Monday, January 15, 2007

The City Of Scribbles

Sometimes, you have to be away from something, before you really see it for what it is.

Last year, I escaped the New Zealand winter, and went to London for a couple of months. On my return, coming back from the airport, I was shocked by the proliferation of tagging that littered Auckland. I didn’t remember it being so bad before I left.

As much as I would like to think my absence rendered Auckland’s citizens so distraught they took to the streets in droves with cans of spray-paint, I think it more likely that one just becomes so used to it, it ceases to be noticed.

I notice it now. Everywhere in the inner-city and its nearest suburbs are so covered in graffiti, the city looks like a giant note-pad. The City of Sails has become The City of Scribbles. I am sure that anyone who spends any time in the city will realise I am not exaggerating the problem.

One can’t fathom why the city council thinks removing billboards will make Auckland a more attractive city. Until the tagging problem is somehow addressed, we will continue to look like a third-world war zone. I am doing my bit to help. Most mornings I walk around my block. If there are tags, I return with a can of paint. The immediate removal has meant tagging has (almost) entirely stopped.

However, some clever type in Kingsland has come up with a novel response to the problem. With the aid of a stencil, they have added their own insightful label to a tagger’s scrawls.

Couldn’t say it better myself.


noizy said...

that's brilliant. might have to make myself one to try and counter some of the spreading tide of tagging that's going on down here in wellytown...

Sophie said...

Outstanding idea.

Anonymous said...

The first thing that always strikes me on returning to the homeland is the number of 'hotted, boy racer' type cars, the big bored subarus +++ & the quicker than required acceleration that these 'sounds' engender, nay demand... albeit that this first impression is thru' the impassioned haze from the deprived & desperate cigarette smokers.
Tagging/graffiti is rather akin to this ... 'tis an out there, exhibitionistic, expressive,terrain marking, creative, artistic culture the kiwi culture ... & so full of subtlety - 'a bash,' is a piss up - 'the bash,' is something you give your sheila when she's naughty.
So over-spraying could just be a risky undertaking ... more safely done in a crowd in one way, but this also increases the probability of being apprehended.
Let them take down the bill boards, let our visitors experience us in our raw state. Even if there is more security for them in the so well known big company international brandings that these bill boards largely depict.

Anonymous said...

Some charmer tagged several items on our street much to our annoyance.
A couple of days later an A4 poster appeared over the tags procaliming who the tags belonged to (they were very unique in design), the taggers address and his telephone number.
A couple of days later all the posters were gone and the tags whitwashed out. All very strange.

stef said...

I agree. The last time I was in Auckland (2 years ago) I couldn't believe how messy and run down the tagging made the place look.

For your previous complaining about Asians leaving sputum on the footpaths, I thought you'd be pleasantly surprised to learn that their cities are largely devoid of graffiti on the walls and rubbish on the streets based on my wanderings in Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and a lot of places in Phnom Penh (shock)!

Mrs Smith said...

Noizy - please do. Sophie & I both insist. I think it would be most off-putting to the taggers to have their daubs thus defaced. At the very least, it could be a fascinating social experiment.

Anonymous #1 - Tagging has nothing to do with Kiwi culture. And if it did, then we would all be completely fucked.

Anonymous #2 - Very mysterious indeed. Well done.

Stef - Interesting, but I would prefer the graffiti to the sputum. As revolting as tagging is, it is not as revolting as getting yellowy globs of snottish slime on one's shoes.

Jillypig said...

I'm loving the poster solution letting all know who the tagger is.

Last year was an especially bad year for graffiti on my parents property. It broke my heart one night when I did a wee patrol around their area to see my 82 year old dad staying up at night to try and catch these little villains. The constant graffiti bombings really got him down. The creeps know not what they do.

I know a couple of the vandals have been caught and, I would have loved for them to have been made to apologise to my parents face to face. But that didn't happen. We have since installed a camera and the neighbourhood is doing patrols. It is helping I think, but it could be a case I guess of a lot of the vandals being away on holiday.

Drewcifer said...

Anonymous: If the "kiwi culture" has sunk soo low in my absence, then may I suggest that the only culture left would be that found in a Yoplait pot.

Mrs Smith: Fear/sneer not, you and obvious exception to the above.

Oswald Bastable said...

I believe that this willful property damage AKA 'Tagging' is done so that all can see 'their' mark.


When caught, they get it branded on their foreheads!

I know some Frontier & Western re-enactors that would love to give a public display of roping, bulldoging and branding!

Anonymous said...

Could this be the work of Deborah Pead and her band of eye candy? Afterall she did write a letter to The Listener beamoaning how dreadful the scourge of tagging in Auckland was and offered to do a free PR campaign to rid the city of tags. PR is so powerful. Taggers, your move.

D_Man said...

If I ever catch the little bastard that keeps doing my fence, then I shall tag him, but I shan't release him.

Anonymous said...

Re: Annon #2 comment, I can't take credit for it. I didn't put the poster up and nobody round here cleaned them off. They disapeared in the middle of the night so it certainly wasn't the council.
My 2 cents worth would be to publish the tags of convicted offenders along with the owners details. The council will have somewhere to send the cleaning bills.

Mrs Smith said...

Jillypig; I feel very, very sorry for your poor father. I wish we could set Mr Bastable on the offenders.

Drewcifer; if Kiwi culture ever sinks to Yoplait levels, I shall pack my bags, and leave.

Anonymous; So far, I have only seen the 'wanker' stencil applied to a few tags, all on the same building. I assume then, that it is the work of a lone ranger, not a PR firm. But if anyone is aware of the answer, do let me know.

Other Anonymous (this is getting confusing), I see. Well, a big gold star to the person responsible for the posters!