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Birnbaum Blogs

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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Dec 1, 2009
I remember an internship during my college years in the early 1980s in M. Paul Friedberg’s office on the Upper West side of Manhattan. At the end of my first work week, Paul took me to O’Neils Restaurant near Lincoln Center where we dined on giant hot dogs. During that lunch I remember asking Paul why he listed the office, M. Paul Friedberg & Partners in the Yellow Pages under “architects?” He noted that no one knew to look under “landscape architect.” How things have changed.
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Nov 2, 2009
Last Wednesday I headed to the Bay Area for our conference, Landscapes for Living: Postwar Years in Northern California, and to visit with Larry Halprin. We had planned to have lunch together on Thursday. I imagined us drinking Arnold Palmers together (something he had introduced me to years earlier), he would order dessert which he was not supposed to have, and we would preview edits from the forthcoming oral history project we were doing about him. That evening he took a bad fall and by Sunday morning Halprin would pass away at his home in Kentfield, California, at the age of 93. 
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