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Welcome to Saved by Design

February 17, 2023

New Stuff:

In Home Page: An Hour With Paul Goldberger

In A Miracle Of Coincidence: “It is finished.”

In A Year In Lent: Only Consistency Allows Change

In Random StuffPearl Harbor

In Absence: Easters

In Left To Myself: A Decade In Memory

In Emily’s Days: Coda

In Not (As) Fat: One Meal A Day

In Finding Home: Occupation Preoccupation

In The Rules: 1) Plan. 2) Section. 3) Elevation

In Silence In SpringAstonishing

In Days ’till Spring: “Karening”

every nothing

June 1, 2023

given Everything

nothing is a gift

the angers

and fear

and reasons

mean nothing, too


is a rescue –

no victim, but living

in a place

we did not make

but are given.

it is hard to accept.

nothing meant

May 29, 2023


on me


but mirror


happens away from distraction


ends transparency

Crackers & Grape Juice

May 27, 2023

I was moved by this –

…the world is there

May 27, 2023

…the world is there

whether you are
or not

I know too much
to get out of my own way

fighting death

a man works out
and talking

to a plug
In his ear

there is
a pay phone

on the road

after the war

May 20, 2023


the smell

of time

left with ourselves


the passion

now dim

knows no triumph

only survival

or not

Ugly HOME?

May 15, 2023

LIVE! NOON! Thursday May 25! WPKN 89.5fm – STREAMING

Are There More Ugly Buildings?

The internet has exposed everything all the time: and the florid marketing language promoting designs washes over every self-promotion: and when the built reality is simply banal, arbitrary, even ugly the word hyperbole celebrates sad buildings. What you could drive by becomes a screaming posturing marketing shill:

Is this just the normal posturing of the trends of marketing and design cool that has happened since architecture became part of popular culture – or has the internet connection taken ideas of designers and instantly turned them into cliches to be cut-and-pasted into a building? Has the universal CAD drawing of everything made our buildings quilts of prefabricated images, versus a woven, interactive composition? Will Artificial Intelligence take the a-la-cart method of random tacking of hyped pieces so easy that our buildings first shock, then exhaust, ultimately become noise to our culture?

So, are there more ugly buildings being built, or are all buildings just fully promoted on the free and universal internet, where once editors, design juries and writers selected what we saw beyond our car?

There are palpable examples of using hype to market buildings, rather than spend the time (and money) to think about how our buildings change to adapt to the moment and each building’s context.

There are a growing number of spontaneous infections of black roof rashes of solar panels are disfiguring even the most quaint and cute homes all around us.

Black trim has become the Goth Mascara of unending homes as architectural make-up goes bold to get attention, and project a body image problem acting out in cosmetics.

The stick frame over podium box buildings have continued to metastasize and wedge themselves into neighborhoods that once had variety.

Our homes cannot contain the tumorous growths of garages that dominate the public face of new homes, once one, then two, now three gaping cankers are in full control of many home’s sites.

As with any Building Boom in America, the gentle, modest buildings that deferred to neighborhoods are being murdered, torn down and replaced by maxxed-out construction on steroids exploding in cacophonies of architectural cliches.

Exteriors that were once rational manipulations of a building’s shape have gone from simple skins to become enflamed with rashes of four, no, seven materials, colors, patterns – all in collision.

Join an incredible group of those who have thought long and hard about aesthetics and culture: historian and architect Witold Rybczynski- , Architecture Editor Martin Pedersen – , Home design writer and editor Peter Chapman, who was at Taunton Press for thirty years – and architect and writer Steve Mouzon – >

life, and

May 14, 2023

they had us

when memory was

not knowing

was what they knew

now is not then

then either

what happens to the hole

when your foot leaves the water

When God Was Not There

May 10, 2023

Five and a half years ago, on my way into New York, a Peekskill, New York police officer told me they had found my sibling’s body, in her bed. She had not returned to work, where she never left, and was found lifeless in her home.

Her home had become a hoarder’s refuge, without access to the unusable bath and kitchen, filled with refuse. But when discovered it had carefully detoxed of her endless cigarette butts or rotting garbage amid feet of stacked refuse. Her careful preparation, included an opened letter from me from a decade prior (never answered, as no connection attempt ever was) laid open under a lit lamp over a pile of unopened notes from me was left for me to find. One last connection.

The picture above shows a 14 year old Win Dickinson in 1964. The year before he had quit the small private school my parents had supported for their children as the public schools, the schools my parents attended, were deemed “second rate” by them. My father had become Chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, and that day was handing out diplomas to the graduating 8th grade class. My brother’s class before he pleaded after 7th grade “I just can’t take it.” And, to my my parents, validated the ruling from his grades in grammar school that he was “second rate”. My parents let him quit, but forced him to attend what was to be his graduation. My sister was also in academic crisis, quitting The Master’s School a month before her high school graduation the year before, driving herself to California.

I was quietly in 3rd grade.

My parent’s world had failed them. Their children were not them, two Ivy League suburban survivors of Depression and World War 2. My brother came to have failed careers, college, marital and religious efforts. He told me once that “God showed me that He was my father.” He then, somehow, left the church he had devoted himself to. Somehow he had failed that Father, too.

In a last salvation, Winthrop fully transitioned (with the inheritance from the parents he failed) to become Pandora. And I never saw him again over the next 16 years. The carefully chosen home after transition (purchased from that inheritance) became untenable as a life spent buying all meals, none made, all clean clothes (dirty apparently tossed) and drinking a great deal consumed all his modest salary, leaving nothing for property taxes, as the rental income from his tenant disappeared too. The town was taking possession of the house the day the police found her body.

I know because I was the one left holding her life in my hands after death.

But God did not fail his children. His children, all of us, create the lives we live in. Those creations are ours, not His. And we are humans, whose central characteristic is that we know our failures and want to know God.

73 years ago, today, a baby was birthed. It’s perfection was just true. And our imperfections surrounded him, and us everyday. God does not fail us. We fail to be God. Somehow we think we, our children, the world, should be as Perfect as if we were the God who made us.

We are not.

ordinary time

May 7, 2023


change done

justification ends

and the world

without graduation

becomes living

When God Betrays You

May 7, 2023

it ends

and should not

the song is silent

what was light

is now dark

God did not fail you

the world you made