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[BKARTS] WOID #XII-1. Absentee Ballots [X]: Live from New York, It's... THE PENNIES*!

It’s time again for THE PENNIES*, the glamorous Awards for Excellence in Protest Signage [see WOID #IX–20 of March 2003]. The excitement is palpable, here on the streets of New York. The weather’s great (warm and gently clouded), the stickers and signs are coming out, and the media whack flacks may yet go hoarse from whining about anarchists. Back in the real world, line cops and demonstrators are backing off from confrontation, inspired no doubt by polls that show up to seven percent of New Yorkers are planning to demonstrate. That’s 560,000 pinko radicals at your back, Officer.

As usual, the impartial judge for THE PENNIES* will emphasize originality over humdrum. This automatically disqualifies Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, the “Art-For-Whom” crowd, and all the other artpimps who’ve crawled out of the galleries’ woodwork for the weekend. Check out today's NY Times if you're interested.

A more difficult decision came up with the first major demonstration, which consisted of members of Act-Up disrobing in front of Madison Square Garden. Could this display qualify as “signage?” Lacanian theory says the Weenie is the Signifier of the Signified (or something), but since this was a mixed gender group the award would have slighted the Bush, which is the signified of... never mind.

Then there was the group that hung a huge banner from the Plaza Hotel. Unfortunately the judge felt compelled to disqualify the contenders because a cop was slightly injured trying to remove the sign. It wasn’t deliberate: the demonstrators warned the officer about a broken skylight. Still, like a fall in Gymnastics it suggests poor technique. On either side.

Meanwhile, the Special Award for Ingenuity in Putting Down Republicans While Continuing to Do Your Job goes to Cabbies Against Bush (or “CAB”), who plan to hand out coupons good for a free trip to the airport to any Republican enlisting for service in Iraq. For those of you visitors who think a New York cab ride is a one-way ticket to Hell: here’s your chance.

Paul T Werner, New York

WOID: A journal of visual language

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