When we opened our store in Sisters (now long gone), we had to go through the city to approve our signs. I submitted a design that had the title PEGASUS highlighted, and below, in regular letters, Books, Games, Toys, Comics. Something like that.
"Oh, no." The sign lady said. "All letters must be highlighted."
I just laughed in disbelief. "If all letters are highlighted, NO letters are highlighted."
All I got was a blank look.
I know she wasn't stupid, she just didn't see the irony in the request. I knew what she was really saying was, "We want a uniform style for the city, and the style we have chosen is that all letters must be highlighted."
But underneath that thought is a wealth of contradictions. AS IF EVERY LETTER WAS CAPITALIZED IN ORDER TO MAKE A POINT. EVERY STINKING LETTER, WHETHER IT IS IMPORTANT OR NOT! NICE DAY OUTSIDE. I JUST ATE LUNCH. LOOK A BIRD. THE WORLD IS ENDING.
Or like requesting that a house be painted Red, so that it stands out, and then requesting that every other building be painted Red, as well. In a nutshell, that is the bureaucratic mind.
I actually understand the need for these kinds of rules. Judging each situation on it's own merits leaves too much space for individualistic and subjective judgements. But ....it also leaves NO room for individualistic and subjective judgements. It creates a uniformness and blandness.
Except that, because people are wonderfully adept at following the letter of the law, but finding loopholes, you get these strange situations where the business owner has a sign that blends in with everyone else, but has painted his building a bright pink.
Or the house is painted the same color as every other house, but the owner has filled is lawn with pink flamingoes.
So the city tries to legislate taste, but taste is individual. On the other hand, without somes of these rules we end up with streets filled with ugly, overblown, and view-blocking signs.
It is a conundrum that is fun to think about.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
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