Mar 31, 2010

Part Human, Part Machine, Part Fantasy, Part Real

Download a pdf of illustrative images here.

The sight of Oscar Pistorius running unsettles me. All the visual tropes of the running athlete – bulging calves, stretched tendons, flexing ankles – are conspicuous by their absence. This is because Pistorius’ legs end at the knees. He runs on two curved pieces of carbon fibre that are sold under the name Cheetah Flexfeet. The cutting edge in prosthetic design, modeled on a cheetah’s feet, they will allow the disabled Pistorius to compete against abled runners in the 2012 Olympics. Cheetah Flexfeet are prosthetic limbs that actually work better than human limbs.

I am ashamed to admit it, but all I can think when I see Pistorius is “Cyborg.”

Mar 20, 2010

Ode to a White Coffee Cup

O white porcelain hemisphere,
O quotidian receptacle
of caffeinated elixirs!
Do you comfort me
with your fragility,
or mock me
with such extreme perfection?

Love Thy Neighbour: the Sad Tale of the West Park Presbyterian Church

The bright blue plywood roof of a pedestrian protection corridor wraps around the massive red sandstone walls of the West Park Presbyterian church at 86th street, clearly marking it as a construction site. “For Sale” signs on the plywood list the numbers of real estate agents, but you may be sure their phones aren’t ringing off the hook. Under the dark shadows of the pedestrian corridor, the notice board carries only one sign: Services are now being held two blocks west, at the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew.

This was the sorry state of affairs at West Park Presbyterian even before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) officially designated it a historical landmark in January 2010. Designed by Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn in a Romanesque Revival style and completed in 1889, this gabled church, with its rose windows and high tower, richly deserves the designation. It was a landmark in its time, with a wealthy Upper West Side congregation. However, that congregation steadily dwindled, putting the church in financial straits and causing the building to fall into disrepair.