Archive for the ‘Signs’ Category

Sign # 5: A Plea for Christian Bestiality

April 15, 2012

Don’t skip to the bottom and see the sign first – you MUST let me introduce it, PLEASE!

I hold special fondness for a hand-made sign. There’s the trouble that’s gone into it for one thing. Some of the time you see one that’s obviously taken a lot of work and craftsmanship. Impressive. But on the other hand, some rough ones that were clearly the result of great haste are made especially poignant by the very urgency of the scrawl. The placement of the hand-made sign is also going to have a different logic to it than the commercial or regulatory sign and that can be a fun thing to notice.

But what of those certain hand-made signs, a category unto themselves really, the motivation to create which must surely remain forever unresolved?

For example: what probing could ever reveal what possessed the unknown author of the specimen of cardboard-fragment poetry I present below to compose his (or her, I guess) gross ode to shitty pizza? None. And an even greater mystery must surely be why, having captured this odious flight of fancy, its creator felt irresistibly compelled to display it within the glass window of a newspaper dispenser on a San Francisco street corner, like some rare specimen? Thus making it harder for others to remove without effort while maximizing its visibility to all passersby.

Was it a message for a particular person, known to frequent that corner?

Or had the tunnel vision of some self-absorbed artiste led to a magnanimous and egoistic urge to share his proudest stanza of doggerel, by intrusion if necessary?

I hesitated to post this or write about it because it’s so crude and not really funny. Or rather, it is funny, but not in the way it thinks it is. It doesn’t even scan properly and the rhyme isn’t good. It’s funny because it’s not right and then you just go “what the fuck?” And then you laugh.


Sign #3: French Anarchist Bio-Fuel, Copenhagen, December 2009

September 25, 2010

This was taken during my “hilariously” disastrous trip to Copenhagen for the COP15 conference and protests (more of which I’ll be giving a comprehensive account of, once I can face the thought). One of the meeting points for activists, which was also a tea bar (although you could bring your own beer and laptop if you just needed to get on the wi-fi) had a bulletin board with info about various actions taking place, times and places etc. People also stuck notices up there if they were looking for a ride, a place to stay, or in this case – the return of some vegetable oil that had been confiscated by the police.

The entire text reads:

“Help us! The Police seized the cooking oil we use to drive our bus. They say we could make bombs with it. Please call the Police and ask for the return of our oil: (then some phone numbers). Signed – The French Activists of Caravan Solitaire”

I just love this hand-made sign. I hope they got their cooking oil back and that Caravan Solitaire was sur la route (encore) bientôt!

Sign #4 General Election Polling Station UK 2010

May 6, 2010

Posted on Guardian Web site

Now I don’t normally read The Sun
But one finds them, when someone is done,
On the seat of a train
When it’s starting to rain
So one reads it as some guilty fun

Oh how titillating!
Oh how scandalous!
Like a teenager pushing a pram!

The Liberal Democrats secretly plot
To make London look like Amsterdam!

Legalised brothels and spliffer’s cafés!
MPs who don’t go to church!
Stickers on sausages!
No CCTV peering down at you from every perch!

It’s outrageous and shocking!
They want to allow folks to gather
In Parliament Square!

They demand a fair trial
The right to stay quiet
And insist that a jury is there

So I got off the train, by the sea
Thanking whatever twat he may be
For leaving The Sun
Once, of course, he was done
Checking out the bare flesh on Page Three

It’s so obvious!
I’m convinced of it!
Though I felt awfully puzzled before

I’m giving my vote
To the pushers and pimps!

(Though they’ve got as much chance as a Gore…)

Sign #2: Ancient Lights, Chelsea, London

March 29, 2010

I’ve often noticed this sign, about 3 feet up from the ground on a brick wall that connects a couple of semi-detatched  red brick buildings below Kings Road, on a side street somewhere near Sydney Street. Try as I might I can never deliberately find it, but just stumble across it from time to time and on this particular occasion was lucky enough to have the camera.

I don’t know if it’s the name of one of the houses, or the whole building. There is a strong tradition of buildings having names here in the UK, less than in the USA (unless you’re talking big Southern Plantations like Tara from ‘Gone With the Wind’ or something). I have several correspondents, especially in Ireland, whose physical mailing addresses contain no numbers whatsoever other than the postal code. But “Ancient Lights” is not the address name of the house, for it is affixed between two buildings that each have their own normally displayed individual addresses.

I always really love running into the Ancient Lights sign.  Firstly because as I said I can never remember exactly where it is and so I’m always happily surprised to turn a corner and find myself in front of it, and then also because I really can’t imagine why it was put there; and finally, in totally contrast to the British Highways Act 1980 sign (Sign 1 in this series), which you may recall is placed ridiculously high at a place where few people would bother to look, this sign is oddly low and similiarly situated in such a way as to attract the least attraction.

As imparting information would appear to be the raison d’etre of the venerable signage industry, I am both amused and bemused by the obfuscating display decisions made by whomever.

Sign #1, Highways Act 1980, Peckham Rye, Greater London

February 28, 2010

This is the first image in what will be an ongoing series dedicated to peculiar or otherwise arresting signage. This particular sign is at the end of a semi-covered alley passageway that takes you out to a side road, upon exiting Peckham Rye rail station in Greater London and immediately taking a right. Many people use this thoroughfare as its the way to certain bus connections. The other options, probably obviously, are to go straight ahead to the main road or to the left to another perpendicular side road. So, as you emerge onto the side street there is a very tall metal fence which you can see the top of in this photo. I’d say the tip of those spikes are at about the 8 foot mark which would mean the sign is about 9 feet up the wall. What I love about it is the combination of the ridiculous height at which it’s placed and the wonderful absurdity of the statement. It’s sort of like an anti-proclamation: both in its impractical location and the fact that it is essentially announcing the not-ness of something rather than the is-ness. It is not telling the accidental trespasser (who also happens to be quite tall) that s/he is forbidden from walking there, or faces some penalty for so doing, but has an air of resigned passivity about it. As there are no barriers to prevent access to the passageway, other than the suggestion of the open gate, it is obvious from a few minutes observation that everyone regards it as their right to use it as the plainly apparent short cut to the side road. And yet, for some reason, someone at the British Railways Board has seen to it that this statement be publicly displayed, albeit where few people will see it. It reminds me of running into an old boyfriend once who was carrying a bunch of flowers and said, most unnecessarily, “these aren’t for you, by the way”. Similiarly this sign is wimpy yet confrontational. It’s like that annoying narc kid in school who’d give you a look that said he knew you got away with it but he wanted you to know that he knew you did it anyway. I’m not sure why I looked up and noticed the sign but one thing was definite: nobody else paid a blind bit of difference.