"On a Roll," Jason Sheehan, July 24
Jason, we were so pleased to read your review of Hamburger Mary's. Not that we haven't found your column insightful and inspiring before, but it's the rare heterosexual who has the balls to call a minority out on the carpet. The tone you adopt and the clever, hetero-conscious honesty with which you approached that cum-dump of an eatery was at once generous and cynical. "Fire Island Bennigan's" — oh, my Björk. So perfect.
My friends and I adore your column. Aside from Savage Love, it's the first thing we read — but you're local and have more relevance than Dan Savage. If we were to offer you any advice (not that you need it), it would be this: Get shittier. You inspire us all (idiots, trailer-loving anti-sensory Christians and homophobic anti-hedonists aside) to seek out quality and cleanse our palates of the sick-trail food we're so acculturated to believe is "good dining."
"He Made His Mark," Jared Jacang Maher, July 17
Jared Jacang Maher's article on graffiti and Ray Ruybal's frustrating crusades against serial graffiti was comprehensive and well-researched. But, I fear, it covers no new ground, nor does it provide much reason for hope against vandalous graffiti. The obvious reason is that graffiti is difficult to corral: It's harder than hell to catch the bastards in the act and to prove they actually executed a particular graffiti piece. But there is also the ambivalence some people have about graffiti, so that good graffiti can be unfairly lumped in with the really nasty stuff.
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I am one of those folks who is ambivalent about unauthorized public art. I have engaged for the past ten years or so in guerrilla art/gardening that puts art (okay, I call it art) in alleys and/or gardens in neglected plots in alleys and public spaces. This is all done without the permission of the owner, in most cases, and I open myself fully to the charge that this is inappropriate. I don't care. I will do it anyway. And I take care to install guerrilla art in ways that make it easy to de-install, without damage to fences, garages, whatever. I use no paint directly on private property; I think that crosses a line. I assume no one has any objection to the gardens I have installed, because they have replaced some really ugly places on the planet. (There are a ton of interesting articles on the Internet about guerrilla gardening, including a recent one in the New York Times about a rather sophisticated bunch of drive-by gardeners in London. Among their tactics: tossing seed bombs in vacant lots.)
In any case, I think graffiti, in the right places (obviously abandoned and neglected buildings) and done tastefully can be way cool. Most graffiti we see, however, sucks. And property owners have a right to be pissed. I applaud all property owners who take care of their graffiti. One such property owner is Tom Abood, a very nice dude who owns the businesses along the south side of the 23rd and Dexter block. He has been tagged a number of times but still faithfully has it addressed. And he keeps the buildings in excellent shape.
There really is only one solution to stopping these lame little kid taggers from ruining the city and property value with their immature scribblings: Allow police offers to shoot them instead of chasing them when they are caught in the act. First of all, cops are too fat and out of shape to chase down a turtle; God forbid that the department keep them in shape like the military does its recruits. Second, the graffiti problem would come to a very abrupt end once two or three of these useless, piece-of-shit taggers got killed for doing it. Personally, I don't see any problem at all with shooting someone who is never going to be anything but a drain on society.
Name withheld on request
Clarification: In "He Made His Mark," a photo of a mural in the Westwood neighborhood was identified as part of a project run by the Crime Prevention Control Commission. The mural was actually organized through one of the commission's member groups, the Gang Rescue and Support Project.