Is it a holiday wish — or holiday diss?
The Prospect Park West bike lane controversy takes center stage on Borough President Markowitz’s annual holiday greeting card, which envisions a frenzied boulevard as the epicenter of the “Borough of Lanes.”
The illustration, by Markowitz’s regular colaborator, Oregon-based artist Dennis Adler, depicts Prospect Park West as an avenue run amok with lanes for every possible Christmastime constituency: a car lane and a bike lane, a lover’s lane, holiday-only lane, and a walking lane.
The car lane is narrowest of the six, with vehicles are piled high up in the background, a reference to Markowitz’s contention that the city favors cyclists — and, in the Beep’s satiric version of the bike lane controversy, toy soldiers, snowmen and reindeer — at the expense of motorists.
Inside are re-written lyrics to the song “My Favorite Things” that reveal more of Markowitz’s take on the bike lane controversy. The Beep sang a portion of the song, written by Brooklyn-based Jon Hatch, at a City Council hearing last week about a bill that would require public hearings before the city installs bike lanes.
“Strollers and schleppers and skaters and joggers/Holiday lanes just for egg-noggers/But let’s not forget cars — it’s getting insane/Welcome to Brooklyn, ‘The Borough of Lanes,’ ” the card reads.
Markowitz said the card is intended to “send a message,” albeit in a lighthearted way.
“I happen to believe that most of Brooklyn feels there should be oversight as to where these lanes are places,” he said. “The shouldn’t be discrimination to those who prefer to own or need their cars for their livelihood or convenience.”
He said he and wife Jamie are behind the concept of the illustration, and hope that even pro-lane advocates will “take it with a sense of humor.”
But bike lane supporters aren’t laughing.
“There’s nothing funny about mocking serious street improvements that have reduced speeding and potentially saved lives,” said Kim Martineau, spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives a cycling advocacy group.
But Martineau may be taking the Beep’s holiday card out of context. The colorful annual greeting is always filled with coded messages and timely commentary, the Beep’s holiday well-wishes have long been a source of media attention and fun.
Besides the hit-you-over-the-head-with-an-anvil-obviousness of this year’s theme, there are also “Easter eggs” hidden away in the illustration, which is part Hieronymus Bosch, part Sergio Aragonés, of Mad magazine fame.
Our eagle-eyed analysts spent hours pouring over the card and found:
• A discarded mattress, leaning against a tree —a nod to the city’s bed bug epidemic. “It’s something that impacts people,” Markowitz said.
• An African-American Santa whose sleigh is being pulled not by reindeer, but by geese, a reference to the goose slaughter this summer, when the feds killed hundreds of Prospect Park geese in the name of aviation safety. “Most of us would have loved to have seen the geese not handled in the way they were handled,” Markowitz said.
• A same-sex couple in a warm embrace, a nod to the Beep’s strong pro-gay marriage stance.
• Markowitz and his biggest booster, wife Jamie, and their African grey parrot Beep, sitting in the middle of the mayhem — sipping Champagne and eating a hot dog. Now that’s classy.
©2010 Community News Group
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