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The Story Behind the Peculiar Poem in NYC’s Port Authority Tunnel

As someone from New York. I always wondered what the deal with the TImes Square poem was.

Inside the Times Square subway station hangs a cryptic, depressing poem strung out along the ceiling beams of the tight, eerie underground passageway between 8th and 7th avenues.

It’s dark, weird and kind of funny, but if you’ve passed by even once you’ve probably wondered why on earth it’s there in the first place.

The 18-word poem — titled “Commuter’s Lament or A Close Shave” — has been looming over commuters with its dark humor for 25 years now but Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design, said it’s not actually intended to be as depressing as it sounds

Bloowdworth said it’s just intended to be cynical, tongue-in-cheek New York City humor. The idea for the poem was based on the Burma-Shave roadside ad campaigns plastered across the country for some 40 years. Starting in the 1920s, the brushless shaving cream brand started advertising with signs strung along American highways.There’d be a sign: “Shave the modern way."A few yards later, there would be another: "Wash the face.”

Colp’s poem is spread out with one line every few feet, just like a modern-day Burma-Shave ad campaign.

Originally, the piece was intended as a one-year installation. But, Bloodworth said, “In our system if it lasts a year it’ll last forever.”

So the poem stayed up and eventually was taken into the MTA’s permanent collection. (Source)

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