Is there any better sign of our own alienation than the modern residential featherflag, formerly “elegant”, now ubiquitous, cheese-ball, festooning the front lawns of our would-be neighbors, marking our houses and our neighborhoods not as homes but as markets, as fungible goods?

It seems loony to object to them. Residential for-sale signs are harmless, right? Realtors gotta work. Couples need way-finders for their aspirational weekend home tours.

I think if we really saw them for what they were doing, we wouldn’t allow them. They change the neighborhoods they appear in. Flatten them. They diminish the very things they are advertising!: the single, soulful, peaceable, not-for-sale family home, the quiet lane, the natural setting, the refuge from run-away consumerism. Isn’t that what homes are?

Maybe smart phones will replace these blighting outdoor ads with more useful screen-based location-aware real estate apps. Then you can just see the houses, drive by, feel less like a comparison shopper and maybe see residents looking and feeling less like accessories.

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