Today the weather was a balmy 60 degrees, and I decided to get up the courage to attack a long-hated wall of graffiti in Washington Square:
If you look above Cleveland Circle Travel, you will see lots of huge tags. There are two more big ones on the far-left, though only one is partially visible.
This big ugly wall is visible from many parts of Washington Square and the two tags on the left are clearly seen from the Driscoll School playground. (We can’t have the kids see that, can we?)
So, I planned the attack. I first checked out how the vandals got up there. I went around back and saw an old iron ladder:
I said to myself, “O…..k………”
I then realized I would need to bring at least a gallon of paint (maybe two), a rolling tray, a roller and pad, and a telescoping pole to reach the high stuff and to speed up the painting.
However, how would I get all that stuff up there? And do it quickly and discreetly?
I would have to use a huge backpack, and tie the pole to the back of the it. I planned out everything ahead of time so I wouldn’t discover that I needed something when I was up there.
So I got everything I needed, including two gallons of Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer, into a large bag. Boy, it was heavy! I then got to the bottom of the ladder. I thought two things: this was higher than I thought, and… was this ladder safe? I had a moment when I wanted to walk away. But I decided to climb anyway.
The ladder felt pretty sturdy. I got to the top and there are two large iron rods you can use to get over the edge and onto the roof. I was a little unsteady up there due to the weight of the bag and the pole over my shoulder. But I hung on tight and rolled onto the rubber-membrane roof. I crawled a few feet ahead. I had this sudden urge to climb back down, because as soon as I stood up, I was going to be very exposed.
However, the roof itself looked very safe, so I wasn’t worried about getting hurt on the roof itself.
But I figured, “Gotta just do it!” I saw two large tags right near me, (one is below) and got to work setting up very quickly.
The paint was pretty good, but a little darker than I would have liked. Then I remembered that the rusty metal primer dried lighter than it looked and didn’t worry.
I knew that on the back of the roof, I could only be easily seen from the Driscoll School and some of Washington Street north of the square. So I did the first two big tags in about 8 minutes.
Then I had to move toward the big tags that were close to the street-side edge:
(Note that toward the right is a thin-line tag by Mr. Pre. Interesting. There is little overlap between street-level and rooftop graffiti - they are different tribes. However, I did see the purple tag guy do stuff in the Clinton Path train tunnel.)
I worked very quickly. I could be seen by lots of people in the square, and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. (I wondered, “How many people look up?”)
Eight minutes later, I had covered all of all the tags. I had wanted to “square off” what I had painted over, but I didn’t want to be up there for 30 more seconds than I had to. I used exactly one gallon of paint. I put all my used supplies in a white trash bag that I had brought and gently dropped it off the roof on the back side.
The climb down was a little unnerving, especially in the beginning. There was a car right at the bottom of the ladder, and if I had fallen, I would have landed on the hood. I again hated the two strange iron poles that let you get down the first few steps. I didn’t trust them, but had no choice. At least my bag was a little lighter without one of the gallons. I just whispered to myself, “Don’t look down” and kept going down.
At the bottom, I did not run, but walked casually away. 18 minutes total. It seemed so much longer.
So how did it look? I first looked from the Driscoll playground and that looked great. From Washington Square, this is what it looks like now:
(Note that the paint in the above picture hadn’t dried yet and was a little dark. It looked much better a few hours later.)
As I said, I wanted to make the paint even, but I figured I would do it next time. There were also two much less visible tags on the chimney on that same roof, but I figured I would wait until they tagged the wall again (probably in the Spring) and then do a more complete job at that time.
But for now - I was very satisfied and very relieved! The largest publicly-visible graffiti in Brookline was now covered.