Dienstag, 19. Mai 2009

prevention or pretty

Here in Switzerland there are large mountain boulders in front of some jewelry stores and banks as a measure of prevention. There are also metal poles that are raised by a security guard's key but that is not what is important right now (it's just really neat to watch). You see, in Switzerland, boulders are handy and being useful there in the street. In America, big huge planters are used to prevent truck bombs and the like, instead of boulders. I wonder which has a more calming effect. The boulders, which one can imagine rolled down the nearby mountains conveniently in the path of any vehicles that would wish to do harm or a massive pot of plants and litter.
This question is fresh on my mind because I have arrived home in Zürich from Geneva to be startled by MASSIVE plant pots all throughout the city. Sunday afternoon, my first thought was "What is that massive ugly pot protecting?"
It is not protecting anything. Apparently it is part of a tourism coup. They are huge and garishly painted and decorated (In front of a shoe store, there are shoe-soles plastered on, some how) and distributed throughout the city in seemingly non-sensical arrangements.
When I first came to Zürich there were Bears, also garishly painted but slightly more sporadically dispersed. I believe that there was an even earlier campaign of cows or lions or something. In Providence, we had the Mr. Potato-heads, which I guess are similar, but I liked them and the fact that they were often stolen led to a level of intrigue that these planters will probably never attain.
Along with the soled pot, there are pots that match their location. That is similar to the bears, which would often confuse people by trying to inspire them to visit whichever nearby business had sponsored them. However, some of them seem not to fit at all. On Paradeplatz in front of two HUGE bank buildings there seems to be an oddly urban themes. Some of the pots have concrete high rises painted on them while others are covered in purposeful hot-pink spray-paint in a faux-graffiti style.
The Zürich tourism website calls this campaign "Invasion of the giant pots" and the president says "During the summer of 2009 the Gartencity Zürich will enrapture our Swiss and foreign guests and leave a lasting memory. This is how we love presenting Zurich."
I wonder how many Americans visiting will not only not be enraptured, but like myself, be reminded of post September 11th American protection pots.

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