Anybody who pays attention to graffiti in Minneapolis knows one of the most prolific current taggers uses the handle "Shock." His tags are everywhere and have been for a couple of years, now. Of course, up here in North Minneapolis we don't have a lot of graffiti because, as everybody knows, the most prolific taggers are spoiled suburban emos, and most spoiled suburban emos are afraid to set foot in North Minneapolis unless they're in a car full of friends trying to score weed.
But I consider the North Loop neighborhood to be part of the Johnny Northside Dot Com beat, and recently in North Loop I came across the following message which Shock left for a property owner who--so it appears--had repeatedly painted over graffiti.
"SAVE YOUR MONEY, I'VE GOT NOTHING BUT TIME."
Why, I wonder, can't...
...prolific graffiti vandals like Shock be caught and arrested? I mean, honestly, they hit the same spots over and over. How hard would it be to set up bear traps? (Um, cameras! I meant to say CAMERAS!)
Actually, my main beef against graffiti vandals is NOT the fact they damage property. Even though "paint overs" look ugly, the amount of actual property damage is relatively little if property owners will simply accept the fact "paint overs" are the way to handle graffiti, instead of re-painting an entire building or tediously trying to match paint.
No, my beef is the fact graffiti vandals have very little to say except their made-up names, over and over, like the Pokemon characters my kid watches, sometimes, during Saturday morning cartoons. Like, OK, your fake, made-up name is "Shock." I get it. But, um, WHY is your name is "Shock?" What is so "shocking" about you? Nothing, as far as I can see. What you do is not shocking, but pointless.
If urban graffiti artists were saying something clever or thought provoking or politically radical, then I might think, "Well, this is the only way they can scream their radical message to the world." But graffiti is saying NOTHING of value or substance, absolutely NOTHING. In all the years "Shock" has been tagging, this message on this wall is the first time I've seen him use an actual SENTENCE.
So I want to say, "Come on, Shock, don't leave us hanging, here. Use more words. Tell us what is the freaking POINT?"
On another note, the City of Minneapolis has been tolerating "vigilante graffiti abatement" of the kind practiced by Ed Kohler of The Deets blog and, to a much smaller degree, myself. (Honestly, if I'd had some spray paint in my vehicle, I would have painted over Shock's message right then and there)
I think Minneapolis should make it easier to get graffiti cleaned up by volunteers. Property owners could designate buildings troubled by graffiti as "free fire abatement zones," meaning any good citizen would be authorized to paint over graffiti without bothering to ask or consult with the owner...like I was ready to do, then and there, with Shock's little missive to the world.
Minneapolis is a city filled with citizens who are both clever and concerned. Surely there is a way to win this petty battle against angst-filled suburban emos with too much time and paint on their hands?