Wednesday, April 15, 2009


#105, Fifth Avenue, NYC

Magnetic poetry is one of those things that always sounds like more fun than it actually is. A box full of magnetized words, a fridge, and endless possibility is what this novelty box promises you. Yet how quickly you realize the limitations of the form after your witty friend has infiltrated your kitchen once more and composed his twenty-first haiku using the "sausage" magnet in a rude manner. As you grimace ruefully at the lowbrow leanings of your friend's oeuvre, you realize that he has a point. There are only so many fun things you can do with even the "bloody" and "knife" magnets. (I'd have opted for the inclusion of "zombie" but alas, I was not asked.) I mention this today because the oversized numbers of this 105 look to me like giant magnets stuck to a strip of aluminum over a revolving door. Not magnetic poetry per se, but they do call to mind those brightly colored alphabet magnets that you still see in preschools and on Aimee Mann album covers. And so I like to think of the pleasant anarchy that would result if movable type were introduced on buildings.

Here's a whimsical experiment: New York City (or insert alternate city of choice if you believe, erroneously, that NYC is not the center of the universe) is one big refrigerator. All of the letters on buildings and street signs are magnets. Rearrange the letters on your favorite restaurants, street names, subway stops or buildings and see what new signs you could create to wreak linguistic havoc on the metropolis. Need inspiration? Take the Met Life Building. Wouldn't it be more fun to go to the "Fungible Limited" instead? Or what about Ray's Famous Original Pizza? Imagine the joy if instead you could tilt your head skyward and read "Our fizzy malaria's soaping." I, for one, would love to hop off the F train as a disgruntled MTA employee shouted "Dance, ye settler!" instead of Delancey Street into the subway intercom. Some, in fact, already do this, often completely unprompted.

Puzzled? Baffled? Can't seem to rearrange the alphabet? Then do what I do: cheat. Try the Internet Anagram Server for instant gratification. They've got you covered. But be forewarned: the site should come with a Surgeon General's Warning label. It's rather addictive.


Pierre said...

I bookmarked the anagram sight. That stuff facinates me. I'm not sure if there is a term for it, but I have a habit of reading words backwards especially when I'm driving. I've discovered that some names of automobile makes and models form phrases when pronounced backwards. For example:
Toyota: A miniature floating vessel, a toyot. Avalon: A dead mountain, no lava. Subaru: A discouraging comment to someone too rotund, u r a bus. Lumina: What a man can sometimes become, animul. You can find others if you are a bit neurotic as I am.

Therese Cox said...

U R A BUS. Hahahaha!

Julie said...

Must bookmark that site to help my with cryptic crossword training.