Monthly Archives: May 2004

Cookiepuss … Claw

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This spray-painted claw by the graf writer “Claw” is a familiar graffiti icon of downtown New York, though it’s not nearly as widespread as some others. Sometimes the claw is blue-white, sometimes red-white or some other color and white. Usually a word is written over the claw. In this photo, taken on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, the claw reads “cookie.” The word is fitting and reveals the tagger’s sense of humor when you consider that the graffiti was written below a bakery shop window in which cookies and other sweets are displayed. The way the three-digit claw is rendered gives it the look of a cat’s paw in an old Tom and Jerry cartoon. (BTW, it is an animation tradition–with a few exceptions–to draw a character’s hands, paws or whatever with only three digits and an opposable thumb–check out Homer’s hands next time you watch The Simpsons.) Note the Yellow Rat Bastard promo sticker in the lower left corner.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Lucky Newstand

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Lucky. Really? You wouldn’t think so by the condition of this newsstand’s sign. But maybe we’re just judging a book by its cover. It’s what’s on the inside that counts–newspapers, magazines, Lotto tickets and Snickers bars. Not only may we be looking at the “lucky” newsstand, we may be looking at the “luckiest” on Earth. Now that’s something, isn’t it? Does that mean buying a Lotto ticket here improves one’s odds of winning? Lucky Newsstand was closed when we snapped this photo while walking north on Bowery in Chinatown. Needless to say, the kiosk can use a bit of polish and maybe even a makeover. And what’s with that font used on the sign? Or, rather, what is that font? On weekdays, Lucky Newsstand bustles with swift, “lucky” business, but on a late Sunday afternoon, it seems unlucky.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Wild Style in Billyburg

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The Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg (sometimes called “Billyburg” by local hipsters) is not a part of the borough generally known for lots of graffiti. But the ‘hood, like SoHo three decades ago, has become a well-established colony for artists, who settled in Williamsburg throughout the 1990’s and into the ’00’s. They were attracted to the area by relatively low rents and big spaces. With artists, naturally, came art. Some of it has spilled onto the streets like this first-rate example of a retro Wild Style-esque graffiti tag painted over a mural we found just off Union Ave. Notice how the tag has been dedicated “For Natkoa and Joce” and dated “’98.”

Ivan Corsa Photo

Resistance is Futile

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Ever read that book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell? It explains how evolving, collective social preferences build up a nascent trend to that moment–the tipping point–when it reaches critical mass, goes super nova and becomes unavoidably visible, like trucker hats a couple of years ago or Starbucks in the 1990’s. When this detour sign was originally (and overwhelmingly) “sticker bombed,” the New York City Dept. of Transportation took a clever and easy way out: They simply covered up the old sign with a new sign. Problem solved … or so they thought. Like on the sign underneath, a few stickers appeared gradually on the new sign, then in a sudden burst the orange board got bombed like crazy. Message to the NYC DOT? Resistance is futile. By the way, the detour sign stood at the intersection of Houston and Allen streets in Manhattan. It has since been taken down.

Ivan Corsa Photo

Boss, Da Plane! Da Plane!

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We found this piece of street art on the side of a tenement building in Little Italy, in New York City. The oddly-shaped poster features a black-and-white rendering of an American television icon, the late French actor Hervé Villechaize. The actor was a short person who endeared himself to millions of viewers of the television series Fantasy Island, which ran on the ABC television network from 1978 to 1984. On the program, Villechaize played the role of Tattoo, the trusty, French-accented sidekick to actor Ricardo Montalban’s vaguely aristocratic Mr. Roarke. Together they presided over an island called Fantasy. Each week a steady stream of visitors would arrive by seaplane at the tropical island paradise. At the beginning of every episode, Tattoo would announce the arrival of the seaplane from a bell tower, shouting, “Da plane! Da plane!”

Ivan Corsa Photo

iPod Overkill

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Found this blitzkrieg of ad bills for Apple’s popular portable MP3 music player, the iPod. These ads are everywhere in New York City and especially in the downtown hipster neighborhoods. But here on cobblestoned Broome St., between Chrystie and the Bowery in Chinatown, we came across this massive number of posters for the iPod. These ads change all the time. Usually this wall is covered with a mix of bills promoting a dozen or so products and events instead of a single brand.

Ivan Corsa Photo