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Fake City, Real Dreams

From: Zak Rosen
Length: 17:51

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A fake city comes to life to prove that dialogue and ideas can transform a region.

Map1_small Neil Greenberg is always thinking about cities. Specifically, the way in which transit has the ability to bring people together, or pull them apart. He works days as a route scheduler for a Metro Detroit bus system. For the last 5 years, Neil has been creating his own metro region, one street name at a time. The map is drawn to scale and it's excruciatingly detailed. It takes up 17 huge poster boards that fit together like a big geographical puzzle. The maps focus a lot on transit. But Neil knows that that's just one of many layers to creating a viable and well-ran city. So he and I took his imagined world and brought into the real world we live in...Detroit. We talked to people in the city and suburbs working on other pressing issues like education, civic engagement, and jobs to fill project their vision for a better future onto the Neil's world. We also made some characters up. What follows is an audio rendering of a collective vision, of a city that could be real but isn't...at least not yet.

Piece Description

Neil Greenberg is always thinking about cities. Specifically, the way in which transit has the ability to bring people together, or pull them apart. He works days as a route scheduler for a Metro Detroit bus system. For the last 5 years, Neil has been creating his own metro region, one street name at a time. The map is drawn to scale and it's excruciatingly detailed. It takes up 17 huge poster boards that fit together like a big geographical puzzle. The maps focus a lot on transit. But Neil knows that that's just one of many layers to creating a viable and well-ran city. So he and I took his imagined world and brought into the real world we live in...Detroit. We talked to people in the city and suburbs working on other pressing issues like education, civic engagement, and jobs to fill project their vision for a better future onto the Neil's world. We also made some characters up. What follows is an audio rendering of a collective vision, of a city that could be real but isn't...at least not yet.

3 Comments Atom Feed

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A Hopefully Realistic Fiction

A really lovely piece. One that unlocks the utopian fantasy at the core of the best mapmaking and urban planning. Very nice blend of fact and fiction.

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Over the top in the best of ways

Bicycle lanes that promote sociality and a local music store's business, a 28-year-old half-Vietnamese-, half-Nicaraguan- American mayor who uses words like "metaphor" while cutting the ribbon on a new bridge, an elementary school that gets empowered while learning how to recycle. "Q: How are they doing on standardized tests? A: They do ok, but the important thing is they're learning to think." My goodness, enough already! I can't take it anymore. My progressive index is off the register. And I'm smiling the entire time.

I listened to this while walking to work in my own city, rolling my eyes fondly at yet another progressive fantasy brought to life by Zak's inspired storytelling. The piece's production style creates a sense of place as much as the content does. In a way it reminded me of the film Russian Ark, the way it moved from 'room' to 'room'. Or maybe now I'm going over the top, too.

Love the music you use, too (e.g. Tin Hat Trio).

The only challenge for the listener is knowing just when we're in fantasy mode, and just when the narrators have stepped out of it for a minute. But I will be generous and say it could be deliberately in support of the dream/reality blur that makes this so fun.

At the dawn of a new federal government that might actually generate *real* good news from time to time, this piece has a very relevant place on everyone's air.

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Packin' my bags...

Genuinely magnificent, Zak. I could consider this an audio thesis!

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http://www.transom.org