Sunday, November 22, 2009

There Oughta Be A Law

When comic books were comic, a syndicated two-panel cartoon strip, There Oughta Be a Law, gave voice and vent to Americans’ frustrations with just about anything they thought was unfair and should be redressed by a law. Between the 1940s and the 80s, Broadway’s biggest musical, Oklahoma!—with its significant exclamation point—ran for an unprecedented five years; the Mad Ave-hyped Ford Edsel lasted for only three; but There Oughta Be a Law stayed popularly in print for four decades.

I wish “Oughta Be” were around today. I would write cartoonist-creator Harry Shorten to say there oughta be a law in New York City that states anything that isn’t good for the city is unlawful. What has me fuming right now is—brace yourself—a bedbug billboard in Times Square. That’s right, a bedbug. On a billboard. If you haven’t seen it, avert your eyes if you come to it… cover the eyes of your children (and pets)… and, by all means, do not let a visitor to New York see it. Detour, sidle past, walk backwards, but take that tourist dearest to you and to the New York economy and jay-walk the hell out of there.

A bedbug on Broadway! Mayor Bloomberg, where are you? A big, ugly, crawly bug is straddling skyscrapers half its size across a billboard sprawling above a pizza parlor! You eat pizza! The villain is an ad—a tawdry, tacky scare ad for a company called Protect-A-Bed, a crass merchant telling us, “Protect Yourself.” But who’s going to protect Broadway theaters and Manhattan hotels and city restaurants from Protect-A-Bed?

Protect-A-Bed claims its same mattress covers protect against bedwetting. Will people come from all over the world to be sobered by a display of a man pissing on a New York skyline? Above a salad bar?

I don’t believe in curtailing free speech, Mayor B., but this isn’t speech, this is visual assault. There oughta be a law! It isn’t free enterprise, it is economic depravity. Why not a bill-boarded illustration of a bedbug taking a juicy bite out of The Big Apple?!

You spent 69 million dollars—and changed a law a lot of New Yorkers thought oughta be—just to keep your job. Let your affluence do the talking. Why not buy the billboard and change it to something all New Yorkers inherently take pride in?

Curious to know what you, the reader, think there oughta be a law about. That’s what the “Comments” section below is for.


  1. That ad always disgusts me, I know the one exactly. I like the fact that you somehow worked in how Bloomberg changed a law that a lot of NYers wanted to keep in effect. Nice work!

  2. I see we have something in common... you live in New York, the #1 Bedbug infested city in the U.S. and I live in Cincinnati, #2. Don't let the Bedbugs bite indeed!

  3. Yeah Ray. I'm sure that bedbug billboard is also going to look great in all the souvenir photos of Times Square that the tourists take home to their friends and family. That should help a lot with tourism Mr. Bloomberg!

  4. you're so funny Ray... and i 2nd that motion!!!!!!! haven't seen The Bug & will do all in my power to avert my eyes (and my pets' eyes) from it... curiously, your post reminded me of the "poetry in motion" subway posters... always such a lovely oasis in the midst of so many tacky ads...

  5. i am one of the, i'm sure, MANY people who saw this ad (in my case, in the subway), got freaked out and ordered protect-a-bed covers for my mattress and box spring... that, and the fact that it seemed like every time i walked down my street this summer, there was at least one, if not more, mattresses discarded on the sidewalk...
    it's a tried and true tactic - feed on people's worst fears to get them to do/buy something... i don't think i ever thought of bedbugs before i started seeing these ads pop up, but it has become a huge phobia of mine... truly shameful of them...

  6. Bed bugs of the world unite! Larry David pisses on Jesus but they're ganging up on us!!!!!!!! Save the bedbugs! No justice! No Peace!

  7. Can't believe I have not seen this billboard. So now I must look for it. Sounds weird and an unappetitzing. But your comments on our beloved Mayor? On the mark, Ray!

  8. I remember reading this when you first put it up. My reaction to it then was the same as it is now: total agreement.

    Honestly... bedbugs?