Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Frank Lloyd Wright Hates You

He does. He really does. 

I didn't know this of course.  I thought we were going to Scottsdale to visit with Broken Bow, Nebraska's crack medical team of Keith and Shaleah and touring the architecturally significant structure that is Taliesin West. I assumed it would be, er, more bucolic and awe-inspiring. Mostly I just felt like FLW didn't want guests.

At Taliesin we were led by our knowledgeable volunteer tour guide, Philip, around the property where he shared all kinds of anecdotal evidence of Frank's irritability. Wright was a true reactionary. Mostly in that anything that annoyed him created a chain reaction of design furies carried out by slaves, I mean architecture students.

The delightful firefly-like lights the guide your way in movie theaters and airplane aisles? Yep. The brain fury of FLW.
Apparently people were using flashlights to get to their seats during performances and PISSING HIM OFF.

The delightful siting of the property?. No. Not an organic approach to architectural design that reflects the gentle slope of the Arizona hills. He just hated the power lines the city put up so he flipped all the buildings around.

My mental image of FLW is a man with that mad professor look. Unkept hair (and eyebrows) and yelling a lot.
And he seemed to care nothing for safety. Every ceiling was low and made of skin-ripping concrete. The fireplaces, considered revolutionary by our tour guide, looked like dog/kid/drunk friend crematoriums with their "open" design.

There seems to be such a huge FLW following. So many groupies wanting to know where he slept, ate, created, and if they can touch his pencil.

I'm more impressed by such inventions as this spatula.  So maybe I'm not their target audience.

Then the next day we climbed Phoenix's South Mountain. 

This is an activity I suggest you do under the advisement of your doctor. I, feeling brave since I was with Broken Bow, Nebraska's crack medical team, nearly got to the top (totally out of breath the whole time) before getting nauseous and dizzy. 

By the time I finally caught up with the tall athletic threesome from Nebraska (who all practically skipped to the top while I struggled along behind) I found them sitting happily on benches taking in the view. 

Nearby, families also took in the view as they scrambled about and then drove back down the mountain. Couldn't help feeling a little a) pissed that they were all such weaklings that they had to drive and b) pissed I hadn't been given the option.

TOMORROW: Report on the 999 Eyes Freakshow. Exploitation of physical deformities? Yes please!


  1. I think that photo of FLW looks alarmingly like an elderly Jimmy Stewart in a hat that is three sizes too small. "Whaaa Marie, this, uh, h-h-hat is th-r-r-ee sizes too small!"
    I do want to say that it was rather inspiring to see Kat make it all the way to the top despite looking like she wouldn't make it. She said a mix of difficult breathing and trying to keep up with long-legged people wasn't a good one, but she was able to keep up. And the view at the top was worth it. I think Keith and Shaleah have some pics, so I hope those will find the light of blog soon.

  2. I completely agree with your assessment. Plus, the place was basically a dump. The colors were sort of, well, pukey. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and educational experience. It's always fun to get insights into crazy, famous people's lives.

  3. Interesting coincidence. I'm reading a book called "Auldbrass Frank Llloyd Wright's Southern Plantation: by David G. De Long. The plantation is located in Yemassee, SC. You know how many times we've passed through Yemassee on the way to Fripp Island and didn't bother to stop in and see Frank's place? Well the place that Crazy Frank designed for tycoon C. Leigh Stevens. We'll have to touch base next time we drift south.

  4. google Auldbrass as this crazy space won't accept a nice long url.

  5. Next time I'm there, we should instead just go to the FLW "inspired" Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, laze around by the pool and sip Gun Club Punch at Trader Vic's.