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.