Cities have graffiti. It’s a fundamental law of the universe that authorities try to fight against and lose, like gravity and evolution. My city has graffiti, too, but it looks more like this:
That’s right. When Springfieldians graffiti, they do it Disney.
(That, by the way, is a good name for a blog, Do It Disney)
The green Woodruff Building has been an icon of Springfield for a long time. You won’t find it on the tourist brochures, but it represents the history and the current state of things quite well. It was the first skyscraper in town in 1911. Then, it was owned by Heers, like most everything on the square. It was abandoned in the 70’s and went derelict for a long time, till someone finally decided that a big ugly building with boarded windows was bad for the Revitalize Downtown effort and bought it this spring.
This was about the same time that Finding Nemo 2 was announced. So, someone with excellent bouldering/buildering skills painted the words “Nemo – the wait is over!” on the east side facing Jefferson. The timing was a coincidence.
But, the Springfield Newsleader mistook the event and wrote a blurb about graffiti with “Memo the wait is over!” to signal the rebirth of the building.
1. That is a stupid thing to graffit.
2. 5% of Springfieldians care about Woodruff. 95% of Sprinfieldians care about Nemo. (My apologies if you fall in the first category. I actually do like that building and hope that it’s taken good care of by the new owners and residents, but you’d have to agree that it hardly merits an announcement like this.)
3. That’s clearly an “N.”
Here is where the story gets really good. Someone (the original artist, I assume) write a correction to the newspaper. Of course, this person is a graffiti artist, so it was written on the side of another building.
So the Newsleader published an “open letter,” NOT a correction, about the message, acknowledging the adjustment but discouraging the defacement of historic buildings. (Are you serious? Did you see the above picture? That was the best thing that’s happened to Woodruff in decades.)
Concurrent to all this, I found the following comments on a picture of an unnamed facebook group which is all about graffiti in Springfield. The name is not hard to figure out.
I couldn’t tell if the local graffiti pros thought it was good or bad, so I looked up some of the words on urbandictionary.com. The verdict: kinda lame, but not totally lame. They seem to disparage the crudeness rather than the content.
Why is this pure Springfield? Many of the buildings in downtown Springfield have the same situation, fate, and story as Woodruff. They were loved and admired, but they sit waiting for their turn to come around, while neighboring buildings get uplifted. Meanwhile, there are also conflicting groups of residents in the city who talk to themselves, but not each other. They all want to move forward and improve living conditions in the area, but they have very different ideas about how to do this. The comments by the graffiti group show that they have a good sense of the different dynamics around them; the journalist’s comments are snarky and unaware of the various channels of unsanctioned communication happening under his nose.
The clash and muddle of voices over this trivial issue is amusing to me. But the best detail is that it all occurred without foul language. After all, this here is Bible belt country, see.
In fact, the first time I saw this was in May, and I read it as “Nemo – the wait is over.” I was in a Children’s Science Museum at the time and had recently heard about Nemo 2 and spend my free time writing a Disney blog, so clearly I have a bias, though. When I decided to check if this was really Disney-related last Friday afternoon, I ended up on a goose-chase all over the internet. I’m still only 80% sure this is a Nemo-the-Clownfish reference, and not some uber-cool underground band that made a surprise visit to Springfield a few months ago. But it was one of the best afternoons ever.