Sidewalk Psychiatry graffiti

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69 Responses to “Sidewalk Psychiatry graffiti”

  1. DCer says:

    First off, the backlash against graffiti by hipsters has been a long time growing, but it’s here to stay. Kids today reject graffiti because it’s lame. Part of that is that back in the 1970s when graffiti was still vital, kids didn’t own their own communication space because the barriers to entry were too high. there were usually less than 10 tv channels, less than 5 newspapers including underground papers, and music still involved real production or talent to play.

    Nowadays any kid with something to say will say it on their blog and the people doing graffiti really are nothing more than common criminals. They have nothing to say and aren’t using graffiti to say something at all- it’s and endless repeat of their nickname- and not only are finger-wagging former punks like myself calling them on the error of their ways, they’ve completely lost their peers who look upon art and architecture a little differently. And this defaces architecture.

    Leave only footprints and take only memories.

    Graffiti changed for me when some really wealthy kids started stickering the stop signs in my parent’s quiet suburban streets and inexplicably leaving their tags in the middle of intersections on the cement around 1996. The kids who were rumored to have done it were far wealthier than I, owned big old SUVs and wore European designer faux-hip-hop wear- remember those awful visors? Whether or not they were creating art had nothing to do with whether or not they were doing something good or evil. Art was an excuse they used incorrectly.

    No. I think this is kind of clever, but I live in a city where a “thoughtful stencil” shows up every block and at this point, it’s just crappy.

  2. dawllyllama says:

    @40 DCER

    "Umm… what? When you can’t afford to buy your own home it’s god’s way of telling you that you need to go to college or graduate school. I did, I got a better job, and everything became right with the world. Renting is not the natural order of things.",

    Ah yes, more education is always the key to a better life. Unless of course you plan on working in the arts like I do. My grad school loans are putting me so deep into debt that I’ll be lucky if I own a home by the time I’m 50.

  3. Immortal Ping says:

    #16
    oh, it goes hand in hand with street pill vending machines,[i]coming soon to a corner street near you[/i] :)

    on the *art* discussion, i think this is not graffiti, this is actually literature, best kind of it even: everybody reads it and it makes you think about deep stuff

  4. Belinda says:

    I like the idea. Nice for when you’re waiting for a bus.

  5. DCer says:

    n xprtly xctd tg s ndd pc f rt
    —–

    S wht? s tht rt smhw wrthwhl? N, t’s nt, t’s stll slss.

  6. Enochrewt says:

    #60 Scottfree:

    Heh, my neighborhood is covered in grafitti, it didn’t keep me away. But it does disappoint me that ever week or two either I or my landlord have to go try and scrub silver paint of the bricks on the front of the house. (at least they’re not mean enough to get it in the grout).

    I do know my neighbors fairly well. As far as whatI bring to the neighborhood? How about a polite, quiet neighbor that can be asked to watch a kid for the afternoon, as my neighbor has fequently done? Or one that cares about his doorstep enough to help the landlord keep clean of grafitti like I mentioned above? Or how about a neighbor that’s just plain better than the heroin/crack addict that could afford the rent on my place as well?

    I love how you assume I’m rich and I “invaded” some neighborhood. I make about as much as a primary school teacher, and my neighbors think I roll in the dough. I could choose to live in the ‘burbs for about the same amount I guess, but then I’d have to pay to commute, there wouldn’t be 6 unique restaurants within 5 blocks of me to eat at on the cheap and the apartment wouldn’t have nearly the sense of style as the 100+ year old building I live in now. Nobody I’ve talked to that lives around here likes having to scrub the grafitti, and we don’t even care about the alley. They can have the alley, it’s for trash anyway. Just keep it the fuck off the sidewalks and front of buildings.

    Oh, and yes, I’m glad this candy person is doing these sayings in chalk. But it’s a great minority compared to the rest of the stencils out there.

  7. scottfree says:

    Probably also the impoverished should quit being so stubborn, call their mums, and see if she cant loan them a bit just to get them back on track. if only geldof had thought of that…

  8. Antinous says:

    Personally, I’d rather live in a city rich with the stench of human habitation. Layer upon layer of graffiti styles. Peel back a loose corner and find a poster for Janis Joplin at the Fillmore. Why shouldn’t we encrust our vast urban nests with proof that we lived and died here? There’s always the countryside for those who are irritated by the visible reminders that the hive is seething with eating, fucking, shitting life.

  9. zikzak says:

    Targeted graffiti is also an effective non-violent way to drive off yuppies and uptight hipsters who may be gentrifying a working class/bohemian neighborhood.

    This is a positive way to use the “clash of aesthetic ideals” to protect a vibrant low income area from colonization and cultural destruction by wealthy people with no taste.

  10. Cefeida says:

    Are you guys seriously worried about someone defacing a dirty old pavement? There’s gum and dog crap all over it, and you’re condemning a bit of graffiti?

    Don’t worry, the thing will rub off eventually, with all the people walking over it, not to mention the elements doing their share. Come on now. It’s a pavement.

    One of my favourite tags of this type is in the centre of Warsaw- I think it might have been an advertisement once, hard to tell at this point, but there’s a whole area of sidewalk where some of the tiles are marked like bonus fields in a video game. You can walk around like a loon and pretend you’re playing until you reach the tile that says ‘Game Over’. :D

  11. scottfree says:

    enocrewt,

    You don’t have a town council to do that for you? In London, at least in regular neighbourhoods, the graffiti people have to do more and more acrobatics to have their bit up for more than a week. I suppose its easy to care less about graffiti when you know it wont last.

    I don’t mean to attack you personally, but you et people who like to say their neighbourhood is so colourful and ethnic not realising how patronising that is, or I’ve met people who think of poverty like a tourist attraction, and it disgusts me to no end. The system is set up to fail people here: as you say, it may even be cheaper in the suburbs, but jobs are always in the centre, so tack on the commute, inevitably eating out because of the time it takes to make it home, and etc, and you end up paying more. People in an entry level job aren’t making much more then a working person, and so move into an area that suits their income. but their income inevitably increases, and even if it doesn’t the competition for a flat justifies rent increases. So for instance in Dalston, the Labour government decided it was to close to centre so the people who live there now have to make way for City boys, and they use the Olympics to accomplish this.

    Empirical evidence loses here because we all know what happens. I’ve lived in London for many years, know people of all ages, and maybe two people who own their own house or flat. /And/ they’re from the same obscenely rich family [I'm not counting council flats, btw, which may bring the tally up a bit, but it wouldn't be owning in the same sense]. So maybe its different in the US. I don’t know.

  12. cajunfj40 says:

    Regardless of the artistic merit of any given “work”, if the person who creates said work does so without the permission of the owner of the surface on which it is affixed, said creator is liable for any damages should the property owner take offense.

    There was some “clever” advertising done at one point by a company that selectively cleaned a dirty piece of public property. I can’t dig up the case, but I know the city in question was peeved, even though no “damage” was done. They probably got written up on some “failure to obtain the necessary license/permission” rules or similar. Chalk or other “gone after a rain or few” methods may have similar issues.

    That all said, I find some graffiti attractive and have entertained the thought of securely parking a stripped (no glass, trim or other removeable/breakeable bits), pure-white basecoat painted motor vehicle body in a neighborhood that is often “tagged” and leaving a box of good spraypaint inside. Remove tags and re-park as needed until desired “urban camouflage” has been applied, then properly prep, seal and clearcoat the result. Aside from the legality of parking a “nonoperative motor vehicle” and/or “distributing spraypaint to minors” I think it would produce interesting results.

    In the case of these “inspiring stencils”, I don’t think I like them personally but I’m not the one to ask about it. Ask the public with which they interact on a daily basis.

    Later,
    -cajun

  13. Kyle Armbruster says:

    @ #8:

    Beat me to it.

    I love stuff like this, but yeah, please do it in chalk.

  14. Enochrewt says:

    @DCER: I also live in a neighborhood where “thoughtful, ironic etc.” stencils are everywhere. Some of them say political things, some of them are hilarious, some of them hate on Google. It’s just not that impressive. Maybe the first 20 I saw, but it’s been run into the ground (literally!) already.

    In fact, the more I think about it, the less I consider stenciled letters “art”. I’ll catch hell for this one, I’m sure.

    #23 use graffiti to keep an area poor? So you’d prefer a neighborhood with poor schooling, lack of nourishment beyond the quik-e mart and liquor store, and a high violent crime rates just to keep the “culture”? Because these vaunted graffiti-covered neighborhoods come with all that as well.

    Don’t be afraid of change and growth. Just because a neighborhood gets wealthier, doesn’t mean it has to sacrifice it’s culture. Even urban neighborhoods that used to be considered a suburb when they were built develop their own sense of style and culture.

  15. scottfree says:

    First of all, psychology is intended, rather than psychiatry, surely.

    But I think as a civilisation we have to own up to the fact that our cities are disgusting anyway. I’m much more eager to rail against the ubiquity of advertising then graffiti. Advertising is at least if not more ugly, and far more prevalent.

    When it comes to graffiti, context is everything. It serves a very useful purpose when done on an abandoned building, and I don’t see how it can do any real harm on the pavement, unless indeed because the pavement is the only place left one can look without being bombarded by advertising.

    An interesting aspect of the debate is how much is demanded from graffiti writers and how little is demanded from urban planners. I mean, the pavement wasn’t art, why do you expect a graffito on the pavement to be art? If I said hey how are you, would you ask if that was an attempt at poetry?

  16. Nick D says:

    DCER: we are emphatically not in agreement–just for the record.

    And no, I don’t feel sorry for you because of your grad school loans. Sorry, you’re knocking on the wrong door.

    There’s a word that describes people who cannot feel good about themselves without taking a cognitive dump on the less fortunate or the less successful. That word is “arrogance.”

    As for comparing a sidewalk to Rocky Mountain National Park: Gimme a break, wouldja? Please?

    OK, I’m done.

  17. 4649 says:

    “”#13, What would your opinion be of this “art” if it was all over you house or apartment building? I’m sure it would change rapidly.””

    Yes, and if it were some hazardous biological weapon being applied to the sidewalk instead of paint, I’m sure our opinions (“we” being those who approve of these messages) would indeed be quite different.

    But *as it is*, you see, this is a harmless phenomenon.

    If the messages aren’t abusive, then there is no reasonable objection to letting them be put there.

    Especially since they will quickly be worn away by the footsteps of passers-by. –In this respect, they are much more unobjectionable even than the most beautiful “tag,” since no one ‘need’ pay for their removal.

    There are way too many stupid rules these days, and we ought to applaud those who break the unimportant ones in good-natured ways.

  18. jso says:

    MMm… art. Kind of like when all the buildings, sidewalks, phones, etc all got anti-Bush propaganda painted on them at my local university. Art.

  19. anonymoustom says:

    With the preponderance of advertising in the city today, the pavement is one of the last places one can rest one’s eyes free from the noise of information.

    If I’m walking down a street in a reflective mood, I’d like to be able to follow my own train of thought, but if there must be an intervention, I agree with tinyxl and antinous that the questions themselves could be more affirmative.

    Perhaps such psychological interventions (alongside the more usual political ones) could be used to subvert hoardings etc.? They are after all spaces that have already been enclosed, and can be reclaimed!

  20. hedztalez says:

    @#21So what? Is that art somehow worthwhile? No, it’s not, it’s still useless.

    I know individuals who put as much (or more) work into their “grafitti” as some of the best “fine” artists. This includes everything from tags to multiple story murals. Because something is beyond your understanding, or outside of your realm of taste, you call it not worthwhile or tasteless. What “use” does Jackson Pollock’s work have? What intrinsic “worth” does Kandinsky’s work have?

    @#27 use graffiti to keep an area poor?…Because these vaunted graffiti-covered neighborhoods come with all that as well…..Even urban neighborhoods that used to be considered a suburb when they were built develop their own sense of style and culture.

    I don’t believe ZikZak used the word “poor” anywhere in the post. Also, your opinion of “poor” neighborhoods shines in your post. I know many grafitti covered neighborhoods that manage to nourish their children well, school them expertly and avoid violent crime. I grew up in one of them. In your head “working class” equates to “poor” and “graffiti covered” equates to “place to get robbed.” Maybe you should make more friends from those places. They could teach you a couple things about change and growth.

    Style and culture are subjective ideas. I however have never copied style or wanted to be a part of a culture from a suburb. These places that you say were considered a suburb when they were built, I’m assuming they aren’t anymore. So it seems like the suburb had nothing to do with the “style” or “culture” that subsequently developed there.

  21. Takuan says:

    use latex paint

  22. Nick D says:

    Scottfree:

    In New York they have rent controlled apartments (not nough of them, I’m sure). I’d like to see that spread beyond Manhattan.

    It’s the only way of stopping the rich from gobbling up all the habitable neighborhoods and pushing the poor and middle class residents out.

  23. jeffjonez says:

    Great job everyone!

    (comment art/vandalism)

  24. Zart says:

    There’s a piece of graffiti outside my apartment in Seattle that looks a little bit like this: http://www.lataco.com/taco/wp-content/uploads/rsz_coexist.jpg

    This isn’t a piece of self-aggrandizing scribble, this says something to me.

    When someone just uses some crazy font to mark their territory, even if there are are nice colors and great technique, I still just think that it’s a way to pee on the wall.

    While it’s not right for someone to go vandalizing public property, at least have something to say when you do it, please.

  25. scottfree says:

    #27

    Do excuse me, but I found your comment a bit ignorant. The fear is emphatically not that culture disappears throuh gentrification, but that people do. Most people in cities don’t own their homes, so if property prices start rising, they wind up evicted. Reason enough to sabotage any attempt to dress up a neighbourhood.

    Ironically, in London, graffiti and gentrification are hand and hand, what with the exodus of hipsters North, South and East of Shoreditch. People /want/ to move into an area now because of a Banksy stencil and all the clever graffiti. It really is revolting. Artists move in, make an area hip, young professionals take their place, followed by the horrid City people. I personally await the Yuuzhan Vong invasion to sort it all out.

  26. gd23 says:

    I’ve spotted a few stencils done on the sidewalk in London where they have used soapy water and a scrubbing brush to wash away the accumulated dust and grime, and left the desired design in clean white concrete.

    Thought that was pretty cool.

  27. santellana says:

    as much as i’d like to stencil reflective and positive messages in public places, i fear too much being shot by a rival gang of roving do-gooder psychologists/psychiatrists.

  28. Hounskull says:

    btw, as an example of smart graffiti, actually guerrilla poster art, I’d recommend Robbie Conals’s Art Attack. And it’s worth mentioning he put up his posters in areas who agreed with his politics and were pretty frustrated at the same issues. So it was relatively more welcome and less obnoxious. It’s posters with water based glue, so they’re removable and non-destructive.

    http://www.robbieconal.com/books.html

  29. Nick D says:

    PS to DCER: please don’t interpret my last comment as a personal attack.

    I may not have written precisely enough there. I didn’t mean to imply that you personally cannot feel good about yourself “without taking a cognitive dump on the less fortunate or the less successful.”

    I was criticising the attitude, not any person in particular.

  30. DCer says:

    Unless of course you plan on working in the arts like I do. My grad school loans are putting me so deep into debt that I’ll be lucky if I own a home by the time I’m 50.
    ——-

    to quote myself again, “No one promised you a lifetime career as a buggy whip manufacturer.” All of my friends who put 10 years in the arts moved on to computer-based design work and do painting, music, sculpting as a hobby. Money is leaving the arts in a massive exit- people just don’t pay $12 for a cd if they can download it for free, people don’t pay to see movies multiple times when they can buy the DVD once. Think carefully what your goals are in life and plan accordingly- it will save you massive financial headaches.

  31. zikzak says:

    @ dcer:
    People talk about these “horrible” situations that are easily solved to create better lives.

    I think this summarizes very well the assumption that underlies everything you’ve written. It’s your belief that since you’ve never personally noticed you or anyone close to you having any serious (as in virtually insurmountable) economic problems through no fault of their own, such problems don’t exist – they’re merely the fantasies of rabid ideologues.

    Since the only problems you’ve ever been aware of were solvable with discipline, intelligence and hard work, you’ve come to the conclusion that all problems anyone encounters are similar. And by extension, anyone who complains about serious, virtually insurmountable economic problems is just lazy. They’re just looking to have things which you worked hard for handed to them on a silver platter.

    On a personal level, I can relate to your perspective. I, too, have had pretty much every problem in my life solvable through hard work, intelligence and discipline. But I guess the difference is that I’ve also encountered many people with problems that cannot be solved that way, because the socio-economic situation is stacked overwhelmingly against them. Because I’ve encountered these people, I’ve learned that my situation is not the only one, and it is in fact a fairly privileged one.

    I’ve concluded, therefore, that it’s sometimes unfair and unrealistic to judge people according to the standards I or other privileged people are generally judged by. I don’t feel bad that I have it good, but I’m under no illusions that everyone can be like me.

  32. dawllyllama says:

    Before people get too uppity about the defacing of public property, you should note that Candy’s website clearly states the medium as being: Stencils, temporary spray-chalk.

  33. justONEguy says:

    Very cool idea. I live in Boston and loathed the “SANTA IS REAL” sidewalk tags that proliferated this area a couple of years back. ‘Yeah, tell that to the poor kids’, was my response and I subversively slapped on some “HARD” stickers at the end of some of them.

    These are way smarter in the way that they interact with the viewer. No taglines, no trite sayings… these are reflective and meditative. Love it.

  34. zikzak says:

    @dcer: When rich people move into an area en masse, the area does indeed get nicer grocery stores, better schools, better police, etc.

    However, the people who used to live there don’t get to enjoy those improvements, because their rent becomes impossibly high. They’re forced to abandon their cultural connections with the area and migrate to the new cheap neighborhood, which is generally further from their jobs too.

    Even people who have managed, against high odds, to own houses are affected by this process. Many elderly people in the historically black district of my city are finding themselves under serious economic strain or even losing their houses because of dramatically rising property taxes. Some have lived there all their lives, and are now faced with having to abandon their home. The reason? Luxury condos are being built right down the street for yuppies and rich retirees. The neighborhood has a lot more fancy stores now, but somehow I don’t think there’ll be many black folks shopping in them.

    They’re all moving to the outskirts of the city – the margins, where they’ll just begin to put down cultural roots before the next mass movement of wealth forces them into migration again.

    Improving an area’s public resources, making it safe and livable is important. But accomplishing it by moving in an entirely new class of people to displace the old isn’t a solution at all – it’s like pushing the food around on your plate to make it seem like you’ve eaten some.

  35. DCer says:

    Mst ppl n cts dn’t wn thr hms, s f prprty prcs strt rsng, thy wnd p vctd. Rsn ngh t sbtg ny ttmpt t drss p nghbrhd.
    ———

    mm… wht? Whn y cn’t ffrd t by yr wn hm t’s gd’s wy f tllng y tht y nd t g t cllg r grdt schl. dd, gt bttr jb, nd vrythng bcm rght wth th wrld. Rntng s nt th ntrl rdr f thngs. ;-)

  36. Enochrewt says:

    #32, maybe he didn’t use the word poor. You should go ask the homeowners of these *ahem* “working class” neighborhoods and see if they’re fine that there’s grafitti everywhere. I bet you’ll find that the majority of them are mad as hell about it. Think about what your parents would say, or your childhood neighbors would/(did?) say if you grew up in one of these neighborhoods. To say that grafitti is any sort of solution to rising real estate costs is absolutely asinine.

    I actually do live in a fairly impoverished neighborhood, and do so because I enjoy the atmosphere and feel of it. It’s a very unique neighborhood. If you covered all of the neighborhoods in grafitti, they all look the same and lose that culture.

    An to all those grafitti defenders (it’s not hurting anything bleh) I’ve decided I have important things to communicate to hikers, backpackers and campers. I’m going to go paint every highly-visible rock I can find in Rocky Mountain National forest with things they need to hear and that will make them “think” this weekend. Before you say “that’s different!”, how is it really? It’s not hurting the rocks, is it?

  37. Enochrewt says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that whether it’s some gang name or introspective questions, that it’s all graffiti and public property shouldn’t be defaced like that?

  38. Takuan says:

    probably. “Defacing” is negative. If they had sprayed “Fuck You” with intent to annoy, that is defacing. Spraying a phrase intended to provoke useful reflection and subsequently improve the human lot is “art”, or social therapy, or something.

    It’s public property, that means there is room for debate about art.

  39. rocklifter says:

    #1 I don’t think you’re the only one, but I think too that times, and art, are a’changin. Myself, I love this kind of kind of thing, when someone’s self enters my day in an unexpected way.

  40. Antinous says:

    I like graffiti, but that particular message seems more likely to send me into a tailspin of self-doubt and hand-wringing. How about “It’s going to be just fine” and “You did your best.”

  41. Antinous says:

    When you can’t afford to buy your own home it’s god’s way of telling you that you need to go to college or graduate school. I did, I got a better job, and everything became right with the world. Renting is not the natural order of things.

    And yet, for all being right with the world, you’re one of the angriest, most self-righteous commenters on BoingBoing. Maybe it’s time, DCER, to puke up all the toxins that you’ve voluntarily sucked down and start enjoying life and other people.

  42. yannish says:

    having lived in NYC when it was infested with graffiti, Candy better not put his/her “art” in front of my place.

    #2, do you think the PD would agree when caught in flagrante delicio? I don’t.

  43. heresiarch514 says:

    cajunfj40 @ 25:

    That all said, I find some graffiti attractive and have entertained the thought of securely parking a stripped (no glass, trim or other removeable/breakeable bits), pure-white basecoat painted motor vehicle body in a neighborhood that is often “tagged” and leaving a box of good spraypaint inside. Remove tags and re-park as needed until desired “urban camouflage” has been applied, then properly prep, seal and clearcoat the result. Aside from the legality of parking a “nonoperative motor vehicle” and/or “distributing spraypaint to minors” I think it would produce interesting results.

    Wow, that’s a great idea. I can’t believe some really lazy art major hasn’t done it yet. =) (Poking fun at lazy art majors, not your [cool] idea.)

    Dawllyllama @ 39:

    Before people get too uppity about the defacing of public property, you should note that Candy’s website clearly states the medium as being: Stencils, temporary spray-chalk.

    Sssh! Don’t ruin our pleasantly idiotic argument with something as useful and mundane as the relevant facts! Jeez. Some people.

    Dcer @ 40:

    Umm… what? When you can’t afford to buy your own home it’s god’s way of telling you that you need to go to college or graduate school. I did, I got a better job, and everything became right with the world. Renting is not the natural order of things. ;-)

    Yeah, it makes so much more sense to buy a place, so you can keep it for ever and ever. Better not ever die, though, or get a job someplace else. THAT would be awkward.

  44. Enochrewt says:

    I don’t buy it, you can’t say that one type of graffiti is art and the stuff tag bangers throw up isn’t. It can’t work that way. This has to be condemmed in the same way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of graffiti art. There’s even some room for the aforementioned tag banger tags to be classified as art. Good intentions can’t be used as justification for a destructive act.

  45. DeWynken says:

    I think it would be more fun to glue a camera lens to the sidewalk and stencil “UPSKIRT CAM” under it.

    Feel free to implement this people, there’s no sidewalks here..

  46. scottfree says:

    #59

    I actually do live in a fairly impoverished neighborhood, and do so because I enjoy the atmosphere and feel of it.

    ———–

    There aren’t words both strong and appropriate enough to communicate to you how much I resent that statement. I wonder how well you know your neighbours. You inadvertently illustrate the point, which is graffiti could keep people like you away, if applied with persistence.

    Yes, graffiti is an eyesore, and at its best that is what it intends to be. It loses its subversive aspect when, as has happened with certain high profile people, it becomes sanctioned. A mate of mine got nicked for graffiti and ended up being sponsored by the cops to do a mural. Bril. I honestly don’t care about graffiti, nor did my mum, and before asking what graffiti brings to the neighbourhood, I would ask what you bring to your neighbourhood.

  47. ZippySpincycle says:

    Fascinating…Tell me more!

  48. Takuan says:

    Thanks Dewynken! Finally! A place to stand!

  49. Jack says:

    Here’s a solution for the anti-graffiti folks: Use stencils but use chalk. Or use something water soluble.

  50. Hans says:

    I concur that it is graffiti and should not be tolerated. The message here may be more in line with our sensibilities, but I don’t see how this could be acceptable while “anarchy4evAr!!!” slogans (or “Limbaugh4President”) are not.

  51. DCer says:

    Even people who have managed, against high odds, to own houses are affected by this process. Many elderly people in the historically black district of my city are finding themselves under serious economic strain or even losing their houses because of dramatically rising property taxes.
    ——-

    I bought a house in my city neighborhood in 1998. I’d lived here since 1994, renting. My African-American retiree neighbors love me because I keep my little yard clean, shovel the snow in front of their houses for free because their sidewalks are still like 1/10th the size of a driveway, clean up the alley and the sidewalk from trash and dog poop and have their grandkids over to play with my kids in the afternoons.

    My neighbor passed away and willed her house to her daughter. Her daughter couldn’t afford the increased tax payment (roughly $400 per month) so she invited her recently widowed friend to rent out the basement for $600 per month. That’s a $200 per month profit and she has a buddy to go to the doctors with. I know this because I checked over her taxes. People talk about these “horrible” situations that are easily solved to create better lives. Why live in an empty house at age 70 if you can have an 80 year old boarder and friend?

    They tore down the joints where heroin dealers hung out and replaced it with a mall that the elderly can take a shuttle bus to instead of asking their grandkids to drive them 20 minutes into the suburbs. And confused people still try to paint that fully-integrated mall as some kind of white thing. It doesn’t make sense.

    One elderly neighbor sold her house for 1.1 million in 2005 and set up trust funds for her 12 grandkids. trust funds. You talk about involuntary displacement that I don’t see in real life. You talk about resentment that I’ve only seen amongst the drug dealers and their mom as the kids were convicted and sentenced. Once those kids were gone, suddenly no one was stepping on the flowers and throwing burger wrappers on the sidewalk. and no one has heard gunshots since.

    This isn’t theory, it’s real life people. Sometimes a challenge is simply that, a challenge for you to succeed at. Stop being so negative and look at change as opportunity.

  52. Mazoola says:

    cajunfj40 @ 25

    No need to bother with parking a stripped, tag-less vehicle; I can point you to a couple of locations in Berkeley and SF where simply parking overnight can get you a new paint job. I have a box truck that’s been entirely repainted at least three times in the past few years, at times with such a consistency in color and style I’ve been asked if I paid to have it done.

    Most recently, the entire side of the box was redone (alas, covering up what had been the most interesting work), presumably overnight, while parked along SF’s Alemany Ave. Amazingly, the repainted side was the one facing *into* the busy, 4-lane road, and not the one against the tree-shadowed sidewalk.

  53. Rick. says:

    Tagging one’s nickname all over the place hundreds of times isn’t art. Everything else is up for grabs.

  54. mgr72 says:

    The justification for street art/graffiti within the context of the urban environment is definitely not cut and dry. Within the dense urban environment one is subject to intense and unceasing bombardment of advertising and other media that is uncontrollable and inaccessible to change by the average person. Graffiti and street art is one way albeit controversially of taking back part of the public space from the hands of the media/corporate/government interests and into the hands of the people who must live in and occupy said space. I personally find the inability to escape the media and advertising disgusting while I relish in the freshness and inspiration found from those willing to risk their personal freedom to show me art or make me think differently.

  55. RedMonkey says:

    It’s both graffiti and art, the two labels are not mutually exclusive. I’ve always viewed art as something that provokes an emotional reaction; whether that be anger, joy, sadness, etc., i’d say most gang-banger ‘tags’ provoke anger in me and thus under my own definition are art, although I consider it “shock art” and not worthy of serious consideration, and further it’s still graffiti and mostly the reason it provokes anger in me is that it is graffiti, and so yes, it’s still illegal and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    However if, as an above poster noted, they used chalk I think it ceases to be grafitti as it is not permanent and causes no damage and we are only left with art.

  56. katidd says:

    The artwork is already successful at enticing passion in the comments. But, there’s more to it than being outraged about graffiti and defacing public property.

    The stencils do catch you off guard. There’s a certain zen to walking in the city, lost in thought while looking blindly at the concrete. http://www.boingboing.net/2008/01/27/objects-embedded-in.html.

    The comments above make me think about what the city would be like if they went all Sao Paulo on us (http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/14/sao-paulo-goes-adver.html) – with no advertising on buildings, busses, taxis and billboards. On the other extreme, should we allow someone to put advertising on the surface of the moon someday? or ihovering over your hometown – the Blade Runner dream?

  57. Takuan says:

    nah,just sidewalks with ever-changing displays

  58. obdan says:

    Art will always be a problem

  59. mgr72 says:

    People seem to find serious issue with the “tagging” aspect of graffiti. Although this is the most blatant and often times destructive aspect of the graffiti culture, within that culture it is one of the most important aspects. An expertly executed tag is indeed a piece of art, drawing from centuries of letter styling traditions, skilled technique with a dynamic media, intentful placement, and displaying a reflection of a the writers particular mindset, emotional state and ability at a particular point in time. Although easy to ignore and instantly label as destructive and negative, it is only from a close minded perspective that this cannot be labeled art.

  60. Antinous says:

    Art will always be a problem

    When it ceases to be so, it becomes decor.

  61. ZippySpincycle says:

    Katidd @ 46, the only thing that should ever be inscribed on the moon is “CHA”

  62. Immortal Ping says:

    art vs defacing arguments apart, what i find really cool is the possibility of getting a solution for the daily angst from a NY shrink that goes like “Mike, all you have to do is to take a long stroll down the 5th and read really careful all the grafitti. if you find the time, read a little bit the advices on First Avenue”.
    your city as a giant therapist, making everyone feel better.

  63. yannish says:

    #13, What would your opinion be of this “art” if it was all over you house or apartment building? I’m sure it would change rapidly.

    It’s vandalism when it is on another’s property, regardless of artistic intentions.

    Chalk is a great idea.

  64. Nick D says:

    “When you can’t afford to buy your own home it’s god’s way of telling you that you need to go to college or graduate school.” (#40)

    Ri-i-i-ght… no forces beyond their control are ever involved in the existence of poor people, right? They’re just not as smart and hardworking as you.

    I guess there is no poverty caused by tanking industries, or debts caused by long-term illness, or anything like that, right?

    I hope that if you ever suffer an economic catastrophe (which, of course, will be no fault of your brilliant, industrious self) that you are shown more compassion than you dispalyed when you made that comment.

    Anyway… I like this graffitti and I like the idea of boosting morale this way, and I think saying it’s “defacing” the sidewalk is overblown.

    It’ll probably be sandblasted off, anyway–that’s what has happened to every bit of graffitti I’ve ever done. Bombers like this should do it in non-permanent paint that wears off in a few days. Then it’s harmless… and ephemeral, as art like this should be.

  65. Kabur Naj says:

    I love the surreal whimsy of a statement like “Do you think that went well?” staring up at you from the sidewalk.

    In my highschool yearbook I received an autograph from someone (with whom I only had a passing acquaintance at the time) which said simply: “Remember what I told you.” That made my day.

    #35: I love the bumper sticker! It brings to mind Piet Hein’s shortest ever grook: “Coexistence, or No Existence.” (Which was written in the context of the Cold War, but I think it also works well in regards to religious intolerance.)

  66. tinyxl says:

    I like the idea, but I wish the statements/questions didn’t feel like stereotype self-help blah blah blah. Does the question, “Does is have to do with you childhood?” really cause one to begin a deep self-introspection?…or just think, “Oh awesome, someone’s stenciling psychobabble on the sidewalk.”

  67. Antinous says:

    What would your opinion be of this “art” if it was all over you house or apartment building? I’m sure it would change rapidly.

    That’s a big assumption. Not necessarily a correct one, either.

  68. zikzak says:

    Haha, this strikes me as very CrimethInc.

    Regarding the ubiquitous art or vandalism debate: Some of y’all are way to obsessed with black/white distinctions, which is why you look silly when you try to categorize this act as either admirable artwork or despicable destruction.

    There’s a certain level of wrongdoing that’s minimal enough that it’s better to just appreciate it for what it is or ignore it. If graffiti gets out of hand and it’s really messing up people’s lives, then maybe it’s time to take a stand against it. Currently it’s just harmless fun, so we’d all do well to chill out about it. I think the anxiety is caused more by the idea that someone’s doing something wrong than the actual effect of what they’re doing.

  69. DCer says:

    gss thr s n pvrty csd by tnkng ndstrs, r dbts csd by lng-trm llnss, r nythng lk tht, rght?
    ———-

    m, f crs thr s, tht’s why sggstd rtrnng t cllg t gt nw skllst. thnk w’r n grmnt hr. N n prmsd y lftm crr s bggy whp mnfctrr.

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