Brand Management. Or not.

April 3, 2012

This logo for the New York City Transit Authority was only in use from 1962-1968, yet it still adorns the side of a building in South Brooklyn.

old TA logo

Brand management this is not. Brand oversight is more appropriate. Maybe it’s just a matter of expense, but still…44 years? I think they could have saved up the money to change or at least remove it. Perhaps they don’t even own the building anymore.

Found Art #5

July 13, 2011

Uptown his stairway

One of the best aspects of graffiti is when it interacts with (and/or comments on) its environment. For the record, I did not find a “hers” stairway. 14th Street L platform, New York.

One down…

April 6, 2011

Apparently, New York City is losing the war against…rats. With budget cuts on the horizon, officials are worried that the rats will gain the upper hand.

At least the city managed to get this one. I found it in Red Hook two weeks ago. Of course, it could have died of old age. How would I know?

NYC Resident

As an aside, Archie (luckily) took no interest in the rat.

UPDATE: No sooner had I posted this than I had another personal encounter with a rat. On my way home, I was standing on the subway platform when a girl screamed and lo and behold a large rat ran down the length of the platform as people jumped out of the way. Now, I’ve seen rats on the tracks before, but never on the platform itself. It brings to mind this video of a rat riding the rails — inside a subway car. Might be time to start carrying a sharp stick on the subway.






A Tale of Two Cities

September 23, 2010

One of the earliest forms of graphic design in my mind is cartography. An elegant production of visual communication that has been refining itself since the dawn of man. Yeah, I like maps.

This past spring here in New York City, the MTA unveiled a new subway map, the first update of the map since 1998. And while the map has been reviewed in the press, as a designer, map lover and most importantly as a rider, I wanted to give my thoughts.

Old NYC Subway Map

The old subway map suffered from an overwhelming amount of information some of which was really unnecessary for most riders. For example, the bus information always was an annoyance to me. It’s always just served as clutter the map.

New NYC Subway Map

One striking thing about the new map is the decision to reduce the size of Staten Island in relation to the other boroughs. This allows the other boroughs — where most of the trains (and people) are — to be enlarged. Apparently, there was some uproar about this decision, but personally, I’m fine with it. Guess what? I’ve lived here six years and never met anyone from Staten Island. All the other boroughs? Yep, lots of people, lots of times. In fact, I’ve never even been out to Staten Island. Maybe someday I’ll go, but I’ll probably take the ferry. Reducing it’s prominence on the map — even if the geographic proportions are not accurate — is a good design decision.

A large portion of the distracting bus route information has also been removed which I whole-heartedly approve of. It allows the map to focus on it’s main goal — the subway system.

One thing I don’t like about the new map is the color change for the parks. They’re no longer a true green and are much more subtle than in the previous map. The colors of the parks and the surrounding city are so similar as to make the parks almost unnoticeable. While I like maps, I also like parks and since many of the viewers of this map are tourists, I would think the city would want to highlight the green spaces.

Update: I’ve noticed that the version of the new map that actually is posted in subway cars contains even less of the pop out bus information boxes making for a cleaner (and clearer) presentation.

Lone Turkey Escapes Holiday Slaughter

November 25, 2009

Uses NYC Subway to Make Getaway

Turkey on Subway

Unfortunately, he was heading uptown on the Q line which dead-ends at 57th street. He’ll have to ride the entire length of the line back in the other direction to get out to the beach at Coney Island.


April 10, 2009

Long before the recent (relatively) peanut salmonella scare, I was having my own battle with the National Peanut Board.

My dilemma started, as is often the case, on the subway. The Board was heavily advertising on the subway and as I love peanuts, I finally broke down and said, “damn, I’ve got to get me some peanuts.” Not just any peanuts though. I’m picky. I prefer peanuts in the shell — and here’s the key — salted. Now in my experience, this isn’t a big deal. In cities across this great peanut-loving nation, salted peanuts in the shell are easily purchased in a big bag at a supermarket. And since I now live in New York City — where a person can get just about anything under the sun (and delivered at that) — I went down to my local market. 

But alas, it seems that it’s nearly impossible to get a salted, in-shell peanut in NYC. The market had tons of big bags of peanuts in the shell — but all of them unsalted. (It’s like comparing a cucumber to a pickle. I’ve never bought a cucumber, but I eat pickles all the time.) Sure, I could have created a brine, soaked the peanuts and then dried them, but I didn’t have the time, the money or more importantly the will. I wanted salted peanuts in the shell and I wanted them now! 

This inevitably led me on an all points multiple store search which turned up but a single tiny bag at a local bodega containing about 4 peanuts — and costing about $4.00. Hungry and angry, I turned to the internet for salvation. Perhaps there was a giant peanut processing warehouse somewhere in the city where I could roll around in a massive pile of salted in-shell peanuts.?

Shockingly, no. The only places in the city that had peanuts were specialty stores featuring gift baskets — and no salted, in-shell peanuts. None. Nada. Zip.

This led me to seek out the Peanut Board because if I wasn’t going to be able to get any peanuts, I wanted them to stop advertising the damn things. It’s just cruel. (I did feel some solidarity with the poor folks in third world countries who are constantly blasted with the advertising of things they can’t get, let alone afford.)

So I emailed the Peanut Board (via their website) saying just that — either stop advertising (and making me hungry) or encourage vendors to start supplying the NYC area with salted in-shell peanuts. We’re here, we’re hungry and we’ve got money. Why not start selling the damn things?

Not surprisingly, I received no response from the peanut board. It did seem that the ads on the subway lessened but that may have just been the expiration of the ad contract versus any action instigated by my email. Nor did market shelves suddenly swell with bags of salted peanuts. Sigh.

And then along comes news that the processing of peanuts has been tainted with salmonella. So what does the peanut board do? Come out with a new round of advertising touting the health benefits of peanuts of course. I still can’t get a damn salted peanut in the shell and to top it off every time I buy any product with peanuts in it, I take a minute to ask myself if I’m prepared for a bout of potentially lethal food poisoning. 

(As a side note, I should let you know that my wife, upon hearing of my dilemma and my email to the peanut board, is convinced that I’m guaranteed to become the grumpiest curmudgeon ever.)

Just writing this post has given me a craving. Please send me peanuts. Salted. In the shell.