The Ryugyong Hotel

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea has been dubbed the worst building in the history of mankind by Esquire. But I must confess that there’s a warped part of me that appreciates the audacity of an architect designing an enormous building whose outside resembles a deranged roller coaster that nobody wants to ride. North Korea isn’t exactly known for its tourism industry. Presumably, the “luxury hotel” is intended for other purposes. But nobody wants to talk about it. The hotel, in fact, was built in response to a South Korean construction company working on the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore. North Korea began constructing this monstrosity in 1987. Construction stopped in 1992. But in April of this year, construction began anew. Kim Il-sung sees this hotel as a dream. But then Michael Cimino once had a dream too.

Remember to Relax

To give you a sense of the wonderful laziness that a three-day holiday weekend affords, I should point out that, speaking personally, yesterday’s greatest achievement was making dozens of chocolate chip cookies. Other than that, there was some reading, a considerable amount of slacking off, and many hours in which nearly nothing was accomplished.

I confess this with the hope of informing all that it is perfectly okay to be a bit lazy right now. It seems that workaholics and many freelancing pals are experiencing some difficulties understanding that we are, indeed, in the throes of a holiday weekend. And the only reason I’m serving up blog posts is largely to deposit stray bits of information that pop up while I am essentially doing nothing.

For example, I have spent a portion of the morning contemplating the unusual architectural design of some of the Best Products stores. Best was a chain that died off in 1997. Sadly, there appears to be no visual record of the strange diagonal corner at the Arden Fair outlet in Sacramento. This corner was demolished a good decade ago, with the building revamped to a more boring rectilinear design that befits the mundane exigencies of suburban architectural requirements. But if you were lucky enough to experience this structural quirk, the corner slid out when the store was open and folded neatly into the building’s recess when the store was closed. When the corner was pulled out, the slope was particular ideal if, like me, you were a clumsy teenager with a borrowed skateboard. And it appears that the Houston Best building was even stranger, offering one of the wackiest superstore apices I think I’ve ever seen. So do good things sometimes come with chain stores? Or have we become so committed to relentless homogeneity that we can’t even allow for a flourish or three within the boxy buildings that come with gentrification? And is gentrification remotely justifiable if these monolithic entities divert from the building boilerplate a bit? I was pleased as punch to learn that 600 Starbucks outlets were biting the dust in the forthcoming months. With rare exceptions, I only enter a Starbucks if I have to pee. But would I be more forgiving of Starbucks if, say, they served up a building that was even a tad incongruous? Not bloody likely, given that they’ve attempted to abscond with our language with their ineffable terms for small, medium, and large.

This segue should reveal that it is very difficult for some active minds to accept the notion of a holiday. I had a wonderfully disturbing dream last night that gave me a vital component to a narrative I am working on. But if you are afraid of relaxing, consider the Archimedes principle. Your mind will likely be set off by something anyway. So there’s no crime in stepping away from the computer. You have one day left before the crazed week begins again. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Quick Quickies

Margaret Drabble on Bloomsbury (via ElegVar, a Unix-like acronym I couldn’t resist)

Journalista investigates the implications of Borders’ “category management” on graphic novels.

Unusual San Francisco Architecture and The Map Room (a blog abut maps) (both via Menlo)

Defective Yeti has a heck of a forward-thinking scheme for making money off conservatives.

Slate: Should students be allowed to hook up with professors? The great irony is that the article was written by Against Love author Laura Kipnis! (via Chica)

Jonathan Yardley takes on The Reivers (which is in my bookpile). (via Sarah)