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we ran a march to get googly eyes on the MBTA. 

that’s it. that’s the post!

me and john, my beloved coworker turned best co-schemer, were sitting in weathering heights (our office) on a warm march day reminiscing about how it’s been far too long since we ran a shenanigan. john started the choosening at harvard, where every week was a week, and i started lettuce clubs across canadian universities, where university students annually raced to eat an entire head of lettuce. 

“it’s far too hard to run a shenanigan when you’re out of school,” was our thought. many a schemer would yell into their dorm hallway and gather a crowd. when we yell in our out-of-school glory, it is thrown into the void never to be heard again. 

…an hour later, we began planning our googly eye antic. it was a line in my “misc ideas to do” doc (it is over 100 lines long). 

arielle tweet

and we just went with the flow. on april 1st, we sat down at silly hacks and wrote all the copy and published our event page for april 29th. for 2 weeks it went forgotten and gathered dust. 10 days before the event, we had 2 respondees and they were john and i.

there was an out: we could just… not do it! instead, like a semester-long assignment left to last minute, we increased our googly-eye productivity throughput by 10x. rishi and taryn printed a hundred posters for me and i began taping them onto as many poles as i could. liam and song visited town and put a few up during their adventures in boston. claire sent my blurb to all the MIT dorms. quite literally 7 days before the event, i cold-emailed a few journalists/news outlets and got a 100% response rate and a 100% publication rate within 2 days. here’s what i sent:

Hello! I'm reaching out to propose an engaging and offbeat story that I believe would captivate your readership and add a touch of whimsy to the Boston Herald.

On Monday, April 29th, 2024 from noon-1pm, a large group of Bostonians will gather for a lighthearted yet impactful event: a march to advocate for the installation of googly eyes on the front of MBTA trains. This VISION aims to inject a sense of fun into the daily commute. That is the only purpose of the eyes. There is no hidden or underlying message. We simply want googly eyes on the T. More information can be found here:

Marchers will assemble at Park Street station before embarking on a leisurely stroll to the MBTA offices. The event is not only a celebration of Boston's vibrant spirit but also a statement on the power of small acts of whimsy to transform our transit system.

I believe that this story aligns with the Boston Herald's interest in showcasing unique cultural phenomena and grassroots movements that reflect the pulse of our city.

I am available for further discussion and can provide additional details, quotes, and resources as needed. Thank you for considering this pitch, and I look forward to the possibility of SEEing this quirky yet meaningful story grace the pages of the Boston Herald.

Yours googly,

Arielle Lok

before we knew it, we were off to the races. we had so much news coverage but our attendee list was not growing. my biggest fear of this march? i could picture it clearly: john, me, and 10 news reporters aiming their cameras at the both of us alone, screaming for eyes on the T with dozens of posters scattered at our feet. the attendee list never grew and we ultimately accepted we would be left in the dark with how many people would show up until the march itself.

one of the reporters asked us if we had eyes ready, and i answered “...eerrrr, yeah!”. after the phone call, i searched up ‘How Much Are Giant Googly Eyes’ and found out that a PAIR could easily get up to $4 alone! and we had like, 3 days! and we had no idea how many people were coming!!!!! lol!!!!! ^_^ !!!!!!!!!! 

we roll with the punches though. in a cry of desperation and for help, i tweeted:

arielle tweet

and within an HOUR, i was zelle’d a few hundred dollars into my account. i cannot thank my patrons of whimsy enough. seriously. shoutout to anish and donald for believing in our vision. i placed an order within the same hour and i had over a thousand eyes of all sizes being mailed to our house.

i cancelled all my sunday plans and spent the day making posters and continuing outreach. i posted on subreddits, facebook groups, discords, MBTA influencers (they’re real) - it felt very reminiscent of peko’s early days. john scouted our walkpath downtown and it was all coming together (except for not knowing how many people would come). 

we wracked our brains trying to come up with more clever slogans for our posters and my arms were covered in acrylic by the end of the day. some of our postered quotes:

  • the T that sees (you home, its riders)
  • eye of the (T)iger
  • the T is our friend
  • orange line, green line, red line, blue, (stick, drill) those googly eyes on with (glue, screws)
  • real eyes realize
  • green line, seen line
  • eye believe in the MBTA

i slept early - it was important to get a good night of rest before a day of chanting. the morning came and john and i entertained a NPR interview (and we also did work LOL. it was a monday after all) before heading down to park street to set up. we laid posters down and the first two people to come were reporters. my nightmare was coming true.

then a few of john’s friends came, and then random strangers came (they even had their own signs!) and life was so good. we recruited more people off the street, but the majority of people who were in attendance were people who had seen articles, reddit posts, and went out of their way to be with us.

john is a S+ cult leader. he was belting chant after chant at the top of his lungs. he was coming up with them on the fly. it was a marvel to watch. 

we played eye and train themed music. here’s the link if you’re curious. it’s a 25 hour long playlist. we chanted as a group for a while and began our march to the MBTA office. passerbyers would share a laugh with us. people snapped pictures with grins on their faces. we only had a few randoms who would cuss out the MBTA. our retort? “ah yea that sucks. we just want eyes on the T tho.” 

a reporter asked me what i disliked about the MBTA. i said, “well, it’s the lack of googly eyes for me.” she laughed then pressed more -- “no, really. i have nothing else to say other than i want googly eyes on the front of all the T’s. this march does not have a secret agenda.” and that’s on periodt.

in front of the MBTA office, we chanted and our message was heard. many MBTA employees shared a laugh and one passed on our message to phillip eng himself. overall, i think it went pretty OK. i do not know if i have the dawg in me to ever throw a sequel to this googly phenomena. 

instead, here’s a compilation of my favorite comments from various sources:

comment of a grumpy old man arielle news comments reddit thread arielle news comments random comment from news outlet reddit thread
boston globe coverage of john and i boston herald coverage of john and i WBUR coverage of john and i pics of my posters group of rallyers holding googly mbta signs group of rallyers holding googly mbta signs