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Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003 02:20 pm

Speaking in plates

art508

Since vibrations first tickled our vocal cords, mankind has been a compulsive communicator. From petroglyphs to DVDs, from Dead Sea scrolls to skywriting, we've left no expressive stone unturned in our never-ending quest to say something--anything--more. "Why?" you might ask--and never get a better answer than "Why not?" It's our nature and we revel in it. What else could explain fax machines, yodeling, and CB radios?

Since the 1970s, when state governments discovered car owners would pay for the privilege, people have also been speaking in plates. Some--like BUZ BAIT or YWAWNG--have private meanings. But for the most part, license plates are a lingua MTLICA--something we could all understand if we only took our eyes off the cross traffic and red lights long enough to pay attention. What could be MOR FUN?

POLTIX. FAMLY. GOD IS RL. There's no subject, however important or arcane, that's not broached on somebody's bumper. To celebrate this weekend's Route 66 festival, we present proof of that from the Mother Road itself.

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