Thursday, March 20, 2008

evidence to god knows what

I have noticed a surge in graffiti in the city of Philadelphia over the last six months.

My commute is through the suburbs on a trolley and then on an elevated train through the worst part of Philadelphia. I spend most of the time making an oil-spot on the glass with my forehead. If you can disassociate the scene from the human toll, the visual candy is quite filling. Deeply rusted, pock-marked metal girders that hold up train tracks. They use rivets instead of welds and have some old red lead paint still clinging in some areas.

Crumbled red brick row homes with buckled roofs (when there still is a roof). Ornate Copper soffits that have been painted over multiple times. Broken, fire-blackened window frames. Wind piled trash mixed with leaves. New Satellite dishes.

Decaying materials are fascinating, I’m not crazy about Graffiti however, especially when it’s poorly done and repetitive. The taggers are competing against each other like two dogs who keep trying to out piss the other at the base of a telephone pole. They use a single color (blue, black or red) and apply their mark on as many flat surfaces they can find. If the side of an abandoned Granite office building has 10 panels on it, the tagger will put his mark on it 10 times.

Over the last six months the marks have reached down my trolley tracks to my town. Fences and Garages. Trolley Maps and Way Stations. Businesses and Parked Train Equipment. Marks everywhere.

As soon as it’s marked once, competing marks show up within days. My wife had mentioned a few months ago that it’s from gang activity. She’s all down with the Bloods and Crips, yo. I think she might be right in some ways.

I wonder if crime follows this or if this follows crime. I wonder if it’s just some suburban kid who wants to be Sucker Free. I wonder what sort of Sociological studies have been done of this. I wonder when my train will get me home……


Chris said...

Graffiti sucks. It's ALL gang-related around here. I took some photos:

I'm sad that other places are having the same problems.

katrocket said...

Your wife is right - it's often about marking gang territory.

And you are also right - it's a pissing contest.

Damn kids, always messin' up the place.