Monthly Archives: September 2004

Barking Pink General

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Snapped this fresh piece of street art pasted on a vertical I-beam on Spring Street near the southwest corner of Lafayette St., right where SoHo begins to morph into NoLIta. So, let’s deconstruct a bit, shall we? Here we’ve got a disembodied head of a middle-aged man wearing an army helmet. He’s a commander barking an order. The man resembles the infamous General Patton, who was one of the great military architects of Allied victory in World War II. He was one tough mofo, a serious alpha-male raised by the a club of ultra alpha-males. What makes this street graphic much more visually arresting is it’s color, pink, which is often thought of as feminine, sweet, cute, delicate and pretty–in other words, everything that a four-star general isn’t. So, to get back to semiotic the deconstruction … the pink color, in effect, symbolically emasculates a violent, male authority figure, while simultaneously forcing the viewer to extend the connotations of pink to include the potent imagery of martial aggression. (Yeah, whateva!)

Typhoon Photo

Chinatown Graf

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Walking towards SoHo along Grand Street through Chinatown, we spotted this piece of graf about a block or so west of ever-shrinking Little Italy and Mulberry Street. “Suicide Bomber” is an ominous enough tag, but one that in New York City, before 9/11, would have been written off as just another hardcore-sounding, hyperbolic moniker by just another tagger vying for attention in the cluttered streetscape. Given the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the tag’s location in lower Manhattan, however, the tag and its fresh, clean, assertive lines evoke a more powerful reaction, reminding passersby with unambiguous clarity of the tremendous death, destruction and terrorism that occured literally only blocks away.

Typhoon Photo

End of Summer Days

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On West 4th Street in the West Village in an old and cozy 19th century shop space is “Snip and Sip,” a barber shop that doubles as a bar with a display window that’s like a diorama of summers long past. The scene comes across as a snapshot of beach glamour straight out of Cosmopolitan magazine circa 1966. A fashion-model thin mannequin lounges in beach chair, sand beneath her feet and paperback novel, smokes and Tab diet cola all within easy reach. The pile of Tab cola cans adds a comic touch of absurdity to the scene. As store front displays go in New York City (or anywhere), this is priceless.

Typhoon Photo

Freedom Tower at Ground Zero

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Imagining the future. A scale architectural model of lower Manhattan that features the Freedom Tower and surrounding buildings as envisioned by Daniel Libeskind to replace the former World Trade Center. This model can be seen at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village, in New York City.

Typhoon Photo

Pray for Pills + Genghis

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The stencil is the massage. Here’s another one of those stenciled catchphrases you see around lower Manhattan. These slogans are sometimes ironic plays on words, tweaks of well-worn idioms, and sometimes stabs at political commentary. “Pray for Pills” is one of the more ominous and darkly comic turns at street-art as anonymous propaganda. We have absolutely no idea who the artist behind these stencil messages is. (Anybody know? Drop us a line). This example is comfortably spray-painted onto a wall near where another Genghis plaque has been put up, this time with an orange background. To see another example of the Genghis street-art series click here.

Typhoon Photo

125th Street, Harlem

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Returning to Manhattan from upstate New York, we snapped this shot from a Hudson River Line train looking west over 125th Street. The thoroughfare is the main cross-town artery running through Harlem. It was a cool and quiet Sunday of a long holiday weekend, but that didn’t stop the ad hoc sidewalk flea market from massing on the south side of the street. (You can see a few vendors with their blankets laid out on the path in the lower-left of the image.)

Ivan Corsa Photo