73’S AND 88’S – TRUCKER CALLING CARDS
Written and images sourced by Simon Mercer
In the 1970s and 80s CB radios were used by truckers in North America, as well as amateur radio enthusiasts sat in their groovy carpeted basements. It was an unlicensed ‘lawless’ collective of disparate people who came together as a community over the airwaves long before mobile phones and the internet. There is one story of a 16 year old girl stuck in her parent’s suburban home in the late 70s who would talk to all the truckers driving by on the highway a few blocks away.
This community began trading postcard sized cards with each other that had the frequency you could find them on, the town they lived in, and their (usually made up) identity. These began simply enough, but slowly the artwork and text on them became more personalised. Bizarre, outlandish, and sexual, depicting copyright-infringing knock offs of pop culture figures and space-race victories, they were the definitely a product of their time. A perverted and subversive folk art, completely devoid of irony or artistic intent, they are rather amazing.
THE C.B.’ERS PRAYER
The D.O.C. is my shepherd I shall not want
They filleth my mail with pink tickets
They maketh me to stand on full channels
They taketh away my linear amplifier with which I have made many enemies
They have reduceth my modulation
Yea though I walk through the valley of skip
I shall fear all breakers, for thou art with me
Their monitoring, stations and staffs they watch me,
My antenna height runneth over.
Surely skip and inspection shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in fear of the Kingston Pen forever.
73’s and 88’s (CB radio codes for ‘best regards’ and ‘hugs and kisses’) is a new limited run art book by Simon Mercer documenting this phenomenon with 100 full colour reproductions. For more information and to purchase visit the website.