I have done a lot along Route 9 near the border with Boston. However, the biggest problem there has always been two large walls on the Brookline Village Gulf Station:
(The ‘F’ is partially painted over as I had started doing the work before I remembered to take a picture.)
This is the perpendicular wall:
(check out the big silver interior on the second one. wow.)
These two large walls greet thousands of people a day entering Brookline, and send a clear signal to vandals that graffiti is acceptable here. It has been there since the late Spring, so the owner looked unlikely to do it on his own.
As a result, of course, there has been more and more graffiti in that immediate area.
Over the past couple of months, I have gradually removed all the other graffiti in that area except for the walls. Not only is this private property, they are open all the time, there are often people around, and there is a security camera observing the big wall. Also, this work would not involve my usual equipment, but a traditional paint-and-roller setup with a lot of paint, dropcloths, etc. It wouldn’t fit into my usual efforts.
However, it has huge symbolic value, and I finally made the time for it today. I got all the stuff, put it into a huge plastic crate, and went to the station.
I thought to myself, “I can’t risk them saying they don’t want me to do it, but I can’t just start painting it, either - it will take me at least 15 minutes to do this and there are lots of people around. I don’t want to come here tomorrow at 4:30 a.m., hang a hat over the security camera, and do this before sunrise. This has to happen now.”
So, I put on my gloves, hung my mask around my neck, stripped down to an old T-Shirt, doing my best to look like a typical painter with only a high-school degree, and then shuffled slowly into the gas station store. I went up to the old guy at the register and said, matter-of-factly, “I am here to paint over the graffiti. You’ll see me on the security cameras, so I wanted to let you know.” He looked uncertain and said nothing. I walked out.
A younger employee saw me, smiled, and said, “You really have to check with the manager - who is over there (he gestured) but don’t worry - it’s OK.” He looked very amused. I think he understood what I was doing somehow.
I smiled and went over to the wall. I hurried to set up, and I began painting as quickly as possible. I had gotten a high-quality white outdoor primer, and it was, so far, looking awesome! I wanted to get as much done as possible before the manager arrived.
Ten minutes into the work, a bemused guy walked around the corner to where I was painting, and took my measure. I smiled and walked over to him. I took off my mask and introduced myself. I told him that I was a volunteer that removed graffiti all over the area, and that I was going to paint over the graffiti free of charge. He looked at me as if I was a crazy person, probably wondering “Who was this guy… painting my garage?”
He then looked at the wall, and his expression changed to being very impressed. “Wow.”
He continued, “You really just go around removing graffiti for free?”
“Yes, I have removed more than 500 tags in Brookline and everything else in this area. Your garage is the last of it.”
Suddenly, and I have seen this on-the-spot conversion before, he completely accepted what was happening. He smiled and said, “Can I get you something to drink?” I said, “water,” and he soon came back with a large bottle from the store.
Now relaxed, he began what I now call the graffiti victim narrative.
“You know, first, they did the wall around the corner. Then they soon did it again. Then they did this - then they did lots more around here.” (he looked down and shook his head) “It just gets worse! I think that the problem has gotten a lot worse around here.”
I responded knowingly, “Yes. Yes it has.”
He smiled back, remembering who he was talking to.
He then said, “Well, all I can say is God Bless You.”
I then said, “He already has.”
We both went back to work. After about 25 minutes and two coats:
…it looked great. I did more area than I had to just to make sure things didn’t look uneven for the rest of the walls. I used an entire gallon! But the Kilz Premium Indoor/Outdoor Primer really delivered. One coat was almost enough - even for the silver area on the back wall. I can’t believe how great it looked.
I left quickly, giving the manager the thumbs up on the way out. He was on the phone and gave me a big smile.
I felt great. I drive by this place all the time, and will smile every time I see the white walls.