Signs of the Times

Huge Billboards Invade Noho and Soho

"I don't ever see any forest rangers in there," quips Balet, who looks from one of his two rooftop gardens to an array of ads along Houston. Mixed among a skyline view that includes the World Trade Center, the Woolworth Building, and glimpses of both the Williamsburgh and Manhattan bridges are ads for gin, health pills, and gym shoes. "I love advertising," says Balet, who has made part of his living from advertising. "I'd love to paint on the wall," he says, noting that he once tried to get the site of the current DKNY ad for his then-client "Mr. Armani."

But there's a limit, he says: "People have gone mad to put their name on the wall, and I know I'm part of the problem. I just don't want it to rule the environment." As he spoke, the Izod blimp lazily passed by.

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