Why PittGirl is on the warpath.

This. This right here. This is why.

I love the Hill District. No, I don’t hang out there. No, I don’t live there. But I appreciate its history, its people that remain committed to seeing it free from crime, and I appreciate those that are working to redevelop the area, refurbish it, re-ANYTHING it. I love watching the old buildings along Fifth and Forbes remade with new life, new paint, new brick. I love it that there are people that are willing to invest in it. I love that one of those townhouses has an in-ground pool in its backyard.

I love turning onto Gist Street from the Boulevard and seeing that giant green bunny and that giant King Kong peering over the fence. I love this painting (photo courtesy of Saucy, my bitch).

So you can imagine my horror the recent day when that graffiti appeared. Today, I was determined to stop and snap a photo to show you all why I call the “street-art” criminals … well … CRIMINAL TRASH.

You can also imagine my horror this morning when I noticed fresh yellow tags sprayed all over Sun King Marketing’s building which only recently got a fresh coat of forest green paint. Sun King has a great sign on their building wall facing the Boulevard, a changing sign that sometimes will list the names of their newest employees, that sometimes will tell you that the Duquesne Dukes can be found if you go straight, and that sometimes, like now, tells you to turn right if you’d like to find the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And here, today, their beautiful building is marred.

Please tell me how you justify or defend that? And how you justify or defend it without sounding like an internet troll hell-bent on disturbing the shit.

Also? Would I be arrested if I patrolled the streets with a paint-ball gun and shot the living daylights out of any hoodlum found spray-painting graffiti? And if so, how much time would I be looking at? So I can do a cost-benefit analysis.





39 Comments

  1. BobM
    May 20, 2008 8:53 am

    Or you might consider enticing some pigeons to come over from the dark side to do your bidding by having them deposit their own special graffiti on those nasty scummy vandals.
    That way, no prison for PittGirl, plus the karma bonus of making evil pigeons do something positive for society.
    What say you PG?



  2. Izzy
    May 20, 2008 9:38 am

    This makes me see red, as well. I live in Bloomfield where many little old ladies still live in the houses where they grew up…..and many of them live in terror because those family homes are being tagged by CRIMINAL TRASH. I, too, dream the paintball dream…..if we all band together………..



  3. John
    May 20, 2008 9:54 am

    Every time I’m near the city, I can’t help but notice the ridiculous amount of grafitti. I’m with you, PG… we should round up the Secret Society of PittGirl fans, arm ourselves with paintball guns and seek our own unique brand of justice against these felons! Either than or hold them down and spray paint “nWo” on their backs.



  4. Mia`
    May 20, 2008 10:00 am

    At first glance I loved the whole paint-gun vigilante thing, but then I had a thought. Wouldn’t that be kinda like tagging the tagger? Wouldn’t that make you a tagger too? Is a paintball in the face, head and chest of a tagger also considered graffiti? Does it carry the same charges/time as say a bridge or store? Cuz I’m thinking a well shot “loser” across the face of a tagger could be helpful to identify them later, and if we can make that permanent paint could a be a useful deterent as well.



  5. James
    May 20, 2008 10:03 am

    I think most reasonable people would agree that graffiti is a problem, and yes it is a crime. But those same reasonable people may also agree that there are worse things to worry about. I’ve had my property vandalized by graffiti artists. I was mad, really mad. The next day I got over it.



  6. pittgirl
    May 20, 2008 10:09 am

    James,

    First, where is it written that if I pick a bone with graffiti artists that I’m not also picking a bone with other “worse things”? Just because I care and address it and want to fix it, does that mean that I can’t also care or worry about kids with cancer, or the drink tax, or city/county consolidation, or violent crime?

    Got over it? How do you just “get over” something as ugly and PERMANENT as graffiti on your property and do it in less than 24 hours?

    The reason we need to worry about it is because it makes the city ugly and it brings down property values and that affects a lot more people than just the person whose property got sprayed.

    Damn it. Did I just feed a troll? I hope not.



  7. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 10:10 am

    For all those seeing my other responses on the “____is___to …..” post …. this is exaclty what I define as criminal – not art.

    So y’all don’t think I’m just pro-street artists.



  8. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 10:14 am

    PittGirl – you didn’t feed a troll – you just opened up a conversation about something the City Of Pittsburgh forgot to keep control of *again*. I guess it isn’t on the news enough.



  9. Judge Rufus Peckham
    May 20, 2008 10:49 am

    Sadly, the handiwork of the “street art community” is so prevalent in some neighborhoods, we look upon it as part of the urban milieu, and most people who are not directly victimized by it don’t give it a second thought.

    In contrast, graffiti is NOT prevalent in the posh suburbs. When it occurs there, I suspect that most people, in the deep, dark recesses of their minds, look upon it as a more serious offense than when it occurs in the Hill District.

    Maybe we would all do well to think about this crime in the way PittGirl has described it — in terms of lowering property values, and creating an atmosphere of blight. And maybe when we see it in the Hill District, we ought to think about how we’d react if we saw it scrawled across some expensive home in Sewickley Height. And maybe we ought to force ourselves to feel just as outraged.



  10. TheTruth
    May 20, 2008 10:50 am

    Gene Ricciardi/Bruce Kraus said it best,

    “We cannot afford to think of graffiti as a form of artistic expression. Destruction of public and/or private property must be treated as the criminal act it is, and perpetrators must be punished accordingly.”

    By punished accordingly, I mean stuffed in a prison cell with Buba.



  11. Bram R
    May 20, 2008 10:54 am

    I can’t help it. Graffiti comforts me, like snow or weeds (or geese or pigeons). It reminds me that we don’t control our world, and there’s no such thing as “ownership” (go ahead and point to it). I’m not saying I think graffiti artists don’t have to be punished, and reformed, before they start thinking they can get away with more dangerous crimes. I’m just saying that a part of me is glad that new grafitti artists will always be coming up behind them, and nobody can stop them.



  12. BIGGEORGE
    May 20, 2008 11:11 am

    pittgirl, you right. We shouldn’t get
    over it. This is one of the steps down the path to destroying the city.

    Pride in one’s property is required.
    That is why you see people in south side
    washing off the steps / stoop in front of
    their house. this is dividing line of
    public / private. It is not only in
    Pittsburgh. In Boston you will see the
    same thing with people who live the
    brownstones.

    the graffiti on private property breaks
    that public / private boundary. The next
    thing to break would be the front door to
    your house!!!!

    On public property, graffiti is breaking
    the same thing, except for the public in
    general. The attitude that “anything in
    public can be mine, that is why I tag it!”
    What comes next? “I don’t like those beds
    of flowers, I’ll tear them up!” or maybe
    they’ll take them home. Need money, just
    rip open an ac unit and cut the copper.

    It must be stopped now!!!!

    I have been working out of state for a
    dozen years. I haven’t seen this much
    graffiti since I was out in California!!



  13. W. A. Schrift
    May 20, 2008 11:19 am

    Yeah, there’s something really reassuring about the way that we’ll always have petty criminals in our society.

    P.S. – “There’s no such thing as ownership” – what is this, Soviet Russia? How about there is such a thing, since this is the United States of America, and some people just refuse to respect it?

    While I understand where you’re coming from, Bram, it’s really too aesthetic a point to make. I’m sure those Hill District home-owners aren’t comforted by the alleged “artistry” of these insolent criminals.



  14. Eric W
    May 20, 2008 11:24 am

    Wow. First I wanted to throttle the asshat that tagged that painting. Now I want to smack the taste out of Bram’s mouth. If he doesn’t want to own anything, he can do it somewhere else or invite all the hoodlums to tag his house. I don’t want any more punks coming behind the ones that get caught. I want the little effers to be punished. In fact, I don’t think jail time is the right punishment. I’d like to see taggers dealt with in civil courts and punished by either paying restitution or somehow assisting with removing their tags. Jails are too crowded as it is, so defacers of public property should be forced into community service to remove their tags.



  15. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 11:28 am

    I think everyone has good arguments here from their own point of view.

    But here is another viewpoint:

    Which would you rather have: 1. The graffiti artists -or- 2.The posh kids in nice areas like Sewickly that sell designer heroin and designer club drugs to your daughter that she over-doses on?

    One problem you can see in plain sight – the other one one you probably won’t – but both are a big problem that kills property values. Especially if your town makes the news with a hidden drug problem. One demands a kid gets sent to jail and forgotten – the other demands that a rich kid gets rehab and forgiven.

    Seem fair?

    BTW ….. I’ve lived in the really nice and not so nice areas of and surrounding Pittsburgh …. so I’m looking at this from multiple viewpoints.

    and FYI – graffiti is no less of a crime if it happens in the Hill District or in a place like Mt Lebanon, etc, etc.



  16. Kat
    May 20, 2008 11:35 am

    The people who say “there’s no such thing as ownership” are usually the people who don’t own anything. Buy a house or a business and then let us know how you feel when someone messes with your stuff.



  17. Monty
    May 20, 2008 11:43 am

    I can see the other side of the argument because I was cited for graffiti back in the early ’90’s. And by “cited for graffiti” I mean a I was given ticket for indecent exposure for writing my name in the snow.



  18. Bram R
    May 20, 2008 11:48 am

    As I tried to convey, I agree with Eric W about punishment, and actually I like his notions about community service. And of course I expected the vitriol.

    But even though we have to haul those kids off to jail or community serviceland, don’t expect me pound my chest and howl and hurl epithets. Expect me to salute them. Inwardly. Because otherwise I’d get beer cans thrown at me, and some of them would be unopened.

    Oh and by the way: Graffiti vandals? “Throw the book at them!” After school programs? “Don’t raise my taxes!”



  19. W. A. Schrift
    May 20, 2008 11:50 am

    Which would you rather have: 1. The graffiti artists -or- 2.The posh kids in nice areas like Sewickly that sell designer heroin and designer club drugs to your daughter that she over-doses on?

    Good thing we don’t actually have to decide. I don’t see why they’re not both terrible. I’m sure anyone would rather have their house tagged than see kids die (actually, make that, “I’m not so sure”), but placing the tagging issue in some wider context of social crime doesn’t do anything to make it less abominable on its own.



  20. pittgirl
    May 20, 2008 11:56 am

    First, Photobucket, WTF? My pictures aren’t showing up but I’m trying to resolve it.

    Second, W.A.,

    THANK YOU! That’s exactly it. I cannot handle it when someone will say, “Don’t you have more important things to worry about?” or “Which is worse” because who says we can’t address two problems at one time, or care about more than one problem at a time.

    SO much word to what you wrote.



  21. Pingback: Pittsburgh Graffiti Issues « Screaming Weasel

  22. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 12:29 pm

    Sooooo … I was wrong …. PittGirl *did* feed a troll and open a can of worms all at the same time (sorry for helping out so much),

    But it is refreshing to see passionate arguments on all sides of the issue.

    Which proves, one way or the other, the issue needs dealt with before it gets worse.



  23. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 12:50 pm

    W.A.and PittGirl …. btw …..

    That post was not a “set in stone which is worse question” … it was meant to say that some people are given second chances based on where they grew up, not based on how abominable the crime is …. which is a crime in itself.

    Would I put the street artists in jail or make them do community work for the crimes they committed – yes, but they should also get the second chance too.

    And we can address two problems at the same time?, if people choose to do so, yes, but allot of people don’t.



  24. unsatisfied
    May 20, 2008 1:07 pm

    the best way to deal with graffiti artists?

    check this out, 2:21 in:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI1NKLmfP3w

    of course, there’s the classic moment at 2:16….

    and, if what happened to OJ at the beginning happened to him in real life — well, I don’t think I’d be too sad.

    God, “the naked gun” is a classic movie.

    as for a serious take on this subject — graffiti pisses me off. it cheapens the value of our neighborhoods — ALL of them. it’s a stupid, childish way to exhibit “artistic” skills. stop. it. now.



  25. Eileen
    May 20, 2008 1:22 pm

    Bram,
    Please provide your address here so I can tell all present and future graffiti criminals, that instead of my house, they can hop into my car and I can drop them off in front of yours.
    I’m all for second and even third chances, (Some people truly need a break) But wasn’t Mofone caught again hours after being released from jail?
    As for the after school programs, I think most of these graffiti criminals are past that age. These tend to be kids in their 20’s.



  26. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 1:33 pm

    Eileen ….. you are definitely right about the after school programs … not really useful in this situation. Most people doing the tagging are older >18.

    and as far as Mofone … yep, he didn’t get it … the sad thing is that actually messes up the chances for the kids that do “get it” and change.

    Unfortunately some people just don’t “get it” even after jail time …



  27. Gunn Lino
    May 20, 2008 1:39 pm

    I got it, everyone call Brian and Bram when the tagging appears, the two of them will go out in the streets, in the dark and just give these youngsters a good talking to, that should put a stop to the street art. I’m sure Brian and Bram would inform these innocent young kids of the error of their ways and set them on the path to enlightenment.



  28. xena
    May 20, 2008 2:15 pm

    One time I was trying to run on a trail in a local park when I was accosted by a pack of dogs running independent of their owner. Then I was verbally assaulted by the owners who said I needed Prozac because I was afraid of the pack. (It’s not dogs=pigeons for me, it’s dogs+runners=dogbite, and I have the ripped pants to prove it.) I asked a friend who had his dog on a leash why people don’t keep the dogs leashed and he said, “It’s how they extend their territory. Wherever the dogs go becomes their space.”

    That’s how I think of graffiti vandals. They want to expand their territory by painting their tags (an extension of their names) all over someone else’s property. Which say, “This belongs to me, not you.” It is the human equivalent of peeing on someone else’s porch.

    My guess is that Bram boy is a graffiti vandal himself since he finds comfort in looking at other people’s spray paint doodles.



  29. Goob
    May 20, 2008 2:34 pm

    Well, it ain’t no Edvard Munch.



  30. John
    May 20, 2008 3:05 pm

    unsatisfied – The clip from Naked Gun is definitely the answer to the graffiti problems in town. Now if we can only get Lukey and Danny Boy to buy into it.

    Bram – you’re more than entitled to your opinions, but graffiti does not in any way comfort me. Though I live in the ‘burbs, and I only see it when I go into town, it never ceases to make me shake my head. Don’t these people have anything better to do with their lives? Can’t they use their artistic skills (which I will grant that some of them have) for something other than defacing property (public or private)? Maybe it’s just because I’m not wired that way, but I don’t understand the whole graffiti thing. At all. Never will, either.



  31. Brian
    May 20, 2008 3:33 pm

    Gunn Lino – How did I get lumped in with Bram? I don’t like graffiti, I was just trying to get a better understanding where the lines were drawn.

    Sadly, I thought that the picture at the top of this post of the renaissance dude was the graffiti until I saw the crap underneath.

    BTW, I’m not defending graffiti, just the fine line between graffiti and other types of pollution such as air , caused by smog created by factories and cars, cigarette smoke, or noise pollution caused by loud obnoxious people and babies screaming on planes.



  32. Different Brian
    May 20, 2008 6:03 pm

    that picture is especially disturbing because the criminal made no effort to get off the ground, eliminating the possibility they would fall to their death. Way to step it up there, tough guy. “Look at me, I can paint while standing on the ground! I’m the man, as I have thusly expressed on yonder wall.”

    PittGirl can’t patrol the streets with a paintgun because she will have outed herself. The thing to do is rally people, that way if ever accused of being PittGirl she could say she’s just a loyal reader.

    The knee-jerk holier than thou types that would decry this kind of vigilante justice are mostly just spineless whimps. I would gladly lead a shift of paint gun wielding wall defenders.



  33. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 7:32 pm

    Different Brian

    PittGirl isn’t doing anything but stating her opinion on her blog. That is a right every American has. She is not promoting vigilante justice. She is also supporting free speech by allowing others to freely state their opinion on HER blog.

    Being able to state an opinion without fear of being locked up is what makes this county great. PittGirl has made a choice to not identify herself – that is her choice. It’s also part of what makes this blog fun and informative.

    What’s wrong with rallying people that believe the same way you do ….. ?



  34. Eric W
    May 20, 2008 7:48 pm

    “After school programs? ‘Don’t raise my taxes!'”

    Better yet, get the State out of the business of educating. That’s not its’ intended or proper function Even if it was, it has demonstrated its ineptitude more than sufficiently to justify taking that power away.

    But I digress…



  35. Eric W
    May 20, 2008 7:51 pm

    Um…Lawrence…Re-read Different Brian’s comment. I think he is in agreement with PittGirl. I think the suggestion to rally was meant sincerely, albeit facetiously.



  36. Lawrence
    May 21, 2008 5:43 am

    Eric W – I agree, could be read both ways



  37. Allie
    May 21, 2008 7:38 am

    The true resolution to this is to ban spray paint, just like banning guns would lower the murder rate, you think?



  38. Lawrence
    May 21, 2008 8:37 am

    I’m not completely against PittGirl’s idea on the paint ball thing (actually that idea could be entertaining) … but better yet, make the vandals fix everything they ruin with their own money. Most of vandals don’t like to work, so that should make an impression on them.



  39. mac
    May 30, 2008 3:53 am

    well as i stated in my last response its not on the painting its on the brick … i agree it looks like shit… if anyone tagged my home id be pissed that some kid has no respect for PERSONAL property but i would just make their tag into a piece of art and get over it… just to throw it out there what if someone recreated the mona lisa under that would you be pissed off then would you even give it a second look 10 bucks says you wouldn’t no matter if it was legally on that brick or not