Thursday, November 19, 2009

Neon Burnout

Two letters of the illuminated sign for Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens, have burnt out, leaving " lmhur t" — or "I'm hurt," reports The New York Times. Said hospital spokesman Dario Centicelli, "Thank goodness our name is Elmhurst instead of some other name where it could go out really bad."
There's no photo of the hospital sign, but the article contains a link to this invaluable archive of accidentally "treated" neon signage. The piece also mentions the long-running use of the concept in film:

In the 1992 film “Batman Returns,” Catwoman smashes the “O” and “T” on a sign that says “Hello There!” leaving a more ominous “Hell Here.”

The cartoon family the Simpsons once stayed at a Sleep-Eazy Motel, where a burned-out “E,” “P” and “E” rendered it into a more accurate and descriptive “Sleazy Motel.”

And in the 1942 Abbott and Costello film “Who Done It?” a shootout turns “Vote for Townsend Phelps” to “Send Help,” which again gets shortened simply to “End.”

There are many more movie, TV, literature, and video game usages here. Most tantalizing revelations:

The entire premise of [manga comic] Aoi House is that the initial "Y" fell off the sign.

"Tony Hancock's film The Punch and Judy Man, set in a seedy English seaside resort, has a scene where Hancock's title character is shaving just before performing at an important reception at the town hall. His faulty electric shaver shorts out some of the town's illuminations, causing them to spell out insults."