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December 13, 2018 51 mins

Joshua David Stein and co-host Krishna Andavolu chat with designer Mark Reigelman, the man behind the instantly iconic Sweetwater Playground, about why most jungle gyms suck and Germans parents don't worry about broken bones. The future of play, it turns out, is kinda scary. Then everyone plays with the best toys of the year as selected by Fatherly's editors, and things take a turn for the violent.

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Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hi, this is a Fatherly podcast. Obviously, I'm your host,
Joshua david Stein. I'm here with Krishna and vlu. Hey.
Do you know why I feel low energy? It is
the end of the year and we're about to enter
the crucible of the holiday season. No, I'm going to
go see an Arthur Miller staging at the Crucible. Way, Yeah,

(00:27):
the Crucible of Christmas, and it's you know, I love it.
I like snow, I like presents, but it's a lot
of pressure about getting like the right things for my kids. Yeah,
because they don't like anything. And part of being at Fatherly's,
I bring home toys all the time, so they're totally jaded.
They benefit from that day are able to play with

(00:48):
those toys. Yeah, I mean, then I take them away
because because I'm a Buddhist, but I was raised Jewish
and I want them to know that everything can be
taken away from them like that. It sounds like both
Buddhist and Jewish. It's like, you know exactly then diagram

(01:08):
of those two religious it's how you relate to impermanence.
Like Jews are sad about it, Buddhists are like had
the seed of its own destruction. Anyway, this episode is
all about two things. Well, it's all about play and
we're gonna be chatting with Mark Regelman. The second who
you will see is Well, he's I think the greatest

(01:32):
playground designer in the world. Domino Sugar Factory playground. That's his,
that's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's gigantic and wonderful. I did
not want this to look like a playground. I wanted
kids to walk in and be scared. And then we
have a plethora of plush, perfectly pleasant, philistine playthings like

(01:57):
a gift guide of sorts its holidays. These are the
some of the hundred best toys from Fatherly's editors. This
is what we've picked, and we're gonna play with a
bunch of them. I'm frankly surprised that there are a
hundred toys. Oh, there's so many toys Bro has Bro
has Bro. We can end it there. I think it's

(02:18):
going to be a good episode. I'm serious about how
cool I think that guy Mark is. Yeah. No, I
mean our architects and designers tend to have a real vibe.
Such a vibe, so welcome to the play episode. Welcome

(02:39):
to Fatherly podcast. I hope you'll enjoy the show, Mark, Mark,
I guess how are you? What's going on? Second? Not
not Mark Jr. Definitely the second. Why So, this actually
has been a conversation I've had recently with my parents
because my parents are these they're they're kind of enclosed

(03:02):
people and it's hard to extract information from them. So
recently was like, Mom, Dad, why did you name me Mark? Like?
What was your thought process? You? Yes, the second isn't
like ESQ. Uh. So I asked them because my parents
also had me when they're really young, so I assume

(03:22):
there's drugs and alcohol involved. It was just like the
easiest road to go down was just to copy his name. Uh.
And you grew up in Cleveland. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Yeah.
So my dad's kind of a military guy, uh loves guns.
My mom's a nurse. So it's like kind of a
quintessential Midwestern family. Uh and so I was kind of
the odd ball within the family's kind of like weird

(03:42):
art kid. Um. So, but I was asked my parents
reason like why did you why did you decide on
this name? And my mom, you know, my mom's like,
I don't fucking know. We didn't even think about it.
You know, we just picked it. You know, what's your name? Okay,
get over it. I love your mom, Yea, My love
my mom too. She's really right. But my mom is
also kind of this weird person. She she's super creative

(04:06):
and she doesn't know. It's like she'll put things on
a shelf in the most beautiful way, and I'll stop
her to like, mother, why did you arrange these weird
knickknacks like this? She's like, I don't fucking you always
ask me this. I don't know. I put it there
and then I put it there. But I mean, if
she if she was had art education, she would be
able to kind of describe exactly what what the reason

(04:27):
was for her placement tuned esthetic sense. And this is
where you get it from. This is where I get
it from from my mother and father. My father is
the same way. It's just like they have this innate ability,
inherent ability to make things beautiful and flawless. My parents
met in high school. They had me when they were
in high school, and so my dad throughout high school
would make these beautiful drawings of like kiss posters or

(04:50):
like journey posters before my mother. Bitch, it's it's really cool.
I mean he would even paint these things on his
bedroom wall because we also lived with my with his mother,
my grandmother for a few years, and so I would
see these beautiful paintings he did for my mother kind
of around and so the first handful of years that
I was able to draw, I would just be coppying
his drawings that he made for my mother. And he

(05:11):
was really just an exquisite artist and a fabricator. And
so he's a machinist. Now he went he was in
the military, but was trained as a machinist in the military,
So he's a he's a perfectionist and likes to create stuff. Um,
so between the two of them, the d n A
went right into me or that kind of inherent creative ability,
and uh, they just helped me figure out how to

(05:32):
refine it. So you know, I was able to go
to art school speaking of refining, Oh, nailed it. I
don't get it. We'll bring it back, all right, We're
gonna bring it back around the sugar refiner. Yes, that is.
How did this playground commission come to you? And I'm

(05:57):
so curious about your thought process from a design standpoint
as well. Yeah, I just want to know how you
become a playground architect, right, because I mean arch designer.
I don't know how you describe your profession. But to me,
there's just playgrounds everywhere, their buildings everywhere. Obviously someone designs them,
but like, you know, how do you specialize in that?
It must there must be some brilliant sense of play

(06:18):
coming from the inside of you or not. I don't
know it. Yeah, so I don't know how one becomes
a playground designer. And let me take a couple of
steps back, just to give you a little bit about
my background as an artist, because I think it will
help kind of fit some pieces together. So I started
at the Cleveland's two art studying industrial design. So it

(06:39):
was very interested in products, toy design, interior design, car
design like these are the things I was focused in.
Um I spent I don't know, maybe a year there,
and the the industrial design programing there is fantastic. Also,
how old are you? Thirty five? So I started industrial design.
I was very interested in the design process, but I
was not excited about designing. Like a are you allowed

(07:02):
to cuss on this podcast? I'll save it for later.
But I wasn't interested in designing like a spin brush,
you know, like a or one of those rotating suckers,
like things that like the worst parts of industrial design.
And I know that there's plenty of good industrial design,
but the things that we were doing didn't interest me.

(07:22):
That they just weren't doing anything for society. That that
got me excited. So I moved. I packed my bags
and moved into the sculpture department, where I focused more
on materials, processes, form concept UM with still a very
strong interest in utility, functional aspect, functional aspects, and um
kind of interaction. And so I started do kind of

(07:46):
working on public furniture, retrofitting bus shelters, thinking about public spaces.
Growing up in Cleveland, the the niceties of daily life
are no different than breathing, Like you'd say hello to
every person you walk by. It's just part of daily life.
And I took that for granted when I moved to
New York and you know, I'm walking to the street, Hey,
good morning, how are you doing, and like fucking creep,

(08:09):
get away from me. You know, it's it's a it's
a very different type of interaction. Um uh, not that
you can't get to those niceties. But a lot of
times there's a kind of a layer of abrasiveness that
you have to get through first, uh, which I think
is also honestly a bit of a function of the
amount of time you spend with other people. It's kind
of like it's a survival mechanism. The default is just

(08:32):
not engage for sure, because even in public spaces, were
still kind of in private spaces or that's how we've
crafted our interaction or sort of the unwritten rules of
our interaction. Right. Also, because private space is such a
premium that you don't have your own living room, you know.
Just to bring it back for a second to the
Dad podcast, the idea that I could be in my
own space and not right next to my kid, it's

(08:53):
like a fantasy to me, like that just doesn't exist. So, yeah,
you create these little um cysts of privacy as you
travel through the and so are you suggesting that that
one of those cysts would be just like in your
bubble in outdoor space, like that is your own time. Yeah,
I mean not. I'm not saying it's good or bad.
I'm just saying that I feel like, yeah, it's kind

(09:16):
of I think about that too. I wonder if then
there's is there a middle groul, what is the bare
minimum we can do to kind of acknowledge our neighbors
but still stay in our bubble, Like maybe ie contact
eye contact is like a nod of the head, Like
maybe that's enough that we don't have to We can
still be lost in thought, still be aware of our surroundings,
and still be uh kind of a good force for

(09:40):
neighborhood and communities in general. I almost feel that there
there's a camaraderie in ignoring each other, Like it's when
you're on the subway and it's like a level of
respect that everyone's ignoring everyone else. The subway is a
different I feel like the subways different. Yeah. Yeah, I
think in a subway that's just like the worst part

(10:03):
of everything you could imagine in one place. Uh And
and no oxygen, right, so it's just like just a
bad chain of events in obstacles. But I think public
space I think there's a lot of that. But there
at least is fresh air in a large enough sidewalks
that you can kind of scurry, and you know, I

(10:23):
think having at a bit cross that off the list.
I think having a kid actually kind of forces you
into more public interactions than you may have otherwise, either
to like be like, oh, I'm so sorry my kid
is pulling, you know, at your dog chain, or even
having a dog. Frankly, just like having a child will
force you to interact with people, hey in some really

(10:44):
positive ways when like, you know, you have a sweet,
cute child and people like hi, you know that's nice,
But to be to be fair, like I appreciate other people,
and I love our city, and I think there's this
unfathomably deep reservoir of like goodwill that we have towards
each other, and we don't say a damn thing about it,

(11:04):
which I think it's cool unless something weird or interesting
or strange or a little kid walks into situation. Um
so yes, So the problem that you're sort of dealing
with then, perhaps in designing a playground is social interaction
well not just playgrounds, right, Oh, yes, exactly so in
your project of design, social interaction is key. It is

(11:24):
the foundation of my work. How do create a catalyst
for social interaction in public space? And then everything else
is built on top of that. So from there I
started focusing on site specific public work. So I go
to a site, kind of observe people, how people interact
with the space, understand do a ton of history, work
with h history, historic research, work with historians to understand

(11:45):
how the space has changed over time. Um, and then
try to create a piece that is really tailored to
the site conceptually and formally. Uh. Again with the understanding
that it is going to create some sort of interaction.
And again, the interaction doesn't have to be people shaking
hands and hugging like that is not the goal. I'm
not trying to force interaction. I'm just trying to kind
of inspire some sort of engagement. It can be as

(12:07):
small as eye contact. So what's like an example of um,
what was it? Was it a reading? Me? The readings? Yeah?
Tell us about the readings, because I feel like that
was a good example of that. Yeah, the reading This
is a is a pretty good example of a couple
of things including interaction. Um. So that was created at
the Cleveland Public Library, include in downtown Cleveland, and they

(12:30):
have this Eastman reading garden and there's actually a number
of beautiful tom Modernist sculptures within the garden. UM. And
so it was you know, it was an honor to
be creating something in that space. But for that location,
I was inspired by, UH for one mythic the kind
of mythical creatures UH and as a reading garden, this
idea of symbols of ancient symbols of knowledge. Why is

(12:52):
owls the tree of knowledge? And out front of this
particular library were two Griffins, which it's actually pretty common
in America to have Griffin's guarding civic institutions, which is
very cool. And they do it because they protect their
belongings ferociously. And it is said that they make nests
of gold and that is why they protect them so ferociously,

(13:14):
because they're so valuable. UM. So I kind of took
that narrative and built this large, you know, a massive
nest outdoors and it consisted of over fifteen thousand UH
reclaimed boards picked up from around Ohio and they were
all painted gold. So it's this kind of really beautiful
golden nest outside UH. And the library did an incredible

(13:35):
job of programming it. So each day there would be
readings in the evening, there'd be dances throughout the day, UH,
different kind of parties and events, and it was very
much it became an awesome gathering place, a temporary gathering place.
It was. It was there for a summer um and
then you know, they pull it down and they do
something else next year. But that is a that is
also a great format for creating social spaces. Is something

(13:58):
that doesn't necessarily have to last forever. It can last
a few months. The idea of social interaction in a playground,
not only with kids, but with the adults. I think
it hadn't occurred to me before, and I think all
of us as parents and you have how old is
your kid? Eight months? Eight months? Just we're just getting
through it. Lay. I don't know if you've had it yet,

(14:19):
but we've had so many adult interactions. Yeah, you have
adult interactions whether you want them or not, which is like,
you know, you go to the playground because the kid
was like clamoring on a Sunday, and you go because
it's fun, but then your kids starts playing with another
kid and then you know, you're like, they're gonna hurt
each other a little bit, and you have to kind
of suss out the other parents expectations of like the
gentleness or you know, horseplay index of that child. Yeah. Absolutely,

(14:43):
and I also try to make work for for people
that don't want to talk to their their community members. No,
but I mean there is a certain level of UM.
You want people to be able to sit and contemplate
the work and not necessary really need to engage, and
that is also very healthy. Uh. And and it's most

(15:04):
likely that that person will go somewhere else and have
a discussion about the artwork out of the later date.
So as long as that dialogue happens, it doesn't necessarily
need to have happen on site. It oftentimes does mostly
because the there's kind of a certain level of energy
around the work. UM. But if that can kind of
trickle outward, and I've actually been discussing this with a sociologist,
how do we track that UM interaction from that from

(15:27):
the epicenter outward uh And so we're trying to figure
out ways of monitoring it, which is difficult. Only with
the with social media over the past couple of years
have I've been able to track it a little bit
more holistically to kind of see where how that conversation
is spread and in what parts of the Internet it's
spread to UM. But it would be nice to make
that a bit more formal and figure out a way

(15:48):
to uh kind of just refine how we're collecting that
data again with the idea of like, the more data
we have, the more the more able we are to
create better and kind of stronger social spaces. Playground, playground Okay,
so playground. So I never did a playground before. And

(16:08):
Two Trees the developer for that project, so they they
own and develop most of dumbo Um. They reached out
to me because I was kind of in their radar
of artists they've talked to about work in the past
because they're they're big funders of the arts um in general.
And so someone asked me, Hey, would you be interested
in designing a playground? And I was like, no, thanks, doesn't.

(16:32):
I mean, it sounds great, but you should probably get
a professional to do that. And and this is over email.
And also before you had your daughter. This is before
so we had we had baby on the brain, but
pre daughter. And they came back and said, listen, we
think your your abilities are really perfect for this project.

(16:52):
We want this to be an artist driven project, and
we will put you with the best. We'll put you
with the best people, will hire the best people. Uh
like great structural engineers, great fabricators, excellent safety experts, like
just surrounding me with a team of people that know
how to do something like this. Well. Um, and so
I put together some sketches for the project and met

(17:13):
with uh, you know, the main folks at Two Trees
and the folks at James corner Field Operations, which is
the landscape architect for the project, and they were super
excited and by the time I left the room, they're like, yeah,
let's let's do this. For our listeners who haven't been
to the playground, can you describe it a little? Well,
the playground sits on the former Domino Sugar factory site,

(17:35):
and the factory has been there since the eighties, so
it's been this kind of like monstrous brick building in
on the Brooklyn on the Sweet property, in on the
Brooklyn waterfront. Um. And so going into the project, I
was very interested in this idea of sugar refining. Uh
and and Two Trees did this great this great book

(17:56):
where they hired photographers to to document the buildings before
they were torn down. So I had all this awesome
photography to go by, and I'm just looking through this
picture thinking like fuck a kid just want just throw
a kid in here, like this is the playground. I
need to do nothing, Throw them in this factory and
like let him go down the slides across the catwalks

(18:16):
like it is a sweet deal. Um. So, I mean
that's that's kind of where it started. I wanted to
kind of capture that the scariness of a factory setting
that that kind of hodgepodge collection of objects and stuff. Um.
And I also wanted to talk about the process of refining.
So the idea is that a child enters this what

(18:39):
I've been calling sweetwater Um, enters this playground as raw sugar,
and they get chopped up in discarded and thrown out
sludge shoots, and then refined and shaken up and then
shot over to the centrifugure. They spin, and then they
exit as raw sugar or molasses. Right. But it's very
much about that process, and I tried to design the
objects and elements to reflect that refining process. Okay, we're

(19:06):
gonna take a break from talking with Mark to hear
from our sponsors, and we'll be back in a minute.
On a kid level, it's like, so my kid goes
and climbs up a ladder into what looks like a
cabin almost and then sugar cane cabin. A sugar cane cabin.

(19:30):
There's a silo next to it with different levels where
they can crawl in and crawl all the way up. Um,
is there a slide coming down from that? Or yeah,
that's the biggest slide and it's like it's like a
twenty two ft slide. It's big and it is fun
for adults well. And also the materials of the playground
aren't sort of like plastic and colorful in the way

(19:51):
that you might envision your your playground, but they resemble
the kind of hues and materialities of this kind of
carcass of an old And I'm glad you picked that
up because that was a huge part of my design process.
I did not want this to look like a playground.
I wanted kids to walk in and be scared. You know,
in fact that that um from a so I write

(20:15):
children's books and I'm a fan of children's literature. Something
I picked up on as well from the playground. And
one of the reasons why it sticks so much is
that there is something a little terrifying about it and
a little dark the same way we had an earlier
conversation about humor. It's like the same. What sticks with
you is something unsettling in a little bit um mysterious.

(20:37):
I think for me, one of the things I respect
most about that playground is the amount of enclosed space
for kids. So often you go to a playground and
there's nowhere for them to go where they're beyond your
gaze exactly, But they have their space. And I know
my kids, who like me, live in a tiny attic
and like probably are sick of me, and I'm sick

(20:58):
of them, like the fact that I can go and
have their own space that I can't go into, Like
it's very uncomfortable to try to go up that that
ladder into that that shock. And I love that you
respect and frankly, I'm um delightfully surprised that whatever power
sanctioned this kind of thing, sanctioned kids having privacy in

(21:20):
that way that I have so many stories to talk about,
Like what you picked up on is so crucial to
the design in something. So when I was researching playgrounds,
I went to literally every playground in New York City,
and there are some brilliant ones and some horrible ones.
Um and I also at that time, I was borrowing
a friend's kid in a really quick story poor Bram,
So I borrowed my friends the Changeling son brand because

(21:44):
you can't go into a playground that looking like a
pervert and had to have a kid kid. Yes, so
I had to borrow my friend's kid. I didn't realize
you had to feed them and water them throughout. So
by the time I gave him back to Raquel, She's like,
why the fund is he green? He looks like he's
about to die. I don't know, We've just been playing
all that. So I did. So that was like a
crash course in parenting. But one thing that I did
not pour water on them, so who knew? Uh. But

(22:13):
one thing that I did notice about playgrounds is that
there was this kind of obnoxious uh interaction between parents
and kids at all times, Like there wasn't a place
for the kids to get into fight or like you know,
do anything out of out of the watchful eyes of
their parents. Um. And there's also really interesting book out
by Jonathan Hight I think, and he talks about uh

(22:36):
social spaces and and this this idea of like we
need to figure out different ways of raising our kids
so they're not just like terrible brats when they get older,
Like they need to be kind of out in the
world alone, navigating spaces alone, like getting into arguments, figuring
out how to diffuse situations, and so that was very
much a part of my mindset when designing Sweetwater was
not only did I want large sculptural spaces, but I

(22:59):
want places for kids to be able to get lost
in with other kids and like and we of course
sightlines are important. Everything is perforated. We have gaps between
the siding, but enough privacy where kids and adults could
be separate. If adults want to go inside, I mean,
that's awesome, and many of them do. Uh it is.
It is challenging for an adult, it's challenging for a kid.
But it was very much about creating two spaces. Yeah,

(23:23):
I think you're really fucking with a bunch of parents,
know you are. I mean New York City parenting in
the playground, like you know. I think I'm a little
bit more chill now, but I remember, I don't know
if you feel the same. If I terrified, So if
I can't see my kid in a playground, I'm a
little bit better now. But I don't just go like, oh,

(23:43):
they're probably like behind this line. I'm just like, someone
fucking took my kid. And then it's like, how am
I going to tell my wife? She's gonna be like
I told you so, and then and then have to
go child Protective Services they're gonna take my other kids?
Like It's like catastrophic thinking. And my mind's more sort
of like the Final Destination movies, where I kind of
see every potential kin aesthetic, tumble ball injury and otherwise

(24:07):
that could happen as a result of any number of
of different decisions my kid makes on this on the
slide or on the swing, or on the steps or
on that little bridge or whatever. And so I have
to I almost feel kind of like hyper vigilant in
that I just have I need to like see it
before it happens so that I can intervene to make
sure he doesn't get hurt. I can't do that, and
I've read a good reason and I think I'll bring

(24:29):
it back because I read an interesting book about sort
of how are hyper vigilance? Uh, our kids can feel that,
you know what I'm saying, Like, we're not when that
is they're so sensitive and so able to detect our
emotions and feelings that if we're putting that off, whether
at their playground, like, it's not a free space for
them from like a psychological or even sort of like
psychic kind of fashion. So, which is why kids are

(24:53):
more anxious as they grew up, especially in big cities,
more stressed as a group of big cities. And this
has horrible you know, it becomes a horrible problem when
they get into school, when they're trying to like deal
with all these anxieties that are oftentimes brought on because
of the parents anxieties. If you take your kids to
playgrounds in Germany or anywhere in Europe, the experience is

(25:14):
much more casual. And you know, I spoke with the
playground manufacturer in Germany also, and it was a really
funny conversation speaking to a manufacturer in Germany and manufacturer
here in the States. The German manufacturer like, the kid
brex his arms. It's okay, the kid brex his arm.
This is not this is not German. Hold on, German, German, German.

(25:37):
You'll need a German anyway. So he basically he was saying, Okay,
you're right, you're right. If the kid brex his arm,
the kid brex his arm, it's okay. If a kid
brek his arm, the kid breaks his neck, Okay, this
is bad. This is bad. Kid breaks his arm, okay,
kids breaks his leg, Okay, kid breaks his neck. Not okay.
And so these are the types of conversations we're having,

(26:00):
which is fun, you know. And I'm sitting here like
with my eyes wide open me like holy shit, because
in America it would be like, well, Aca, like this
level with the code. There's this straight up code which
I imagine your your place must in some way adhere to.
And in fact, every there's two code books that that
that you have to abide by and and they're not

(26:23):
in sync. So it is a huge amount of interpretation
as you're reading these books and trying to design something
that's never been done before. Like it was a very
different fun and fun. And so that in working with
a great safety expert. I worked with Terry Hendy. She
is really incredible and a genius. That you talked about
the rung ladder going up to the cabin. So that

(26:46):
took probably about a month to figure out. Because there
are fall heights we have to deal with safety surfacing,
like that thing had to be up two feet off
the grounds. And then because there was another ladder so
close to to go up to the chimney of the cabin,
that spacing had to be figured out and you need
a certain walkway distance. Like it was just it was
a Rubik's cube of space. Because we're also dealing with

(27:08):
a pretty small amount of space, which is why the
playground is so tall, because we didn't have a lot
of floor space to work with, so we went up
to I think the highest point is almost thirty feet,
which is the highest point in the park, so kids
have the best views of the park, of the Champion
of Children. I didn't realize it was until I did
this playground and then like, I don't want to design

(27:29):
anything else like funk Art, What is the ideal number
of kids in that playground when we went, because we
went like on the opening weekend where it's like there's
that New York Times piece, it was a madhouse. I
loved it, but it was like a kiss concert. It
was a kiss concert, and and to be quite honest,
it was unexpected on all fronts. We assumed that there

(27:51):
would be a good amount of people at this park,
and I kind of describe it by looking at the
floor graphics, the floor graphics painted on there, which are
all designed based on the floor graphics in the original factory. Um,
those are painted on with the assumption that they would
be repainted every year. We had to repaint them after
one month because the foot traffic was just so intense,

(28:13):
which is, you know, it's a good thing, but in
terms of maintenance, it's like we had to start recalibrating
how we keep this thing up to make sure it
looks beautiful for the next you know, fifty years or something.
So going back to the awkward interactions I have at
the playground, I'm oh, I mean they're myrriad. A lot
of them do I have to do with the gap

(28:35):
between um like discipline, like my kid does something kind
of shitty to your kid, or your kid does something
kind of shitty to my kid. Like one thing I
really always want to avoid is like performative discipline of
my kid because what does it what does it look
like before? Formative discipline to me is like the other day,

(28:55):
I'm going to say real names because I don't think
Zane is listening to this program. Like suppose the Achilles
my son spit on Zane right, I was watching the
ship go down. They were playing three Blind Mice. He
did not spit on Zane. Many thoughts about Zane which
will remain unsaid. Um. Anyway, Zane's like babysitter came and
it was like Achilles spit on Zane's jacket. And my

(29:18):
first instinct was to be like, Achilles, say sorry to Zane,
to show the babysitter that I'm like a good dad
and I'm gonna be harsh and strict on my kid.
Um and I was like, you have to apologize to
Zane x y z um and Achilles he shut down
because you know he's six. I'm yelling at him in

(29:38):
front of this kid, and he's embarrassed. And only later
was he was he like, Dad, I mean I didn't
spit on him. And I realized, why am I throwing
my kid under the bus so hard just to perform
like I am trying to follow the rules and that
kind of thing. It's not even for it's not for
your child at all, it's for kind of observers in

(29:59):
the room. Yeah, it's the lowest, it's like a Judas
is scary it but that that's the the instinct to
to communicate with other adults through your behavior to your children.
Like it's it's deplorable to some degree, but I feel
like it's totally natural, Like it's some natural but I
think it's something, I mean, something I fight against all
the time because I'm so prone to caring about what
other adults think about me and to use my kid

(30:22):
as a proxy. I just awoke to it was actually
that happened last week where I was like, oh, that
was a moment of realization not to do that. But
but here's the reason why I think it isn't cool
to do or why why it? Uh, there's something deeper,
which is that like our kids are people too, Like
they are their own individual human being, just the same

(30:43):
as this other adults. So you're actually subverting their humanness
by way of using them as props of communication. And
guess what, the kid is confused and as like, no,
doesn't have the faculties and understanding of social sort of
situations to kind of into it what's happening. But and
so it's and if they did into it, they'd be
like fuck you. And maybe they are into iting that

(31:04):
and they are saying fuck you by doing whatever they
do next when they say, exactly, don't follow your But
so that's one interaction that I have all the time
in playgrounds. Well, but but that's interesting because I'm wondering, like,
what happens if you don't do that? So say your
son spits on another kid, and you're like super super
chill parent, the other parents pregnant, Like dude, what the

(31:25):
fund is wrong with you? You can't be chill if
your kids spitting on the other kids. So I can
see it the extreme opposite also being not good in
the situation for anyone involved. I wish I was more
skillful to be able to navigate and to appease that
other parents not I think the way to say it,
I don't know. This is after many emails with Zane's mom,

(31:47):
and there's a lot of things just saying, look, I'm
sorry that that happened. Kids sometimes do stuff like that,
you know, but then it's tough. But so to to
get back to Sweetwater when I was there, honestly a
lot of caretakers and I think that might be maybe
a specifically New York phenomenon, But I was really interested

(32:07):
in the social interaction between the caretakers. Where they're sitting
in the playground is as per usual, like along the perimeter.
But something that's unusual is that the benches are connected,
so you're kind of your cheek to jowl with someone else.
Did you think about the adult human interaction, Yeah, I
mean so we wanted it to be kind of entertaining

(32:30):
for adults as they're sitting there. We also had the
benches along the one side because the uh in the
early hours of the day, the the over the walk,
the kind of pedestrian walkway, elevated pedestrian walkway cast of
shadow in that area also, so it's just like a
sheltered area as well. It's essentially a couple U shapes.
Benches in U shapes are known for promoting social interaction

(32:51):
as opposed to just a straight bench. When everyone's looking
in one direction. As soon as you accidentally bump these
or bump strollers, some sort of conversation kind of ensueds
and that is kind of like kind of a minor
design shift, but something that does have pretty profound kind
of impacts on space. There's also a stigma, slight stigma
I feel attached to, like dads who are too much

(33:13):
on the equipment, Like, I get it, bro, you could
do a pull up, you know, like that is a
little bit too far. But I am very um playful
with my kid, but I'm not that playful with other adults.
And I wish there was a way to go into
playground and look, kids are here to play also adults.
You have to be playful with each other, you know.
So often you go to a playground and every adult

(33:34):
is just on their phone. That is what's going on.
And it's like I've been guilty. Oh I'm that is
I mean, I'm not apart from that. And I think
it's just so noticeable because your kids are off having
a great time and then it's just like, man, that's
what happens to adults. That sucks, you know. Yeah, Mark,
you didn't set out to be a playground designer, but

(33:57):
now you've designed a truly magnificent playground. Thank you. What
have you learned? What is it? What are you gonna
take with you for the rest of your design and
architect and career. That's a very good question, uh question, Yeah,
you really bring it. But and it's not a softful question.
It is actually a question that I've been spending a
great deal of time thinking about and I go to
the playground, uh somewhat regularly too. I'm either kind of

(34:19):
teaching first graders playground design or or just monitoring the
space and kind of like just taking notes. It's interesting
because my work has been focused on social interaction, and
then I designed a playground, and this is like social
interaction five point oh, Like the amount of interaction between parents, kids,
in between objects in people has been so intense, uh

(34:42):
and and and so now I'm trying to kind of
step back to see how I can take elements of
that and apply it to other spaces that aren't playground, Like,
how do we create this type of interaction in a
in a in a space that isn't kind of surrounded
by a metal fence with a sign on it the
says playground. So so it's going to to be I
think many years figuring out how to take elements of

(35:03):
that and apply it to other spaces, because I would
love to continue designing playgrounds, but there are a lot
of other things I want to design as well. So
I'm just going to kind of keep monitoring and keep
calibrating and try to achieve that the type of interaction
that's happening um at Sweetwater. And I will say also
Sweetwater is pretty unique because the cross section of Brooklyn

(35:25):
that is kind of interacting at that space. Um. I
mean you have the kind of like the Brooklyn hipsters,
and you have the uh the Orthodox Jews and the
kind of old school Polish neighborhood community members coming in
the Latin American Dominican neighbors, you know. And this is
all happening in one space. So it is the entire
thing is extremely rare and extremely awe inspiring. And I

(35:47):
would be lucky to be a part of a project
uh this wonderful and with the team this wonderful, you know.
Ever again, like this is a very high bar for
me in terms of checking off all the boxes of
kind of creative interests, social interests. And they're gonna be
generations of kids that grow up this is They're like
their Marquee playground. Mark Regelman, the second, thank you so

(36:10):
much for being with us. It has been a wonderful
and joyous and playful experience. Well, thank you very much
for having me. It was awesome. Thanks part. Thanks by
should we play with toys too? We want Mark for
the toys don't. We don't kick me up before toys. No, no,
we're gonna have toy. Do you celebrate Christmas? Yeah, we

(36:36):
saw beat Hanaka and Christmas. And think about Santa. He
just starting to get to know him because we didn't
really tell him about him when he was three and
he went to the kind of school that Santa was
not mentioned. Santa's not welcome, kind of Scanta does not
need to apply. But now he's, you know, in a
school where kids are talking about Santa. I'm sure I
think Santa's talked about in school in ways. So I

(36:57):
think he's expecting Santa come. And my kids know that
I don't believe in Santa. Like that is my workaround,
Like I'm not going to tell them that Santa doesn't exist.
They can think that it's part of who they are.
They can believe all sorts of erroneous ship, but they
know that I don't think Santa exists, which um places

(37:18):
a lot of onus on me to get them toys
because they know it's me. Yeah, um, And it's traditionally
been a very stressful time also because it's expensive. But
but you know, when you get a toy for a kid, right,
There's a couple of things to think about. One is
how much it is. Two is like, is it a

(37:39):
toy that they're going to enjoy on the in the
long term, Like I generally find open ended toys are
much more durable than a toy that has one single,
single use toy. And the other thing is are you
gonna enjoy it in the long term, because there's so
many toys that I have that we have that walk

(38:00):
and squeak and they drive me nuts. So it's just
like this perfect trifactor and is it a beautiful, beautiful object. Yeah,
it's sure. It's gonna be like nice in your apartment house.
We do a little musical instruments a lot, so like
a little xylophones and like, um, do are they well used? Yeah?

(38:22):
They sit on top of the piano and then like
when he wants to get it, he like brings the
bench out, goes up and get swan. I'd like to
meet your kid. We should have our kids meet each other. Clearly,
it's kind of weird. It's actually really weird they have
but that could be a you know, bonus special. Um
they're just hitting each other, but a fatherly we like

(38:45):
sift through thousands and thousands of toys, and we've come
up with what we think are the best toys of
two eighteen. And I put a bunch of them in
a box, and I brought that box here. Also this
NERF gun, which you're not supposed to call a gun.
It's a blaster. But it didn't fit in the box,
but I brought it because it's cool. I think we'll
talk about it. Uh, but you, Krishna, me and Mark

(39:08):
are going to evaluate and we're not going to leave
here until until we picked the best toy. Yes, until
we picked I forgot where I was going. Sounding good? Yeah,
let's just dive in and play with these toys. What

(39:30):
did you just grab? Mark? Oh boy, it's a pony
with wings and kind of a rainbow stream of hair.
Do you see what color the cutie mark? Is? Cutie mark?
Where's the cutie mark? Is it? This? Dude? Don't you know?
You're not a brownie? Not a brownie? Oh? Yeah, I
mean I will be after today. But in this one's

(39:57):
wearing sunglasses. This is this is my little pony. This
isn't my little pretty big yeah? So this is my
little pony singing Rainbow Dash three modes of musical play
listen sings solo or duet, sings five songs. This is
what the copy says, sings five songs from entertainment. And

(40:20):
this is the My Little Pony Singing Rainbow Dash and
it is twenty six dollars, sort of like the thunder Dome.
Are you guys ready? It's about the size of a
fruit softball and it looks like it's a drone. You
can see little four little propellers. This is the air
Hogs Supernova drone. Good name. So it looks like a

(40:47):
geodesic dome, which I think it's not quite, but that's
what it looks like. There's four small, uh helicopter propellers
and a glowing light in the center as you can
see around the is our sensors. And also just to note,
the dome is wire frame, so it's it's not like
a solid ball floating through space. So you and turn

(41:09):
it on, turn it on, So the sensors must play
an interesting role. Are you guys ready? Yeah, it's lying
by itself. You just threw it in the air and
it's loom and well and by so it doesn't self
crashing drones. There is a way to program million through
on the air. I really say the battery life is

(41:34):
not the best. I think that was it crashing. So wait,
what's the trick? I mean, obviously it's not connected connected
to remote control or anything like lost it. You can
kind of you can kind of just like use your
hands to direct it. Yeah, so these sensors there is
supposedly a um there's a trick mode where you can

(41:55):
train it by like if you rotate one hand to
the you know, two circles, it'll do a spin, or
you can if you do both hands. It's a disco
mode and the light moved, the light changes color. If
this thing works, it's actually really cool. It makes me
think of what's the snitch in Harry Potter that just
kind of it has very much stitches, good stitches. How

(42:19):
much is it? It brings up a good category of toy,
which is the drone, because I think, like that's basically
what my kid's gonna want, and I want to, like
you want to give your kid a drone well to
degrees four years old, and it doesn't need to be
like a professional grade or you know, autonomous killer. Yes,
but deliver Amazon packages from Long Island City, deliver itself

(42:44):
just walked again. No, but I think I think I'm
actually in the market for like something that's breakable, not
too expensive, cool enough. It's pretty good, it's not bad.
It's really hard to use, and I feel like as
a user, I panic really quickly to have something out
of control flying around. We're going to take a break

(43:08):
from playing with toys, but the fund doesn't stop because
here's a word from our sponsors. Okay, next toy. It's
my choice. I'm gonna choose this one. Yeah. It's a

(43:31):
creature with a long tail. I can turn it on. Yep,
there's a switch. There's a switch to bring that up
to the mic. Amazing. Hey, okay, yes, let's so the
tail is lighting up in psychedelic fashion. The big eyes.

(43:52):
This is very like a child's toy on drugs. Yes,
this is a child's toy on k Yeah. Um, is it?
Is it related to any franchise or a series that
I should know? That? Not an external one? No, that
is a little Gleamers, Little Gleamers. I love the SoundCloud album.

(44:13):
What you can call it? Well, it's part of the
cash Money Crew, Little Gleamer Alright, cool, um, Little Gleamers
is short and this is my favorite part of the
whole toy. It's short for little gleaming Lemur, little glamer,
little gleamer to these they are more of these, yeah,

(44:36):
but that's the only one that matters, So you can
play a lot of games with that with that tail, like, oh,
there's a different color spectrum. I mean. This is basically
toys that were developed by nineties kids who are ravers. Yes,
was that a magic one? This is a magic one
from Harry Potter. Um, it makes noises and you can play.

(45:02):
I love. That's awesome. My kid's got a lightsaber that
like reacts to things and it's like, it's amazing. We
love it. So Star Wars first, Harry Potter. This is
actually not the most technologically advanced wand on the market.
There's another coding wand where you actually learn how to
code on an app with the wand. It's a little

(45:24):
bit complicated, but you're basically moving around bits of code
by manipulating the wand, which is connected with Bluetooth. But
this one is like a basic and fun toy. This
is for our listeners of our podcast. Just go to
Fatherly or one D Best toys, and we have all
the toys there, little Jack Jack. So have you seen

(45:47):
Incredibles Too? The thing I love about Incredibles Too is
a lot of their marketing toys. It's not called marketing.
Can someone help me merchandizing? So a lot of the
Incredibles to merch is actually good per se, you know,
its own And this is a great example of it.
It's a let's see, one ft fourteen inch high fourteen

(46:08):
inch high little Jack Jack with a realistic hard plastic
face and he's wearing his trademark red jumpsuit. Um. As
you know from the film Incredibles Too, he has many powers. Yeah,
Jack Jack is a like a big ask because he
can become anything but by pressing his belly. Yeah, he

(46:29):
gets mad though, right nice? Oh yeah, that's awesome. Oh.
It also comes with the little Raccoon, right because the
raccoon and Jack Jack have such an amazing fight. Incredible too.

(46:51):
This is the only movie I gotta google playing worth it.
My kids watch it all the time. It's a really
excellent scene of cinema. Okay, we're gonna close this um
session with one last toy. It's over here. It's a
nerve you know, you're not supposed to call them nerf guns.
Do you guys know that? What do you call that?

(47:13):
A blaster that's better than gun? Yeah, that's gigantic, it's gigantics.
You know what it looks like. Remember American gladiators, Remember Assault,
Assault was the best one, and it was the gladiators behind.
They had these huge blasters that shot tennis balls. Yeah. Yeah,

(47:33):
and the contestants had to like run and have like
behind like another thing and try to hit a target.
So that looks like what the gladiators had, and it's awesome.
You know what it looks like. It looks like a
gigantic popcorn maker that's been transformed into a child's weapon.
That is kind of what it is. This is called
the um Nerve Rival Prometheus, and then the subtitle is

(47:58):
m x V I I I Dash, which is actually
one eighteen twenty K and I feel like they just
missed like one of the ms um This holds two balls.
It looks amazing. Yeah, it's it's battery powered, but with
a rechargeable battery. Did you say how did you say

(48:20):
the size of it? It's almost three ft long? Oh yeah,
it is. It's human do you hear, how have you won?
Is there metal in here? Also is for eight year olds? Right?
I mean you know, technically it's for fourteen year olds plus.
Really it's for adults and shoot their kids. That is what.

(48:41):
This is a form of punishment. Before you shoot it,
Let's just say that there is a safety up here.
It's got a safety. This is serious, dude, it's got
a safety. You prime it by pressing that that gets
the air pressure going, and then you hold this down
before you start. Let me say one thing. It fires

(49:03):
eight balls per second. It is extreme. It's also like
a hundred forty dollars, which is funny. Like, and my
question is what adults like? Who is this four? That's
a good question. Rich kids or childish and don't like
rich dad's for their like Dick is right, the perfect

(49:24):
toy for rich dads together. That's why it's on our
best toy list because it is actually cool. Okay, Mark,
do it, but I don't know where you want to crazy,
I'll get hit by it up there, like aim it
at your chest might as well. Okay, dude, if you
want to try, is it gonna hurt? I don't know.

(49:44):
It's nerve. Come on, Okay, here it comes. You think
Primate with the bottom one motherfucker in the nuts. It
didn't hurt the little glamer, but the power. Well, thank you.

(50:21):
I think about you every time we're at the playground. Okay, well,
that was I think maybe the most fun episode of
the father Le podcast to record. Hopefully you enjoyed listening
to it. Um, we have all those toys on our site.
If you want to order them through that you should
go to Domino Park and play in Mark Regelman's playground

(50:41):
because it is also extremely fun. I want to thank
Max Savage Levinson, who's sitting right here next to me.
He's a producer. Thank you, Max. Deco Shaituma is our engineer.
Thank you, Dico. They're nodding. I'm Joshua David Stein. I
kind of helped produce it, but mostly I'm just like
the host. Andrew Berman is our executive producer. This podcast

(51:04):
is borne out of ignorance and insecurity. If you have
your own questions, please let us know. Maybe we can
answer them, help solve some problems you're having in your life.
Give us a call at seven three two five seven one.
Leave a message that's seven three two one six four
or five seven one. If you like what you heard,
subscribe to the Fatherly podcast on our Heart Radio. And

(51:25):
please for my own self esteem and I think Christianas
and max Is and maybe Deco's definitely not Marks because
that guy does not lack self esteem. Leave a positive
review on iTunes. Next week we'll be talking about weed.
We'd love to see you there.

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