Subway Ad Reviews: An Introduction

January 2, 2011

The thing about trying to write weird blog posts or the Great American Novel on the subway is that you mainly just write about the subway itself, all of the time, and then people who don’t ride the train are confused and hate it. This is an issue since those people tend to be the ones who would be flush enough to give Scroogian Bankloads of money to a sporadically updated blog whose creators don’t understand what an RSS feed is and mainly think about reification and mid-90s wrestling (Except Bloomberg. Bloomberg rides the subway. Help us Bloomberg.) Without this much needed financial bolstering, Carrinario and I have little hope of ever becoming lit-famous, leaving our jobs, and fulfilling our shared lifelong dream of writing a sequel to Escape from New York called Escape to the Moon while Kurt Russell still deigns to tread on our mortal plane instead of ascending to his rightful spot at the head of Valhalla.  Therefore, hoping to exorcize some small fraction of my extreme reservoirs of pent up MTA analysis and free up the remainder of my creative imaginings for hypotheticalizing my post-Pullitzer interviews on late-night-talk shows, I plan to supplement our already prolific output with a once-weekly review of subway advertisement.

“Why?” the imaginary literary construct who stuck around through graph one asks. Well mixture of hiding-in-meteor-monster Princess Leia, Cat Power, and Emily Bronte, let me tell you. There are many aspects of the subway that I capital-L Love to complain about: the rats who have learned how to ride in the cars to get to the more culinarily lucrative express stops, the strange man who covered his eyes when he coughed, the girl who I thought was hitting on me but turned out to be a proselytizing Mormon (Mitt Romney style, not Big Love), the delays, the uncanny ability of unlimited cards to expire as a local train pulls into the station with a perfectly aligned express transfer trundling along merrily next to it as if they were having a Thomas the Tank Engine style conversation, that jerk with the lobster guitar at Union Square who attracts hundreds of stairway-blocking rubes, the train conductor with a Scottish accent on the R Train who I’m pretty sure is putting it on as some sort of elaborate improv show, the 3:00-4:00 P.M. zone when kids get out of school and destroy any faint hope of a cordon sanitaire, the always harrowing question of why a whole bench is empty when the rest of the train car is packed (Urine? Dead guy just removed? Saran gas umbrella?), the conductors who refuse to gossip about what happened to the sick passenger on the next train, needing to dress up to get on the L, the candy-sellers who say “I am not doing this for a basketball team, I’m doing this for me” in a way that is so pre-scripted that I invariably get visions of the Artful Dodger, the way the buskers get mashed up with the hired music at Penn Station to form an ungodly combination of Bon Jovi covers and vibrating saw, all of that horrific mélange seems like an almost obligatory part of the process, as inevitable as death, taxes, and Ron Paul (who defies death and taxes (I stole that joke from myself. SUCH GOLD DOES NOT COME ALONG EVERY DAY)).

But oh the ads, those horrible ads. People are literally paid more money to design those posters than a snail researcher can make in a lifetime of mucus examination and yet they’re ghastlier than the Akroydian proposition of a Ghostbusters remake. Intense research (ok, a 30 second googling) suggests that these atrocities have been largely ignored by the too-cowed-into-submission-to- speak populace, but their time in the shadows has ended. That’s right, I plan to thoroughly fisk the advertisements that displease me, to go out in the morning and come home at night with digital camera in hand, to brazenly carry out what I hazard to say will be the seminal reading experience of your 2011, to procrastinate applying to graduate school by working on a blog whose majority of hits last year stemmed from Carrinario’s misspelling of P.T. Barnum.  The subway poster review series is coming, and it won’t stop until the ads do (or until someone steals my camera.) I’d write more now but I have to get from Brooklyn to the Upper West side and have to spent 30 minutes planning out the best subway route. See you next week!


One Response to “Subway Ad Reviews: An Introduction”

  1. linda said

    I’m looking forward to this series. Those heinous NYTimes ads have got to be some of the worst:
    Can someone please explain the underlined and baseline-shifted “WE” and “JUST”, and the diagonal NYTimes stamp??? I have never been that fervently disappointed.

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