And to think some people continue to look up to the New York Times (even after that whole Jayson Blair unpleasantness). Even with legions of Casey Anthonys cavorting in our midst, it turns out the Gray Lady is still of the mindset that graffiti is evil and worthy of entire anti-graffiti units in police departments. The online edition of the paper published a story earlier this week with the apocalyptic headline "Cities Report Surge in Graffiti." Oh, no. Hide the women and children. Apologies to Bill Murray, but what's next? Dogs and cats living together?
The story, penned by Adam Nagourney, opens with a Santa Monica, California timeline and goes on to reintroduce a topic we thought was pretty much dead: graffiti as the scourge of cities across America.
It's a pretty straightforward read, we admit, with no obvious slant. But the implication is clear: Graffiti is the fast-tracker of urban blight. And don't get us wrong -- we understand that graffiti can be debilitating to local businesses and a city's image. But the Times acted like we're still stuck in the '80s with only the Guardian Angels left to protect us from demons wielding spray-paint cans.
Fresh blotches of graffiti decorate the backs of street signs here near
the ocean. Tags have popped up on guardrails along the dirt trails near
Griffith Park across town. There are, almost daily, fresh splashes on
walls in the San Fernando Valley, on downtown Los Angeles buildings and
on billboards along the highways.
And Los Angeles does not appear to be alone in grappling with a recent
upsurge in graffiti, which is turning up in some unlikely places. A
bumper crop of scrawls is blossoming in many modest-size communities
across the country -- in places like Florence, Ala.; Bernalillo County,
N.M.; Taylors, S.C.; and in larger cities like Nashville and Portland,
Ore. -- even as major cities like Chicago, Denver, New York and Seattle
say vigilant anti-graffiti campaigns have spared them thus far.
Them New Yorkers sure can write purty, but they be missing the point. We thought that rag was supposed to be sophisticated. How is it that Associated Press and Artinfo.com stories last week were more on point, with the latter challenging the Times' assertion that the art world's acceptance of graffiti is contributing to the problem, if there is a problem:
"The Times article offers little further proof that the graffiti spike
is driven by what it terms "a glamorization of graffiti." However, an AP
article about Miami's Wynwood Arts District offers some further
evidence, describing how the city is trying to capitalize on its street
art culture to become a tourist mecca, including Vespa tours of its
famous murals. "Graffiti has been a bad word in America for a long time.
We are trying to change that," enthuses Jayson Moreira, co-owner of a
San Francisco-based company that donated spray paint for the
mural-making project during Art Basel Miami Beach. But since this is all
explicitly seen as benefiting the city, it serves as an antidote to the
Times article's vague alarmism.
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Even though it's sad to see the former journalistic standard-bearer fall off the pace (the story didn't even mention Canlove, the L.A. outfit made up of former Miami boys who are turning graffiti garbage into more art), the truth is that it only makes Miami look cooler.
So the Times can forget about us paying to read any more of its online malarkey.