Graffiti artists should find their own canvases

Grant McGee Local Columnist

There’s a water tank on the outskirts of Clovis with a name spray painted in black across it. I always wondered whose name that was. Just the other day someone mentioned him in passing. Now I know he’s a Latin rap star from Houston.

I guess one of his fans, in a moment of joy, spray painted the name for all to see … probably late at night when no one was around.

We’re talking about “tagging” or graffiti, an act in which someone thinks it’s important to spray paint something on someone else’s property. What they spray paint can vary from some pretty creative art work to just basic letters.

Graffiti has been around for ages. It’s nothing new. Go to the on-line encyclopedia called Wikipedia and you can see examples of ancient Roman graffiti from Pompeii.

When graffiti is done without permission from the property owner it’s vandalism. There are apparently a few folks who consider it “art,” like my former acquaintance “The Dancer.”

I call her that because she taught kids how to dance. It’s because of her I know a bunch of ballet terms that I have no use for in everyday life.

“It’s art,” proclaimed The Dancer one day as we passed a graffiti encrusted wall.

“It’s vandalism,” I said. “Somebody’s property values are going down if it isn’t stopped.”

“You can’t stop it,” she said. “You know those cave paintings in France from prehistoric times? Who’s to say those weren’t done by frustrated Neanderthal teenagers?”

The Dancer had a different opinion when she woke up one morning to find her property had been hit by some vigorous graffiti. She did what the police recommend property owners do when graffiti appears on walls and buildings — paint over it immediately.

“So why did you paint over the art?” I asked.

I was answered with a stony stare.

Returning to The Dancer’s house one night, we spied two kids finishing a fresh tagging job. They hopped on their bicycles and took off. She went in to call the cops, I went after them in my pickup. I could see their feet working furiously, the bike reflectors rocking back and forth in my headlights with each pedal pump.

But then I thought, “What the heck am I doing?” What would I do if I caught them? Would I haul them up by their ears like Phoebe did to Rachel and Monica on “Friends?” I turned and went back to the house.
A police officer was there. I told him about the chase.

“Leave the chasing to us,” said the cop.

I remember these things as I see graffiti around Clovis: on our walls and buildings, graffiti from other places as vandalized rail cars roll through the city. I remember passing through downtown Los Angeles and staring at the incredible amount of graffiti on everything. I remember the interstate signs in Phoenix, the support posts wrapped with razor wire to deter taggers.

Then I remember the water tank on the outskirts of Clovis with that rapper’s name spray painted on the side. I mean, I like The Doobie Brothers, Waylon Jennings and Tom Petty. But I know if I spray painted their names on a wall somebody would be pretty ticked off.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:
blisscreek@plateautel.net