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Saturday, March 29, 2003

Local Color

Since I don't have a car, I am usually confined to a small part of Houston. This tends to be true even when I go shopping with Niles (who does have a car). Today we went to run some errands in another part of town, and I saw several things that struck me.

A number of businesses had support-the-troops messages on their signs. A sign-manufacturing company had a very fancy red-white-and-blue sparkly neon sign reading "God Bless America", and a cloth banner saying something about "our heroes at war".

We went to a hotel in which a very small conference was being held. I don't know what it was on; there was no sign and the talks and the conversations in the hall were in Spanish. Several of those people sported yellow ribbons, but that could have been a "peace" gesture. Or, for that matter, something completely different. We also went to a shopping mall that had red-white-and-blue and yellow ribbons tied around its trees. (Niles says he saw something on TV about a yellow ribbon shortage. Here's a story about ribbon shortages in Virginia.)

But the real surprise came when we went to dinner. Niles bought a digital camera, and I've often chided him for not bringing it along. (There was a terrific sunset we could have recorded, for instance.) Then we could have had evidence of the remarkable car we saw.

It was an old brown Oldsmobile, with flames and various things painted on the back. On the hood there was a battle scene. Mickey Mouse flew a shark-painted plane toward some tanks over a field of burning oil wells. There was a sign saying "To Bagdad" [sic] and another reading "France: 500 miles". No, we couldn't quite figure that out either. It was a very busy scene and I don't remember all its elements, but toward the front of the hood was painted GO BUSH.

This report was certainly not brought to you by the Houston Chronicle.