JHK is one of the greats. Yes, his weekly blog is probably a bit "doomy" for many tastes and at times can be almost hateful of American culture, but he dares to verbalize--loudly at that--those thoughts and fears that most of us can only momentarily and with great trepidation ponder upon in the deepest, darkest recesses of our minds: that our way of life, more than likely, is headed for a great upheaval as the available resources--primarily energy--with which to fuel industrial civilization continue to decline.
Now his podcasts, on the other hand, are insightful, humorous, and offer a nice-counter point--a palate cleanser, if you will--to the vitriol and bombast of his blogs. Yet they contain plenty of his signature savage critiques on sprawlchitecture and still manage to drop a few truth nuggets about Peak Oil and other topics. I've turned a few non-planner friends on to the podcasts and they've enjoyed them.
I think my favorite JHK comment, which I believe he said at the TED convention in Monterey in 2001, was that America is, by and large, a country "not worth saving," and that many of our bravest young men and women are out there dying on the plains of Mesopotamia for the "curb cut between the Wal-Mart and Chuck-E-Cheese." Ouch.
I like him. He speaks his mind and his ideas are great. He does have a strange thing against people with tatoos or rather the tatoos themselves.
Anyway, I think his craziness is needed on one side to better define the middle.
My problem with Kunstler is his one size fits all mentality. He seems to believe that there is a "traditional" and appropriate American city form that has specified aesthetic as well as functional and operational criteria. As such, he becomes just another sound byte and screamer in the culture wars.. which also makes him totally useless as a source of legitimate urban planning inspiration. We need solutions and process, not polemics. I'm sure he makes for good copy and nice cocktail party conversation, but he's dangerous in any real sense.. kind of like DPZ imposing their white upper-middle-classisms on post-Katrina construction, and getting drummed out of much of the Gulf Coast as a result. As far as I'm concerned. his frequent use of the phrase "graceful urban decorum" is code for what at best is provincialism and, at worst, is racism and classism. And what is his problem with high rise buildings?
This being said, I do find it highly entertaining when he makes a point of leaving my firm's logo on the some of the images that occasionally surface on his "architectural abortions" website. I gather we rank very high up on the list of people he thinks make the world a worse place.. being Modernists an' all.
Last edited by Cismontane; 05 Oct 2010 at 1:10 PM.