Tuesday, February 17, 2015

bending the signs

Margaret Mead visited my college campus in the mid-1970s.  I can still see her slowly making her way across the quad looking like a Tolkien wizard.  Becaped.  Rustic walking stick.  She was everything an anthropologist -- or fiction writer -- should be.

I often feel as if I am Mead (absent the eccentric accessories) when I head out on my shooting expeditions to uncover the heart of mini-cultures through their public signs.

Take Bend.  If you think of it as one of Oregon's old cowboy towns, you would be half-right.  It is also half-yuppie.  Mainly Californian yuppie.  Giving the town a rather bipolar social and political personality.

It is the type of town where half of the population can support gassing Canadian geese that foul the footpaths, and the other half of the population will show up to have a candle vigil for "the surviving geese companions and families." 
(what's good for the goose)

That is why the sign at the top of this post is not surprising.  Oregon was a pioneer in legalizing medical marijuana.  Last November, the state joined Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana.  The county where Bend is located voted in favor of both initiatives.
Bend is filled with medical marijuana retail shops.  What they are waiting for is 1 July 2015 when the floodgates of legal pot open.

Make what you will of this combination.  (I love the speakeasy-esque last line.)

But Bend is not only about recreational drugs.  It is a place that loves its animals.

I initially mis-understood this sign.  The cart is sitting in the parking lot of a restaurant (in a "no parking" zone).

On first glance, I thought it was advertised containers to can cats.  Instead, it combines two Oregon -- bottle deposits and content pets.

In the restaurant, we ran into a bit of old Bend.

The slogan ("9-1-1 takes too long.  I re-load faster") was on the back of a hoodie worn by a young man.  Perhaps, in his twenties.

He was there having breakfast with his wife and their four children.  It was perhaps one of the most wholesome families I have seen in some time.  There are true advantages in the freedom of the west.

Bend is surrounded by ranch country.  When I saw this sign, I automatically thought the elementary school conducted a regular hay class, but it was cancelled.  And that someone could not spell -- or ran out of the letter "s."

Until I saw the other side of the sign.

I should have recognized it was in Spanish.  But I have been away from Mexico for too long.  Except in Taco Bell where I embarrassingly slip into Spanish with ease.

Or how about this license plate that puts the "vanity" into vanity plate?

It should be mine.

But this is undoubtedly my favorite.  It pretty much tells us which political strain predominates in Bend.  At least, amongst the elite.

I fully understand the anti-smoking crusade.  I am not a fan of having smoke blown in my face.  I will leave my libertarian comments concerning the impact of regulating the behavior of a free people for another day.

But take another look at the sign.  The last word in the blue portion.

"Campus?"  I know the word has become trendy.  Like "iconoclastic."  And both are recurringly misused.

"Campus" refers to
the grounds and buildings of a university or college.  In this case, the whole city is referred to as a campus.

And what does that make the citizens on this campus?  The students?  With the politicians and the bureaucrats playing the role of "faculty and administration?"

That is hardly a great model for a republic.  What is wrong with "Tobacco-Free City?" 

But, there I go again, decking myself out in cape and walking stick.  Margaret Mead would be shaking her maned head.

If I recall correctly, getting away from soapboxes (and the need of having them) is one reason I moved to Mexico.

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