Philip Nobel’s Black Valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day—love is in the air, flowers and chocolates cover every workstation, happy couples are all aglow, and Metropolis contributing editor Philip Nobel has something to say. Though the magazine’s February issue does not go live on our site until next Wednesday (February 20th), I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a peek into Mr. Nobel’s anti-Cupid psyche.


Friends, lovers: the season is upon us once again. As many of you know, for a neat half decade now this February iteration of everyone’s favorite column has been devoted to outpourings of generosity, paeans to the odd obsession, and, sub rosa, a coded gloss on this writer’s fleeting passions. The tradition was begun, you may remember, to offset what is seen (and rarely in error) to be the bilious default to which the tone here so often returns. And why should it not? Look around, people, look around. Ours is a golden age—in music, art, food, gadgetry, writing in all media—and to this fine fecund day architecture’s mandarinate, with the full technological and financial power of the world behind it, offers up nothing more potent than build it quirky and they will come.

We’ll get back to that in the gleaming future, I’m just so sure. But looking over what I’ve written here since last summer’s bitterness, the trilogy inspired by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston, we find one, two, three…five—five!—months in a row in which I found something to love. That is a run of happy romance, dear readers, unprecedented in the life of this column, and, I should add, I’m as confused by it as anyone. To recap, there was un­alloyed affection (for SHoP, 40 Bond, and the New Museum), brazen nostalgia (Kahn), and even, God help us, in the column on New Orleans, an irony-free note of cloying hope, for which I was roundly and rightly dressed down barside one night by an esteemed proofreader of this fine publication.

What strains of fate converged last summer to free my mind from elapsing fancies, opening it to the wondrous variety that abounds in our only quarter-fallen world? What stray Cupid’s shot hit home? Got me. But propriety demands now that we flip the script. No long stems this month, no champagne truffles. Below please find a selection of black valentines, for your pleasure, and from the heart.

Find out exactly which targets Philip guns down in his Far Corner column next Wednesday!

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