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Birnbaum Blogs

Apr 30, 2010
With the expected announcement of a new Supreme Court nominee, the phrase Litmus Test will get a healthy airing. Rulings and opinions about abortion, gun control and other issues are each a “litmus test” for a nominee’s qualification to sit on the bench.
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Apr 11, 2010
Our cultural re-examination, appreciation and embrace of all things Modern is finally beginning to extend to landscapes. Two recent uses of modernist landscapes in pop culture caught my eye because they were being used as ciphers for youth, vitality, and that great credo, the American dream.
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Apr 2, 2010
One of my favorite Western flicks is William Wellman’s The Oxbow Incident. In this 1943 film, two drifters pass through a western town and what transpires over the ensuing 75 minutes is serious trouble-making . . . in this case a mixture of heavy drinking, lynching and gun fighting. The film starring Henry Fonda was not considered a success during its initial release, but according to Internet Movie Database, it is today “safely ranked as one of classic cinema’s greatest treasures.”
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Mar 2, 2010
With the recent posting of the Lawrence Halprin oral history module, the latest in TCLF’s ongoing Pioneers of American Landscape Design series, we have received several interesting unsolicited submissions that are “under the radar” in the context of Halprin’s most celebrated works of landscape architecture.
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Feb 19, 2010
What if life imitated art, or in this case Avatar? In the Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe-winning blockbuster, catastrophic threats to a distant planet’s natural and cultural resources are repelled, and most of the cherished heritage is saved. (The audience at the screening I attended vigorously applauded the outcome).
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Feb 12, 2010
The relevance of TCLF’s Every Tree Tells a Story, this year’s Landslide theme, really hit home as back-to-back blizzards this past week in Washington, D.C., destroyed and disfigured trees and shrubs throughout the region. Front page Washington Post coverage catalogued types of trees downed, some locations and damage they inflicted on homes, cars and power lines. No mention was made of how these losses affect the character of a neighborhood, or the region.
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Feb 11, 2010
Whenever traveling, I always try to explore parks and gardens I’ve never visited. Recently, while visiting family near Palm Beach, Florida, I decided to check out that town’s historic designed landscapes.
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Feb 3, 2010
Christopher Marcinkoski, a senior associate with James Corner Field Operations in New York City, recently gave me an overview of several of the firm’s projects.
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Jan 7, 2010
Bill Moggridge’s appointment as director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the New York-based Smithsonian Institution museum, received extensive coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere.
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Jan 4, 2010
On December 30, William McDonald’s, In Remembrance: Vivid Personalities of the Decade ran in The New York Times. The essay placed a spotlight on this first decade of the 21st century, while noting those individuals that helped to define the 20th. McDonald, notes that, “they led nations, produced masterpieces, pushed the boundaries of science and entertained. . . In life we called them famous, renowned, celebrated, their deaths we call notable, because their names register. They people our collective memory. Some — those who destroy rather than build — we would like to forget. But most make us pause and think of the past and take account of what the world has lost.”
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