When Times Square Smoked and Steamed

I have spent a great amount of time in Manhattan. In the ’90’s, I was in the city for 5 months “reengineering” Price Waterhouse’s marketing in the five boroughs. Later, I commuted there twice a month from Canada for over eleven years, working for Interbrand and DDB Worldwide over that time. And there were many other visits too. In fact, I have probably “lived” in Manhattan for four or five years.

Times Square was gentrifying when I started taking in its sights, yet still plenty gritty. I often triple-checked that my wallet was still on my person but it was nothing like Midnight Cowboy. I do not think of it as a square. It more resembles a small valley framed by towering, brightly-lit odes to commercialism and capitalism. For over one hundred years this has been the case. The difference now is the volume of messages. Times Square is analogous to marketing and advertising overall, too much clutter, it is tough for messages to break through.

Three signs did an admirable job of standing out in Times Square.

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Counter Culture (mom & pop shops and the brands they carried)

Rich Saal is a commercial and editorial portrait photographer based in central Illinois (full website here). His work to present day captures humanity richly. Between 1979 and 1983, Rich took stark, subtlety revealing shots of mom & pop shops. These black & whites seem to represent an even earlier era. As we know, large chains sunk many mom & pops over the years so this is a treasure trove.

Enjoy them and hang in for a recent update collection of what has since happened to these stores. Rich provides the original black and white and a comparative colour shot taken in the original location.

What makes this collection even more valuable is the capture of brands. Many have survived to this day, albeit with some logo and packaging progressions. The above photo displays 2-litre bottles of pop that look fairly contemporary though the bottles themselves are history. Pixy Stix, Planters Peanuts, and Jack Daniels are quite recognizable. It must be summer given the screen patches readily available to help keep bugs out.

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And So It Goes

I happened to be surfing online for nothing in particular, five hours later, I came across a photo from The Boneyard located on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base just outside of Tucson. It is a resting place for over 4,000 worn out or damaged planes. There is a strange symmetrical beauty to the arrangement.

There are different categories of storage for the aircraft. “Long-term storage” is for planes that will be used again in the future. The category for planes kept for spare parts is “parts reclamation.” “Flying hold” means aircraft are kept for a shorter time than the long-term category, and “excess of DoD needs” means the planes are sold off in parts or as a whole.

Meanwhile, further below, see what happens to decommissioned cruise ships.

Cruise ships are being scrapped at a Turkish dock after the multi-billion dollar industry was smashed by the Covid crisis. The cruise liner graveyard at the port in Aliaga, bustles with work.

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