Thursday, July 31, 2008

#4: A Genetic Urge

George Mallory was a mountaineer who died in 1924, while trying to reach the top of Mount Everest.  He's famous for an answer he gave to a reporter after being asked "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?".  He said, "Because it's there".

So think about it.  If you had a Sharpie or any ol' pen in your pocket and you came across one of these smiles, could you resist not interacting with it?  Even if it is some cool, famous ball player that you might admire and respect, ...I mean, the guy is just giving you that big smile...  how can you resist the temptation!!??

And then the next important question:  Why is it funny?  What exactly is this reaction us humans have, laughter, what the hell is that??  What is the origin of such a primal, uncontrollable reaction our body has to a simple silly thing like this?  To me, that question is right up there with the meaning of love and life.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

#3: Why Me!!???

I knew I had another chewing gum shot I wanted to add to that previous post.  Here it is.  This poor girl got ripped in her posters.  She's an anchor of a morning news show.  Which brings up the topic of who gets defaced and who doesn't.  

Once you start paying attention to one thing in your surroundings, you quickly begin to see patterns.  

I learned that some celebrities NEVER get their posters messed with.  I studied the phenomenon and came to realize that the cooler the celeb is, the more "street cred" the person has, the lesser the chances of getting their face altered in a NYC subway poster.  People like sport athletes, especially NBA and NFL players, can have a poster for a month, promoting shoes or TV shows, and not a single scratch on them.  Instead, a morning news anchor with a cheesy poster saying "I'm jolly and fun, so please watch my show", will definitely ALWAYS get plastered with this kind of art.  And there are other patterns or reasons for who gets it and who doesn't.  

So there is some social comment here.  It's not just simple goofiness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

#2: Tools of the Trade

It's not just mustaches and black teeth.  A Sharpie is not the only tool they wield.  These used chewing gum.  I love the color on the yellow one! 

These pieces are particularly short lived because the maintenance crews that clean the stations take them down as soon as they see them, so you have to be lucky to find one.  The one with the kiss, for example, was taken down the same night it appeared, but the 'artist' redid it the next day.

Actually, I haven't seen any with gum in about a year.  Oh yes, there are fashions and trends that appear in this joy of defacing as you will see...

Monday, July 21, 2008

#1: Birth

My First Blog!  

One of the great things about riding the New York subway is coming across these ad posters that have been altered by who knows who to make them funny.  Of course, this is a "criminal" act, defacing public property... but it's FUNNY!!!  I've always been fascinated by these things in human culture that naturally make people laugh.  Like a fart.  A fart always makes people laugh.  The proverbial banana peel slip, that's always funny.  Painting a mustache and a black tooth on a picture of someones face, that's funny!  

After my first year in New York, I realized I had become a fan of these creatively defaced images.  I looked forward to passing by this or that train station to see that one face in that poster with a black tooth I had seen the other day.  And I was always saddened to find that a favorite one had been taken down, replaced by the next poster promoting the next boring product.  I soon became aware that somebody had to keep some kind of record of this ephemeral street art.  Since I always carry my digital point-and-shoot with me wherever I go, one day I said "fuck it, that someone's gonna be me".  

A few weeks ago, I told a friend about my odd collection of photos and I mentioned that I wanted to do something with them at some point, but I wasn't sure what.  She said, "make a blog".  And light came out of my body like Amelie when she had an epiphany.

So here it is.   Again, it's my first blog, so forgive the initial mistakes while I figure things out.  I probably won't be writing that much.  This is more about the pictures themselves.  

The posters might date the moment they were captured, specially when the one getting the curly mustache is a celebrity in a movie poster.  I began collecting these in the spring of 2006.