Monday, August 25, 2008

Dr. Pangloss---aka John King---strikes again

Above all John King wants to reassure his readers in the Chronicle that everything is going to be okay, that the awful buildings and developments springing up all over the city are going to be seen differently and win acceptance over time. He's already assured us that if you don't like the clunky new de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park you are a stick-in-the-mud, resisting "a splash of innovation in the staid local architecture scene." 

Anyhow, not to worry because, even if the de Young looks like warehouse with psoriasis, the building "will be filled with familiar art, wrapped in outdoor sculpture and vegetation."

King on the hideous new Octavia Boulevard: 

Shrubs are filling in. Trees are spreading out. It's easy to imagine thick bands of greenery in five years that offer visual screens and a true sense of place. The small park has blossomed as well. You'll see people with dogs and people with cell phones...A street person can be napping on a bench while kids clamber on the play structure and life goes on. 

On the other hand, the boulevard still has more than 45,000 cars day coming through the heart of Hayes Valley, the dogs are crapping on the grass, and the "street person" King refers to is one of the many homeless who like to hang out in the tiny park next to all that freeway traffic.

King earlier this year on two restaurants on the waterfront: "With time, the fuss over Kuletoland will die down...As the young trees mature, the structures won't stand out so much. The shock of the new will fade."

King on the garish, ridiculous new Congregation Beth Shalom synagogue (above) at Clement and Park Presidio, which, remarkably, when you see it in person looks even worse than the picture accompanying his column: "I'm a big fan of the synagogue and its sculptural presence, imposing yet calm...So give the synagogue time. Today's half-pipe may be tomorrow's touchstone, funny nicknames and all." 

But the Giants and the 49ers need fans, not Chronicle readers worried about their city; they need someone to talk frankly about how and why a clueless city Planning Dept. is allowing our city to be debased by these new buildings.

King compares the eyesore synagogue to the Transamerica pyramid building, which was widely criticized when it went up more than 30 years ago. But even the Transamerica building is beginning to look good compared to many recent projects, like Octavia Blvd., the de Young Museum, the Rincon Hill highrises, and, even worse, the atrocious Intercontinental Hotel on Fifth Street. After a nice critique of that awful building---which even King/Pangloss admits belongs in Las Vegas---he strives to look on the bright side: "It could be a lot worse." Yes, after all is said and done, it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, isn't it? Well, no: Looking at this building is a lot like a poke in the eye with a big, ugly, turquoise stick.

But for John King over time all this shit will magically turn into ice cream in the best of all possible worlds.

The same Planning Dept. that brought us the Intercontinental Hotel will soon be bringing us more highrise buildings at Market and Van Ness under the Market/Octavia Plan. If you like the ugly Fox Tower and the 100 Van Ness building, you will surely like the four 40-story highrises being pushed by Supervisor Mirkarimi and our Planning Dept. 

Recall that it was Mirkarimi who rhapsodized about the awful new Octavia Blvd. when it opened three years ago ("a gateway to a new template"!).

This is the new San Francisco brought to you by the oh-so "progressive" vulgarians and philistines governing our city.

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