Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Subway ads, psychojargon through the generations, crime fiction that tries to have it both ways

If one can judge a city by the advertisements on its buses and subway cars, Toronto is the city of education and Philadelphia the city of personal-injury lawyers.

Much was made after the recent presidential election about the increasing power and prominence of Latinos in U.S. politics. But I knew Latinos had arrived a few years ago when I saw a big ad for a personal-injury lawyer on the side of a Philadelphia bus in Spanish, a companion to similar ads in English that had for years urged riders to seek the compensation they deserved. In Toronto, meanwhile, the subway cars are lined with ads not just for career and vocational schools, but for traditional universities as well.

Elsewhere in Toronto, I saw a handbill for a kids' computer class that read thus: "Our class is a safe place to learn, have fun, make mistakes, and build relationships." (Italics mine.) Once upon a time, kids made friends rather than build relationships. But then, there will soon be and maybe already is in America an entire generation that sees nothing wrong with "reaching out" rather just "calling" or "writing to," so what do I know? (The notion that the promoters felt it necessary to emphasize that a computer class is safe is another interesting idea.)
Now, for the question: I'm reading a crime novel that tries to have it both ways on crossing a line that a number of crime writers won't cross. I'm sorry for being so elliptical, but to say more would risk a spoiler, and I don't want to do that, especially since there is much to like about the novel in question. What crime novels or stories that you've read try to have things both ways? How do they do this?

© Peter Rozovsky 2012



Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I was really impressed by the Melbourne tram system ads I saw featuring the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen. I thought that was a very cool thing, especially because maybe only 1 in a 1000 commuters would actually recognise him.

November 22, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Was he endorsing a product, or was he saying, "I'm Magnus Carlsen, and I'm here to tell you that smart guys take the tram."?

November 23, 2012  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Every time I look at that Toronto subway map I dream about another line along the bottom....

November 23, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Bottom Line: The epic story of one crime writer's fight for an easier way into town.

November 23, 2012  

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