Exercise in Opportunism
CBS News, Channel 2
January 3, 2019
On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, I watched a dog run down the New York City subway tracks at the Essex Street station in the middle of the afternoon on the Lower East Side. Along with some other concerned observers, we contacted the MTA authorities through the emergency call box. But not before I captured a video of the event on my phone. The next morning, I scanned the news for mention of the incident, and learned that the dog had continued to roam the subway system late into the night, causing major train delays for commuters and instigating a massive collective search by the NYPD, the Emergency Services Unit, MTA, people on Instagram, Citizen, NextDoor, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.
I decided to send a citizen’s tip to Gothamist (something I had always wanted to do) from Jennifer Vanilla, and included my video. John del Signore, the Editor-in-Chief, responded in nine minutes, and soon, my testimony had been incorporated into their ongoing account of Jake the Subway Dog.
By the end of the afternoon, my inbox was filled with requests from local news stations looking for an interview with me, the only contactable eye witness to Jake, the Subway Dog. Sensing my 15 minutes on the horizon, I began to rehearse and plan my outfit, minting an emergency merchandise item with moments to spare.
A CBS News reporter and her camera crew arrived at my doorstep and flooded the sidewalk with artificial light and firm handshakes. I delivered the most flamboyant account of the dog sighting I could muster, and dared to introduce myself as The Artist Known as Jennifer Vanilla.
Jake the Subway Dog was eventually found and returned to his owner. I can confirm that I gained two fans from this charade: a father and daughter from Queens who wrote to me on youtube after seeing the news item.
Behind-the-scenes footage of the interview recorded by my neighbor, Teeny, at my request