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Community / Public space

Unexpected high-fives, transport wishlists and a mayoral card game

Here’s our round-up of other city stories we enjoyed this week.

  • A prankster spent July trolling people hailing taxis in New York by running up, high-fiving them, then running away again. This is from CityLab’s writeup:

“[Meir] Kalmanson is an actor, director, and producer—but ‘most of all, a Friend,’ notes his Facebook page—whose last video project was a somber poem about how ‘[e]veryone seems lost.’  Perhaps due to the seriousness of that project, he’s now done a complete 180 and smiles like a goofball as he drops surprise high fives all over town. His fivin’ form is impeccable, too, with a little figure-skater aerial kick at the moment of contact.”

Apparently, Kalmanson started the project to offer a “human connection” amongst “electronics, cell phones, and all that jazz” – though he did make a film of his exploits, presumably using electronic equipment:

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If nothing else, the unexpected physical contact would certainly make you look up.

  • For those New Yorkers relying on public transport, not taxis, this piece highlights the long list of public transport improvements on outer boroughs’ wish lists. Brooklynites want an express train, the Bronx wants a Metro-North extension to Penn Station, and Queens reckons repurposing a derelict train track could cut travel times to Manhattan.

However, the Transit Authority currently seems pretty tied up with pricey Manhattan projects, such as the $20bn Second Avenue subway extension. It doesn’t seem likely the outer boroughs will be getting their wishes this particular Christmas.

  • The most recent episode of Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture series follows Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi’s attempt to install floating buildings around Africa’s coastal slums. He believes his floating prototype could be the answer to tidal changes and flooding , but the cities’ authorities aren’t so sure.

Rebel Architecture focuses on those with unorthodox ideas about everything from design to city planning. Previous episodes have tracked the transformation of an abandoned Spanish factory into a cultural centre, Eyal Weizman’s take on architecture’s role in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and an architect bringing greenery to Vietnam’s polluted cities. All can be viewed here and are well worth a watch.

Highlights include Beijing’s mayor, Wang Anshun, promising to put his head on a platter if the city’s air pollution doesn’t improve by 2017; and the slightly concerning revelation that Boris Johnson could be US president (he was born in New York). Rob Ford’s card is actually relatively tame, considering his long list of anti-accomplishments.

Depressingly, though, the game does feature two mayors whose superpower is (we’re not making this up) “being female”. Another woman is applauded for her success in arranging her daughter’s wedding. Still I guess both being a woman and having a job is an amazing achievement all by itself, right girls?
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