Billboards and the "Beautiful City"

Yesterday morning Calvin Klein launched a new "live billboard" in Times Square: around the clock, 40 gaunt models simulate partying (sans sex and booze) inside what's supposed to be a bottle of CK One. I suppose it's the next step in the billboardification of the world: we've got ad-tattooed foreheads, nuns selling ad space on coats that are given to homeless people, even Disney's less-than-altruistic act of outfitting LA's street people with Incredibles gear. As advertising's scales tip even further into the crass, garish, and eye-assaulting, here's a nice idea for a counter-balance:

In Canada, Them.ca proposes a Beautiful City Billboard Fee, a modest annual tax of $6 per square foot of ad space assessed to billboard companies, with proceeds going toward the creation of ad-free public art. In Toronto alone, revenue from the city's approximately 5,000 billboards could raise $6,000,000 for public art in a single year.

[Cross-posted at the Walker blog. Photo via Myszka.]

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