Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belltower: Walking hazards

One of the things I enjoy about going to big cities is being able to walk to a lot of places. We always look for a moderately priced hotel in the heart of the area. If it’s San Francisco we like being near Union Square. From there we can walk to a lot of French and Italian restaurants. North Beach is in walking distance also, though I might take a bus to get to Fishermen’s Wharf.

In Chicago we were less than half a block off Michigan Avenue, the Miracle Mile. We were one block from the only Garmin Store in America. We walked in to get a map upgrade on our Garmin and walked out with a larger, new one that shows the freeway lanes and which one to be in, plus it works in Europe and gives train and subway info. Wow! From there we walked to the Chicago Art Institute and the theater in the Loop to see the Book of Mormon.

For my Mormon friends, I found the first part of the show funny and full of good singing and dancing. The Chicago version featured a key cast member who just came from the New York show, which was booked up except for two uber-expensive tickets.

The plot revolves around two young men who are paired to go on a mission together. One is popular and thought he should be sent to Orlando for his mission. The other is not popular and was happy to be paired with the popular guy, who was equally unhappy to be paired with the unpopular guy.

Instead of Orlando or France they are sent to Uganda. The unpopular guy makes the most converts there primarily because he hasn’t really read the Book of Mormon and just makes stuff up from various space movies.

That’s cute, but I got the impression the ex-Mormon playwrights, who were from the South Park cartoon series, were in unfamiliar territory when they got to the Uganda village and its inhabitants, their names and their troubles. I thought this portion of the show could have used a dramaturg.

In New York we like being a block or two off of Times Square. That puts us about four blocks from the theaters. And it’s also easy to find a subway station to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In New York there are two hazards for walkers. First is blocking maneuvers at crosswalks by nannies with baby buggies. They are all over the place. Getting around them to get across the street and move somewhere in a timely fashion is challenging. The other hazard is women who come out of offices and wander around the streets texting someone while walking. They just wander down the sidewalk with their heads buried in their cell phones.

We ran a Speedbump cartoon in our paper that captured this phenomenon perfectly.

That seemed to be a New York phenomenon. Nannies with baby buggies and texting pedestrians is not something I noticed in France or Italy, let alone Monterey.

Michael Raffety is editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears biweekly.

Michael Raffety


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