Friday, February 15, 2013

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs - Vol. II

No matter where I go - Cape Cod, Switzerland, Albuquerque, Scotland - I seem to stumble upon a piece of wood, plastic or questionably organic material that offers direction, suggestion or introspection. Last year I put together a list of my the most memorable of these encounters - my favorite signs from around the globe. There were witty takes on marriage, comical snake warnings and deep philosophical perspective carved into a tree. Each one represented someone's desire to share his or her worldview, however specific, with an unknown amount of unknown people.

There is something wholly personal and yet completely universal about a good sign. It means something to everyone - typically the same thing. It is meant to be understood by all and yet it helps a specific person looking for a specific thing arrive at, avoid or comprehend their own individual situation. So whether it's a stick figure on a bathroom door or a musing about love above a urinal, you should appreciate postings for their inherent, creative duality.

Or, if you're like me, you just get a kick out of the witty things human beings come up with.
I haven't been everywhere - yet. Which means there are plenty more witty and urbane placards taped, stapled or stuck up with chewing gum. And damned if I didn't just happen to find a few more in the past few months. 

It would only be right to share a few of them. Here is Signs Everywhere the Signs - Volume Two.

Location: Provincetown, Massachusetts
There really is nothing to say about this. In only two words, it speaks volumes. Quite honestly, it is the most accurate sign I have ever seen.

Location: Nashville, TN, the life-size replica of the Parthenon
I've been to Athens, Greece and now I've been to the self-proclaimed, "Athens of the South." Both boasted a Parthenon, and I must say, the replica version in Tennessee, albeit less historically significant and more "why the hell is this here?", did have some upsides. There was less smog and less crippling economy. And due to this awesome warning sign, a lot less hooliganism from local teens! Can't you just picture a crotchety old man waving his cane at some radical dudes that just want him to stop harshing their buzz? And by crotchety old man, of course I mean Zeus.

Location: Edinburgh & St. Andrews, Scotland
Ok, I have the sense of humor of an eleven year old boy. But apparently so don't the Scots. I couldn't help but take photos of their hilarious street names. I even posted one up on Twitter and got a few retweets from the official St. Andrews, Scotland tourism board agreeing with my comical observation. Just another reason why Scotland is amazing.

Location: Dublin, Ireland - The Stag's Head Pub
At first, when I saw this sign, I thought I had just drunk too much Guinness. What could be better than comedy and ice cream? Then I remembered I was in Dublin and for the three days I had been there, the excessive Guinness made everything seem too good to be true. This sign just reaffirmed my preexisting, alcohol-saturated belief that everything is better in Ireland. Even bad stand up comedy can be made palatable when you throw in some free ice cream!

Location: Mt. Vernon, Virginia
You don't have to be a history buff to get tingles when you read this sign above the archway at George Washington's tomb. Underneath it, behind the wrought-iron gate lies the first President of the United States beside his wife. The presentation of the tomb is elegant yet understated, appropriate for a man who set America on a path to becoming a world superpower and international model for freedom and democracy. The sign above the archway is again a simple reminder that you are standing very close to greatness; a member of the historical figure Pantheon.

Location: On the Turquoise Trail, scenic road between Albuquerque & Santa Fe
Two things bothered me about this sign. One: if it is such a congested area, why are they having trouble finding volunteers? And Two: this sign was located in the middle of nowhere, on a scenic road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where the next closest grouping of structures was literally a Ghost Town. I guess in the high desert you have to put things in perspective. The house in the background has a satellite dish, so in relation to the nearby Ghost Town, maybe this is considered congested.

Location: Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
Since Disney got rid of the overindulgent poacher plot to their live-animal safari ride in Animal Kingdom Park, the trip through the man-made African savannah became much more enjoyable. Besides the up close encounter with a herd of galloping giraffes, my favorite part was the caution sign on the bridge over what appeared to be hundreds of sun bathing crocodiles. I knew they were real and the sign was part fun and part warning to keep your small children inside the vehicle at all times. But part of me still wondered if they were animatronic and the sign was really there to keep you from learning Disney's advanced robotic lizard technology.

Location: Outside Nashville, TN
Yup, there is a museum dedicated solely to Bo & Luke Duke. And to name it Cooter's Place, is just plain appropriate. It's free and fabulous. And if you scroll down to the last photo in this post, you'll notice that the Austrian people have clearly been here.

Location: On the road outside of La Spezia, Italy
What's more terrifying than Italian drivers? New Italian drivers. On our way to the airport after a week and a half driving around Italy - and experiencing the fiery, haphazard, lead-foot speedsters buzzing around the autostrade, I was ready to ditch the rental car. Seeing a "Driving School" sign on any car, anywhere actually should read, "Collision Imminent." But then throw in the winding, cliffside strips of pavement both I and this newcomer to automotive operation were trying to navigate - in the rain - and you can imagine my bubbling nerves. Luckily I was behind this particular student, who was inching along at a very un-Italian pace, only swerving over the lines a half dozen times. I learned a valuable lesson - in Italy, pass when you get the chance.

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
I can't explain this one. It is a sign of a rooster smoking a cigar on top of what appear to be two eggs. This is the only sign for this shop, which appeared to neither sell cigars or chicken-related items. I particularly enjoy the small paper sign in the background taped to the No Parking sign that says, "50% off everything in the shop." As it wasn't open when we walked by, we weren't able to solve these riddles, but we sure would've gotten a good deal if we had.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
What more is there to say?

Location: Vienna, Austria
Do you want to know what the Austrians think of America? At the massive fair ground / permanent carnival out on the edge of Vienna (which is totally worth a visit while in the city), one of the big attractions is an America-themed bumper car pavilion. It is decorated in red, white and blue (plus flashing lights in every other color on the spectrum), and the US states' names are posted in various spots on the walls and ceiling. It is unmistakably American. Yet, if you were to go by the signs all over the ride, you'd see that Americans are all Confederate-flag-waving rednecks with blonde wives that have massive fake breasts. When we aren't driving our big rigs, we drive El Caminos, worship Burt Reynolds and eat burgers and fried chicken. Actually, sounds about right. Stereotyping is fun. 

1 comment:

  1. Austrians just believe all Americans are Texans. I blame GW Bush.