Monday, January 07, 2008

ask me how

I've always thought that putting a bumper sticker on your car is a little like wearing your heart on your sleeve: it's just too revealing.

Most of the people staring at your bumper hate you anyway. They're behind you on 101 and they just want you to get the hell out of their way, even if you're right smack dab on top of the guy in front of you and they're busy juggling multiple cell phone calls. You know how that is. Better not make these aggressive Silicon Valley achievers any angrier than they are in the first place.

They're busy guys who are easily provoked. No need to goad them further.

My old friend Lennox Sweeney would have disagreed. He was a great fan of bumper stickers. It got so that I'd recognize his faded yellow Reliant from the numerous sentiments plastered all over the back: FREE TIBET. Bill and Bob make me want to Ralph! Food Not Bombs.

When he was a younger man, Len was discreet about his politics–and his politics were of the live-and-let-live neither conservative nor liberal sort. But for the last decade of his life, he was an activist. A real activist, one who followed his slogans into battle. He was the kind of guy you'd want to take up your cause.

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that would've pleased Lennox. It was on a yellow Hummer parked on Castro Street in front of Cliff's Variety. A Hummer in San Francisco: It's halfway between an over-the-top fashion statement and a vehicular Fuck You. Who would want to drive a Hummer in San Francisco? Even my Honda Civic seems like a whale when I'm negotiating the double-parked obstacle course that's the Mission.

Actually there were two bumper stickers on the Hummer, one on each side of its broad yellow behind. And they weren't literally on the bumper; rather they were affixed to that hard-as-a-beetle yellow paint job. I'm sure the Hummer's owner was none too pleased to see one bumper sticker that said:

I'M CHANGING THE CLIMATE! ask me how

and another that said: I SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

Research informs me that these bumper stickers have been around for awhile (long enough so that the original web site that sold them has gone missing). Unfortunately I think they'll eventually be dated. Either the most dire of the predictions will be shown to be correct and we'll all be doing the backstroke to Greenland. And you know that if the predictions are off, another cause célèbre will take global warming's place. Sad, that. The fashion of activism.

Nobody will invite Al Gore to their parties any more.

"Al? Oh, he's such a bore. Don't invite him! Last time he brought those... what were they? Oh! Those charts. Invite someone fun. Vladdie Putin or someone like that."

One of my favorite bumper stickers was the brainchild of another old friend Jim Cser. He made them up around the time that everybody was ♥ing (heart-ing) something.

I ♥ my Labradoodle. I ♥ my Hummer. I ♥ Bees.

You remember.

Jim's bumper sticker said: I ♣ my baby seal. (That's a club for all of you who have something up with your system unicode fonts.) I still have my Jim Cser baby seal bumper sticker. The adhesive did something odd to the message so that it's all blotchy and discolored.

I have days that I'm all blotchy and discolored too.

No matter how much I once admired it, "I ♣ my baby seal" seems oddly dated too. From a different time and place.

But I'M CHANGING THE CLIMATE! ask me how worked for me yesterday on Castro Street. I stood in street behind the Hummer, admiring some stranger's handiwork.

"Let's not stand here too long," Mark suggested. "Someone'll think we did it."

Don't I wish.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jon Foote said...

Someplace I saw stickers with a screw icon. Purpose: to affix over the heart icon on all those insufferable "I (heart) My Labradoodle" bumper stickers. Amusing, but bad karma, and won't even help save the climate like those other prankster stickers.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Kenny said...

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6:38 AM  
Blogger bathroom said...

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11:00 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

This post really seems to accrete the blog spam. Could it be the 'ask me how'? The spam comments aren't even on topic.

Spammers work in mysterious ways.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Just by way of an update:

I saw the same yellow Hummer the other day, once again parked on Castro Street. The "I'm changing the climate" bumper stickers had been removed from the Hummer's fat yellow ass, but there were telltale scuffs on the car's shiny finish where the bumper stickers had been.

You can shame 'em, but you can't tame 'em. Or something like that.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Charyl said...

I've been noticing a lot of SUV owner bashing lately.I find it interesting how certain people will leap to conclusions about people based on a single factor. I find it obnoxious when they take it upon themselves to ridicule and "decorate" other people's personal property.Yes, I own an SUV.It's a small one, but necessary.I own and,until recently,lived on 20 acres in rural Oklahoma.The terrain is very rough there.Traveling the 8/10 mile between the road and my house during the rains would be impossible without my Jeep. Mustangs don't come with 4WD.I also like fishing in the little creeks out in the country. Hence the word "UTILITY".I do admit it makes me chuckle to see a businessman in a shiny SUV that appears to have never left the highway,but I've never felt the urge to smear it with mud to make it look more "honest".At the end of the day my concern is that my family and I have done our best to contribute something worthwhile to society and the planet.I have no need to analyze and attack my fellow humans based on a personal choice with which I disagree, especially when it's the only thing I know about them.

2:11 PM  

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