Even In satire Gehry generates firestorm

So on Thursday the local alternative weekly rag broke a seemingly incredible story; with funding from Emily Pulitzer (she who has employed Tadao Ando) the Cardinals management was to redevelop the site of the old Edward Durrel Stone designed Busch Stadium with a village of Gehry designed shards complete with another damn fish. Particularly chortle-inducing is Gehry's view on baseball

All in all, not an obvious choice to conceive a baseball-centric development. And in point of fact, Gehry couldn't care less about the sport. In one spirited e-mail joust with DeWitt, the architect freely admits he's not enamored of the American Pastime. "Not even close," he writes. "It's such a silly sport, don't you think? I appreciate its linear nature and lack of time constraints. But I much prefer watching ice hockey."

Gehry and DeWitt do, however, agree on one thing: It's about the fans.

"Watch how the little red people exit the stadium and wend their way around the site," Gehry urges DeWitt — "the site" being the fenced-in crater he has been retained to fill. "That's more interesting to me than any game. I see The Village as an extension of these patterns, a more refined version, where baseball fans can find sustenance in a more sophisticated atmosphere.

"Baseball is fine for the so-called boys of summer," Gehry's e-mail concludes, "but what St. Louis needs is something for the men — and women — of fall, winter and spring."

Plausible? Sadly yes, at least until you throw in the addition of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, (which does call St. Louis home) the Stanley Elkin Archives and the moving of the Kiel Opera House building one-half mile east. The story which is extremely well crafted (down to the engineer enthused about moving the Kiehl and the first play that will be performed by the repertory company in their new facility) certainly revives this cynical blogger's belief in the existence of satire à la Swift. The interesting (and possibly predictable) phenomenon has been the response to said article. The Riverfront Times was quickly forced to begin the web version of the story with this rather droll note:

"The sharp stick of satire titled "A Whole New Ballgame" appears to have poked more than the sensitive underbelly of St. Louis' collective cultural inferiority complex. An attorney who represents one of the famous people whose name the story features prominently called today to inform us that as far as it concerns their client, the piece is "entirely false" and has "no basis in truth whatsoever."

Whaddaya know? The principals of a company known and admired the world over (and their general counsel!) are reading li'l ol' Riverfront Times!

They did have a smidgen of constructive criticism to offer. In legal circles, the term is retraction.

The story below is a work of satire... The entrée that emerged lampoons the posturing of Cardinals ownership and city muckamucks around Ballpark Village (a.k.a. The Crater Formerly Known As Busch Stadium). It was inspired by a kernel of truth: namely, that last month the Cardinals reminded the city that the ballclub had only agreed to commit $60 million to redevelop the now-vacant site, and that it takes a few hundred million more to build a Village. From there we pretty much made it up, from Pulitzer's machinations to Gehry's illustrations to Shannon's protestations.

We trust you get the idea.

Given this quick and litigious response, one might have to take the position that, in the eyes of publicists at least, FOG isn't quite the wunderkind he once was. I can't help but to think that if this prank was pulled a decade ago, despite the complete lack of authenticity to the story, the parties involved might not have been so quick to debunk the story but rather would have basked in the spurious glow of the Bilbao effect (much like Cheney and WMDs) before softly putting the myth to rest. I believe the ferocity with which the Pulitzer team debunked this merriment shows that the endless parade of formulaic recyclings of metal chunks and tortured structures and a few neighborhood killing monster developments has taken the shine off the king of bling. Of course, with every city stunting to grab a piece of the tourist trade, and every small town pol buying Richard Florida's tripe hook line and sinker, museums to obscure persons and art institutes without permanent collections by starchitects proliferate throughout the first world and the danger of endless self-replication becomes paramount. Are you listening Danny?

But I still like the IAC building screw ups and all...

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