Explanation Behind 'Last Chance' Message in New York Sky Is Bizarre

last chance skywritingWhile walking through downtown Manhattan on a lovely, clear Sunday afternoon, I happened to take a gander over the Hudson River and saw some odd-looking clouds that apparently were trying to tell me something. 

Thanks to a skywriting plane, I saw three separate messages in the sky in puffy-cloud form. The first one said, "Lost Our Lease." Aww, that's really too bad, this economy sucks a big one, I thought. I wondered if it had anything to do with the protesters downtown who make my commute rather infuriating every day. Then came "Last Chance" (hmmm, they must have had a helluva landlord ...), and finally "Now Open" (say what??).

It was a weird, random stunt and not nearly as clever as the "You Should All Be Fired" banner flying through New York in August, but then people started freaking out about it.


Twitter exploded. People couldn't get enough pictures up and wondered, like me, if it had anything to do with the Occupy Wall Street protests, or if it was some plea on behalf of the homeless, or some really weird romantic message, or an actual terrorist threat.

According to New York Daily News, it seems that some people had a tad bit of an overreaction: "How to give New Yorkers a heart attack: skywrite 'LAST CHANCE' above the city," tweeted Peter Mele. "Yeah, they'll love it."

"The sky says last chance," another person tweeted. "I'm skipping town."

I mean, wow, seriously? You think those terrorists are using their time and effort and conniving and weapons to put up a cryptic message like "Lost Our Lease" in the sky via puffy white cloud-writing?

Well, the actual reason behind the skywriting was just about as lame as these people's paranoid reaction to it. The skywriting was sponsored by Friends of the High Line, the same non-profit behind the popular park. A professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Kim Beck, was the artist behind this project. She lives part-time in NYC and chose the cryptic messages from various billboards, as a nod to our extremely sucky economy.

This apparently took six months to pull off and, to top it off, was partially paid for by city and state public funding (so ... us). According to Beck, our hardworking tax dollars paid only for the plane and she didn't receive any compensation. What a relief, I'm so glad to see city funds going to such a worthy cause. She also said plans for the skywriting were announced beforehand -- though no one told me about it -- and that she was inspired by the "Surrender Dorothy" scene from The Wizard of Oz. Well, that certainly freaked Dorothy and the rest of Oz out when they saw it, so perhaps I can't blame a few New Yorkers for being equally wary about the skywriting.

So, in all, I can't help but agree with this tweet: "Call me crazy, but I don't think ominously writing 'Last Chance' in smoke over NYC constitutes as 'art.'"

What did you think of this skywriting stunt? Would you have been freaked out?


Image via innuendo/Flickr

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