Some miscreants have been spray-painting penises on the streets of our neighborhood. The Facebook reactions have been interesting. Some decry vandalism and the harmful effects on children who may pedal by. Others see vibrant guerrilla art, part of the rich tapestry of life in a supremely chill neighborhood.
I’m somewhere in the middle. Not really vandalism, since nothing is broken. And I doubt it’s going to corrupt anybody. I mean, they are supposed to be dicks, but the technique is so crude they could just as easily be abstract alligators or inexpertly rendered Amazon logos. If it’s art, it’s strictly seventh grade. We still don’t know the perpetrators, but I’m pretty sure we can rule out Banksy.
As far as neighborhood color goes … yeah, whatever. I find the painted dicks about as cool as the fast-food trash we see so often in certain parks and corners of Springfield. Neither the dicks nor the trash represent an ethos so much as the absence of it.
In any case, I’ve always found that local color is overrated if you happen to be local. It’s like the guys with the shopping carts: Sometimes they’ll say good morning and just as often they’ll call you a motherfucker. Nothing personal, but also nothing personally uplifting.
As far as the painted dicks go, we’re probably overthinking it. Ever see “American Vandal”? It’s a mockumentary about an epidemic of spray-painted dicks in a high-school parking lot. As an ingenious send-up of the true-crime genre, it works pretty well: ominous music and reenactments and computer simulations. I’d bet a lot that the dick artists of Springfield are big fans of “American Vandal.”
I wouldn’t have investigated further, but over the weekend two more penises appeared across the intersection from our house. My forensic analysis detected a lot of similarities to “American Vandal”: specifically, the little curls of black paint that are supposed to represent testicle hairs. Hmm. Interesting. I should have been a detective.
Today, in response to complaints, a city crew arrived to remove the offending phalluses on my corner. Two trucks and four city workers who stood at the site for half an hour, shaking paint cans and occasionally spraying. Not sure what these guys make per hour. But freedom is not free, and neither is removing questionable material from the city streets.
When they left, two penis-shaped blobs remained. This time in the color gray. Like everything else these days, I see it as a metaphor for the Trump years.