There's much to provoke the curiosity in the strangeness that is M.T. Food Inc. of Third Avenue in Manhattan. Firstly, there's the crudely bold sign, with its huge M. and T., signifying we know not what. Then there's the idea that what is essentially a small deli needs to put a ponderous "Inc." at the end of its name. And don't overlook the clock which boasts "Never Closed." This may explain why the clock face had no hands (if the store doesn't close, who cares what time it is?), but it doesn't explain why the "12" on the clock has been replaced by an "S" (for "Sunrise" and "Sunset"?).
But this is all next to nothing when one ventures inside and see the walls are lined with framed pictures of famous people. This in itself is nothing special; many New York stores have such pictures, usually signed, with some accompanying sentiment of good wishes. These photos are not signed. And each one is adorned with the same gold plaque, reading "Better." Andy Warhol, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, Peter O'Toole, JFK—dozens of pictures of the greatest achievers in every field of endeavor. All "Better."
Better? Better than what? I asked the workers gathered at the cash resister. "They're better. You're best," said one man. Huh? He explained that the previous owner of M.T. hung them up and the customer-flattering joke is these great personalities were "better," but whoever was looking at them—and buying goods at M.T.—was "best." At least that's the way I understood it.
In a City of eccentric shops and shopkeepers, this display is truly one of the most exceptionally weird phenomena I had ever encountered.