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Forget 140 characters: try eight!

In a city full of networking self-promoters and wannabe celebs, it's no surprise that ridiculous vanity license plates abound. That little space on the back of your car represents a precursor to the away message and the Facebook status, albeit a near-permanent one. These plates capture and make public the city's cheery self-regard, affixing tired boasts and jokes to the buttocks of the metallic shells required for any Angeleno traveling more than two blocks.

I developed an unhealthy obsession with vanity plates after moving to LA about two years ago. Here are the best of the best of the ones I've seen and managed to frantically photograph (always while stopped at traffic lights, Mom, I promise).

50.

Creative jobs in LA can be slippery to pin down. Does he buy art? Sell it? Make it? Rent it? Inspire it? Appreciate it? Appraise it? Critique it? Probably depends on the day of the week and how early he gets out of bed.

49.

I'm guessing this is what the amateur horticulturist who owns this car calls her greenhouse when she dreams of winning some grant money, bossing around grad students and peer-reviewing the backs of seed packets.

48.

Pshaw! Heathcliff was a poor man's Garfield, and you know it. Everyone knows felines prefer lasagna to milk.

47.

Not sure if this is a misspelling of “crikey” or an abbreviated homage to the wickets, creases and flat bats of the world's second most popular sport, but either way I was sort of relieved to see this guy driving on the correct side of the road.

46.

Sure, sure, I'll bet three, but I don't know if this is the best place for us to plan our shakedown of the Commerce Casino

45.

Props on synchronizing your self-promotion by slapping your @DvinMsM Twitter handle on the back of your car, but I really can't get behind anyone who tweets more often than I go to the bathroom (e.g. about once every hour or two… tiny girl-bladders FTW!)

44.

In Los Angeles, you are whoever you say you are. Baristas introduce themselves as musicians, and musicians introduce themselves as producers. Something tells me this person served as a production assistant on a few episodes of Top Chef before his loud breathing started to give Padma the creeps and he got booted.

43.

Are you trying to go for something scary and intimidating, here? “FIRE” I would get. “GODWRATH” even. But you do understand that brimstone on its own just refers to sulfur, right? So… you may as well have gone with “ROTTNEGG.”

42.

Is this, like, your pet name for your spouse or something? Gross. The whole world didn't need to know that.

41.

“Everything has like, an effect on everything else, man!” I imagine this driver realized one starry evening. This is the license plate equivalent of one of those cloying Coexist bumper stickers, and the only thing in L.A. more annoying and ubiquitous than that stupid yin-yang “S” is the first seven seconds of this Jack in the Box commercial.

40.

I know this has to do with loving triathlons, but I'd so much rather picture a three-headed Screech standing guard, like Cerberus, outside a gathering of zits and glasses playing Magic: The Gathering.

39.

Reminds me of how overexposure to the Yankees as a child caused me to blush and stammer in the cafeteria as a high school freshman when I publicly, belatedly, realized keeping something “on the DL” did not refer to the disabled list.

38.

Thanks, thanks a lot. Fantasizing about a Rodeo Burger from The Fix is not making the forty-five minutes of drooling traffic on the 101 that stands between my stomach and my dinner any easier to deal with.

37.

I really hope this guy doesn't have “2nd EMMY” and “1st EMMY” lying around in his garage…

36.

This is the only expression more consistently insincere than “nothing personal,” allowing the speaker to trivialize the mistake she's admitting to and winkingly chastise herself before anyone else can. And no one ever says this about anything genuinely silly, like pigtails or trampolines or Big Bird.

35.

Nikki Finke, is that you?

34.

Gotta love how unapologetic and cavalier Angelenos are about drunk driving…

33.

Nothing is more quintessentially Hollywood than an unabashed expression of love for a cheesy sports flick about a steelworker's son whose dream to play football at Notre Dame comes true for about thirty glorious seconds.

32.

At first I assumed the missing vowel was “a,” and this person owns/operates/fantasizes about a Lather Lab, where stern German nurses massage foamy suds into unclean pores and loofahs reign supreme. Then I realized it's probably supposed to be “Leather Lab” and let my imagination quit while it was ahead.

31.

Miranda July, is that you?

30.

As in don't even breathe on my car or I'll sue so fast you won't even notice your bank accounts have been emptied and your assets annihilated.

29.

Simple. Classic. Self-explanatory.

28.

At first glance, I guessed this motorist enjoyed performing in black box theaters or speculating about unknown unknowns, but then I saw that “L” and realized we are talking about black… bollocks? I really hope we're swooning over a Taye Diggs nude scene and not talking about this.

27.

All right, all right, let's not get into any drunken fights about who is more Irish than whom

26.

This person is either a) a die-hard supporter who now spends dinner parties passionately defending our much-maligned President's legislative record, or b) a fair-weather fan who got caught up in all the hope hoopla. I imagine if it's the latter he's begun wondering whether friends and neighbors will comment when he changes this to “ROMNIZZL”

25.

The intended intonation determines everything, here. “Impressed!” eggs on the reader with the eager enthusiasm of the car owner. “Impressed,” begrudgingly acknowledges the reader has bested the expectations of the car owner. And “Impressed?” condescendingly asks the reader to agree that the car owner is, indeed, impressive. That last one is probably closest to the truth.

24.

Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

23.

A more honest assessment of the King of Pop, skipping right past the post-racial fallacy of “Doesn't matter if you're…” and cutting straight to MJ's simultaneous yet not contradictory blackness and whiteness.

22.

On the contrary, I personally prefer hating on U2. Between Bono's smug tendency to wear sunglasses inside, his admission that even he finds his voice grating and my sneaking suspicion that his devotion to Africa is about as genuine as that of Aldous Snow… what's left to love?

21.

People in New York get Botox to enhance their fake smiles. People in California get gene therapy spa treatments with locally-sourced mud-stones and organic hot wax to activate the zinc fingers that can turn your ability to appear ecstatic on or off in time for a party or photo op, plastering a permanent, collagen-enhanced smile on all suits, talent and wives living west of Vine.

20.

Oh yeah? You're a lo-emit, sustainable guy? You drive a hybrid, releasing less noxious pollution into the air? You recycle and compost, sending less trash to our landfills? You keep your music down, poisoning fewer afternoons when you blast Bruno Mars? You waste less money, use glass jars instead of plastic bags and drink only soy milk, so you blow less of the hot air you're full of out your ass? Good for you, man, good for you.

19.

I imagine this car has been hot-boxed in an In 'N Out parking lot at least once.

18.

Calm down, Parks & Rec optimist Chris Traeger. Stop being such a Perky Polly and literally keep your eyes on the road.

17.

Are you not allowed to put “cock” on your license plate? Is that what's going on here? Because for some reason “PEAFOWL” actually sounds dirtier to me than “PEACOCK” does.

16.

I really wish this one were a comment on Prop 8, supporting Jim's inalienable right to kiss Jim, but it's probably just some guy named Jim whose ego is so inflated that he wanted to double-brand his own car. I bet he thinks this was a suh-weet idea, but it comes off more like that kid at summer camp whose mother ironed multiple name labels onto every item of clothing, in case one fell off.

15.

Ten bucks says this person lists the following as interests on Facebook: Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, Texting, Family Guy, The Beatles and Pizza.

14.

Unlike his red-state cousin, the Bro, the Los Angeles Brooha does wheatgrass shots instead of Popov, spends two hours a day perfecting his Blue Steel in the mirror instead of going to the gym, and cultivates a bromance when dudes have impressive-sounding titles instead of sick-looking abs.

13.

Um… please just fix whatever is preventing me from watching Beyonce's “Countdown” video on repeat, IT guy, and move on. Being the only human you've spoken to face to face all day doesn't make me your pal.

12.

When Mr. Clever grew up, he got a job swapping derivatives at Morgan Stanley and moved to Mr. Uppity's Bel-Air adjacent neighborhood, Bigtown, where he met the blond temptress Little Miss Curious at a speakeasy-style basement bar not listed on Yelp. After a flurried courtship, filled with expensive trinkets meant to satisfy his lover's infinite appetite for novelty, Mr. Clever proposed to Miss Curious and she settled into the lonely but pampered routines of an I-banker wife, changing her name to Ms. Traveler.

11.

Primogeniture is so last millennium, but younger siblings still sometimes seem like talentless copies of a copy, at least in Hollywood, perhaps explaining why so many celebrity families stop at four. If only the Kardashians and the Baldwins had each squeezed out one more, the world might have known another fifth-born superstar like LaToya Jackson (the only one of nine siblings to never score a gold record).

10.

As the term “executive producer” has taught us, two meaningless buzzwords strung together does not form an accurate description of what, if anything, you contribute to society.

9.

This plate manages to simultaneously make my mouth water (dreaming of the Coolhaus truck's Potato Chip & Butterscotch cookies architecturally sandwiched around Rice Milk & Cardamom sorbet), my feet tap (picturing those clawing, ethereal putties emerging from monster pods at the beginning of the “Bad Romance” video) and my gag reflex shudder (knowing the douchebag driving this car thinks so highly of himself).

8.

Stop bragging about your beach-front property! Some of us live east of Vermont and catch a glance of the Pacific but twice a year: once from Griffith Park through clouds of smog and once from the boardwalk in Venice through clouds of, ahem, incense.

7.

Stop trying to make “T-Bone” happen, George Costanza. You don't get to make up your own nickname.

6.

If you advertise it, you probably don't have it.

5.

Dad! I love you! You're the best! Well, actually you're number two, but…

4.

Is it okay if I think it would be unbelievably romantic if this person's spouse has matching “BEBOP” plates?

3.

This one has no ego. It's not a nickname, business or favorite anything. Rather, the ominous double “s” and the bleak overtones of shrunken profits and receding hairlines let loose a plaintive cry of lowered expectations, capturing the national mood. Whoever chose this plate gives me the chills.

2.

I think my boyfriend's brother-in-law best expressed the appropriate attitude towards muffins, that surly, carb-ridden, desert of a dessert, when he grabbed an icing-covered clunker from a box of assorted cupcakes last year: “Yo, I got duped!” he exclaimed in dismay, after spitting out a bite. “One of those bitches was a corn muffin!”

1.

Definitely saw this car being driven by a rotund, balding man.

Have you photographed any ridiculous vanity plates? Send them to me amanda.chicago.lewis@gmail.com, and we might feature them in a future post.

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