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A rocket by any other name

Anagram fun at TTC’s expense lands man in some heat wort

Feb. 26, 2006. 01:00 AM
JANE VAN DER VOORT
TORONTO STAR

Next stop: Nice Gnarl.

Maybe your station is Butt Rash. Or Eely Swell.

The names, all anagrams of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Glencairn, Bathurst, and Wellesley subway stations, are among the comical monikers created by John Martz for stops on the city’s familiar “Subway/RT Route Map.”

Martz drew his own version of the transit diagram, titled it “A Warmer Soupy Butt,” and then posted it on his website, http://www.robotjohnny.com.

But humour is in the funnybone of the beholder, and the TTC wasn’t laughing at Martz’s efforts last Wednesday when the 27-year-old animator with CHUM Television took a copy of the transit commission’s map, and TTC logos, and replaced all of its names and phrases with his own anagrams.

His inspiration came from website boingboing.net, which featured an anagram version of the iconic London, England, tube map.

And just as Transport for London lawyers insisted the Boing Boing map be removed, so did the TTC’s legal department demand Martz’s map come down.

A letter from TTC lawyer Michael Atlas was sent by email to Martz on Friday, warning him he’d face legal action if he did not “cease and desist from using TTC intellectual property.”

“We’ve asked the website to remove the map. From our perspective, some of the content is offensive,” added TTC spokesman Danny Nicholson.

Martz, a car-less and dedicated TTC passenger, came up with the new names in an afternoon last Wednesday after seeing the relabelled London underground map.

“I love wordplay � I’m a big Scrabble fan � so it just seemed like a really fun thing to do since I’m a big TTC taker,” said Martz.

The renamed London Underground’s 275 stops included Eldest Rot in place of Old Street, Crux For Disc instead of Oxford Circus, and Edge Grottoes replacing Goodge Street.

But had Martz visited Boing Boing a few hours later, he would have missed the oddball anagram map. Healey’s Solicitors, lawyers for Transport for London, served notice they wanted it off Boing Boing.

“We asked the creators to withdraw it from their website because they did not have permission to use our map,” said TFL spokesman Stephen Taylor, on the phone from London. “They were happy to comply.”

Taylor said “very, very occasionally” permission is granted for the renowned map, condensed into a recognizable grid by Harry Beck in 1933, to be altered. The most famous remake is Simon Patterson’s 1996 Great Bear, a take on the star constellation Ursus Major, that featured the names of celebrity actors, philosophers and politicians, among others, for Tube stops. Great Bear today hangs in the Tate Britain art gallery, in London.

Other recent and approved versions include Musical Tube, with British music stars’ names, and Sponsored Tube with company and product names, also known as McTube.

But anagram Tube didn’t fly, partly because its creators didn’t get permission and mostly because the TfL was not amused by the naughty names.

“We have a duty to protect our brand � it’s a worldwide icon,” said Taylor.

“The Tube is used by three million passengers a day and I’m sure our customers welcome the fact that we’re protecting something that’s known and loved around the world.”

Martz initially thought “Toronto has a better sense of humour” when he posted his TTC map with anagram station names.

“It’s a fun sort of thing. I don’t anticipate any bad reaction.”

Yet, even while obeying the transit commission’s remove-it-or-else response � he took the map off of his site on Friday for a revamp � Martz was sticking with his potty ‘n’ naughty humoured anagrams.

“I’m just going to make it look a little different, with no intellectual or copyrighted property in my map.

“I’m sure they (the TTC) actually have a sense of humour,” he said. “I dare them to tell me they didn’t pass it around the office, and laugh about it.”




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