There is something vile about malls. Something nasty. Whether it's the 11-year-old girl painted up like a Russian stripper or the sad old men shuffling around the air-conditioned cavern like a pack of medicated zombies, the mall breaks humanity down to its meanest possible mode: chickens with charge cards.
And if you don’t believe me, if you don’t buy that the mall is the lamest place on earth, well, piss on you.
Allow me to direct your attention to Dadeland Mall’s most recent massacre. (It doesn’t involve an armored Econoline vanfull of Colombians and machine guns, but, hopefully, it will make you not want to go there).
Ahol Sniffs Glue is a dude. He’s an artist, in fact. Maybe you’ve seen his name around town on stickers. Or maybe you’ve noticed his wall of eyes off of I-95 glaring at you among a row of one story wharehouses just south of I-195.
He and a select group of dude artists work shitty jobs all day and daydream about “thowing up” (painting) their pseudonyms. They want their stuff big, in public places. That’s their thing.
Last week a store called Up Against the Wall approached AHOL and some other graffiti writers. The store, a Hipstery emporium of expensive “urban wear,” planned to open a location in the Dadeland Mall for the Christmas shopping season. They wanted an “urban”-like environment in which to peddle skater shoes and hoodies.
So they plied AHOL and other graffiti writers with pizza, gift certificates and the promise that they could all hold a show in the store and sell some of their wares. (In other words, they weren’t really going to get paid to do it). They were also told to keep things mall-clean. No dirty words. No nudity.
AHOL decided he would go ahead and do it. He chose a wall section right where the jewelry was supposed to go – where his work wouldn’t be obscured by clothing racks etc. It wasn’t too wide, but he had to stand on scaffolding to finish the top.
He spent about five days working alongside other local artists. They began work around 10:00 p.m. and finishing at 2:00 in the morning. And just as they finished work, something called “Mall Code Enforcement” came and told store managers that they had to paint over a number of unacceptable images.
One was a crown—clearly gang-related. They also worried about the numbers 332 –which, in the wisdom of Mall Code Enforcement, is also clearly a gang-related gestrure. They also objected to something that looked like a tit in the trunk of a tree. No tree trunk tits in Dadeland mall.
AHOL had framed a colorful set of eyes with his stickers –which feature his name and an image of someone huffing a bag of glue. The stickers, of course, had to go. Not because of the glue. But because AHOL sounds too much like asshole.
No assholes in Dadeland Mall.
So the artists were forced to fuck up their work to allay the fears of Mall Code Enforcement so as not to incite a Christmas gang war in what’s basically an Urban Outfitters. (AHOL says that none of these guys are in gangs. They just belong to graffiti crews, which sometimes fight but basically just paint).
“I like the art in there,” said one security guard who wished to remain nameless. “That’s messed up what they did in there.” The guard didn’t know anything about mall code enforcment, but suggested mall management was behind the backlash.
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Ozzie Dominguez, general manager of the mall seemed nervous when he received the call.
“Hmm…” he said, in squeaky surprise. “I’ll find out what that’s about and get back to you right away.” He never did get back –maybe he never found out.
AHOL threw sloppy white paint all over his stickers and drew lazy eyes all over in “crappy-ass black spray paint.” He wanted to make it look like someone on the street had come along and done a shitty job of writing over his work.
Which is basically what happened. --Calvin Godfrey