A designer on the Upper West Side has had a funny idea to change the urban landscape and surprise New Yorkers.
Watch The New York Times video clip and answer the questions about it. The activity is suitable for strong intermediate students.
1 Why did Mr Locke decide to do something with the phone booths?
2 Why is it so easy to attach shelves to the booths?
3 Why does he usually do it on a Sunday morning?
4 Who pays for the shelves?
5 How long do the shelves last?
6 What does Mr Locke like doing after fixing a bookshelf?
7 What does the "four hours" refer to at the end of the clip?
You can check your answers by reading the transcript below.
There is no part of you that is expecting something to be in a phone booth so you just have this natural like New York City bloke filter that makes you walk on the street and be like I will not look at any phone booths, I will not look at any bus stops, you know, I´m not going to look at trash cans or street lights, I’m just gonna to keep walking, I’ve got somewhere to go and if they hurry, you just totally miss it. Now? Ok. My name is John Locke and I’m an architectural designer here in New York, and I also work on spontaneous interventions, community projects, self-initiated projects on the side.
Mr Locke didn’t think the un-used pay phones on the Upper West Side were doing anyone much good, so he decided to start using them as bookshelves.
This particular model of phone booth, the tied-in booth provides a kind of, almost like a natural spot you attach something to. No fastener are required, no screws, no bolts, no any no nothing. Basically you just need the shelves and books and that’s it. So typically, you know, on a Sunday morning when it’s not a lot of people out, when there aren’t a lot of people out, you can just go down and find a good booth, carry it out, latch it in, takes seconds, then you just fill it up with books, and let’s wait and see what happens.
Mr Locke isn´t sought for in these shelves. The first one was gone in a few days. Another one lasted about a month, and some people actually began putting their own books up on it. Mr Locke likes to lurk nearby just checking out people’s reactions. He says a few people take books, and some more stop to stare, but for the most part people just walk by without a second glance.
I don’t know, maybe as if it becomes more widespread or more people know about this, it might be something that you stop by and you start, you know, you see something bit, maybe there’s something in there.
I think that would be really cool if there were bookshelves in every phone booth, but I don’t know if it is something so ubiquitous like that, if it would still have the same power or it´s something that you can stumble upon and you find.
You got to be pretty optimistic to think that phone booths can be transformed into little oasis of literacy and community cooperation. On this particular morning the library lasted about four hours. Then a group of men showed up with plastic bags. A few minutes later Mr Locke’s shelf was empty. But that afternoon he came back carrying a fresh box of books.
Here´s some more books for them.
They are like sweet, this guy is so dumb. Just put a few more.