Saturday, July 2, 2011

Things I would have tweeted on the way to Maine if I dared text while driving

circa 11:07: On the road at last!

c. 11:20: Lots of disabled cars on the Mass Pike. Tough start to a holiday weekend!

c. 11:45: Yikes! My bike rack is slipping big time! Better stop at McDonalds to tighten the straps!

c. 1:25: OMG this traffic is making me want to die. Time for a McCafe break.

c. 1:30: Life is much better with a fresh iced latte in my cupholder.

c. 1:45: Traffic was from a broken down RV on a bridge! Hooray for the open road.

c. 1:50: So much for the open road. Stopped again. #killmenow

c. 1:55: I should have just started riding the bike instead of tightening the straps on the bike rack.

c. 2:35: I don't care if it's only been an hour since the last McCafe, I'm stopping again.

c. 2:40: Took an inadvertent tour of charming historic Amesbury, but I've got a full tank of gas and another iced latte, so who cares!

c. 2:50: My "Queen: Greatest Hits" album seems to be missing a lot of their greatest hits. Whither "Bohemian Rhapsody?" Whither "Radio Ga Ga?"

c. 3:00: Listening to "Don't Stop Me Now" while you're stuck in traffic is more depressing than not. #makeasupersonicwomanofme

c. 3:20: Getting off of I-95 to take route 1 instead is an interesting idea, Google Maps, but I'm not falling for your tricks.

c. 3:45: Only 4.5 hours to drive 170 miles! That's almost 40 mph! In medieval times people would have thought I was a wizard! #stupidpeasants

Friday, July 1, 2011

A post about farms, bumper stickers, and shared cultural touchstones

Around here I see a lot of cars sporting "No farms, no food" bumper stickers. It's the slogan of an organization that works to protect farmland from development, which is a pretty popular position around here, where the quality of the soil and the short growing season make farming even more of a dicey proposition than in many other parts of the US. Add to that the fact that New England is pretty heavily developed already, and it's not hard to see why a farmer in Western Massachusetts might be willing to sell her fields to Wal-Mart or something.

Anyway, over the past week or so I've seen two variant bumper stickers. One said, "No farms, no beer," which is funny (beer!) and more accurate than the original sticker - after all, we could always fish and hunt and gather, (though I wouldn't like to do it myself) but making beer exclusively from wild hops and barley seems pretty unlikely. The other one was a more positive, but less grammatically parsable "Yes farms, yes food." Would "Yes farms, yes food" make sense to someone who wasn't already familiar with the "No farms, no food" sticker? I've heard of (though I haven't seen) yet another bumper sticker that says, "Know farms, know food," which is another nice take on the topic AND possibly a riff on a popular religious slogan - "No God, no peace; know God, know peace"* but again, not something that makes a whole lot of sense on its own.

Which reminds me of a great bumper sticker I saw last year at a gift shop near Baxter State Park in Maine. It said, "This car climbed Mt. Katahdin," and I thought it was hilarious (I didn't buy one and I'm still annoyed with myself about that - next time I am at Baxter I am 100% definitely getting one). Now, in order to find that bumper sticker as hilarious as I do you have to be in a certain shared cultural space with me.
  1. You have to be familiar with the "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker, reasonably common in New England, advertising the prowess of cars that have ascended New England's highest peak via the (genuinely treacherous) Mt. Washington auto road.
  2. You have to know that the peak of Mt. Katahdin is accessible only by foot.
  3. And for good measure, it helps to know that although Katahdin is about 1,000 feet shorter than Washington, it's an absolute bastard to climb, and significantly more difficult (and vastly less popular) than Mt. Washington.
Anyway, what I'm saying is, bumper stickers don't have a lot of room to get their message across, and so the best ones use not only catchy slogans but also cultural in-jokes and shared understanding. I'm coming to appreciate the genius of the clever bumper sticker, and thinking it might be time to get some for my as-yet-sticker free car. If you're heading up to Baxter pick one up for me.

* With assorted variations like "No Jesus, no love," etc.