Back in 1988, just after graduating from Columbia Journalism School, I traveled to Cuba for two weeks as part of a small group of students from the school. We had received a license to visit the country. We had two weeks of interviews and meetings, but also substantial time to wander around Havana by ourselves. Being pretty fluent in Spanish, I took advantage of this and did my best to take the measure of the country, talking to many people in and around the streets. Sometimes I would knock on people’s doors. The story I wrote was published in The Virginian-Pilot and The San Francisco Chronicle. It was basically the first big story I had written outside school, and even vaguely then, I was surprised at how well it read. It hold up pretty well now. I did not have a digital copy of the San Francisco Chronicle version, so my friend John King, the architecture critic for the Chronicle, tracked one down for me. Here it is below, in full text. I may have a visit again to Cuba in my near future, so I wanted to put this up. I’m sure the Chronicle won’t mind.
I got a glimpse of the future during a recent visit to Seattle to hawk my new book. People were all in a tizzy there, because a majority of Washington state voters in November, as well as voting for Obama, had approved full legality for the wacky weed, marijuana. Now officials and politicians were figuring out what that meant. Mayor Mike McGinn was leading the way, welcoming the transition rather than seeking to stop it. He was meeting with pot growers, and putting together a to-do list. And to tell you the truth, McGinn, who arose out of the environmental and neighborhood activism side of things, and has a nice grin and a scruffy beard, looks like he just might have inhaled a few times himself over the years.
In last Sunday’s New York Times, veteran Timesman Sam Roberts wrote a nice review of my new book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies, in his “Bookshelf” column in the Metropolitan Section. Here’s the link, but I’ll post the whole thing here, since it was short.
Bookshelf Column, Excerpt
By Sam Roberts
Feb 22, 2013
Despite its dry title, “The Surprising Design of Market Economies” (University of Texas Press, $25), by Alex Marshall, offers keen insights into urban planning, public works and even the history of New York’s onetime ambivalence toward a professional police force. Mr. Marshall is a senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit planning agency for the New York City metropolitan area, and many of his arguments turn on hometown examples.
I don’t know who “hismlane” is, but he did a great job summarizing my book on the Daily Kos. He not only summarized each chapter, but in his overview he got the crucial distinction that I’m making a distinction between “regulating” markets, and “designing” them. By getting down into the core architecture of our markets, I shift the playing field. Check it out here.
I had some colleagues from Korea in town a week ago, including Dr. Gyeng Chul Kim, president of the Korea Transport Institute. He delivered a great lecture at the AIA here in New York, which I and others at the Regional Plan Association, where I’m a Senior Fellow, help set up. I got to know Dr. Kim in Seoul last Spring when I was there. Dr. Kim helped spearhead the transportation reforms in Seoul in the 2000s under Mayor Lee Myung-Bak, who would go onto become president. Anyway, here is a picture of three of us breaking bread at a diner on the west side of Manhattan, after touring the High Line in the bitter cold.
In anticipation of my appearance in her fair city, design journalist Clair Enlow reviewed my book for the newspaper she writes regularly for, the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, which has articles about the real estate industry for the most part. I’m going to post her whole column here about my book. It was a nice piece of writing.
January 23, 2013
Design Perspectives: Book explores free markets that benefit everyone
By CLAIR ENLOW
Special to the Journal
Every day, it seems, we wake up and see our lawmakers in a standoff, and our national government nearing a standstill. Versions of the same scenes play out in state legislatures.
The movie Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, was a good one. Phenomenal really, and, like many of the movies and television shows I like, very journalistic in its flavor. It felt truthful. It definitely had a political message. I would summarize it this way.
Vengeance is mine. Torture works. Obama sucks.
I say the first two seriously, and the last one somewhat facetiously but sincerely.
The movie had an unapologetic, old Testament tone of striking and destroying our enemy, without qualms or regret. As for torture, it portrayed it as something done extensively, and that was a part of the successful detective work that led to finding Osama Bin Laden. As for president Barack Obama, I don’t believe he was ever even mentioned by name. His administration was portrayed as sluggish and risk averse, and certainly not given credit for taking a move labeled after the fact as risky and tough.
Ian Williams, host of the Catskill Review of Books, a radio show, did a really nice interview with me about my new book. It’s clear he actually read my book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies. It’s heard on WJFF radio. I’ve been having problems finding a link to the show, but I know it’s out there. So if you do a search, you may be able to find it. I’m sorry I’m so inept technologically. I think you can download it via the radio site, and via Facebook and Amazon.
Check it out here. The magazine has an interesting blend of policy review from a bunch of different perspectives.
The Atlantic Cities online had a nice interview with me about my new book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies. Check it out here. The headline writer hit the contrast with Jane Jacobs a little too hard, but it was a good hook for the interview, particularly in an urban publication. The wonderful Allison Arieff did the interview.