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“[Hannah] Arendt wrote about the subjugation of public space – in effect the disappearance of public space, which, by depriving a person of boundaries and agency, rendered him profoundly lonely”*…

… and Alexandra Lange writes about an (imperfect) modern “work-around”: the way in which shopping malls won over a wide range of admirers, from teens to seniors, by providing something they couldn’t find in their dwindling public parks or on their crowded sidewalks…

… The mall, in its quiet early hours, provides affordances most cities and suburbs cannot: even, open walkways, consistent weather, bathrooms and benches. The mall is also “safe,” as Genevieve Bogdan told The New York Times in 1985; the Connecticut school nurse was “apprehensive about walking alone outdoors early in the morning before work.”

For the more vulnerable among us, malls’ privately owned and privately managed amenities offer an on- or off-ramp from the real world, sometimes literally. Skateboarders and wheelchair users both appreciate the fact that most malls were built to include ramps, escalators and elevators, or have been retrofitted to do so. At Grossmont Center, a mall in La Mesa, California, the parking lot features signs giving the step counts from your parking spot to Target, Macy’s and the movie theater. Few cities can say the same.

It isn’t only the ease of exercise that has made mall walking programs durable. On Twitter, city planner Amina Yasin praised malls as spaces that accommodate many racialized and even unhoused senior citizens, offering free and low-cost-of-entry access to air-conditioning, bathrooms and exercise, while throwing up her hands that “white urbanism decided malls are evil.” Gabrielle Peters, a writer and former member of the city of Vancouver’s Active Transportation and Policy Council, responded with her own thread on some ways malls offer better access for people with physical disabilities than city streets: dedicated transit stops, wide automatic doors, wide level passages, multiple types of seating, elevators prominently placed rather than hidden, ramps paired with stairs, public bathrooms and so on. 

The food court at the Gallery offered a relatively low-cost way to hang out after the transit trip or mall walk. While public libraries and senior centers offer free public seating, they have neither the proximity to shopping, nor the proximity to the action that a mall offers. Like teens hanging out in the atrium, the seniors in the food court can observe without penalty and be a part of community life that can be overwhelming in truly public spaces. After police officers removed elderly Korean Americans from a McDonald’s in Flushing, Queens — managers claimed the group overstayed their welcome, buying only coffee and french fries — sociologist Stacy Torres wrote in The New York Times, “Centers offer vital services, but McDonald’s offers an alternative that doesn’t segregate people from intergenerational contact. ‘I hate old people,’ one 89-year-old man told me.”

As malls closed in the spring of 2020 because of Covid-19, mall walkers across the country were forced back outside, battling weather and uneven sidewalks in their neighborhoods, missing the groups that easily formed on the neutral ground of the mall. One New Jersey couple took to walking the parking lot of the mall they once traversed inside, drawn to its spaciousness and their sense of routine. As malls reopened in the summer and fall with social-distancing and mask-wearing policies, some malls suspended their programs until the pandemic’s end, while others curtailed the hours…

Lessons From the Golden Age of the Mall Walkers,” from @LangeAlexandra in @CityLab.

* Masha Gessen

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As we ponder perambulation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1949 that Hopalong Cassidy (starring William Boyd, who’d created and developed the role in 66 films, starting in 1935) premiered on the fledgling NBC TV network and became the first Western television series.

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“Without geography you’re nowhere”*…

Finding meaning in maps…

You may not know it, but you’ve probably seen the Valeriepieris circle – it’s that circle on a map of the world, alongside the text ‘There are more people living inside this circle than outside of it’. The name ‘Valeriepieris’ is from the Reddit username of the person who posted it and in 2015 the circle was looked at in more detail by Danny Quah of the London School of Economics under the heading ‘The world’s tightest cluster of people‘. But of course it’s not actually a circle because it wasn’t drawn on a globe and it’s also a bit out of date now so I thought I’d look at this topic because I like global population density stuff. I’ll begin by posting a map of what I’m calling ‘The Yuxi Circle’ and then I’ll explain everything else below that – with lots of maps. As in the original circle, I decided to use a radius of 4,000 km, or just under 2,500 miles. Why Yuxi? Well, out of all the cities I looked at (more than 1,500 worldwide), Yuxi had the highest population within 4000km – just over 55% of the world’s population as of 2020…

More– including fascinating comparisons– at “The Yuxi Circle,” from Alasdair Rae (@undertheraedar)

* Jimmy Buffett

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As we ponder population, we might recall that it was on this date in 1995 that the day-time soap opera As The World Turns aired its 10,000th episode. Created by Irna Phillips, it aired for 54 years (from April 2, 1956, to September 17, 2010); its 13,763 hours of cumulative narrative gave it the longest total running time of any television show. Actors including, Marissa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore, and Emmy Rossum all appeared on the series.

The 1956 cast

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“All [tv] shows are like cigarettes. You watch two, you have a higher chance of watching three. They’re all addictive.”*…

 

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If you’ve found yourself watching hours and hours of “comfort food” TV during the COVID-19 outbreak, you’re not alone. CableTV.com recently conducted a survey of nearly 7,000 housebound viewers and found that they’re spending a lot of time with old friends—capital “F” Friends, to be exact….

While we fully expected beloved 1994–2004 comedy Friends to top the list, we were blindsided by second-place winner Rick and Morty. The animated series’s existential nihilism couldn’t be more of a contrast to the warm fuzzies of Friends. You’re obviously going through some stuff, America…

The full breakdown, state by state (and a larger version of the map above) at: “What the US Is watching during COVID-19.”

* Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick and Morty (and creator of Community)

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As we shelter in (very different) places, we might send sympathetic birthday greetings to Theodore Martin (Ted) McGinley; he was born on this date in 1958.  An actor with a long and successful career on American television, he has become the “victim” of a Hollywood legend that has deemed him “the showkiller.”

After having popped up on a few long-running shows in their waning months/years (Happy Days being the most prominent, but there was also The Love Boat and Dynasty), McGinley began to be known via tongue-in-cheek observations as the greatest show-killer of all time.

Indeed, McGinley has been called “the patron saint of shark-jumping” by jumptheshark.com founder Jon Hein.

Does the evidence bear this out? …Not entirely. Both Happy Days and The Love Boat lasted about 60 episodes once McGinley was cast. Even by the old longer-seasons standards of TV, that’s a lot of episodes. Married…With Children lasted eight years and 167 episodes from the point that McGinley was cast as Marcy’s second husband, which by all rights should have put the show-killer thing to rest forever. And can we really blame McGinley for Sports Night being the brilliant-but-cancelled brief gem that it was? (Though I suppose the Ted McGinley Show-Killer thing isn’t about blame as much as it is about cosmic justice.) But if even a nondescript sitcom like Hope & Faith can last for 73 episodes past the Curse of McGinley settling on their doorstep, maybe we can call the show-killer thing debunked?

Except … the legend is more fun, isn’t it? [quoted material: source]

McGinley himself has a very good sense of humor about it all, and has made fun of the legend surrounding him in appearances on Married… With Children and Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold (where he was re-teamed with Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler)

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McGinley (left) with Henry Winkler and Anson Williams on Happy Days

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 30, 2020 at 1:01 am

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