Monday, March 03, 2008

Borrowing Blank Billboards

Hi Scarlet,

So, Jeff, Dave and myself are out Freeway Blogging last Sunday morning near a shopping mall and we spot these large (4' X 8') pieces of white foam board that one of the stores must have discarded from a old display or something. Jeff has to drive back with his pickup truck later in the day to snatch them and he gets this great idea to cut big letters out of the foam board to spell out a crucial Freeway Blogging message.

The three of us had Freeway Blogged on a great hillside berm in the past, underneath giant billboards facing the North-South 15 Freeway and Qualcomm Stadium. The two billboards are highly visible and we noticed recently that one of them wasn't hosting any paid advertising. The blank billboard had a black background and was very well lit at night.
Jeff forged his plan, cut 4' high letters from the foam boards, connected them together with small boards that he'd painted black, and attached hooks to the tops. He got some very strong string and a promise from Dave, Barb and I that we'd meet him at the billboard at 6am this morning - something the three of us Freeway Bloggers were more than willing to do.

So at 6am this morning, Jeff lugged his 18' ladder through the brush to the base of billboard and proceeded to impress us with his baseball-pitching talent by throwing weight-laden strings up over the top of the 50' billboard with precision accuracy. He and Dave then tied one end of the strings to the hooks on the 4' letters and I helped hoist the letters up so Jeff could tie the other end off leaving the huge white letters hanging clearly against the black background of the billboard.
With no damage to the billboard itself, Jeff's IMPEACH sign can be clearly read by heavy 15 Freeway traffic in both directions as well as Qualcomm Stadium attendees and those living on the hillside above the Stadium. Thousands and thousands of people will read the crucial word - IMPEACH - for many days and many well-lit nights to come. Without the aid of a very tall ladder, those letters aren't coming down any time soon.

Jeff B. definitely wins the San Diego Freeway Blogging Award of the Day!



Anonymous said...

While your brand of freeway blogging, though silly and ineffective, is definitely not illegal (and shouldn't be), the goofballs in these photos are definitely no different than a common graffiti artist who decides to tag up billboards and other private property. Shame on them.

Freewayblogger said...

Yeah, except you can read what they're saying and it's for a purpose above and beyond just sticking their name or "tag" up in front of everybody. And it's utterly non-destructive. And it's a perfect demonstration of exactly what the founding fathers and the men and women who fought and died for this country gave their lives to do. Apart from that, you're quite right. Any other aspects of the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights or any of the other cornerstones of democracy you care to take issue with?

Anonymous said...

It's private property plain and simple. The founding fathers would approve of no such thing.

Freewayblogger said...

The founding fathers had a lot more respect for the basic principles of free speech, democracy and the inalienable rights of man than they did for a fucking billboard.

If you want your property to be "private", then keep it to yourself. Don't stick it in everybody's face.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving the way they hung the sign - that was totally clever, guys! WTG!

Anonymous said...

"Private" in the sense of ownership... nice semantics. I suppose you would have no problem with someone defacing a billboard with a message you approve of (you pick - liberal talk show host, etc..). I'm sure you'll dodge the question, but I'm still interested in an answer. Do I have the constitutional right to express my political beliefs by tearing down/defacing a billboard that has something I do not agree with?

Freewayblogger said...

Damn right you do. Whether it's constitutionally protected or not depends on the specifics of the situation, but in terms of something this country needs more of in the 21st century it's people speaking out, not remaining the 300 million quiet little lambs to slaughter we have today.

The problem, however, will be finding much in the way of liberal propaganda in the commons to deface. I assume though, since you're probably anti-socialist you'll begin with the police and fire departments.

Folks like myself with a decidedly stronger anti-materialism bent have it a whole lot easier.

San Diego Peace Guy said...

Hi - first thanks to Kate for sending this stuff to Scarlet to post, and thanks to Scarlet for putting it up. I am the taller guy in the pictures hanging the letters on the billboard. I have to respond to "Anonymous" because you are mischaracterizing what we do.

The billboard is private property, that's true. If you look closely at the pictures (and read Kate's remarks) you will see that the letters are simply hanging on the face of the billboard. You characterized us as being "no different than a common graffiti artist" which is not true for two reasons. First, as Scarlet explained, what we do is an attempt to communicate an idea, and second, there was great care taken to avoid damage to the property. The letters were suspended with strong string that was tied to the walkway railing on the back side of the sign.

You also used an inappropriate comparison asking if it would be appropriate to participate in "tearing down/defacing a billboard that has something I do not agree with?" First, we do not tear down, and we do not deface. The billboard is completely intact. someone has already removed the letters, and the black tarp covering the billboard was not damaged in any way by us. Second, no - it would not be ok to tear down a message that I don't agree with, that's what freedom of speech is all about.

I would write more, but am running late for work, please feel free to reply.


Anonymous said...

Hey Freeway Blogger,

Good job. Keep your enthusiasm up. Don't let cynics ruin your zest for what most of us only wished we had. Keep hope alive. This is totally what Obama talks about in his Yes We Can speech. Remember he said that the "chorus of cynics will get louder and more dissonant." That's what we have here with the comments that are nitpicking on you and legalities, when the "legalities" of killing Iraqi children or the raping of female troops or contract workers are not considered. Go for it beautiful friend. You're an inspiration. There is no rule of law these days. Everything is relative, and what you are doing is NOTHING compared to what is being done by others.

I hope I'll get to see some around L.A. =) Put some up on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate on free speech v. corporate rights. It is corporate rights 'anonymous' is arguing for after all, not individual rights. The courts long ago gave corporations the rights of individuals in court, so they have imbalanced legal standing in a debate like this as well as bottomless resources in court battles. Unfortunately corporate rights have now completely trumped the Constitution and so 'anonymous' is right, in a sense.

Everything Hitler did was legal because he took over the courts and dismissed parliament in claiming absolute authority - everything he did was legal. Hitler became the Unitary Executive of Germany. Was breaking the law to challenge him the right thing to do?

The question isn't "What is legal?" at this point, it is "What is right?". Is the Constitution, which has been rendered obsolete by Patriot Acts I & II, the Military Commissions Act, signing statements, etc. worth salvaging? If so, are acts of civil disobedience such as freeway blogging 'doing the right thing'?

Hell yes!

enigma4ever said...

this is wonderful....thank you for keeping the truth alive and IN BIG LETTERS....