June 1, 2005

Sleater-Kinney and the Golden Gate

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at June 1, 2005 7:04 PM

Combining some recent themes on this blog: one of the new Sleater-Kinney songs is about Golden Gate Bridge suicides; according to this interview in the Bay Guardian (via memepool), it was inspired by a thought-provoking New Yorker article.

The article makes a strong case for suicide barriers on the bridge. I'm not sure what the right answer is here. The experience of walking across the bridge would certainly lose a lot of its power—there's an immediacy to standing at the four-foot railing with the bay stretching out in front of you that a barrier would remove. In a macabre sense, the beauty of the bridge provides the perception that jumping from it has a certain beauty as well. And removing the ability to jump almost necessarily mars that beauty. On the other hand, maybe I'm incredibly heartless to be concerned about aesthetics and the quality of my recreational experiences when human lives could be saved. The stories of the jumpers in the New Yorker article (and the song) did impact me emotionally, and made me wonder if there's more that can be done.

However, I do object to the way the article just brushed aside aesthetic concerns by pointing to the cyclone fence on the south end of the bridge. The fence is incredibly ugly, and I suspect the only reason it's tolerated is that it stops at about the point where the view starts to get really good. I can't imagine that a fence stretching the length of the bridge would be similarly accepted.

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The ultimate solution, of course, is a Todos Santos style diving board. You put a diving board at some point, quite literally, so that anyone wanting to jump will *clearly* feel the need to jump right there. Then you have a sort of retractable net underneath. (See _Oath of Fealty_, by Niven and some of his usual compatriates, I forget whom) At that point, the only problem is keeping the net a secret.

Posted by: Lemming | June 1, 2005 9:21 PM
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