Journeys to narcostates and military landscapes

I want to bring to your attention two new and exciting items…

First, I recently filed this OpEd for DomusWeb, the website sibling of Italian architecture magazine Domus. In the piece, I imagine what I might do on an itinerary to El Paso, Texas. I have been to El Paso before very briefly on my way to California. Of late, some commentators and urban experts have hailed El Paso as a model of a new American urbanism, and in this piece, I treat that model as a series of misleading abstractions that conceal a highly corrupt and profitable narcopolitics. Here is a pull-quote:

What San Francisco was once to the world across the Pacific Ocean, El Paso is to the adjacent Ciudad Juárez and the southern world beyond: a fortified golden gate. It appears that El Paso has outlandishly benefited from controlling one of the hardened valves through which globalization flows. Besides, El Paso is not a “mid-size city,” as the census and (Joel) Kotkin mis-categorize it, once understood, as one should, as the swankier side of a much larger, transnational urban entity intrinsically tied to booming Juárez as its adjacent industrial labor zone. Small wonder that El Paso has created ancillary jobs faster than the slumping average. While Juárez consumes itself in a civil war over control of the border ingress point, El Paso’s business establishment is busy marketing the city as the “safest big city” in the United States. For wealthier Mexicans, El Paso is a short charter flight away for a day of shopping, bypassing the violence.

In the spirit of bushy-tailed California politicians visiting Texas for enlightenment, I imagined what I would put on an itinerary in order to explore the distinctly Texan urban visions that El Paso amasses in all of its volatile mixture of deregulation, paranoia, religiosity, and fossil burning.

Read more at Domus!

Second, my collaborator Nick Sowers and I are going to offer a walking tour in the Marin Headlands as part of a Sunday program called Desire Trails. Nick and I are two-thirds of a group called Demilit that we started along with Bryan Finoki, aka Subtopia. Demilit is a little bit over a year old, but we already have a good track record and have been exhilarated to be working together. This is what we promise to do on September 25th, 2011:

DEMILIT has crafted a walk soundtrack out of a series of audio recordings taken from current organizations with leases in the Headlands. The auditory accompaniment intends to reveal some of the least noticed ways in which the military past infiltrates the present, particularly in the repair and reproduction of nature. A dispersed forest megaphone. Sousveillant recordings. Discussions archived in vibrations of leaves. A voice that lingers forever in the bowels of missile silos.

The event is totally free, which we love doing. There will be an additional organic meal after the walk which is optional and will be served at the Headland’s mess hall, a kitchen with a stellar cooking reputation. We look forward to meeting you and discussing our work further! Checkout the whole lineup of artists offering tours, RSVP for the walk, and to order a ticket for the lunch.

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