"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Tuesday, June 25, 2002 Yellow Armadillo: Don't expect the new Catholic cathedral to wind up on postcards of L.A.'s scenic attractions, writes Jill Stewart in New Times.
In the sparest of terms, our new cement cathedral, created by renowned Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo -- best known for designing banks and airports -- is butt-ugly.
It's oppressive. Fortress-like. And really, really ochre.
It reflects a boring squareness, with its imposing walls built nearly out to the sidewalks along Temple Street, Hill Street and Grand Avenue. Equally unappealing are the yellow cement scales that armor the boxy structure like cascading shingles. Think of the sheathed Batmobile from the Batman movies and you have the general idea. What exactly is this cathedral armored against, that it must be blanketed by thousands of coffin-sized slabs of yellow cement?
One resident of nearby Echo Park described the cathedral as "like a giant display of closed louvers. I am being nice when I say perhaps it is in homage to the 1950s windows that typify this part of town."
Hardly anyone to whom I spoke would talk on the record, as if they might be cast into hellfire and damnation. Everyone is scared of Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, a powerful holy man who is known for his occasional temper tantrums and abiding vindictiveness.
Typical was the comment from a high-ranking executive with a major developer downtown. Just like me, he is thrilled that the cathedral, though truly ugly, will bring more activity downtown.
"It never ceases to amaze me how you can spend $163 million on something so oppressive," he says. "There was a worldwide contest to find this world-famous architect. Why does it have to be this fortress? God, it's so ugly! If you tell the truth about it, the angels will bless you, because they will think you're right!"