Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

-Five Man Electrical Band, 1970

OK, totally dating myself with that reference!

We are not talking about writ large here, just the most literal interpretation possible. We’re talking about signs in the yard. Yeah, those.

Some years ago, I felt strongly that casino gambling in downtown Buffalo was a really bad idea, so strongly that I placed a “no casino” sign in our front garden. We lived with it for many months, but when I took pictures of the house, all you saw was the sign.

I now have a no-sign policy. Recently, some very well-meaning community activists created signs that say “Non-violence starts with me,” and “I leave peace prints.” The signs have doves on them. You can see them all over the West Side of Buffalo—but not in my yard. This is not why I spend thousands of hours working on my garden. We won’t talk about the other expenditures.

I live in a preservation district, so businesses in my neighborhood have to apply for permits before they can put up signs advertising what they do. All property owners must apply for permits and submit plans before replacing windows, porches, or any other exterior features that may alter the historic integrity of their buildings. And of course demolitions are discouraged. This is a good thing. The neighborhood keeps its distinctive look; one can imagine what living in Buffalo during the nineteenth century was like.

Unfortunately though, nothing stops you from putting up “temporary” signs. The most hateful are the electric ones with "Happy 40th" or whatever on them. Sometimes, we just don’t need all the information.

(More on another type of political signifier here.)
Sorry--this is a retreaded earlier post, but I am adding an image later today of an Eastlake house utterly defaced with rental signs.


annette said...

i know what you mean, living in buffalo myself....with all those peaceprint signs.....i'm guessing noone is paying attention....with the escalating violence in recent weeks...but i love it here...even with all the misfits....

Jen(nifer) said...

Know what...terrible confession about to be made...

I don't even like the peaceprint signs. "I leave PeacePrints" Huh? I understand where they are coming from, but I dislike them anyhow.

And I agree with you about signs in general and my house is hardly a garden walk house!

EAL said...

Yes, they're poorly designed. There, I've said it.

But I don't know how they could be redesigned so that I would like them. Perhaps a real dove, stuffed and mounted on a stick? Or maybe not.

VentMan said...

As I said on the Garden Rant page... right on! I love it when people vent about stuff that effects me on an everyday level, but that I hadn't ever articulated. This is definitely one of those cases.

Annie in Austin said...

Doves on a Stick?? Where is John Cleese when you need him.

For me it might be: Decorations for inducing smiles and Wows, yes; declarations for coercing similar thinking, no.

But I don't wear clothing with the name of the manufacturer, either.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Takoma Gardener said...

You mean I have to worry about someone putting an electric "Happy 60th" sign in my front yard some day?

Anonymous said...

That is the beauty about signs,political or otherwise..you get to have a choice to display them or not to display them. Then again, it is what the sign stands for that matters. I would like to get one of those signs and I don't even live in buffalo. Maybe you don't feel strongly enough about any cause. If you did you might have a sign to support it. Free country right?