The Billboard Jungle

New York’s corporate graffiti

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


“Ad creep” — the process by which previously untouched surfaces are converted into advertisements — has taken to the streets. Due to advances in billboard technology, 200-foot whiskey bottles and scantily clad supermodels dominate the vista of many a metropolitan area. The increasing commercialization of public space means that even sidewalks and lampposts are fair game for advertising.

Although many of the burgeoning ads are illegal, advertisers find breaking the law irresistibly affordable. The sidewalks of New York, including SoHo’s historic bluestones, are covered with illegal stenciled advertisements. None of the perpetrators have been fined, although Reebok, which plastered more than 200 “mini billboards” on downtown sidewalks, was charged a cleanup fee to remove the ads. And while New York city officials pay lip service to stopping illegal advertising, they continue to sell space on everything from subway passes to toll booths. But don’t think Mayor Giuliani will give away public space to just anyone: Arrests of graffiti artists have skyrocketed since he took office.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be trapped inside an issue of Details? Take a walk in downtown Manhattan.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate