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The Naive Ramblings of a Polymathic Pop Star

by The Editors on January 11, 2013

Screen shot from Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog (click to enlarge)

Screen shot from Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog (click to enlarge)

Moby is a polymath, that we know. If we didn’t know that, we found out after visiting the tea shop he used to own on the Lower East Side. Maybe you’ve also heard other factoids about him too, like his support for animal rights or his alleged ancestral link to Herman Melville (get it, Moby = Moby Dick). We do not jest. (Actually, his Wikipedia page is full of surprises.)

Today we look at another facet of Moby’s broad passion: the architecture of Los Angeles. Moby has been running a blog on this subject for a little while — he moved to LA in 2010. It’s a very simple blog, both in style and content. He could afford something very well-designed, but it’s just a plain gray Tumblr account with a title that looks like he spent about 2 seconds thinking it up: Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog. Each post includes a photograph taken while exploring LA, and some text. His lower-case musings are genuine, if twee; perhaps he is embracing the idea of the amateur opinion, which the internet certainly promotes. The writing is notable for its casual and sometimes apologetic tone. Apologetic for not being “an academic or architect,” as he explains, and for thus saying things like “i stumbled upon this giant orthodox church cathedral that also looks like a giant orthodox space ship.” (This post got 75 “notes.”)

Moby seems to think he alone has discovered the fact that LA is actually not just “a place of unrelenting vapidity and generic 1980s architecture” and must alert the world. Is this stereotype really still relevant? Is this like a blog about how people in New York aren’t actually rude? His repetition of the word “beige” to describe the environment is equally bland.

Moby rambles around the city, delighting in its worthy eclectic constructions and responding in a deliberately naive manner, often stating “i don’t know” in regards to a building’s date or architect. In fact, in one post he calls himself “captain ignorant.” This is a bit maddening, as we can only presume Moby carries a smart phone (probably the latest model) and could therefore find out the answers to such mysteries with a few slides of his fingertip. So why doesn’t he? Is he trying to have some kind of pure aesthetic experience, unfettered by dates and names, a flaneur of the surface? If so, does he deliberately black out information? He writes, “i naively hope that clifton’s cafeteria is being restored.” It is, Moby — it is! Its restoration has been in the news for over a year. So easy to find out with the Google. And when he asks the tough questions like, “is it a frank lloyd wright house? what is it?”, perhaps he is remaining loyal to his purist methodology, but we, as readers, want to scream “YES! Yes it is! Just look it up, Moby. Please.”

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  • Den Hickey

    … or perhaps he wants to retain his reactions that are not informed by instant access to so much of the world’s knowledge. I think there is some real worth in that. It preserves not simply ignorance, but the workings of the mind on the information it already possesses, the questions that are formed that way, and a state where we perhaps don’t WANT to know everything.

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