cultural capital

Neon Lights, Big City


Though music fans are still busy saying good-bye to CBGB, which shut its doors last week, Jay Grossen is not yet done mourning the loss of the Howard Johnson’s in Times Square. The restaurant closed a little over a year ago, but he’s still talking about its signature neon sign. “It’s iconic in New York, and it’s gone, gone forever,” he said. “Nobody really knew what was going to happen.” At New York’s second Nerd Nite — a popular, hipsterish learn-while-you-drink event imported from Boston and held at Orchid Lounge last night — Grossen gave a speech titled “Fuck the Trees, Save a Neon Sign.” He kicked off his PowerPoint presentation with Ace of Base’s “The Sign,” naturally, and went on to discuss the dire state of these bright-light billboards worldwide. “Especially in New York with condos going up on every corner, these are going,” Grossen explained. “And where are they going? To the trash.” (“Awww,” the crowd dutifully sighed at this point.) He described seeing the old McHale’s sign in a Chelsea antique shop and encouraged the audience to get involved in neon-sign preservation. Are we convinced to make this our new cause? Not entirely. But the things look cool, and the guy’s got a point.

Lori Fradkin

Neon-No-More [Flickr]

Neon Lights, Big City