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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening

35W: the Lost Voyage

That's a pretentious title, but "here's some footage you probably haven't seen" isn't as clicky. 

When movie cameras became playthings for the middle class, everyone took pictures of their families. Vacations, Christmas, birthdays. So we have untold hours of unknown people smiling and mugging in backyards and living rooms, a fraction of which survived. If only people had pointed the cameras at the ordinary things, the streets, the buildings. Aside from a few projects to document the urban landscape, there’s little proof of what what things once looked like. You might see a billboard in the background, a small town main street, but it’s never the main focus.

Which makes this remarkable.



It’s a beer billboard, of course - the men are looking at a pretty woman passing by, because it’s the sixties and beer-drinking guys in suits ogling en masse was par for the course. The billboard was on top of a building on this street. Recognize it?



It would be hard to take the shot today, because you have to stop on 35W. It’s from a video on the City of Minneapolis’s Flickr page, a 1966 drive up 35W from 54th street prior to the highway’s opening. It goes all the way downtown, where we see this . . .



And that’s still around today, in much better shape.

The whole video is here, if you’re curious. If you take this drive every day, it’ll be quite familiar. Nothing has changed - except, of course, the skyline.

Leveraging Leveraged Play Strategies

There’s a response to the playground consultant story on the editorial page today. It’s from the director of the organization that does the consulting, and as you might expect it defends the idea. Here’s the line that stuck out:

Playworks is the leading nonprofit in our community leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health.

Leveraging the power of play. Do you know what that means? I don’t. It’s the sort of jargon you get when you’re trying to impress people with Important Concepts that are so self-evidently great you don’t need specifics. Next paragraph, same thing:

We are supporting social-emotional learning by leveraging the power of safe, fun and healthy play at school every day.

Thre’s a lot of power-leveraging going on, in other words. Let’s look up "leveraging."

1. The exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever: my spade hit something solid that wouldn't respond to leverage.

Since kids aren’t digging up large buried objects during recess, it can’t be that.

2. The ratio of a company's loan capital (debt) to the value of its common stock (equity).

Unlikely, unless kids are making deals behind the slide.

3. The power to influence a person or situation to achieve a particular outcome.

That’s the one. Good news, kids! Leverage time! Yaay! More:

A Playworks recess isn’t a certain set of games in a certain area, but a methodology utilizing refined techniques and tools to bring out the best in every kid.

So refined techniques are utilized in a methodology that does the leveraging. More:

It’s about helping schools create an environment where every child has a supported choice and is empowered to be a contributing member of their community.

To clarify, then: refined techniques are utilized in a methodology that does the leveraging for environment-creation that empowers community-contribution.

We’re talking about recess.

Poll: Who, besides Bob Dylan, would you most like to see on a downtown building mural?

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