Tuesday, March 31, 2009


lolz@ at a nervous will fischer. It sounds like he's reading from a textbook.

College and Reality

Sometimes, it's hard finding meaning to the things I do here. I know that I'm supposed to be at college to learn and get an education-and I am doing a lot of both- but its hard for me to feel okay with myself doing that given my own provenance and the realities-and difficulties- of home. Life at college is incredibly detached from reality in a very troubling way. I know that this sort of detachment is necessary for students to focus on their studies and learning, but it often comes at the expense of many more important things. St. Louis and Wash U are a great example of an isolated education taking place amid a place yearning for interaction, engagement, and an education of its own. And I guess that's part of the problem. Because having the time and leisure available to pursue an academic education is a privilege ascribed mainly to the upper classes, it is the culture of these upper classes that defines and describes the college experience. And it's this sort of culture-one that can value isolation and knowledge above dialogue and community- that can cause its students to lose sight of the world beyond their windows.

Basically, I feel as if I have become sedated by idealized notions of becoming educated and well-versed in the cultural practices a college education affords me. I have been neglecting and forgetting home and what that means to me. I don't know if that's okay. Well, I know it isn't. This has left me feeling unsatisfied with my life here and I wonder if I am indeed wasting my time or not.

Because, really, I'm not here for an education. This place and whatever degrees and social circles it affords me are but a means to an end. I love learning things about the world and life, but that's a hobby and i used it as an excuse to get. College, for me, is about coming up, taking a piece of life for myself, and returning home to share it.Learning and an education are potent instruments of change and that's what I intend to use them for. And in that way, there is a sense of urgency to what I am doing, a desperate need to get through the formalities of this education so that I can begin to affect my surroundings, situations, and the world, as a whole. Waiting is the most frustrating aspect of being here.

But at the same time, I am lured and tempted by the comfort associated with the quiet life of academia. So I spend my time and money pondering and reading, writing and listening, looking and drawing all the while feeling like I'm not doing much of anything at all. I come home and I have little to show for my time away other than knowledge. You cannot put a price on knowledge, true, but its clear to everyone who goes to college, that really, you can. So that's when I begin to wonder if its worth it. That's when I begin to wonder if my education with worth my own time and the money others spend on it.

Maybe I'm supposed to struggle with this sort of thing. I did, after all, leave home in order to gain a better appreciation for the people, places, and things I had been taking for granted. And nothing serves as a better way of figuring our who you are than being surrounded by kinds of people you definitely know you aren't. But I wish my life here was a bit more grounded.

Upcycle, please


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Clean Coal (NOT)

"Clean" Coal has been a big topic of conversation on campus over the last few weeks. Last night, I attended a panel discussion on "clean" coal and carbon sequestration. Personally, I don't support so-called "clean coal" technologies, nor do I support using research money in support of developing said technologies. I believe that coal has been, is, and always will be a dirty fuel. You can make it cleaner, but you cannot make it clean and at this point in our history, we need real solutions, not band-aids and buzzwords.

Here are a few of the notes I jotted down during the rather frustrating panel discussion:

Hopefully, some of these will become topics that I write about in the near future.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Orange Line

Another public trans video. This one is near and dear to my heart.

upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ride Your Bicycle on PubTrans

This is probably the funniest/most amazing thing ive seen in a while.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco


A few days ago, I wrote about Janine Benyus and her Biomimicry lecture at Wash U. This weekend, I was able to participate in a Biomimicry Masterclass offered here through the architecture school. It was a pretty amazing experience, in a variety of ways. Here are my thoughts on the class, Benyus, Biomimicry, and the sustainable movement, as a whole.

Our class was charged with the task of taking a biomimetic approach to both the Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood and Missouri Botanical Garden's Earthways Center (The Earthways Center is currently located in Grand Center, but they are looking at relocating to the Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood). The class was divided into six groups. Two groups studied the neighborhood, as a whole, two looked at the building the Earthways Center might relocate to, and two examined a sustainable exhibit inside the center.

We were asked to examine the neighborhood, at these various scales, always adding "how would nature..." or "why would nature..." when asking questions or thinking of possible solutions. The class, as a whole, was very helpful in terms of instilling a new way of thinking for young and energetic designers. We are generally taught to be very solutions-oriented designers. That is, we jump from problem to solution as quickly as possible, rarely ever examining the hows and whys of the design process. In this respect, the class taught me to take a more socratic approach to design. Overall, there were some interesting ideas proposed for the neighborhood, but because of the time constraints of working within a single weekend, they were not as fine tuned as they could have been. But that's okay, the class was a good first step towards a broader conversation about biomimicry and our relationship to nature.

My problem with biomimicry, however, is that it is quite one dimensional. The topic was presented to us by people who fervently believe in the power of biomimicry as a way of helping our species sort itself out. We need people like them to communicate the desire for a sustainable world. I do not question their intentions, merely their methods. Ultimately, I want more than just sustainable products and industry. Using nature as a model when designing industrial products does not inherently imply a sustainable future. That is because these products and processes are being design to fit into a consumer-oriented society.

And ultimately, that is why we are unsustainable, no? Consumerism and our overwhelming need to want. It isnt that cars or carpet tiles or shoes are unsustainable, it's the way in which we view and consume these products- as deserved and necessary- that ultimately means that as a society, we take more than we give, eat more than we grow, drink more than it rains. And so, even if the ways in which we get, make, and do things are modeled after nature, unless the way we view and want things don't follow suit, we will continue to perpetuate the enjustices of our forebearers on our own progeny.

Biomimicry represents only half the question. We indeed need someone to go around telling us what we don't want to hear, that we need to consume less. We cannot be sustainable until we have adpot cultures that do not take a hostile or gluttonous view towards nature. Until then, this is all just wishful thinking and false promises,

Antonio Pacheco

Sonik Ninjas

Last night, I went to the Ninjasonik/DeathSet show at the Gargoyle Club at Wash U. They're really silly, but they also had a very positive message that I found quite interesting. Between songs, they would talk to the crowd about how they shouldn't judge others, but instead feel comfortable expressing themselves and being be good people, in general.

I'm not sure if they were joking or not (I don't think they were), but it was interesting to have people who are essentially the same age as me tell me about virtue while rapping about wearing tight pants and art school girls.

I wish Wash U wasn't so socially inept and could have actually provided them with a decent audience because these kids really know how to have a good time. They have a photographer and a partypics site, check it out. Actually, their photographer is really amazing.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Night

There are so many amazing things to do today!!

But I can't really do any of them! So you should go out and enjoy what St. Louis has to offer!

First of all Drop K is holding a live art show at the Gargoyle. I don't really know much about the event itself, but the Drop Knowledge kids are pretty interesting. They publish a magazine devoted to, among other things, doing interesting and enriching things in St. Louis. The facebook event doesn't give many details, but go.

I've always wanted to go to a ballet/dance show, but i've never been. But YOU can and should check out the Slaughter Project tonight! The homie Alex Gordon is dancing in this show and he's really cool. I'm super sad I can't go. Tickets are $20.

The other awesome thing that's happening is up in Old North St. Louis. The Crown Village development is finally nearing completion and the Restoration Group is hosting an art show in the nearly complete gallery space. So, you should check out the Old North St. Louis Art Show! They're gonna have awesome quilts.

I'm going to spend my afternoon attending a biomimicry masterclass!! BENYUS! Afterwards, I will be attending a sustainable pot luck (that is, a pot luck for my old sustainable design class. I dont know how sustainable the pot luck itself will be.)

So, do something awesome!

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Over spring break, I visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on Manhattan (on the same day I stumbled across the Storefront for Art and Architecture), it's a pretty amazing place (Here's their Flickr page, I took all the images for this post from there).

The LESTM is part living museum and part public health campaign. They offer a set of guided tours throughout the various tenements they have on display, offering narratives that are both compelling and insightful. I love that someone has taken the thought and effort to preserve (and in some cases, recreate) an important social and architectural institution that has been forgotten, despite its contemporary relevance.

This was an interesting experience, because going into the tour, I was expecting a more architecture-centric experience, but instead, the tour was presented with an emphasis on the oppressed humanity of the tenement and on the immigrant experience so intimately related to this housing type. This discussion led to a broader discussion on not only issues of social justice, but of American and immigrant culture, in general, and how all of these various and disparate topics are still incredibly relevent to contemporary American issues with identity, housing, and immigration.

One interesting realization that I made at the Tenement Museum related to something that's probably pretty mundane: detail. I was stunned by the exquisite level of detail these tenements possessed in terms of their decoration. Although they were the cramped, dark, and damp homes for many impoverished and maligned families, the walls, floors, and ceilings of every room were covered in a sumptuous and incredible level of detail: floral motifs, imprinted patterns, geometric shapes, colors abound! While I understand that much of this has to do with the aesthetic culture of the day, it is still fascinating to see that a place for the downtrodden contained a certain richness that has altogether been forgotten and lost. The Tenement Museum does an excellent job of showcasing this sort of everyday-life level of detail.

This isn't something you can get from books or images, you have to see it, smell it. In order to really know how these people lived, one must squint through the humidity, breathe in the musk of poverty, caress the frayed edges of a marginalized society. The closer we come to understanding how the past subjugated its poor, the better able we will be to prevent contemporaneous tragedies.

After all, that's the point of the past, isn't it? To learn.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

The Art and The Message

Yes. Obama, ftw. He gets it. Holy shit, he gets it.

Hope meets hip hop.

Hope Hop. Hip Hope? Idk.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio Pacheco

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Naughty By Nature

I, along with several other students, had dinner tonight with Janine Benyus. Ms. Benyus is the author of Biomimicry: Inspired By Nature, an awesome book that advocates human examination of natural processes as a way of advancing our own inventions, products, and ways of thinking. She also runs the Biomimicry Institute, based out of Montana. She's awesome.

I don't know that I have ever really come across such an eloquent, thoughtful, and incredibly intelligent person. Janine is overflowing with knowlege about the natural world, business, and life, in general- the sort of knowelge that not only informs, but inspires and inspires in an uplifting and day-dreaming sort of way. Speaking with her has definitely been a highlight. And that's because first and foremost, her goal is to make human existence better. That is, she believes that through the emulation and adaptation of natural processes and methods for creation and manufacture, we can live progressive and productive lives in such a way that humanity's impact on the world can ultimately be a positive one. By pushing the people and corporatations who make the things we buy, own, and use to use naturally-inspired methods, we can not only gain a better understanding of the world and how it works, but design products, processes, and ultimately, lifestyles and cultures that are not only environmentally benign, but hopefuly, environmentally beneficial.
This, I believe, is a message of hope, hope and imagination. And these are the things our species needs this day and age: a reprioritization and reogranization of our own exisitance, how we do things, and why we do them. I have grown weary of our wholesale categorization of human existance as something that is ultimately detrimental to the world. Yes, we participate in and support destructive and gluttonous endeavors all over the world, but these activities are merely cultural artifacts; artifacts, practices, and outlooks that can be changed. Ultimately, we have to see ourselves as possibly contributing to the richness and diversity of life on earth, not merely detracting or chipping away at it. This view is not only too easy to fathom (because it means that we resign ourselves to destructive cultural habits instead of proactively attempting to change them), but it is altogether wrong. We are a part of nature in the same way that trees and animals and oxygen molecules contstitute discrete parts of the overall equation that, when added together, gives us nature, life, and the very existance some of us are fighting so hard to protect.

As an entire species, we need to move passed protection and reach for enrichment of the world and all of its inhabitants. This thinking is embeded somewhere in the gospel that Benyus preeches, and that is why i appreciate her thoughtful and compelling argument.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Storefront for Art and Architecture

While in New York, I literally stumbled across the Storefront for Art and Architecture, a tiny storefront on the lower part of Manhattan dedicated to showcasing small endeavors in art and architecture.

It's a really sweet place with amazing programing. They are currently holding an exhibit about a Robert Venturi house that's being moved from one part of metro new york to another. Here's a link to their YouTube channel. Their concept for a gallery is really interesting, especially since I got the impression their exhibits don't last very long and are very organic in terms of planning, organization, and execution. It was refreshing to see a place that didnt have an exhibition schedule several years into the next decade.

We need more places like this: approachable, interesting, vibrant micro-centers of culture and artistic development. The educational opportunities are limitless and can definitely be applied to subjects and topics other than art and architecture. What if there was a Storefront for Literature and Writing? Or a Storefront for History and Anthropology? Maybe there could be networks of these storefronts, each specializing in some sort of educational component presented in an innovative and creative manner.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco


I have been thinking a lot about cities and density: what it means for a city to have such a thing, what the trade-offs might be, and if density is, overall, actually a better strategy for urban development. First and foremost, I obviously believe that a higher density is always better than a lower one, what I am attempting to figure out is which level of density is appropriate for the average urban environment. I know that attempting to generalize between diverse urban environments is foolish, but there might be some merit in what I have to say.
While in New York, I couldn't help but compare it to other urban experiences I've had- namely Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Louis- and whether or not New York was actually any better as a city (I mean this in an overall sense, both quantitatively and qualitatively). I realized that it takes an incredible number of resources for a place like New York to exist and function. If there is anything that I have learned about big cities, its that every big city needs a vast support system of surburban enviroments in order to function, period. I know New Yorkers and East Coast people, in general, love to derride the sprawl of California, but really, New York has as many, if not more suburban environments than Los Angeles does. The only difference is that the suburbs on the east coast support great metropolises like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC. In California, these suburban environments are the great metropolises. Not that California's situation is any better-because its not- it's just slightly different.
The point I am trying to make is that New York does not end at the Hudson and East Rivers. And it definitely goes further than the five burroughs. Instead, it goes on to encompass three states, 23 counties, and 11,842 square miles. While I am not trying to necessarily compare New York to LA or Chicago (and its safe to say that New York would win people/sq mile-wise), its clearly obvious that the boundaries of major cities fall far outside the city limits. I'm trying to figure out why this happens and if there is a better way.
The reason for this is very simple: price. Cities are meccas of culture and wealth, people and activities, they are places within which things can be done, enjoyed, and created. This fact makes urban areas valuable in a cultural sense, as well as in a monetary sense. Cities are expensive. Suburbs exist not only because of cultural practices and government policies, but out of sheer necessity: people want the proximity and culture of a city but are unwilling or unable to pay the monetary costs associated with living in such a valuable place. This realization doesn't absolvethe wealthy suburbanites who live in giant houses drive to the city in any way, instead, it serves to begin to understand those who live out in the suburbs out of necessity.
I wonder how we can begin to redesign our existing urban environments so that necessary sprawl can occur in a tempered and controlled manner that works with metro systems and ecologies, instead of agains them.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Monday, March 16, 2009

New York City

I've been walking and talking, in and out of New York, over the last week. Here are some quick observations as I let my thoughts marinate (these are topics ive been thinking about, eventually, they'll turn into posts):

Holy shit, this place is big

But not really. I found New York oddly accessible, if not in a cultural sense, then at the very least in a physical sense. Manhattan is big, but it's not THAT big. TV makes it look bigger. There were days that I walked from NYU to the Empire State Building and back. Twice! That's hardly all the island, but you know what I mean. Before this trip, I thought that Manhattan was completely gargantuan and vast, in a daunting and insurmountable sort of way. The reality is that while the island is vast and monumental, but is such in a concentrated sort of way. The buildings are tall; the island is narrow. Maybe I expected it to be more like LA or Chicago?

The point, with Manhattan,is density, no? (obvi, i know. But not as much as you'd think)

Holy shit, this place is crowded

There are a lot of people. It's dazzling. Never have I felt more utterly alone than when standing on the streetcorner in NYC. You're never in anyone's way, they just straight up dont give a fuck about you. They go around.
Holy shit, this place is expensive

I dropped so many bills. Really.
Food is expensive. This is probably why the girls are so thin.
There are a lot of cute girls in New York. Period. There are also a lot of well-dressed people, in general. I like it.

New Yorkers: Not Total D-Bags

Going into my New York experiences, I was under the assumption that New Yorkers were rude and mean. They were not. People, when I managed to get a word in, were actually incredibly helpful and nice, even to this obvious tourist. It was very refreshing and inspiring. They're more approachable than I had figured, even if they are self-absorbed with their oh-so-busy schedules.


Adbusters was wrong. Maybe. Brooklyn rocked my face off.

In a Haze

While in New York, I was on visual overload.

For a minute by minute account of my travels, peep my twitter. Most of it is inappropriate, but whatever. Also, im experimenting with taking my images from Flickr.com, so none of these images are mine.

Upcycle, please

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