Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Requiem for a city

I hate car culture: it's turned our cities into machines for crushing communities. But this kinetic sculpture makes all that movement beautiful. Though perhaps that's the secret: movement is pretty rare for urban drivers. Cars promise independence, individuality, escape and self-expression. What you get is isolation, selfishness and confinement. Mike Davies's wonderful history of LA, City of Quartz charts that metropolis's descent into vehicle hell, including the disgusting story of how a cartel of car and tyre maker successfully bought the local railway system solely to close it down - and were fined $1 for their crimes.

I don't drive, though if I had cash and space, I'd have a row of cars as sculpture: 1940s/50s Citröens, a Morris Minor convertible, big curvy American 1940s gangsters' cars.

The Mayor of Vilnius (Lithuania), one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, has a simple way to deal with selfish drivers:

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