Saturday, October 2, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

by Peggy Robin

A long-time list member recently posted this trenchant observation about posted signs: "Let me tell you all loud and clear, SIGNS DO NOT WORK."

I was struck by the truth of this aphorism just yesterday as I took a short walk down Ordway Street from 30th Street to Connecticut Avenue. In just the space of those two blocks I saw at least 20 signs that people had placed on their property at or near the sidewalk, asking people to do --or not do-- various things:

  • Five were asking people to curb their dogs.
  • Three were asking drivers to slow down (two in English and one, double-sided, was Spanish on one side and English on the reverse).
  • Six were about politics or living together in a community - of which only was overtly a campaign sign (a holdover from the 2020 election). A few examples: Black Lives Matter; Statehood for the People of DC; Thank You, Essential Workers, and Immigrants Are Welcome Here.

There were of course, quite a few duplicates within those two short blocks. And that 20+ sign total is NOT counting any of the DDOT parking and traffic signs – nor is it counting any real estate or commercial signs.

I took photos of some of the signs and have posted seven of them on the All List Is Local website, which you can see if you click here.  

Of these seven signs, I would point out just one that does not fit into any of the bullet pointed categories above – and for that reason, I think it deserves a special mention. It’s not a new sign -- you will see it's old and rusted -- and I rather doubt that the original inspiration of its message is still living at the address where this sign adorns the fence. The sign bears the warning -- in French -- outside of a rowhouse that therein dwells a "CHAT LUNATIQUE."

Now as for the rest of the signs I passed along my walk – well, there's an old pop song from 1971 that says it well:

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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