Quite a while ago now, I interviewed David Gunn, then head of Amtrak. In one memorable moment, Gunn detailed the relationship between what be have on the ground – roads, rails and such – and the skill of the workers who make and maintain them. It’s a link that we often forget about. I’m posting a link to the one part of the interview that ran in the newsletter I used to edit, Spotlight on the Region of the Regional Plan Association, where I’m still a Senior Fellow. (The other part ran in the May 2004 issue of Planning Magazine.) The archives of the newsletter have got a bit jumbled I fear, as websites and such has gotten updated so I’m putting a link to the interview here and above. I happened to run across it recently.
I had a recent column in Governing inspired by my experience at the old Whitney estate on Long Island, called Greentree. See it here.
Here’s a new story of mine that came out in the February issue of Metropolis Magazine on the concept and phenomena of Smart Cities. It’s a huge subject. Writing about it was like trying to swallow an elephant. I did my best though. Just take what I say as a first word, not a last. My big thought is that we can’t embrace new technologies without thinking about who is in charge of them. Technology is like fire. It can be used for good or evil. As technologies become force multipliers for cities, it’s important that the good guys are in charge. To me, the good guys are the public.
I watching this old movie over the weekend: “Algiers.” At one point, the debonair jewel thief played by Charles Boyer, looks into the eyes of the beautiful, sophisticated French damsel, played by Hedy Lamarr, and says: “You remind me of Paris. You remind me of the subway.”
Even my nine-year-old son Max expressed his surprise at that: “Does she reminds him of old gum stuck on the sidewalk, and dirty walls?”
Apparently Boyer’s character meant the comparison as a fully natural, unironic compliment. After the subway he listed several other beautiful things in Paris that Hedy Lamarr’s character’s beautiful visage and personage reminded him of.