London-based Zaha Hadid, widely regarded as one of the leading lights in the constellation of avant-garde architecture, has likewise become a superstar in China, where her latest designs radiate out through architecture schools and studios across the country. On a recent trip to Beijing, 15,000 artists, architects and other fans swarmed to a talk she gave for the opening of the futuristic Galaxy SOHO complex — just one of 11 projects she is designing across the country.
But the appeal of the Prtizker Prize winner’s experimental architecture, especially since the unveiling of her glowing, crystalline Guangzhou Opera House two years ago, has expanded so explosively that a contingent of pirate architects and construction teams in southern China is now building a carbon copy of one of Hadid’s Beijing projects.
What’s worse, Hadid said in an interview, she is now being forced to race these pirates to complete her original project first.
What happened, in brief, is that my wife and I had hired a young man named Antonio to give us a tour.* We’d spent the morning chugging around in an ancient Moskvich sedan, with another young man driving as Antonio pointed out the sights and delivered a running commentary about what he called “the reality of Cuba.” We’d visited an Afro-Cuban cultural museum, toured the old Spanish fort, bought contraband rum. We’d gone back to Antonio’s tiny concrete box of a home, met his wife and mother, sipped beers, talked some politics, and taken pictures. In the late afternoon, he and another friend had led us to a lovely little restaurant at the base of Santiago’s landmark Padre Pico steps. We’d eaten grilled lobster, drunk more beers, and traded jokes and vows of eternal friendship.
At the end of the meal, I’d given the waiter CUC $80 and received CUC $10 in change, and as I stood there with the ten-peso note in my hand Antonio grabbed and pocketed it. I shot him a confused look, and he responded with a half shrug that seemed calibrated somewhere between What’s it matter? and You know the score. I hadn’t intended to give him the money, but he decided he deserved it. Hours later, on the rooftop patio of the Casa Granda, drinking a mojito that cost nearly half the amount I was obsessing about, I wondered what that shrug really meant.
At community meetings as commissioner, Bealefeld listened to agonized citizen monologues about the drug dealers and the ruin that accompanied them—the casual display of guns, the crazed addicts. But when Bealefeld really pressed them, trying to identify the source of their fear, he realized they weren’t worried about the drug trade itself but about the violence. To Bealefeld, it started to seem as if the pre-drug-war way of thinking might still apply. What if being a good cop didn’t mean turning yourself into a soldier in the drug war? What if the drug war was actually a distraction?
Quietly, in experiments in a few influential police departments around the country, a new set of tools for policing is being tested, as cops have come to realize that violence tends to be driven not by neighborhoods but by small and identifiable populations of exceptional individuals. Working with arrest records on the crime-ridden far West Side of Chicago, a young Yale sociologist named Andrew Papachristos discovered that he could create a social map of violence (including only people who were arrested together with other members of the network) that encompassed just 4 percent of the people in the neighborhood but virtually all of the murderers and murder victims. Each time you “co-offended” with another member of the network, it turned out, you grew 25 percent more likely to be murdered. The universe of the violent and the vulnerable, Papachristos found, was far tinier than the universe of people involved in drugs, or in gangs; it was a small circle of people who all knew one another.
This, I feel, is the fundamental lesson of Why Society Still Exists: most people, most of the time, just want to get by.
The same premise applies to the ‘War on Terror’. Creating terror is easy, but almost no one has any interest in doing so.