A gallery of “spite houses”

Curbed provides a look at the rare residences intended to spite someone else:

What’s not to love about a building called a “spite house?” In an essay in the New York Times, writer Kate Bolick discusses her dream of owning the Plum Island Pink House, a forlorn, decaying structure in Newbury, Massachusetts set in the middle of a salt marsh. The romantic, reclusive home stands alone for a reason; built by a recently divorced husband for his ex-wife as a condition of their separation, it’s an exact duplicate of their shared home, just uncomfortably moored in the middle of remote wetlands and constructed without any running fresh water. The square loner is part of a small but ignoble tradition of spite houses, buildings created for malice instead of comfort meant to irritate or enrage neighbors, or occasionally piss off anyone unfortunate enough to be dwelling inside. Normally built to block a neighbor’s light or access, they can be found as early at the 18th century. Here are some examples of homes or apartment that were built, or painted, out of anger.

Given the amount of work it can take to construct a home, these people must have had some serious spite. But, how exactly the spite translated into the form of a home took on some different patterns (based on the examples offered by Curbed): using particular pieces of land in unique ways (particularly small lots), exterior decorating that transforms what might be a normal home into what the neighbors would consider an eyesore, and then homes with specific architectural features (such as being overly large or emphasizing particular elements).

Two quick things I would want to know in these cases:

  1. Did building the spite house pay off? In other words, did constructing the home as a symbol help the aggrieved person feel better?
  2. How does the quality or longevity of these homes compare to typical residences? If constructed in haste or if more concerned about spite than construction, perhaps they wouldn’t stand the test of time.

Negative emotions in the workplace

A recent Time magazine piece discusses the role, or lack of a role, of negative emotions in the workplace:

In the binary shorthand we use to compartmentalize modern life, we think of home as the realm of emotion and work as the place where rationality rules — a tidy distinction that crumbles in the face of experience. As management scholar Blake Ashforth has written, it is a “convenient fiction that organizations are cool arenas for dispassionate thought and action.” In fact, in the workplace we are bombarded by emotions — our own and everyone else’s. Neuroscientists have demonstrated over and over in empirical ways just how integral emotion is in all aspects of our lives, including our work. But since companies have generally avoided the subject, there are no clear protocols about emotional expression in the office.

The only instance in which we acknowledge emotion is when doing so is seen as obviously beneficial, both personally and professionally…

But we’re still largely clueless about how to display and react to more commonplace emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety, so we handicap ourselves, trying to check our human side at the office door.

As the last paragraph of the article suggests, not being able to express these emotions leaves employees as less than human. It is one thing to be able to act professional or courteous in the workplace but another to suggest that people have to bottle emotions that we all have from time to time. In high stress environments where the personal identity of employees is often closely tied to job performance, negative emotions are bound to come up.

This reminds me of Arlie Hochschild’s concept of “emotion work.” While there are certain professions that require a public performance of cheerfulness (such as a flight attendant or waitress), this article suggests that most employees have to do some form of this. Just as Hochschild suggests, this is also a gendered issue: women are judged differently when expressing emotion.

So how could companies allow employees to express these emotions in positive ways?

The anger in Cleveland over LeBron

While the story of a fan dressed in a LeBron James Miami Heat jersey being escorted out of the Cleveland Indians game last night makes the rounds, Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated writes about the anger present in the city of Cleveland. According to Posnanski, what makes this anger different from anger after  sports letdowns of the past (of which Cleveland has seen its share) is that the anger seems to be growing.

Those who don’t watch or follow sports sometimes say that it doesn’t matter who wins or loses or how the local team finishes. Posnanski is suggesting the opposite: this anger about an NBA transaction is present all over a large city.

My questions: how much does this sports move really diminish the quality of life in Cleveland? Are workers less productive or are fewer business deals made? Do less visitors come to Cleveland now that it is not the city of LeBron? Can the image of Cleveland across the United States sink (even with Forbes already earlier this year naming it the most miserable city in the United States)? Would residents move away from Cleveland because LeBron also moved away?