Today, Mark Frauenfelder pointed to an article that made me laugh, all about how the mayor of Bogota has embarked on a program of putting mimes on the sidewalks to mock Colombians into better behavior. After reflecting on it a bit, I realized that the funniest thing about the article to me is that it appeared in a Boston paper. This is a town where a similar level of jackassery takes place every single day, but rather than in on the sidewalks, it takes place behind the steering wheels of cars — running red lights, driving 80 on the shoulder, ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks, and making left turns inches in front of streams of oncoming traffic. Maybe it’s time to hire the Bogota mayor to figure out a way that mimes could effectively mock drivers…


I was touched when witnessing a mime doing an impropmtu “traffic routing” duty at a busy intersection (Las Americas/9th ave.) in NYC during the blackout in the 70’s. In the meantime enterpreneurial New Yorkers sold candles and flashlights for twenty bucks, this volunteer artist helped unsnarl the flow of automoviles in the abscence of stoplights. At first, drivers (some really pannicked) ignored him. The performer was so good that everyone focused enough on him and began to obey his directions. Art is tranformed into a recognizable expression of the “vital signs” of a community from time to time. Your cynicism is tempered permanently when you are lucky and alert to appreciate it.

• Posted by: Manuel Gonzalez on Dec 23, 2004, 3:40 AM
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