Signage of the Times
At recent Mount Lebanon Commission and School Board meetings, exasperated residents have testified that they are practically going out of their minds over all the delaying tactics tossed at the Mount Lebanon High School renovation project. Well, I'm already there – completely bonkers - over this controversial issue. Not so much over whether we spend 75 or 113 million – either way we all know that we will get what we pay for. To me this ain't so much about the kids anymore. It's coming way too late to benefit my two. What's driving me nutty is a nitwit neighbor of mine trashing my "Save Our School" lawn signs - 3 times now and counting. Could this sign stalking midnight marauder still be mired in that 70s tune "Signs, Signs, everywhere Signs, blocking up the scenery breaking my mind" (thank you 5 Man Electrical Band) or what?
Now I would argue that lawn signs define our civilization just as usefully as billboards and bumper stickers keep our attention focused on the road. Sloganeering signage has probably put more dents in fenders than in voter opinion. The most bold and amusing of bumper stickers I saw in Manhattan. It read "Can't you see I'm on the phone!" I remember handing out a whole box of McGovern/Shriver buttons in '72 and somehow we still lost that election plus the Vietnam War to boot. Heck, it was only with this recent Obama election that I morphed from signage challenged to signing on to Barrack's hopemobile. The idea of plopping America's global melting pot poster boy into the White House was just too delicious to pass up for a previously hopeless liberal such as I.
And I was proud enough of my Obama stickers to keep 'em on a whole year until 2010 census work made me cover up my left wing leanings. I enjoyed my G-man work immensely by the way – wore an Elliot Ness overcoat covering my always at the ready imaginary tommy gun, parked anywhere I damn pleased and made census avoiders scurry like rats into their basements and defiant libertarians spew their bizarre conspiracy theories all over their front porches while peering ever so nervously up to the sky at my hovering black helicopter friends…but I digress.
Let me tell you what happened these last two weeks to my signs.
I placed 2 in my yard on Kurt Drive, another couple on a fellow soccer dad's lawn up the street facing Lakemont Drive, plus gave out two more to Tour de Lebo bikers to place on Folkstone and Sunrise Drives. Had the neighborhood pretty much covered. So that's 6 signs times 3 thefts which equals 18 signs times $3 per which is a collective $50+ heist. Add my pain and suffering and it's really way over a hundred bucks of virtual visual vandal damage.
Dashed was my dream of that star spangled summer evening round about 3 years down the road when our town's July 4th fireworks would light up the sky and we Leboites would not have to lay our collective squint on some shoddy, moldy and last century oldie school building – but rather we would instead spy upon a glistening new Lebo High Spaceship lifting our kids and grand children to Emerald City educational bliss and Friday Night Football heights which would make Upper Saint Clair, Bethel and Peters town folk rue their days of excessive haggling over their meager school do-overs!
When I surveyed the initial theft scene, my first impulse was to simply electrify my next pair of "save our school" signs.
This was a promising plan but then my wife reminded me of the many canines that tended to relieve themselves on our premises and the image of a pee line transforming into a doggie death ray led to her confiscation of my extension chords.
This imposed cease fire got me to thinking "What would Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction do in this situation?" That's right - I would "try real hard, Ringo, to be the Sheppard!"
So I re-set the new placards in the exact same spots but this time attached a brilliant red balloon to each figuring that this kind of guy just might need a balloon and knowing no-one would consciously abuse a red balloon – especially not one just like that kid's in that Red Balloon book we all have most assuredly read several times.
The next morning the sun again rose wondrously over our blue and gold skyline and I peeked out the window and saw that the SOB had run off with my second round of signs - plus savaged them all over the street, red balloons popped. This was not good. Not good at all.
So I got out my magic markers, and quickly drew up a poster that read "hey (followed by a rough drawing of a screw and a ball)! Quit stealing our signs!" And scribbled below that "it's wabbit season" signed E Fudd. Heh, heh, heh.
Plus I got my sledge hammer out and pounded the steel spikes of this looney toon warning and 4 new "Save Our School" signs as far into the ground as they would go figuring that would hinder the next rip off attempt.
At daybreak, after gathering my PPG and checking to see if Luke Hagy had scored his usual 3 Blue Devil TDs, I glanced towards my signage and there stood practically smoldering - 4 naked, bent steel towers looking like ground zero. The sign stealer had somehow grasped that the signs actually slipped off very easily from their steel stems…
What was different this time from the earlier attacks was that there was no evidence lying about on the pavement, no chance for retrieval and proper burial. My signs were now hostages in the clutches of an anon nutcase.
The new sign reinforcements weren't in yet so my lawn was to remain a battleground lost for several days…unless I would muster the singular courage to go on the offensive. So I drew up a second hand made placard showing Bugs Bunny proclaiming "This Means WAR!" (thank you Mel Blanc) and I email blasted a cry for help and found that indeed others had endured similar attacks on their signage as well as veiled threats to their very personhood. The targets included school board members and mild mannered musicians… Police reports had been filed and suspected bad guys fingered. Lo and behold two suspects lived right down on Lindendale!
This made me shudder since only a while back I unwittingly precipitated a runaway softball incident that rained down unmercifully on Lindendale folk and it occurred to me that maybe some lindendaleones might still harbor a grudge of some kind...
Are you still reading this?
Here's what happened…It was a dark and stormy evening when I parked my van heading up Kurt Drive so that my fastpitch softballing daughter Jen could run into the house to escape the rain. I got out my driver's side and opened the back hatch to fetch the equipment and was clobbered in the groin by a tumbling ball bag that Jen had hurriedly propped on top of the unstable bat bag and also neglected to zipper up and it plunged onto the street and a good two dozen greenish yellow softballs bounded to freedom past me and down our very steep incline. Unfortunately coming up the hill were some cars. An elderly man drove the first, and having witnessed the entire episode, stopped in his tracks and pounded his steering wheel hysterically laughing at my pathetic attempt to run down a few of the escapees. A lady in the car behind him, fearing the worst, did a duck and cover. A third car driven by a teenager tried to do a u-turn but only provided a tempting broadside target for the rapidly accelerating balls. Some of the balls made it clear to the Lindendale curb and bounded right, careening all the way down to Cedar Blvd, I guess to find a waterlogged resting place as close as possible to the softball fields. Others hung a hasty left and were unceremoniously gobbled up by a hungry sewer. Still others catapulted over the curb and into the several yards seemingly safely tucked away far below street level. The crashing noises and the screaming subsided after only a few minutes and I wondered whether this softball debachle would ever come back to bite me…
So honorable commissioners, this is probably why these few isolated, scared neighbors of mine continue to haunt your chambers to oppose soccer fields, swimming pools and adequate police protection. They obviously detest sports and shiny new buildings and have taken to cannibalizing signage and now are ganging up on your "Commissioner's Parking Spaces"… something I and maybe you never even knew you had and I bet they just found out about as well...
Oh I so long for the daze when we just sipped our tea and acted civilily!
That's all folks!