These are pictures that I have taken of surprising signs. The mysterious, the nonsensical, and the downright weird:
Beer for the kids Pole-dancing school DO NOT LEAVE LUGGAGE AT STONEHENGE! Toilet for giants, to your left Jose Chang's Kosher House of Curry Whatever It Is, I Don't Think I Want Any The Italian Language Police An unusable slot Some rule about dogs Some rule about tornados An unexpected roadsign suggestion If you see Godzilla riding the subway... True, but why the monumental version? What's "diabetic" honey? Marriott's non-religious religious greetings Attention, all lumberjacks! We bought a new sign! Now what? If cigarettes are dangerous already, where's the harm?
Keep those kids amused!
In the common lounge at the Youth Hostel in Salisbury, England:
CHILLED LOCAL BEERS AVAILABLE
So how's their basketball team doing?
Higher education offered in Salisbury, England:
DO NOT LEAVE LUGGAGE AT STONEHENGE!
Apparantly that's a frequent problem there.
Toilet for giants, to your left
On the campus of Cambridge University. And notice the surveillance camera to track the toilet-using giants.
Turn left here
Also turn left here
Jose Chang's Kosher House of Curry
Or something like that:
Then someone explained to me that it might simply be an
oddly Spanish name for a Chinese restaurant:
Either way, the business name suggests a very broad menu. It's at 32-05 Broadway in Queens, New York, just a block from the N/W MTA station.
Whatever It Is, I Don't Think I Want Any
I don't know if Butt Sweets and Butt Grills are both products, or if one is the name of the restaurant and the other is its speciality.
This unfortunately named restaurant is at 381 Rue Haute / Hoogstraat — streets in Brussels have both Walloons (Belgian French) and Flemish (Belgian Dutch) names. It's just north of the old city fortification Porte de Hal, or Hallepoort, about 500 meters southeast of the main train station, Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid.
The Italian Language Police
If you're going to put up any signs in Italy, make sure you get it right or you'll incur the wrath of the Magic Marker wielding language sticklers.
This sign from the Salerno train station attempts to tell passengers that, due to renovations, "Access to the platforms is through the new underground passageway from the public square of the station."
Unfortunately, the sign maker committed the dreaded double
Now is the
the time for
for all good
Then they used some sloppy terminology, and then they neglected to properly inflect the word "of"! As the Stickler's Dictionary tells us:
sottopasso — entirely unacceptable slang for sottopassaggio
An Unusable Slot
This is the lavatory on an Alitalia B767 flying from Rome to Chicago.
The Boeing engineers helpfully included a slot where you could dispose of your razor blades. Yes, your razor blades.
Maybe this shows irrepressible optimism at Boeing, an assumption that airport security will soon become more logical and liberalized.
Or maybe not.
Some rule about dogs
Seen in the lawn of the U.S. Post Office, Chicago, a few blocks north of the Chicago River (on Dearborn between Grand and Illinois). I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.
If "curb your dog" means to prevent your dog from defecating on the sidewalk or grass, then what does "do not curb your dog" mean?
Should we force our dogs to defecate on their lawn? (And, while we're at it, any dogs that wander past while we're there?)
Or is this mysterious sign the work of the Anti-Animal-Constipation League, telling us that it's allowed (but not required) for our pets to relieve themselves there?
Some rule about tornados
This is in the Indianapolis airport, where worker safety is paramount.
And where passenger safety is the passenger's problem.
An unexpected roadsign suggestion
This enormous billboard stood for several years alongside I-65 just outside Lebanon, Indiana, on the way from Indianapolis to Chicago.
It was aimed at that common demographic of men driving north through Indiana while thinking, "Hmmm. Maybe I should turn around and drive several hundred miles in the opposite direction and go to Texas to get my vasectomy reversed..."
It's good that they point out that it's a microsurgical procedure. Otherwise you might assume that they did it with shovels or something.
I can't imagine that they made a lot of money through this billboard. But it had been there for several years when I took this picture in January 2006 — its background used to be a much brighter and darker blue.
If you see Godzilla riding the subway...
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security doesn't let good sense or clear wording get in the way of beating the Fear Gong to keep Americans as terrorized as possible. Here's a strangely worded sign on a bus stop shelter in Washington, D.C., near the National Gallery of Art. The sign says:
Did you SEE something suspicious commuting to work or grabbing a bite to eat?"
For example, a team of jihadists riding the Metro? Or maybe a gigantic radioactive reptile eating the Lincoln Memorial?
What if I saw something truly suspicious, but the suspicious person or thing was not riding public transport or eating? Should I still turn it in?
And what if it's a suspicious person who is both commuting to work and grabbing a bite to eat at the same time? It's illegal to eat or drink on the Washington transit system! Should I turn them in to DHS, or to the transit authorities?
True, but why the monumental version?
This is a strange Latin sign carved in stone along a street in Amsterdam:
HOMO SAPIENS NON URINAT IN VENTUM
WISE MEN DO NOT URINATE INTO THE WIND
I was mystified by this sign until Thomas Wensing, an Actual Dutch Architect, saw one of my Toilets of the World page and explained this project by Kees Spanjers:
"I am a Dutch architect, and whilst looking for toilets for one of our projects I happened upon your website. I have an answer to two of your questions. One is about the 'inspection plateau' which you will find on toilets in the Netherlands.i This is not due to the fact that we get our toilets from Germany, as a matter of fact we have quite a few sanitary manufacturers ourselves (Sphinx for instance). It is because we share a similar Teutonic hygienic neurosis and like to inspect our business before we flush it. So, there you have it, we're anal too."
"Secondly, the Latin inscription on the frieze. he apocryphal story is that the way that came about is that the architect of that particular building (it is a refurb of an old prison, btw.), Zaanen, Spanjers CS Architecten were so fed up with the red tape they had to cut during the planning process and grew wary of the vanity of developers and city hall alike that they cheekily decided to put it up there. They figured none of the councillors or dignitaries were clever enough to object to it during the planning process. And they didn't."
The next day he added some details:
I have, in the mean time, done some web research and found the following quote from the architect, who designed the building:
"Roman gates are always carry Latin inscriptions. I chose this particular text, because there had been a lot of hassle in the run-up to the building. There were supporters and detractors, especially locals, no positions in-between. It nearly took fifteen years before the work could start. This is why I figured this to be an apt aphorism."
Translation by me, the original is from http://www.agenda.nl/amsterdam/detail_stad.php?id=5568&soort=artikelen&homepage=true, the Dutch text reads:
"Romeinse poorten zijn altijd voorzien van een Latijnse tekst. Ik koos voor deze tekst omdat er nogal wat gehannes is geweest over de bouw van het Max Euweplein. Er waren vooren tegenstanders, vooral buurtbewoners, niets daar tussenin. Het heeft bijna vijftien jaar geduurd voordat de bouw door kon gaan. Ik vond dit spreekwoord daarom toepasselijk."
You can quote me in full in both instances. I do remember quite specifically that it was widely featured in the professional journals at the time, and that the venom of the architect wasn't only directed at the locals. I guess he toned it down a bit when he was interviewed in later years. will not be able to check this in a library any time soon as I am working in the U.K. right now."
The product of always-thirsty bees?
Here is a sign made even dumber by its abuse of so-called "quotation marks". In front of a hillbilly mini-mart in Martinsville, Indiana, this advertises " "DIABETIC" HONEY".
What might diabetic honey be? Some strange fluid that looks and tastes like honey but contains no sugars? Or would it be honey produced by diabetic bees?
Marriott offers non-religious religious greetings
Here's a bizarre sign spotted in front of the Marriott hotel on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illiois.
"Happy Holidays from Marriott to You"
It says "Happy Holidays" because fear of lawsuits in the U.S. causes people to avoid saying "Merry Christmas". But if you look carefully (click here for an enlarged version), almost all of them are of a religious nature!
It's not that they're trying to be "multi-cultural",
since there's no line reading:
Israel: Happy Hannukah
Attention, all lumberjacks!
Here's a bizarre display in La Guardia Airport in New York. It explains that these oh-so-common carry-on items would not be allowed in the secure area of the airport or onto the aircraft:
- Gallon container of gasoline
- Propane torch
- Gallon jug of bleach
- Rat poison
- Weed killer
- Motorcycle battery (hey, it's smaller than a car battery)
How many people have ever, in any airport, been on the verge of attempting to carry these items onto the plane, only to be informed at the last moment that perhaps they should check them? Or better yet, leave them in the car? And if you were nutty enough to be carrying a chainsaw onto an airliner, would you really pay attention to this display case?
And does TSA and Delta Airlines really expect to see a lot of people flying out of New York City with chainsaws? The airport in Atlanta, Georgia has a similarly demented display. At least some people in Atlanta might own chainsaws.
We bought a new sign! Now what?
St James Lutheran Church and School in Lafayette, Indiana bought a sign with a 2-foot by 6-foot cabinet and a 32x96 pixel array. Several weeks later, no one had figured out how to program it.
If cigarettes are dangerous already, where's the harm?
Cigarettes cause cancer. So how are they going to get worse if they're damaged or expired?
How do they label cigarettes for expiration anyway? "Most cancerous if smoked before xxxx?"
At this gas station and mini-mart in southern Indiana, the tobacco-addicted locals have already bought up all the damaged Marlboros and non-menthol Camels.
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