Commentary

Black and white plates? Say it ain’t so!

Did you see where Texas has announced, with much fanfare, our new vehicle license plates?

They are going to be—drum roll, trumpets blare—black and white.

There’s a single star in the upper left corner, a black outline of Texas in the middle. No graphics, no photos, no colors.

It’s called “retro classic.”

Every time we get new plates many news guys with access to columns feel compelled to give advice, not that it’s ever heeded.

I remember my big idea last time. I had noticed some states issue plates with abbreviations of the county in which they are issued.

Granted these were from states where the main purpose of the license plate is to change the subject as quickly as possible: “Okay, I’m from Kansas, sorry about that, but look at these other letters, SG, I’m from Sedgwick County, that’s where Wichita is!”

Texas is so cool we don’t need to resort to changing the subject on our plates. Well, not “cool,” not in July. I mean “cool!” Oh, you know.

Last time around, my idea for a great county-themed plate would be to have photos of Willie Nelson being booked into jails in each of Texas’s 254 counties and screen those into the plates for a background.

Shouldn’t be hard to get the photos.

But instead they went with something Texas plates hadn’t boasted for a long, time—color! And I absolutely love them. I guess we should try and notice the plates we have right now before they go away and are replaced by a color scheme kids won’t watch on television.

There are currently four different kinds of plates, all of them with lots of red and blue, Texas skies, flowers, mountainscapes and the like.

All of them have the lone star, of course, and the Texas shape in the middle is sort of a mini-Texas flag with the blue, white and red color scheme.

My favorite of the four has the space shuttle, the moon, planets and stars on top, and a silhouetted cowboy and horse with a beautiful golden Texas desertscape on the bottom.

It’s a work of art.

So why is Texas switching to a black-on-white, Plain Jane and Bubba without a bluebonnet in sight plate?

Here’s their explanation:

“It’s easier to see.”

Well, yes, I’ll give them that. But, you know convenience isn’t everything. Just think, if Texas bureaucrats had been around.

“Leo, that chick’s kind of hard to see in your painting. It’s all muted and moody. We’re gonna make her hair white and give her black lipstick. Oh, and Lisa’s a first name, not a last. That’s gotta change, too, Leo baby.”

Now in defense of the new plates, Texas officials say they are going to be phased in gradually because all plates fade, even the current pretty ones.

Why change at all? Because the reflectivity goes away over time and that’s a safety concern.

The plain old black-and-white plates are suppose to be easier to read at a distance, giving some help to our law enforcement personnel.

Now, with all due respect—as they used to say on The Sopranos just before someone ended up in the foundation of a Newark condo—it’s been my experience our Texas law officers don’t need a great deal of aid in the sharp eyesight department.

I’m thinking of one parked in downtown Hutto just after sunset one evening who spotted an outof date inspection sticker, in flickering twilight, at least a half mile away as I—uh, someone—turned onto US 79 off FM 685 by Hutto High School.

But I guess we’ll get used to our new monochrome (bichrome?) plates. We’ll still have the pretty ones for a while.

Oh well, it could be a lot worse. We could be from Idaho?

What’s wrong with Idaho? Not a thing. It’s gorgeous, lofty peaks, wild and scenic rivers and a hunting and fishing paradise.

And what does it say on their license plates:

“Famous Potatoes.”

mike@rockdalereporter.com


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2012-07-26 digital edition



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