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Off the menus: Groups seek to curb handouts

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two more groups have mobilized to turn the fight against fliers and menus into a dual-front war.

Sure, anyone can print his own sign at home, but for five bucks, you can buy two, bright yellow, 3-inch-by-5-inch, weather-resistant laminated placards from the Boerum Hill Association that say: “NO MENUS, CIRCULARS, ADVERTISEM­ENTS.”

And if that’s not a clear enough message, they also have an image of a menu and flier with a red slash through them; reminiscent of “no smoking” signs everywhere.

There are no money-back guarantees, but the sign has a good track record.

“I use it on my door, and while it doesn’t always work, often it does work,” said Sue Wolfe, a member of the Boerum Hill Association.

The BHA’s creation is but one of the latest examples in the suddenly urgent fight against stoop flotsam.

The Park Slope Civic Council has entered the fracas with its own sign, after hearing grumblings from members in the spring. Its creation takes a more polite approach saying: “Please No Fliers, Ads, Menus” on the free sign it plans to give to block associations.

But there’s nothing cordial about the PSCC’s attitude towards leafleting.

“They drop fliers on our steps and they blow into the streets. It becomes incredibly repulsive and appalling,” said Candace Woodward, the group’s vice president.

Other neighborhood groups have remained neutral, even though their members have also complained about the carpet-bombing tactics of leafleters.

Roy Sloane, a member of the Cobble Hill Association, said: “There have been complaints for a long time,” about fliers in his neighborhood, but his group never tried to root it out, because distributing fliers is protected by the First Amendment.

Free speech or not, even the state Senate has joined the mix, passing a law to shield people from being blanketed by fliers if they put up a “no flier” sign. (The Assembly has yet to take up the bill.)

This might seem like good news, but these signs do not meet the state’s requirements for a legal anti-flier sign, because they are too small and do not have the required text.

But the BHA is not disheartened.

“This is the only thing that’s worked,” Wolfe said. “People had written letters to the companies [that hire people to drop the ads door-to-door] and nothing happened.”

This isn’t a new crusade for the BHA. The group started making the signs in 2001 and sold them mainly to group members. Only last week, the BHA redoubled its effort when Tony’s Hardware on Smith Street became the first store to carry them, and through the first weekend, had sold 18, thanks to mentions on some Brooklyn Web sites, like the Gowanus Lounge.

“People come in and they say: ‘Someone told me you have the signs here,’ they buy them, and move on,” said Tony Gonzalez, the hardware store’s owner.

But if the colorful sign isn’t a strong enough deterrent or maybe you’d rather save the $5, there is a free, polyglot alternative.

Jim Vogel single-handedly began circulating to members of a Boerum Hill online group, after a flurry of neighborhood complaints, his own printable “No menus” sign, which he translated, perhaps accurately, into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Arabic.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as an official placard from the BHA, so I just threw together a quick thing in an attempt to be helpful,” he said. “I used translation software, but I’m sure the ‘No fliers’ part will mis-translate very amusingly.”

Amusingly to English-speakers, that is. Vogel’s translation of “No fliers” in Spanish actually reads, “No aviators.”

In uncertain terms

Jim Vogel of the Pacific Street Block Association gave out this placard decrying menus and fliers — in six languages!

Problem is, our crack staff took the time to translate it, and it doesn’t add up.

Here’s what the sign really says:

English

It means: “No Menus, No People Who Fly”

Spanish

It says: “None menus, none aviators”

Chinese

It says: “No Menus, No Fliers”

Korean

Phonetically it means “No menus, no fliers”

Japanese

It says: “If you use [it] before a noun it becomes a subject or object.”

Arabic

It is just a line of unpronounceable letters, but the word “airplane” appears in them.

Updated 4:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim Vogel says:
Oh, come on! If you want to make fun of it, don't do worse yourself with your "crack staff" (unless you're saying something revelatory about your staff, which would explain this...) English doesn't need translation to English! In English, it does indeed say "No menus/No Flyers". And your Japanese is very flawed, indeed, crack-o-san.
Nov. 2, 2007, 9:19 am
Jim Vogel says:
...And nobody gets sarcasm anymore???
Nov. 2, 2007, 10:48 am
A Chinese Translator in Brooklyn says:
The Chinese sentence Jim got from the translation software actually means "Do not have menus, Do not have flying objects" to Chinese readers. And unfortunately, the Brooklyn Paper's crack staff failed to point out the mistake. I sincerely recommend any organization who wants to use the slogan not to use this Chinese direct translation. We, the translators, exist for a reason afterall. Thank you.
Nov. 6, 2007, 4:47 pm

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