Fake London Underground Poem

Bakerloo Line, London Underground, 31 March 2003. "Poems on the Underground" has long filled unused ad space in London Underground trains with poetry. The overtly partisan political nature of this particular one surprised me; most of the poems they select are relatively innocuous and unprovocative (and of rather better literary quality). Clearly, this was not an "official" poem but rather an unauthorized counterfeit, a well-executed example of guerrilla culture jamming.

The style and print quality were sufficiently consistent with the "real" poems as to not tip off the casual observer. It was printed on heavy card stock and was a good quality reproduction. The typography wasn't perfect though; in the official poems, the horizontal stripe in the London Underground logo is blue, not red, and the poem text is usually in a Roman font. Still, it was a very well done hack, and I had to find and study an official poem ad card before I was completely convinced that this one wasn't legitmate.

Over the next couple of days I saw numerous instances of this and several other "fake" Underground poems (all parodies of various famous poems or songs and all critical of oil companies and US/UK politics). By the end of the week, however, not one was to be found; presumably the London Transport authorities discovered and systematically removed them. A Google search did not reveal any person or group taking credit for this hack, although I found several other sites from people who had noticed it. Does anyone know who's behind this? (Update: I've recently found a couple of news reports that suggest that Greenpeace has claimed responsibility.)

Sing a song of Esso

Sing a song of Esso
a packet full of lies
and oily greasy dollars
to help the climate fry
when the wallet opened
George Bush began to sing
"the planet may be burning
but I don't see a thing"

The boss is in the counting house
counting out his money
Bush is in the White House while
the weather's going funny
so let us now suggest to you
that when you see their logo,
do something for our planet Earth
and don't go buying Esso

(Esso what Exxon is called outside the US.)

Image taken with a Nikon D-100 digital camera with 50mm AF-D lens, hand-held with electronic flash.

Copyright © 2003 by Matt Blaze. All rights reserved. You may not copy, modify or use this image for any commercial or non-commercial purpose without permission.

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