The Unbearable Banishment: What to avoid in NYC. Tip #1: taxi TV

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What to avoid in NYC. Tip #1: taxi TV

There are enough guide books that tell you what to do while visiting New York City. As a public service, I thought I’d do a series of posts telling you what to AVOID during your stay. So far, I only have this one idea, so this may be as far as it gets. Leah, if you have any ideas, jump in.

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A few years ago, in an effort to enhance revenue, the TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission; a powerful government regulatory agency) decided to allow small flat screen TVs to be installed in the back seats of taxi cabs. They purport to play brief snippets of local news and weather but what they really are is yet another in-your-face way for advertisers to promote their products.

Once you step into a cab and the meter is activated, Taxi TV boots up automatically. TV is so ubiquitous in our lives that it’s difficult to tear your eyes away from one once it’s turned on. There are flat screen TVs in the elevators at A Company Called Malice, Inc. and it’s the same way. People ride up to their floors starring into the glowing screen with blank looks on their faces. I wish I had invented elevator TV. I’d be posting this from Tahiti.

Can you imagine? All of Manhattan is rolling by just outside your window and people opt to stare at a TV instead. You could miss the beautiful façade of The Waldorf Astoria or someone being shot outside of the Port Authority bus depot.

Thank God almighty you have the option to turn these things off. When they were first installed the ad industry, of course, did not want to allow the on/off option. But in an uncharacteristic moment of clarity, the TLC insisted on it. When visiting New York, turn off Taxi TV! Life is too short and Manhattan too interesting to waste your time watching another Claritin D ad. The “off” button is in the upper right corner.

I’ll bet it’ll be a cold day in hell before you see these insidious devices installed in London cabs.

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Tomorrow at 5:00! The beautiful people of Fashion Week!



Blogger Cat said...

Not only did our taxi have TV last time we were there, but so did the eleventh in the hotel. That one you couldn't turn off. I hate that TV'S are everywhere. Had we not turned of the taxi TV I would have missed seeing a couple on the sidewalk of 5th ave., the woman crying so loudly that it could be heard over all of the traffic. Now that was interesting.

August 12, 2009 at 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

encountered that in december and was annoyed. thanks for the tip on the off switch (which is more socially acceptable than turning it off by sticking my boot in the screen)

August 12, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

damn, has it been that long since i was in nyc? or in a nyc cab? anyway, thanks for the tip. very cool new layout, sugar! xox

August 12, 2009 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

Yes, excellent advice, I agree. Hate those frakking things.

I've been thinking about my "what to avoid in NYC" tips, but have only so far been able to come up with advice for locals (such as "avoid Brooklyn Costco on Saturday mornings...or always...") I'm going to poll Sarge and Hedgie and get back to you.

I hope you do more of these.

And p.s. I like the new layout too--it's really rather dignified!

August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Cat: See what I mean! There's always a show going on right outside the cab window.

Daisy: More acceptable but much less satisfying.

S and L: Thanks. The new layout is a bit of a shock and I'm not quite use to it yet. It might need some tinkering.

August 12, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way the marmoset (or 'possum or whatever) is looking at the off button. The new layout is great and the picture in the header is priceless. But where's the blogroll? I had a couple of favorites that I often clicked on and was too lazy to add to my reader.

August 12, 2009 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: I lost my gaddam blogroll when I updated my site. Lost my link to StatCounter as well. Will have it all back together by tonight.

August 12, 2009 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

what to avoid in nyc tip #2: pseudo celebrities...

saw uber douche reality star jon gosselin (jon and kate plus 8) on my way home from work yesterday on park and 36th.

checked the gossip sites today to see what he was in town for. according to one such site he was in town to buy a porsche.


August 12, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger tennysoneehemingway said...

thank God for the off button. And thank God someone in authority actually came to their senses and insisted it was installed.

August 12, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous nuttycow said...

Sad to say, some UK cabs do have TV screens. For us hardened Brits, it much nicer to watch a repeat of Fawlty Towers than see the grime and dirt of London outside.

August 13, 2009 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jason: They should set up celebrity checkpoints on the bridges and tunnels and make NYC a "reality TV free" zone.

TH: I was surprised they insisted on it. It's small and hard to see, but it's there.

Nutty: Is that true!? I'm so sorry to hear that. Also sorry to hear you disparage London. It's a lot cleaner than this place!

August 13, 2009 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

I think just turn off the TV full stop.

August 13, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous popomatic jeff said...

Shouldn't the cost of a cab ride decreased when the TLC found this new revenue stream? Instead the price will continue to go up. Bastards!

BTW, love the new look of the blog!

August 13, 2009 at 10:18 AM  

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