Thursday, December 15, 2011

100 Reasons Why You Should Start Putting Signs On Freeways

(These signs were placed yesterday over and alongside the 5, 405, 101, 10 & 110 freeways in and around Los Angeles.)

1) You can say whatever you want.

2) It costs almost nothing.

3) It reaches thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people.

4) Done right, it can even reach millions.

5) Finally get rid of that old paint in the garage.

6) Payback for all the political propaganda you've been subjected to.

7) Get some use out of those graphic design classes.

8) An excuse to think up new messages or slogans, or simply repeat those you feel need repeating.

9) Two words: Citizens United.

10) Instantly makes you Time's Man of the Year.

11) If just a few OWS evictees start hitting the freeways, the authorities will immediately wish they'd just left them in their tents

12) Entirely Non-Violent.

13) Utilizes all the coolest strategies and tactics of guerrilla warfare with absolutely none of the dangers.

14) You can do it alone.

15) You can do it with others.

16) Day or Night, 24/7.

17) You can get some great photos.

18) No camping required.

19) No annoying pepper-spray.

20) Does not require leaders, committees, organization or meetings.

21) Self-broadcasting: requires no media presence or participation.

22) Says just what you want it to say: no press or media filtration between you and your audience.

23) Practically zero chance of retribution. (Since 2001 I've done it over five thousand times and been stopped by law enforcement maybe six or seven times with no punishment besides having to act contrite and take down the sign.)

24) Demonstrates to foreign visitors that America is truly a land of free speech.

25) Demonstrates to Americans what free speech actually looks like.

26) Can be done on any high traffic highway or interstate - tens of thousands of miles of roadsides and infrastructure to work with.

27) Can be done with absolute anonymity.

28) Provides a needed tonic for drivers who agree with you.

29) A thorn in the side of drivers who don't.

30) When the Founding Fathers gave us the right to free speech, they probably meant for us to use it.

31) Eliminates the appearance of normalcy in a society that can no longer afford such appearances.

32) Gives drivers something to look at besides advertising and graffiti.

33) Makes your own drives more interesting as you check the status of your signs.

34) Sometimes requires you to hop fences, climb hills, take long walks and apply problem-solving skills utilizing terrain, traffic conditions and line-of-sight dynamics.

35) Gets you the hell out of your comfort zone.

36) Road Trip! A perfect excuse to visit friends and family in other cities.

37) Great cardio-vascular workout: provides an adrenaline rush even after years of doing it.

38) Instantly raises awareness of a specific issue or problem. (For example: if you want a lot of people to think about Darfur, go to a large city and put up signs that simply say "Darfur.")

39) In the unlikely event there's an eternal and omniscient afterlife, will provide the Founding Fathers a badly needed morale boost.

40) In the event said afterlife is based on merit, may help you out too.

41) A slap in the face of right-wing corporate media.

42) A slap in the face of liberally-biased media.

43) Helps undercut the influence of money in politics.

44) Great civics lesson for the kids.

45) Makes up for that time you tried to do it using a bedsheet which didn't attach very well, immediately came loose and was practically unreadable anyway.

46) Requires tools that cost almost nothing, most of which are probably lying around the house.

47) Done properly, can reach more people in an afternoon than you'll meet in your lifetime.

48) Sharpens and makes relevant otherwise dormant rhetorical and sloganeering skills.

49) Finally an opportunity to use that old overhead or laptop projector. If you don't have one, gives you a good reason to get one. Used in conjunction with cardboard and paint, a projector becomes practically a printing press for billboards.

50) Recycles cardboard.

51) Makes up for not doing it during the Bush administration.

52) Gives an immediate sense of political empowerment.

53) Practically every stage of the operation can be done while listening to music.

54) Does not require shouting, chanting, getting clubbed or arrested.

55) Can be accomplished, start to finish, in a single afternoon.

56) Contrary to popular belief, does not require getting up at three in the morning and sneaking around in the wee hours.

57) Share poetry, lyrics or favorite quotations!

58) Offers complete editorial control.

59) Forces you to employ stricter reductionism in your rhetoric.

60) Brightens up the place.

61) Utilizes all sorts of zen philosophy, jiu-jitsu and game theory.

62) Good to practice now for when things get really, really bad later.

63) Undercuts corporate control of existing media and information sources.

64) Absolutely non-discriminatory: Open to all races, genders, parties, classes and age groups (infants and toddlers excepted.)

65) Very quick and steep learning curve: requires only a couple of dozen signs to become an expert.

66) May inspire others to give it a try.

67) Gives one an immediate and definitive sense of mission.

68) Can be used to launch new words and memes into societal and political discourse. (Like "Quagmire Accomplished" and "Nobody Died When Clinton Lied.")

69) It's a Hell of a Lot of Fun. Really.

70) Adds a new and exciting dimension to otherwise dull and generally uneventful commutes.

71) Reaches practically all classes and strata of society - not prone to to the ghettoization of left and right blogospheres.

72) Signs taken down can usually be used again, particularly ones that are too large and cumbersome for easy removal or destruction.

73) Signs that are torn up can usually be put back together using nothing more than duct tape.

74) You've always wanted to do it.

75) You've never wanted to do it, but now that you've read this far you're beginning to think it's a pretty good idea.

76) You've begun to realize that simply voting once or twice every four years isn't enough.

77) Your OWS encampment got dismantled before any level of economic justice, or even policies in that direction had taken place.

78) You miss the sixties.

79) You missed the sixties.

80) In some countries people die every day for the right to speak out.

81) Signs can be made in any size, shape or color.

82) Utilizes the freeways for something besides transportation, advertising and global warming.

83) Finally get some use out of art school.

84) Far more satisfying than forwarding another e-mail petition.

85) An opportunity to explore urban environments and pathways few people know about.

86) A chance to do something different.

87) As a textbook example of pure semiotics in action, it allows you to use the term "semiotics" in conversations afterwards.

88) Gets you out of the house.

89) A chance to have photos of your work posted on the highly prestigious "Tales of the Freewayblogger" weblog.

90) Speaks truth to power. Horsepower anyway.

91) Gives you a chance to radically change the current socio-political paradigms of greed, fear and tribalism to a world of peace, harmony and mutual respect among all races, creeds and religions. (Note: You'll need some really, really good messaging skills to pull this off.)

92) Conversation fodder for those rare vehicles with more than one occupant.

93) May make people think.

94) Practically guaranteed to make you feel younger.

95) Can be done year-round under practically any sort of weather conditions short of hurricanes, blizzards or blinding dust storms.

96) Demonstrates to others that someone cared enough about something to speak out about it.

97) Instantly earns you credentials as a pundit.

98) Forces you to face up to your fears enough to realize that ultimately all you're really afraid of is looking foolish.

99) Allows you to drive around for a bit with no schedule, destination, or purpose beyond looking for places to hang your signs. Compared to the usual stresses of commuting, running errands, etc. you'll experience driving for the pure sport of it, which is a real joy, and best experienced before the permafrost starts melting.

100) Why not?


Fran / Blue Gal said...


Especially the "person of the year" thing. :D

Anonymous said...

60) Brightens up the place. FTW!

Anonymous said...

Traffic studies have proven that signage distracts from attentive driving. It's why state And federal DOTs strictly regulate signage and why those mobile DOT warning signs are so rarely used and only for traffic notices. I'm the most liberal guy around and agree with your messages but these are not harmless. You're making accidents more likely to happen. I used to work for a state DOT and this is not a safe undertaking.

Freewayblogger said...

Right. Now explain all the roadside billboards and advertising. Once they come down - all of them - I'll care what the DOT has to say about driver distraction.

Anonymous said...

It would help if you put the signs so that they could be read by those in oncoming cars instead of the behind-the-car position that many of these photos of the freeway signs show.

Anonymous said...

What do you use to attach it to the overpass?

Freewayblogger said...

Bungee cords and a bit of duct tape.

Anonymous said...

So in your estimation what are the best materials for the job? Tagboard, Plywood, cardboard? I think I will put one up on Christmas Eve. :-)

Freewayblogger said...

Cardboard, painted white. It's light, foldable, stayssnug against.fencing with a couple of bungees.

Garote said...

I agree with your response about the DOT comment. A fractional increase in the likelihood of a fender-bender is not a sensible counterargument to putting up a sign, given that companies are allowed to place enormous flashing and/or mechanically animated advertisements all alongside the busiest and most tangled sections of highway in the entire country. ... Detracting from safety in order to promote ... for example ... "Alvin And The Chipmunks".

Of course, one could kill two birds with one stone and also avoid any DOT controversy - and make me happy - by DEFACING those damned billboards with political statements instead.

Anonymous said...

I worked in transportation planning for two decades. The restrictions on freeway signage are not about public safety. They are primarily about aesthetics, and also about governmental control of a public asset, and controlling public revenues.

Feel free to post your signs. Two words: "Citizens United!"