Tuesday
Jul272004

« Signs, Signs... »

In San Diego, we have this battle that has been going on for a decade and a half. It concerns the rather large cross placed on the most prominant hill in the city. It has been there in a few forms since the 20s, which in SD is a long time—long enough to have achieved landmark status. Some athiest dude decided it was offensive and blurred the line between church and state. Fine. It is a cross on public display. So the city tried a few ways to offload it. I believe they sold it to the same organization that already had put it there, but went ahead and made it into a Korean War vets memorial. Then some went on to claim that that was corrupt too. Not because of the memorial, but because the city profitted on a sale that ultimately allowed the thing to remain standing, which of course, made it seem like even more unfair. So, now there is yet another round of battles going on. Some still want it taken down, some say that as a Christian symbol, it doesn't represent the non-Christians in the Korean War.

But what the fuck? It is a San Diego LANDMARK. San Diego is here only because the Catholics set up camp here hundreds of years ago, soon doing the usual program of making the natives conform to their way of life, their religion—all of which relegated the natives to second class citizenship. The name "San Diego" is a church related name, as is any of a number of place names all over California. But there is not a popular movement to change that. Or maybe there are other Christian structures that steal too much thunder from the athiests. Should we remove the Presidio monument from Old Town? Or the San Diego Mission? I don't believe those are too representative of the Jews and Muslims and athiests. I don't see why we can't just leave well enough alone. There are other hills here. If someone wants to erect a Star of David or a Crescent, well, why the hell not? I guess the Jews and Muslims didn't kill enough people to warrant a symbol of their choosing on the local peaks. So should we just err on the safe side and erase anything about our past so that all could feel equal in today's world?

We have already done that.

What people are missing altogether is that there is obscenity and unfairness and divisiveness all up and down every major boulevard and freeway in this town, and every other town in the nation. There are signs and symbols of another religion that I personally object to, and I think maybe I am right to pursue legal action to force change. It would be a miserably failed campaign though.

No one ever talks about the billboards and advertisements that grace benches, bus stops, bus sides, murals, and all the other places that can serve as host for an advertisement. No, the religion of capitalism is alive and well, and the symbols are all around me. Not just perched prominantly on a hill for all to see if one looks in the general direction. Not that at all. No, in every direction I turn, at far more places both high and low, there is the eyesore that is the advertisement for a good or service I don't need or want, all promising a better way of life if I just get on my knees and pray (or open up my wallet and scan my credit card). We are literally pummeled with advertisements hundreds of times a day from the time we wake till bedtime. But there's no outrage at that. In fact, capitalism is the only religion we all practice, like it or not.

I am outraged at the sight of the golden arches, the happy star, the swoosh, the shell & chevron, the bullseye, the "K" (both mart and circle), the ram, the wave, and the colonel. Who do I sue to get that shit off public land, or out of the public eye? Do I need to be a card carrying member of an anti-capitalist organization to carry any weight in this argument? What politician do I vote out of office for letting this happen? If the cross is offensive, and it represents a righteous man who has been dead for two millenia, well, can someone please acknowledge my disgust at the symbols of the new religion that isn't content with one well-placed location for their symbols? There are only three hilltop crosses in the San Diego area. But how many McDogfood's and WalMarts are there? How many ARCOs or Jack In The Boxes? Within about one mile in my home turf of Clairemont, there are two Jack In The Boxes. Within a few steps of each, there are corresponding taco stands named "El Cotixan." I won't knock Cotixan because I dig their chow, and they are only a small chain of five or so in SD only, but you see where I am on this? JIB and El Cotixan, happening twice within about a mile of each other? The JIBs were built in the same summer of 1992. It was not an accidental occurrance. My friend (and drummer on my CD Receiving), Mike Bedard, was a laborer on those crews.

So how does this happen? His people can be real assholes sometimes, but the cross is a symbol of peace and unity and self sacrifice for the greater good (I know, there has been some question about that, but its in the original account. Remember, Jesus wasn't a Christian, nor was he a patriot). So now we, a place that sometimes likes to (errantly) think of itself as a Christian country (bullshit, never was), want to banish a symbol that really only has the power that people let it have over their lives. But on the flip side, we just let corporate interests (who have the REAL power to turn our world into true HELL) march all over us, with their signs and posters, billboards and icons filling every inch in our field of vision day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. No one is here to protest that! On the contrary, we celebrate it and call it "progress" and the sign that everythingisworkingjustfinethankyouverymuch.

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