– by George Dyke
You may have seen the Jan. 20, 2014 issue of The New Yorker Magazine, but did you notice what’s on the cover?
The watercolor artwork shows New Jersey Governor Chris Christie playing ball on the George Washington Bridge. It depicts that traffic jams that ensued when, on September 9, two traffic lanes to the bridge which connects New Jersey to Manhattan, were shut for several days. But look closely at car in front of the line right behind Governor Christie. It’s sporting double chevrons!!
I noted that the cover was signed by B. Blitt. A Google search on B. Blitt came up with Barry Blitt, a New York illustrator who had done many New Yorker covers. It said he grew up in Montreal and trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Perhaps he been sufficiently influenced by Citroën at some point in his life to prominently feature one on the cover of The New Yorker? I sent him an email today and asked what motivated him to draw the Citroën in his illustration?
Barry was kind enough to respond right away saying: “I have received a stack of messages today about the Citroën in my illustration. I’m afraid the truth of the matter is that the New Yorker cover in question was a very last minute assignment, and I wasn’t the least bit aware of the vehicles I rendered in it – I just Googled “oncoming traffic” and copied a whole lot of automobiles in a hurry.”
“[and for the record, I am not a car person – I learned to drive at 38 years old – so I didn’t notice the unfamiliar Citroën even as I was drawing it]”
So unfortunately it wasn’t matter of subliminal placement, a passion for Citroëns, or anything like that. But we can be thankful that somehow Barry was dealt a traffic shot by Google that featured a Citroën. And who says we can’t believe it was divine intervention by the late André Citroën himself to tell PSA Peugeot Citroën that they should be selling cars again in the USA?
The whole incident with Mr Christie stems from gridlock that was allegedly engineered to punish a Democratic New Jersey mayor who did not endorse the Governor’s re-election.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a top aid to Governor Christie wrote on 13 August to David Wildstein, a political appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge. “Got it,” Mr Wildstein replied.
Mr Christie, seen as a potential future Republican presidential candidate, said on Thursday Jan 8, that he felt “embarrassed and humiliated” by the incident and denied any involvement, blaming “deceitful” staff. That same day he fired Ms. Kelly. And Mr Wildstein has since resigned.