It was recently reported in the news that the “mystery pianos” which have been popping up on street corners in New York City are part of a new age art project by Luke Jerram who hopes that the abandoned looking pianos will encourage people to sit down and try to hammer out a tune. Most New Yorkers avoided the pianos which they believed might have contained explosive devices or be property of the mob. However, many have enjoyed sitting down and playing hours of show tunes, to the horror of residents who live near the mystery pianos. Though successful, other attempts to leave objects in the streets of New York as part of marketing campaigns, or as art projects, had not been as well received. The top ten are listed below:
1. “Chainsaw Project”, gassed up and ready to use chainsaws were left around various street corners in Brooklyn, what happened over the following four days was what police referred to as “pure mayhem”. In all, 47 telephone posts were cut down by would be “chainsaw artists.”
2. Giant Pill Bottles. Meant as a hip critique of the growing, and powerful, pharmaceutical industry, 72 large glass jars, some as tall as 15 feet were left around Manhattan and filled with expired medication as a way of protesting escalating drug prices in the developing world. Unfortunately, over night much of the expired, and thus potentially toxic, medication was stolen by persons unknown. Hospital visits to emergency rooms for treatment of ill informed users of the medication soared in the first couple days the exhibit was open. Police confiscated the pill jars, but by then all of the pills had been stolen.
3. Mystery tonic. Barrels of a brownish liquid made with butter scotch, along with plastic cups, appeared on New York streets overnight in 2002. Pedestrians drinking the stuff said it tasted too sweet and left a bitter after taste. It was a marketing campaign by Coke gone wrong for its new cream soda, and was quickly pulled after some taste testers started vomiting after drinking the brew. It was later discovered that rats had infested some of the barrels.
4. Airplane food suggestion boxes left around street corners in Brooklyn in the 1970’s are believed to be largely responsible for the poor tasting airlines’ food served up to this day. Brooklynites suggested recipes such as “tasteless rice” and “rubbery chicken” as a joke, however, airlines took the suggestions seriously and many of the items were recreated by chefs.
5. Bathroom sculptures, including sinks, toilets and bathtubs were placed on street corners in Manhattan. The exhibit was meant to draw attention to the common aspects of bathroom life which tie us all together. However, New Yorkers immediately began using the toilets, and even filling the fiber glass bath tubs with water in order to take “street baths”. Public health officials shutdown the exhibits after five days, due to the stench and undrained bath tubs.
6. The American Exotic Pets Association, AEPA, ran street exhibits in Central Park where pedestrians could interact with baby polar bears and hyenas on a personal level. Exhibit was closed after one month when a rare albino tiger escaped and began stalking joggers in Central Park.
7. In an effort to boost candy sales, Lemon Drops R’ Us set up imitation cotton candy statues on various street corners, made mostly out of fiber glass, this didn’t stop several hungry pedestrians from trying to eat the pink stuff. Exhibit was closed after all of the cotton candy had disappeared, and as complaints from local emergency rooms soared.
8. To celebrate the bicentennial in 1975, the New York Tourism Council commissioned 1/8th replicas of the Statue of Liberty made out of green licorice to be produced and placed on street corners around the city. Birds quickly took note and began eating the statues. The remains were removed within a week due to oddly shaped deformed statues that made overly patriotic citizens cry, and due to the increasingly large piles of bird poop.
9. In an effort to help ex-convicts find good paying jobs, a New York Ad agency setup a promotion called the “Rent-a-Thug” temp and butler agency where ex-cons were hired to do everything from office paperwork to house sitting. The promotion was stopped when it was learned that several local mafia bosses were trying to use the service to hire “goons” for shady activities.
10. Sidewalk Garden Walk was a 2007 exhibit in downtown Manhattan which combined the talents of local gardeners with the flare of a street fair. The market worked on barter, and gardeners would leave a sampling of their plants on street corners, and if somebody liked a plant they would take it, but also then leave on of their plants. It was hoped that this would promote biological flora diversity in the local ecology. However, when somebody placed man eating jumbo Venus fly traps from Africa, it resulted in several people losing their fingers, and the exhibit was shut down.
For the Top Ten Canadian Issues Discussed at the Recent G-20 Conference, click here.