Monday, February 23, 2009

On My Mind: A Rise In Subway Graffiti?

Before moving to NYC over five years ago, I took a self-defense course to arm myself against the muggers and thugs I associated with the City from TV and film. My NYC friends still laugh when I tell them that story. Since the Giuliani era, the city's been a bastion of safety. My guard eventually fell. My first year here I wouldn't take a subway past 10 pm. Now, I've been known to take the subway alone at midnight on the weekends.

But a couple weeks ago, entering the Rector St 1 train stop from the Morris Street entrance, I saw something I hadn't seen since moving here: a reminder of former ghosts. The pictures speak for themselves.It was ugly and dirty and I felt violated. Who could have done this? And why? Now that the economy's tanking and the city's bankrupt, are people just giving up? Is this the beginning of the end? Is a return to a Dinkins' era NYC in our future?

It's a funny thing - the minute someone trashes something you've incorporated into your identity, something as simple as your subway station, you instantly feel different about your neighborhood, your home.

Fortunately, a couple days later, returning to the stop, I saw someone had scrubbed all the graffiti away. Sanity was restored. But it's a fight that continues to wage. Just this past weekend, I saw a small tag on the stairwell wall. Someone's angry and wants to infect the rest of us with his /her misery. In the meantime, the MTA guy who cleans the Rector St stop is my superhero.

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