Witness to Power, or One More Reason To Hate LBJ (LeBron James Edition)

Reader John-David Filing points to the sort of stupid battle that federal officials seemingly never tire of fighting (even though there's a war on):

The federal government wants Ohio to take down a giant Cavs sign featuring LeBron James...

Crews posted a huge Nike "We Are All Witnesses" sign on the eastern face of the Sherwin Williams building, but federal officials spotted the sign at a recent convention.

They said it violates a highway beatification act passed during the Johnson Administration.

Maybe the feds are Spurs supporters (or sore Pistons fans). Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland defends the billboard, saying, ""We are determined to do everything to make sure that this city has the opportunity to continue to enjoy this beautiful display of commercial art."

More here.

Hey, hey LBJ, how many billboards did you kill today? At the signing of 1965's Highway Beautification Act, which regulated billboards and other signage on federal roads, the man who dropped tons of napalm on Vietnam recalled a drive home from the hospital on The George Washingtion Parkway:

I saw Nature at its purest. The dogwoods had turned red. The maple leaves were scarlet and gold . . . . And not one foot of it was marred by a single unsightly man-made obstruction--no advertising signs, no junkyards. Well, doctors could prescribe no better medicine for me.

Nature at its purest--except for the road he was driving on.

More here.

Burma Shave: Never forget!

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  • ||

    That's the same bullshit excuse they used to squash one of the Columbus Crew's most effective (and cheap) marketing devices.

    Their stadium lies directly off I-71, at a curve, and is especially visible to southbound traffic. You can see the stadium as you curl around it. Well, they used to have a huge sign, right outside the north stand that had the upcoming schedule. It was perfect, cheap marketing and highly informative.

    Then, after a year or so ODOT (and presumably the Feds) told them to take it down, citing the Beautification Act and safety concerns.

    Of course now there's something of a resurrection of the idea, but I think it's actually a big sign draped on the stadium itself. Must be some technicality. Either that or they said "fuck ODOT".

    Oh, and Come on Cavs!!

  • ||

    BTW, I think that LeBron sign has been there for eons.

    Fucking idiots.

  • ||

    If "Le" and "Bron" are considered seperately (why the hell not?), then LeBron James is also "LBJ." Just sayin'.

  • VM||

    Mein Gott.

    ARGH!

    Go Cavs.

    (had it been an ONDCP billboard, does anybody think it'd be pressured off? ha ha)

  • ||

    Mr. Gillepse fails to really let us know if the ad does violate the Highway Beautification Act, even at least in his opinion.

    Instead, his point seems to be "hey, the government's enforcing a law again."

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > Instead, his point seems to be "hey, the government's enforcing a law again."

    The implicit point is to illustrate how stupid this law is.

  • ||

    Timon19,

    There's another article on this that suggests that it was some ODOT tool that started this whole stink. I should have sent both links in, but didn't.

  • ||

    Oh, and the remedy used by the Feds could be withholding 10% of Ohio's highway money, which is like $130 million. For a sign on the side of a building that has been up at least 2 years.

  • ||

    I thought that the Highway Beautification Act was only intended to prevent LBJ's daughters from riding in convertibles?

  • VM||

    "Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said there are exceptions and on Wednesday he defended the sign in person.

    "We are determined to do everything to make sure that this city has the opportunity to continue to enjoy this beautiful display of commercial art," said Strickland."

    It sounds as though what we have hier is failure to communicate...

  • ||

    "They said it violates a highway beatification act passed during the Johnson Administration."

    There must have been bribes from the Pope to get that law passed.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > "We are determined to do everything to make sure that this city has the opportunity to continue to enjoy this beautiful display of commercial art," said Strickland."

    What bothers me about this statement is that it seems (isn't it obvious?) that the only reason Strickland is defending the "commercial art" is because LeBron James is featured. What if the billboard was a big advertisement for South Park or American Idol?

  • ||

    Yes, because urban highways are so beautiful...

  • ||

    The implicit point is to illustrate how stupid this law is.

    I suppose. That seems to be the default Reason position on all laws.

    I almost wonder if Mr. Gillepse drives down the interstate in rural areas fuming over the government's denying him the right to look at eyesores.

  • BTS||

    At the risk of belaboring Lamar's point:
    Saint I-70! or perhaps Intersaint 70

  • ||

    Chris S.,

    That is a very common abbreviation for LeBron.

    Dan T.,

    This sign is on a building beside an extremely un-pretty, elevated, crumbling highway just south of downtown. It ain't an eyesore by any means. The building that it's on IS an eyesore and is in violation of the law by that standard. The sign improves the view immensely.

  • ||

    Dan,

    I've been playing around with the idea of teaching a class on rhetoric. I am wondering if I could use your posts as examples? The logical fallacies leap out so clearly that I am confident they would make a wonderful teaching tool.

  • ||

    That seems to be the default Reason position on all laws.

    No. Just the stupid ones. Of which there's no shortage, thus resulting in an endless stream of snarky commentary.

  • ||

    "That seems to be the default Reason position on all laws."

    And quite properly so.

  • ||

    Dan T.,

    This sign is on a building beside an extremely un-pretty, elevated, crumbling highway just south of downtown. It ain't an eyesore by any means. The building that it's on IS an eyesore and is in violation of the law by that standard. The sign improves the view immensely.


    That very well may be the case, and that's why I think the point would have been better made if Nick had actually bothered to look into whether or not this particular work of Commercial Art violated the law.

    Instead, all we get is his opinion that it's stupid not to want a bunch of tacky billboards all over the place.

  • LarryA||

    I almost wonder if Mr. Gillepse drives down the interstate in rural areas fuming over the government's denying him the right to look at eyesores.

    Every time I hear about LBJ's "beautification" law I fondly remember when you could drive across a state and know which restauraunts, motels, and gas stations were available at which exits.

    Now we taxpayers fund the dinky signs the Highway Departments puts up just past the point where you can safely make the exit.

  • ||

    Again, not the point, Danno.

    But whatever.

  • MattXIV||

    I suppose. That seems to be the default Reason position on all laws.



    How bizarre! It's like they're a bunch of libertarians or something...

  • VM||

    CM:

    if you were from Cleveland, you'd understand :)

  • Think Billions||

    Great reasons (no pun intended) and analysis. Our analysis approaches this from a monetary perspective. Let us know your thoughts! Thanks.

    The accelerated growth curve of LeBron is amazing.

    Michael Jordon, Warren Buffett and half the world want to hang and praise LeBron.

    It's going to be an amazing NBA Championship and next couple of years for him.


    LeBron James: Witness a (future) Billionaire

  • ||

    What the heck are the Feds doing worrying about this? It would seem that beauty, being a subjective assessment, should be left to the local communities to decide. At a minimum, the feds should decline to pursue any cases that aren't initiated by the locals.

  • Dan T||

    Feed me.

  • ||

    Dan T.:

    LeBron James represents the moral failure of all Americans.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    They're pandering to guys like Dan T, who want other people to be forced to make them happy.

    The billboard is on a building owned by someone. If it disturbs the road owner (the Federal Govt) then the road owner is welcome to construct some kind of wall to block the view of the sign, or he could offer money to the owner of the billboard to take it down.

    But this would require the road owner to pay for his or her tastes, and when the owner is the government they can't stand to do this. Career thieves and murderers have trouble playing nicely with others.

    So rather than coming up with a peaceful solution, they whip out the guns.

    Of course, this makes Dan T. happy because today the guys with guns agree with his aesthetics. He doesn't worry that tomorrow the guns could be turned on him, since he is convinced that he and his fellow travelers will always control the guns.

  • ||

    As a 'the roads should be privatized' libertarian extremist, I'm ashamed to say, I like driving the interstates for the uninterrupted views. Billboards blocking the view of trees always upset me, especially the ones for Jesus. If they're going to enforce the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, I wish they'd start here in Missouri

  • ||

    Well, if the roads were privatized, I can easily see some road owners offering scenic drives. Of course, they would probably charge a premium for the luxury, since they would either have to purchase all the land visible from the road, or pay the people who owned the visible land to keep from ruining the scenery.

    I personally would pay the premium, since I too hate billboards.

  • Rhywun||

    I don't drive, but don't you folks find giant signs vying for your attention to be distracting? I would think on safety issues alone, such a laws would be a gimmie.

    I fondly remember when you could drive across a state and know which restauraunts, motels, and gas stations were available at which exits.

    I don't know much about this law or what it supposedly accomplished, but every single expressway I've ever ridden on has been chock-a-block billboards, even in rural areas within a few miles of an exit. And at every exit, there is a forest of giant fast-food and hotel signs. Did LBJ's law not apply to New York State?!

  • ||

    I almost wonder if Mr. Gillepse drives down the interstate in rural areas fuming over the government's denying him the right to look at eyesores.

    Um, an interstate highway *IS* an eyesore! Mr. Gillepse is driving down the interstate fuming because he doesn't know which exit has a gas station for him to take a piss.

    I don't know much about this law or what it supposedly accomplished, but every single expressway I've ever ridden on has been chock-a-block billboards, even in rural areas within a few miles of an exit. And at every exit, there is a forest of giant fast-food and hotel signs. Did LBJ's law not apply to New York State?!

    The law is only enforced if the person on the billboard is a "scary black man".

  • ||

    They're pandering to guys like Dan T, who want other people to be forced to make them happy.

    The billboard is on a building owned by someone. If it disturbs the road owner (the Federal Govt) then the road owner is welcome to construct some kind of wall to block the view of the sign, or he could offer money to the owner of the billboard to take it down.

    But this would require the road owner to pay for his or her tastes, and when the owner is the government they can't stand to do this. Career thieves and murderers have trouble playing nicely with others.

    So rather than coming up with a peaceful solution, they whip out the guns.

    Of course, this makes Dan T. happy because today the guys with guns agree with his aesthetics. He doesn't worry that tomorrow the guns could be turned on him, since he is convinced that he and his fellow travelers will always control the guns.


    Or perhaps somebody could just tear down the offending billboard. But then the guys with guns would come after him.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Every time I hear about LBJ's "beautification" law I fondly remember when you could drive across a state and know which restauraunts, motels, and gas stations were available at which exits.

    I hear ya. As a kid, reading all the billboards on the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas kept me entertained. And probably corrupted my young, impressionable brain. Then one year, the only interesting sign along the whole route was the one for Zzyzx Road.

  • ||

    That is a very common abbreviation for LeBron.

    Damn, I guess that makes me more than fashionably late to the obvious party.

  • ||

    Open tags... meh.

  • ||

    And at every exit, there is a forest of giant fast-food and hotel signs. Did LBJ's law not apply to New York State?!

    What part of New York State are you talking about? I have NEVER seen those towering 200' tall McDonald's/Wendy's/Exxon/etc. signs anywhere in New York State. The only Billboards I know of are few and far between, or strictly in more urban areas. There are laws against sign height and all that business in much of New York, because we are the champions of laws.

    Honestly, have you ever even been here?

  • Dan T.||

    I'm gay, lol.

  • Wellington||

    Or perhaps somebody could just tear down the offending billboard. But then the guys with guns would come after him.

    It's only "offensive" because the law says it's offensive. Don't you get it yet?

  • ||

    To reiterate, that highway is anything but rural and the scenery anything but beautiful. Trust me, Cleveland's hero's image is greatly enhancing the area.

    And if it's the same building that I remember driving past every single trip into downtown from parts south, it's had one big sign or another on it continuously for at least 29 years.

    Why now?

  • Rhywun||

    Reinmoose,

    I've lived in NYS for 38 years except a brief stint in Germany, and I've been from one end of the Thruway to the other many times. Maybe you're a good driver and not seeing the signs :)
    But trust me, they're there.

  • ||

    Timon19,

    I'm not sure if it's the same building, but didn't there used to be a radio station ad (maybe for WERE-1300) about the same size painted on the entire side of a building?

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    A "highway beatification act passed during the Johnson Administration"?

    How many miracles does the highway have to perform to qualify for canonization?

  • ||

    I'm pertty sure LBJ never dropped as much as a gram of napalm on Vietnam... I'm just saying...

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure J. Edna Hoover never personally installed an illegal wire-tap....I'm just saying...

  • TallDave||

    a highway beatification act

    I didn't know asphalt could be granted sainthood.

  • ||

    jf,

    Possibly. It's on the I-77 approach to downtown, right, just before the last two exits before I-77 ends its journey from Columbia, SC?

  • TallDave||

    the man who dropped tons of napalm on Vietnam

    Funny, no one complains much about the firebombing of North Korea, Dresden or Tokyo.

    I do love my Samsung 61" DLP and Pioneer receiver, though. Makes you wonder what South Vietnam could have been today.

  • ||

    Timon19,

    Yeah. The more i think about it, though, I don't think it's the same building. I mostly remember a blue building with no windows on one side with this painting for WERE - "The Radio Home of the Cleveland Browns" (or some such thing) painted on the entire highway-facing side.

  • ||

    If my memory serves correctly, the final few miles or so of I-77 have a magnificent view of the blast furnaces of what used to be LTV Steel.

    Trust me, the billboard is probably less of an eyesore than much of the view around it.

  • ||

    "Dan T. | June 7, 2007, 12:44pm | #

    I'm gay, lol."

    GUYS with guns, Dan T. Guys.

  • ||

    tarran,

    The view on the way in is only surpassed by the smell on the way out (especially on cool, damp nights) after Tribe games. Combination of refinery, steel mills, landfills and water treatment facilities.

    An olfactory feast.

    jf,

    I picked up the PD today and I think the building they're talking about is not the same one I'm thinking of.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Roadside Americana Lives!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    LBJ? as smart ass kids we used to say that meant long blow job. Not that we sixth graders had any idea what that actually meant.

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