We're working on a new version of PRX. Want a sneak peek?

Piece image

99% Invisible #43- The Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators (Standard 4:30 Version)

From: Roman Mars
Series: 99% Invisible (Standard Length)
Length: 04:30

Embed_button
Sometimes it's an object's imperfections that makes you fall in love with it. And sometimes that object is an escalator.

99invisible-logo-square-for_prx_small

[For Director's Cut version, go to: http://www.prx.org/pieces/89156-99-invisible-43-the-accidental-music-of-imperfe]

Ever since the industrial revolution, when it became possible for products to be designed just once and then mass produced, it has been the slight imperfections and wear introduced by human use that has transformed a quality mass produced product into a thing we love. Your worn blue jeans, your grandmothers iron skillet, the initial design determined their quality, but it’s their imperfections that make them comfortable, that make them lovable, that make them yours.

And if you think that a “slightly broken” escalator can’t be lovable, then our own Sam Greenspan would like to introduce you to Chris Richards. Chris Richards is a music critic for the Washington Post, and after years of ignoring the wailing and screeching of the much maligned, often broken escalators in the DC Metro, he began to hear them in a new way. He began to hear them as music.

Notes:

  • This story was adapted from one Sam Greenspan produced for his podcast, Whisper Cities, which tells stories of overlooked places and the people who find them.
  • The designer of the first DC Metro stations was Harry Weese. Weese’s “Jailhouse Skyscraper” in downtown Chicago was profiled in 99% Invisible #26 by Dan Weissmann. The Metro ceilings may be brutalism at its best.

  • If you don’t get the “Culs-de-sac” joke, listen to this episode.
  • Radio producers Alex Van Oss and Charles Maynes also created their own Ballad of the DC Metro forPodstantsiya, a Moscow-based podcast and audio collective. (The site in in Russian, but the radio feature is in English.)

Piece Description

[For Director's Cut version, go to: http://www.prx.org/pieces/89156-99-invisible-43-the-accidental-music-of-imperfe]

Ever since the industrial revolution, when it became possible for products to be designed just once and then mass produced, it has been the slight imperfections and wear introduced by human use that has transformed a quality mass produced product into a thing we love. Your worn blue jeans, your grandmothers iron skillet, the initial design determined their quality, but it’s their imperfections that make them comfortable, that make them lovable, that make them yours.

And if you think that a “slightly broken” escalator can’t be lovable, then our own Sam Greenspan would like to introduce you to Chris Richards. Chris Richards is a music critic for the Washington Post, and after years of ignoring the wailing and screeching of the much maligned, often broken escalators in the DC Metro, he began to hear them in a new way. He began to hear them as music.

Notes:

  • This story was adapted from one Sam Greenspan produced for his podcast, Whisper Cities, which tells stories of overlooked places and the people who find them.
  • The designer of the first DC Metro stations was Harry Weese. Weese’s “Jailhouse Skyscraper” in downtown Chicago was profiled in 99% Invisible #26 by Dan Weissmann. The Metro ceilings may be brutalism at its best.

  • If you don’t get the “Culs-de-sac” joke, listen to this episode.
  • Radio producers Alex Van Oss and Charles Maynes also created their own Ballad of the DC Metro forPodstantsiya, a Moscow-based podcast and audio collective. (The site in in Russian, but the radio feature is in English.)