SGT Peterson and the Illegal Snipe Advertising

EDIT: As of 10/20/2012, the SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp signs have begun to reappear.

For the time being, it seems like this issue is resolved. Click here to see the current status of this issue. The below content is kept as a record of events.

A snipe sign, as defined by the Minneapolis, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances, is a sign of any material, including but not limited to paper, cardboard, wood or metal, attached to any object and having no application to the premises where located.

And, wouldn’t you know it? Snipe signs are prohibited, as stated in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances.

That’s right. All the ugly signs you see cluttering the roadside are illegal. Lose weight, work from home, singles in your area, we buy houses. It is all illegal adverting. Which brings us to SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp.

Hold on. Let’s tie this back to this site. I really hate snipe advertising. My co-workers will attest to this. I usually have to move all the signs I’ve yanked out of the ground or off of telephone poles when we take my van to lunch. So a while back I created Hey, I Found Your Sign, a website dedicated to helping these poor illegal advertisers know that someone found their illegal sign and it’s being taken care of.

Sometimes I call the numbers on the sign and tell them that I found their sign. We then have a wonderfully awkward and stilled conversation.

But SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp is special. You see, they are dumb enough to have a Twitter account. Instead of calling up the number on the sign, I simply let them know by Twitter that I had found their sign.

The following is my conversation with @sgtpetersons over the last two weeks.

aric: Hey @sgtpetersons. I found your sign. It was on Hennepin and Kenwood. I picked it up for you.

aric: Don’t worry, @sgtpetersons. I put it someplace safe. http://t.co/qeisXod

aric: Hey @sgtpetersons! I didn’t pick up all of your illegally placed signs. So if you could be a dear and get the rest. Thanks so much!

SGTPetersons: @aric If you could let us know where we were putting them that we shouldn’t be they will definitely not go there anymore!

aric: Everywhere, @sgtpetersons. Snipe advertising is illegal in Minneapolis and most everywhere.

aric: Hey @sgtpetersons. You still have two illegal snipe signs up on Hennepin by the Walker. And, I would guess, more up around town.

SGTPetersons: @aric In an effort to support the local economy we pay gnomes living under the Hennepin Ave Bridge to help us advertise. Every week they toil tirelessly to make end’s meet by putting out our USDA approved, Biodegradeable, Non-polluting signs. We would be abhorred if it was thought to put these hard working little guys out of a job.

aric: So let me get this argument straight, @sgtpetersons. You’re saying illegal advertising is okay as long as you pay homeless people to do it?

Updated 05/02/2011
SGTPetersons: @aric who said anything about homeless people? Also we have heard nothing from the City of Minneapolis regarding these signs, We have a had a couple of suburbs ask us not to post them anymore and have willfully complied…

aric: Really, @sgtpetersons? Just because you don’t get caught running a stop sign doesn’t mean it isn’t illegal. Look at the Code of Ordinances. And I inferred from your absurd comments about paying “gnomes” under the Hennepin Ave bridge about the homeless.

SGTPetersons: @aric First time I’ve seen that ordinance, will read it. (links regarding ‘snipe signs’ earlier assuming that’s what they were.)

So not only did SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp admit they are putting up these signs, which they have been informed are illegal. They continue to do it, and seem to think that hiring the homeless to put up the signs evens things out.

Wait, they’re hiring homeless people? Are they paying minimum wage? Are they reporting it on their taxes? Are they paying for worker’s comp? (Edit 05/03/2011 This is what I inferred based on the Twitter conversation we had. Anyone else read that conversation differently?)

What originally started as a way to get SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp to take down their ugly signs seems to have uncovered a rather shady operation. I assumed they were simply unaware of the law. Now it seems that they are…well…actually jerks. Willfully littering the streets of our city with their garbage.

The next step? Aside from contacting the city of Minneapolis(check) is seeing if the real SGT Peterson is aware of all these shenanigans. After all, if you put your name on something you’re going to have to stand up for it or move to correct the wrongs it has done.

In the meantime, obviously don’t sign up for one of these boot camps and go ahead and pull up any snipe signs you see and throw them in the trash, where they belong.

Update 05/02/2001
For anyone looking to report snipe advertising in Minneapolis, here is the information I received from the city of Minneapolis:

You can report this issue by calling Minneapolis 311 at 311 or 612-673-3000 or by emailing a report to 311 at Minneapolis311@ci.minneapolis.mn.us. Please include location, description of the signs the name and contact info for the business that is being advertised etc.

Update 05/03/2011

Success!

SGTPetersons: @aric Actually didn’t know it was illegal everywhere before reading the Code of Ordinances. Sounds like we’ll stop putting signs up.

SGTPetersons: PS @aric You should really try a business before you slander & give us bad reviews. Let us know if you want to actually see what we’re about

aric: @sgtpetersons Thank you following the law. “Reviews” removed. Still think your Tweets made it sound like you hired homeless folks.

SGTPetersons: @aric Should’ve gone with ‘gremlins’ instead of ‘gnomes’… no that sounds the same…Still think you should give us a shot as a business

aric: @sgtpetersons Fair enough. I can find a time to give your intro workout a shot and keep an open mind.

Update 05/18/2011

It seems that Ed Kohler called the number on the Sgt. Peterson’s Boot Camp sign last year and inform the person on the other end that their advertising was illegal. So these “didn’t know it was illegal” claims are pretty questionable. Don’t think I’ll be giving their workout a shot.

aric: Turns out @edkohler told @sgtpetersons last year that snipe ads were illegal. This “actually didn’t know it was illegal” stuff was nonsense.

SGTPetersons: @aric enough of this. I don’t know who he told, but it never got to me. I’ve taken care of it by putting a stop to it. Thank you.

It’s really no use dealing directly with the company. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they aren’t putting up new signs. They still have their old signs littering the town.

If you see one, dial Minneapolis 311 at 612-673-3000 to report it or email your report to Minneapolis311@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Update 06/06/2011

This was posted yesterday on Facebook. What part of “illegal” doesn’t Tim Peterson understand?

Update 06/20/2011
It’s time to start a new thread for this topic. It’s moving away from “get SGT Peterson and SGT Peterson’s Boot Camp to realize what they’re doing” to “they know what they’re doing and they won’t stop.” Click here to continue on to the new blog post, with video!

Trading Spouses and Make Me Watch TV

I ran a site called Make Me Watch TV for about a year. We’ll go into more detail about that project it in a future post, but I’ll give you a quick explanation of the site now.

I allowed strangers to vote on what I should watch every weekday evening. I would then blog about the experience live while on webcam. Pretty simple. Pretty stupid.

The site has been a graveyard for a few years, except for the comments section for one post. I was forced to watch a particularly controversial episode of Trading Spouses. The episode gets rerun every so often, and when it does people look for someplace to fight about it. They find my site.

It’s at 125 comments and counting. It’s pretty interesting stuff. People start by commenting on how terrible one family on the show is, and end up yelling about the reality of reality television. It’s a peek into the minds of the TV watching and internet fighting populace.

And for the Godwin’s law staticians, Hilter was brought up in the 8th comment.

Feeding Objects

Let’s start out with a current project. One that hasn’t succeeded, but hasn’t failed. It’s simply limping along. Maybe the we can switch it to a different kind of food or maybe we’ll simply “drop it off at the farm.” And by “we,” I mean “me.”

Feeding Objects is as basic an idea as you can get. It is simply a site where people post pictures of themselves feeding things to inanimate objects. Dumb with the possibility of being hilarious. Just like all of my projects. But how did I come up with this idea? I couldn’t remember, but I knew how to find out.

If I have a dumb idea, odds are I’ve run it by Corey Anderson. Corey is my improv and podcast partner, and we’ve known each other for about 15 years now. I don’t necessarily trust his judgment (Transformers was a terrible movie), but we keep a rather constant email correspondence going. And those emails are a fine enough time to bring up ideas, dumb or not.

I’m not looking for a particular reaction from Corey. If he thinks that an idea is dumb, I’ll probably still move forward with it. But telling Corey is the first time my idea is put into words. The first time I see it outside of my own brain. It isn’t rattling along in my head, cold and alone, any longer. It has been introduced into the world.

Corey isn’t going the follow up on the idea. He doesn’t keep me on track. He doesn’t encourage the me to keep at it. I’m not looking for him to improve the idea. Yet, half the projects I think of wouldn’t leave my brain if I didn’t have this first step.

So, yeah. I found an email string with Corey from May 5th, 2010. Let’s see. We discuss Lost for a bit. Man, Kate is annoying. And then we talk about Feeding Objects. How did I come up with it? Records show it was a shower idea.

What is a shower idea? It’s as easy a concept to understand as mushing food into inanimate objects. Shower ideas are ideas I come up with in the shower. Now don’t you feel silly for asking “what is a shower idea?”

I generally come up with ideas in the shower or car. We’ll take a look into that in a later post, because it’s something I want to explore and figure out. Can’t say I understand why ideas come out when they do. I’m not promising that I will figure it out. But I’ll sure try.

So, Feeding Objects. Shower idea. Bounced off of Corey. Bought a domain name. Created a Tumblr site. And that was that.

As far as promotion goes, I threw it out on Twitter and Facebook. Submitted it to Boing Boing. Boing Boing ran an article on it, Gizmodo picked it up. And suddenly, I had seven thousand hits in one day.

Did the attention last? Sure didn’t. Page views stalled out like a Cessna headed for the sun in Flight Simulator. The website remains, but the activity has slowed to a crawl. I’m lucky if I get one submission a week.

I still like the idea a whole lot. It makes me laugh. And, for the amount of effort I put into creating and maintaining the site, I’ve received a lot of fun in return.

The final key, that I am missing in almost all of my projects, is sustained improvement and promotion. How do I keep the spreading the word without annoying the same people over and over again? How do I improve upon an idea instead of letting it sit and atrophy? And isn’t there another dumb idea I should be working on?

There is always another idea out there. The grass is always greener on the other side of the idea fence. So I leave the grass of Feeding Objects to grow brown as I see what is so great about this new grass. Feels pretty good between my toes. Cool and crisp for now.

I know I should focus. But I don’t. I move on to the next idea. That sounds like an issue that needs some fixing. Luckily, I just created a website for that purpose.

Oh! Did I tell you I finally got my first picture of someone feeding their penis to something this week? It took you almost a year, internet, but you got there. Good work!

I did not publish that picture.