Romance, Missed Connections, and Sophie Blackall

NYC has an unquestionable romantic allure. This is the city of carriage rides in Central Park, the top of the Empire State Building, and ice skating in Rockefeller Center. I confess I am a romantic, perhaps even of “hopeless” classification. Yet I, and every other single woman (person?) in New York, has considered the chance that romance in Manhattan is dead. Maybe it moved to Brooklyn? No one writes love letters any more and forget about the grand gestures in tales of yore (and by that I mean the romantic comedies of the ’80s and 90’s: see here). These days I consider it a grand gesture if a man calls me instead of texting. It is that bleak.romanceny

Who has time for romance in this city? Everyone is so busy. We spend infinitely more time paying attention to our phones than we ever could a significant other. Modern love is dependent on technology, is it not? Constant communication. Now we can even track our love’s whereabouts through the GPS of our phones! Maybe I’m an old soul, but I find nothing about technology romantic. Craigslist’s Missed Connections may be the one exception to that rule. It is the place in cyberspace where the crazies romantics of NYC flock.

Screen shot 2013-02-20 at 4.48.50 PM
http://craigslist.org

This page of the “Personals” section is both notorious and celebrated, a combination not uncommon in Gotham City.  It is comprised of fleeting glances, of shared smiles, of conversations that ended abruptly. That cute blonde you passed in the street who you didn’t quite have the balls to speak to? Maybe she’ll read your missed connection post and contact you. The posts are full of opposing forces: hope and regret, romance and lasciviousness, bravery and cowardess.

I have never contributed a missed connection, though I once strongly considered it. Instead I turned off my laptop and went out into the real world to find him. You may remember this wild goose chase as I chronicled it in detail here. But something changed last week. Now I wish I had written a missed connection for every stranger I ever felt the slightest inkling towards. What changed? I discovered Sophie Blackall’s blog Missed Connections.

You may not recognize her name, but if you’ve traveled by subway in the past year, you recognize her art.

mta poster sophie Blackall
The details of this drawing are fantastic. Click the image to go to the artist’s blog where she has close ups of all the characters. [credit: mta.info]
Every year the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) commissions two artists to create a poster for display in New York subways. This public art brings light and inspiration to the dark tunnels of the subway system. It is a tradition that began in 2000 with one artist and expanded to two the year I moved to NYC. You can view all these posters here. Since then I have had the pleasure of viewing each piece on countless subway rides. Sophie Blackall’s is by far my favorite. How could it not be? It is unique, creative, quirky, cute, colorful, insightful, humorous, and every bit a New York cliché! The first time I saw it, I grinned from ear to ear. I could relate it so much to my little blog here.

When I googled “Sophie Blackall” I was thrilled to discover she is an avid blogger! In 2009 she began to illustrate the missed connections of New York City. Already famous in the world of children’s books, now the grown up world of New York became entranced with her illustrations. Several of them are even featured in her subway art.

Sophie Blackall missed connections
Yes, someone wrote these exact words as a missed connection!
[credit: Sophie’s Etsy shop]
When I heard Ms. Blackall was giving a talk on her Missed Connection Project and MTA poster, I knew I had to be there. That the event was to take at Grand Central Terminal on Valentine’s Day was icing on the cake. Local beers from Brooklyn Brewery, heart-shaped cookies from Zaro’s, the picturesque setting, and the more heartfelt & hilarious stories of missed connections; it was a great way to spend a single February 14th.

Grand Central vday
New York Transit Museum’s “Grand By Design” exhibition, celebration Grand Central Station’s 100th anniversary, was a feature and the backdrop of the event.
Sophie Blackall
Sophie Blackall signing books and posters under the lights of Vanderbilt Hall.

Sophie was as charming and clever as you would expect from her illustrations. She gave insight on her inspirations, sharing stories of reactions to her work, and even showed a picture sent to her by the actual man in the bear suit. After the presentation, she was available to meet and sign books (that is what her blog grew into!). She was so sweet and friendly, happily chatting with all her fans. When my turn came and went, over in but a fleeting moment. I didn’t even get to tell her my name! I did tell her about my blog as I complemented her poster. I figure the chance she reads this blog is about on par with the chance that a missed connection becomes a found one…

Missed Connections Book Signing at Grand Central w4w
You were the brilliant and successful illustrator, I was the aspiring blogger. I wore bright pink tights and carried a red coat. You signed my book, the one you wrote, and I told you I didn’t know who to address it to as I was planning to give it away to one of the readers of my blog. You wrote “For you” and then signed your name. It was perfect. Maybe we can read each other’s blogs someday? Maybe I’ll just admire you from afar. Thank you for being inspiring. 

Should I post this on craigslist? We know she reads them!

I wasn’t kidding about giving away her book! One of you lucky readers will receive Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found signed by the author!

Missed Connections Book Sophie Blackall
The cover and signed page of the book that could be yours! It is filled with dozens of full color illustrations, including the bear one up above.

To enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post (bonus karma points if it’s a good comment)
  2. Follow this blog in some fashion: Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin’, WordPress, or e-mail subscription

That’s it!

For an extra entry (doubles your chances!) share newyorkcliche.com on your Facebook or Twitter (mention you did in the comment.)

Thanks and good luck! Winner will be chosen (by random.org) and announced on March 1st and must contact me to collect their prize within 48 hours.
Good luck!

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About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

13 thoughts on “Romance, Missed Connections, and Sophie Blackall

  1. The missed connections in Richmond can get boring after awhile since they mostly center around one main University, so I do look at the ones for NYC or Chicago when I need a laugh.

    I’m not laughing at y’all, just a few people.

  2. My lovely NYCliche – I love Blackwell’s subway drawing. It’s also my favorite. In regards to Missed Connections: although I never posted one myself, I did respond to one. Someone was looking for a co-worker of mine when I worked at Barnes and Noble. So I decided to point the guy in the right direction : ) Hope he found his romance.

  3. That subway art poster has made its way to Massachusetts. A customer brought it into the frame shop where I work a couple of weeks ago. Also, you totally need to post your missed connection on Craig’s List. What do you have to lose?

  4. I peruse missed connections in Toronto regularly. I’m not single or looking, but I find them entertaining, and once and awhile I connect the dots and find posts for people I know. So far three of my friends and my cousin have been the subject of a stranger’s desire!
    Great post. I love your blog.

  5. I once read an article about a young man who saw a pretty girl on the train (I think it was in NY), but he didn’t have the nerve to approach her. He put up flyers describing her, and I think one of her friends recognized her from his description and showed it to her. They actually ended up dating for a while, though they eventually broke up. But still, the thought that he pursued a missed connection like that was sweet and romantic. And I’d Tweet/Facebook your blog post if I had a Facebook or Twitter page, cuz your blog’s awesome and I think everyone should read it. 🙂

  6. I think Manhattan isn’t the only place where romance has gone to die. I think the technology plays a huge part which is sad. We are now able to stay in constant contact but the contact we do have is shallow and as meaningful much of the time. I seriously want that Subway art though! It truly does capture the subways of New York but with a little whimsy added.

    P.S. Mentioned you on Twitter and I already follow you on Bloglovin ever since I read about your “biker boyfriend” and I cant get enough. I too am a CA girl looking to live in NYC so I love your stories

  7. Wow. I had no idea that poster I loved on the subway so much was drawn by the same Sophie Blackall who wrote “Missed Connections”! I’ve thumbed through the book many times at the bookstore, but never bought it. Totally agree that technology has killed the idea of romance. Everyone is such a zombie, staring down at their phones ad nauseum as if looking someone in the eye and actually having a conversation would kill them. I often find myself thinking about how different some of my favorite rom-com movies would be if facebook or twitter or smartphones had been more prevalent then. Claudette Colbert would just have tweeted her annoyance with Clark Gable’s character in “It Happened One Night” and then called a cab to come get her when the bus had trouble! The movie would have ended!

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