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Crosscurrents

The Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators

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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.

This edition of 99% Invisible was produced by Sam Greenspan and Roman Mars. It was adapted from Sam’s Whisper Cities podcast.

Crosscurrents
Roman Mars is host and producer of KALW’s 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture. The 99% Invisible podcast recently peaked at #8 in the iTunes rankings for all podcasts, as well as #1 in both the Arts and Design categories. He is also the host, producer and program director of Public Radio Remix from PRX, a 24-hour, experimental public radio story stream broadcast on XM 123 and public radio stations across the country. He was a founding producer at PRX/NPR’s Snap Judgment and Senior Producer at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.