On occasion, I've been tempted to get out my camera and photograph some Madison bumper stickers, but it seems too hostile and intrusive to the car owner, so I haven't. But there are some cars around here with ten or more bumper stickers, and it really is often quite amusing. I'd want to talk to the person about their bumper stickers to know what their attitude is. Do they mean to scream hysterically at the world that all these things are terribly important? Or do they think they've got a crappy old car, so why not just slap any damned sticker on? Do they mean to make a solemn statement that they are not accepting the governments policies? -- as expressed in bumper stickers like "Not in my name" and "Don't blame me, I voted for X." Or do they really mean to express hostility and even to emotionally wound anyone who disagrees with them and happens to stop behind them at a red light?
It is the last sort of person whose car I would most feel justified intruding on with a little photography. I'm also most afraid to encounter that person if he or she were to catch me taking the photograph! A bumper sticker I saw the other day -- on a car with ten bumper stickers -- nearly got me to overcome my inhibition and get the camera out of my bag. In amongst the miscellaneous lefty stickers was "Nothing fails like prayer."
Why put that on your car? What are you trying to achieve? So you think religion is a delusion. And maybe you'd like to spread the word. Maybe you'd like to plant this thought in people's minds. They're sitting in their cars, in need of something to activate their idling minds:
Hmmm, yeah ... when you think about it.... people are praying all the time for things they don't get... so, yeah ... right... uh ... religion really is a delusion....
Hoping for something along those lines? Do you ever consider how upset and angry that will make some people? There are always people who are praying for family members who are sick and dying: have you thought about how your mean little sticker makes them feel?
That's all I have to say at the moment about your bumper stickers, O People of Madison. Now about those yard signs.... I think we've established that you supported John Kerry in the last election. Could it possibly be time now for just plain, unopinionated lawn and garden -- or, as the case would be today, fresh blanket of snow?
Or is that blanket a blank page that must be written upon? Ah, perhaps the deep urge to pee one's name in the snow proves how wrong I am to want to clear all the words out of my field of vision. We are human beings, we produce words, and we want to get our words out there one way or another -- as I, of course, am doing now. Why should I want to escape the beautiful human touch -- the written word? Even in the middle of a desert, one expects to find graffiti. And that is exactly where I'd choose to aim my camera. One of my favorite photographs -- I should scan it and post it here later -- is of a rock found on a desolate beach -- half buried in pebbles and sand, with the painted, red block letters: JESUS.
UPDATE: More on Madison bumper stickers here. And an emailer writes:
Recently, while I was in Milwaukee for a wedding, I spotted an old Toyota with about 10 left leaning bumperstickers. What really struck me were two right next to each other: "Mean People Suck" followed by "Cats, Not Kids." Hmm...Maybe that second sticker -- seeing as how it's Wisconsin -- was a reference to hunting season. Another emailer writes:
Because they're so small, and so information-poor, I think that bumper stickers mainly communicate one thing: "I'm in & you're out." ... That being said, the only decal I've got on my car is from despair.com.
Here's his bumper sticker. Okay...