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Ever since American architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House was opened to the public in 2007, people have had the chance to inspect, close up, the house and its plot — which includes some traditional buildings, an artificial lake, and an art museum. Inspired by the Glass House, a beautiful conversation about modern versus contemporary styles was recently hosted online by John Hill, a blogger, architect and professor based here in New York City. One of the commentators, architect and preservationist John Montague Massengale, grew up in the New York suburbs, near the Glass House. So did I. Massengale wrote about an experience rather idiosyncratic to our little corner of the world — an adventure also mentioned in the radio piece below.
After I got my driver’s license, I used to sometimes go peer over the wall at the edge of the property, and once or twice Johnson came out and shook his fist before I drove away.
It was sort of a rite of passage for kids in the area who cared about architecture to have Philip Johnson’s fist shaken at them. Massengale has since argued trenchantly that a lot of suburban corporate architectural components are now being incorporated into new New York business headquarters — like the World Trade Center complex — and this is a development of which, perhaps, he’s not particularly fond.
…they are purposely isolated and apart form the surrounding city like a suburban, gated community … from the look of it, it will be a monstrously scaled landscape of foreboding spaces, underground shopping, and bland skyscrapers landing on bare concrete. The quality of the area is typified by Tower One: the 1,776-foot-tall boring and bland middle finger to the rest of the city.
The audio below is a segment for the Fairfield County Business Showcase, a weekly series I produced for WSTC/WNLK in 2007. (My General Manager required me to use this cumbersome name for the program, but I preferred just to call it, The Showcase, because, well, it wasn’t just about business.) A group of Darien High School music students provided the a capella jingle at the beginning.
Here’s the audio, and the transcript is pasted below.
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WSTC/WNLK: The Gala Civic Opening of Philip Johnson’s Glass House (Air date: June 23, 2007)
Erik Campano: Right now, on Ponus Ridge in New Canaan, the Glass House is holding its inaugural gala picnic. Members of the inviting committee include the great painter Frank Stella, and groundbreaking architect Robert A. M. Stern. One of the tour guides at the Glass House, Peter, says the celebration includes one very big act.
Peter: …the Merce Cunningham dance troupe, who actually performed here and they’re gonna’ perform their exact same routine as they did in 1967.
Campano: Are they the same —
Peter: It won’t be the same people. [laughs] I knew you were gonna’ ask that!
Over a century ago, James O’Rourke made the first base hit in the National League. He played major league ball until the age of 54 — all the while a practicing lawyer with his LL.B. from Yale University. Later, as president of the Connecticut League, he hired the first minor league African-American player in baseball history.
O’Rourke is a proud son of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a once-booming city which now is among the poorest in the nation. An unfinished urban planning project had the entire neighborhood surrounding O’Rourke’s house destroyed in the 1990s — but preservationists managed to keep it up. It sat prominently, alone, among acres of weeds, and was viewable both from Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard ballpark, completed in 1998, and from I-95, the super-highway which split the city into two parts in the mid-20th century.
This 2008 radio piece for WSHU won first prize in the enterprise category from the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association. I created a version with still pictures so people could have a visual experience of the house and the people who fought — unsuccessfully — for its existence. It was demolished in 2009.
The script is pasted below.
Next to I-95 in Bridgeport sits a single, abandoned house surrounded by vacant lots. It’s fenced off, and it’s left legions of drivers – and Bridgeporters – wondering what it’s doing there. WSHU’s Erik Campano got a rare look inside that house – and learned how from, one day to the next, it risks disappearing into history.
Prompted by an editor who has worked at NGOs for years fighting human trafficking, this series started with an interview with an Evangelical megapastor, and then an academic who raises questions about whether Evangelicals are monopolizing American anti-trafficking efforts. A lively debate proceeded from there, which took us from Nepal to South Africa and back to New York City.
A 2009 piece of long-form (20 min.) radio journalism, this feature for Rendezvous, a program on French culture, explores the Michelin Guide, the pioneering restaurant review publication. It’s influential — and some say, influenced.
The draft script is pasted below. You’ll notice some differences between my version and the one that aired. The editor took out some of the best jokes. :l
Click the link to hear the piece: The Myths and Mysteries of the Michelin Stars
RENDEZ-VOUS APRIL 16, 2009
MICHELIN GUIDE 10TH EDITION
NARRATION IN BOLD IS RECORDED IN STUDIO
CHANGES TO FIRST DRAFT ARE UNDERLINED
– ROMAN NUMERAL.ARABIC NUMERAL INDICATES AUDIO TITLES
– IF YOU NEED TO GO BACK TO THE SOUND IN THE ORIGINAL AUDIO, THE ROMAN NUMERAL INDICATES THE AUDIO FILE (PRECEDED BY CM) AND THE ARABIC NUMERAL INDICATES THE APPROXIMATE MARKER INSIDE THAT FILE.
– X“ DENOTES RAW AUDIO LENGTH WITHOUT INTERIOR CUTS
– … NOTATES A SUBSTANTIAL INTERIOR CUT IN THE RAW ACTUALITY
(XVI MUSIC UP A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE TO BED)
WHEN ANCIENT CAPTAINS WERE NAVIGATING THE OCEANS, THEY USED THE STARS AS THEIR GUIDE. AND WHEN MODERN FRENCH GOURMETS NAVIGATE THE COUNTRY LOOKING FOR THE BEST FOOD, THEY ALSO USE STARS – MICHELIN STARS. THAT IS, THE STARS THATMICHELIN INCLUDES IN ITS TRAVEL GUIDE BOOKS, PROBABLY THE MOST INFLUENTIAL RESTAURANT REVIEW SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.
(MUSIC UP FOR A FEW SECONDS AND DOWN TO BED)
I’M ERIK CAMPANO. THIS WEEK ON RENDEZ-VOUS: THE MICHELINGUIDE IS CELEBRATING ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY, AND WE’LL USE THAT OCCASION TO LOOK AT THE IDIOSYNCRATIC CULTURE SURROUNDING THE MICHELIN STAR. THE COMPANY HAS A SECRETIVE PROCESS OF AWARDING THEM; CHEFS UNDERGO TURMOIL TO GET AND KEEP THEM; AND OUTSIDERS TELL STORIES OF RESTAURANT REVIEWERS GONE CORRUPT.
It was suggested to me that I interview popular preacher R.J. Sproul, Jr., about his new DVD series, Economics for Everybody. The interview ultimately raised not just questions about goods and services, but about how clerics use their discipline to try to promote economic ideologies.
This conversation began when I interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills about his new book, Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition. The interview occurred just prior to the Papal Conclave following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The interview prompted reaction from the Roman Catholic left and right as well as American Anglicans, all of whom gave their thoughts about the priesthood from a theological, historical, and anthropological perspective.
Pope Francis’ Jesuit origins prompted a follow-up interview with J. Patrick Hornbeck, II, a theology professor at the Jesuit Fordham University in the Bronx: