Florida residents must be really confused. Driving from Tampa to Pensacola recently I saw the usual array of billboards advertising Super 8’s and “Home cooking next exit!” but there were also many reminders that God loved me – okay, I get that — and my unborn child which in my case would be utterly impossible … on many levels. On separate billboards were invitations to Café Risque, “We bare everything!” There’s a little something for everyone.
At one point there was a sign for discount Disney tickets and right after, another one for the aforementioned esteemed gentlemen’s establishment. Dump the kids at Disney then go watch young women slither around a pole!
I used to drive I-10 through Arizona and New Mexico all the time. That stretch of road sports many signs for The Thing. The type style is large and bold, with a wavy outline like the printing on a 50’s horror film poster. The billboards start two or three hours away and remind us of what else they offer – moccasins (made in China), ice cold drinks (not made in China) and juicy hot dogs (not made in China but probably could withstand the long ocean journey). I always glance at the parking lot of the place as I pass. I’m amazed that no matter the time of day, there are many cars parked there. I heard somewhere that The Thing is a poor mummified woman and I’ve never had the desire for hot dogs … on many levels … so I don’t stop.
I did a gig in Denver a few years ago. The next day I drove south to Colorado Springs for my next performance. Coming into the city was a huge sign proclaiming “Focus on the Family next exit.” In this country of religious diversity it doesn’t surprise me except that you’d never see a sign that said “Pagan temple next exit.” No, they’re still huddled in secret locations out in the woods. Don’t even get me started with Wiccans, atheists and anyone else who doesn’t fit into the Christian mold. Before you start waving a bible at me know that I have great respect for any form of spirituality that gives you strength and community without hurting anyone else. Focus on the Family does not fall into that category. But that’s not what really pissed me off. This wasn’t a billboard, it was one of those big blue highway signs paid for with our tax dollars. I’m guessing that sign cost a few hundred dollars. (Just those little interstate number signs cost around a hundred.)
I kvetched about this at my concert that night. Someone yelled out that they call them “Six Flags Over Jesus.” After I finished inhaling Sprite up my nose, I wrote it down in the little song idea notebook I carry all the time. It turned into the song “Six Flags Over Jesus,” always a hit, especially when I sing it at churches. (No kidding – some MCC folks I sang for a few years ago lustily sang along. The minister too. Now there’s a church I could hang with.) I’m afraid to put it on a CD ‘cause I’m sure that if I spent a lot of money recording it Six Flags would come along with a cease and desist order. I recorded a quick solo version and put it here. It’s free so download it and pass it around. If someone wants to front me the dough to record it, I’d be ecstatic to do it. I’m envisioning a dramatic organ and a hallelujah shoutin’ choir.
At least the God folks in Florida pay for their billboards.
If anyone from that Colorado Springs gig can tell me the name of the woman who gave me the Six Flags Over Jesus idea, I’d love to know it so I can credit her at shows. I knew it at one time but I’m middle aged … need I say more?
Tell me about an interesting billboard you’ve seen.