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Neighborhood Type

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.

-Milan Kundera

I was assigned to go into a NYC neighborhood and document what I noticed about the type. What I found, in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, was a lot of kitsch, in Kundera's sense of the word. So much of the type in the newest presentations refers back to old industrial or distressed type, but in a way that is knowing and safe. It simultaneously induces a frisson from the decayed and supposedly dangerous in a New York working-class neighborhood, while letting the observer in on the joke.

To reformulate the quote above, the two tears are how nice to be in a tough NYC neighborhood and then how nice to know, together with all mankind, that we are in a tough NYC neighborhood.

Copyright Mike Edwards 2006-2009. All content available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, unless otherwise noted.

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