Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Acceptable graffiti

Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah was built while I was growing up. Rumor has it that it was built backwards—meaning the north part of the building ended up on the south side and vice-versa. Whether this is true or not, it still makes for a good story. One possible reason people think this rumor is true is because the gym, a huge, white cubed structure, was built next to one of the busiest streets in Orem.

I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s not very smart. It’s just begging to have graffiti sprayed on the side of it.” Sure enough, not long afterwards, it happened. Several times, in fact. Eventually someone planted trees or tall shrubs around the base of the building to prevent it. I don’t recall what was written on the side of the gym. It was probably “MV sucks!” or “Mountain Pew!” or something equally as lame.

I went to the other high school at the time. It was cleverly named “Orem High.” One morning when arriving at school, we discovered someone had written on the side of one of our buildings in spray-paint, “To smart to live. To scared to die.” Of course, the school paper took a picture of it with the caption “Too dumb to spell.”

I’ve never understood the whole graffiti thing. Well, maybe I do--a little. After all, I write books and stories to leave my mark on the world. I just don’t do it on someone else’s property.

One of the things I noticed when I moved to North Carolina from Connecticut was that there wasn’t graffiti on the stop signs in North Carolina. Someone said that gangs marked stop signs in Connecticut to show they “owned” that area.

I think most sensible people agree that graffiti is an eyesore—and it cheapens the look of anything it is on. Yet, as I drive around my nice little town in North Carolina, I see graffiti everywhere! People who live here may disagree until I point it out. It’s not on the stops signs. It’s not on the buildings. It’s not under the overpasses. Where is it then?

On the ground!

Heck, there is even some on my property.

Let me explain: Last year, we had grass put in after I unsuccessfully tried to reseed the lawn myself (that’s a story for another time). Before we could get our old lawn ripped out, some official person had to mark where the water, gas, electric and whatever else lines are under the ground. How did they do it? Spray paint! On my curb, there is still a blue line, a year later.

And that’s not all. Almost every street you drive down has these markers for some reason or another. I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t be marking these different utility lines so they don’t get dug up, but isn’t there a better way than using paint that lasts and lasts?

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