A few months ago, a series of mayoral campaign posters began appearing in New York City subway cars and taped to lampposts. Something about the ads seemed off (one for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams promised: “I Was Beaten by Cops. Now You Can Be Too”), but then the campaign has it too. The Republican candidate, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, once portrayed the image of himself as “a hemorrhoid in a red beret.” As for Adams, the Democratic candidate, no one is sure where he lives; he is said to cuddle around in Borough Hall, where he has a mattress, in his socks. False news, real news – who can keep track of it? A newspaper in the Bronx listed the strange posters as a Sliwa guerrilla operation. One of the ersatz Sliwa ads: “Marxist-democratic mice want the light in your teeth… Vote for me.” Maybe. Or possibly the work of Putin agents? Misinformation about dark money?
“It’s more like what if Banksy was an idiot?” Dennerd Dayle said the other day. Dayle is a writer from Bay Ridge – thirty, a little nerdy – who sets aside acts of bourgeois dissatisfaction. Recent pranks include fake posters for MTA (A-train service change notice: “Please let me die”); an MFT, or Marx Fungible Token, a digital painting by Karl Marx, sold for one hundred and ten dollars; and a make-up Covid-denier convention called SpreadCon, with chocolate-coated door handles and a sneezing contest. (Dayle recently quit his job of writing ad text after selling a satire book called “Everything Abbreviated.” He has also been published in this magazine.)
During the primary election, he was inundated with candidate posters. “I got one that said, ‘Robbed by officers, I became one,'” he said – from the Adams campaign. “I was kind of okay, I can not does not do this.” After his Adams parody, he continued:
Ray McGuire: “Black? White? You’re still poor. Shut up now. “
Dianne Morales: “For every vote I lose, an intern dies. Your choice.”
He printed thousands of copies and polished them all over the city. He noticed parallels between his work and the mayoral race – high stories spun, made personas. “I’m very interested in people who can perform large-scale hoax and how it’s a kind of creative thing in itself,” he said. A month ago, for example, Sliwa orchestrated a photo shoot in which he crawled under a car and falsely claimed to have found a murder weapon. Adams blamed the lack of tax returns on a periodic homeless accountant, which he charitablely had in his employment. “Creatively, you could say they come from a very similar place to me,” Dayle said. “I want to say I’m better at it than Sliwa, and I’m very worried that Adams might be better than me.”
One day last week, Dayle designed a new batch of posters and hit the subway. He wore completely black and posted his work with practiced nonchalance.
Would riders know hoaxes from reality? Once, when a train was leaving the station, a construction worker was studying a fake Sliwa poster. Uppercase letters stand “THE FALSE IDOL IS CRUSHED.“Under it:” The weaver of lies weaves his lies, and I weave them up. . . . Now our city bears the burden of truth. ” The man nodded strongly. “I like the way he talks!” he said.
On the L-train, a rider approved another fake Sliwa ad that read “Do not give up. Do not let them win. (‘Them’ are the blacks.) “The rider said cryptically:”The wants to confuse you. “A woman skimmed an ad with the tagline” It’s time to fight for a bigger, safer and more diverse portfolio for each Eric Adams. Together. “” I like this, “she said.” It tells me he’s a man. “She leaned closer and squinted,” Wait… “
Dayle left too little air. In Union Square, he handed out several posters to a stranger wearing a smiley-face tie. The man tore up the Adams ad and a de Blasio condemnation poster (“I am free! Look at the sun, it is beautiful”). “I keep it,” he said tenderly about the Sliwa ad. Dayle thanked him for the feedback.
A few minutes later, the man knocked Dayle down. “Can I take this test again?” he said. “This is fucking ingenious!”
Dayle woke up. The man planned to vote for Sliwa, but the Sliwa parody (“Them ‘is the Blacks”) gave him a break. He wanted to hear what Dayle, who is black, meant.
“My long-term impression: Guardian Angels create these race-colored crime stories,” Dayle said. “But I’m glad you liked the art.”
“I was a BLM guy before they lost their minds – I walked around in a Kaepernick shirt,” the man replied. “My best friend is a black guy and he’s very instructive to me on race in America… But – how do I say that? I think we won the race in New York. I think it in other parts of the country is a problem. ” He continued: “In New York, maybe is there still racism among the police? But BLM made such a number on the police. “
The man gave a hug. Dayle suggested a fistfight. “It was crazy,” he said as the man left. “It’s a demonstration of what comedy has and does not have.” ♦