Wednesday Walk: Films and Trains
Welcome to the Quarantine Creatives newsletter, a companion to my podcast of the same name, which explores creativity, art, and big ideas as we continue to live through this pandemic.
Every Wednesday, I share random thoughts and tidbits with links to let you do some exploring, which I hope generate interesting ideas.
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I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about our changing definition of “old.” It was inspired by thinking about my own grandparents, but it also touched on how politicians seem to hold office much later and how entertainment companies are casting older too.
That essay came rushing back when I saw this post from my friend Todd Vaziri on Twitter:
Bilge Ebiri @BilgeEbiriHere’s George C. Scott at 59. https://t.co/LSCH40qbjA https://t.co/IeC16SjsK8
Todd’s is an amazing account to follow, as he works in the film industry but is also a huge fan of it, sharing amazing insights into how movies are made and the people behind the scenes.
If you click on his tweet above, you’ll see that Todd was responding to a series of tweets that started with this one from Phil Nobile Jr.:
In a similar vein, this article from Ben Lindbergh and Rob Arthur for The Ringer last week includes charts and data which show that lead actors are indeed getting older, a case that I made only anecdotally in my essay. It’s an interesting deeper dive if you’re curious about the subject, using the new Top Gun film as an entry point.
When I published my original essay, a reader pointed out to me that Gracie and Frankie on Netflix is another example worth considering, which stars Jane Fonda (84) and Lilly Tomlin (82). What other shows or movies can you think of that star people that would not have found work a generation ago? Or what projects are helmed by stars that would’ve been cast younger in the past? I’m curious what other projects come to mind.
Speaking of sharing movies, I stumbled upon this amazing tweet from Tove Danovich:
This takes the concept of a Little Free Library except it uses DVDs instead of books (plus has the awesome branding of defunct rental chain Blockbuster).
I was a big collector of DVDs when they first came out, but my collection has been stored in boxes in our attic for years now, as iTunes and later Netflix and other streamers made owning physical media less important.
Ironically, it’s our RV that got me back into DVDs, as it came equipped with a DVD/VHS player and no easy access to streaming services, meaning my kids have been rediscovering the excitement of playing a movie or TV show off a disc. We’ve been borrowing kid’s movies from our local library or buying them used from thrift stores.
I love the idea of neighbors sharing films with each other, with the possibility that it could bring back the exploration of an old Blockbuster store and the discovery of new movies or genres, rather than our algorithm-guided suggestions that lead us to watch similar versions of one thing over and over again.
Why Transit Fails in the US
I suppose algorithms aren’t all bad, because YouTube suggested this video for me called America Always Gets This Wrong (when building transit) and I was very intrigued:
It comes from the channel Not Just Bikes, a Canadian creator whose videos I come across from time to time.
The tl;dr version of the video is that in North America, we tend to build mass transit projects without any regard for what’s around the stations. The further away from the city center, the more likely that a suburban rail station (or even bus depot) will be surrounded by massive parking lots and multi-lane highways, essentially cutting off pedestrian or bike access and still requiring a car to get to mass transit.
In Europe and Asia, transit stations are a hub and the real estate surrounding a depot is highly valuable and developed. It’s easy to disembark a train and walk to stores, housing, and workplaces.
We visited London, England a few years ago for a wedding. Although we stayed in the city center right near all the major tourist destinations, the wedding was out in the suburbs and we didn’t have a car. Given my experience in the U.S., I was worried that even though there was a Tube station near the venue, we might find it inaccessible. However, we took our chances and were able to easily disembark from the train, walk a short distance down a sidewalk, and attend the wedding friction-free.
Contrast that to my own experience in Massachusetts, which comparative to many major U.S. cities, has a decent transit network. We intentionally bought a home located near to a commuter rail station (it’s about 1.5 miles from our door), but the train station is off of a busy road with no pedestrian access. My wife, who commutes into the city daily, still had to buy a cheap car to drive from our house to the train station parking lot everyday.
Eventually, the free parking at the station was raised to a paid model, and at that time, it no longer made sense for my wife to use transit to commute. She could buy a brand new car and the car payments, gas, and insurance cost less than a monthly parking and transit pass.
It’s such wasted potential to think of all the trains to nowhere that we build. As Not Just Bikes points out, we need to be considering how we zone our neighborhoods, making places accessible to multiple means of transit- cars, buses, trains, walking, and biking.
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Other Wednesday Walks
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