Friday, June 10, 2011

Mime troupes a new secret weapon?

First, some personal news, if you'll indulge me:  After 17 years on the Charlotte Observer's editorial board I was among a small group of employees offered a buyout and I accepted it. My last day of work at the newspaper will be June 17.  That means this blog will vanish from the ether that day.

I intend to keep blogging, but I don't have a new site set up yet. Keep watching the blog before June 17 for more details about where you can find my work in the future. (And yes, I have some new job prospects but nothing to announce at this point.)

So that's why I've been digging through old files and various email folders tucked here and there.  And I've found some tidbits of things you'll enjoy.

I'll do anything, officer, just make the mimes go away ...: This article from a 2010 edition of City Journal (produced by the libertarian-leaning Manhattan Institute) discusses one of my favorite urban stories ever – how Bogotá, Colombia, used mimes to make people obey traffic laws.  The article tells "about former Bogotá, Colombia, mayor Antanas Mockus’s use of mimes to mock jaywalkers, reckless drivers, and other scofflaws. ... The mimes had a noticeable impact on compliance with traffic laws. The mayor reported that traffic fatalities fell by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2003."  Want to see a photo of the mimes, and more about Mockus? (He also donned a Superman costume and acted as "Supercitizen,"  using humor to get residents laughing, but behaving better.)
I wonder if Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe has considered hiring a mime troupe to enforce (or scare) misbehaving youths at uptown's next street festival? Or would roving bands of chamber musicians serve as prevention? 

Maybe, sometimes, a pencil really isn't just a pencil: Another fun story: "Tall buildings, short architects" from Slate magazine last December.  From what we've seen in Charlotte, short bank CEOs also seem to have an affection for tall bank towers.  And those tall buildings that claim to be so green? Here's a look at evidence that after a certain point, those high-density towers are less environmentally sound than mid-rise buildings.


EuroCat said...

Mary, the Naked City blog history is an invaluable public resource; since it's independently hosted on "Blogger", can't you keep it "live" or at least save an archive?

Surely if the "O" doesn't want to "own" it any more, they shouldn't let copyright or other similar issues get in the way of keeping this valuable content available.

Meanwhile, thanks for the years of great work both here and at the "O" proper, and thanks too for the occasional "lighthearted" tidbits like the ones in today's blog.


consultant said...


Good luck.

If your site is hosted on Blogger, you should be able to remove any Observer headings, designations, etc., but retain the site itself. Is the term "The Naked City" copyrighted by the Observer? If not, it's yours. Does the newspaper own the content of the blog you created while employed by them?

On the subject of mimes, for rich irony, we'd need to have them on the streets, dressed as bankers taking money little children and babies. That, or have bankers tweeting pictures of their $#!ks next to their bank towers.

Anyway, keep blogging.

Jumper said...

I remember when you had a presentation to some generally sensible conservative leaders around here and one said to you you were scaring him because what you said made sense. Making him re-evaluate his previous beliefs.

Michael Solender said...

very sorry I won't be seeing your words with my morning cup-o-joe but pleased for you that you can take advantage of any type of package -I know all too well the consolidation in print and the pressures at the O. best in your new endeavors.

Anonymous said...

I'll look forward to following the blog wherever. You were the only person kind enough to become a "classroom mother" for our middle school class years ago, and I'll always remember you for that. I hope your daughter continues her successes and superb critical thinking skills to follow your footsteps. Best wishes for the future.

Pathmaker said...

Mary -- I certainly hope you will find the right venue to continue challenging and shaping Charlotte's vision for its future. You are one of the few journalists who truly understands how today's development decisions will shape the economic and human viability of the city now and well into the future. Thank you for sharing your insight and best wishes in you endeavors. Whatever you do, keep pressing Charlotte to grow rightly.