...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, October 17, 2004

James Lileks: Battle lines drawn on the lawn: Yawwwn

The StarTribune required registration to visit their website. I've reprinted it here for those readers who just can't be bothered with such things.

Star Tribune
Published October 17, 2004
Every day I pass a political lawn sign so big I expect to see cars clustered around it at dusk, waiting for the movie to start. Next to it is another sign for the other team, equally large. And therein hangs a tale, you think. You imagine a couple who have a happy placid life, full of love and easy joy. Two hearts beating as one. Clove-speared veal liver for supper, dear? Whatever, my sweet. Then perhaps a dusk-time drive on our Segways along the river? I thought you'd never ask. But POLITICS are the great unspoken THING that divides them. They put up the signs on the lawn, but they never talk about them. Until Election Day, that is.
"You look nice. I always liked that scarf."
"It's red, just like the blood of the innocent victims of American aggression."
"Really, hon. I thought you'd want to choose something yellow. Yellow like the spine of effete appeasers you favor without regard to the message they send to our enemies."
"Oh, I considered a purple scarf, to foreshadow the bruise your clay-footed plutocratic chickenhawks will sport tomorrow when the returns come in, but it's at the dry cleaners. Shall we go to the polling place, where my vote will cancel yours?"
"As a gentleman, I insist you vote first. So I may cancel your ballot."
"Fascist tool."
"Gutless internationalist."
"Arsenic-loving neo-con nutjob."
"Vacillating sovereignty-ceding Francophile who -- hey, where are my keys? Did you see them? They were right here -- "
"Oh, sorry, I had to get something out of the car. Here. Ready, dear?"
"Ready. And you look hot. I love that color."
"Thanks! Nazi swine."
"Commie hag."
No one's vandalized the signs yet, perhaps because they're so large you'd run out of spray paint. Besides, what's the point? What do the idiots expect the sign owners to think?
These hooligans, objecting no doubt to my candidate's detailed stance on genetically modified beets, have removed my sign. Chastened, I shall stay home on Election Day.
Here's another sign, then. You like the size? They can see the names from space.
Me, I'm tempted to put a gigantic NIXON-LENIN '04: FOR A STRANGER AMERICA! sign on my lawn just to make people stop and wonder if they've missed something. Or maybe SLUB'GAROTH, THE UNBLINKING WORM-SHAPED ELDER GOD, FOR SCHOOL BOARD. He'd win. No one ever remembers the name of a school-board candidate, but you'd remember SLUB'GAROTH. And then you'd get a giant oozing mass of pure evil slumped in the parking lot, chomping on the bones of the rest of the council, announcing that the budget shortfalls will be solved by feeding the sixth-graders to Mo'Slroth, the Screaming Goat-Man of the Nether Realms, or by cutting back on after-school language classes.
Parents would protest - how can our kids get into Yale without knowing French? - but there's something about a pile of bones that ends the argument rather quickly.
So the signs do work. But only with your oddly-named elder gods. Otherwise, I'm unmoved.
In a few years, lawn signs will be upgraded, as new technologies get cheap. I fully expect to see lawn signs that show commercials, run little movies, give out tinny fanfares when you trip the motion detector. Stay the course! Hope is on the way! No Blood for Alderinium! (This will be a battle cry in 2845 during the bitter Off-World Wars in the Rigel System.) Political strategists will no doubt offer holographic projections of the candidates that pop up on the lawn and follow you to the property line, making a campaign pitch. The strategists will think it's a can't-miss opportunity to connect with the voter; in reality, you'll have a computer-generated presidential candidate gesturing earnestly to your back as you watch the dog make a deposit.
But it won't take long for intrepid hackers to figure out a way to screw up the machinery. Malicious code-savvy teens will drive around neighborhoods uploading new programs that make the signs display clips from "Triumph of the Will," or rewrite the holograms so the candidates are buck-stark-naked doing the Hustle while declaiming random lines from Swedish furniture catalogs.
That, however, is the future. For now, we have this brief period of political exhibitionism. I look forward to the end of the election saga, when politics will be replaced by matters of intimate importance. I don't care how my neighbor votes; that's his business, and I'm sure he has his reasons. I do care whether he shovels his walk, because I have to negotiate 10 yards of slick ice when I walk the dog. All politics is local, Tip O'Neill once said.
(Shortly before he was eaten by an Elder God.) is at© Copyright 2004 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.


  • At 1:43 PM, Blogger Kurt (aka Noodles) said…

    At least SOMEONE at the Star Tribune has a sense of humor! Did you see the drivel written in the "Our Perspective" section of the Op-Ex section? I blogged about it here

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Yes, it is funny. I'm glad you agree. We are so lucky to have Lileks as our bard.
    Lileks is a married man. He speaks with authority in this piece.
    I, on the other hand know little of conflicts with a significant other, as I don't even have an insignificant other. That's because I found the concept of otherness to be untenable.


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