The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for June 19th, 2013

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Signs and portents, portents and signage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem with literacy is that one is constantly bombarded with instructions, warnings, and messaging whilst moving about the megalopolis, the visual field carries an unavoidable flood of missives adjuring one to follow posted directives. Reading, for one such as myself at least, is an instant and unavoidable pathway directly into the brain. In a city like New York, everyone from the municipality to the neighbors enjoy leaving little notes around the place which are designed to alert, adjure, or advise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visual clutter has and will always be a part of urban life, the Romans probably had little chunks of carved rock hanging about reminding citizens to visit the Appian Way or to pick up after their slaves. There’s probably a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum which was designed to warn the citizens of Ur not to litter or face a fine, or a polychrome sketch adorning a cave wall in France that advises its audience to avoid the sticky situations around tar pits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having worked in the advertising industry for many years, your humble narrator is guilty of having helped to propagate this clutter, which is just part of the long list of things which I feel guilty about. The things I’d like to see on signs these days- missives such as “politicians are your employees,” or “don’t try to argue with cops on the street,” don’t seem to make it past the cutting room floor, of course.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

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