession hits the front row at Fashion Week, ground zero for the bag-obsessed, most price-resistant people in the universe. By this time in the fashion cycle, editors are usually festooned with the newest, the latest, the craziest clothing and accessories from Prada, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana and Marni.

But not this season. Instead, most are trying to avoid temptation, sometimes by avoiding Milan's Golden Triangle shopping area altogether.

"I went into Prada and usually I go crazy. But this time, nothing," a Vogue editor said. An editor at Flair in Toronto was forgoing her usual trip not only to Marni, but even the Marni outlet.

A Lucky magazine editor was sporting the one new carryall that's made multiple appearances, the sparkly YSL Besace bag. "It's not expensive as bags go these days," she said. (I don't know, $1,895 sounds expensive to me.)

Meanhile, Tod's threw a party Wednesday night to celebrate a Dennis Hopper- directed short film starring Gwyneth Paltrow (you can see "Pashmy Dream" at and the brand's proposal for It bag of the fall season -- the nylon Pashmy hobo, which at $925 seems more in the neighborhood of affordable luxury.

An Elle editor hobbling from show to show on sky-high Miu Miu shoes confessed that they were borrowed runway samples. A Harper's Bazaar editor was still wearing summer's Christian Louboutin cage sandals, except with tights.

In fact, the only ones really wearing the newest, the latest and the craziest are celebs. And they don't have to spend a dime. It's a cruel world and it's getting crueler by the minute.

-- Booth Moore

From All the Rage: Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances in Hollywood and beyond

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Do pine beetles pollute the air?

Dead and dying forests across about 50 million acres from Alaska and Canada to the Southwestern United States attest to the devastation wrought by a massive infestation of pine beetles over the past decade. Scientists have documented that the withered, dry trees cough out millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping heat and contributing to the greenhouse effect that is warming the earth's climate.

Now, an international team led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a federally funded laboratory, is exploring new dangers: the tiny insects, each the size of a grain of rice, may also be altering rainfall patterns and polluting the air we breathe.

Large areas of dead trees may change cloud and precipitation patterns for a decade or more, scientists found. "In the Western United States, it is particularly important to understand these subtle impacts on precipitation," said NCAR scientist Alex Guenther, a researcher on the project. "Rain and snow may become even more scarce in the future as the climate changes, and the growing population wants ever more water."

Preliminary computer modeling suggests that temperatures may increase temporarily as much as 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, as a result of the beetle infestation. The lack of foliage diminishes the reflection of the sun's heat back into space. And, according to the scientists, beetle attacks may stimulate trees to release more particles and chemicals into the atmosphere as they try to fight off the insects. That increases ground level ozone and particulates, which can cause respiratory disease in humans.

The four-year field project, known as BEACHON, was launched this summer and is funded by the National Science Foundation. It includes scientists from nine U.S. colleges and universities, federal agencies and universities in Austria, France and Japan.

-- Margot Roosevelt

From Greenspace: Environmental news from California and beyond

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