In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my short story “Materiality,” which was commissioned for Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture, a book edited by Edwina Attlee, Phineas Harper and Maria Smith that is part of the Oslo Architecture Triennale.
The editors pitched me on writing a story about sustainability and de-financialization in architecture, and I asked them if they’d be OK with someone who is both an environmentalist and pro-abundance — in the mode of Leigh Phillips’s groundbreaking Austerity Ecology and the Collapse Porn Addicts. They graciously accepted.
What followed was “Materiality,” a story that ultimately turned into a kind of dry-run for the novel I’m planning now, which I call my “Green New Deal/truth and reconcilliation/Modern Monetary Theroy” novel; I’ve just written another very short story in the same vein for a new British magazine and my notes file for the book is filling up so fast that I’m pretty sure I’m about ready to start writing.
It was supposed to be a special graduation treat: for their last two weeks of middle school, Artemio’s class would be the model classroom for the Huerta’s Twenty-First Town, part of the show for all the *other* kids whose teachers were no more excited about being in school in the final weeks of May than their students were.
Artemio’s parents thought it was going to be great. His dad had loved the Huerta when he was a kid, and his mom, who had grown up in Oregon, had been charmed by the Huerta when she moved to LA for grad school. There hadn’t been a Twenty-First Town back then, only the Tongva village, the Mission, the pioneer town, the Gold Rush town, the FEMA camp. It was still enough for the Huerta to claim to be “the world’s largest open-air museum,” though much of its land was raw San Fernando Valley grit and scrub, with each little village connected to the other by a fleet of lovingly maintained antique vehicles from every era of California history: Redcar trams, omnibuses, horse-drawn carriages, Model Ts, a pod of hand-rubbed convertibles and muscle-cars that still ran on gasoline.
Artemio didn’t think it was going to be great. His grandparents had told him enough stories of their childhoods to convince him that Old Timey People were fucking idiots (Artemio’s parents said he could swear, so long as he did it well). It wasn’t just the stupidity of sending tons of CO2 into the atmosphere: it was the *reason* for all that CO2, which was the production, distribution and elimination of some really terrible *stuff*.