Monday, August 4, 2008


Anyone who has spent much time looking at this blog knows that I have an ongoing interest in signs. I often find myself photographing signs, or messages in public, not just signs, but messages on t-shirts, billboards, walls, road surfaces, bumper stickers, etc. I'm especially interested in messages or signs that are unusual, humerous, contradictory, strange, creative, original, threatening, or innane. Recently I deviated somewhat from the usual content of my blog to include pictures of important events of family or friends such as weddings. Now I will probably go back to including information and interest from outside family and friends. That will include poetry, one short story coming up soon, articles on issues that interest me such as the environment, more on psychological abuse in the workplace, and more "signs."

Signs or public messages in our sociey and culture are ubiquitous. They say something about the kind of people we are. The value of some signs is in the directions and instructions they provide. This would include traffic signs. Others such as billboards and realtor signs exist to generate income for someone. But what about personal, political or other messages, brief statements about what someone believes or thinks, or who they are? I'm thinking of the message on the back of the shirt of the young man on crutches that I included on this blog shortly after I started it about a year ago. The message says, "Never judge a man until you walk a mile on his crutches." It was taken in Texas' Palo Duro Canyon many year ago. When ever I see the picture I think of him and wonder what his life was/is like. The front side of his shirt had the message, "Quad Power" on it. I wonder where he is today.

I think the abundance of signs and public messages in our culture may indicate that we are optimistic, or at least hopeful. We believe that someone, perhaps many people, care enough to want to read our message, even it it's in small print on a rear bumper sticker that cannot be read by anyone in a moving vehicle without dangerous tailgating. On the other hand perhaps some people don't really care if anyone sees it or not; they just have a need to express themselves. This would include those who decorate their bedrooms with posters, etc. Of course many of these are teenagers wanting their parents, siblings, friends, and other relatives to know who they really are. Perhaps if I had done that when I was a teenager there would have been more understanding between my parents and I, since it seems as if there was not much communication.

An abundance of signs is one of the characteristics of our culture. Signs can be an eyesore, a littering of the air around us. Too much exposure to messages from strangers can result in sensory overload, and then we may miss an important sign installed for our safety. Past attempts to beautify America included an emphasis on getting rid of billboards. Signs can be an indication of our addiction to consumerism, to getting "things." Many people will see little or no value in photographing signs. However signs come and go and therefore are a part of our history, a part of our lives and our culture. They inhabit our past, present, and will also be a part of our future. I'll probably keep photographing them, and adding them to this blog.

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