2012 World Series

Regarding Sunday Night's Onslaught of Graffiti Down Mission Street

I generally avoid directly writing about criticism lobbed at Uptown Almanac.  It's an uncomfortable and inherently masturbatory admission that this blog is worthy of criticism, which I'm not certain it is.  And our troll-spiced comment section is often a fine and illuminating forum for such discussion.  However, the sheer amount of criticism we've received for our role in “promoting” and “celebrating” the vandalism begs a response.

In some respects, I get it—this is the third riot in six months that's left the neighborhood bleeding with nary a response from SFPD.  People rightfully want answers; businesses demand to know when the costly damages will cease.  And are we going to have to repave the badly scarred Mission Street again?

Naturally, the finger-pointing began immediately.  Some elected to blame SFPD for neglecting their duties, many went with the tried-and-true Oakland boogeyman.  But, much to my surprise, some opted to blame the likes of UA and Mission Mission.  Apparently because I and others post pictures of graffiti and street art, we encourage bad behavior.

Talk about shooting the messenger.

It feels utterly ridiculous to have this conversation again 24 years after Jean-Michel Basquiat shot up one too many times and six years after “Graffiti” landed at the Brooklyn Museum, but it seems necessary and, unfortunately, timely.

I don't see graffiti as some sort of black and white, Republican or Democrat, love or hate activity and art form.  Rather, like every cultural wedge issue we're forced to tackle, it's a bit more nuanced.  It's not universally bad—how could it be?  If it keeps movie posters and cell phone advertisements off plywood, I eagerly welcome it.  If it livens up the storm barriers along Ocean Beach, awesome.  And if it's talented and interesting? All the better.

But like everything, there are shitty and worthless guys out there trashing innocent homes, businesses, and public resources.  Sunday night's melee obviously falls into that category.  However, I don't subscribe to the preposterous theory that the action of 15 taggers leveraging a crowd of thousands as cover delegitimizes the whole shebang.  That's a step away from labeling music with guitars as absolutely horrible because Nickelback exists.


Some of my friend's businesses were thoroughly trashed Sunday night, costing them hundreds of dollars they cannot spare. My favorite venue is covered with tags that cannot be easily removed.  Murals that artists slaved over are forever fucked.  And of course I feel horrible for them and hope they find relief.  However, I refuse to accept blame because I enjoy graffiti of the harmless variety.

Anyway, it's time for me to wash the ejaculate off my keyboard and take a long, numbing shower.  Thanks for reading.

[Photo by Jonathan Koshi]