Posted by: mixed terrain. | July 31, 2008

offensive(?), anti-car t-shirts.

My girlfriend and I were recently treated to eight unexpected and exhilarating miles biking on Interstate 5 between Long Beach and San Diego, thanks to the grunts at the entrance to Camp Pendleton and the punks at Cars-R-Coffins. The pacific coast bike route is supposed to diverge through Camp Pendelton for a few miles to bypass the freeway, but access has apparently varied for cyclists over the past few years. The entrance is the closest thing to an Israeli military checkpoint (or military checkpoint of any kind) I’ve encountered. Wearing the tshirt to the right, I rolled up to the marine on the right (one of five with an automatic weapon and straight face). While he began by asking to see my ID, he started looking at my t-shirt and before I could show him my license he began crafting a bullshit story about how a brand new directive had just come into them
that day to let no cyclists pass through the base after 3 pm
(meanwhile civilian cars were still moving through). He did not
say anything explicit about the shirt, and wasn’t that jerky, but it
was pretty apparent that the tshirt had raised his hackles a bit–perhaps the coffin image? Anyhow, we were turned away from the scenic detour through land we’re all paying through the nose to maintain and were forced to make our way south with four lanes of 90mph traffic to our left.

I’ve worn this shirt (Cars-R-Coffins) in a number of different places around different groups of people, and the mix of reactions (usually no stated response at all, people seem a little confused) to it has been interesting. Some others that I’d like to throw into the repertoire are below are here to the right (they don’t exist as tshirts yet).

Some people are afraid of making explicit anti-car statements, thinking that they hurt the cause of cycling and the view of cyclists as out-of-touch hippie Luddites. I think there is a real place for this kind of rhetoric and that by making provocative
representations of automotive reality and its defects,
even as it makes self-identifying liberals, progressives, and environmentalist conservatives uncomfortable–well that’s the point actually–uncomfortability with the status quo and its repercussions.

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Responses

  1. Justin — I dig your shirt designs — let’s make ’em!
    I make/sell a whole bunch of other bike-y shirts, at http://www.zeropergallon.com/shirts

    check ’em out, and get in touch!
    -Jonny5, in SF

  2. I personally love cartoonist Andy Singer’s “Fuck Cars” design. Buy it at http://www.microcosmpublishing.com

  3. Awesome shirts, and the message is sorely needed. Thanks for the great site, man.

  4. Nice shirts and original designs 🙂


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