Stateside 1: Getting the Message

There are snakes present in this area. They are important members of your park’s natural community. Enjoy them at a respectful distance. On a notice in the Robert Sidley National Park, Berkeley

I see the writing on the wall

By Roger Childs

Every society and culture has its ways of communicating. Over 2500 years ago Babylonian king, Belshazzar, got the word in a highly dramatic fashion at a feast when a ghostly hand wrote mene mene, tekel, upharsin on the wall.

Basically it was telling the king, who had looted drinking vessels from the Temple and blasphemed the Almighty, times up!

In modern day California it’s not quite as dramatic, however messaging is often forthright, and frequently witty and humorous.

Getting through to motorists

America’s love affair with the motor car is alive and well in the San Francisco – East Bay area. The area is riddled with freeways, with up to six lanes each way, and the traffic roars or crawls by all day long and deep into the night.

Signage to places is very clear, but you need to keep your wits about you so that you get in the right lane to exit before it’s too late.

In suburban areas there are various messages, mostly emphasizing safety:

  • DRIVE AS IF YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE
  • GIVE US A BRAKE, SLOW DOWN, KIDS & PETS!
  • SLOW DOWN FOR THE CONE ZONE (With an illustration)
  • YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT! (In a no parking area,)

Caring about people

There are plenty of messages emphasizing tolerance and human concern in shop windows, on signs is front gardens, and outside churches and schools.

  • ROCKRIDGE STANDS UNITED AGAINST HATE
  • PROTECT CHILDREN NOT GUNS
  • ALL PEOPLE ARE WELCOME HERE (with an illustration of a Muslim women)
  • BLACK LIVES MATTER
  • THIS IS A DRUG FREE SCHOOL AREA
  • ANOTHER MOTHER FOR PEACE (bumper sticker)

 Advertising to catch the eye

No shortage of clever wording to grab your attention, and promote the companies and products.

  • THE FIRST SURVIVOR OF ALZHEIMERS IS OUT THERE (Advert to raise money for research)
  • A Walk of Art
  • Briefs: Erotic Short Film Festival
  • HONEY BUCKET (Portable loo company)
  • The Animal Organisation For People
  • How Much Did You Earn For Your Boss Today?
  • ABOUT FACE AND BODY
  • UNLEASH YOUR SENSE OF WANDER (Bike company)

It probably wouldn’t be America if there wasn’t plenty of over-the-top advertising eg TOO FACED BETTER THAN SEX MASCARA.

T shirts in a Jewish gift shop

How’s this for a breakfast cereal?

Open your mind to breakfast exploration, a harmonious convergence of crispy organic purple corn and bran rice flours. Transcend the ordinary by the spoonful.

Probably the cleverest message was on a path in the Berkeley Botanical Garden:

WATCH YOUR STEP; NEWTS CROSSING

 

 

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