Broadacre City: Just My Imagination?

Frank Lloyd Wright portrait

A few years ago I blogged about an imagined quote from  Fredric Chopin.

trevor.pratt, flickr
trevor.pratt, flickr

This happened again recently. I know I’ve seen archival footage of Frank Lloyd Wright standing over the model of Broadacre City (now on view at the Museum of Modern Art through June 1), his vision of urban design. He looks imposing, unshakeable in his conviction that this is how cities should be designed and built. I’ve searched and searched and searched, but haven’t found a thing. Maybe I dreamed it. Or maybe it’s a case of wishful thinking gone haywire. Or maybe I’m going insane. Perhaps a visit to MoMA will clear things up.

In the meantime, here’s me playing a Chopin prelude on the guitar, recorded a few years ago at Blue Mountain Center. Chopin composed it for piano, of course, but this piece was transcribed by Francisco Tarrega.


More music here.


“I must have more shots of the military!”

I’ve been editing a section of A Life’s Work that relies on some archival footage, so I’ve been searching and watching and thinking and searching and watching and cutting. A new post about archival footage coming soon, but here’s one I wrote back in 2009. Think of it as Archival Part I.

[The title of this post if from Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.]

Edward D. Wood, Junior
Edward D. Wood, Junior

I share with Ed Wood a fondness for stock footage. There, I hope, the similarities end. In fact, I don’t even like to call it stock footage. I prefer to call it “archival.”

I think it goes back to when I was in high school and my history teacher included some AV as part of a lesson on the Great Depression: “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” Here was a voice singing about poverty and desperation, traveling over time and space, and punching me in the gut in 1978.

And that’s how I like to use archival. It’s evident in the SETI clip and the redwoods clip. That footage of redwoods being felled (from The Redwood Saga) looked a lot differently to people in 1940 when those images were first seen than it does to people now. Then it was a sign of progress: those trees were being used to build an America that was economically growing. Watching it now it seems like a mass execution. With the Soleri clip I posted I didn’t do that, not exactly. There I wanted to show Frank Lloyd Wright’s L A R G E presence; interviews you see or read with Soleri invariably begin with an introduction that includes his apprenticeship with Wright, and in Dome House you see Wright everywhere, except, as Soleri points out, in the table.  (In another Soleri section I use archival extensively to show the passing of time.)

I also have a feeling that when I’m using archival and home movies I’m working with found objects and incorporating them into a bigger canvas. I’m repurposing, in a sense, and I like that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about archival these days because I’m about to edit some new footage–the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project sections of the sample. These sections will add about eight minutes to the sample, which will bring it in at 35 minutes. It is now beginning to look more like a film than a sample.

But how to use it to advance Robert Darden and the BGMRP’s stories, and of course A Life’s Work as a whole? What footage do I choose? Where do I place it? How much? If I use gospel performance footage, what performer(s), which song(s), from when during the golden age? Big questions. Some of them have obvious answers, others don’t.

But finding answers to those questions is an exciting part of the process, and I’m grateful that I’ll have a chunk of time to examine those questions.

More on that chunk of time in the next post.

My Op-Ed on the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

One of the great things about a blog is it can be a testing ground for new ideas or work. My indignation over the razing of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater inspired me to put together the video of the amphitheater and write a post about it, The Unquantifiablity of a Place, Part 1. Participating in the Save Our Soleri (SOS) page on Facebook further motivated me to expand the post into an op-ed, which Planetizen, a web site dedicated to all things urban planning, ran yesterday.

Click here to read the piece. Watch the video by clicking “Paolo Soleri Amphitheater,” there on the left in that VodPod thingy. below.


Thanks to Tim Halbur for running it and including the video.



Paolo Soleri at Dome House: A Clip

In October 2006, Wolfgang Held and I flew to Arizona to interview Paolo Soleri. While we were there Soleri visited his first commission, Dome House, in Cave Creek, AZ.  I was told that his trip there was something of a rarity and we were fortunate to be able to film it. I suspect this is because Soleri doesn’t live in the past.

Here’s a three-minute and 25-second section of the sample, edited by Cabot Philbrick. Let me know what you think.


Special thanks to Stefan Grace, Mary  Hoadley, and of course Paolo Soleri.

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What’s A Life’s Work about? It’s a documentary about people engaged in projects they won’t see completed in their lifetimes. You can find out more on this page.

We recently ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough to pay an animator and license half of the archival footage the film requires. We need just a bit more to pay for licensing the other half of the archival footage, sound mixing, color correction, E&O insurance and a bunch of smaller things. When that’s done, the film is done! It’s really very VERY close!

So here’s how you can help get this film out to the world. It’s very simple: click the button…

Donate Now!

… and enter the amount you want to contribute (as little as $5, as much as $50,000) and the other specifics. That’s it. No login or registration required. Your contribution does not line my pocket; because the film is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, all money given this way is overseen by them and is guaranteed to go toward the completion of this film. Being fiscally sponsored also means that your contribution is tax-deductible. So why not do it? The amount doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re helping to bring a work of art into the world. And that, I think, is really exciting!

Questions? Email me at d a v i d ( aT } b l o o d o r a n g e f i l m s {d o t] c o m[/color-box]