Before you say anything else, let me tell you up front that I Do Not Have A Lawn. Don’t even bring it up.
And I know my opinion is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. All the right people say it is. But here goes: I don’t like your graffiti. It’s ugly and annoying. “But it’s meant to disturb,” you say. “The whole point is to get your attention and shake you out of your bourgeois sense of complacency.” Mission accomplished. Why is annoying Murr a good thing, again?
“What’s more important,” you go on, “someone’s precious capitalist property rights or the lives of the disenfranchised?” False choice, cupcake. You can care about many things at once. And your spiky initials ain’t saving anybody. Neither are the penis drawings.
Yeah, fuck off. It’s not your building. If you had a job you’d own something too.
(Just kidding. I was just wantonly tagging the blogosphere, there. Sorry you had to see that.)
So let’s break this down. As a matter of record, I too believe, as a property owner, that the ownership of private property is an inherently bad idea. I do believe that the acquisition of property in and of itself leading to the unearned accumulation of wealth is a stupid economic model. I believe most property should be held in the public commons and the rest parceled out in an equitable manner.
And I guess you’re reclaiming the property you deface as a public space. So why you scribbling all over the public commons, you little assholes?
There are a lot of opportunities for freedom of expression that don’t need to be sandblasted off. You can write opinion letters. You can bark in the park. You can go to city council meetings and yell your fool head off. You can knock on doors and ask people if they’ve been saved.
Graffiti. There’s nothing curated about it, which is one of its charms, you say. It’s democracy in action. It’s The People taking over the town square. Well, goody. Keep the noise down, okay? This isn’t art. This isn’t worthy discourse. This is like spewing out reams of misspelled ungrammatical incoherent diatribe and random hate speech and calling it dialectic. Oh wait, that’s the internet. I’m not wild about that spray job, either.
Visualize how you feel when your precious creation is plastered over by Nazi racist bullshit. No problem, you say? You can just spray-paint over it? Swell. Now we’re down to the public-discourse level of urinating spaniels.
I remember, before tagging really took hold here, visiting capitals in Europe and seeing beautiful stone buildings–goddesses, really–that had been standing for five hundred years, their skirts now drenched in graffiti. Should people deface thousand-year-old petroglyphs in the desert too? Who gets to decide?
It was chaotic and depressing and ugly, and ugly matters. Beauty has meaning, is worth pursuing. It’s in the eye of the beholder, you say. Fine. This beholder is affronted by your self-indulgence, your celebration of your own presumably stunted spirit, now set gloriously free. This beholder thinks it’s ugly, pushy, and rude. You’re no Banksy. You aren’t merely expressing yourself: you’re shouting over everyone else. Half of your precious “message” is I was here, and you didn’t catch me.
So you do it under cover of darkness. You like that thrill of getting away with something. Shit, honey. That’s what recreational drugs are for. Leave the damn windows alone. Let the restaurant owner scratch out a living without having to scratch out your sophomoric philosophy writ in Krylon.
It doesn’t matter how worthy your efforts are–they reek of vanity. You want to make a mark, see if you can improve someone’s life without taking credit. Am I doing that, you ask? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. If I’m doing it right, you’ll never know.
Art, my Aunt Fanny. Also? That shit’s not music. That’s just a lot of yelling.
Individuals sneaking around shitting on things is not the "voice of the people". It's just the voice of those individuals. Neo-Nazis could just as well sneak around spraying their own graffiti and claim it was the "voice of the people". If you want to hear the real voice of the people, hold an election. The vandals don't like that because the actual people generally don't want the things they want them to want.
I always look forward to your comments.
You sure write well! Anyway… (adjusting my pointy dunce cap) you're right, of course. This shit depresses me more than anything, even when it's "done well".
I don't suppose it's important in the overall scheme of things but it bugs me.
The only graffiti around here is the moss that grows on the north side of all our houses. That is hard enough to power wash off and paint, I can't imagine how owners feel about their property covered in uninvited art(?) work.
I could take a photo right here of a nice concrete retaining wall (Lone Fir Cemetery) completely covered in moss, and someone has scratched out a square of it to paint in.
In this small town any artwork is approved by the property owners and the city council with the approval of the neighbors before it can be created. Anything else is shamed and cleaned up. I only get to the big city a couple of times a year and it really is a visual cacophony. There is shit everywhere trying to attract attention, from corporate to amateur. It usually takes my eyeballs days to stop vibrating after I leave.
I can well imagine. Your place sounds idyllic. I do stand for cities though because they're a great place to stash people away from the rest of the natural world.
My city has taken to commissioning huge murals. They are discouraging the taggers and most of them survive without any defacement at all. Which is wonderful. A politician of a party I would support only on a ice bound day in hell brought a camera crew to watch him 'cleaning up the city' by diligently scrubbing off one of those murals a few years ago. I still smile remembering his discomfort when his vandalism was aired. And he was no more effective in cleaning the mural off than his policies would have been in making a better world.
Oh dear! Yes, murals are usually unmarred here as well and we have a lot of doozies. Especially on our nearest commercial street, where all these photos were taken. You will note though in my second photo the wall in shadow WAS a beautiful mural that got defaced, and the parts around the front sunny side are a holy mess–taggers often hit places they think are uncared for or in transition, but this is a family-owned furniture repair business, a few-people operation that's been around for many decades. The guy who owns it is lovely and hard-working but he's never put anything into upkeep on his building, and now he has to deal with this.
A nearby city OKd having taggers paint the concrete support columns for an Interstate on-ramp (at the edge of downtown) a few years ago. I've not been by for a year or so, but the art work on the columns had not yet been defaced the last I was there.
We have several buildings that have been given over (on purpose) to particularly accomplished spray-paint artists. I like those.
I prefer stunning murals over ugly graffiti any day. But let them not be on beautiful ancient buildings.
I disagree with you about property ownership, I would love to own my own home. I would love my kids to be able to own their own homes instead of paying rent to landlords who own dozens of homes.
It's an interesting question. Where it gets sticky is kind of a basic money question: the ability for your money to make money rather than your labor…when it comes down to it I favor a market economy with gobs of safeguards and regulation and costs repaid (including, especially, environmental). But I also have a problem with the ownership of parcels of the planet and no legal regard for the loss of the commons. It's all interesting. For instance, the historical repression of property acquisition for Blacks is a huge reason wealth hasn't accumulated in Black families. And that whole transfer of unearned wealth to progeny is self-perpetuating. So your kids don't get ahead.
I'm in favour of safeguards and regulations too and especially of costs repaid.
What do you think about people who buy small plots of land, just big enough to stand on, in order to save a conservation park from big business who would like to build on it. That's a fair reason for acquiring a square foot of land?
Well said, Murr.
I don't think I've heard about buying up small plots to save a park.
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I believe this makes it unanimous.