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Eyesore of the Month

August 2008

tattoos

     Great urbanism, lousy programming.
     My fellow townspeople often confuse the architecture and urban design with the activity taking place in it. It's an important distinction. The building itself, shown here, is a sturdy but unspectacular business building on the main street (Broadway) of Saratoga Springs, NY. Think of it as a "background building." It's not trying to be special or monumental, but it does what we want it to do: it makes provision for retail near the street and it allows other activities upstairs (offices, apartments). It accomplishes all this complexity gracefully. The activity taking place here, however, is a symptom of the growing barbarism in American life. Tattooing has traditionally been a marginal activity among civilized people, the calling card of cannibals, sailors, and whores. The appropriate place for it is on the margins, in the back alleys, the skid rows. The mainstreaming of tattoos (on main street) is a harbinger of social dysfunction.