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Where the rich and poor intersect -
David Wilcox visits Southern California
cities spreading words to inspire thought.

story by Erick Fierro Martinez
Daily Titan Staff Writer
Original date published:
17 May 2002

Dressed in his lightly faded blue jeans, a pale green T-shirt and topped with a cowboy hat
painted white, David Wilcox sits on the corner of Imperial Highway and Associated Road
with a message that questions life’s importance.

“I’m not important, the message is,” Wilcox said. Wilcox says with failure comes
experience and the opportunity to teach.The road is the only place where he can be free to
speak his mind.This is the only way to reach people who are never going to be reached
except for when they drive through this intersection,” Wilcox said

Over the past 18 years, Wilcox has visited cities throughout Southern California, from
Escondido to Hollywood, to spread a message that will inspire thought. Wilcox says he
spends 50 days at each new intersection from 6:30 a.m. to 9p.m. Sometimes called the
“nagging conscious of Southern California,” Wilcox hopes not to be seen or even heard
but to have his daily message read. For years, reporters have tracked the movements of
Wilcox, who never moves more than two miles from his previous location. But Wilcox
pays little attention to the reporter’s message that has labeled him with many nicknames
including “the sign guy,” and the “display model.”

“The articles are about a somebody who isn’t even a me anymore,” he said. The only thing
that is important is the message painted in bold black letters across a large white board
with messages like “Your fate depends on knowing what you know” and “Why am I
asking your questions?” Each day, Wilcox says that the number of motorists who read his
sign increases. Wilcox questions the media and accuses reporters of utilizing it as an
instrument to spread a perceived truth. Wilcox tells the story of his life sparingly, giving
few clues as to what his past includes. He mentions that he was a part of the peace
movement back in the ‘60s until he realized that holding a sign on the side of the highway
was more effective. The political parties, in Wilcox’s view, no longer represent the values
that they once proclaimed. Once a supporter of the Democratic party, Wilcox said the old
Democrats would never have given power to corporate entities like the Republican party
has today.

Throughout his days at the intersection, interruptions occur frequently . One day two
young men drove by in a Ford Explorer and shouted profanities, but the comments,
Wilcox says, are “expected.” Wilcox said his message has to start in a place that most
people think foolish.“They label you crazy,” he said. But his only response comes in the
form of a sign the following day.

Some support Wilcox by bringing him gifts. One young woman once drove by with a child
in the vehicle and ran up to him yelling “God bless you,” with a bag of Taco Bell. “I like
what he does. These signs are good for provoking thought because of their cleverness,”
said one area resident who wished to remain anonymous. “Somebody feels threatened by a
guy sitting on a street corner that’s just holding a sign. They must have a problem. It’s not
[Wilcox’s] problem, it’s their problem.”

Over the years, Wilcox has been arrested several times for minor incidents like blocking a
public sidewalk. But for the most part, authorities have been sympathetic and have
provided materials for his mission. He believes that if one can grow up into maturity then
darkness will fade away with evil. If people can begin to ask questions again, creativity
can be given back to the people.

David Wilcox
Sign Guy

OC Weekly
Vol. 4 No. 52 September 3 - 9, 1999

When asked what changes he would make in the county, Wilcox answered,
"Politics is the art of making
a how and a what and a why.
Changes are only made when our children listen.
They need to be taught to trust.
Character can only be taught with trust.
That’s not specifically a male or female role.
It has been the father’s role to cut to the bull.
The mother’s role is more important: nurturing.
I try to advise single mothers to be more rational and direct
with dealing with the lies. When kids are 3 or 4 years old,
they are supposed to be getting in the habit of thinking.
The kids who lean out of their parents’ cars,
asking what that sign means, and their parents shake their heads
and say they don’t know. . .
Society tells people what to believe.
Safety is only where you’re not scared to know.
It’s a technique, a journey. Use it or lose it. Like faith.
People shouldn’t expect to arrive at answers.
It’s something you arrive at.
My mother once asked me, ‘Do I need to tell you everything?’
There is a need to not be fools. Fools accept everything."

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