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Merry Cuffmas!

ty1” Following the long Thanksgiving weekend, people working in the lower Manhattan district called Hudson Square returned to find a new twist on traditional holiday street decorations. In lieu of lights, weatherproof wreaths, and the like,  the neighborhood business improvement association commissioned an art installation called Flaming Cactus, in which lampposts throughout the area were festooned with some 55,000 brightly colored…uh, what are those, exactly?

ty2” Ah, zip ties, a.k.a. cable ties, a.k.a.…amongst many versatile uses…plastic handcuffs, a.k.a. disposable restraints, a.k.a., “Whoa! Officer, dude, these things are cutting into my wrists!”

Anyway, I for one drew that comparison right away and imagined wishfully that the decorations constituted an intentional ironic reference to the restraints that had recently helped immobilize and corral the Zuccotti Park occupiers.

Of course the installation had been in the works well before OWS ever got off – more precisely, on – the ground. And the artist behind it has been exploring colored zip ties as a medium of expression for some time. But sometimes irony just happens.

Situated just north of Tribeca, which stands for “triangle below Canal St.,” Hudson Square more accurately traces out a trapezoid, but “Trapaca” was either vetoed or inexplicably never contemplated during the area’s rebranding. ty3” Although located about a mile from Zuccotti Park, the district has seen its share of OWS action. This lamppost, for instance, stands just a few feet from where Naomi Wolf was arrested and zip-tied in October during a splinter protest outside a Huffington Post gala event.

Later, after the Zuccotti Park eviction, OWS briefly regrouped in Hudson Square, in a large public space that was promptly “unpublicked” by its owner, Trinity Church. I understand that OWS is petitioning Trinity to make the space available again.

To be clear, I really like the Flaming Cactus installation—it’s a cool way to spruce things up without resorting to, you know, spruce. ty4” And it nicely reflects the creative impulses of the various agencies – including several advertising giants – that have migrated to Hudson Square and ponied up for its business improvement efforts.

I particularly like how the zip ties brighten the small plaza adjacent to the district’s sole, ludicrously outsized skyscraper, the Trump Soho. Incidentally, in exchange for zoning variances allowing Trump Soho to grow even more outsized and ludicrous, its owners agreed to allow unfettered public access to this plaza. Hey, that’s exactly analogous to…

Nope, not gonna go there. Wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot fluffy comb-over.

ty5Coda: Before sticklers point this out, yes, the NYPD and various other forces have graduated to fancier double-looped zip tie restraints in recent years. Nonetheless, police supply catalogs do still offer the simpler, Flaming Cactus–style models, albeit in drabber, more authoritarian shades

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