September 12, 2005

Vandalizing the vandals

Downtown Ottawa is has kind of a grungy look about it: primarily, I think, because of all the graffiti. There's barely a flat surface that hasn't been defaced; even the doors of my church haven't escaped.

Most of the downtown graffiti is just the usual tagging done by non-creative garbage marking their territory. There are, here and there, a few wall-to-walls whose artists put some time and effort into them, such as the one at the high school between Slater and Laurier at Bronson. And, not infrequently, you come across newspaper boxes and billboards scrawled with the sort of simplistic political macros favoured by urban anarchists whose opinions are spoon-fed to them by hippie types that once saw a Noam Chomsky book in a bookstore window: "THE TRUTH IS THE FIRST CASUALTY OF WAR," and other such original thinking.

It was an example of the last that I came across tonight while waiting at the bus stop. Next to the shelter is a row of newspaper boxes, seven total, upon which someone had spray-painted the following public service announcement, one character per box, in purple:

W R O N G ! !

One of the boxes so defaced contained freebies like Renters News and Employment Weekly. It's hard to understand what our graffiti artist found so objectionable about their reporting. In any case, at some point there had been someone at the stop with some superfluous muscle, a few minutes to wait, and a difference of opinion. The boxes have been manhandled into a different order, so that the graffito now reads:

G R O W N ! !

Admittedly, it wasn't much of a message, but when you consider that there are only so many anagrams for a five-letter word, it wasn't bad.