Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Civic Graffiti

Give a talented kid a can or two of spray paint and the resulting graffiti may be nice eye candy even if it's not high art. Like the one-time materials hopper over where Sheldon curves down into McCormick.

Give the street-corner scuzzball a can or two of spray paint and the results are bound to be gross. Obscene language...turf marks...scribbles and scrawls. This type of graffiti offends the eyes and sensibilities, but not much else.

Give a few cans of spray paint to a clean-cut guy in chinos and a white shirt with a metal detector and watch out! The graffiti he creates is tame stuff -- lines, arrows and occasionally words, all cluttering the public ways.

But this graffiti has very real and serious consequences. Pavement torn up. Deep holes in the ground. Traffic delays.

My name for this rainbow of spray-painted streets, alleys and sometimes trees (or even prickly pears) is Civic Graffiti. It is Authorized graffiti. Ok'd by engineers, Planning & Zoning and officialdom in general.

Have you seen enough Civic Graffiti over the years to have figured out the color codes? Thus far, I've got blue for water (obvious metaphor). Green for sewers. White for Fix-This-Damned-Sidewalk-or- Pavement-Before-the-Lawyers-Serve-Papers.

Pink appears to spell doom -- or heavy butchery -- for any vegetation that stands in the way of progress. Then there are the hot colors: yellow, red and orange. These obviously stand for gas, electricity and phone/cable lines, but I'm never sure which is which.

The other day over on Congress Street, even the dried grass got a dose of spray paint. And it would be there forever if it didn't weather away. The powers that be are quick to see that graffiti-defaced buildings or billboards are cleaned up. But nobody seems to be in charge of cleaning up Civic Graffiti once the pipes or lines are fixed, the holes filled and the street repaved. It just gradually fades away.

1 comment:

Karen of Scottsdale said...

enjoyed your photo essay!

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