Let’s say you’re in a New York City subway station, making your way to the train. You spot a sign that looks vaguely like an official Metropolitan Transit Authority posting on the wall. It reads, in part, “No service at Dol Barad, Gap of Rohan, Isengard, and Helm’s Deep.”
How do you react? If you’re a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, maybe you laugh, read a little more, and move along. If you aren’t, odds are you’ll be pretty confused. If you’re NYC Transit spokesman Adam Lisberg, you get furious.
"This sign, like others we’ve seen, clearly has the potential to confuse our customers and has no place in the subway system," Lisberg told Gothamist
. "I don’t care if it’s cute or funny to devotees of any particular genre—we serve more than 5 million customers a day on the subways, and plenty of them have very limited English skills. We work hard to make a complex system simpler to navigate, and these posters make it harder. If one person misses a train because they’re trying to decipher a joke, it’s one too many. Enough already."
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Self-described “New York City transit artist” Puck has posted a series of “Lord of the Rings”-themed signs in subway stations and posted photos of them to a blog called Puck Works
Here’s the full image of the newest sign in the series:
Puck also documented posting several signs in subway stations and on trains warning, “For your safety, avoid the fake Banksy,” in reference to the British street artist’s visit to the city this month.
Do you think the MTA spokesman was right to publicly scold the artist who made the signs?