Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wake Up! Swine Flu Is A Distraction

M called me up and said, “It is so nice out, I feel like doing something mischievous tonight.” Exactly the words I wanted to hear. I didn’t know what we were going to do, but it was the best feeling of potential I’d had in a while. I grabbed some supplies (note the lack of spray paint).

We gallivanted down the street, and found a bus stop.  We chalked.  I felt myself perk up, because I’d thought up a new idea. Politics were buzzing in my head.

We headed to Washington Park’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument. There were some anarchist bike punk types chilling beneath the statue, discussing obscure hardcore bands.  Potential witnesses? Helpers? Assholes?  M was a bit hesitant, a little concerned that I could get in trouble, but actually being in the park at night emboldened me, and I didn’t care. I took off my boots and my skirt (once again I find my outfit of choice for mundane mischief is spandex pants). I slipped the hospital mask (stolen from a trip to the hospital that M had earlier this year) into my bra. It was raining, and very slippery, so I climbed the statue with a little boost from M. M tossed up the duct tape.

It was much higher up there than I expected, but I was there. The punks ignored me the entire time, which made me feel much better. I hooked the mask around the statue’s ears (apparently, these masks are manufactured to accommodate gargantuan craniums!) and taped it, because you can never be too safe! I had planned to chalk the surrounding walls of the monument, but they were covered in relief work, so I slid down and chalked up the base. I didn’t get the spacing quite right, but I was in a hurry. I wasn’t about to get arrested for chalk art. The punks suddenly became curious about what I was doing. Had they not noticed me before?

“Graffin’,eh? What’s that? SWINE FLU IS A… D-I-S—disease?”

“Oh, we’re totally gonna get framed for this!”

I talked with them a little about the anti-vandalism truck (they called it the Defacer Eraser), and political stuff. They were pretty cool; I was worried that they would be cynical towards my sloppy beginner’s efforts—especially in topics they seemed so well-versed in, but I was wrong. I said my goodbyes to the lovely punk gentlemen and M and I dashed away.

Some joggers confronted us. “If you want to deface something, you shouldn’t do it to a soldier’s monument…”

I was too self-righteous to respond sweetly, because I put more thought into it than defacement requires.

“It’s hardly defacement if it washes away in the morning.”

I didn’t feel bad at all. Maybe I did something important, even if it only lasted for a few hours. I thought about what the statue represents, about the lives of soldiers. And I don’t think the public’s conscious is focused on what that statue symbolizes. And I don’t think their conscience is, either. If it was, people wouldn’t be in a berserker state over the swine flu right now. Action would be focused on what’s really happening, and how to stop that.

The next day, the mask remained, and the chalk was gone.


  1. All this chalk and no sidewalk hopscotch?

    And just when I was going to ask what the distraction is for, we get that last link. Nice.

    (Comma splices in the first comma in the first sentence of the penultimate paragraph.)

  2. I just watched the link about Ellis G. It's so inspiring. Even though he gets arrested in the video it still makes me really really want to do it now.