The Crisis in American Walking. Tom Vanderbilt on the reasons why ‘the United States walks the least of any industrialized nation’ (the title of one article Vanderbilt cites encapsulates the problem, ‘Columbus residents see potential benefits of sidewalks‘). The US certainly isn’t alone in having declining walking rates, but like many other countries, walking has a strange status as a universal pastime that becomes more eccentric and esoteric the closer one studies it: ‘the pedestrian life is one so removed from daily consciousness that to participate in it implies some higher purpose’. Related, the forthcoming Smart guide to Utopia, where the ‘smart’ in question is a purveyor of four-wheeled mobility. In Europe at least, any debate about ‘urban futures’ is almost wholly coloured (and controlled) by the auto industry, who realise their way of doing business has to be spun into the new narratives about our place in the city. Check Smart Urban Stage, Audi Urban Future Initiative, General Motors’ Sustainability in Motion, BMW’s Guggenheim Lab and the multi-sponsor Our Future Urban Mobility Now site, and maybe more.
Related, Did bad neighborhood design doom Trayvon Martin? It might sound a little extreme, perhaps, but as Martin’s alleged killer said in his 911 call, “It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The inference being that this behaviour was strange and inherently threatening. ‘Less than 1.2 percent of the population in Sanford walks to work, and the subdivision where the killing took place is designed for driving, so something as human as walking is odd behavior. Suspicious even.’
X-Ray Sound Recordings: ‘In the USSR and Eastern Europe in the 1950s underground night spots would play music pirated from the west. The only media they had were recorders etched into discarded X-ray film.’ (via MeFi). See also this recent Jack White interview in the Guardian: ‘On one occasion, [White] another upholsterer formed a band – called the Upholsterers – pressed 100 copies of a single, and hid them inside furniture they were restoring. “Not one’s been found yet,” he chuckles. “They were on clear vinyl with transparency covers, so even if you x-rayed the furniture you wouldn’t be able to find them. I know where a couple of them might be, but it’s very funny in that sense.”‘
Robin Maddock takes photographs. His images of Plymouth are compiled in a new show and book, God Forgotten Face. There’s a selection of images and statement at Photomonitor / the collages of Nadine Boughton at Lenscratch / the icy landscape paintings of David Wightman.