I’m always struck by the grey grey grey dark grey of this city in winter. At this time of year, most any slice of color that slaps the eyes is manmade, and usually advertising something I am told to purchase or experience. Sitting only by default at the Starbucks below the hotel to take refuge in a cup of coffee, I stare out the pane glass window onto 42nd street and 8th Avenue. It is a sleety, hard-cold-grim kind of morning and everyone who walks by is clad in a dark coat and an empty, unhappy grimace. But just beyond their frozen faces is a huge light-up TV billboard pinned to the corner of the Port Authority building’s steel girders and looping an advertisement for something that appears to offer an internet search service. The product that’s being sold is not entirely clear to me, however, because the images have nothing to do with the internet, and in fact, nothing to do with where I am right now. They look just like home: beautiful images of the bright blue ocean, and a surfer riding a huge wave on a short board. This serene offering, in the middle of such an uninspired and inhospitable city block, is at once bizarre and appreciated. But mostly, bizarre.

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