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My Video

My interest in model making and model trains goes back to my pre- and early teen years in Brooklyn. When later I lived for a spell in the Netherlands, I constructed 'Mini-Europe' in a spare room in my apartment, a model of various urban, rural, alpine, and industrial sections of Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, historical and more recent. They were all linked by rail and trolley, and also by road and water and by an international airport. When I relocated back to New York, Mini-Europe went on display in various public locations.


My Brooklyn apartment has no spare room, but it does have a reasonably sized living room. The layout I built, taking up almost all the space, is called 'Mini-Gotham.' ('Gotham' is synonymous with 'New York,' but also alludes to the Gotham City of Batman, and the many Bat-vehicles on the layout.) Most of the 30 structures – and all the major ones, including the seven skyscrapers and high-rises – were built entirely from scratch, with a technique I developed using plexiglass with acrylic surfacing and plastic and wood trimming. The era I depicted is from around the mid-1920s through the 1950s, predominantly in the art-deco style. The various sections and levels are linked by trains and trolleys running on trestles, on surface level lines, and in the subway. (To learn more, you can go to the website mini-gotham.com)


Mini-Gotham having been more or less completed, I wished to film a tour of to post on YouTube. It occurred to me that I might attract more viewers by combining my tour with an adventure with pets Timmy the cat and Ciske the rat. In the course of several months of intensive filming, I shot some 20 hours of video, which I edited (with the invaluable help of a tech-savvy friend) to a narrative of just under a half hour.


For several months after my posting the video "Feline King Kong Attacks New York," the number of daily views was usually in the dozens. Then there came a spurt into the hundreds, occasionally topping 1,000. There followed a relative lull for a year and a half or so before an incredible momentum began to develop. Daily views numbered in the thousands, on a few occasions topping 10,000, and on one fine day 15,000.  This went on, with all sorts of fluctuations for over two years, pushing the cumulative total to over 4,000,000, after which the daily count dropped down to a few hundred.


The viewers are from almost every country in the world.  As might be expected, the US is in first place at about three out of every ten views. But many of the others on the top ten list are surprising: Mexico in second place, followed by Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, UK, Philippines, Thailand, Canada, Vietnam.


The causes for the wildly swinging chart of the number of viewers are a mystery to me. No doubt, some authors have had analogous experiences when the sales of their novel suddenly take off.


Let me conclude with a note to other would-be directors of videos with animals. Cats and rats are both intelligent and clever. Rat Ciske was easy to work with. You showed him what you wanted him to do, and he did it. But cat Timmy in an uncooperative mood had to be cajoled and bribed with treats and catnip to do anything – as temperamental to work with a Marlon Brando!