Yearly Archives: 2014

Dusting off the Wurlitzers, Part I: Organ Transplants.

DSCF1685

My latest article, featured in The Huffington Post, doesn’t really fit with the vein of American Dirt, but it won’t be foreign to those who follow me closely, particularly in regards to coverage of the culture of pipe organs.  In contrast with an article series on classical organs from a few months ago, this time around, I’m looking …Read more…

Art space to ad space.

airport ads 13

My latest just went up at Urban Indy.  It looks at Indianapolis International Airport (IND), which, when the new terminal opened in 2008, received accolades for the sensitive integration of public art throughout the premises.  Six years have passed, and most–but not all–of the artwork remains.  But now, virtually every surviving flat service gets monetized: …Read more…

Porous placeholders.

porous 04

A multitude of American cities have experienced resurgences in their urban centers over the last decade. Nonetheless, it typically seems that one city in particular enjoys the lion’s share of favorable publicity for a few years…and then passes the baton to another. New York wore the crown through much of the late 90s, with a …Read more…

Service station salvation.

Kmart close 05

The news over the past few months that Sears Holdings Company is closing a slew (over seventy) of its two primary chains (Sears and Kmart) should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog…or anyone with a pulse, for that matter. I’ve rung the death knell on this formerly legendary budget department store …Read more…

Measuring demand in meters.

20141115_194936_little

As work commitments prevent me from getting to the sort of articles I want to write, I have to settle for much shorter filler material for the time being.  But, unlike most of my blog posts, the photo below is not reflective of any particular location.  It could be just about anywhere in the country. …Read more…

Fencing in the human will.

DSCF2335

Driving westward from the suburbs to downtown Grand Rapids earlier this year, I came across an unusual road sign.   Needless to say, it wasn’t easy to read, but it clearly wasn’t a conventional one. In Grand Rapids (as in many cities), most street signage uses a bold, white sans-serif lettering against a green background, as …Read more…

From holy rollers to high rollers.

DSCF3699

As much as certain media outlets are alerting the rise of the “unchurched” and religious “nones”, this country remains replete with religious institutions, for congregations of all denominations, faiths and sizes. The core expectations for what constitutes a house of worship are so minimal that their associated structures can be remarkably flexible in layout and …Read more…

Breaking the rules to enforce them.

poopy

Whimsical signs in unexpected places are so commonplace these days that it’s difficult even to use to the word “unexpected”. But signage in general is ubiquitous, and since most signs communicate their messages in a no-frills manner, any notification with a slightly different tone still comes across as atypical. Which, most likely, is precisely the …Read more…

Rental respites for refugees.

DSCF1876-001

Imagine a major city where owner-occupied, single-family housing dominates the landscape, more than anywhere else in the country. Complete with garages, chimneys, front yards, back yards, one-and-a-half baths (minimum), and more than a few basements. Virtually all the houses sit on lots of equal size, with nearly identical space between them and the exact same …Read more…

Can the pipes prevail? Part III.

Taylor Boody 01

Part II looked at the nuts and bolts of the classical pipe organ. The third and final part, seen below, ventures more into sociological and theological territory, as my interviewees explore how a shift away from certain Christian denominations has caused the organ to recede from its former prominence—and what new generations of musicians are …Read more…