Crosstown Local Photo du Jour, Part I: Copy-Editing Is Fundamental

After I took the above photograph (on the Queens-bound G train between Metropolitan Avenue and Nassau Avenue) a painfully cute little girl turned to her mother and said:

Mommy, why is that lady taking pictures?

After they completed a hushed conversation in Polish I walked over to them, pointed to this item and said:

If it’s BROKEN, fix it.

The mother proceeded to look up, read it, and started chuckling. She then said:

My daughter was wondering why you were taking a photo of that…

And I heard her. You’d think with a fare hike these people could afford a copy-editor. I mean, really.*

I replied. She laughed again. And I added:

You have a very smart, observant daughter. I bet she doesn’t write or speak like this.

She assured me her daughter would never employ this kind of shoddy grammar. Closing on that note, I would like to humbly propose that the MTA hire this winsome little lass to author advertising copy for them. Hell, have her do their books as well. All two of them.

UPDATE, 4:53 p.m.: It would appear this post has ruffled the feathers of someone who purports to work in the advertising industry. Or egged-on a fellow wise-ass. Lulu Lemon writes:

Before I proceed I’d like to state I rather like Lulu Lemon. Really, I do. The previous having been written, shouldn’t the subject line read “If it ain’t broke, don’t comment on it.” Or if she (?) cares to be imperative: If it ain’t broke, don’t comment on it! And then there are other abuses of our language such as “simply traverse well know(N) phrases”; semicolon and possibly colon neglect.

As for the use of colloquial speech, I would like to build upon Lulu’s tome and advocate the MTA take the populist bull by the proverbial balls and start employing LOL speak for their advertisements and service notices along the Crosstown Local. This way we— the unwashed masses who ride this train every day— will understand the higher ups at the MTA are being “hep” as opposed to merely incompetent. Given this is the G train we are talking about, gentle Greenpoint readers, I suspect I speak for many of you when I write that such disambiguation is needed.

Miss Heather

*Sorry to be pedantic, but I really cannot stomach this kind of shit. We’re talking about very basic English grammar skills here people!


11 Comments on Crosstown Local Photo du Jour, Part I: Copy-Editing Is Fundamental

  1. Vinny on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 5:39 pm
  2. See Miss H… What you missed is that it’s a larger commentary on the MTA, which is in fact broke financially…

    Ok… It was funnier in my head.

  3. rutila on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 6:56 pm
  4. Vinny, you beat me to it! I was going to say the same thing: broke as in bankrupt.

  5. missheather on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 7:00 pm
  6. @Vinny & Rutila: it’s not just in your head. Your observation is damned funny!

  7. mbrooklyn on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 8:27 pm
  8. and, the whole pro-mta ad campaign takes the place of (usurps) the now defunct, you-gotta-be-kidding-me-plug-pulled, wildly successful, enlightening, distracting, engaging “Poetry in Motion” project. Really.

  9. Lisanne! on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 8:32 pm
  10. Ad writers seem to enjoy being ungrammatical. They enjoy even more how they have killed the fine art of prose by insistently programming children with their poor form and awful syntax.

    Back in the 1960s schoolteachers and other grammarians objected to an ad for Winston cigarettes. The slogan, which read “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should’ used the word “like” where proper usage would be “as”. The advertiser responded with a campaign “What do you want, good grammar, or good taste”? I think the lines were drawn at the moment in time. Over time, I believe the ad writers had won their war against proper English. The Philistines now rule.

  11. missheather on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 8:36 pm
  12. @mbrooklyn: And let us not forget those really gross obesity adverts featuring human fat garnishing soft drinks from our fair Mayor. I get the point, but shit riding the G train (when it is running) is bad enough. We do not need to be reminded we are lard-asses with bad dietary habits after ponying up a phat $2.25 for lack-luster “service”.

  13. mbrooklyn on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 8:48 pm
  14. yep, i hate those too. almost as much as i hate local laws that tell people not to smoke at the beach, no matter what their lungs end up looking like. but, literally… the uninspired, incorrect mta ads took the real words off the wall:

  15. bitchcakes on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 9:17 pm
  16. I had the same reaction (as Vinny & Sherry) when I saw this poster. Yes, MTA, you are BROKE. And you should fix it. (but you won’t, you’ll just keep raising prices and cutting services) This whole line of ads just irk me every time I see them.

  17. rutila on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 12:03 pm
  18. When MTA advertisements use correct punctuation. the New York Times uses the rare occasion for a cute article.

  19. robobt on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 1:07 pm
  20. Normally, I’m all for trashing the MTA’s decisions, grammatical and otherwise. (And very nearly all of the time, I’m on your side, Miss H.) There was a poster a year or two ago that I wish I could remember the exact wording of; it drove me crazy. It was something about how “today unlimited card card gets you blah blah blah” and definitely missing either a crucial article or verb.

    But this one…is a play on an old expression, for which “broke” is idiomatic: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” (You might remember the candle’s pun on it in Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, replacing “broke” with “Baroque.”)

    As for being clever, this ad displays the amazing consistency with which the MTA stuns in their laziness. I might suggest that they go with, “If it ain’t NOT broke, don’t NOT fix it” instead…or I’d just suggest selling that ad space to another company (and maybe closing the wage gap from the top-down direction) rather than forcing another fare hike.

  21. d on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 8:51 pm
  22. The worst offense I’ve seen of horrendous public grammar mistakes lately is this:

    I am still disgusted and can’t believe it’s still on their site.

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