The New York Times Book Review – February 12, 2023

Illustration by Ben Giles

The New York Times Book Review – February 12, 2023:

Big Shots Behaving Badly

“Unscripted,” an account by the Times journalists James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams of the media titan Sumner Redstone’s final years, is a chronicle of corporate greed, manipulation, misogyny and sexual impropriety on a spectacular scale.

A Cockeyed Optimist: Oscar Hammerstein Was No Stephen Sondheim

Laurie Winer’s new book, “Oscar Hammerstein II and the Invention of the Musical,” takes the measure of Sondheim’s mentor and spiritual godfather.


Architecture: La Scala House, Brisbane, Australia

The Local Project (February 10, 2023) – A living work of art, La Scala by Richards & Spence is an architects’ own home that can be considered as a sequence of discovery and revelation. Located in Brisbane, the home is a contemporary monolithic structure of concrete, stone and greenery.

Video timeline: 00:00 – Introduction to the Iconic Monolithic Home 00:39 – The Inner-City Location 01:00 – Designing with Entertaining in Mind 01:35 – A Long Term Plan 01:52 – The Key to Planning 02:27 – A Walkthrough of the Home 02:53 – The Double Height Volume 04:00 – Spatial Contrast and Emotive Responses 04:44 – Blurring the Lines of Inside and Outside 05:32 – Materials for the Long Term 05:51 – Swaying from the City’s Nostalgia 06:08 – Building for a Hot Climate 06:33 – A Contrast to the Concrete 06:49 – The Project’s Biggest Success

Considering the life of the home and how it may look in 50 to 100 years, the architects have imagined a ruin-like appearance finished with raw materials and green life that blur the lines between liveable spaces. Designed as both a sanctuary for its owners and a place to entertain, the home’s layout unfolds from the ground up like a living work of art. Starting the home tour from the garage and lower ground, guests enter into a moody portico that offers privacy to the other levels upon arrival.

Moving on to the lower ground bedroom, the unique design showcases the owners’ desire to create an iconic residence that takes advantage of the homes location on the side of a hill. In the main bedroom, the architects employ reeded glass at the bottom of the double-height windows to add a playful reflection of light that turns the modern bedroom into a living work of art. Up on the middle floor, a guest bedroom and bathroom have been installed along with a spare bathroom for parties. However, in addition to the rooms, the middle level also holds a unique hallway with low height ceilings that terminates in a dark timber enclosure, suggesting a cave-like experience.

Lit only by a window that looks down into the lower bedroom, the enclosed hallway focuses upon spatial variety and the sequence of contrast throughout the home’s architecture. Comparing high and low, light and dark, rough and smooth, the architects have introduced materials and design choices that evoke an emotive response. Past the middle floor, the large room that holds the entertaining spaces, as well as the central courtyard, is filled with natural light and introduces plant life into the home, turning it into a living work of art. Filled with lush greenery, the middle courtyard is designed to let the plants grow without constraint. Ivy grows inside and out and blurs the lines between spaces, while the Zoysia grass has been chosen for its self-undulation.

With large single pours of concrete, the home appears as a living work of art that has been carved out of a single piece of material. Contrasting against the concrete and stone is brass and timber, which help to heighten the experience within and turns the masterpiece home into a living work of art. Holding and manipulating light, La Scala offers different experiences throughout the day, while the shared spaces bring a new level of social living for its owners and their guests.

Culture: New York Times Magazine – Feb 12, 2023

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The New York Times Magazine – February 12, 2023:

The Paradox of Prosecuting Domestic Terrorism

The U.S. prosecuted Brian Lemley for threats, not violence. Is that what it takes to fight extremism?

Walter Mosley Thinks America Is Getting Dumber

“There are people who don’t know how to spell, they don’t know how to think,” says the bestselling novelist.

Poem: Lost in America

A poem that shakes us awake, enacting and preserving the fugitive possibilities of “healing from the law.”

Reviews: The Week In Art “Vermeer Exhibition 2023”

February 10, 2023: In this special episode, we are in Amsterdam for one of the shows of the year: Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum.

As an unprecedented 28 of the 37 surviving Vermeer paintings are gathered in the Dutch capital, Ben Luke talks to several people involved in the project: Gregor Weber, one of the exhibition’s curators, tells us about his new biography that reveals the depth of influence of the Jesuits and Catholicism on the artist.

In the exhibition itself, we talk to Pieter Roelofs, Weber’s co-curator; Ige Verslype, a conservator who led an extensive research project on Vermeer paintings in the Rijksmuseum, Mauritshuis and Frick collections; and Taco Dibbits, the Rijksmuseum’s director. Plus, we bump into the artist Alvaro Barrington in the exhibition and he tells us what he makes of Vermeer as an artist working today.

In this episode’s Work of the Week, we explore a debate around the attribution of a painting: Betsy Wieseman, Curator and Head of the Department of Northern European Paintings at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington DC, discusses Girl with a Flute (around 1669-75). Wieseman and her NGA colleagues now regard the painting as a work by Vermeer’s studio, even though it appears in the Rijksmuseum show as an authentic work by the master.Vermeer, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, until 4 June. Gregor Weber, Johannes Vermeer: Faith, Light, Reflection, Rijksmuseum, €25 (pb) 

Front Page: The New York Times – February 10, 2023

The New York Times in Print for Friday, Feb. 10, 2023 - The New York Times

What Recession? Some Economists See Chances of a Growth Rebound.

The Federal Reserve has raised rates rapidly. But instead of cracking, some data point to an economy that’s thriving.

Chinese Balloon Had Tools to Collect Electronic Communications, U.S. Says

China’s surveillance balloons have flown over more than 40 countries and are directed by the Chinese military, the State Department said. The F.B.I. is studying debris.

Burt Bacharach, Composer Who Added a High Gloss to the ’60s, Dies at 94

His sophisticated collaborations with the lyricist Hal David — “The Look of Love,” “Walk On By,” “Alfie” and many more hits — evoked a sleek era of airy romance.

Free Speech vs. Disinformation Comes to a Head

The outcome of a case in federal court could help decide whether the First Amendment is a barrier to virtually any government efforts to stifle disinformation.