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The New York Experience

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Roving Rube

October 26, 2003

Postcards, 20 for $1, 10 cents each; Fifth Avenue

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As the three jpgs show, you can pay from a nickel to a dollar for similar postcards to send home to your friends. It doesn't seem to be according to location, but at the whim of the shopkeeper. Perhaps it really doesn't make any difference -- either they sell less cards for more, or more for less; the customer spends the same amount in the end.

One notices also that the store in 1jpg has the same sort of stuff as all the other souvenir stores -- if we zoomed out a little, we would see the t-shirts, caps, etc.. Are they family-owned businesses, or part of a vast corporation? Is the market ripe for a new "Starbucks"-type franchise that would successfully encapsulate the "New York Experience", so that people would seek it out over its anonymous competition?

When the Rube got his first job in the city, he was so proud that for several weeks he sent postcards to all his friends so they could appreciate the glamorous world in which he now lived. He favored cards by Alan Batt (Battman Studios), which were printed on deluxe glossy stock and were often extra wide or tall, depending on whether it was a panorama or skyscraper (it would be folded in half like a greeting card for mailing but then would unfold to its full size).

Before this, on the occasional excursion to the city, he would pick out "artistic" cards that he found in the Village -- the Artpost or Fotofolio shown here -- these too he intended to impress his New Jersey friends with the intense cultural experience he had had during his eight hours in Bohemia. He was later disappointed to discover that they could also be gotten at the local Brentano's -- it seemed to cheapen them somehow. It is a little like those people who wished Times Square to remain scary, so they were the only ones who dared visit it. Now everyone goes there, and the feeling of being privileged has diminished.

Of course, the happy ending for the Rube is that now, much in the manner of the Keebler elves, he manufactures his own custom postcards fresh daily, and posts them on NYCJPG!

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