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Bumper sticker cut-ups: secret word, ripped radio, itchy gringo

A fine tradition in Austin and Houston involves rearranging the letters in well-known local bumper stickers to say something new.

Austinites do this with free Waterloo Records stickers. On my car I say:

secret word

The Houston tradition involves bumper stickers for KTRU Rice Radio 91.7 FM, which on my car turns into a plea to save Austin's community station from the quasi-stalinist gang that took it over a few years back:

KOOP 91.7 FM Ripped Radio

You'll note that these stickers are not necessarily anagrams. In fact, the rules of the game permit constructing letters which are missing from the original sticker. I took this to an extreme in what may be a first, a cut-up of the sticker of the well-heeled garage band Titty Bingo which buries Austin in piles of its swag every year during SxSW:

itchy gringo

Then there's the minimalist approach. A "discover" sticker from the Austin Children's Museum becomes simply:


Do other cities have similar traditions of bumper sticker folk art?

austin 2003.03.18 link


Nice ones!

omit • 2003.03.19
I love "itchy gringo." Good work Prentiss!

bruce [bmccandless ARROBA longburner PUNTO com] • 2003.03.19
Right after Jeffrey Dalmer, we hacked the bumper stickers from Wisconsin's tourist bureau to read:

"Wisconsin: You're Among Fiends"

I wish I had a photo of that on the beater I drove during grad school.

Bill Humphries [whump ARROBA mac PUNTO com] • 2003.03.19
My favorite Waterloo "redo" sticker:
"Was that really necessary?"
My sentiments exactly.

Prentiss- I really enjoy your site.
Great mix of politics, arts and
alterna-culture. It's a daily visit for me...

Stacy [slmiller ARROBA cs PUNTO utexas PUNTO edu] • 2003.03.20
I was a BookPeople today and a sign had been stickered to read, "Customer Parking Only: Violators will be [sticker]titty bingo[/sticker]." Looking at the pictures of the band on their site, being Titty Bingo would be a far worse punishment than having your car towed.

m4dd4wg [] • 2003.03.24
Many Southern California remember the "In 'n' Out Burger" bumper stickers modified to read "In 'n' Out Urge." It was also the fashion among hicks from the Inland Empire back in the day to modify their Toyota pickups to read "Toyot" (toy yacht). Yuck yuck.

iggy [iggy ARROBA hairyeyeball PUNTO net] • 2003.03.24

iggy [iggy ARROBA hairyeyeball PUNTO net] • 2003.03.24
I think I may have seen it here, too, but in Philly many Toyota users painted the tailgate to read simply, "YO".

m4dd4wg [] • 2003.03.25
My dad had a fishing buddy named Rod who had painted a couple of O's on the tailgate of his Ford pickup so it said "FOO ROD".

Prentiss Riddle [riddle ARROBA io PUNTO com] • 2003.03.25
Yes, "itchy gringo" wins. Definitely.

Bill Bradford [mrbill cxe mrbill punkto net] • 2003.07.08
Did anyone else scratch out letters on the Butter Krust book covers in elementary school so that the two words read "Butt rust"? Maybe it was just a Corpus Christi thing.

Julian [juliangonzalez cxe mac punkto com] • 2003.08.20
That Butter Krust thing reminds me of when the seattle coffee shop around my corner had problems with its sign... it said BUCKS FEE. I SO wanted to take a picture of that because no-one believes me that that's what it said. I think about it every time I'm in there paying almost 4 dollahs for a cuppa coffee.

christina [ataraxy cxe jeskey punkto com] • 2003.08.21
I finally saw another cut-up made from a Titty Bingo sticker: You Go Girl spotted in Rosedale.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2003.09.29
Now THAT is a cut-up I could do. But since I don't drive I wonder if I should just bumper sticker my butt?

christina [ataraxy cxe jeskey punkto com] • 2003.09.29
i just found your site. i love it, being a fellow austinite and all. you've answered a lot of questions i've had about random things in town.

have you seen the high school for the visual and performing arts bumper stickers in houston? those would be the best ones to cut up.

yi [yimay cxe chineseamericanprincess punkto com] • 2003.11.12
I took off with your idea and made something a bit derogatory: "we are retards". This was from a "waterloo records" bumper sticker.

John Wyles [john cxe johnwyles punkto com] • 2004.01.18
"STARBUCKS COFFEE" logo can be modified to read "....FUCK. .OFF.."

Daniel [danielhorner cxe mail punkto com] • 2004.08.11
At school every copy of a book called "A School Algebra" had been altered to readd "A cool bra"

euman [foo cxe bar punkto com] • 2004.08.13
No one mentioned "rose-colored wart" for the waterloo sticker. I think it's the all-time winner!

jukisheffy [julianasheffield cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2005.01.18
my waterloo sticker reads "woo retards."
I like the ambivalence between reading the first word as an imperative and an interjection.

michael [organicbeefaustin cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.03.16
my waterloo sticker reads "woo retards."
I like the ambivalence between reading the first word as an imperative and an interjection.

michael [organicbeefaustin cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.03.16
my waterloo sticker reads "woo retards."
I like the ambivalence between reading the first word as an imperative and an interjection.

michael [organicbeefaustin cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.03.16
Purdue University = Undue Purversity

Barbara [blancaster cxe tweinc punkto com] • 2005.04.27
Do you remember those old school "Austin" bumper stickers with blue lettering and a red dot for the i? In the early 1980s I remember having a bumper sticker that simply said "Austin" , with a white background and blue lettering. Can anyone corroborate this, and know where to find one? thanks!! lkingzin53 at msn dot

michael [lkingzin53 cxe msn punkto com] • 2005.05.05
Yes, Michael, I do remember those stickers. I hadn't thought about them in years. I don't know whether they're available any more -- I doubt it or we'd see them on cars around town.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2005.05.05
In my home town the nearby hard/classic rock station KTAL 98.1fm out of Shreveport would swamp the entire 4-states area with free bumper stickers. They read "98 Rocks" in orange chalkboard text on a black background. Those letters could be cut up to read *anything*, from: "Class 90 Rocks" to "8 Ball Rollin".

You wouldn't believe the creativity of high school seniors.

Shawn • 2005.05.25
i have also seen the "titty bingo" rearanged to say "bong hit"

Anonymous • 2005.08.27
You do not have enough to read it was ok but you need more of something I am just kidding its awsome

Anonymous • 2005.10.31
Titty Bingo is owned by a kid at heart atty who's daddy is one of the top Forbes richest men... dontch'a love having 40 yr old kids to leave your heir to one day, with a band named Titty Bingo... LOVE IT, stay real Dahr!

Suz [ftexan cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2006.04.15
when i was in high school (circa 86), I took two 'local motion' stickers to create 'motion lotion'.

...those were the days.

doug [doug punkto conley cxe gmail punkto com] • 2006.04.22
My favorite KTRU cutup is "mice rodeo". I am in the process of cutting up KTRU stickers as we speak. I haven't decided between "car modifier", "far icier mod", and "fair dormice".

NoJoy [NoJoy cxe myway punkto com] • 2006.12.06
hehe we used to make the word "butt rust" by scratching out letters from those old ButterKrust bookcovers. Maybe it was a Corpus Christi thing...because I was there! :)

Ana [blackcountryrock cxe gmail punkto com] • 2007.03.13
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