Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WALKING, AND OTHER DISTRACTIONS





I only just got round to reading an article I tore out of the paper a couple of weeks back.  It was in the New York Times but it was about walking in Los Angeles, written by David Hochman, and titled “Hollywood’s New Stars: Pedestrians.”  His point was that walking has become cool in some (strictly limited) corners of the Hollywood universe, and of course some celebs are all over it like a cheap leotard. 

Hochman recommends, unironically I think, that meetings should be taken not in an office or over lunch but while walking.  He tells us that Janet Tamaro, who created Rizzoli and Isles “sometimes spends 10 straight hours walking through rewrites (many days her pedometer registers 50,000 steps).” I’m not sure if that’s actual steps pounding the street, or at one those treadmill desks, I suspect it’s the latter, but impressive either way.  Here is Janet Tamaro with Angie Harmon: a couple of very fit looking women.


Actually the most interesting “fact” in the article is that an Australian study has concluded that for each additional hour of TV a person sits and watches each day, the chance of dying rises by 11 percent.   This raises a lot of questions in my pedestrian brain.  I mean, additional to what?  Additional to none?  Surely not, because “chances of dying” are absolutely 100 per cent whether you walk or not.  Chance doesn’t really come into it.  But equally if you suddenly watched 9 and a bit hours of TV a day, would that increase your chances OVER 100% and result in sudden death? I have evidence that it wouldn’t.

There’s a friend of a friend of mine, now in a nursing home here in Los Angeles, who has been unable to walk for the last several years, and I would estimate that he watches TV from his bed for at least twelve hours a day.  He has not died, though he constantly says he wants to.

Anyway, this got me thinking about another article, this one in the LA Times, dated August 5, and headlined “Rise in pedestrian deaths may be due to texting while walking.”  I’ve shared this with a few fellow travellers and the response has been equally split between, “Duh, you think?” and “Hurrah, serves the bastards right.”

To be fair, the article is simply quoting an announcement from Secretary Anthony Foxx of the Department of Transportation who is worried about “distracted walking” in general, and he reckons that texting or listening to music, or even taking drugs, may perhaps all play their part.  That’s why he gets the big bucks.


Alcohol too, naturally, plays its part. I know I’ve banged on about this before, so I’ll bang on about it again, and the article repeats a new version of an old statistic, “Alcohol was involved in half of traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian fatalities, and 37% of pedestrians had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit, compared with 13% of drivers involved in crashes.”  This is for the whole of America I think, and is certainly not news to me.  Drunk driving is clearly very bad and wrong, and of course illegal.  Walking drunk on the other hand is not illegal, but is far more likely to kill somebody.  Usually the walker, of course.

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