Eyesore of the Month
When fake charitable clothing boxes invaded Brooklyn, our intrepid correspondent decided to repurpose them
[ by Charles Star ]
Perhaps you have seen one of the bright red and white sidewalk-cloggers that have spread, like a metastasized cancer, throughout Brooklyn and other cities across the U.S. Decorated with American flags, these eight-foot-tall behemoths implore us to deposit used clothes and shoes for the good of the environment. No one seems to know where they came from or why they appear in public spaces. But most people assume them to be for a charitable cause and would be surprised to find that they are in fact owned by a for-profit company, the Chicago-based U'SAgain.
The boxes made but a brief appearance in Park Slope proper-someone spray-painted EYESORE on a box on Seventh Avenue, and it disappeared shortly thereafter-yet they remain in Gowanus and Prospect Heights.
The clothing boxes got me thinking: if some out-of-town company can clog
our sidewalks with its unsightly bunkers, what's to prevent me from doing
the same? After all, I can always use clothes. Lacking the resources to
weld my own box, I opted to repurpose the ones belonging to U'SAgain.
By simply pasting new messages over the U'SAgain boxes in Prospect Heights,
I made them my own:
Web update: January 15, 2005: The intervening months since I originally wrote this piece have not been kind to those boxes. Would-be donors have dumped piles of clothes around all around them; the boxes end up shucked like oysters, the undesirable contents strewn about the street. As if this crime-magnet isn't bad enough, the homeless have repurposed the collection boxes for their own uses -- as dumpsters and semi-private urinals. The owner of the bodega on Underhill asked the company to remove the box in front of his store after someone started a fire inside it. Meanwhile, the box at the corner of Washington and Lincoln now bears the graffito, "For-profit corporation. Donate to charity instead." --CS