Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Video Find of the Day

I love the word "irk". It's so onomatopoetic. It's the precise sound that welled up from my throat repeatedly and insistently as I watched this video and contemplated the differences between what I was seeing and Seattle. "Irk" is what comes out of me when I think of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on making Seattle a "world class city" ever since Century 21 and 1962, while Seattle has enjoyed not one decent open space.

See what's possible. Benches are possible, and can bring people together, not apart. It's possible to have functioning drinking fountains (Gosh, where do they get the money for that? Let's ask Paul Allen, he always knows where money comes from!) It's possible to have children in a downtown neighborhood, and places for them to have fun.

Notice the sign "This Area Reserved for Children and Their Guardians". It doesn't say "This Entire park Reserved For Children and Their Guardians." It doesn't say, "Poor People Out."

Check out the "Three Rights of Man" -- "The right to sit down, the right to get a drink of water and the right to use free public plumbing." Irk.

Irk, too, is what comes out of me when I see the segment on bocce courts, and I think how Seattle and Paul Allen are trying to graft bocce courts into South Lake Union parks and other downtown parks. But the bocce courts in the video were established by immigrants who brought the game with them. Seattleites include very few people who have ever even heard of bocce ball. Meanwhile, where are the skateboard parks?

Irk yourself at the very next segment, where people who would be stereotyped today as homeless and undesirables are proudly exhibited in the film enjoying public card games, in a park next door to tenements with clothes on the line. Human beings, showing all the signs of poverty, not hated and chased out of a park, but seen as proof of the life of the park.

"Sidewalk games flourish in the city." Not in my city. My city despises children and despises any game that isn't organized for commercial profit.

"After all, being human, it's human beings that interest us most." Not in my city.

How to Live in a City [1964]
Produced in cooperation with the
University Council on Education
For Public Responsibility

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