Andy Rooney, Did You Ever Notice…

“Did you ever notice how buildings are? The sides go straight up, at right angles to the ground. The floors are flat. Plumb and square is the trade term.

“So what about that Frank Gehry, you ask? A lot of his designs (and a lot of those by some of those stunt architects these days) like to make things look like a tumbling teetering stack of blocks or some other jumbling jig-saw. From the outside, anyway. I’ll bet you my last eyebrow hair that somewhere under all those eye popping surfaces and odd shapes there’s a structural foundation that still follows the ‘ol plumb and square rule.

“Ok, but what about the Leaning Tower of Pisa? It was originally put up straight and only over time has it slipped to its present “must stop there to get a picture when in Italy” status. But isn’t why it is such a curiosity mainly about that it is slipped off from the vertical to such a precarious degree?

“And, ok, there’s the Guggenheim, too. The floor just keeps going up and up at a slow angle—it’s not flat! And the whole thing is round, not square. (Is that the only thing that Mr. Wright designed that wasn’t all horizontals and verticals? Oh, yes, the S. C. Johnson building…sort of.) I’ll leave the climb for you young folks to enjoy. And l’ll get there on the elevator. Straight up I go! Meet me at the top.

“I don’t have the time or inclination to keep trying to make this point about architecture. You either see my point or you don’t. And I certainly don’t want to cover all the apparent exceptions to the rule. In fact there aren’t any that I can think of. If’n you want it to stay together and stand around for a while, you got to have some plumb and square in there somewhere at the very heart of it.

“If you don’t follow my drift, that’s ok. Just don’t be making any plans to go building your own house any time soon.

“Did you ever notice that when a chicken lays an egg, it drops straight down?”

Follow Up and Viewer Mail…

“A viewer writes…’ Dear Mr. Rooney, Did you ever notice that, just like any other physical structure on this beloved Earth, the human body also has to obey the same laws that apply to those buildings you talked about last week? The pull of gravity dictates that the human body has to obey the same kind of plumb and square in its makeup just like that office building you sit in and make up all those curmudgeonly rants every week. And, did you ever notice that almost nobody is very much built along the plumb and square that one sees in the anatomy textbooks or that the laws of gravity would suggest is a normal arrangement. How come? If you were a building what would you be? The Empire State Building or a crumbling old barn? I’ll let you answer that one in private.’

“Well, my friend, you make a point, don’t you? When I look around I do notice that most everyone is out of balance in the simple architectural definition of sound structure. We wouldn’t have that in our homes, so why do we have it in our bodies? I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefor’s. Could it be that being out of balance is so common that it goes unnoticed? Could it be that gravity is so constant that it too goes under the radar too?

“I’ll bet you that if you asked a fish how the water was, he’d probably say, ‘what water?’ So if I asked someone, ‘how’s your relationship to gravity?’ I suppose they would think I was all wet.

“Something’s fishy here.

“If all life sprang from the sea, and if gravity is to humans what water is to fish, where will mankind find itself when it makes its next great evolutionary leap?”

Next week…Puzzle for future archeologists…who put all that gum under the tables?

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