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August 8, 2013

Upon this bridge of black and white
Posted by Patrick at 07:14 PM * 37 comments

Forty-four years ago today, a photograph was taken of four guys in a crosswalk.

(Lyrics here.) (As you were.)

Comments on Upon this bridge of black and white:
#1 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:33 PM:

Interesting rhythm there, a nice metaphor [crosswalk/bridge] and an interesting question of just where the healthy recognition of a historically significant place ends off and where an unhealthy fetishism, if that is the right word, begins. A "feline personality" like me, more attached to things and places than to people, is likely to give that some thought--and sometimes to not come up with an answer. There are enough "holy sites" from my own history, and other folks have their own--are they any less significant overall than those known by millions?
I'm glad to see that the musicians you linked to have also given it some serious thought. One can still enjoy such things while giving them an intelligent examination and realizing how subjective they are, and/or how arbitrary, how chance-derived. Touristy commercialism I loathe, even while some places/structures do appeal.
Oh, and for the record, I like "Here Comes The Sun".

#2 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:20 PM:


*Makes note to buy cane to shake at whippersnappers on lawn.*

*Makes note of pronunciation of "zebra" for future reference in case of long-delayed London pilgrimage.*

#3 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:43 PM:

Thanks. I feel really really old now.

But you know what? I remember hearing Abbey Road played on the air for the very first time ever. And that's a precious memory.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:54 PM:

Me too. I was ten years old. And it was fantastic.

#5 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 10:03 PM:

I take it as a sign that we raised our kids right, that both of them utterly get the Beatles, and are envious of the fact that we have that kind of "first time I heard Abbey Road" experience. Of course I envy the fact that they have never known a time when the Beatles weren't part of the soundtrack of their lives.

I was fourteen and sitting in the living room of my parents' barn, staring at the record player (which was not a stereo) sort of feeling the synapses rearrange in my head.

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:00 PM:

Anybody else remembers that an excerpt of "All You Need Is Love" made it into the final episode of "The Prisoner"?

#7 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:24 PM:

And they allegedly liked the results enough to have someone sound out McGoohan to direct a potential feature. He said no. I think we dodged a bullet there...

#8 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:56 PM:

Bruce Durocher @ 7... Might you be referring to their "Lord of the Rings" project?

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:23 AM:

My father, an old-time jazz fan with eclectic tastes, had been buying Beatles albums for several years by the time Abbey Road came out -- and I listened to his copy.

And Shriekback has done a bunch of good songs. I recommend their "Gunning for the Buddha", which is what started me on them.

#10 ::: Martin McCallion ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:25 AM:

D Potter #2: it's pronounced both ways here. I think it's a regional thing. I'm from Scotland and I prefer "zeebra", but my partner and our kids are Londoners and say"zehbra". Also, if I caught the song right, they used both pronunciations at different points.

#11 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:19 AM:


It was 44 years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 10:43 AM:

My goodness, that's a way to make one feel old.

Another is to reflect that Yellow Submarine was one of the films that my children saw dozens of times when they were small, making the Beatles part of the soundtrack of their childhood.

#13 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Unsurprisingly, the Abbey Road Crossing Webcam exists.

#14 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:59 PM:

Yellow Submarine was my favorite movie when I was four.

#15 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:50 PM:

@13: How odd. The street lights blink. Well, I suppose that's one way to draw attention to a crosswalk, short of actually putting up a traffic light. Huh.

#16 ::: James Gary ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:19 PM:

God bless Shriekback and all those who sail upon her.

#17 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:29 PM:

Jacque @14: Not streetlights, but Belisha beacons.

#18 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 02:21 AM:

Someone has had fun with the signs at Abbey Road DLR station (on the other side of London entirely) directing tourists to the right place.

#19 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Dave Crisp @13: The bridal party at ~4:56 pm local time at the crossing having a picture taken was particularly cute.

I imagine one uses alternate routes (to that stretch of Abbey Road) if time is pressing.

#20 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 01:06 PM:

D. Potter: Theoretically, pedestrians have automatic right of way at ALL zebra crossings that are marked with at least two Belisha beacons. You're an idiot if you just walk out without waiting for the traffic to stop, but they are legally supposed to if they see anyone waiting. That means they slow traffic down anywhere with a lot of pedestrians, which pretty much covers the whole of Central London.

Though admittedly, that one is a little busier than most. :)

#21 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Last night I saw a kind of pedestrian crossing I'd never seen here in America (Cue the hordes of people saying, "what, you've never seen that before? We've had those for years!)

I was driving into Chicago on surface streets last night, avoiding a traffic jam on the expressway I would normally have taken downtown, and saw some flashing amber LED lights ahead. When I got closer, there was something similar to a Belisha Beacon (but of a different design; in any case it was flashing LEDs on a pole up in the air) AND flashing LEDs on what otherwise looked like little reflectors embedded in the pavement. The road itself was flashing right before the crosswalk.

So, is this a common thing nowadays?

#22 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Cally Soukup @21 -- not common, but not really rare -- I know of several in the Seattle area. They've been around for a few years.

#23 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Boulder has them.

#25 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Ha! I went to Dave Crisp's link for the Abbey Road webcam (#13 above)... and it took all of thirty seconds before a group of four tourists arranged themselves just so on the crossing.

Thanks for that.

#26 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Interestingly zigzaggy lane dividers Abbey Road has.

#27 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Cally @26: those zig-zag lines are legally required to be painted for a certain distance on either side of all pedestrian crossings in the UK: they indicate an area in which it is forbidden to park / stop except to allow pedestrians to use the crossing.

The theory is that by forbidding parking close to the crossing you help keep pedestrians' sight-lines clear. Of course, it also means that it is no longer possible to re-create the cover exactly, as the famous VW Beetle (which belonged to someone who lived in nearby flats and had nothing to do with the band) is parked in what is now the no-stopping zone.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 05:56 PM:

In other zebra crossing news, someone has done some...amending to the crossing outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm.

(Via Twitter, which means I get to pop by Gnome Central and have a cuppa with Idumea.)

#29 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 06:11 PM:

There's been a big push here in Washington DC to get drivers to stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians cross. All-way stops are becoming quite common these days at neighhood intersections in the city and drivers are good about letting pedestrians cross there. Stopping to yield to pedestrians at regular crosswalks is not yet a habit for many drivers but I see progress.

When driving I always try to stop at crosswalks to let a pedestrian cross the street. But I sometimes can't see them at the curb because of vans or other large vehicles blocking my view. And I've stopped many times and had the pedestrian look at me like I was crazy. Or he or she really didn't intend to cross because they were standing there using their cell phone or waiting to hail a cab. We need better nonverbal communication.

The biggest challenge is on major streets with two lanes of traffic each way. One solution tried was placing large flags on each side of the crosswalk for the pedestrian to carry and wave as they crossed. I think the city is now turning to more high-tech solutions such as a mid-block red light activated by the pedestrian.

Do the drivers in southern California still stop for pedestrians in crosswalks? That was an amazing experience when I spent the summer at Irvine in the late 60s.

#30 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 06:54 PM:

Montreal has a weird pedestrian culture. Yes, the law is that pedestrians have right of way and should use crosswalks and wait for the light. Reality is that we tend to look both ways, wait for a break in traffic, and cross when it's clear. The only people who wait for the bonhomme are tourists. At busy intersections, we end up crossing with the bonhomme, but only because that's when the traffic clears.

The worst pedestrians I've seen are in Toronto (of course, the worst drivers I've seen are also in TO). They are so convinced of their right of way that they simply step right out without looking or pausing. And, I don't dispute the right of way, it's just that I'm driving 1.5 tonne vehicle at 40 km/h, here. Physics will win, every time.

#31 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 07:44 PM:

All we need now is the clip from Sicko where the Yank tries to cross via handstand.

#32 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Cheryl @30: And not everyone driving in Toronto is familiar with the laws and customs.

A friend (American) tells the story of his first trip to Toronto.

He's driving down the street and sees a man standing at the edge of the sidewalk waving at him. He waves back, and says to himself, "These Canadians, they're so friendly".

He looks in the rear-view mirror, and sees the same man flipping him off, and says to himself, "These Canadians, they're so bi-polar".

#33 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 10:13 PM:

The Beatles and the Python...
George produced "Life of Brian".
Ringo appeared as himself in the Flying Circus.

#34 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 11:58 AM:

Serge Broom: Might you be referring to their "Lord of the Rings" project?

Not from the couple of mentions that I've seen. Apparently UA wanted another feature after Help! and the group stresses hadn't reached a state where it was impossible, so there were some discussions and since they'd liked the last episode of The Prisoner with clips of their stuff McGoohan was approached. (That's the part that's a head-shaker. There was a UK film that was caught in limbo for twenty years or more after it was first released until Michael Jackson bought the Beatles catalog because one of their tunes was playing in the background in a key scene and couldn't be easily removed from the soundtrack or redubbed. I can't remember the name, but those folks who track train-wrecks like the clearance rights for Heavy Metal and WKRP in Cincinnati, always used to throw it in as an ugly example. How the hell did McGoohan pull it off?)

#35 ::: Walt ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 12:02 PM:

As far as I know, the laws here in Michigan require drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, as they do in most (all?) of the US.

So I'm constantly amazed in a village just south of us at the signs at a couple of crosswalks which tell the pedestrians "Caution: traffic does not stop".

I've yet to figure out why they haven't instead put up reminders for the drivers that they're supposed to stop.

#36 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Walt at 35: I'm constantly amazed in a village just south of us at the signs at a couple of crosswalks which tell the pedestrians "Caution: traffic does not stop".

We have a few signs here that say cross traffic does not stop placed to warn drivers approaching a stop sign that it isn't a four-way stop (which they might expect since all-way stops are so common around here). So perhaps it's a warning to drivers and not to pedestrians.

#37 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 12:56 PM:

Bruce Durocher @ 34... There was a UK film that was caught in limbo for twenty years or more after it was first released until Michael Jackson bought the Beatles catalog

That's why "The Lathe of Heaven" wasn't released in any format until 2000. By then, the original of the film had been lost, I think, which is why the DVD looks like it was made from a 2nd-generation VHS tape.

What was the scene? After George Orr accidentally dreamed his girlfriend Heather away, the alien E'nememen Asfah gave him a way to dream her back - a 45rpm record of "With A Little Help from my Friends".

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