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Like many people, I’m of multiple minds about graffiti.

Mind #1: I don’t like it: if it’s not your property, you shouldn’t alter it. If it’s public property, it’s even LESS cool to lay your mark. (Do unto others: I’m almost 100% sure the average graffiti artist would frown the frown to end all frowns if, heading into his/her bathroom in the morning to brush his/her teeth, discovered a pink hippo riding a tricycle spray-painted on the shower door.)

Mind #2: Show me a book on graffiti art world-round, and I’ll spend at least half an hour flipping through.  I won’t deny that there’s something intrinsically attractive about in-your-face art.  And sometimes the graffiti is truly beautiful; the skill of the artist enviable.

Mind #3: Place and context: is the graffiti just tagging (hi! I’m here!  Lookatme!  Lookatme!) or is it social commentary?  Was it skillfully applied or slap-dash?  Is it marring the side window of some little neighborhood coffee shop (you know the owner’s going to have to go out there with gray paint), or interrupting the monotony of a train ride down the Northeast Corridor?

I think it was last year that the Southwest Corridor multi-use path was repaved, making many cyclists, runners, rollerbladers, and rowdy high school students happy to enjoy smoother travel.  Not long after, someone trailed red paint in a erratic line from one end to the other, inciting in me a surprisingly possessive and self-righteous sort of anger (you kids!  get out of my back yard!)  Not long after that, somebody else stenciled the word Bold between Green Street and Stonybrook Stations.  Recently, the erratic line and Bold have been joined by a cyclist wearing a hat.

My first thought: does this mean the bike path has been claimed by hipsters?  How connected is the man in a hat to the JP Music Fest mascot, or perhaps walk signs in East Germany?

My second thought was more a resigned sigh.

What do you think?

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