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April 17, 2008

Bumper philosophy in the city of angels

I take a lot of pictures of bumper stickers and general chitchat happening on the backsides of cars across this city. I'm not sure exactly why I'm so interested in them, but it definitely makes our painfully slow traffic more amusing. The bumper stickers and the nosepickers -- what would I do without them for laughs on the freeways?

I even stop in parking lots and take pictures of bumper stickers that strike me. Maybe it's because on a deeper level I am fascinated that someone would stick a slogan on such a large purchase. Cars typically cost more than a pair of shoes, and you won't catch me putting a sticker on my high heels. So I guess I think of bumper stickers as the car owners' personal philosophy, an expression (succinct and punch-liney as it may be) of that individual's view on life. And I'm fascinated that anyone can sum up their primary life's focus on a bumper sticker. Those license-plate holders with customized saying get me, too, especially because they seem like so much more work than a sticker.

This car caught my eye -- I was riding the bus one day and saw it out the window. It was a foggy, dreary, excruciatingly early morning commute and the Elvismobile got me to crack a smile:


I wonder if he or she has an Elvis Room at home? Or better yet -- a Jungle Room! I love crazed Elvis fans, they're always very nice people and they can usually appreciate a velvet painting. I love a good velvet painting.

Bumper talking amuses me to no end. You can tell the proud parents (and honor students) from the sports fans and political junkies. This one is a bit of a mouthful, though:


"My child is a winner at Westfield Ave. Elem/Westfield Computer Science Magnet." Maybe they should just say, "My kid's school has more words than your kid's school!"

And sometimes there are bumper stickers about your honor student that make me laugh out loud:


Then there are the peaceful commuters who want us to "Coexist!" or "Practice Random Acts of Kindness" and others who want us to Praise Jesus! Support the Troops! and Listen to Viva 107.5!

Lots of folks have opinions they want to share about this country:



I honestly tried to find a bumper sticker that said something pro-Bush just to be all fair and everything, but as it turns out I live in Southern California. Whoopsy. Although this might be pro-Bush:


What exactly does "GUEY" mean, anyway?

By the way, yes I know what guey means and I freely admit I was being somewhat sarcastic in the "this is a joking website" manner, which is funnier when you don't have to point it out.

I love that people stick bumper stickers on their cars. I like seeing if the message and the car align, or if the driver has a sense of humor and I like that some folks feel so strongly about a thing that they find a single, defining message and then they adhere it to their vehicle. I'm not sure the ONE thing I would feel most impassioned about, however, is telling people in traffic that I'm so awesome ... but sadly, I'm "taken":

This I don't understand. Do people just keep approaching you in your vehicle, asking you out on dates? So now we can only assume they REALLY want you but then they read your license plate holder and have to slowly back away, dejected, sad? And also ..in traffic?

And while I guess it's pretty darn cool to produce real twin human beings from your body, I think I would feel weird about letting people know my kids' names (especially in my neighborhood ... "Chester The Child Molester-ville"):


Close-up of her little window sticker:

Close-up of personalized plates:

(Sometimes folks want to know how I get such clear pictures of other cars on the road. Notice these cars are all in front of my Jeep. Notice that we are all not moving. That is how AWESOME traffic is in Los Angeles.)

So I take a lot of pictures of bumpers and rear-ends. I'm reading your messages, but I guess I haven't found my own defining message -- at least one that can be summed up in ten words or less. Sure, "I like wine" has a funny ring to it, but is that something you want to stick on your car? Not to mention I already get the crazies calling me an alkie on a regular basis through the mail ... I don't exactly want to deal with them rolling up alongside me to share their OH SO HELPFUL wisdom.

"Cat ladies are sexy" might work, but I am more than just a woman with some cats. Plus, I like dogs. And horses. And guys. All of which are nice animals, but then the bumper sticker gets too wordy and inclusive.

There are election-year bumper stickers EVERYWHERE, but I don't want to wear my political notions on my Jeep. That's just not my style. I don't have any honor students, or babies on board, and I'm no one's Best Mom, Best Grandma or Best Teacher.

"I like the nightlife, I like to boogie..." might make a catchy bumper slogan, honestly I only like to boogie and enjoy nightlife on weekends if I'm not driving and if we don't have to stand in line and if it's not at some lame pick-up joint or someplace where everyone is fresh out of college and looks like an extra from "The Real World" and only if it's not crowded because I hate crowds. In fact, I really don't like the nightlife in the traditional sense .... ah, perhaps all that is too wordy for the average bumper. And in the end it's still not my defining message.

Some bumper stickers are quotations, I like those a lot. I tried to think of a single quote I would want on my bumper ... my favorite quote of all time is by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He's always saying, "Your opinion about me is none of my business." I love that so much. YOUR OPINION OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! It's the truest thing I have ever heard. But I keep that saying close to my heart and don't really need to force it on other people. Besides, do you think Dr. Dyer wants to be quoted on the back of a non-hybrid? Would that be insulting?

In the end, my vehicle remains unadorned. There may indeed be a defining pithy statement inside me somewhere but it's probably about 587 pages long and won't fit on a little square Jeep. Knowing me, my personal philosophy probably has footnotes.

So I'll just keep taking pictures of your bumpers. And your rear-ends, too.


Posted by laurie at April 17, 2008 9:27 AM