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Friday, 18 February 2005
I usually love it when an Adam Gopnik piece shows up in The New Yorker. But a coupla issues back, Gopnik chose to rant about the new street signs popping up around New York. His first complaints make him sound like a bitter old copyeditor:
[The new signs] name the street that runs beneath them (and therefore, of course, announce to drivers the street they may want to turn onto), and they do this loudly and with unfortunate abbreviations. Over the intersection of Park Avenue and Eighty-sixth Street, for instance, there is now a long green sign proclaiming “Park Av,” with no period. A couple of blocks east, it gets worse: the green sign rubbernecks its way out into the middle of the street and announces “3Av.” This keeps up (2Av, 1Av) until 86St runs, at last, into East End Av.
Me, I thought that “unfortunate abbreviations” were part of New York’s charm. I mean, the subway (ah, my beloved subway!) is full of ‘em. Check out just about any station platform sign — the ones that tell you the route of the trains arriving on a given track — and you’ll see shortenings far more brutal than “3Av.”

But then Gopnik gets nasty in a typical snotty-eastcoaster sort of way:
The new signs put you immediately in mind of those nightmarish car trips in Los Angeles, where you begin somewhere and, forty-five minutes later, you are somewhere else, and all the while you have been looking for a big sign that reads “Pico.” … The reason these kinds of signs are necessary at the intersections of Los Angeles boulevards is that all the avenues and streets there look more or less alike. In New York, each avenue should be, and is, instantly recognizable… . New York is not a hard place to get around in. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t deserve to be here.
Luckily, Jon Carroll, the world’s most entertaining newspaper columnist, completely skewers Gopnik in today’s Chron:
… all major east-west arteries in Los Angeles … resemble each other more than they resemble bluebirds or pasta forks. Still, the people who think they look alike are the people who have not lived there very long. Also, the people who think they look alike are sloppy New Yorker writers who think that any mockery of Los Angeles is funny and entirely accurate.
Which reminds me! Two days ago marked the five-year anniversary of my favorite Carroll column of all, one that is especially apropros for us Bayareans as we slide into a wet holiday weekend: “Sing Ho For the Sump Pump!”
posted to /misc at 7:18pm :: 3 responses

Arin had this to say (02/18/2005 14:14:07):
Ah, the sump pump column. It seems like just yesterday that we laughed and laughed and emulated our favorite line in IM conversations for weeks. (Or did we ever stop?) That was five years ago?!?! Us: now old.
anna banana had this to say (02/18/2005 20:00:46):
We just got a new Sump Pump installed today! I was kind of surprised/creeped out by the coincidence that you posted the article about it today. I had never heard of Sump Pumps until today! So... Huzzah! :)
katya had this to say (02/22/2005 09:34:27):
I don't usually read Jon Carroll, but I really liked this column from a few weeks ago. He summed up my feelings about good reality television, particularly in paragraphs 6-8, and Project Runway *is* a great show.

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