SIGNS OF THE TIMES

With equal nods to semiology and humor, I welcome you to the best signs I can find––signs or “signage,” as the bureaucrats might say.  And I’ll throw in a few bits of advertising, just to give the whole experiment breadth and depth.

After all, does anything reveal the tempo of the times more clearly than the print media we display?  Add a pinch of context, and what we have is our populace revealed, our social mores on parade.  Enjoy!

The local elementary school, spring 2008.  I will charitably assume the sign was not posted by a teacher.  The sign remained, however, unedited, unfixed, unchanged, for an entire week.

As if a Hooter Girl were a species instead of a restaurant employee with a tight top and a specific sort of figure.  Ah, beauty and brains!

A chicken-and-egg scenario if ever I heard one...

Photo date: 11/4/2008, a.k.a. Election Day.

Looks to me as if PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are the winners here.  Can you guess the date?

And who was this sign intended for?  Taken at Chatsworth Hall, UK, April, 2007––which I freely admit is not the same thing as Evansville.  Not even remotely.

Do you trust the pink elephant?  Even Dumbo, not the brightest of lights, didn’t trust pink elephants.  Yet here we have a local coffee shop & car wash combo that also dares to rent signs, elephants included.  But not, apparently, spellcheck.

R.I.P.

So did anyone at Droste’s pass that ninth grade quiz on misplaced modifiers?

This place is for real.  Corner of Washington and Green River Road.  If I showed this on TV or posted it at large on the web, I imagine people would be screaming “Photoshop!  Doctored!”  But it isn’t.  This is just...reality.  The truth behind the sign is that the lingerie cum sex shop next door decided to start using the insurance company’s sign once the insurance company went out of business.

Well, and good luck to ya’!    (Photo credit: James Carwile)

Less than a mile from my home stands the only hair salon owned and operated by, apparently, Steven Wright.

Sometimes aesthetics aren’t the point.  Taken in early 2009.




The three shots below are from other websites and seem to be pretty much public domain at this point, so I’ll use them until someone suggests otherwise.  Their location is a mystery, but their wrong-headedness is as clear as the proverbial bell.

For more intriguing and erroneous signs, click on the photo below.

Indeed.

This is part of a sign displayed in the Museum of Communication in Berlin.  Just up the street is Checkpoint Charlie.

Anti-G8 graffiti is fairly common in Europe, especially once you get away from the scrub and polish of any given tourist sector.  This one, however, stayed with me longer than most, and not merely because I snapped a photograph.  There’s something about the image of Snow White with a machine gun, the sudden arming of Disney, that ultimate exponent of American culture... 

To quote Leonard Cohen, “I have seen the future.  It is murder.”

The translation, for those who don’t speak British: “Proceed slowly in your automobile, and sound your horn.  No one on the other side of this five-hundred-year-old stone wall can see or hear you coming.”

From Chatsworth Hall, Derbyshire. 

Look carefully at this off-the-cuff shot from James Carwile.  Can you spot the typo?  If not, Oldfield’s is the vendor for you...

I’ll take the dry cat, thanks.  Location: Ralphs Grocery.   Photo by Tracy Elliot.

If I hadn’t shot this myself, I’d blame photoshop.  Is it possible they don’t know what they wrote???  Jan. 2011

From an Embassy Suites Hotel.  One wonders what other invisible objects a hotel room might contain.  Photo credit: Sharla Cowden. 

Taken in February, 2012, at the Wesselman Woods recycling center right here in Evansville.  This looks to me like a case of too little too late––and the photo does not begin to do justice to the enormous pile -up of Styrofoam.  Just say “No!”

This sign has been posted (rather unobtrusively) on the way into the Louisville Science Museum.  In an era when the right to carry arms is hotly contested, it intrigues me to discover which places remain resolutely gun-free.  College campuses, for example.  Some of them.

Is this advice truly necessary?  From the Louisville, KY, zoo.

I suppose I have no quarrel with this concept, but it is one more example of a use for public tax dollars that frankly had not occured to me.

This sign is absolutely for real.  Photo provided by my twelve-year-old, from a trip to The Wilds, the former strip mine turned wild animal park in eastern Ohio.  I trust the majority of visitors appreciate this mordant, morbid humor.

Talk about a negative attitude!  Taken near the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. 

One thing I do not need is to be thanked for twenty-five years.  Especially from a purveyor of kitchen wares.

Is this supposed to be motivational?  I am genuinely puzzled by why anyone would choose to display this on their marquee.  Do dogs really have such a high regard for their owners?  I doubt it.

This sign and the two above are Evansville products.  Homegrown lunacy.  What is the sound of one sign clapping?

On the side wall of a Clarksville-adjacent antique shop, one finds an entire history of the area, complete with product placement and hometown pride (go, Little Leaguers!).  Welcome to Indiana.

In downtown Evansville, the old Alhambra Theater awaits final renovations.  Next door stands a deserted storefront displaying this delightfully mystifying one-word announcement.  What can it mean?

Thinking in terms of personal achievement, that’s setting the bar mighty high...

A metaphor, surely.

Newburgh, Indiana, in all its glory.  (Photo credit: Cara Neal Bambanek)

North central Indiana. Ew.

Downtown Albuquerque, NM. As always, our society values everyone equally.

Downtown Louisville, KY.

I think this was in a Cracker Barrel. I honestly can’t recall. March, 2013.

Near Bryce Canyon, Utah. Helpful. In its way. Click on the photo for a whole extra page of oddball and lunatic signs!