Saturday, April 05, 2008

Automobile Silhouette Iconography

Here in Panamá many people have what I call Silhouette Iconography; stickers on their windows or the back of their cars which are silhouettes of famous characters. The most popular right now is this one:

Anyone with even the slightest interaction with Christianity can identify the silhouette of the BVM, although some spittle-flecked snake handlers Conservative Protestants may not be able to identify the border.

I haven't seen this one on many cars; in fact the only place I've seen it is at the Supermercado El Rey, where I bought this and the sticker above in the "impulse Buy" area at the caja.
Who dat prayin"? It's Jeezus! And it has that same troublesome (for some) border.

Our Friend Che appears on cars all over the place here. Actually, his silhouette is the one I have seen on cars for my entire time here in Panamá; Che or Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes urinating and flipping the bird, a silhouette I didn't buy and have no plan of ever buying! The iconography of Che Guevara has been of interest to me for a long time. When we were at the South and Central American Missionary's Retreat in Mexico many, many years ago, I purchased a t-shirt with Che's picture hand painted on the front. It doesn't look exactly like Che, but everyone knows who it is because of the beret and the hair.

I was quite surprised when this silhouette appeared on some cars a few months ago. Do you know who it is? He was one of those guys who had George H.W. Bush all worked up in the late eighties. No, it isn't Sadaam Hussien, it's the OTHER guy who pissed ol' George off. Yup, it's ol' Piña, the Pride of the CIA and the School of the Americas, General Manuel Antonio Noriega. He was hoping to come home and sit on the porch of his finca, balancing a grandchild on his knee, but it seems that won't be happening just yet. However, interesting and a bit shocking to see his mug on cars all of the sudden.

I haven't seen this silhouette on cars yet, but I bought if from the same street vendor (they sell these things at intersections, while one is waiting for the light to change, one may purchase cashews, vegetables, CD's, DVD's, and stickers!) from whom I purchased General Noriega's silhouette. Do you know who this is? He is a very important person in Panamanian history. This is General Omar Efraín Torrijos Herrera, the man who brought President Arnulfo Arias' third unfinished term to an end (Arias was elected president three times and never finished a term. He was the kinda guy who just attracted coup d'états). General Torrijos was a dictator, but he was a Benevolent Dictator; many Panamanians look back fondly on his rule. He did something none of the "democratically" elected presidents of Panama ever did: he built paved roads into the Interiór and built public schools throughout the country. He established labour laws which actually favoured the labourers. He also established this thing called el decimo. For every twelve months one works, one gets paid a "thirteenth month;" one receives a month's pay. It is paid in three installments during the year. I was confused the first time I received it, but now i always say, "¡Gracias, Omar!"

Is there any interesting Silhouette Iconography where you live? Tell me about it in the comments.


Caminante said...

Urgh, la Piña is back? ¿Qué pasa? If ever you find one of San Romero, buy me one or two! I'd love to have him on my car.

Up here it's the aforementioned Calvin flipping the bird or peeing. Othwerise it's that buxom woman you see on truck flaps. Pretty disgusting.

David |däˈvēd| said...

We occasionally see Che's silhouette, but usually on playeras or the lower portion of one leg of pantalones.

For a while a few years back it was very disconcerting to see jóvenes with swastikas on playeras. Gracias a Dios, they have been changed to a version with a red circle and a diagonal slash.

Besides the local newspaper, they mostly sell seasonal fruit, windshield wipers and car odorizers at the traffic intersections. Or a guy comes over and just starts washing your windshield, expecting a tip.

We also have payasos and fire eaters doing little shows for a tip.

In Mexico we have a mandatory Christmas bonus, el aguinaldo, which is an extra quincena (15 days) of pay. It is supposed to be paid by 20 DEC. We have mandatory healthcare and paid vacation determined by length of time served. So, if you have only one week of paid vacation you often have no choice about it being Semana Santa, when many businesses close for the week.

When we leave a job, especially involuntarily from lay offs, we get a liquidation based on time served.

MadPriest said...

And where can we purchase ones of you, Padre? Or even better (no, make that - a lot better) one of the lovely Mona?

John said...

Padre, I can't believe that Omar and el General have made comebacks! Does it mean people are nostalgic for the "good old days"or do they just not remember what it was like back then?

Doorman-Priest said...

I'll have one of Desmond Tutu if they do them.

David |däˈvēd| said...

Oh, and Padre, you got me with spittle-flecked snake handlers again. I know it relates to "handling deadly snakes" but I can not imagine them in church! It tickles me every time.

Ann said...

Here is the fave in Wyoming or moose or JH.

Padre Mickey said...

David, I use that term because I am convinced that many of the problems in TEC are brought about by Pentecostal-types, and the spittle-flecked snake handler is the WORST of the drape-swinging Christians.

Ann, thanks for the example from the U.S. I don't know if the Buckin' Bronco is any better than the Large-Breasted Woman In Repose.

John, I think the PRD is behind the Torrijos and Noriega stickers.

Matty Boy said...

Not so much on the cars but on the t-shirts, we get the silhouettes of Tony Montana from Scarface and Bruce Lee.

John said...

Padre, you do have a way with words -- even when you cross them out. I will always remember "spittle-flecked snake handlers" (even if I do have a sneaking suspicion some of my forebears might fall into that category...)

Aghaveagh said...

In the Central Valley of California we often see on cars the image of a tiny (Calvin-Hobbsesque) figure urinating on "La Migra".

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