Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Urban Oasis

Trade in your cell phone for a shamisen -- just for a bit
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(Clearing throat) I once read an article in Nat'l Geo about a small village in Japan where absolutely everything is still done traditionally. The clothes people wear, the preparation of food, everything. Lately, I've been thinking of a small-scale version, originally called a 'Luddite Park.' It's kind of a hybrid of the village and the no-telephone cars found on some European trains. I'm all for technology -- I love computers, minidisc recorders, etc., but wouldn't it be nice if you could spend your 1-hour lunch break in a place of peace? A place that's accessible and free of charge?

You sprint out of the office building elevator to the changing room on the border of the nearby park, where you trade in your suit for a kimono (or toga, depends on the theme; should be consistent). There are curved bridges over babbling brooks, women walking by in traditional Japanese garb and holding parasols, a musician or two playing an acoustic instrument, and NOT MUCH ELSE.

This is not a tourist attraction or a theme park (well, kind of). It's an escape.
No entrance fee, but there is a fine if you bring in a bleepy cell phone -- yup, even if you're Jamie Kennedy -- or a McDonald's bag, a wristwatch, a personal digital assistant, or a necktie.
Why not just go to a regular park? Hey, why not just go to a library or a movie theater -- you *could*. But this is different. This is bliss. If popular, you might find several different special parks in a single metropolis: Roman, Japanese, pseudo ancient Middle East.
Who's going to pay for all the kimonos? Haven't worked it out yet.
How do you know when it's time to go if you don't have a watch? (Aww, do I even need to say it?) There's an ever-so-gentle bell every hour, and the musician gives a signal every half hour. The songs help the musician keep time.
Variation: a larger version on the outskirts of town to better escape the noise of the city. Close, but not too close, to a metro stop.

(I spent some serious time lurking and searching to make sure I'm not ripping someone else off. Time that could have been spent, well, working, so let me down gently if this has already been posted).

tharsaile, Jun 18 2002

lpicador's link as a link http://www.wireless...erl/story/8116.html
[calum, Jul 25 2002]

blacksect's link as a link http://www.ps1.org/cut/current.html
[calum, Jul 25 2002]

[link]






       I'm blushing, [blissmiss].
tharsaile, Jun 18 2002
  

       I think this is very bakeable. Traditional food vendors would remove the temptation to bring in a macdonalds bag.
chud, Jun 18 2002
  

       ....another duplicate account?
po, Jun 18 2002
  

       Lovely idea, and not even slightly baked, as there seems to be a profit motive behind every similar enterprise. I do think there are a few.   

       For example, Kabuki Springs, here in San Francisco's Japantown. It's kind of a clothing-optional urban oasis, if you like. For $16, you go in, disrobe, and spend however long you like among the other naked women. (Same-sex nudity only; there is a Couples' Night, but swimsuits are mandatory). There is a giant hot tub, a cold plunge, showers, a steam room and sauna, cucumber water to drink, free body lotions, gentle music, and a general atmosphere of serenity.   

       If you can emerge from this place with your pre-Kabuki stress intact, congratulations: you're a certified Type A. You'll also be dead by the age of 40.
1percent, Jun 18 2002
  

       Nothing is free. Who pays for this?   

       Who decides what an appropriate level of technology is?
Who polices the grounds?
Is there anything to do other than lay around and act like a hippy?
How is intruding noise pollution dealt with (if at all)?
Does this remind anyone else of the Niven short story "Cloak of Anarchy"?
phoenix, Jun 18 2002
  

       1%: re Kabuki Springs -- I lived in SF for two months and never heard about it. Of course, I was stuck in the Tenderloin. Well, as a straight guy, I probably wouldn't be all that excited about the rules.   

       chud -- I like your self-effacement. Keep your chin up, though.   

       po -- please explain the duplicate acct question. Me? chud? Us?   

       phoenix -- I like nixing fees, you know. //Who's going to pay for all the kimonos? Haven't worked it out yet. // I will police the grounds. Intruding noise is dealt with by one of those machines that plays a mirror "image" wavelength of that created by the noise. Poorly written, but the device exists. Heard of it? Re hippy comment - conversation mostly. The kids can play tag.
tharsaile, Jun 19 2002
  

       Phoenix: I did...   

       I like the idea, especially if it has an enforced ban on cellphones and beepers. <Preferably enforced by decapitation for a first offense.>   

       Wishing the expenses away won't work, but I like the rest of it. The sound cancelling thing won't work at a distance, though, I believe.
StarChaser, Jun 19 2002
  

       If you get rid of the musician, kids playing tag, and the requirement to wear funny clothes (public changing rooms aren't my idea of fun), and you were allowed to bring your own lunch, it would be OK, but really it doesn't seem how I'd choose to relax. I prefer just to find a nice coffee shop or park and sit reading a book. By the time you'd got there, disposed of your technology (in lockers?), changed, changed back and gone back to work, how much of your lunch break would you have left?
pottedstu, Jun 19 2002
  

       Just do what (some) little kids do-- when it all gets to be too much, just stick your fingers in your ears and sing "LA-LA-LA- LAA-LAAA" at the top of your lungs.
jester, Jun 19 2002
  

       [blissmiss] The Voice of Reason voted for, but dislikes untidy endings.
phoenix, Jun 19 2002
  

       I just go and eat my sandwiches in the Churchyard on sunny days. It's wonderfully peaceful amongst all those traditionally-dressed dead people and noise pollution doesn't really seem to be a problem despite being close to the main road. Perhaps it's just a state of mind thing. Croissant anyway.
DrBob, Jun 19 2002
  

       Sandwich at my desk. Again.
angel, Jun 19 2002
  

       Nice.   

       You could also do an Amish one. And Colonial Williamsburg comes close to a colonial America version, though their focus on the purity is not as stringent (they let visitors, but not staff, wear wristwatches, etc., and the shops accept credit cards).
beauxeault, Jun 19 2002
  

       Baked. Anglsea. A sort of 1950's theme park. Old people go there to practice for being dead.
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002
  

       Seems like a technology free zone could be created where cell phones and wireless devices would not work. Using massive electromagnetic pulses, the zone could cause computers, digital watches and newer cars to fail also.
rmtmaine, Jun 19 2002
  

       <feeling it> Civilized trash kept separate from sandwich trash.</feeling it>
reensure, Jun 19 2002
  

       I forgot to mention that this idea was also influenced by Julian Barnes' novel, 'England, England' although it barely resembles Urban Oasis. People say it's his worst, but anyway, I enjoyed it.
tharsaile, Jun 19 2002
  

       This sounds wonderful. As for the cold world of reality, we already have botanical gardens smack dab in the middle of cities where you need only pay a small fee to a non-profit organization to get in. Many cities also have free or small-charge recreation parks inside them, at least in the places that this yokel has been. And some have Japanese gardens in them that you can visit. Point is, if you like this idea, check out existing parks in your area.
polartomato, Jun 20 2002
  

       ravenswood, i like the concentric ring thing. It could be like the opposite of Dante, with the best part in the center. hunter-gatherers only.
tharsaile, Jun 21 2002
  

       Hunter-gatherers... now we're talking.   

       "You know it's so tranquil here in this little haven of nature, taking a break from all the hustle and bustle of the modern age. No mobile phones, no walkmans, no-" <*thunk* - big pointy stick suddenly protrudes from marketing manager's kimono-clad chest>   

       "ULLUUUULLUUULLLUUULLLUUU!" <Admin assistant leaps from bushes wearing nothing but a penis sheath and wode... Lord of the Files, one could say>   

       Yeah, croissant.
Guy Fox, Jun 21 2002
  

       Phoenix is right about the money, of course -- bouncers have to be paid. Something like this is baked, of course, in the form of the nightclub, or the country club, or the "gentlemen's club" (not a strip joint, but an actual health club with dining etc.)   

       There doesn't seem to be enough of a market for this environment to support the bouncers and the groundskeepers and the real estate taxes. Perhaps you could re-position the idea as an incremental change to existing public parks: banning cell phones in the Japanese garden in Golden Gate Park or one of the meadows in Central Park, for instance. Speaking of which, cell-phone jammers do exist, and I'd love to see them in movie theaters et al. This is an issue people are talking about: http://www.wirelessnewsfactor.com/perl/story/8116.html   

       One more thought: I'm not dazzled by the prospect of navigating gaggles of homeless men with booze in paper bags wearing "togas". I'm just saying.
lpicador, Jun 22 2002
  

       baked: http://www.ps1.org/cut/current.html   

       PS1(now MOMAQNS) in NY already has this. It's called the Playa Urbana/Urban Beach and features wading pools, sand, water nozzles, reflecting pools and of course minimalist architecture and IDM Djs. It's the closest pale art nerds in black rimmed glasses will ever get to a beach.   

       You can bring a cell phone if you want but it will probably not function very long unless it happens to be waterproof.   

       Of course the problem with these places is that people love them, and now the line stretches all the way around the block and it feels more like some kind of hipster six flags than an actual urban oasis.
blacksect, Jul 14 2002
  

       This is somewhat baked at the Chinese gardens in Sydney. This consists of a lovely walled garden complete with lake and waterfall, willows and pagodas located in the center of the city. There are numerous nooks with stone benches which are ideal for quiet contemplation, there is also a coffee shop overlooking the lake and it is possible to hire traditional Chinese dress (mainly for photographic purposes alas). Originally entry to the gardens was free, now it costs a small amount (for upkeep).   

       housekeeping note: lpicador and blacksect, please add links using the [link] function under the main idea.
madradish, Jul 25 2002
  
      
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