Gangway, You Helots

Good essay on Meet John Doe, part of a larger series on "American heroes." This trope bears studying because it's still very much with us: somehow people got the idea that George Bush was a hero and spoke for the common person. So-called Straight Talk McCain and the manly-smelling Fred Thompson (manly-smelling to Chris Matthews anyway) also tap into this ideal.

Interstitial Architecture in Providence

These folks furnished and lived in an apartment in an overlooked cinderblock space inside the Providence Mall--the nook was originally used in the construction of the building in the late '90s, abandoned, and obviously not very well guarded. They moved in a stove, couch, dishes, rugs, TV, playstation, but no toilet. Their squat lasted a few years. This reminds me of J.G. Ballard's book Concrete Island, about a man marooned in an overlooked urban pocket between freeways and his Robinson Crusoe-like existence there. An interesting YouTube linkable from the newspaper article shows how the Providence Mall was designed to provide pedestrian frontage only to the well-to-do neighborhoods but very little access from the "poor" areas. The apartment was on the "back" side of the mall. (hat tip to bloggy)