Stinkeye of the Beholder

17 Nov

So last week we received a notice from the SF Dept of Public Works, rather shoddily masking-taped to our front stairs, chastising us for the presence of graffiti on our property.  We have 30 days to either “remove” the graffiti or request a “graffiti hardship hearing,” or those mean old DPW folks will be really, really mad.

Exhibit A: The Virtually Unnoticeable Tag

Now, I’m as displeased by excessive graffiti as the next gal, while simultaneously acknowledging the validity of the debate over whatconstitutes Crappy Eyesore Graffiti versus Graffiti of Artistic and/or Cultural Merit (a subject I will leave happily untouched at the moment), but this notice really pissed me the fuck off.  Said graffiti at issue, a roughly 2″ by 5″ tag in thin black marker writtenon the forest green trim around our gas meter, is hardly even visible from the street; my boyfriend had to literally walk over and point at it before I even noticed it. Actually, this miniscule, tidy little tag struck me as rather conservative and almost considerate, especially given that we have a corner house with giant, white wall running along a sidewalk that virtually screams “scrawl your graffiti HERE!”

Exhibit B: the Scourge of 18th & Mission

OK, so back to being totally pissed off.  There are two possibilities here, both of which irk the shit out of me: 1) one of the many local passers-by who regularly stroll past our house reported it, even though the tag is, as I said, miniscule, and hadn’t even been there a week; or 2) the broke-ass City of San Francisco somehow manages to pay people to inspect every building in town in minutiae and cite all graffiti-hosting offenders, no matter how incredibly minor the visual offense.  As if there weren’t any bigger fish to fry around here. And by fish I of course mean crime, and if we’re just talking about the graffiti, I’d say the abandoned 99 Cent Storeat 18th & Mission has been by far the biggest of those particular fish for a couple of years now.

Still determined to avoid diverging into the gory but popular debate about what really constitutes “graffiti,” I will note here that I was further incensed, in scanning the details of the shoddily-taped notice, to discover that crucial to the City’s definition of graffiti is that the “inscription, word, figure, marking or design” was “affixed, marked, etched, scratched, drawn or painted” without the property owner’s consent.  So how in the hell do they know that I didn’t put it there myself?  Or ask a friend to etch it on there for me?  As I said, the tiny tag was almost sort of cute, a petite little “design,” if you will.

Having my father’s impulsive, anti-authority genes, my first thought was of course to call DPW and speak snidely and condescendingly to whomever was unfortunate enough to be working the phones that day.  But then I remembered my more conservative, considerably less impulsive co-owner of the domicile in question, and figured I should probably cool my jets, at least for a few days. We wereplanning to paint over it, after all (we just don’t happen to have the exact color of paint at the moment); probably he was going to suggest that that’s what we still should do. Surprisingly however, after brief discussion of the matter, I was given full reign to handle the matter as I saw fit (insert devilish smiley-face emoticon here).

Exhibit C: The Fix

So, voila, my resolution to the matter.

As one can readily see, my talents in the visual arts are limited; I imagined it looking much cooler than this.  Actually the main reason it didn’t come out that great is because I was really nervous while I was drawing it, thinking someone was going to try and stop me or something, though probably very few of my neighbors’ English skills are good enough to communicate that concern.  I did manage to follow most of the lines of the original tag, which was my main intent – just to pretty-fy it and turn it into a decoration of sorts.  It will probably still garner the stinkeye from pedestrians regardless … as for what the DPW has to say, well, stay tuned!

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4 Responses to “Stinkeye of the Beholder”

  1. Rae November 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    you’re a little devil! Speaking of, I was cleaning out a drawer and noticed not 1 but 2 movies that are not mine, that I recall borrowing aeons ago from you for a depp-a-thon. And yes, I did just spell aeons like aeon flux, I’m not even sure if that’s wrong. And you know what? If it is wrong, I don’t wanna be right . 🙂 Oh, so anyway, seems now I must owe you late fees, plus two depp dvds, possibly a cocktail? dinner, even? Lets set it up!

  2. slo November 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Love it–it’s your fault and problem that someone defaces your property? Your peephole for the meter reader is an attractive nuisance that you need to do something about??????. Can’t wait to see what happens next

  3. BC November 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Surely there must be some public money for support of the arts available in this,

  4. Marty November 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Darling, you are a gem!

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