Yorkville Vs. Greenpoint = No Contest

My mother came to visit about three months ago. After one of our shopping jaunts in Manhattan, I took her to where my husband works: Rockefeller University.

Before I continue, I want to point out that there is a certain irony to be found by my (our) living in Greenpoint and my husband (the primary solitary breadwinner) working at Rockefeller University. John D. Rockefeller I is, after all, the reason there is a rather large oil spill under my community. Thankfully, we live in the more industrialized (READ: less desirable) part of the neighborhood. This area happens to be bereft of underground oil, the ‘nicer’ areas are the ones affected. (All our ‘pollution’ is above ground, if you know what I mean.) Nonetheless, my husband and I live off the largesse of Mr. Rockefeller. Life is funny that way.

I had mentioned to my mother that Yorkville is a pretty reasonable place to live (rent-wise) and she got very jazzed when she saw how nice the area is. This was when she asked (the inevitable question): would you and your husband consider living here for “the long-term“?

Me: No. We’re not ruling out future possibilities, but we are very happy in Greenpoint. Thanks.

Ben Franklin uttered something once about New Jersey being a valley of humility between two giants. The same can be said for Greenpoint, a working-class enclave nestled amongst three giants: Manhattan; Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. Living in Greenpoint (and riding the G train) will make you humble. (And very angry— Ed. Note)

My mouth and attitude (both inherited from my dear old dad— a man so utterly uncool that he is on the cutting edge of ‘hip’) housed in my feeble female body were two major contributing factors to my seeking refuge in New York City. After 30-odd years of service in this mortal coil, knocking through Texas, New Mexico, California, and yes, New York City (Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn— in that order) I finally feel at home. I can flaunt my mastery of the “f” word (and all its numerous conjugations and subtle nuances) with total abandon in Greenpoint. Frequently, Loudly, and with a measure of appreciation/admiration/ affirmation from my peers. In an uncertain world, this very comforting indeed.

That said, why would/should I unfurl the solitary pearl that is my truly creative and innovative vulgar style of language before unappreciative swine? Swine, I add, who may very well call the police because they may (mis)take my joie de vivre (in its copious, robust and abject glory) a wee bit too seriously. No way Jose. They can have their side of the East River, I can have mine and we each can do as we see fit.

My latest trip to Yorkville July 31, 2006 netted my first example of Upper East Side dog shit signage. This can be found on the west side of York Avenue at 64th Street.

The Amy Vanderbilt of Dog Shit Signs

I am not one to let my two art degrees, indoctrination in semiotics (a hip art fad in the late 90’s), and draconian student loan payments go to waste. My critique is as follows:

Someone put time, money, but alas, too little thought into this. He/she went to the trouble of having the sign made professionally and the execution is nice. Too nice. The same can be said about the wording; this is the Amy Vanderbilt solution to a dog doo predicament if I have ever seen one.

The person who saw fit to have such a sign manufactured clearly thought (mistakenly) that slick presentation and polite chiding would move intransigent dog owners to “do the right thing”. If the sheer amount of dog shit I saw walking on York Avenue from 68th Street to 60th Street is any indication I’d say it ain’t working.

Rating: 4 (out of 10)

Now I present this gem found on Greenpoint Avenue between Franklin and West Street.

Sharpie Marker + Flat Surface = Effective Signage

This sign does not pertain to dog shit per se, but this does not diminish its relevance. What we have here is a solid, no-frills, no-nonsense sign. The metaphorical Honda Civic (or Yugo) of signage: direct, utilitarian and inexpensively executed (save perhaps the odd police citation for vandalism). This appeals to my plebian sensibilities. I like it.

Speaking as someone who is familiar with this person’s body of work, this is a pretty standard example:

  • Medium: Sharpie marker on (any) flat surface
  • Message: “Pick up your (insert word/s here)”*
  • Enlarged and inappropriately capitalized “k”s

Per the book Handwriting Analysis by Karen Amend and Mary S. Ruiz, this graphological eccentricity is characteristic of a person who is prone to “impulsive outbursts” and is “rebellious to authority figures and traditional values”.

The previous example is remarkable in one respect: lack of profanity. While I applaud the author’s use of restraint, the virtuostic mastery of foul language and threat(s) of physical violence are what make his/her oeuvre truly noteworthy. Regardless, there is a decided absence of litter (and dog shit) in front of this sign, so it must be working.

Rating: 7 (out of 10)

After writing all the previous pretentious and sophistic bullshit, I am worn out! I’m going to take a very hot shower to clean off the smarm. Before I do so, I will leave you with two “Dung(s) of the Day”: one is from Yorkville, the other is from Greenpoint. I am not going to bother indicating where each came from, as it is (painfully) obvious.

Dung of the Day #1

Dung of the Day #1

Dung of the Day #2

Dung of the Day #2

*Frequently closing with “Thanks” or “Thanks Asshole”


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