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April 6, 2005

“Advertecture,” or perhaps “architizing.” If you were wondering how the gigantic ad currently blemishing the building we work in could possibly be legal, evidently it isn’t.

(For the curious: My office is seven windows to the left of “$49.90.”) [04:02 PM]

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Comments on "Advertecture," or perhaps "architizing.":

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:57 PM:

Only a difference of scale from Sir Arthur C. Clarke's story about spraypainting a full-hemisphere Coca-Cola logo on the Moon. Except the UN Space Treaty would be toothless after the fact... and no wind problems.

PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:00 PM:

UGH. How did they get permission to go ahead with that?

(The funny thing is, that I liked the similar banners they had up on the buildings of SLC during the Winter Olympics--but those buildings have no historic significance and no real architectural style. Plus...they weren't advertising blazers for 49.99.)

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Wasn't that Heinlein? The Man Who Sold The Moon?

PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:03 PM:

JVP: That reminds me of the Tick issue where Chairface Chippendale tries to write his name on the moon, and the Tick stops him halfway through. (The whole rest of the series, whenever you see the moon, it's got a C-H-A.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:06 PM:

"How did they get permission to go ahead with that?"

What building management was telling the media as of a week ago was that it's legal while the building is under renovation and has scaffolding up anyway. It would appear that the city holds a different view.

Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:10 PM:

Saints be praised. Now can we burn it?

Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:26 PM:

"the city holds a different view."

I hope that was an unintentional pun.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 06:04 PM:

They forgot violation #10: "Use of model, who, as depicted, bears disturbing resemblance to Michael Jackson."

Meredith Tarr ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 06:42 PM:

That reminds me of the Tick issue where Chairface Chippendale tries to write his name on the moon, and the Tick stops him halfway through.

My god, I was just thinking the exact same thing!!!

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 07:46 PM:

You beat me too it David.

Man, is that tacky.

It's like your HMO painting its logo and website URL and phone number on your leg cast.

Or your dog coming home from getting fixed wearing a cone-collar advertising NutraFeed Gold.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 07:47 PM:

Xopher: JvP is mostly correct. The logo was not spray-painted on the moon but sprayed upward from the moon -- the idea was to make a (sodium?) vapor cloud big enough to be easily seen, but some well-paid joker slipped a stencil into the nozzle. I recall a con involving diamonds in tMWStM but no advertising.

The bit about hazardous wind loads is alarming; I've \seen/ a scaffold much less tall than this one get blown down because a gust caught the covering. It was an impressive sight, but if it had happened when the area was more trafficked (instead of at 11:50am Sunday morning -- this was before Massachusetts dropped its blue laws) people would have been hurt and possibly killed.

janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 07:57 PM:

When we came in last Friday and saw that huge sign obscuring the building, Heidi commented about how atrocious it was. She suggests #10 is: "Besides, it's butt ugly." I agree.


julia ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 08:23 PM:


Does she look like a heroin-crazed racoon if you see it from the street or is it just the picture?

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 09:25 PM:

As Scraps de Selby might point out, if he were lurking here, the National Space Program dispatched The Tick to the Moon (in Season 2, Episode 15), to clean up Chairface Chippendale's mess. The "C" was successfully blown up, but the Tick was distracted by an encounter with Omnipitus, Eater of Worlds. In subsequent episodes of the Tick, the moon looked like this.

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 10:03 PM:

Japan Announces Manned Moon Flight by 2025
By Kenji Hall
Associated Press
posted: 06 April 2005 12:20 pm ET

But they aren't saying what ads they'll post there. I guess that's okay of Bill Murray's in the video.

Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 10:33 PM:

We have a similar building, the Western Auto Building, it's only 11 stories high (or so, I just looked at an Internet photo and counted). You obviously don't have winds like we do here in Kansas City, that thang would be ripped of the building and possibly anything it was attached to might be too. In the spring we are subject to some fairly violent weather, in relatively minor storms, 50-60 mph gusts are not that uncommon. AS you may guess, even fabric-covered billboards (one of the newer, easier technology billboards) are tucked in very well on their boards, the thing on the Flatiron looks like it has lots of nice loose edges to catch a gust...

claire ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 11:32 PM:

Oh Lord. Now I have to look at the building tomorrow!

--Claire (who comes up from the subway and doesn't look from wayyyy across the street to go into the Flatiron Building)

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 03:52 AM:

It's not only ugly, it's dangerous...but <archisnooty>I'd call it surface decoration rather than spatial design</archisnooty>

Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:56 AM:

When I went to look at the picture, Gooooooogle filled in a little sideline ad for "Storage sheds in Ireland", which obliged me to read the article accompanying the photo to find out what sheds have to do with anything (I am in Ireland, which explains that bit).

I'm guessing that "shed" has a technical definition to do with scaffolding, but sticking "define: shed" into Google didn't come up with it.

Searching on "scaffolding shed" threw up an article talking about "sidewalk sheds", and googling that gave an article, quote:

It is becoming the signature profile for much of the city: not the grand Deco kitsch of the Chrysler building or the telltale green canvas of Starbucks creep, but the unlovely clump of plywood and metal tubing known in the trade as the sidewalk shed or bridge.

That's from the New York Times, and all such references seem to be USian, at first glance. I wonder is uk.rec.sheds know more [googling]

Apparently not. Must be USian only. Interesting.

Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 09:05 AM:

The moon is small scale.

In the Red Dwarf books, the Cola wars escalated to the point that one of the sides (I believe it was, again, Coke) sent out a fleet of ships with bombs capable of inducing supernovae in stars at a pre-established distance from the earth, so that they formed "DRINK COCA-COLA" in the night sky in letters that could be seen even in the daylight.

The Flatiron ad, though, is almost as tacky. Bleh.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 11:32 AM:

Random thoughts:

1) It was interesting to see the photo, since from my usual walking paths to/from work, you can't get that sort of view, just a distorted glimpse of the lower part of the ad.

2) My office, for those who care, is on the other side of the building.

3) I'm still wondering how the window air conditioners got past the Landmarks Commission (probably because they are technically temporary, but still).

4) Not only do I have to deal with the scaffolding/sidewalk shed at work, there's one around my apartment building too, we're having facade work done. When they put it up, they didn't bother to block off any of the building's exits, so my daughter and I walked out into the middle of the work crew and a large pile of metal support rods.

5) I want that ad gone!

Deborah Roggie ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 02:11 PM:

In David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, in the corporate-run future, ads were projected on the moon and other (closer) natural landmarks.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 02:56 PM:

CHip, in "The Man Who Sold the Moon", DD Harriman tricks the "Moka-Coka" company into contributing money to his moon launch efforts by bringing up the possibility that their rivals might put an ad in carbon black up on the moon advertising rival soft drink "6+".

Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 03:13 PM:

(For the curious: My office is seven windows to the left of $49.90.)

This means that Tom's window looks out through the model's bellybutton, more or less. How does he like that?

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 04:19 PM:

Ahoy! It's the Crimson Permanent Assurance!

Break out the muskets, me hearties!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 04:25 PM:

Madeleine, I'm pretty sure he's unthrilled. The ad is semi-transparent from the inside, but only semi; it definitely obscures the quality of that great view.

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:25 PM:

Perhaps if it's judged legal after all, Tor can buy the ad space for Robert Jordan...

Or better yet, with inside access, it begs for guerrilla billboard action...

Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:34 PM:

Interesting how many people come up with literary references. I'll put mine in as well and see who recognizes it:

At least the ad doesn't say "Use Snivly's Soap."

(Tom W., I know you get it; no need to reply.)

Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:53 PM:

Niall, those "sheds" are tantamount to putting a rock atop your houseplants. After a while--and these things sometimes stay up for a year or more--anything insufficiently hardy that's beneath it dies. A Starbucks will do okay, because it has a steady flow of customers who already know it's there. But a small storefront shop or restaurant, anything that needs potential customers to notice it in order to bring 'em in, may find itself really hurting before long. Furthermore, the space beneath the sheds tends to decay, collecting windblown trash and the detritus of semipermanent homeless encampments, plus puddles of urine in the darker corners. They're charming.

My partner has a theory that NYC has signed an infernal contract with some union or another that mandates a certain linear footage of scaffolding sheds on its streets at any given time. As soon as one comes down, another one tends to go up not far away.

Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Debbie, I might mind less if it said "You Need a Thneed."

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 07:08 PM:

Avram: !@#$%^&*! I'd forgotten the scene in which Harriman walks into to the Moka chief's office and pins on a suitably-sized "6+" button to demonstrate that just ]painting[ the moon would make a legible logo; fortunately nobody carries through. I last read that so long ago that I didn't even realize at the time what brands RAH was taking off on.

Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 12:22 AM:

I didn't imagine Tom would be thrilled. Perhaps bemused, but not at the cost of that view up 5th Avenue.

Hope they rip the damned thing down ASAP. It's pretty much the definition of Eyesore.

Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 02:19 AM:

Painting the moon. Jack Vance, in "The Face" (fourth of the Demon Princes series) has his villain engrave a great pattern on the single large moon of a planet on which a man lives who has grossly insulted him. The pattern is the villain's own face in caricature, so that the revenge would consist of his enemy forever having his ugly mug leering over his garden wall.

The Demon Princes become progressively more human as the series goes on. IMHO, they're all good, but the last two are great.

Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:32 AM:
Perhaps if it's judged legal after all, Tor can buy the ad space for Robert Jordan...
Robert, you're an evil man. I mean...regardless of whether they got DKS or (less likely, but added for horrifying effect) Todd Hamilton to do the ad, it's certain to be a hideous assault upon the senses of New York the likes of which they haven't experienced since...well, I guess it is New York... ;)
alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:49 AM:

Y'know, the possibilites for ad-hacking are just too tempting here. You've got access...the only question becomes one of aim. If you just want the ad down, cutting a hole in the fly and poking something through would get it down in a hurry.

Anyone have an old Guiliani campaign banner?

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 10:39 AM:

get it down in a hurry.

Shall I? No, I think I'd better not.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 12:12 PM:

Cripes, Dave, you should really put spoiler warnings on posts like that. What You Describe is supposed to be a surprise.

Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Any guerilla advertising exploiting this opportunity should be in a foreign language and script.

Chinese might be good.

Possibly with a logo that almost looks like some well-known American branding.

What's the Mandarin for "All your General Motors belong to us"?

Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2005, 11:37 AM:

Here's some flatiron building trivia:

The building appears on the frontispiece of the book "Is Sex Necessary?" by James Thurber. A Thurberesque quip on the caption (which I can't find right now) made this non sequitur funny.

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Erik Nelson:

There seem to several different editions of the book, including a 75th anniversary edition (Harper Collins?). I can't find the cover you refer to, but thanks for the reminder of a delightful parody of Pop Psych books as a genre.

"The sexual revolution began with Man's discovery that he was not attractive to Woman, as such. The lion had his mane, the peacock his gorgeous plumage, but Man found himself in a three-button sack suit. His masculine appearance not only failed to excite Woman, but in many cases it only served to bore her. The result was that man found it necessary to develop attractive personal traits to offset his dull appearance. He learned to say funny things. He learned to smoke, and blow smoke rings. He learned to earn money. This would have been a solution to his difficulty, but in the course of making himself attractive to Woman by developing himself mentally, he inadvertently became so intelligent an animal that he saw how comical the whole situation was."
[IS SEX NECESSARY? Or Why You Feel the Way You Do,
James Thurber and E. B. White, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1929]

Anyone have the edition with (to coin a term) the Flatirony?

Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2005, 11:23 PM:

Or the Prince Myshkins' Nothing on the Moon.

"And now that the fog is not allowed,
They're picketing the cloud
And sueing the monsoon,
Somehow the good visibility
Allows us all to see
The slogans on the moon..."

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 06:01 PM:

Banners on Buildings, Redux, Dept:

On today's slashdot.com, which has hundreds of nerdy comments:

Caltech students ventured to Massachusetts this past Wednesday to unleash a series of pranks at MIT's prefrosh weekend. They distributed shirts with MIT on the front and '...because not everyone can go to Caltech' on the back. They placed inflatable palm trees in the infamous Tomb of the Unknown Tool and around the great dome and floated Caltech balloons in building seven. A banner transformed Massachusetts Institute of Technology into That Other Institute of Technology. Saturday night a LASER spelling the letters C-A-L-T-E-C-H was directed at the top of the Green building. A full account of the pranks is located at www.caltechvsmit.com.

NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 07:13 PM:

Belay that, Jon H, 'tis no mere assurance company. Look at the bluff bow, the fine lines of her, she can only be the swiftest building in the whole of New York: the Flat Iron.

Say your prayers, if you got any, and charge your staplers, for we'll never outrun her....

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 11:17 PM:

Actually, Paula, the winds do get pretty fierce in Manhattan. Which is why they really need to get that thing down before someone gets hurt.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 01:14 AM:

More seriously, that damn banner and enough wind might just pull of parts of the building, depending on the wind and how it's attached.

...so does Tor start work on its own corporate HQ? :-)

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 07:32 PM:

And will it have a zeppelin mast?

Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 08:13 AM:

If only we had a city governmwent that would ban those things from buildings here in Amsterdam. Apple seems to be the worst offender so far, draping a gigantic ipod ad over the front of monumental buildings on Radhuistraat.


m_ortal ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 09:18 AM:

As for posting ads on the moon, the Chinese and Mexican (and other) cultures have seen a rabbit (instead of a man's face) in the full moon for centuries. [Do not read the following description unless you want your future viewings of full moons forever altered. Stop Now!] In looking for the rabbit, I found that it is the Energizer Bunny, which I described on my radio show. It is marching slightly uphill to your left. The ears are at 1:00 and 2:00 O'clock. The drum is at about 9:00, and the fluffy tail is at approx. 4:00 or 5:00. Now try getting this image out of your head. I warned you.

Mike G ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Okay, I give up, what rhymes with "bolts drink"?

Kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 01:36 PM:

hee hee - the answer is - Who is Tor's Parent company?