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If you could take a walk with anybody alive today, in any city in the world, who would it be, and where?

in Cities Travel Industry Writing & Publishing 2168 views
I think it's an interesting question in and of itself, but I'm asking for a reason. Five months ago, I started a company called VoiceMap. It's a publishing tool for stories told over the course of a short walk. Storytellers start with a route and a set of locations. The tool uses those to establish a word count, matching a script to how long the walk will take. After an edit, it's recorded, published, and made available within our iPhone app (and, soon, our Android app) at a price chosen by the storyteller, who earns royalties on every download.

I've wanted to commission walks by notable people closely associated with a particular place right from the start, and I now have some money to pay advances -- along with the help of an experienced editor. I have ideas of my own of course, and the suggestions of friends, some of which I'll add below. But it's going to be a large investment for a small business, and I'm really interested in what the Outbounding community might suggest. Who would you choose, if you were commissioning these walks? That's reframing the original question, I know, but it's probably more appropriate here, and I'd appreciate answers to both.

If you still aren't sure exactly what VoiceMap is all about, here's a two minute-long explanation:



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  • John Cleese or David Bowie in London, Grace Jones or Bernard-Henri Lévy in Paris, Robert De Niro in New York, Laurie Anderson on the Moon.

  • Dammit why didn't I think of Bowie in London! I can only think of dead people... will keep thinking...

  • Tough to think up living idols, I know. Met a few very famous people I idolized in my youth and they turned out to be megalomaniacs or just plain run-of-the-mill SOBs.

    Personal observation is that many artists are very self-involved and many brave human rights activists are great preachers but not necessarily enjoyable to be or converse with. Who wants to kiss anyone's derriere to be in their presence?

    Conversely, many who assume a "bad-ass" pose in their work are very kind and sweet in reality. The alter-ego rules quite often. Often an apparently simple old man or woman who has seen much in life can be the most interesting.

  • David Bowie used to live in Lausanne, Switzerland. He could tell stories in the old medieval center and lakeside mansions..

  • Lausanne as well! He seems like a genuinely nice and shy man given how talented he is/was (interviews don't count, as anyone would get annoyed by most questions). He lives in NYC now and we often saw him being as incognito as he could walking to and from his apartment in NoHo with Iman near where we lived.

  • That's good to know that he seems nice and that he can move around incognito in NYC. As you know, that's why a lot of famous people move to Switzerland. Extreme discretion.

  • Eminem in Detroit David Eggers in San Francisco Ray Troll in Ketchikan, Alaska Michael Morre in Flint, MI Isabelle Allende in Marin County CA Oprah in Chicago Michael Jordan in Chicago Calvin Trillin in Kansas City Carl Hiaasen in Miami Jun Kaneko in Omaha, Nebraska Robert Motherwell in Davis, CA Jay McInerney in NYC (after hours bars) Allen Touissant in New Orleans
  • Mick Jones, (The Clash), round Chelsea and Soho, London.

    Mandela, Cape Town, (good luck with that)

    Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), Erinsborough (Melbourne)

  • With William Dalrymple through old Delhi or anywhere in that magical city, really!
    And yes, with historian S Muthiah through the streets of Georgetown in old Madras. 
  • Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon; Leonard Cohen in Montreal; 

    Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey; Roger McGough in Liverpool; Woody Allen in New York

  • BTW: This is a great idea, Iain. The reason museums come to mind is that they are doing similar things with their guided tours. My sister and brother-in -aw might be good contacts who could give you more examples. They do sound engineering for museums and have worked with many. Their company, Earprint Productions, is based in San Francisco. Many of their tours were created as apps.
  • Phil Collins in Geneva where he has lived for a while with family nearby. He opened the Montreux Jazz Festival a couple years ago. I'm not sure if he's still living there.

    Geraldine Chaplin in Corsier-sur-Vevey (Lake Geneva near Montreux). The last I read her family house is being turned into a Charlie Chaplin museum. Her parents' gravesites are nearby. The family donated the archives of the photographs of Charlie Chaplin to the photographic museum in Lausanne: Musée L'Elysée.

  • Rick Steves in Seattle, Van Morrison (or Bono) in Dublin, Magic Johnson in Detroit, Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela, Randy Newman (or Tom Petty or Frank Gehry) in L.A., Bill Bowerman in Oregon, Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey, Bon Iver in Iceland. Now I'm on the musician kick, too.

    Another idea that worked well for the Met is to have different celebrities identify their favorites. The Met did a whole advertising campaign around them--specifically what each celebrity went to see when they went to the Met. You could do a whole tour around celebrities' favorite places in each city: Chefs, politicians, actors, musicians, athletes, etc.