IT’S not the only wayto tell you’re in a hipster neighborhood … the clothing and the hairstyles are a good tipoff…but one surefire method is the number of stickies and signs taped up all over every conceivable piece of street furniture. The lampposts, fire alarms, don’t walk signs and buildings are covered with a mix of street art and ads for one thing or another, concerts, rallies. Some don’t seem to be advertising anything, they’re just there for whatever reason.

Since very few concerts and rallies happen in fab Flushing, the only taped up ads here advertise moving sales and flea markets. But on the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, things can get interesting.

Above: I actually found this on Broadway in Elmhurst, advertising the perpetual Peruvian uprising. There are still a lot of people who believe that oppressive Communist dictatorships are preferable to the free market system that allows somebody, somewhere, to have more than you do.

The fascinating thing about these taped up ads is that if you get enough of them on a pole, they kind of all meld together and form an unintended piece of art. These two are on 2nd Avenue at about East 9th Street. For those of you west of the Hudson and east of the Rockies, “sex worker” is politically-correct-speak for “prostitute.” One thing you discover is that there are a lot of men with vans, and many of them are named Dan. There’s a musical score in there, a swami is advertising enlightenment, and someone wants to clean your house.

A pair from the Lower East Side. As you can see a lot of these are just stuck there, without a website or anything to promote; they’re just sticky graffiti. Banana Fish Zero have played the Mermaid Parade (though they have apparently just broken up). The image of Pope Benny has already been called on to promote Cheetah Chrome, who has been playing for over 30 years beginning in the Cleveland scene that gave rise to Pere Ubu, Rocket from the Tombs and the band where he made his name, the Dead Boys.

A trio from Loisaida. Note the innovative use of tape as a way to hold flyers.

There’s about three layers of political rabble-rousing here. It all sort of runs together, as it does here, literally. This looks like Lon Chaney Jr. raked it with his fingernails.

I have no idea what she’s selling, but she got my attention.

The “new” type of fire alarm, the boxy ones introduced in the 60s that never really did replace the old style ones (with the torch resembling an ice cream cone), have become extraordinarily popular signposts. It’s so easy to tape stuff to them: many have become completely engulfed in taped signage. Even the Department of Transportation has gotten into the act with a warning about street repaving.

It’s all about the Benjamins in Maspeth … watch out for the rat poison on Stanton and Ludlow … Crystaltop and Devery of La Laque (think power pop in French with a girl singer and strings; I’m reminded of The Passage, a British band from 20 years ago) turns up on Havemeyer Street. An arresting image on a small sticky on a lamppost can be an effective method of introduction to a new group. A mention in Forgotten NY will get ’em a new listener every couple of months as well.

Shot in spring 2005. Written May 14, 2005. ©2005 Midnight Fish

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