Friday, August 25, 2017

1910 Fruitgum Company – "1, 2, 3, Red Light" (1968)

1, 2, 3, red light
Don't stop me

You’d think I’d be used to the government lying to me by now.  After all, they’ve been doing my whole life.

But I was shocked – shocked, I say – to find out recently that most of those pedestrian push-to-walk buttons that are mounted on traffic-light poles in big cities like Boston and New York City are placebos.  


Don't waste your time!
From the Boston Globe:

As cars poured through the intersection at Congress and Sudbury streets in downtown Boston, Megan Reilly paused at the curb and pressed the walk button.

Then she patiently waited, and waited. Like other pedestrians, she assumed the button worked some behind-the-scenes magic to change the light and allow her to cross.

Not so, it turns out.

The button at that intersection, like the vast majority of those that dot downtown neighborhoods, doesn’t actually do anything. That’s by design. Officials say the city’s core is just too congested — with cars and pedestrians — to allow any one person to manipulate the cycle.

Megan Reilly – based on her name and the fact that she lives in Boston, I’m going to take a wild guess and say she’s Irish-Catholic – told the Globe reporter “I feel like I’ve been duped” when she learned the street-corner buttons she’s been pushing for years don’t do diddley-squat.

It doesn't work!
You have been duped, Megan . . . and so have I . . . and so have you (unless you live out in the boonies where they don’t need stoplights).  But it’s for our own good, according to the Globe:

While pedestrians may be irked to learn they have been pressing what amount to placebo buttons, Boston officials say the setting is actually aimed at making life easier for walkers by eliminating the need to push a button at all.

Really?  If Boston really wanted to make life easier for walkers by eliminating the need to push a button, WHY DON’T THEY JUST GET RID OF THE GOT-DAMNED BUTTONS?

*     *     *     *     *

Boston’s not the only place where push-to-walk buttons don’t work.  

For example, New York City has 100 buttons that do work, but 1000 that don’t work.

And Dallas has some 200 push-to-walk buttons, nearly all of which do nothing to affect how quickly the “walk” light appears.

Why are you still pushing that button?
Get this: even though the push-to-walk buttons in Dallas don’t work by design, the city replaces them when they get reports that they are broken.  

From the Dallas Morning News:

Most of Dallas’ buttons are older mechanical models, built to withstand about 40,000 pushes.  They could be pressed far beyond that threshold, though.  The city doesn’t do inspections but will replace them if they are reported broken.  Those replaced are switched to a digital model that can handle nearly 20 times as many button presses.

Let me get this straight.  Dallas has a couple of hundred mechanical push-to-walk buttons that don’t function – which is by design.  But when the city gets a report that one of the mechanical buttons has broken, the city will replace it with a longer-lasting digital button . . . which doesn’t function either.

*     *     *     *     *

The elevators in my new office building are automated.  You push the number of the floor you want to go to, and a video screen tells you which elevator to board.

When assigned elevator arrives, you enter it and wait for the doors close and the elevator to whisk you to your floor.  There are no numbered buttons to push – the elevator knows where you want to go already, and takes you there automatically.

There are the usual buttons you push if you don’t want to wait for the doors to close on their own, or if you want to keep the doors open.

What are the chances that those buttons actually work?

*     *     *     *     *

I originally thought I would feature a song that had “lies” or “liar” in the title in honor of the city traffic officials who installed and maintain placebo push-to-walk buttons.

Maybe “Lies” by the Knickerbockers . . . or “Liar, Liar,” by the Castaways . . . or “Would I Lie to You?” by the Eurythmics . . . or Argent’s “Liar.”  

But it turns out I’ve used all those songs already.  Who knew I had written so much about lies and liars already?

*     *     *     *     *

While 2 or 3 lines has featured a number of songs about lies and liars, it has yet to feature a 1910 Fruitgum Company song . . . which is a shocking oversight.

“Simon Says” was the biggest hit the 1910 Fruitgum Company had, but “1, 2, 3, Red Light” wasn’t too shabby.  It sold over a million copies and made it to #5 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”

You probably didn’t know that this band was originally called Jeckell and the Hydes.  (One of its founding members was named Frank Jeckell.)

Here’s “1, 2, 3, Red Light.”  Check out the tambourine twirl at 1:27 of the video:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment