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Monday, January 31, 2005

Bohemian New York - The golden age of bohemia. By Inigo Thomas



Bohemian New York

From: Inigo Thomas
Subject: The Arrival of a Bohemian
Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, at 11:38 AM PT

There's no bohemia in today's New York. Nothing resembles Greenwich Village in its various incarnations from the turn of the 20th century to the 1960s, or the art-scene East Village of the late 1970s and 1980s, or Williamsburg in the early 1990s. You can try to find bohemia in far-away Bushwick or Red Hook, both districts of Brooklyn. You can go over the Hudson to the disused warehouses of Jersey City; to Harlem; or even across the harbor to Staten Island, where, in the 1950s, in a house near the ferry terminal, the bohemian critic and Henry James scholar Marius Bewley threw legendary weekendlong parties at which he sometimes dressed as a cardinal, so legendary that I heard about these gatherings across the ocean, in London, 40 years on. But you don't come to find such a place, do you? You come to live the life.

Bohemia doesn't exist as a place. There's no point chasing after it. The bars, saloons, and clubs where bohemians once congregated—the Cedar Tavern on University Place (where the Abstract Expressionist painters met), Cafe Reggio on McDougal Street (a hang-out for the Beat poets, for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac), CBGB on the Bowery (the punk bohemian metropolis of the '70s and early '80s)—aren't bohemian in any sense. Today, the clientele at these places are likely to be students or tourists.

That's not to say there aren't bohemians in the city. There are, but they choose not to live among each other, in a village or a quarter, where they would drive themselves, and those around them, near-mad; bohemians in group invariably do. Christine Stansell's entertaining American Moderns, a history of Greenwich Village bohemia from 1900 to 1920, chronicles the lives of a group of bohemian self-dramatists—Mable Dodge, John Reed, Max Eastman, and many others—who went about making their names often by torturing friends with their arguing and affairs. Whenever bohemians are together, they're likely to be indifferent to the feelings of others. They argue and coerce one another, though their arguing and coercing are sometimes distinguishable from their indifference to other people. Gary Indiana, who lived the East Village bohemia of the 1980s, says that after you've lived in New York for a time you end up liking the people you loathed. I might add that once you start liking those you hated, you're through with bohemianism.

Bohemians aren't necessarily preoccupied by artistic endeavors—or the doing or the making of anything. Not all artists are bohemian, though bohemians invariably live as if their lives were art. They live by love affairs and passions, art by other means, and, when affairs go wrong or passions fade, they nurse the maximum regret—the dramatic falling out, the theatrical breaking-up—with red wine or drugs or wanderings, the serious gloom a necessary counterweight to all the overexuberance.

In my experience, when a bohemian-minded friend arrives in New York, the entire city has tended to assume a more bohemian character: Bohemians are intensely influential, forever altering their immediate surroundings. They're always visitors, whether they live here or not, always unsettled. They're without ordinary troubles. They're out of touch with the life that's considered real. They're more anachronistic than alienated. They're hopeless, yet mysteriously capable of getting by without anyone knowing how they do so. They're people of impossibly modest means who nevertheless live often life more richly or vividly than anyone else. They're irregular in every habit and instinct save one—an irrepressible urge to move, against what appears to be their best interests, whenever they feel too comfortable. They shift from high life to low life and vice versa. One day they convince themselves they are tortured by love; the next they express their conviction that nothing is more enduring. Everything in their lives is animated by intensely felt subjective experience.

With a true bohemian, there's never a chance of assimilation; life is a condition of permanent resistance to belonging (to place, to family, anything resembling a home), though I've always believed they tend to be at their best in New York. It's a good city for émigrés, for those passing through, for the strays and the wayward, the people permanently estranged from home—until New York appears unbearably homely and domesticated, as it can when seen from certain angles.

Many New Yorkers complain that New York is not what it was—back in the 1970s or the 1950s, or in the Gilded Age. But that's because they are, or have become, New Yorkers, and it's a condition of belonging to complain. For those who don't belong, and in an era when border controls are fiercer than ever, when you're forced to belong perhaps more than you'd like, it's the bohemian's achievement (if they have no other) that they don't appear to belong anywhere.

Recently, I went to visit a bohemian friend, who had recently arrived in New York. He was at the Chelsea, the hotel famous less for its comfort—there's no room service, for example—than for those who have stayed in its beds, or who sometimes died en suite. It's where Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen, and from its front door Dylan Thomas walked out into a day and did not return. My friend was staying with friends who'd also recently arrived from London. (I've done the same myself, this staying with friends from out-of-town, in nomadic phases, and there have been several in my New York existence, months when I've not lived anywhere.) He occupied the sofa in the main room of a surprisingly elegant and recently restored set of rooms, so very out of character with rest of this legendarily shabby-chic hotel—the pleasantly seedy corridors, the dust in the lobby, the reassuring disorder at the front desk and the jaded spontaneity of those who work behind it. The artwork in hallways and stairwells, which once looked fresh to some, vibrantly colorful in an '80s way, is now catastrophically inert, speaking to no one, except, maybe, to some of the hotel's lifers—the people who live at the Chelsea, among them a few surviving Chelsea Girls of the Andy Warhol era.

You either like this sort of atmosphere or you don't, and the Chelsea is more expensive than it was—close to 200 bucks a night, including tax. You might prefer the Harlem Flop House, a brownstone with just four rooms on 122nd St., which is popular with a curator from Tate Britain, and close to Harlem jazz clubs such as The Lenox Lounge, Lucy's, Perk's, and Showmans, not far also from the white-stone tomb of Ulysses S. Grant on 123rd Street and Riverside Drive. In the summer, weekly jazz concerts are performed on the plaza in front of the Grant mausoleum, and on warm, clear, humid nights, when the fireflies are sparking, the light fading to the west over the Hudson, few experiences are as haunting and as beautiful as an open air jazz concert performed in front of the memorial to an American president and general who fought against slavery and for the preservation of the Union. There are jazz aficionados, many of them seated in folding jazz chairs, at their jazz picnics; others are dancing; the rest stand staring at the musicians (you can buy a picnic from the nearby Fairway Market on the river and 135th Street). These concerts aren't New York occasions, however, they're an American experience, in which you are thrown into the history of a continent and into the history of those Americans whose music is an expression of their experience of suffering and their triumph over the worst of it.

Inigo Thomas lives in New York, though from time to time he considers living elsewhere. He is a journalist, an editor, and has worked for Slate, George, and the London Review of Books. He has an enthusiasm for voyages of exploration and for 18th-century natural science.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2112812/

Jokes sent from my friend Cheryl

What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover?
The position of the dirt bag.

Why is divorce so expensive?
Because it's worth it.

Why is Chelsea Clinton so homely?
Because Janet Reno is her real father.

What do you call a smart blonde?
A golden retriever.

What do attorneys use for birth control?
Their personalities.

What's the difference between a girlfriend and wife?
45 lbs.

What's the difference between a boyfriend and husband?
45 minutes.

What's the fastest way to a man's heart?
Through his chest with a sharp knife.

Why do men want to marry virgins?
They can't stand criticism.

Why is it so hard for women to find men that are sensitive, caring, and good-looking?
Because those men already have boyfriends.

What's the difference between a new husband and a new dog?
After a year, the dog is still excited to see you.

What makes men chase women they have no intention of marrying?
The same urge that makes dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving.


A brunette, a blonde, and a redhead are all in third grade.
Who has the biggest boobs?
The blonde, because she's 18.

Why don't bunnies make noise when they have sex?
Because they have cotton balls.

What's the difference between a porcupine and BMW?
A porcupine has the pricks on the outside.

What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant?
"Are you sure it's mine?"

What's the difference between Beer Nut s and Deer Nuts?
Beer Nuts are $1, and Deer Nuts are always under a buck.

Why do men find it difficult to make eye contact?
Breasts don't have eyes.

Did you hear about the dyslexic Rabbi?
He walks around saying "Yo."

Why do drivers' education classes in Redneck schools use the car only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?
Because on Tuesday and Thursday, the Sex Ed class uses it.

What's the Cuban National Anthem?
"Row, Row, Row Your Boat"

Where does an Irish family go on vacation?
A different bar.

What would you call it when an Italian has one arm shorter than the other?
A speech impediment.

What does it mean when the flag at the Post Office is flying at half-mast?
They're hiring.

What's the difference between a southern zoo and a northern zoo?
A southern zoo has a description of the animal on the front of the cage along with... "a recipe."

How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F... word?
Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*!

What's the difference between a northern fairytale and a southern fairytale?
A Northern fairytale begins "Once upon a time..."
A southern fairytale begins "Y'all ain't gonna believe this shit..."

Why is there no Disneyland in China?
No one's tall enough to go on

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Oklahoma Wine News

Frank Rich: Forget Armor. All You Need Is Love



January 30, 2005
FRANK RICH
Forget Armor. All You Need Is Love

JAN. 30 is here at last, and the light is at the end of the tunnel, again. By my estimate, Iraq's election day is the fifth time that American troops have been almost on their way home from an about-to-be pacified Iraq. The four other incipient V-I days were the liberation of Baghdad (April 9, 2003), President Bush's declaration that "major combat operations have ended" (May 1, 2003), the arrest of Saddam Hussein (Dec. 14, 2003) and the handover of sovereignty to our puppet of choice, Ayad Allawi (June 28, 2004). And this isn't even counting the two "decisive" battles for our nouveau Tet, Falluja. Iraq is Vietnam on speed - the false endings of that tragic decade re-enacted and compressed in jump cuts, a quagmire retooled for the MTV attention span.

But in at least one way we are not back in Vietnam. Iraq hawks, like Vietnam hawks before them, often take the line that to criticize America's mission in Iraq is to attack the troops. That paradigm just doesn't hold. Americans, including those opposed to the war, love the troops (Lynndie England always excepted). Not even the most unhinged Bush hater is calling our all-volunteer army "baby killers." This time, paradoxically enough, it is often those who claim to love the troops the most - and who have the political power to help alleviate their sacrifice - who turn out to be the troops' false friends.

There was, for instance, according to the Los Angeles Times, "nary a mention" of the Iraq war or "the prices paid by American soldiers and their families" at the lavish Inauguration bash thrown for the grandees of the Christian right by the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition at Washington's Ritz-Carlton. This crowd cares about the troops much the way the Fifth Avenue swells in the 1936 Hollywood classic "My Man Godfrey" cared about the "forgotten men" of the Depression - as fashion ornaments and rhetorical conveniences. In that screwball comedy, a socialite on a scavenger hunt collects a genuine squatter from the shantytown along the East River. "All you have to do is go to the Waldorf-Ritz Hotel with me," she tells her recruit, "and I'll show you to a few people and then I'll send you right back."

In this same vein, television's ceremonial coverage of the Inauguration, much of which resembled the martial pageantry broadcast by state-owned networks in banana republics, made a dutiful show out of the White House's claim that the four-day bacchanal was a salute to the troops. The only commentator to rudely call attention to the disconnect between that fictional pretense and the reality was Judy Bachrach, a writer for Vanity Fair, who dared say on Fox News that the inaugural's military ball and prayer service would not keep troops "safe and warm" in their "flimsy" Humvees in Iraq. She was promptly given the hook. (The riveting three-minute clip, labeled "Fair and Balanced Inauguration," can be found at ifilm.com, where it has seized the "most popular" slot once owned by Jon Stewart's slapdown of Tucker Carlson.)

Alas, there were no Fox News cameras to capture what may have been the week's most surreal "salute" to the troops, the "Heroes Red, White and Blue Inaugural Ball" attended by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. The event's celebrity stars included the Fox correspondent Geraldo Rivera, who had been booted from Iraq at the start of the war for compromising "operational security" by telling his viewers the position of the American troops he loves so much. He joked to the crowd that his deployment as an "overpaid" reporter was tantamount to that of an "underpaid hero" in battle. The attendees from Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital, some of whose long-term care must be picked up by private foundations because of government stinginess, responded with "deafening silence," reported Roxanne Roberts of The Washington Post. Ms. Roberts understandably left the party after the night's big act: Nile Rodgers and Chic sang the lyrics "Clap your hands, hoo!" and "Dance to the beat" to "a group of soldiers missing hands and legs."

All the TV time eaten up by the Inaugural froufrou - including "the most boring parade in America," as one network news producer covering it described it to me - would have been better spent broadcasting a true tribute to the American troops in Iraq: a new documentary titled "Gunner Palace." This movie, which opens in theaters March 4, is currently on an advance tour through towns near military bases like Colorado Springs, Colo. (Fort Carson), Killeen, Tex. (Fort Hood) and Columbus, Ga. (Fort Benning). Its directors, Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, found that American troops in Iraq often see their lives as real-life approximations of "M*A*S*H," "Platoon," "Full Metal Jacket," and, given the many 21st-century teenagers among the troops, " 'Jackass' Goes to War." But their film's tone is original. This sweet yet utterly unsentimental movie synthesizes the contradictions of a war that is at once Vietnam redux and the un-Vietnam.

Watching "Gunner Palace" - the title refers to the 2-3 Field Artillery's headquarters, the gutted former Uday Hussein palace in Baghdad - you realize the American mission is probably doomed even as you admire the men and women who volunteered to execute it. Here, at last, are the promised scenes of our troops pursuing a humanitarian agenda. Delighted kids follow the soldiers like pied pipers; schools re-open; a fledgling local government council receives a genial and unobtrusive helping American hand. In one moving scene, Specialist James Moats tenderly cradles a tiny baby at an Iraqi orphanage while talking about the birth of his own first son back home: "I've seen pictures but I haven't got to hold him yet." He's not complaining, just explaining. He is living in the moment, offering his heart fully to the vulnerable infant in the crook of his arm.

These scenes are set against others in which the troops, many of them from small towns "that read like an atlas of forgotten America," have to make do with substandard support from their own government. "It'll probably slow down the shrapnel so that it stays in your body instead of going straight through," says one soldier as he tries to find humor in the frail scrap metal with which he must armor his vehicle. Eventually many of his peers, however proud to serve, are daunted by what they see around them: the futility of snuffing out a growing insurgency, the fecklessness of the Iraqi troops they earnestly try to train, the impracticality of bestowing democracy on a populace that often regards Americans either indifferently or as occupiers. When "The Ride of the Valkyries" is heard in "Gunner Palace," it does not signal a rip-roaring campaign as it did in "Apocalypse Now" but, fittingly for this war, a perilous but often fruitless door-to-door search for insurgents in an urban neighborhood.

It says much about the distance between the homefront and these troops that the Motion Picture Association of America this month blithely awarded "Gunner Palace" an "R" rating - which means that it cannot be seen without parental supervision by 16-year-old high-school kids soon to be targeted by military recruiters. (The filmmakers are appealing this verdict.) The reason for the "R" is not violence - there is virtually none on screen - but language, since some of the troops chronicle their Iraq experience by transposing it into occasionally scatological hip-hop verse.

The Bush administration's National Endowment for the Arts, eager to demonstrate that it, too, loves the troops, announced with much self-congratulatory fanfare that it will publish its own anthology of returning veterans' writings about their wartime experience ("Operation Homecoming") - by spring 2006. In "Gunner Palace," you can sample this art right now, unexpurgated - if you're over 16. Here's one freestyle lyric from Sgt. Nick Moncrief, a 24-year-old father of two: "I noticed that my face is aging so quickly/ Cuz I've seen more than your average man in his 50's." True, he does go on to use a four-letter word - to accentuate his evocation of metal ripping through skin and bones. The Traditional Values Coalition would no doubt lobby to shut down the endowment were it to disseminate such filth.

Another of the movie's soldiers, Robert Beatty, a 33-year-old Army lifer with three children back home, wonders whether Americans who "don't have any direct family members in the military" regard the war as anything other than "just entertainment" and guesses that they lost interest once "major combat" had given way to the far deadlier minor combat that followed. A Gallup poll last year showed that most Americans might fall into that group, since two-thirds of those surveyed had no relative, friend or co-worker serving in Iraq. Does that vast unconnected majority understand what's going on there? Sergeant Beatty gives his answer in one of the film's most poignant passages: "If you watch this, you're going to go get your popcorn out of the microwave and talk about what I say. You'll forget me by the end. ..."

The words land so hard because we are already forgetting, or at least turning our backs. In Washington the gears are shifting to all Social Security all the time. A fast growing plurality of the country wants troops withdrawn from Iraq, but being so detached from the war they are unlikely to make a stink about it. The civilian leaders who conceived this adventure are clever at maintaining the false illusion that the end is just around the corner anyway.

They do this by moving the goal posts for "mission accomplished" as frequently as they have changed the rationale for us entering this war in the first place. In the walk-up to the Inauguration, even Iraq's Election Day was quietly downsized in importance so a sixth V-I Day further off in the future could be substituted. Dick Cheney told Don Imus on Inauguration morning that "we can bring our boys home" and that "our mission is complete" once the Iraqis "can defend themselves." What that means, and when exactly that might be is, shall we say, unclear. President Bush and Prime Minister Allawi told the press in unison last September that there were "nearly 100,000 fully trained and equipped" Iraqi security forces ready to carry out that self-defense. Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month that there are 120,000. Time magazine says this week that the actual figure of fully trained ground soldiers is 14,000, but hey: in patriotism as it's been redefined for this war, loving the troops means never having to say you're sorry - or even having to say the word Iraq in an Inaugural address.

Maureen Dowd: Torture Chicks Gone Wild



January 30, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST
Torture Chicks Gone Wild
By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON

By the time House Republicans were finished with him, Bill Clinton must have thought of a thong as a torture device.

For the Bush administration, it actually is.

A former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Gitmo has written a book pulling back the veil on the astounding ways female interrogators used a toxic combination of sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief.

The Bush administration never worries about anything. But these missionaries and zealous protectors of values should be worried about the American soul. The president never mentions Osama, but he continues to use 9/11 as an excuse for American policies that bend the rules and play to our worst instincts.

"I have really struggled with this because the detainees, their families and much of the world will think this is a religious war based on some of the techniques used, even though it is not the case," the former sergeant, Erik R. Saar, 29, told The Associated Press. The A.P. got a manuscript of his book, deemed classified pending a Pentagon review.

What good is it for President Bush to speak respectfully of Islam and claim Iraq is not a religious war if the Pentagon denigrates Islamic law - allowing its female interrogators to try to make Muslim men talk in late-night sessions featuring sexual touching, displays of fake menstrual blood, and parading in miniskirt, tight T-shirt, bra and thong underwear?

It's like a bad porn movie, "The Geneva Monologues." All S and no M.

The A.P. noted that "some Guantánamo prisoners who have been released say they were tormented by 'prostitutes.' "

Mr. Saar writes about what he calls "disturbing" practices during his time in Gitmo from December 2002 to June 2003, including this anecdote related by Paisley Dodds, an A.P. reporter:

A female military interrogator who wanted to turn up the heat on a 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before 9/11 removed her uniform top to expose a snug T-shirt. She began belittling the prisoner - who was praying with his eyes closed - as she touched her breasts, rubbed them against the Saudi's back and commented on his apparent erection.

After the prisoner spat in her face, she left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist suggested she tell the prisoner that she was menstruating, touch him, and then shut off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," Mr. Saar recounted, adding: "She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee. As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred. She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward," breaking out of an ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the author wrote, adding that the interrogator's parting shot was: "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

A female civilian contractor kept her "uniform" - a thong and miniskirt - on the back of the door of an interrogation room, the author says.

Who are these women? Who allows this to happen? Why don't the officers who allow it get into trouble? Why do Rummy and Paul Wolfowitz still have their jobs?

The military did not deny the specifics, but said the prisoners were treated "humanely" and in a way consistent "with legal obligations prohibiting torture." However the Bush White House is redefining torture these days, the point is this: Such behavior degrades the women who are doing it, the men they are doing it to, and the country they are doing it for.

There's nothing wrong with trying to squeeze information out of detainees. But isn't it simply more effective to throw them in isolation and try to build some sort of relationship?

I doubt that the thong tease works as well on inmates at Gitmo as it did on Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Philip Johnson Is Dead at 98


Arnold Newman/Liasion – Getty Images
Philip Johnson with his Glass House in July, 1949 in New Canaan, Conn.

January 27, 2005
Philip Johnson Is Dead at 98; Architecture's Restless Intellect
By PAUL GOLDBERGER

Philip Johnson, at once the elder statesman and the enfant terrible of American architecture, died yesterday at the compound surrounding the Glass House, the celebrated residence he built for himself in New Canaan, Conn. He was 98.

His death was disclosed by David Whitney, his companion of 45 years.

Often considered the dean of American architects, Mr. Johnson was known less for his individual buildings than for the sheer force of his presence on the architectural scene, which he served as a combination godfather, gadfly, scholar, patron, critic, curator and cheerleader. His 90th birthday, in July 1996, was marked by symposiums, lectures, an outpouring of essays in his honor and back-to-back dinners at two venerable New York institutions he had played a major role in creating: the Museum of Modern Art, whose department of architecture and design he joined in 1930, and the Four Seasons restaurant, which he designed as part of the Seagram Building in 1958.

His long career was a study in contradictions. He first became famous as an impassioned advocate of Modern architecture, and his early writings helped establish the reputation of European Modernists like Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius in this country. He began his architectural career as Mies's leading acolyte. But what fascinated him most was the idea of the new, and once he had helped establish Modernist architecture in the United States, he moved on, experimenting with decorative Classicism, embracing the reuse of historical elements that would become known as postmodernism, and finally returning again to Modernism, yet one with an expressive and highly emotional energy.

Mr. Johnson's own architecture received mixed reviews and often startled the public and his fellow architects. Because of his frequent changes of style, he was often accused of pandering to fashion and of designing buildings that were facile and shallow. Yet he created several designs, including the Glass House, the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art, and the pre-Columbian gallery at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington that are widely considered among the architectural masterworks of the 20th century. And for his entire career, his engagement with architectural theory and ideas was as deep as that of any scholar.

He was the first winner of the Pritzker Prize, the $100,000 award established in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago to honor an architect of international stature. In 1978, he won the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest award the American profession bestows on any of its members.

As an architect, he made his mark arguing the importance of the aesthetic side of architecture and claimed that he had no interest in buildings except as works of art. Yet he was so eager to build that he willingly took commissions from real estate developers who refused to meet his aesthetic standards. He liked to refer to himself, with only some irony, as a whore. And in the 1930's, this man who believed that art ranked above all else took a bizarre and, he later conceded, deeply mistaken detour into right-wing politics, suspending his career to work on behalf of Gov. Huey P. Long of Louisiana and later the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, and expressing more than passing admiration for Hitler.

Mr. Johnson's foray into fascism was over by the time the United States entered World War II, and in the mid-1950's he sought to publicly atone to Jews by designing a synagogue in Port Chester, N.Y., for no fee. But to the end of his life the contradictions continued. With his dignified bearing and elegant, tailored suits, he looked every bit the part of a distinguished, genteel aristocrat, but he played the celebrity culture of the 1980's and 90's as successfully as a rock star. To the public, he was far and away the best-known living architect, and his crisply outlined, round face, marked by heavy, round black spectacles of his own design, was a common sight on television programs and magazine covers.

Except for his brief involvement in right-wing politics, all of his careers revolved around architecture. He began his professional life as a writer, historian and curator and did not enter architecture school until he was 35. Even when he became one of the nation's most eminent practicing architects, he continued to be a major patron of institutions and of younger architects, whose work he followed with avid interest.

He began his career as an ardent champion of Modernism, but unlike many of the movement's early proselytizers, he changed with the times, and his own work showed a major movement away from beginnings that were heavily influenced by Mies. In the late 1950's, just after he had collaborated with Mies on the Seagram Building on Park Avenue, he introduced elements of classical architecture into his buildings, beginning a long quest to find ways of connecting contemporary architecture to historical form. It was a quest that would begin with highly abstracted versions of Classicism in the 1960's and culminate in a much more literal use of the architectural forms of the past in his revivalist skyscrapers of the 1980's.

That phase of Mr. Johnson's career included such well-known monuments as the classically detailed pink-granite AT&T Building (now the Sony building) on Madison Avenue, which he completed in 1984 with John Burgee, then his partner; the Republic Bank tower (now NCNB Center) in Houston, which used elements of Flemish Renaissance architecture; the Transco Tower (now the Williams Tower) in Houston, which recapitulated the setback forms of a romantic 1920's tower in glass, perhaps his finest skyscraper; and the PPG Place in Pittsburgh, a reflective glass tower whose Gothic form copied the shape of the tower of the Houses of Parliament in London.

Focusing on Historical Form

Institutional clients also received their share of Mr. Johnson's fixation with historical form: he designed a Romanesque structure in brick for the Cleveland Play House and a Classical building based on the designs of the French visionary architect Étienne-Louis Boullée for the architecture school of the University of Houston.

In the late 1980's Mr. Johnson's restless mind, having played a major role in shifting American architecture toward postmodernism, with its reuse of traditional elements, moved on yet again. Fascinated by the intense, highly abstract work of a group of younger Modernist architects who were to become known as the deconstructivists, Mr. Johnson began to incorporate elements of their architecture into his own work.

He was particularly entranced with the buildings of the Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, whose complex, seemingly irrational forms would appear to be the antithesis of the cool, rational, ordered architectural world of Mr. Johnson's first mentor, Mies, and much of his late work reflected Mr. Gehry's influence.

Mr. Johnson, an urbane, elegant figure, was perhaps the most socially prominent New York architect since Stanford White. Born to wealth, he and Mr. Whitney, a curator and art dealer, lived well, for many years in a town house on East 52nd Street that Mr. Johnson had originally designed as a guest house for John D. Rockefeller 3d, then in an elaborately decorated apartment in Museum Tower above the Museum of Modern Art and always on weekends in the famous Glass House compound.

Mr. Johnson had lunch daily amid other prominent and powerful New Yorkers at a special table in the corner of the Grill Room of the Four Seasons. His guest was likely to be a young architect in whose work he had taken an interest, and for years his table functioned as a kind of miniature architectural salon.

In the evenings, he was frequently seen at exclusive social events, for years by himself and in the last decade, as he felt greater ease in making his relationship with Mr. Whitney public, with his companion. He was among the few architects whose comings and goings were considered worthy of notice in the gossip columns.

He had been an active art collector since the days when, as a student traveling in Germany, he bought a pair of Paul Klees from the artist. Eventually he came to be a collector of contemporary art: advised by Mr. Whitney, he filled his walls with paintings by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns when they were just gaining public attention, and he amassed one of the most complete collections of paintings by Frank Stella in private hands.

Mr. Johnson not only lived and ate in places of his own design, he also worked in them. For many years his office was in the Seagram Building. Mr. Johnson practiced alone there for some years, then collaborated with the architect Richard Foster, for a time, and in 1967 formed a partnership with John Burgee.

It was this partnership that transformed Mr. Johnson from a scholar-architect designing small to medium-size institutional buildings for well-to-do clients into a major force in commercial architecture. Mr. Burgee's arrival coincided with the firm's movement toward a number of major, widely acclaimed skyscraper projects, including the IDS Center in Minneapolis and Pennzoil Place in Houston. Mr. Johnson's leanings were always toward the aesthetic issues in design, and in Mr. Burgee he had a partner who could serve not only as a colleague in design but also as an executive overseeing the kind of large architectural office required to produce major skyscrapers.

As if to mark Mr. Burgee's role, the Johnson-Burgee firm moved in 1986 into the elliptical skyscraper at 885 Third Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets. Popularly known as the Lipstick Building, it had been designed by the partners together. But the partnership was not to last long beyond the move: Mr. Burgee, eager to occupy center stage, negotiated a more limited role for Mr. Johnson and in 1991 exercised the prerogative he had as the firm's chief executive and eased Mr. Johnson out altogether.

It proved an unwise decision: the firm, crippled by an arbitration decision unrelated to Mr. Johnson, soon went into bankruptcy, all but ending Mr. Burgee's career. Mr. Johnson, who had severed ties to his former firm, had no liability and went on to rent a smaller space in the Lipstick Building, gleefully hanging out his shingle in his mid-80's and declaring himself in business as a solo practitioner. Before long, he had several commissions, including a cathedral in Dallas, and his career had recharged itself.

Philip Cortelyou Johnson was born on July 8, 1906, in Cleveland, the son of Homer H. Johnson, a well-to-do lawyer, and Louise Pope Johnson. Supported by a fortune that consisted largely of the Aluminum Company of America stock given him by his father, Mr. Johnson went to Harvard to study Greek, but became excited by architecture and spent the years immediately after his graduation in 1927 touring Europe and looking at the early buildings of the developing Modern architecture movement.

He teamed up with Henry-Russell Hitchcock, at that time the movement's chief academic partisan in the United States, and their travels together resulted in their book "The International Style," published in 1932 and now a classic. "We have an architecture still," is how Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hitchcock concluded the book, which played a major role in introducing Americans to the work of European Modernists like Mies, Gropius and Le Corbusier, then barely known here.

In 1930, Mr. Johnson joined the architecture department at a new institution in New York, the Museum of Modern Art. He moved the museum quickly to the forefront of the architectural avant-garde, sponsoring exhibitions on contemporary themes and arranging for visits by Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies, for whom he also negotiated his first American commission.

Mr. Johnson left the museum in 1936 to pursue his political agenda, dividing his time among Berlin, Louisiana and his family's home in Ohio. By the summer of 1940, his infatuation with right-wing politics had faded, although as Franz Schulze, his biographer, wrote in 1994, it was never clear whether he withdrew because he had changed his mind or because he had failed to achieve political success. "In politics he proved to be a model of futility," Mr. Schulze wrote in "Philip Johnson: Life and Work. "He was never much of a political threat to anyone, still less an effective doer of either political good or political evil."

In 1941, at 35, Mr. Johnson turned once and for all to the field that would occupy him for the rest of his life and enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to begin the process of becoming an architect.

At Harvard, Mr. Johnson did what few students, even those of great means, have been able to do: he actually built the project he designed as a thesis. It was a house in the style of Mies, its lot surrounded by a wall that merges into the structure, and it still stands at 9 Ash Street in Cambridge, Mass.

After wartime service in the United States Army - the F.B.I. had investigated Mr. Johnson for his fascist leanings, but the government decided he was sufficiently repentant to wear the uniform (he never saw combat) - he returned in 1946 to the Museum of Modern Art. At the same time he began to slowly build up an architectural practice of his own, combining it with his career as a writer and curator.

He designed a small, boxy house, also highly influenced by Mies, for a client in Sagaponack, Long Island, in 1946, but his first significant building, and still perhaps his most famous, was not for another client at all but, like the Cambridge house, for his own use: it was the Glass House in New Canaan, completed in 1949 with its counterpoint, a brick guest house.

The serene Glass House, a 56-foot-by-32-foot rectangle, is generally considered one of the 20th century's greatest residential structures. Like all of Mr. Johnson's early work, it was inspired by Mies, but its pure symmetry, dark colors and closeness to the earth marked it as a personal statement: calm and ordered rather than sleek and brittle.

A Home Becomes a Museum

Over the years, Mr. Johnson added to the Glass House property, turning it into a compound that became a veritable museum of his architecture, with buildings representing each phase of his career. A small, elegant white-columned pavilion by the lake was built in 1963; an art gallery, an underground building set into a hill, with pictures from Mr. Johnson's extensive collection of contemporary art set on movable panels, in 1965; the sculpture gallery of 1970, a sharply defined, irregular white structure covered with a greenhouselike glass roof; a library of stucco with a rounded tower that from a distance looks like a miniature castle (1980); a concrete-block tower, as much a piece of sculpture as a building, dedicated to his lifelong friend Lincoln Kirstein, the writer and New York City Ballet co-founder (1985); a "ghost house" of chain-link fence, honoring Mr. Gehry, who often used this material (1985); and finally, what Mr. Johnson called "Da Monsta," an irregularly shaped building of deep red with sharply curving walls, finished in 1995.

The "Monsta" -he could not quite bring himself to call one of his buildings a monster, but said its shape resembled it - is set at the gate of the estate and was intended to serve as a visitors center once the public was admitted to the property after his death. The compound was willed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which plans to run it as a museum.

In addition to Mr. Whitney, Mr. Johnson is survived by a sister, Jeannette Dempsey, now 102, of Cleveland.

After the Glass House was completed in 1949, Mr. Johnson received other residential commissions, including a number of houses in New Canaan. His first work on a very large scale, however, was the Seagram Building, designed with Mies. The deep bronze Seagram is considered by many critics to be the finest postwar skyscraper in New York.

But by then, Mr. Johnson was growing impatient with the limitations of the strict, austere Miesian vocabulary. He began to explore a more decorative sort of neo-Classicism, leading to designs like the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth (1961), the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center (1964) and the Bobst Library at New York University, designed in 1965 but not completed until 1973. His work in that period led the architectural historian Vincent Scully to refer to him as "admirably lucid, unsentimental and abstract, with the most ruthlessly aristocratic, highly studied taste of anyone practicing in America today."

"All that a nervous sensibility, lively intelligence and a stored mind can do, he does," Mr. Scully said.

Mr. Johnson's art collecting brought him a nearly continuous stream of commissions to design museums, and his ties to the Museum of Modern Art brought him the request to design the museum's 1951 and 1964 expansions beyond its original 1939 building, including the sculpture garden. He also designed the original Asia House gallery on East 64th Street, now the Russell Sage Foundation, as well as museums in Fort Worth; Utica, N.Y.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Corpus Christi, Tex.

Despite his record as a museum designer and his long association with the Modern, the museum's board, of which Mr. Johnson was a member, decided in 1978 to hire a different architect to design its new west wing. The job went to Cesar Pelli, and Mr. Johnson was deeply hurt.

For some time, relations cooled between him and the museum he had supported nearly since its founding, but eventually they resumed, and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Whitney moved into the apartment tower above the museum designed by Mr. Pelli. In 1984, as a tribute to Mr. Johnson as its founding curator, the museum's department of architecture and design named its exhibition space the Philip Johnson Gallery. And the Modern observed Mr. Johnson's 90th birthday with a pair of exhibitions: one of notable works of art that the architect had donated to the museum, and another of works given by architects in Mr. Johnson's honor. More recently, the architect Yoshio Taniguchi set to work on his design for the Modern's latest expansion, Mr. Johnson met occasionally with him to chat about the challenges of blending old and new.

The beginnings of his late career as a major commercial architect were not in New York, however, but in Minneapolis, through an immense project in 1972 for Investors Diversified Services, a financial conglomerate now part of American Express. A square-block complex containing a roughly octagonally shaped, 51-story glass tower, hotel and retail wing placed around a central glass-covered court, the design blended Mr. Johnson's interest in angular forms with a sensitive urbanism. It quickly became a focal point for downtown Minneapolis and was the first of a generation of what might be called social skyscrapers: towers that did not merely house office workers but also contained myriad public spaces.

Among the many observers impressed by the tower was Gerald D. Hines of Houston, a real estate developer who had begun his career as a builder of warehouses but who by the early 1970's had sought to make a mark with much larger buildings by prominent architects. Mr. Hines hired Mr. Johnson and Mr. Burgee to design Pennzoil Place, a twin-towered complex of glass in downtown Houston that was completed in 1976. One of the most widely known skyscrapers in the country, Pennzoil Place consists of two trapezoidal towers placed so as to leave two triangular areas open on the site. These areas were covered with steel and glass trusses to create greenhouselike lobbies; as a further formal gesture, each tower was given a slanted roof for the top seven floors.

Pennzoil Place would prove widely influential, but five years later Mr. Johnson and Mr. Burgee moved away from it with the design for one of the most startling skyscrapers of the last generation, the AT&T headquarters in New York, the so-called "Chippendale skyscraper" with a split pediment resembling an antique highboy.

During the 1980's Mr. Johnson and Mr. Burgee also designed major skyscrapers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas, many for Mr. Hines. Most of them, following the lead of the AT&T. Building, were lavishly finished in granite and marble and imitated some aspect of architecture of the past.

Mr. Johnson also designed the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., and the Museum of Television and Radio on West 52nd Street in New York. With Mr. Burgee, he produced plans through the 1980's for office towers for Times Square. Widely criticized, they were never built. After the dissolution of his partnership with Mr. Burgee, he formed one with Alan Ritchie, a longtime associate, and produce several works for Donald J. Trump, including the glass tower at 1 Central Park West and projects for the Riverside South residential development; and plans for a cathedral for a gay congregation in Dallas. Mr. Johnson continued to go to work at Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects in the Seagram Building as recently as last year.

Though he gave up formal scholarship when he became an architect, he continued to write and lecture frequently. His constant theme, unchanged through all his stylistic variations, was his belief in the need to view architecture as an art, separating him from the socially minded early Modernists whose cause he once championed so ardently.

In a famous lecture in 1954 at Harvard titled "The Seven Crutches of Modern Architecture," he said, "Merely that a building works is not sufficient." Later, in an oft-quoted remark, he said, "I would rather sleep in Chartres Cathedral with the nearest toilet two blocks away than in a Harvard house with back-to-back bathrooms."

Years later, Mr. Johnson told an audience: "We still have a monumental architecture. To me, the drive for monumentality is as inbred as the desire for food and sex, regardless of how we denigrate it."

But he ended by arguing: "Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own.

"Maybe, just maybe, we shall at last come to care for the most important, most challenging, surely the most satisfying of all architectural creations: building cities for people to live in."

A Young Taipei Finds Its Groove








Karen Smith/Lonely Planet Images
The Chiang kai-Shek Memorial.




Sam Yeh for The New York Times
Omni, a furniture shop owned by the pop singer Jay Chou.


Sam Yeh for The New York Times
Mint, the latest club by the interior designer Mark Lintott, is in the 101-story Taipei 101 building.

January 23, 2005
A Young Taipei Finds Its Groove
By ANDREW YANG

A DECADE ago in Taipei, finding a decent cup of coffee would have proved a challenge. Now, there are all-night dance clubs and boutique hotels, MTV Taiwan and espresso bars. Change is a constant in the city, the capital of Taiwan, which has been transformed significantly along with its cosmopolitan counterparts Hong Kong and Singapore. As a whole generation emerges - nearly a quarter of the electorate of Taiwan is under 30 - the culture is as much about playing hard as working hard.

"When I first came here, people just lived to work, and now it seems to be switching around," said Mark Lintott, 45, a Taipei-based British interior designer who arrived in the city 15 years ago. "Now, people are much more willing to spend money outside out of profit creation, and they seem to be genuinely having a good time."

Since 1989, when the government eased travel restrictions, particularly to mainland China (nonstop charter flights over the Chinese New Year's holiday, the first nonstops since 1949, were announced last week), Taipei has benefited from a steady stream of foreign visitors. A city where Mandarin Chinese is primarily spoken - as it is in Beijing and Shanghai - Taipei remains one of the most bustling and quintessentially Asian cities in the region.

Night markets can be found throughout the city, with vendors of discount clothes and other goods next to food carts selling such favorites as oyster noodles and stinky tofu, a fermented bean curd. Traditional cultural treasures like the serene Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park and the National Palace Museum, north of the city, are some of the must-see landmarks. And with an emerging culture catering to young people, the city is becoming a cool place to visit.

About 2.5 million of Taiwan's 22 million residents live in Taipei. Its main axis is Civil Boulevard, which runs east-west and acts as a central artery to the city's major malls and shopping centers.

From more progressive shopping centers on the west side like Idée and Mitsukoshi to such megamalls as the Breeze Center and the Core Pacific on the east side, department stores are thriving as a result of a younger, more self-conscious generation of consumers, said the 29-year-old designer Robyn Hung.

"There are more TV channels reporting fashion trends from Paris, Milan and New York, and information gets around quicker," said Ms. Hung, who has a boutique on the second floor of Idée that primarily sells women's clothes by younger independent designers. She started her line four years ago after graduating from the London College of Fashion.

One of the largest symbols of shopping and consumption in Taipei is the Core Pacific Center. Opened in 2001, it is a 12-story sphere, with a building fitted around it. Designed by the Los Angeles-based Jon Jerde, who also designed the Bellagio in Las Vegas, it is home to brands like Hugo Boss, the Mira department store and, on the top floor, a nightclub called Plush.

As a response to the recent wave of large-scale shopping malls, the city has sprouted its first district primarily catering to 20-somethings. Nestled in a series of side streets and alleyways between Civil Boulevard to the north, Renai Road to the south and Dunhua South Road and Guangfu South Road to the west and east, this district has developed in the last few years. It is still a mostly residential neighborhood, but businesses have sprung up on the ground floors of apartment buildings and other structures that were not typically used as shops.

Walking around, visitors will come across Omni, a furniture store that carries a stock of midcentury and contemporary furniture by Verner Panton and Eero Saarinen. Billed as an "antique" store, it has an expansive glass facade that showcases its stock of modern and vintage chairs, T-shirts and travel accessories. Owned by the pop singer Jay Chou, Omni has become a popular tourist attraction for visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the singer.

"Before, the cool shops would be scattered around different neighborhoods, and now all the big department stores are on the main road," said Nancy Chen, 29, a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, who recently set up her graphic design office, Edible Sound Project, in an apartment building in this area. "But now, as the street is becoming overly commercialized, shops are developing as individual boutiques in the lanes and alleys."

Within this neighborhood, places to eat include the China Bar, Tea and DJ Restaurant, 1F, No. 24 Lane 205, Chung-siao East Road, Section 4, (886-2) 2772-7622, which serves an array of Chinese and other Asian food and where dishes like pork ribs and chicken curry are not out of the ordinary. The interior of China Bar resembles a store that exclusively sells used 1960's furniture, but the most notable feature is the large prints of Kama Sutra pages wallpapered to the bathroom walls. Dinner for two, about $25 (prices at 33 Taiwan dollars to the U.S. dollar).

For a more casual setting, the Zaka coffeehouse, 1F, No. 37, Lane 177, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, (886-2) 2773-7009, is a popular local hangout that offers free Wi-Fi connections.

When you get toward the southern end near Anho Road, a cluster of hip bars and lounges are on a leafy and seemingly quiet road that diagonally crosses the city grid. One of the most notorious bars is Carnegie's, a popular hangout for foreigners, where women can frequently be found dancing on tabletops on rowdy weekend nights.

This area is primarily known for its more upscale lounges, popular with large groups. For a more laid-back atmosphere, try Champagne 2, which is known for its Champagne infused with litchi flavor. The atmosphere there is typical of many of the lounges on this street - the interiors are often tasteful and not outlandish, the clientele tends to be quite young, and martini cocktails are the standard.

The trend toward more modern and sleek interiors has also spread to the hotels in Taipei. In the past, the 14-story Grand Hotel was the most popular, and resembled a large Buddhist temple with a huge pitched roof. Now, the emphasis is on cool, sumptuous interiors as well as more personalized service.

Two branches of the warm and cozy Les Suites hotels recently opened, one at 12 Ching Cheng Street, (886-2) 8712-7589, fax (886-2) 8712-7699, near Sung Shan Airport to the north, and another south of the city at 135 Da-An Road, Section 1 (886-2) 8773-3668, fax (886-2) 8773-3788; www.suitetpe.com for both. Doubles at both from about $130.

Le Petit Sherwood, 370 Tun Hwa South Road, Section 1, (886-2) 2754-1166, fax (886-2) 2754 3399, is also in a southern part of the city. Featuring funky interiors, it opened in 2000 as one of the first boutique hotels in the city. Doubles start at about $200.

In Taipei, there is a greater expectation of clubs, bars and lounges that look as trendy as those in New York or London. "The night life in the city has moved from an immature adolescence to now, where it's just catching up a bit to everybody else," said Mr. Lintott, who designed Opium Den, one of the first trendy lounges in Taipei, in 1996. He has watched the nightclubs become increasingly outlandish with each project.

His latest club, Mint, 45 Shifu Road, Section 4, (886-2) 8101-8662, is in the lower level of the world's tallest building, Taipei 101 (101 stories, and 1,667 feet, tall). Although the silvery structure is set for occupation this spring, the mall on the ground floor has been in operation for nearly a year.

Mint, whose name refers to its monetary connotation, includes a V.I.P. room, a modular mahogany wall full of wines, floating L.E.D. displays behind the bar, a translucent, glowing dance floor and custom-designed pieces of acrylic furniture. On a Friday night last fall, throngs of clubgoers occupied the dance floor. The dressy crowd was mostly Asian, but there were a good number of Americans and Europeans in their 20's scattered about.

Entry to the clubs, which can cost as much as $30, can be competitive. To get in, people need the proper connections and dress, and the social scene seems to lean heavily toward English-speaking Chinese, local celebrities and businessmen.

Competition has indeed heated up in the city, with large-scale supper clubs such as Luxy and the Ministry of Sound - one of Asia's largest clubs, with three floors and capacity for 2,500 - competing heavily for clubgoers and big-name D.J.'s. Many of these clubs are set up like large raves, and visitors can expect big crowds of sweaty dancers pulsating hip to hip. Techno music, as well as hip-hop, is the norm.

"People in Taipei, especially the younger ones, are getting more and more sociable," said Ms. Hung, the fashion designer. "We're more aware of not just Taiwan, but the whole world as well."

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/01/23/travel/23taipei.html

The Firefox Explosion

The Firefox Explosion
It's fast, secure, open source - and super popular. The hot new browser called Firefox is rocking the software world. (Watch your back, Bill Gates.)
By Josh McHughPage 1 of 3 next »

For Rob Davis, the final straw came during a beautiful weekend last summer, which he spent holed up in his Minneapolis apartment killing a zombie. The week before, a malicious software program had invaded Davis' PC through his browser, Internet Explorer, using a technique called the DSO exploit. His computer had been repurposed as a "zombie box" - its CPU and bandwidth co-opted to pump reams of spam onto the Internet. Furious, Davis dropped out of a planned Lake Superior camping trip to instead back up his computer and reformat his crippled hard drive. Then he vowed never to open IE again.

Lucky for Davis, a new browser had just appeared on the scene - Firefox, a fast, simple, and secure piece of software that was winning acclaim from others who also had grown frustrated with Internet Explorer. A programmer friend told Davis about Firefox. He didn't know that the browser was an open source project and a descendant of Netscape Navigator now poised to avenge Netscape's defeat at the hands of Microsoft. He just knew that he didn't want to waste another weekend cursing at his machine. So Davis drove to the friend's house and copied Firefox onto his battered laptop. He hasn't had a problem since - and now he's telling anybody who will listen about Firefox's virtues. "I'm no anti-Microsoft zealot, but it's unconscionable that they make 98 percent of the operating systems in the world and they let things like this happen to people," says Davis, a PR man by day who liked Firefox so much that he initiated a fundraising campaign to help promote the browser. "There's a lot of pain out there."

Firefox couldn't have arrived at a better time for people like Davis - or at a worse time for Microsoft. Ever since Internet Explorer toppled Netscape in 1998, browser innovation has been more or less limited to pop-up ads, spyware, and viruses. Over the past six years, IE has become a third world bus depot, the gathering point for a crush of hawkers, con artists, and pickpockets. The recent outbreak of malware - from the spyware on Davis' machine to the .ject Trojan, which uses a bug in IE to snatch sensitive data from an infected PC - has prompted early adopters to look for an alternate Web browser. Even in beta, Firefox's clean, intuitive interface, quick page-loading, and ability to elude intruders elicited a thunderous response. In the month following its official November launch, more than 10 million people downloaded Firefox, taking the first noticeable bite out of IE's market share since the browser wars of the mid-'90s.

Like most open source software, Firefox is forever a work in progress, the product of continual tweaking by thousands of programmers all over the world. But two people in particular are most responsible for the browser's success: Blake Ross, an angular, hyperkinetic 19-year-old Stanford sophomore with spiky black hair, and Ben Goodger, a stout, soft-spoken 24-year-old New Zealander. At age 14, Ross, logging on to his family's America Online account, started fixing bugs for the Mozilla Group, a cadre of programmers responsible for maintaining the source code of Netscape's browsers. Ross quickly became disenchanted with Netscape's feature creep and in 2002 brashly decided to splinter off and develop a pared-down, fast, easy-to-use browser. Goodger, who plays the David Filo or Larry Page to Ross' frontman, took the reins when Ross became a full-time college student in 2003. Goodger pulled the project's loose ends together and whipped the browser into shape for the release of Firefox 1.0 late last year.

What makes Firefox different from other open source projects is its consumer appeal. Until now, the open source community has been very good at creating useful software but lousy at finding nontechnical users. By liberating Firefox from the "by geeks, for geeks" ethos, Ross and Goodger have moved open source out of server rooms and onto Microsoft's turf: the desktop. Borrowing from the Net-based grassroots techniques of the recent political season, the Firefox inner circle has turned satisfied users into foot soldiers and missionaries. How's this for a marketer's dream: In the weeks following the debut, Firefox contributors and fans threw their own launch parties in 392 cities around the world.

"People thought the browser wars were over," Ross says, relishing the giant-killer role. "But now there's a widespread perception that IE is not secure - and here we are." What started out as one schoolboy's exercise in minimalism, with a nod to Google's back-to-basics obsession, has tapped into a growing desire for simplicity among ordinary computer users. "The success of this thing has totally surprised us," Goodger adds. "Firefox has really touched a nerve."

Firefox the browser is an impressive piece of software. It's easy to use, easy on the eyes, and safer than IE - partly because it's too new to have amassed a following of evil hackers. Firefox the phenomenon is something much bigger. It's a combination of innovations in engineering, developer politics, and consumer marketing.

Computer users embraced the browser almost immediately. Mark Fletcher, founder of Bloglines, a weblog-aggregation service, reports that Firefox rocketed from 5 percent of Bloglines' server traffic to 20 percent in the month after the beta version was released. Software developers are on board, too - Ross and Goodger made sure that writing Firefox add-ons would be simple. Coders have created more than 175 extensions that perform specific, sometimes delightful functions, like incorporating an iTunes controller in the browser's border or a three-day weather forecast that pulls data from Weather.com and displays sun, cloud, and rain icons in the Firefox status bar. Two popular extensions make it easier to subscribe to RSS feeds through Bloglines. "Anyone can write programs that work with this browser," Fletcher says. "I look at the fanfare and excitement that Firefox is causing - even my parents are using it and loving it." Based on what his server logs are telling him, Fletcher predicts that Firefox will represent close to 50 percent of Bloglines' traffic by the time Longhorn, Microsoft's long-awaited browserless operating system, is ready in 2006. At BoingBoing, nearly half of all visitors are already using Mozilla browsers.

Whatever success Firefox sees, it will come from social engineering as much as software engineering. Firefox has been the product of a massive get-out-the-vote effort. While Goodger was refining Firefox code, Ross started Spread Firefox, a community site that hosts Firefox blogs and gives points to a volunteer army of operatives for converting the masses. SpreadFirefox.com functions as a clearinghouse for marketing and recruiting strategies, a coordination center for coders, banner designers, and evangelists. The site was built on Civic Space, software developed by Carnegie Mellon grad Chris Messina for the Howard Dean online campaign. "Software development is a political process," says Messina.

Spread Firefox has served as the engine of an impressive fundraising campaign put together by zombie victim Rob Davis. In July, Davis, an account director with PR firm Haberman & Associates, contacted Ross and pitched an idea: Raise enough money from Firefox fans to run an ad in The New York Times. Over 10 days in October, more than 10,000 donors visited the Spread Firefox site and kicked in an average of $25 apiece, enough to pay for a two-page spread. The Firefox ad ran in the Times on December 16, featuring the name of every donor in barely readable, 4.5-point type, prompting another deluge of downloads.

OK, time for a reality check. Explorer is still the choice of 90 percent of Internet users. As user-friendly as Firefox may be, most of its current users are early-adopter types, bloggers, people with an ideological aversion to Microsoft. Almost every PC sold since September includes IE and the latest browser security patches. The number of Firefox downloads will surely slow, maybe even plateau, when the supply of easy converts runs dry.

But Firefox doesn't have to overtake IE to cause havoc in Redmond. Microsoft had essentially given up on Internet Explorer development - focusing instead on its next-gen OS, Longhorn. With Longhorn, the company hopes to make the stand-alone browser obsolete by incorporating Web browsing into the desktop. As part of the transition, Microsoft has created the developer language XAML, an heir to HTML. Until a few months ago, it looked like the shift to Longhorn would give Microsoft control of the Web's de facto standards. Now, with Microsoft's share in the browser market slipping - IE has lost 5 percent in the past six months, almost all of it to Firefox - Web designers can't afford to ignore the standards of Tim Berners-Lee's W3C, which Mozilla has hewed to but which Microsoft has regarded as strictly optional. Which means Bill Gates' troops must now turn back to IE and battle the ghost of Netscape.

Officially, Microsoft addresses Firefox with a sharp-toothed smile and open arms. "Any time someone creates a new piece of software for the Windows platform, it's great," says Gary Schare, director of product management for Windows. "Occasionally, a new application competes with one of ours." In recent interviews, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has responded to questions about Firefox evasively, claiming that Microsoft hasn't abandoned browser development and that the XP Service Pack 2, Microsoft's latest security patch, was actually a major browser release. The day that the Firefox ad ran in the Times, Microsoft made a less-splashy announcement of its own - it acquired anti-spyware software maker Giant. Microsoft insists it's not changing its tack because of Firefox, but watch for the company to move more quickly to release browser updates and security patches - and to add a dash of marketing to sweeten the mix.

This browser war is different from the first go-round, when Internet Explorer came from nowhere to crush the dominant Netscape Navigator. Unlike in the past decade, Microsoft can't fight off Firefox by lowballing; both browsers are free. More important, Microsoft isn't battling a startup in round two - it's battling thousands of open source programmers and several non-Microsoft titans that have rallied around Firefox. Sun Microsystems employs a dozen Firefox coders in Beijing. IBM has two dozen coders on the case in Austin, Texas. Google has hosted a Mozilla developer conference, not to mention Firefox's default start page, and rumors of a "gbrowser," a Google-branded browser built on top of Firefox, continue to swirl.

Such teamwork is particularly effective when it comes to addressing pressing concerns, like security. It took months for Redmond to fix the hole in IE exploited by the .ject Trojan last June. A few weeks later, a programmer reported a Firefox bug that allowed a malicious Web site to spy on the information users entered into online forms. In less than 36 hours, teams of open source programmers rallied to create a patch, which was then incorporated into the current release of Firefox and also made available as an easily added extension.

It's launch day for Firefox 1.0 at the Silicon Valley offices of the Mozilla Foundation, and the Web servers are cranking. By nightfall, people around the world will download the open source browser more than a million times - swiftly earning Firefox a greater share of the browser market than anything not called Internet Explorer. Grinning engineers move from desk to desk, reading congratulatory emails aloud, trading high-fives, laughing, and cheering.

A few of the faithful have been working on what has become the Firefox code for nearly a decade. They signed on with Netscape just after Marc Andreessen made his way west from the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications to start the browser company. Netscape, of course, introduced the Web to the masses, took Wall Street by storm, and was then crushed by Microsoft. In 1998, a battered Netscape sold out to AOL for $4.2 billion. The release of IE4 that year made it clear that Netscape had lost. Explorer was faster, slicker, preloaded on every new PC, and, though the anti-Microsoft crowd hated to admit it, just plain better than Netscape Communicator, a slow-moving, unwieldy clump of programs. Even AOL wouldn't touch Communicator, choosing to stay with IE as its default browser. In what Netscape veterans now refer to as "the reset," Netscape released the Communicator source code to the world in March 1998 and renamed it Mozilla.

Around this time, Blake Ross, a Florida ninth grader whose coding experience consisted of piecing together a couple of rudimentary videogames, started hacking away at Mozilla. "It was incredible - just realizing that you can touch something that so many people use," says Ross. "It's a great feeling to make a little change to the code and then actually see the change in the window of a big, famous product. You've caused something to happen in an application that's being used all over the world."

In 2000, as Ross was getting comfortable with the nooks and crannies of Mozilla's million-odd lines of code, AOL released Netscape Navigator 6 to a chorus of raspberries from reviewers and users. Inside Netscape, agonized Mozilla programmers tried to clean up the sprawling mess of a product with version 6.1 and 6.2.

Then Ross, known to the Mozilla Foundation as just another precocious, diligent bug fixer, teamed up with Dave Hyatt, a former Netscape user interface programmer who now works for Apple Computer. In 2002, they announced they had "forked" the Mozilla code base, pulling out Mozilla's layout engine, called Gecko, and using a new user interface language, XUL. They posted a short manifesto proposing a tightly written piece of software called mozilla/browser. The goal was modest: no bloat. Inspired by Google's simple interface, they set out to build a stripped-down, stand-alone browser, a refutation of the feature creep that had grounded Netscape. "Lots of Mozilla people didn't get it," Ross recalls. "They'd say, 'This is just the product we have now, but with less features.' Meanwhile, the Mozilla product at the time had about 10,000 options. You basically needed to know the secret handshake to get anything done. It sounds corny, but it was important to make something that Mom and Dad could use."

"Our aim was a browser that could reach the mainstream and get people away from using IE," Hyatt remembers. "There was tension over the way we were coming in and taking control."

Goodger, who was working for Netscape from New Zealand, loved the idea. Like Ross, Goodger had started tinkering with Mozilla code in the late '90s, fixing bugs and submitting hacks that were impressive enough to earn him a job at Mozilla, paid for by Netscape.

Mozilla/browser became Phoenix, then Firebird, then Firefox, all the while winning converts among the Mozilla crowd. But the two core developers - Ross and Hyatt - got distracted. Hyatt left for Apple in late 2002 to work on the Safari browser. Ross started his freshman year at Stanford the following fall. "The project was bogging down," Hyatt remembers. "Somebody needed to step in and finish the thing." Goodger, a car enthusiast with a blog that goes into exquisite detail about subjects like engine placement and torque, took over. "When I look at cars, I'm looking at how well they are put together, from the panel gaps to the interior fabrics. I suppose I'm very obsessive about detail and style. It helps me make software that looks good and works well."

As the project's lead engineer, Goodger began a frenzied six-month stint of reviewing the code patches and bug fixes forwarded to him by his team and grafting the approved changes onto the growing body of code that made up Firefox. He finished a serviceable beta version just ahead of last summer's rash of IE attacks, setting the stage for Firefox's explosive debut.

Ross vows he has no problem with Microsoft. "If IE worked," he says, sitting at a wobbly café table in Key Biscayne, Florida, during a quick trip to see his family in November, "I wouldn't be against it."

Whatever their motivations, Ross and Goodger have been swept up in anti-Microsoft sentiment. All the attention has been a lot to deal with for a talented but young pair of coders trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives.

Goodger has gone from low-profile programmer to internationally beloved code fu master with a crush of job offers. To get his head sorted out, Goodger set off in December for a "mind-clearing" drive from Silicon Valley to Seattle along the Pacific Coast Highway in his beloved Caribbean blue Infiniti G35 coupe. "It's my way of resetting the brain," Goodger says. "I like to go on long drives during the transitions between big projects. If you don't take a good break, you can crash and burn."

When he returned from the open road, Goodger declared he'd stay with the Mozilla Foundation. He has already posted the development roadmap for Firefox 2.0, beginning with version 1.1, codenamed Deer Park and scheduled for release in March.

Ross' career focus is only slightly steadier than the average sophomore's. He's definitely going to do a startup. It could launch in three months and make money by charging for online Firefox support. Or maybe it'll go live in five months and sell Firefox extensions that connect social-networking sites (or render them obsolete). He wants to write screenplays. He'll probably stay involved in Firefox, depending on how much time is left after school and the startup. He might have to drop out of Stanford. He'll definitely retain the role of freelance engineering firebrand.

On November 18, nine days after the Firefox 1.0 release, Netscape announced that it was working on a new browser based on Firefox. On his blog, Ross had some tart words for the company that inspired him to start writing code. "You have a history of making unspeakably inane decisions, of waffling when the iron is hot, and of completely abusing your few remaining customers," Ross wrote. "We went off and created Firefox. In fact, we then offered you Firefox and you made another poor decision - perhaps your worst yet - in rejecting it. By all rights, a company with this record should have been relegated to the Silicon Valley recycle bin years ago. Please don't miss this final chance at redemption; deliver what your users want."

The message in Ross' rant was directed at Netscape, but it's just as relevant to Microsoft. If Gates & Co. continue to ignore both the pain of IE users and the lessons in Firefox's advance, they could find Internet Explorer on the scrap heap - next to Netscape.
Contributing editor Josh McHugh (josh@wiredmag.com) wrote about craigslist founder Craig Newmark in issue 12.09.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Education secretary decries PBS cartoon's lesbian content

Jan. 26, 2005, 12:02AM
Education secretary decries PBS cartoon's lesbian content
By BEN FELLER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The nation's new education secretary denounced PBS on Tuesday for spending public money on a cartoon with lesbian characters, saying many parents would not want children exposed to such lifestyles.

The not-yet-aired episode of Postcards From Buster shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont — a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring.

A PBS spokeswoman said late Tuesday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called Sugartime!, to its 349 stations. Buster airs at 3 p.m. weekdays on KUHT-Channel 8.

The spokeswoman said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision. "Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the episode does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. By law, she said, any funded shows must give top attention to "research-based educational objectives, content and materials."

Bloggers: Just What Are the Rules?

When Bloggers Make News
As Their Clout Increases,
Web Diarists Are Asking:
Just What Are the Rules?

By JESSICA MINTZ
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 21, 2005; Page B1

Christopher Frankonis, like many bloggers, first began writing on his Web site about whatever popped into his head -- what kind of day he was having, the craziness of Oregon weather. Sometimes, he would comment on a news story that caught his attention, and provide readers with a link to the story.

Then, two years ago, he launched the Portland Communique, a blog that combines first-hand reporting, opinion, and links to articles about Portland news and politics, from mayoral races to neighborhood meetings. In essence, he became a one-man newspaper with about 400 readers a day. Although he had no formal journalism background, he began thinking of himself as a journalist.

Bloggers such as Mr. Frankonis are finally moving from the alleys and side streets of the Internet into the mainstream. And as their visibility and clout increases, some are asking: what are the rules of the road? There is no exam to pass or society to join to become a blogger -- anybody can set up a "Web log" to publish his or her ideas -- and at last count, an estimated eight million people in the U.S. are doing so, writing on everything from pets to porn. Blogs run the gamut from news and political commentary to hobbies to highly personalized attacks on fellow bloggers. Most blogs let readers post their own comments, which inevitably attract still more, which sometimes devolve into name-calling, all in the span of an afternoon.

The audience for such alternative media is growing rapidly. The number of Americans reading blogs jumped 58% in 2004 to an estimated 32 million people, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project, with about 11 million looking to political blogs for news during the presidential campaign.

And blogs are increasingly having an impact: bloggers first exposed many of the flaws in CBS's "60 Minutes" episode about President Bush's National Guard service. Blogs, among others, widely disseminated premature exit poll results that led many to believe John Kerry was winning the presidential election for much of Election Day. Bloggers who were paid by people they wrote about have sparked some controversies. In the midst of the fray, bloggers are starting to debate what kinds of ethical responsibilities they have to readers, and standards that might enhance their credibility.

At Harvard University this weekend, a small group of journalists, bloggers and media thinkers are gathering in a conference, "Blogging, Journalism & Credibility" to hash out some of these issues, and kick around the idea of a blogging code of ethics. Should bloggers disclose their sources of income? Do journalists who also blog face conflicting standards?

As conference organizers quickly realized, everything is up for debate. When they posted what sounds like a simple disclaimer for discussion -- "Just because we link to it does not mean we endorse it" -- there were immediate objections.

"Yes, actually, it does," writes a reader called Spinnaker. Another, called Ahem, writes, "Wonderful. What a great precedent for a conference on 'credibility.' " And, "It really isn't necessary for everything in the world to be invented by Harvard in order for there to be patterns, purpose, objectives, ethics and rules," writes GWPDA. The debate dissolved into a name-calling free-for-all. But the point was made: Bloggers are a feisty and independent lot and are not necessarily going to accept traditional dictates meekly.

"Many would say, who are you to tell those in the blogosphere how to behave when mainstream media screws up so significantly and regularly?" says Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute, who helped develop a widely accepted code of ethics and principles for journalists. Still, he says: "Mainstream journalism is imperfect, but a lot of appropriate standards can and should be applied to new forms of communicating."

Some bloggers don't want to be limited to the traditional notions of journalism. "Bloggers should reject the traditional idea of objectivity," says Mickey Kaus, a former New Republic and Newsweek writer whose blog Kausfiles appears on Slate.com. "One of the virtues of blogging is that it's not subject to the professional and bureaucratic restrictions of big media." Mr. Kaus says a formal code isn't needed -- just honesty. He adds: "The point of blogging is to say what you actually think -- opinion, not the traditional ideal of journalism."

Indeed, many bloggers see the blogosphere -- a term some find ridiculous, by the way -- as a vast, open forum in which many perspectives can coexist to create an overall picture that's more accurate than the mainstream media.

But even bloggers who are purporting to give readers just different versions of the news are imparting their own spin, which is the nature of blogging.

"I keep coming back to the idea of personal integrity," says Jeff Jarvis, a blogger at Buzzmachine.com. "It's relevant for us to tell people where we come from, so you can then judge us," he says. "The fact of how I feel about Howard Stern is relevant when I go around defending him. It's fine for people to know that I'm a fan of his."

The same goes for disclosing who pays your salary or funds your Web site's operating costs. "The audience should be able to come to your blog and assume that you're not on the take," says Jason McCabe Calacanis, co-founder of Weblogs Inc., which publishes Autoblog.com and Engadget.com. He holds the 45 bloggers that work for him to "old-school" standards: no junkets, no gifts, no review products.

Some bloggers argue that the nature of the medium makes it self-policing. Unlike TV viewers and newspaper readers, blog readers can and do respond instantaneously, especially when they see an inaccuracy. "When I make a mistake, people jump on me like white blood cells on a germ. If I don't correct it, my reputation's going to suffer," says Mr. Jarvis.

While sometimes shocking in its vitriol, the instant feedback from readers keeps bloggers accountable, says Michelle Malkin, a conservative blogger and syndicated columnist who often gets e-mails asking whether she's getting paid by the Bush administration. (The answer is no.) "When you hit that little publish button and something goes up, you know that literally millions of eyeballs around the world are there to parse it," and deconstruct every word. "It certainly raises the stakes," she says.

And it's these same readers who must make their own judgments, some say. "A good thing about blogging is it has sort of forced readers' antenna for bull- to be a little more fine," says Ana Marie Cox, who writes Wonkette.com, a political satire and gossip site. "It lies upon the intelligent reader ... to decide whether they trust what they're reading. It's what they should be doing with newspapers as well."

But the nature of the medium also allows rumors and falsehoods and ad hominem attacks to be spread with lightning speed. "Rumors are always more fun than the truth," says Rebecca Blood, author of "The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog." "I think people do scandal-monger and deal in rumor, especially the political advocates."

Like reporters, bloggers can be sued for libel or defamation charges, and they are also protected by the First Amendment. In one case, former U.S. Sen. James G. Abourezk is suing a pair of Web writers in their 20s for libel in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, S.D. The writers, Michael Marino and Ben Marino Jr. of Pennsylvania, posted Mr. Abourezk's name in a list of traitors on their ProBush.com Web site. A spokesman for the writers said the list is a parody and thus protected by the First Amendment.

In another case, Apple Computer Inc. has brought a lawsuit against the owner of a Web site run by a Harvard student, Nicholas Ciarelli, called ThinkSecret.com for allegedly revealing trade secrets. An attorney for Mr. Ciarelli said that holding a Web writer accountable for how his source obtained information would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Jay Rosen, the New York University Journalism Department chairman who will kick off the conference, says that as bloggers move away from opinion writing and become a what he calls "citizen-journalists," they will inevitably struggle with the same ethics questions that traditional media did. "The blogger system is necessarily evolving and changing and will go through crises and problems and periods of invention, because it's new," he says.

The dictates of capitalism will no doubt begin affecting which blogs survive and which don't, but not yet. "Right now the currency is readership and respect, not money," says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee who writes Instapundit.com, a well-read blog. "I don't think you can start reading a blog and immediately know who to trust." That relationship is built over time. Mr. Reynolds says he wouldn't knowingly publish or link to something false -- but as one guy at a computer, there's only so much fact-checking he can do.

All the way back in 2002, Rebecca Blood advised bloggers to disclose their conflicts of interest, publish only what they believe to be true, and correct mistakes publicly. Her counsel to readers? Follow the same rules as one would walking down the street: "Don't make eye contact with someone who seems crazy."

Justices Refuse to Consider Law Banning Gay Adoption

January 11, 2005
Justices Refuse to Consider Law Banning Gay Adoption
By LINDA GREENHOUSE

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a challenge to a Florida law that prohibits gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

Florida's is the only such statute in the country, and the prohibition is the only categorical adoption ban on the state's books. Florida evaluates adoption applications from all other would-be adoptive parents, including those who have failed at previous adoptions and those with a history of drug abuse or domestic violence, on a case-by-case basis.

Three gay men and the children they have raised in long-term foster care challenged the statute in a lawsuit filed four years before the Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, invalidated that state's criminal sodomy law in a landmark gay-rights ruling.

The Florida plaintiffs had lost their case in Federal District Court in Key West and had already filed their briefs with the federal appeals court in Atlanta when the Lawrence decision was issued in June 2003. Their lawyers then filed supplemental briefs arguing that the Texas decision meant that Florida's law should also fall, as an expression of anti-gay sentiment that the Supreme Court had ruled could not be a basis for public policy.

But a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit disagreed, ruling last January that the Lawrence decision did not refute "the accumulated wisdom of several millennia of human experience" that the "optimal family structure" in which to raise children was one with a mother and father married to each other.

The appeals court then deadlocked 6 to 6 on whether the full court should rehear the case. The rehearing request failed because a rehearing requires a majority vote. One of the judges voting against rehearing the case was William H. Pryor Jr., who was named to the appeals court as a temporary recess appointment by President Bush during an 11-day Congressional recess last February. Had Judge Pryor not participated, the appeals court would have reconsidered the case.

The validity of the Pryor appointment - whether the president's constitutional authority to make appointments "during the recess of the Senate" to positions ordinarily requiring Senate confirmation applies to such short recesses - is the subject of a separate case that has been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Although Florida's adoption law had contained a preference for married couples, the state repealed that provision in 2003. One-quarter of the adoptions in the state are by single people.

The state Legislature voted to prohibit adoptions by gays in 1977, in the midst of a campaign led by the entertainer Anita Bryant to repeal a gay-rights ordinance adopted by Dade County. The state senator who sponsored the adoption measure, Curtis Peterson, said at the time that its purpose was to send a message to the gay community that "we're really tired of you" and "we wish you'd go back into the closet."

Florida permits gay men and lesbians to be foster parents. The lead plaintiff in the case, Steven Lofton, is a licensed foster parent who has taken in eight children with H.I.V. or AIDS, winning an award as the outstanding foster parent of the year from the agency that placed the children in the home he has shared for 20 years with his partner, Roger Croteau. The boy identified in the case as John Doe, now 13, has been with the couple since infancy.

The Supreme Court made no comment Monday in turning down the case, Lofton v. Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, No. 04-478. The justices may have decided to permit the Lawrence decision to play out in different contexts in various courts before taking up the gay rights issue once again.

Matthew A. Coles, director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs, said in an interview that the fact that the Florida law was unique might have limited the court's interest in the case.

Last month in Arkansas, in another suit brought by the A.C.L.U., a state trial judge struck down a law that prohibits placing foster children in a household with a gay adult. Arkansas has announced that it will appeal the ruling. Mr. Coles said the Arkansas case might be the next to reach the Supreme Court.

In another Supreme Court development on Monday, lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court with conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, filed an appeal of a ruling last April that restored the government's right to seek the death penalty while at the same time limiting Mr. Moussaoui's right to seek testimony from captured members of Al Qaeda who have told interrogators that he had nothing to do with the plot.

A federal district judge, Leonie V. Brinkema, ruled in 2003 that without giving Mr. Moussaoui access to favorable witnesses, the government could not seek the death penalty. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, overturned that decision last April, holding that Mr. Moussaoui's right to favorable testimony could be preserved through written summaries rather than direct access to the witnesses, who are being held overseas as enemy combatants.

The Supreme Court appeal, Moussaoui v. United States, was filed under seal because the record contains classified material. One of the lawyers for Mr. Moussaoui, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., described the case as one that concerns "the most fundamental rights of a criminal defendant to mount a defense." The court is expected to make a public version of the petition available next week.

Soccer's Gold Cup coming to Reliant Stadium

Jan. 25, 2005, 7:47PM

Soccer's Gold Cup coming to Reliant Stadium
By JOHN P. LOPEZ
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Houston's Reliant Stadium will play host this July to the premier soccer event leading up to the 2006 World Cup, the CONCACAF Gold Cup finals.

An official announcement of Gold Cup finals sites is expected Wednesday. The Gold Cup will feature the U.S. men's national team, which currently is in the final qualifying stage for the 2006 World Cup, which will be held in Germany.

Among the U.S. players likely to participate are some of the game's biggest stars, including Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Claudio Reyna, Clint Mathis and goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Brad Freidel.

A match between the United States and Mexico -- bitter rivals -- is highly likely in the Gold Cup. In a 2002 World Cup elimination game between the teams, Team USA staged a 2-0 win over Mexico, earning a first-ever trip to the World Cup quarterfinals.

Mexico, the defending 2003 Gold Cup champions, and Team USA own automatic bids into the tournament based on world rankings and past Gold Cup results.

Other national teams in the 12-team Confederation of North American, Central American and Caribbean nations tournament likely would include world notables such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, Jamaica, Canada and Guatemala.

Two national teams from outside CONCACAF also are invited to the Gold Cup. In recent Gold Cup tournaments, one of those teams has been world power Brazil.

Considered the showpiece event for this International Soccer Federation (FIFA) region, the biannual tournament will take on added significance this year as national teams prepare for the 2006 World Cup.

As it prepares for World Cup finals qualifying, the U.S. men's national team has upcoming games against Trinidad and Tobago in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on Feb. 9, and a highly anticipated rematch with Mexico on March 26 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The Gold Cup event will be without question the biggest in a string of world-class events that Reliant and Soccer United Marketing has brought to Houston, including the recently completed InterLiga final-four and the 2003 USA-Mexico "friendly," which drew more than 65,000 fans to Reliant Stadium.

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