Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

The Uses of Cranks

Don’t worry, I’m not going to label everyone a closet architect. But this quote, from James Parker’s appreciation of Curb Your Enthusiasm in this month’s Atlantic, made me wonder if Larry David might not have been happier, his skills (such as they are) put to better use, as a product designer.

And still—this was the show’s hook—he burned. Still he grated. In so frictionless an environment, Larry was obliged to make his own friction—to become a one-man friction factory. Parts of him, or parts of his condition, we recognized from Seinfeld: his barking Costanzan indignation, his Krameroid manners. Dry cleaners were argued with. Waiters were made to feel awkward. Customs and conventions were submitted to a nonstop Seinfeldian interrogation: What is the cutoff time for late-night calls? How long must you stand at a graveside? Let me ask you a question … Let me ask you something … Let me ask you this …

Life itself, to be felt at all, had to be something like a rash