Garbage Time and Garbage Space

Cartoneros in Buenos Aires make their livelihood sifting and transporting the material refuse of the city.

It’s May and that means garbage time is over in the NBA- it’s the playoffs baby!  No more sitting the starters on the last leg of a back-to-back-to-back, or pulling the star who’s battling wrist and knee injuries for the last 10 minutes with a twenty-seven point lead.  It’s all hands on deck, unless of course you’ve torn your ACL or your herniated discs require season-ending back surgery.  But who cares.


You may have noticed a precipitous decline in posts here recently.  This is not a long-term situation, but rather a symptom of being in heavy production on my thesis project.  It will, of course, be a failure, but we aspire to fail in glorious fashion.  In coming months we’re excited to reshape the blog and looking forward to trying some specific experiments and exploring new areas of focus.

In the mean time if you are interested not only in garbage time but also garbage space, please head over to Places and check out a new article by Michael Ezban on the Monte Testaccio landfill in Rome.  He thoughtfully excavates the political economy of the Roman landfill and uses the term monadnock a lot:

Over the course of this intermodal journey the oil and clay would pass through a phalanx of bureaus and labor guilds. The historian David Mattingly notes the involvement of “thousands of people, including imperial officials, commercial associations, individual merchants, various guilds of boatmen, and a great many porters and dockworkers.”  At various points the amphorae were inscribed and stamped to indicate points of origin, net and tare weights, signatures of ownership and receipt. Upon arrival in Rome the amphorae were poured into dolia, and empty Dressel 20s were discarded behind the warehouses along the wharves. The 1,000-mile migration of clay and oil that began on the banks of the Baetis River would end with the construction of an artificial monadnock in the floodplain of Rome.

Monte Testaccio and the Tiber River in Rome; image via Places
Admittedly, it’s a cool term, recalling Leibniz’s metaphysics and meshing it with the geological oddity.  Though tightly focused on landfill reclamation and reuse, we think the essay offers up two important concepts for landscape practice in general:  material dispersal and program aggregation.  Please check it out, and if you have the chance to dive in to it, share your thoughts in the comments over on Places.

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