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In many South American countries, the traffic is horrible. People don't follow speed limits, stop signs are laughed at, and parking tickets are fried into

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Why Mimes Are Not the Answer to Seattle's Traffic Woes (No Matter What South America Says)

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In many South American countries, the traffic is horrible. People don't follow speed limits, stop signs are laughed at, and parking tickets are fried into tostada-like lunch items. Enforcing traffic laws in such areas is apparently nearly impossible, so local governments there are now turning to one of the world's most despised professions for respite: Mimes.

George Lewis, a Seattle miming legend and a soon-to-be South American transplant, explains why--though the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure calls for extreme measures--this method would never work in Seattle.

First, some more about the mime traffic cops.

The AP reports that Caracas, Venezuela, is the latest city to get the mime treatment:

The mimes have been sent into the streets to do what police alone have not: tame the lawless traffic.

Dressed in clown-like outfits and white gloves, [they] took to the streets of the Sucre district this past week. The mimes wag their fingers at traffic violators and at pedestrians who streaked across busy avenues rather than waiting at crosswalks.

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George Lewis: Running over a mime is "justifiable homicide."
Lewis, a co-founder of the Freehold Theatre and a master of movement-based performance for more than 40 years, is getting ready to move to South America (Buenos Aires) in January.

Let's just say he thinks that mime-based traffic control is not a workable solution there, or here. "I think that in general people hate mimes," Lewis tells Seattle Weekly. "If someone ran over a mime, I think it could be called justifiable homicide."

As for whether it could work in Seattle to, say, help with the upcoming Viadoom traffic catastrophe: "It definitely would not work in Seattle," he says. "I think that if the power of mime was so strong, they should be able to build a wall between them and the traffic, and then it would be up to motorists to see if that wall really exists."

For more about local mimes, check out Weekly editor and strong-silent type Mike Seely's 2009 feature on the subject.

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