|Justified — This sign seems planned to remind North Carolina motorists why it should remain standing during tough economic times.|
by Ronald Sitton
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Aug. 3) — You see them every day on your way to and from work, the grocery store, the library, the pool, the folks … but you might not “notice” them except for the occasional message.
In the late 1990s, “Got Milk?” grabbed the attention of passing American motorists before becoming a world-wide campaign. Without knowing the actual returns on investment, it seems the milk industry fared much better than the pork industry’s “The Other White Meat” and “Beef – It’s what’s for dinner” (note: the beef billboards apparently spawned a PETA/vegetarian response).
Around the nation, recession billboards ask Americans to lighten up. Some of you may remember the racy Calvin Klein ads of the late ’80s, but apparently the company’s newest billboards even messes with New Yorkers. Someone found the time to make a Web site commemorating crazy and funny billboards for the bored to enjoy. But not all billboards are funny:
It’s hard to understand the logic behind the use of some billboards.
|Priorities — Stop to see where the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker might be, but what about where Louis Jordan was? (File Photo)|
In Kevin Clark’s documentary “Is You Is: A Louis Jordan Story,” Arkansongs dee-jay Stephen Koch tells of childhood expectations of seeing a statue of the legendary Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame honoree noting his hometown of Brinkley, Ark.
Instead he found a lot of promotion for the re-discovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker — but not one billboard tells passing travelers about Jordan. Wouldn’t it be better to attract as many travelers as possible during tough economic times, especially when located on a busy Interstate?
Perhaps even crazier: billboards on I-40 westbound promote investment opportunities in Brinkley … right after you pass the Brinkley exit with the next exit nowhere in sight.
Of course now, it’s not enough to have a static sign breaking the scenic view as you drive America’s highways and byways. Electronic and digital billboards are becoming all the rage. Even the FBI understands how useful they can be with the ability to update as needed. Are they safe? The federal Highway Administration sure seems to think so, especially when they sit in congested areas that give drivers time to sit and watch them.
Some claim business forays into social media represent nothing more than electronic billboards, but somebody’s watching. And just when you thought it was safe to go out in the water again … amphibious billboards! What’s next? Billboards in space?
But billboards aren’t just for business anymore.
GOD, Politics and Education
I’ll never forget driving to Knoxville from Clinton, Tenn., and seeing:
“That ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ thing … I meant that.” – God
Some would say religion wouldn’t be religion if there wasn’t some controversy. You expect atheists to question God’s existence, but what about this campaign to “challenge the mindset of a new generation of church goers”? I prefer the approach of The Foundation for Life, whose “Pass It On” series hits really hard.
By Ronald Sitton
MEMPHIS (Jan. 13) – Yesterday’s mists turned into today’s showers, making it hard to see down Interstate 40 as I returned to Memphis after going home to Little Rock last night.
While that may seem like quite a drive for a conference, I believe it’s relative. A thought struck somewhere along I-40 that thinking takes time, and taking your time seems to be the true mark of a Southerner.
|Hometown? – Although Brinkley considers itself the hometown of the rediscovered Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, other Arkansas residents claimed to have seen the bird in the Southeast portion of the state.|
Just down the road, a billboard boasts “Brinkley, Home of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker” in reference to the 2004 rediscovery of the bird once thought extinct. The grainy footage caught by researchers led some to claim that the stories of this rediscovery are just wives tales. To be honest, even if it’s only a story, it does not matter.
While attending the University of Tennessee, I’d travel back and forth between Knoxville and Little Rock. On more than one occasion, I took the Brinkley/Cotton Plant exit for a gas stop. The discovery of the Lord God Bird made a remarkable change to this area.
Just west of town next to the interstate stands a new convention center. Where once stood an abandoned-looking hotel, now the Ivory Billed Inn beckons tourists from around the world hoping to gain a glimpse of what they once believed to be extinct.
In short, the idea of the “The Lord God Bird” still being alive despite man’s destruction of its habitat keeps hope alive, and that’s priceless.
Of course, I have heard tales of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker being seen as far south as Crossett. With the waterways and woods of eastern Arkansas, I find it easy to believe the bird surely must be somewhere amongst those trees.
Upon finally making it back to Memphis, I had to stop in midtown at Shang Hai Oriental Restaurant on Poplar Avenue to eat Vietnamese food. I enjoyed the Pad Khing with shrimp before heading back to the conference. I’m also enjoying the free WiFi provided at the conference, though sometimes it goes in and out. I had to switch to a landline just to get on again.