Thursday, May 31, 2007

Made in USA

USA - 924
FB - 731

The Miracle of Cardboard

A gentleman sent in this picture of a blog he saw last weekend outside of Yuma, Arizona. Although it certainly looked like one of mine, it'd been so long since I'd been out there it seemed impossible. I started going through the archives and sure enough, there it was.

Although theoretically it's possible the blog may have come down or been taken down and replaced any number of times since last June, it's doubtful: someone would've torn it up or taken it away. Incredible as it seems, the most likely scenario is that that sign's been sitting right next to Interstate 8 strapped to a haybale with a single bungee cord for the past 11 months. Amazing.

I have no idea how many people have seen that sign, but I can tell you this - they were doing about 70 when they did and apparently none of them felt like stopping. Or, for that matter, driving ten miles to the next exit, turning around and going back.

I can't emphasize this enough: cardboard, painted white, is practically indestructable. Put a little thought into where you place it and your message will be read for a long, long time.

Reminder! Our First Annual Public Punditry Contest ends tomorrow!

USA - 913
FB - 731
(signs posted since Jan. 1st)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Black and White and Read All Over

"This Memorial Day we remember the dead, and the politicians who killed them." - John Aravosis

"President Bush says we're safer fighting them there than over here. Why are we safer because 120,000 civilians are dead? What makes their babies less precious than ours?” -Cindy Sheehan

"Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure." -Abraham Lincoln

"I'm lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things." -Lech Walesa

"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." -Miguel de Cervantes

USA - 913
FB - 721

Cindy Isn't Speaking For You Anymore

Cindy Sheehan was a mother who lost her son and wanted to know why. Her initial trip to Crawford inspired a flashmob of thousands to join her in the ditches outside Bush's ranch and gave, as they say, a "face" to the anti-war movement. Unlike the other faces we see on our TVs, hers wasn't all pretty and polished like the professional pundits - the ones that are paid to tell us what to think. Her features showed quite plainly the sadness of her lot. Nevertheless, Cindy looked better on camera than the real faces of the antiwar movement - the ones that had been shot away or melted off inside a burning Humvee.

To be perfectly honest with you, I've felt like writing a letter like Cindy's damn near every day. Of course, being the Freewayblogger I'd have to keep it short:

When I started doing this, I didn't think it'd take more than a couple hundred signs, at most, for people to "get it": the simple, obvious and irrefutable fact that when you put a sign on a freeway, a HELL of a lot of people read it. With 200,000 people seeing the same sign, day after day for weeks, it seemed reasonable that at least one of them would say to themselves, "Hey! I could do that!" and that the ball would just start rolling from there. Didn't Happen. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it, and frankly still confounds me.

Before I became the Freewayblogger I used to bring clothing to villages in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. I did this because it seemed that the most useful thing I could do with the resources I had was to collect warm clothes, put them in my truck, and then go find the coldest, poorest people I could. Like freewayblogging, it was a simple idea, easily executed, that practically anyone could do, provided they were willing to break a few small rules in defense of a greater one. (Bringing used clothing into Mexico is illegal, even for charity, if you don't have a bunch of impossible-to-get permits. I'd usually get through customs by explaining who the clothes were for and hoping they'd let me through. If that didn't work, leaving a couple of twenties on the drivers seat usually did the trick. On the rare occasions they sent me back, I just went to a different crossing, or waited a bit and tried again at the same one. I always got through.) It took about three years and a hundred thousand miles of driving, but I managed to clothe damn near everybody living in the northwest Sierra Madres. And believe me, compared to that sticking signs up on freeways is a piece of cake.

The reason I’m bringing this up is to emphasize the power that one person can have when they decide on a plan of action and then just Do It. Don’t get together with friends, don’t form a group and for God’s sakes, don’t hold another meeting. Figure out the most useful thing you can do with the resources you have and then Just Do It.

I know most of you out there are afraid to put up signs because you think it might be illegal. Stop and think about that for a moment. Think about it and then think about everything this country is supposed to stand for and you’ll realize what utter bullshit that excuse is.

Here’s a picture of a sign that says “Impeach” with an American flag placed next to a freeway on what is indisputably Public Property. If you honestly think this is illegal, or should be, then I honestly think you should find yourself a new country, because this one’s just being wasted on you.

Last week I got questioned by a motorcycle cop while I was taking pictures of one of my signs. He asked me if I’d put it there and I said yes. Then he asked me to take it down, so I said, “Okay” and did. End of Story.

I suppose if he’d wanted to he could’ve arrested me, or given me a ticket or a fine. On the other hand he could’ve just as easily given me a Citizenship award: America is funny that way. Apart from some awful sort of Rodney King scenario, the worst thing that can happen to you for public signposting is that you’ll have to go to court and explain your actions: that you felt it was your civic responsibility to speak out to as many of your fellow citizens as possible, and that this was not only your right, but your patriotic duty. I’d consider it an honor to be the defendant in such a case, and you should too. In any event, it’s certainly not something any of us should be afraid of. (And let's face it - how illegal could it be if I've done it over 4,000 times?)

Free Speech is an amazing thing: probably the greatest blessing Democracy has to offer, and we’ve got to start using it more effectively. We’re not going to get our country back with signs that look like this:

Granted, we may not get it back with signs that look like this either:

But dammit... at least it'll look like we tried.

Cardboard and paint people… cardboard, paint and a little bit of nerve. That’s all it takes.

Cindy isn’t speaking for you anymore.

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