Graffiti: Cool or Wack? An Exploration
Today we explore the often debated question of graffiti. Is it cool, or is it wack? I’ve heard both sides of the story and I think there are valid arguments either way. One one side, we have graffiti artists, who would presumably say “Cool” to this question. On the other hand, we have people who believe that graffiti defaces that which would otherwise be much prettier. To me, it comes down to a question of character of the place. Is this particular place sicker with graffiti or without it?
One of the most notorious local graffiti spots is the slope underneath I95 on the border of Pelham and the Bronx. Above is an image from the slope, although this is only a small section of the large amounts of graffiti all over the slope. In this case, we have a weird area with an abandoned path that winds under and along the highway, eventually leading to Split Rock. Much of the graffiti in this area is like this — a real picture with some color in the background. I assume the dude who spray pained all those blue lines was someone else, especially given the picture of the stick figure with huge meat which I am only now noticing. Were it just our guy in yellow, I’d say this is good graffiti, but now that I see the other guy I can’t unsee it and the whole thing is ruined. Regardless, this area would otherwise just be a bunch of concrete overgrown underneath a highway and the graffiti adds a bit of character. We get a half point deduction for the stick figure but graffiti clocking in at 0.5/1 thus far.
Here’s another example of graffiti, which is admittedly somewhat ironic. However, if you’ve ever been to this spot, you know what they’re talking about. The area is routinely trashed by local fishermen, and the beach is a wasteland of stray styrofoams, plastics and food containers. It really ruins what is otherwise a super nice spot to hang out. Take a look at that rock face too — could be some kind of ancient metamorphic rock for my geology guys. You can tell by the cool folds. Now, of course, the graffiti defaces the rocks a little bit, but the trash also defaces this area far more. I would say, in this case, the message is more important than a little spray paint. If the graffiti said something else, I would award it 0 points, but context is everything so we’re at 1.5/2 for graffiti thus far today. A very surprising twist. The main takeaway thus far is that context is everything.
Here’s graffiti part 3, and I can tell you right now a bad grade is coming. Why, you ask? Because this is a random rock in the middle of nowhere with a lazy heart on it. Ironic that they spray painted a heart for several reasons. First of all, if they put any heart into this creation, they would’ve put a little more elbow grease into it and at least filled it in. Now the heart is just hollow. Potentially a metaphor for the hollow appreciation for nature this person has by defacing a random rock down the shore. Second of all, there’s really no reason for this to be here. This rock is just out there on the shore. Why you gonna deface it like that? Nature would be much better off with just a rock sitting there doing what rocks do. This ruins the aesthetics of the image entirely. Whatever graffiti “artist” popped this one down is a true clown of the game and their effort gains 0 points. 1.5/3 for graffiti on the day.
Now here’s an example of graffiti I just don’t know what to think about. Obviously they did not spell home correctly, which is the first thing that comes to mind. Looks like they may have started it too far to the right and then run out of space. Also, we have this message spray pained over something else in red. Finally, this is clearly a spot where people fish all the time. The fishermen here have been known to leave a huge mess. Is this “No Fish Go Hom” meant to dissuade the fishermen from littering? OR is it perhaps to protect local wildlife? Either way — it’s pretty ineffective and the presence of graffiti in any of these locations encourages people to treat the area poorly. If you see that an area has already been visually trashed by humans, it’s a lot easier to leave your garbage behind too. For that reason, this graffiti’s getting 0 points and I’m collectively deducting another half point from all the other graffiti because of the message it sends. 1/4 points awarded.
In conclusion, there are niche situations where a little graffiti can give a place some character. That’s cool and all. Having said that, graffiti sends the message that people don’t care about a particular neighborhood. We’re talking broken window theory for all my cerebral intellectuals out there. I’m not totally against it but the cons outweigh the pros. Also, if you’re just spray painting some stick figure with huge meat, what are you doing? For more, check out theregrowthproject on IG, our website or our patreon. We appreciate all the support we can get!