The Secret Life of Newspaper Boxes

Things we learned afer reading Huan Hsu’s excellent story on newspaper boxes in the latest Washington City Paper.

  • So prevalent are the Employment Guide boxes that they actually make a guest appearance in “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” Awesome.

  • “[T]hey are broken into and knocked over. They are stacked to create makeshift housing structures. Their cavities are sometimes filled with nesting material for small animals. They serve as bulletin boards for bands, activists, and anarchists. They are stolen by college kids. They are tattooed with graffiti. On one block below Dupont Circle, someone has scrawled, ‘You Lie, People Die’ on a USA Today box and ‘Neo nazi Rag’ on a Washington Times box. Another Washington Times box states that ‘BUSH IS STILL A DUMBASS,’ and a third proclaims that ‘HARRIET MIERS IS AN INEXPERIENCE [sic] COCKSUCKING CRACKER WHORE.’ Even the Washington Post isn’t off the hook, with ‘Media Lies’ inked across the faceplate of one of its boxes. Talk about shooting the messenger.”

  • “Publishers, however, are never content merely to have a box at a Metro station. Once there, they agitate for the ideal position. A common move is to leapfrog other titles to get a spot at the end of the line–for some reason, boxes on the ends of the line seem to get more customers than those stuck in the middle. Another is to get closest to an entrance. And if you fail to score one of those spots, a place next to a Washington Post box is desirable.”

  • Publishers with boxes in the Golden Triangle District, Montgomery County, Ballston, Old Town Alexandria and Vienna have signed a voluntary agreement to maintain “certain standards of order and cleanliness” on each other’s boxes.