Friday, November 16, 2007

Bumper Stickers

I have never once put a bumper sticker on my car--until now. It's a bit like wearing your heart on your sleeve, something I was taught, as a young English male, was never proper to do. The polite thing is to keep your opinions to yourself in all circumstances. And besides, who wants to drive around these days with an ad for a Kerry/Edwards ticket on one's rear end? Too painful. Or worse, Bush/Cheney. You'd risk brickbats, rotten eggs and tomatoes, or at the very least rude gestures on the freeway. (Though I like the simple W with a diagonal line through it.)

I do sympathize with a good number of the messages I see. I'm not opposed to peace, and all messages that signal support for that noble end never fail to warm my heart. I just worry that as soon as an eternal verity morphs into a bumper sticker, it degenerates into a cliche. "Support Our Troops" suggests so much that's different--and to me unacceptable--than what it's message purports to say that it makes my skin creep. I get a good laugh out of some bumper stickers, most recently "Honk if you like thinking about conceptual art." But once you get the joke... do you really want to be sharing your laudable sense of humor with every other driver on the freeway until your car finally makes the journey to its just reward in the junk yard? For me, no thanks. For the same reason, I personally reject tattoos.

Nature conservancy is good. I want to save the planet. I want to save the whales. I worry about the bees, and I do hug trees, of course, whenever the opportunity presents itself. As for those random acts of kindness... they used to be a refreshing bagatelle, but they have long since had their charm eroded by over-familiarity. Or am I just being cynical again?

Having begun this entry earlier, I took more than usual interest in the rear ends of cars as Ellie and I took our morning walk around Silver Lake. A lot of traffic there, believe me, and a lot of parked cars on the streets. I was surpised to see that only a tiny fraction of them were adorned with stickers. Perhaps they're going the way of the ill-starred John Kerry. Out of the literally hundreds of free advertising spaces, I saw only five in use. "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER." Certainly. One of those verities I was mentioning above. "USC MOM"--a higher education version of the "I'm a Proud Parent" syndrome. "Shirley Chisholm For President." No kidding! (She ran in 1972, and died on January 1, 2005--having lived long enough to witness the current assault on the U.S. constitution which she so nobly served.) One (very small) JOHN KERRY 04 sticker. And an advertisement for CATNAP, with a www address for easy contact.

Anyway, here's the point. I received from a friend the gift of the only bumper sticker I have ever actually attached to my car. Here it is, on my super energy-saving, self-righteously environment-conscious car. (It's name itself is a bumper sticker, no?)

Okay, accuse me of wearing my heart on my sleeve. I just feel comfortable with this one. First off, it asks a question, it doesn't come up with the answer. It invites contemplation. I like that. Second, it's modest both in scale and color. Third, it's playful--a parody of the whole WWJD thing. And fourth... well, I like it.

What do you think? Do you have a bumper sticker? Kucinich, anyone? (I thought he was great in the debate last night!)


John Bisnar said...

Although Budda probably would drive something like a Prius if he lived in our place and time, I doubt he'd have a WWPC sticker on it, no matter what its color or size.

Congratulations on being an official contributing blogger on THE HUFFINGTON POST! Will we be seeing a Prius on the LA freeways "Huffington Post Contributor" bumper sticker on it?

PeterAtLarge said...

Nice thought, John! Thanks for checking in! Cheers, PaL

Cardozo said...

Mine says, "Hatred can only be stilled by non-hatred."

To me this says it all...if we all started with the premise that all problems can be solved, and that all conflict is fundamentally based on misunderstanding...

Anything would be possible.

Speaking of Kucinich, I understand he's really the only one championing real progressivism, and I'm glad he's there...I just think he comes off as kind of whiny.

mandt said...

Love the bumper sticker. I've been trying to find one that says: "If your tailing me your koan for the day is: 'What is the sound of one finger standing alone in the forest.'"

Dr. Steve said...

Hi Peter!

I do enjoy reading bumper stickers, here is my current fav.

Peter if you can make the link clickable that would be great.


robin andrea said...

Nice bumper sticker. It does go well right above the Prius name. I'm not much for tattoos or bumper stickers, but I see why you would put that one on your car.

I am delighted to see that you are writing for Huffington Post. Congratulations!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Well, Peter, you you’ve got my brain going. The last bumper sticker I had on my car was 20+ years ago and read: “Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?”

So, what about one that reads: “What would Buddha/Jesus/Mohammed/Moses/Confucius do?” Or, perhaps in reverse alphabetical order, since I don’t know the political correctness for such a question.

KathyR said...

On my previous car, I had a Kerry/Edwards sticker. I put it on the back window, so it peeled off easily. -sigh-

I also had a "Darwin Has A Posse" sticker, a kind of neat parody of the old Andre the Giant stickers.

I have a white Prius, too. So if you see a 40-something self-inflicted blonde driving your car's twin around town, wave. It might be me.

No stickers on it right now. I'm not especially looking forward to bedecking it with a Hillary sticker, either.

PeterAtLarge said...

Nice response, here. Thanks, everyone. Sorry, Steve, I've tried linking, but it doesn't seem to work in the Comments area. It's a good one, though. Perhaps we can persuade others to cut and paste...

Paul said...

Hi Peter,

In this regard I'm a lot like you...well, until you put the bumper sticker on your car, anyway.

No bumper stickers, not tattoos, no yard signs, no t-shirts with advertising, no bling.

When I think of bumper stickers though, I'm more inclined toward exaggerated contrasts. Such as:

"God bless Iraq." Talk about brickbats flying.

How about: "Blessed are the peacemakers: The Good Shepherd" on the left side of your car and "We don't torture: The Bad Shepherd." on the right. (I often think about Bush as the Bad Shepherd, leading his flock into oblivion. Baaaah!)

How about: "War is ALWAYS the answer...for a government lacking in wisdom."

And finally: "Keep America Strong: Support the Military Industrial Complex." (What would Eisenhower do?)

carly said...

P: It's so out of the mainstream and unanswerable, it invites people to think Prius owners are a bit kooky.


lindsey said...

I will admit to at one point in my life having a bumper sticker that read "Eternity: Smoking or non-smoking?" but only because I thought it was clever (not because I actually believed in hellfire and brimstone.)

Nowadays my little Honda is much more tolerant and loving as it sports a "Coexist" bumper sticker with the letters of the word spelled out by different religious symbols. It has started many good conversations with total strangers in parking lots.

I love the WWBD? sticker!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The last bumper sticker I displayed was for Adlai Stevenson. Clearly, an endorsement from me is death to a candidate.

I always enjoy reading them on other people's cars, but cling to my belief that I am more than a bumper sticker. At least, I hope so.

khengsiong said...

Bumper stickers are not common in my country - Malaysia. What we have are stickers on rear window.

Christians are never shy to display their stickers. Some of the Buddhist stickers I came across read "Namo Amitabha", "Mindful all the way" and "May you be well and happy".

And then there are the offensive stickers like "No fat man allowed", "I am fat, u are ugly, but I can diet".

TaraDharma said...

I love it! If it speaks to you, wear it on your sleeve! I have the same general opinion about bumper cars have always had pictures or symbols: Edison Lake in the Sierra (a nice blue rendering), an equal sign from Human Rights campaign, a UCSC slug logo.

The only one I have currently is an HRC equality logo on my back window, which is supposed to peel off. But I just saw a lovely gay sticker with a line of rainbow colored people standing in a row holding hands against a black background. Now, with my black car, that would look cool.