Department of Inaccurate Iconography


The city carefully regulates advertising signage in public places, but finds ways to controvene its own rules. It has recently installed banners in various tourist-oriented neighbor-hoods flogging its lifestyle website, Apparently, these flop-in-the-wind banners are intended to be less permanent looking and hence less annoying than more substantial signage. Unfortunately, the art is tasteless and the color combinations cloying, as if a mediocre and colorblind Op-Art proponent leftover from the 60s had been recruited to do the art.

The website is the same way, a burst of incongrous color and jarring shapes seemingly vomited onto the web page, though some very decent writers have been tapped to produce the text. Still, one piece on Hell's Kitchen begins, "No longer a no-go zone, a West Side neighborhood teems with bustling eateries, open-minded foodies and a vibrant nightlife." "No-go zone?" "Open-minded foodies?" Remember, this is your government talking.

What got me started on this rant was a banner that I keep seeing, featuring a hot dog. I suppose it's intended to attract foodie tourists to the website. But where did that hot dog come from? It's clearly not the slender, natural-skin weenie for which New York is famous, from its cart-vended "dirty water dogs," to the esteemed products of Nathan's and Katz's.

No, the picture on the banner is clearly a bulbous, fake-skinned ballpark-type frank, the kind that is eaten in the rest of the country. Moreover, the frank is smeared with mustard and ketchup. No sauerkraut. No sauteed onions. It's as if the artist had never seen a New York frank. I won't even go into the artistic qualities of the banner. Actually--yes, I will. This thing is an eyesore, with jarring colors and annoying graphics. And was a ballpark frank the most iconic New York food image they could come up with? 

And to any real foodie, visitor or denizen, the banner screams -- Don't eat here!


The banner in context, screaming "Don't dare eat here, the food sucks!"

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