Land of the Free, Home of the Influenced
Saturday, November 20th, 2021

David Stairs Dick Clark at the Moulin Rouge by David Stairs In a land governed by capital, it comes as no surprise that so much value is attached to celebrity. One of the first great modern personalities, Oscar Wilde, said, “Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.” Thus, it would seem the cult of […]

Summer’s Peeping Toms
Sunday, July 25th, 2021

David Stairs While China installs a nationwide video surveillance system, people in the West fret about the potential damage to their privacy by CTV cameras. But, apart from high profile failures, like Toronto’s “smart city” project, we’ve actually been normalizing surveillance for decades. Just consider reality television.

Designing Mayhem
Saturday, April 24th, 2021

David Stairs Another day, another mass shooting. We’re led to believe by television that Mayhem is a guy in a suit, played by actor Dean Winters, who causes mass upheaval wherever he goes. If only it were that simple. Glock semi-automatic pistol designed by Gaston Glock

Is Fashion Unnatural?
Monday, March 15th, 2021

David Stairs Tom Tierney’s Rita Hayworth paper doll published by Dover As I sit by my Thermopane picture window reflecting on the wintry scene outdoors, I am distracted by the arrival of a mated pair of songbirds. A male cardinal hops onto my bird-feeder while his subtle mate shelters in a nearby bush.

Fluoride for Truth Decay
Thursday, February 11th, 2021

David Stairs Deep fake of the Queen’s Christmas address; courtesy Channel 4 A man walks into a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. armed with an automatic rifle determined to free children he believes are victims of a peadophilic sex trafficking “deep state.” People interviewed at a Stop the Steal rally in Atlanta tell interviewers a […]

Death’s Trombone
Saturday, January 9th, 2021

David Stairs Steve Zdep is dead, that much is certain. He passed away on November 6th, 2020 from causes not revealed in his obituary. The author in more innocent times

Have Yourself a Merry Little Covid
Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

David Stairs With states reporting record numbers of infections, there is no doubt that this Christmas season will be one many will find hard to forget. The malls and retail centers we so precipitously abandoned way back in March do not have the same attraction of earlier years. Since Covid is THE story of 2020, […]

Don’t Regret November 3rd
Monday, November 2nd, 2020

Maxed Out
Monday, October 26th, 2020

David Stairs Max is over, thank God. And by Max I mean Adobe Max, that brightshiny overripe bells-and-whistles software tradeshow masquerading as an allconsuming excuse to be pretentiously jejeune.

Masks! Of Course!
Friday, July 3rd, 2020

David Stairs America has finally caught mask fever, fifteen years later than Asian people. There are still many who refuse to “suit up” including Covid deniers, those suffering from claustrophobia, and some who claim medical excuses. But the possible reasons for not wearing a mask are narrowing, with major airlines rejecting travelers who renege.

The Tribble With Troubles
Thursday, May 14th, 2020

David Stairs Courtesy Wikipedia America’s got troubles. I don’t mean the song lyric kind, but, you know, serious troubles. And they’re not the soft purring type you might find on a now infamous classic sci-fi show. Those are tribbles, the sort that pundits and wags like to compare to Donald Trump’s hair.

Alternate Coronas
Sunday, April 19th, 2020

David Stairs Are you just about sick and tired of seeing pictures of viruses? Courtesy NIH

A Good Bookstore Deserves a Good Bookmark
Monday, March 2nd, 2020

David Stairs I suppose bookmarks are a personal thing. Some are woven; some are printed; some are just bits of stuff. My son uses a piece of red thread. I won’t say that I collect bookmarks either, but when I am in a bespoke store I will not leave without one. In honor of my […]

Resistance is Futile
Sunday, January 19th, 2020

David Stairs Paramount “We Are the Borg.” With these words, Maurice Hurley, writing for the Star Trek TNG episode Q Who?, unleashed one of television’s most implacable adversaries on the world. But, as with much speculative fiction, Hurley and his co-writers were only mining the literature of science and engineering probability.

The Tyranny of Development
Monday, October 8th, 2018

David Stairs Economic growth is one of those hot-button issues politicians are always promising to support. In fact, almost the surest way to a failed career in politics is to preside over an economic downturn. This land in NE Portland won’t be empty for long

Repurposing Dinosaurs
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

David Stairs Ruin porn is everywhere. Photos of Detroit’s semi-preserved Michigan Central Station abound, and photographers continue to document while critics and journalists debate the pros and cons of what Dora Apel in her recent book Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline (2015) terms the “deindustrial sublime.”

Designing Death
Sunday, October 29th, 2017

David Stairs I was recently in Prague, which in June 2017 celebrated the 75th anniversary of one of the most heroic and daring commando actions of the Second World War. On June 4, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia was attacked on his way to work when his Mercedes slowed at a […]

Design IS the Problem
Monday, October 2nd, 2017

David Stairs courtesy The iconic images of Houston under 10 feet of water should have by now burned themselves into your brain. “How did we get to this point?” you ask. With one word: Design.

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

The third and final article in our series on the American prison system. —Ed. Hannah Boyd For you, DJ, the person who shared part of his life with me. And for you, former mayor of Indianapolis Greg Ballard, the person who vehemently rejected the concept of prison slave labor, the implications of the 13th amendment, […]

Shared Meal
Friday, June 23rd, 2017

This essay continues our investigation of America’s prison system, and extends D-A-P’s collaboration with Ball State architecture students into the fifth year. —Ed. Julia Voigt Despite jails being one of the most recognizable typologies of the built environment, the criminal justice system itself is far removed from the realm of the architectural profession. This lack […]

Critiquing the Prison Industrial Complex
Sunday, April 16th, 2017

David Stairs Every once in awhile you meet a group of students that stands out. This was the case with my Junior studio a year ago. When we collaborated with the School of Businesses’ entrepreneurial contest, they were all in, and we just clicked. I knew 2017 would be my year to mentor our Graphic […]

The Power of John Heartfield
Saturday, February 25th, 2017

David Stairs Image: David Stairs I recently started reading Volker Ullrich’s biography HITLER: Ascent 1889-1939 out of a curiosity to better understand the motivations of the man often ranked as history’s most malevolent monster. Along the way I became fascinated by the parallels between Uncle Adolf and a more recent demagogue of the American ilk. […]

On Swallowing and Being Swallowed
Friday, January 13th, 2017

David Stairs Control is the object of consolidation, what Nietsche once called the “will to power.” Soul Searching Consider the rise of multinational corporations. Monopoly is the capitalist ideal. Although shrouded in so-called antitrust laws preventing market domination— the idea being that competition is healthy for markets— captains of industry have always sought market dominance. […]

A Kinder, Gentler Blue and Red Universe
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

David Stairs When I think of blue and red the notion of Democrat and Republican naturally come to mind. One can find any number of red-blue maps online that attempt to represent our political differences. I even wrote about it here after the last Presidential election. Happily, there is another, earlier visual application of red […]

Prius Town
Friday, August 28th, 2015

David Stairs Whenever visiting Portland, Oregon I am always struck by the huge number of bicyclists— aggressive, self-righteous, ubiquitous. No matter that many of them weren’t even born yet when I was bike commuting— it’s great to see so many! But there is another meme at work here. I am a Prius owner, but I’ve […]