Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Urban Verbs – "Subways" (1980)

On this train, I'm never ever lonely
People smile from pictures on the wall

The Travel + Leisure magazine website currently features a slideshow titled "World's Most Beautiful Subway Stations."

I can't argue with the stations from Paris, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Moscow, and Tashkent that are on the magazine's list.

The T-Centralen Station in Stockholm
(Who knew that Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan – even had a subway?  And who knew that Uzbekistan was a doubly-landlocked country?  A doubly-landlocked country is one that is surrounded by landlocked countries.  The only other doubly-landlocked country in the world is Liechtenstein, which has fewer residents than Joplin, Missouri, and doesn't really deserve to be classified as a country.)

But Travel + Leisure also put a Washington (DC) Metro station on its "most beautiful" list, which makes me wonder if anyone from the magazine has even ridden the Washington Metro.  

"The Washington Metro is a rarity among America's largely utilitarian subways," says the magazine.  The Metro's underground stations feature "vaulted cathedral ceilings with coffered blocks," and the "elegant up-lighting and hushed mood give [the stations] an ecclesiastical air."

Gallery Place Station (Washington, DC)
If you ask me, Metro stations are depressing spaces that remind me more of a set for a dystopian science-fiction movie more than a cathedral.

You never forget you are underground when you're in a Metro station.  The stations are poorly-lit and devoid of ornament and color.  I would describe the brutalist Metro architecture as Soviet-style, but the subway stations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, and other former USSR cities are much more attractive than the Washington Metro's stations.

Avtovo Station in St. Petersburg, Russia
The most eye-pleasing aspect of a Metro stations is usually its advertising signage.  On occasion, a Metro station will only have advertising from a single advertiser.  Gallery Place, the busy station closest to my office building, has been taken over by a diverse collection of advertisers in recent years, including Microsoft (when it introduced its "Surface" tablet computers a few years ago) and the Virginia Tourist Authority.  

Recently, I debarked from my train at Gallery Place to discover that every available square inch of the station was covered with advertising for something called Go90, which I later learned is Verizon's new mobile video/social network app:

According to the ads, the Go90 app allows you to "watch, cut & share all the awesome."  In other words, Go90 allows you to "share the stupid" and "confuzzle" (confuse + puzzle?) your friends:

It sounds to me like Go90 will result in millennials wasting even more time on their smart phones – which seems to be exactly Verizon's idea:

Here's the basic Go90 logo, which looks like "go" and also looks like "90":

Go90 posters are all over the walls of the Gallery Place station:

There's a big Go90 advertisement right in the middle of the floor.  (I never know if it's OK to walk on the ads on the floor.  Maybe I should walk around them?) 

The station's ventilation shafts have been turned into billboards:

Even the entrance/exit gates have little pictures of happy Go90 users:

A number of hip young Go90 users are featured in the posters.  Each one is labeled with an adjective or short phrase, which could double as Seven Dwarfs-type names for the hipsters.

There's "Excited":

And "Rainy Day":

And "Wide Awake":

And my personal favorite, "Dazed":

The ads are colorful and bright and a little psychedelic – just what the ginormous expanse of grayness that is the Gallery Place Metro station needs.   

Here's what The Verge had to say about Go90:

Verizon today officially rebranded the act of turning your smartphone sideways — and it's called Go90, as in degrees.  The new mobile video app is an effort to snatch eyes away from popular mobile services chipping away at TV, and its absurd name is a way to ensure people view Verizon partner videos horizontally.  Because vertical video is not chill.

The Go90 app description contains some cringe-worthy feature highlights straight out of 2010, like "Cut and share those OMGGG moments with friends, like that catfight that just broke out on that MTV show you can’t get enough of."  You can also start an online "crew" of content-hungry like minds to chat about your obsessions and, as Verizon says, "forget the haters."  In non-marketing-speak, that means the app has a group chat function.

I don't think I'll be adding Go90 to my Blackberry.  For one thing, a Blackberry screen is pretty square, so rotating it 90 degrees doesn't really do much.  For another thing, I don't think Go90 is available for the Blackberry operating system.

The Urban Verbs formed in Washington, DC, in 1977.  I bought their eponymous debut album when it was released in 1980 – I thought they ranked right up there with Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, and my other favorites from that era.  But neither of their major-label albums sold very well, and the group broke up in 1981. 

Here's "Subways":

Click below to buy "Subways" from Amazon:

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