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iPod, Annotated

photo: Staci Schwartz

Sometime last week—Wednesday night, maybe—an anonymous scribbler took a marker to a block-long row of iPod posters, adding a penetrating spin on Apple's pitch for "10,000 songs in your pocket." People walking by on Thursday slowed to consider the dozens of new messages stretching down the east side of Lafayette, from Great Jones to Bond: The "i" in iPod "stands for isolation," the writer had scrawled above one silhouette of that annoying lone figure dancing. "The 'i' stands for insecure," for "irrational," for "inibriated" and "inebriated."

Apple's digital answer to the analog Walkman is corking the ears of the world at a rate of more than 700,000 pairs every three months. A cheaper version, the iPod mini, offers room for only 1,000 songs but already has a waiting list of customers. "The 'i' stands for 'I want one,' " read the graffitied line on one billboard. With an urban cry reminiscent of Barbara Kruger's graphic exploits or the Missing Foundation's upturned cocktail glass, whoever did this hasty work turned an ad campaign about being cool into a commentary on being alone. With their own markers, viewers answered back. "The 'i' stands for the person who did these comments 'is totally cool,' " one wrote. Another complained, "The I stands for impatence [sic] you idiot." A third dispensed with the "I" business completely and just stated, "Your notes are stupid."

By Friday morning, the game was over. Rain had washed most of the marks away.

All Photos: Staci Schwartz

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