Off The Record: Kentucky officals are going loco over state's new logo

November 22, 2004|HERB BROCK

Remember the good old days when Kentucky's license plates were simple? It would alternate every couple of years from a blue plate with white letters and numbers to a white plate with blue letters and numbers. It would have the name of the state and the name of the county.

But then, like other states, the powers that be decided that our plates needed some jazzing up. Perhaps they thought they needed to address promotional and correctional concerns with more color and logos. By making our plates splashier, it not only would turn the back of every Kentucky car into a little billboard for the state but it also would give the inmates making the plates something to be excited about and, of course, a happy inmate is less prone to escaping and rioting.

But after years of this license plate-as-advertisement stuff, I feel like doing some violence - verbally, of course. Whatever the reason, the commonwealth has been going loco over logos, and it's driving me insane.


First, there was the Churchill Downs-inspired twin spires plate. More than a few Kentucky motorists, apparently uncomfortable about promoting betting on the ponies or just the city of Louisville, got some special tape to block out the spires.

Then, there has been the smiley face plate. At least the little fellow has his mouth shut. It would be a lot worse if he were to show the world a stereotypically toothless Kentucky smile.

And there are the many special plates, promoting nature, alma maters and vanity. Some of the vain out there are so clever no one has any idea what a lot of those abbreviations or acronyms mean.

Now comes the state with yet another effort to promote Kentucky via a new logo, one that will be incorporated in advertising, including putting the logo on that little billboard on the backs of our vehicles.

The candidates that have been put to the public for a vote aren't bad but they don't rock my promotional boat, either: "Kentucky: Make History," "Kentucky: Limitless," "Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit," and "Kentucky: Where Legends Are Born." The winner will be announced this week.

I kind of like the "unbridled spirit" logo. It refers to horses with the use of the word unbridled, and it is uplifting with the use of the word spirit.

The limitless one is innocuous. Sure, it gives the feel of a place with an abundance of everything and opportunity for everybody. But our low rankings in so many categories, from education to poverty, show that Kentucky is quite limited, indeed.,

The one about making history denies the fact that way too many of us are more interested in living in our log cabin/antebellum mansion past than doing something big in the present or future.

And the legends one may sound presumptuous but, as the home to Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, there is some basis in truth for the claim. Problem is, both Abe and Jeff left their homes in Kentucky and became legends as residents of other states. Same thing holds for modern-day entertainment legends Loretta Lynn, Ashley Judd and Johnny Depp. Daniel Boone made his mark here, but he came from another state and left Kentucky to keep on blazing trails.

Ten other possibilities

Perhaps we should write in some candidates. Based on long-standing, worn-out stereotypes that the Ohio Navy and the hordes of other Yankees who invade our state would love, these are 10 possibilities we might consider:

* Kentucky: First In Basketball - And NCAA Probations

* Kentucky: Second To Last In Education - Thank God For Mississippi

* Kentucky: Welcome Mat To The World - Except Yankees

* Kentucky: Door Mat To The World - Especially Yankees

* Kentucky: Endless Material for Late-Night Comedians

* Kentucky: A Dentist's Dream

* Kentucky: A Podiatrist's Paradise

* Kentucky: A Land Use Planner's Nightmare

* Kentucky: IQs Aren't Us

* Kentucky: World's Biggest Trailer Park

I have an eleventh candidate, at least for our license plates. How about a blue plate special: a plate with a blue background, a few numbers and letters and the name of the state and the county where we live. It's not cute or catchy but it works for me.

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