Category Archives: graffiti

Canada On Wheels

Toronto in May is wonderful. It has much to recommend it, and curious signage is only the beginning: there are beautiful gardens, nice beaches (though Lake Ontario is still slightly chilly), great food, decent public transportation, and quite possibly the best coffee in the world.

Of course, I’m going to start with the signs.

In case you were wondering how to tell someone to fasten their seatbelt in French…here you go!

I wish bilingualism was more common in the U.S. So many other countries seem to manage it, why can’t we? Then again, they also manage to teach reading, writing, math, and science such that more than 60% of fourth- and eighth-graders can pass standardized tests at an acceptable level – another goal we can’t seem to reach. Pretty soon they’re going to have to rename it the Leev No Childe Beehynde act. Wait, that looks like Old English by way of The Pretenders. Ugh. Moving on…

Welcome to Canada!

This was an instant favorite, of course: TRAFFIC CALMING ZONE. This message brought to you by a friendly green and orange turtle.

Strictly speaking this is neither a sign nor graffiti, but I wish we had mint lemonade in bottles here. Then again, it’s easy enough to make lemonade and stick a few fresh mint leaves in, if you happen to have a mint plant. (A word to the wise: plant mint in a pot unless you want it to take over your garden like Alexander the Great sweeping across the Persian Empire. It’s that invasive.)

I put this question to you in all seriousness: WHAT? Of COURSE bikes are on wheels! They aren’t much use if they don’t have wheels, are they? (“Why the f— do I want a caravan that’s got no f—in’ wheels?” –Snatch) You wouldn’t have a auto dealership called “Cars on Wheels,” would you? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Can’t be really upset at them for long though, as they have this chalkboard out front:

Fine, I’ll smile…but I still think your name is silly.

Aww, no love for the birds.

Brooklyn needs about 800 of these.

A nice Alice Walker quote on their sign: “If a book doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?”

I love this. Only in Canada: “This is a natural ice rink area.”

On the streetcar, just like they used to say on the school bus, but a bit more lenient (we weren’t allowed to stick our heads or legs out, either).

Some wonderful graffiti: “think that you might be wrong.” Has the writer just left off the “I”? Or is he (or she) gently nudging the reader to consider alternate viewpoints?

Again, not a sign or graffiti, but pretty cool, and I couldn’t think what other category to file it under…it certainly isn’t a flower. This lives in the aforementioned coffee shop.



Why have a boring old concrete underpass when you can have this?

The “eh” list…with a maple leaf. (Saw this in a branch of the Toronto public library.)

Down near the harbor there were these wavy sidewalks (hard to tell in this picture). Very cool-looking but make walking more dangerous apparently.

For the record, I did not do this, but I totally approve. (You can tell it wasn’t me, because I never write in black if I can avoid it, and that’s not my handwriting. Also I wouldn’t have capitalized the D without capitalizing the rest of the word as well.)

The best for last, my favorite…I just cannot get enough of this sign.

Canada Part II coming soon.

What I’m reading: Slammerkin, Emma Donoghue; Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane; This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
What I’m listening to: Let It Be and Tim, The Replacements

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Filed under elsewhere, graffiti, road signs

Dangerous Cliffs Ahead

This Dublin book shop sign is remarkable for two reasons: it has a pretty font, and it is in front of a book store that I walked by yet did not go into. These are rare.

This sign was in the informational exhibit out at Newgrange. Basically it’s saying they were on drugs, right?

“Way out” – the hippie version of “Exit.”

Okay, not a sign, strictly speaking, but neat graffiti: one person asked, “How many times have I fallen in love here?” and someone else replied, “17 1/2.”

More graffiti (from the same bathroom stall): “Jesus will redeem your soul for fabulous prizes.”

Same stall again: “Here’s to the memory of you.” Pretty handwriting.

Took this one for my frisbee friends. I’m not sure what this sign is actually indicating, but I pictured a machine that spits out frisbees.

A plaque on the side of a building: “They had seven children and decided this was enough. One day after mass, she arrived home and told her husband that the priest said no one of childbearing age should stop having children. Sometime later she had another. Both she and the baby died during the birth. They were buried together.”

The Queen of Tarts bakery in Dublin. Absolute delicious scones…which reminds me, the next post should be food-centric. And that will be SUCH A CHANGE.

Vikings! Not really sure what these flags were for, probably some sort of exhibit?

“Live music tonite, 9-ish” – a classic example of the Irish sense of time.

You don’t see signs for Munster Thatching Services just anywhere – I spotted this one at the entrance of Killarney National Park.

“Afternoon treats” – took this one for Mom.

A limerick from Limerick.

Guinness depicted in stained glass.

“CAUTION: Very Dangerous Cliffs Ahead.” Good thing there is a sign, in case anyone missed the HUGE CLIFFS in the distance there.

I love these drastic stick figure warning signs. And in case the drawing isn’t clear enough, they’ve written out the warning in Gaelic, English, French, Italian, Polish, and German.

There was also a “Beware of Bull” sign that we saw at the edge of a field while we were walking from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. For some inexplicable reason I did not take a picture of it, so I’ll have to leave it to your imagination. That’s all for now!

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Space Mouse!

Two for two on brunches this weekend! Sunday morning I met some high school friends (one lives in town, the other was visiting) at Cafe Orlin on St. Mark’s. It is delicious and if you live here I highly recommend it.

Afterward we walked up toward Union Square. We saw some creative graffiti on the way.



I love poetic graffiti. I don’t know what this is from and I’m not going to try to find out. I just like that it’s there.



Someone does not have a high opinion of television.



I once saw the following written on a plywood wall in front of a construction site on State Street in Santa Barbara. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time and by the time I went back they’d taken the wall down.


if i stand

here long

enough you’ll

come back

won’t u?


And now for some levity…



Enter Space Mouse, stage right! Too bad he looks all angry with the fangs and such. I would have thought a Space Mouse would be much more cheerful-looking.



Space Mouse! Space Mouse needs theme music. Something jazzy and adventuresome.



While the musicians are working on Space Mouse’s theme song, the animators can start factoring in Union Square Park Squirrel. Would Space Mouse and Park Squirrel (who needs a better name, I’ll think about it) be allies or enemies?



Those squirrels are bold, man. Also, squirrels are the only animals I know of that seem to defy the laws of physics routinely. Heaven forbid they should organize themselves. They could achieve world domination before it’s even time to eat brunch. Squirrels are early risers.



This kind of weather in November is downright unusual, but hey, I’ll take it.



What I’m reading: America, America by Ethan Canin; One And The Same by Abigail Pogrebin

What I’m listening to: Her Space Holiday, The Young Machines; Jimmy Eat World, Chase This Light; The Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1; The Shins, Oh, Inverted World

What I’m baking: banana bread

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Filed under animals, graffiti