Bio-Flop

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Posted May 31, 2006 by Static in News

Poor Ed. It’s not always been easy – or profitable – for this city’s favorite billionaire to play God.

According to last Sunday’s New York Times, Ed Bass is selling off Biosphere 2, the giant terrarium in the Arizona desert near the small town of Oracle (yes, there are ironies a’plenty in this tale), the place he built 20 years ago to simulate life on Earth in microcosm in a sealed dome designed to sustain life with a rotating crew of “bionauts” (bionuts?) for a century.

The first crew didn’t even last two years before the project was shut down: Oxygen droppedto dangerously low levels, the million-gallon sea turned to acid, crops failed. (Insects, however, thrived, proving to Static that roaches are indeed going to inherit the Earth.)

Bass’ efforts to save his noble experiment were equally disastrous. Columbia University’s Earth Institute took it over and soon left following a nasty lawsuit with Bass over a breach of contract. The site failed even as a tourist attraction. Now, after pouring more than $200 million into the project over the years, the Times reported, Bass is selling at a loss – around $40 million.

Not to worry. Biosphere 2 will still be a microcosm of life on earth. The buyer, according the Times, is a Tucson developer who plans to build upscale housing on the site to be named – what else? – Biosphere Estates. Comes with greenhouse.

10 Years, 3 Homes

Attention all fans, foes, clients, and bill collectors of Fort Worth Weekly, as well as all you nut jobs who write to us from time to time: We’re moving. Come next week, Static and friends will be unpacking the boxes in a new home at 3311 Hamilton Ave. (zip code 76107) – a couple of blocks north and west of the world’s most annoying intersection at University, West Seventh, and Camp Bowie.

Good news is that the new digs have great natural light, nice tree-shaded courtyards, and we’re closer to some places near and dear to our little caffeine- and beer-soaked hearts, namely the Four Star Coffee Bar, the Wreck Room, and The Torch. Also, being several decades younger than our West Seventh abode, the new place is more likely to actually be cool in the summer and warm in winter (no more typing in gloves). And we won’t miss the screeching-brake symphony of Seventh Street, where wrecks – including a serious one involving Weekly freelance photographer Alyssa Banta last month – were all too common.

We will miss the soul factor of our old building – battle-scarred wooden floors (sloping precariously in some spots, true), exposed brick walls, big windows that looked west toward the river, and the proximity to downtown. We won’t have a cool story to tell anymore, about how this place used to be part of an old car dealership.

Still, we’re moving back closer to our origins – the Weekly’s first home was across Seventh Street from the Four Star. And hey, maybe the new digs have their own stories to tell. For instance, there’s a working fireplace on the premises. A working fireplace! In a newspaper office! Gotta be a story there.

Oh, and for you frequent visitors who thought the parking might be better: Nah.


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