Friday Funny: New York Steak
"An initial objection to any other similarity between these similarly shaped things would be (for the cow especially) a crucial one. While the carcass, first designated and then carved into round, flank, brisket and rump, is dead, the city today seems very much alive."
"And, traditionally, it is the language of living, not dead flesh, that has dominated urban talk. Adrian Forty, among others, has charted the way in which the language of 19th-century biology came to dominate the architectural and urban conversations of the next century. Organs were important-the "lungs" of parks and beaches, the "brain" of a financial district, the "heart" of a commercial core-but even more so the 'circulation' that kept them alive, bathed them in (presumably) life-giving commerce and flow. And so the vascularly inclined architects and planners of the early 20th century came to propose, and then construct, such a rationally circulating body."
"Both images represent a system of commonly understood distinctions, rendered in order to negotiate the body of a complex system: the city, the (bovine) body. Just as we need arbitrary designations to govern the path of a knife, or palate, around and through the body of the cow, so we need neighborhoods to negotiate the dense tissue of the city. And just as cuts of beef change to suit custom and fashion (who remembers the silverside, striploin, or clod?), so do neighborhood boundaries and designations."
"But while a new fashion in meat cutting doesn't actually change the cow, urban neighborhoods exist in constant interplay with the city's living flesh. The negotiable boundaries of neighborhoods are necessary divisions for the city's self-reflection, even self-organization, but they connect as well as divide."