Walk down any street in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle and you'll be hard pressed to find a telephone pole not covered as far as the arm will reach with layer upon layer of paper flyers advertising rock shows and other events around town. Take this one on the left (featuring a poster for Seattle's own mellow pop-masters the Mines). Probably not an unusual sight in most towns, but a few things made me notice this even on my initial trip out here this past January.
First off, there are no telephone poles in Manhattan. All that shit is supposed to be buried underground along with the subways, right? Anyway, unless I'm remembering things wrong, the only tall-and-cylindrical city-owned property ripe for impromptu street advertising in NYC would be the slender light-post. But why make passers-by do a 180 around one of those just to read the flyer curled around it when the sides of public telephone shelters are so much more convenient?
Which is why Seattle's telephone poles are so ideal for flyering: they are exceptionally wide. So it's easy to scope them out while walking past. Also easy to staple things into. (It's wood, duh.) So they tend to stay put pretty well, even with frequent bouts of raininess.
But, most importantly, the city doesn't seem to mind. I've seen no evidence of any mass "public beautification" effort focused on stripping each pole clean of advertising. New posters are put up just about every day, but still visible, peeking out from beneath the layers, are corners of paper with event dates on them up to a month old.
All of this is (as you may have guessed) totally cool with me. I like being able to scan each of the four or five telephone poles for upcoming shows while on the way over to my local coffeehouse. And when I get there, I can pick up a copies of free weeklies the Stranger and Seattle Weekly, then wander over to the big bulletin board in the back of the room to grab little postcards and browse more flyers while waiting for my coffee. And if I absolutely must, I can always bring over my laptop and pop that open to take advantage of the free wireless Internet access to search local club web sites for more info. But I like how my primary source is still the telephone pole sitting out in front of my apartment building. Low-tech, and yet it's more current than a paper, updated more often than a web site.
My new-found appreciation for the street poster has fortunately coincided with a new exhibit at the Experience Music Project museum: Paper Scissors ROCK, which, according to the EMP web site, "explores the last 25 years of music-related poster art from the Pacific Northwest." Sounds like a good excuse to finally check out the inside of that funny-lookin' building next to the Space Needle...Posted by nstop at June 11, 2003 11:41 PM