Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Every man feels compelled to leave his mark on the world for posterity. Some feel compelled to leave it in very unique and different ways.

I, myself, try to live my life as an example for my children to follow. By teaching, I will never find the cure for cancer, but hopefully I am increasing the lever of my potential mark on the world through the lives and accomplishments of the students I manage to influence, one of whom MIGHT find the cure for cancer.

Some make lasting impressions on civilization through the aesthetic beauty of a painting or sculpture (like Michelangelo's "David" or ceiling at the Sistine Chapel -or- Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa.") Keats poetry, Shakespeare's writing, and Mozart's music are other expressive works that stand the test of time.

Others who make billions and billions of dollars, feeling that their contributions of cheap computers and cheap daytime talk are not lasting enough, engage in the altruistic act of philanthropy--giving millions and millions of their billions and billions. There legacy lives on as long the hospital ward bearing their name remains standing.

But what if you're not a teacher, a genius, or a billionaire? What can YOU do? Well, there is a category of hopeless romantics that are answering this question quite well. I call this group the Da Vandals: the blue-collar, literal individuals who work feverishly, if not surreptitiously, to leave their mark. This category includes, but is not limited to (because they are SO DARN sneaky and clever) graffiti artists, "taggers," rabble, recreants, and riffraff.

Now I can appreciate beautiful artwork, even if it is the medium is "Krylon on Concrete," but graffiti has shown up in some places I would never suspect anyone would WANT to lay claim to. Sitting at a railroad crossing as a train passes, one gets a sense that there is a compelling coveting of box cars and freight cars in the Tagger community. Almost every car is marked with some sort of symbol, picture, or misspelled word.

Recently at our school, someone has decided to lay claim to the boy's bathroom, and not just ONE bathroom--this "mysterious artist" wants them ALL. Currently, administrators have nothing to go on (unless they use the female bathrooms.) Evidence reveals that the Tagger belongs to the same "art guild" as the boxcar artists, as the writing is both illegible and incoherent. If he was trying to spell "please wash your hands before returning to class," he missed his point egregiously.

What I can't figure out, aside from this person's identity, is WHY he would feel compelled to do that. Does he consider himself the Michelangelo of the "Sistine Crapper?" Does he think his "creation" will be preserved throughout the future annals of history? Or, is he just trying to make more work for our already-overworked janitorial staff?

Needless to say, his "masterpiece" has already been scrubbed off (which was good, because the bathrooms needed a fresh aroma that can only come from powerful chemical solvents. It sure beats the fermentation in the basins!!) We are now reviewing camera shots and monitoring the bathrooms regularly to try to catch the villainous virtuoso.

I'm sure he'll get a chance to "give his autograph" to the proper authorities. When he signs his paperwork "down at the station," I wonder if his writing will be better with a pen than it was with a can of spray paint?

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