Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If You Can Read This, You Are Too Close

Rock Lobster!

It was Prom. It was 1989 in sunny Southern California. The big bash took place on a big boat.

The Queen Mary, one-time luxury liner, now permanently parked in Long Beach, has been transformed into a tacky touristy hotel. The parkay promenade is free to walk, and is therefore lined with poor teens making out on any given Friday night.

Way back on that one particular night, an entire graduating class descended upon her well-buffed ball room, to act out and suffer through the long practiced ancient rites of spring.

Being the dying days of the 80s, as they were, skirts were ruffled, hair was sprayed, and my mauve bow tie matched my date's mauve dress.

There is much to say about the prom, Tom dancing with his future wife, for instance... But I shall leave that for another post. No, the key here is the host. The DJ. The man of the hour.

Well, the late hour anyway. He showed up long after he was due, and he was visibly drunk. His name was Jim Trenton, and I'm sure I've talked about him before. (oh yes, the Alpha Beta post) any way, Jim was known on KROQ as "Poorman," and somehow, we wrangled him in to DJ our prom.

The best thing about the drunken balding DJ was that he brought schwag. KROQ schwag. Lot's of it. He had a stack of highly-coveted KROQ bumper stickers, and he was autographing them.

If you grew up in Oregon, or Montana, or bumfuck wherever, you may not understand. At that time, and in that place, There was nothing cooler than getting your hands on a KROQ bumper sticker. They were not for sale. It was proof that you were present for at least one KROQ sponsored event. It declared your allegiance to alternative music. It proclaimed your intellectual superiority over those Top 40, heavymetal, hip hop and country ass holes.

The sticker went in the back window of your shitty car, usually flanked by the quasi-obligatory Smiths sticker on one side and by the Cure (or other similar pre-emo alterna-goth group on the other).

As the night progressed, I approached the dais and asked Poorman to sign a sticker for me. Unfortunately, it appeared that the drinking had continued after his arrival.

"Egh... What's your name?" The heavy dance beat was deafening this close to the speakers.

"BRIAN!" I yelled over the din.

"Er, Mike?" He wobbled a bit, but grabbed the sound board to steady himself.


"Right.. eh.. OK..." [scribble, scribble]

He then handed me my very own KROQ bumper sticker. Written in dark black felt-tip ink, I read: "To Mike [scribble, scribble]." He seemed to have had difficulty writing his own name.

I never stuck that sticker on the back window of my VW Rabbit. I figured the autograph might be worth something someday. I found other stickers to stick, declaring my allegiance to that certain style of music.

Now, however, I have no stickers on my car. There is generally nothing wrong with Bumper stickers. They are fine, I suppose, don't get me wrong, but I don't think that thoughts, which can be condensed to fit neatly on a bumper, can be complete. That, and my thoughts tend to shift and grow. Like a tattoo, I'd hate to be stuck declaring something I later disagreed with.

So many personal positions (political, social, environmental or religious) stated succinctly on a sticker are about as far as their holders are willing to think about them. That troubles me greatly. We are becoming a society of sound bites. Our allegiances and philosophies have the breadth and depth of a six-word motto.

I don't care who you are, or what your thing is, if the sum total of your thought, platform, or opinion can be summed up in a bumper sticker, then you are wrong, even if I agree with you.

Oh, and don't get me started on the Jesus fish...
Reading for Comprehension:
1. I saw an old man getting out of his car in front of the courthouse with American flag stickers all over the back of his truck, and a big sticker that read: "My country, right or wrong." I wanted to punch him.
2. I think that left turn was a bit sharp.
3. So, what's your favorite bumper sticker?


  1. I think you are being too hard on the bumper sticker. There are some bumper stickers that not only express a complete thought, that really are their own philosophy.

    No Fat Chicks

    Its almost a piece of Haiku in its minimalism, but it says so much more.

  2. Did someone say Haiku?

    The sticker declares
    My other car is a boat
    Just wishful thinking

  3. Ahhhh... KROQ - Those were the days. Jed the Fish, the Poorman, The Swedish Eagle, and of course, Rodney on the Roq.

    Southern California history I tell you!

  4. More haiku!

    Hot December nights
    Listen to Love Lines, and then
    The Swedish Egil

  5. My whole take is to get one of the Jesus fish eating the Darwin fish stickers and relabel it, "Jesus Eats People."

    The wife has requested I do not.

  6. Aw, where's her sense of adventure?

  7. What do you mean where's her sense of adventure?
    She married David for christ's sake...

  8. Well, Dave's not exactly Steve Irwin

  9. I saw a bumper sticker a few weeks ago.."The Christian Right is neither"

  10. I have about 25 kroq bumper stickers I would be happy to loan you one. I even have one signed by Richard Blade. Yes, I am the biggest dork in the lounge.

  11. oscar wilde7:30 PM

    Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

  12. I want my damn bumper sticker back


Be compelling.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.