Disney Hall’s six-level, 2,188-space underground garage cost $110 million to build (about $50,000 per space). Financially troubled Los Angeles County, which built the garage, went into debt to ?nance it, expecting that parking revenues would repay the borrowed money. But the garage was completed in 1996, and Disney Hall—which suffered from a budget less grand than its vision—became knotted in delays and didn’t open until late 2003. During the seven years in between, parking revenue fell far short of debt payments (few people park in an underground structure if there is nothing above it) and the county, by that point nearly bankrupt, had to subsidize the garage even as it laid off employees.
The county owns the land beneath Disney Hall, and its lease for the site specifies that Disney Hall must schedule at least 128 concerts each winter season. Why 128? That’s the minimum number of concerts that will generate the parking revenue necessary to pay the debt service on the garage. And in its ?rst year, Disney Hall scheduled exactly 128 concerts. The parking garage, ostensibly designed to serve the Philharmonic, now has the Philharmonic serving it; the minimum parking requirements have led to a minimum concert requirement.
“I mean,” Hockney continued, “I’ve observed his progress, though at times that was by no means easy, and for the longest time I felt that his position on the photographing of his work”—a flat prohibition, as it happens (which is one of the principal reasons he was so much less well known among the public at large)—“was pretty preposterous, and somewhat fetishistic.” Irwin for his part accounted for that absolutist injunction by arguing that a photograph could capture everything that the work was not about (which is to say its image) and nothing that it was about (which is to say its presence), so why bother?
Hockney paused and took a drag on a cigarette before going on to confound me entirely: “The thing is,” he now said, “with time I’ve come to see that Irwin was right about that ban on photographing his work; I wish I’d imposed a similar ban regarding my own from the outset.” (This from an artist whose work was more photographed and more ubiquitously visible in the world than that of just about anybody else, with the possible exception of Andy Warhol!) “I mean, no one can come upon one of my paintings in a museum, say, and simply see it; instead they see the poster in their college dorm or the dentist’s office or the jacket on the book they are reading, all sorts of second-rate mediations getting in the way of experiencing the work as if from scratch.”
Michael Pollan, author of the best-selling book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” is a [Berkeley] Bowl regular who calls the store one of his top three places to buy food in the world. Still, he knows there’s easier shopping.
One time, Pollan was picking out a box of cereal for his daughter when a fellow shopper interrupted him. “He said, ‘I’m watching Michael Pollan shop for groceries,’ ” Pollan recalled. “There was this note of disappointment that I was buying Fruity Pebbles. Berkeley is full of hall monitors. It’s a small town, and people are looking into each other’s baskets.”
John Perry Barlow: Before the WEC came out, business was big and ugly. It was a kingdom of acronyms like IBM and GE. But Stewart saw sustainable small business as a virtue.
Lloyd Kahn: This wasn’t business as usual. Backyard tool inventors are a real subculture, usually very apart from the mainstream. For these tool guys, the WEC wasn’t just their Bible; it was great advertising. I think we kept a lot of people in business over the years.
Kevin Kelly: The WEC helped rid us of our allergy to commerce. Brand believed in capitalism, just not by traditional methods. He was the first person to embrace true financial transparency. His decision to disclose WEC’s finances in the pages of the catalog had a profound ripple effect. A lot of those hippies who dropped out and tried to live off the land decided to come back and start small companies because of it. And out of that came the Googles of the world.
Fred Turner: The WEC set the stage for all of today’s social networks. This kind of collaborative communication and the emphasis on small-scale technology really hit home in early Silicon Valley. You have to remember that the first Xerox PARC [the Palo Alto Research Center, a division of Xerox credited with inventing laser printing and the Ethernet, among other things] library consisted of books selected from the WEC by computer guru Alan Kay.