Thursday, August 21, 2008

L.A. vs. Binghamton: Who has the better ranters?

If you've ever walked around a downtown area, you may have noticed someone's ramblings scrawled on a sidewalk or parking garage wall. But unlike me (and apparently some of my friends, you probably never stopped to read it, much less photograph it and figure out where it came from. But that's why I'm here- to do these things for you, my dear reader.


My LA-homie Marie had the good sense to send me this photo she snapped of some "sidewalk speech" she encountered at 4th and Main, where Skid Row rubs up (sometimes uncomfortably) against Hipster Heaven.

This tirade scores lots of points, actually:

1. Placement: right outside a popular community gathering spot. A wine bar, no less. And adjacent to City Hall-power broker lunch spot Pete's Cafe, a favorite of LAPD Chief Bratton.

2. Penmanship: I can't write that neatly on legal documents at work, much less with God-knows-what scratching on a gritty sidewalk.

3. Accountability: The writer specifically names the people he holds accountable for his gripe (in this case, the LAPD's crackdown on Skid Row "quality of life" crimes, possibly in response to a surge in economic development and loft-dwellers in the area). In naming the many objects of his wrath, the author hits all the right officials: the real estate developer who kicked-off the gentrification, the city councilwoman, LAPD Central Division Captain and the Commander, and the City Attorney.

4. Spelling Counts!: In naming these parties, he has better spelling than the L.A. Times some weeks. True, he flubbed City Attorney Delgadillo's name, and I note that he didn't even attempt the challenging Mayor Villaraigosa's (made up) name, but I won't hold either of these against him.

5. Messaging: After reading what I thought I was going to be an incoherent rant, I realized he's actually got it together. I hear him loud and clear: He's pissed at the "unequal application of the law" and that certainly does happen (best example I've seen: the monthly Art Walk attracts thousands of gallery-goers who drink wine in plastic cups while walking from gallery to gallery, yet Skid Row dwellers get cited for violation of "open container" laws for doing the same thing.)

6. Ownership: Very strong in the send off, O.G. Man. Way to put your full name (William Wrey Holt), and your Cowboy Name (Coyote Bill) and your Skid Row Name (O.G.) Failure to identify yourself would have been a missed opportunity at fame (like the kind he's experiencing right now, through my blog's massive readership.)

Bonus points for O.G.: He should have left a phone number or other way to communicate with him. "Any time, any place" just won't cut it. Who is Chief Bratton going to call to arrange the meeting being requested? Rookie mistake.

Negative points for ME: In the interest of full disclosure, of course I already knew who "O.G." was. I knew him as "O.G. Man," actually, but we all know that Skid Row names are jealously guarded, so their can't be two.


In probably my most egregious example of my "everything in LA is better than everything in Binghamton" mentality, Binghamton's entry into the crazy ranting contest is pretty weak.

At first, I thought the flyer taped up in the window of a boarded up downtown storefront was just more Southern Tier Graphic Design, but then I realized that these things are slapped up all over the place. And none of them make any sense. It gets no points for anything, except maybe for highlighting?

This one gets points for neatness - some points, because it looks like they used stencils - but the message is lost on me. Also, it was on the sidewalk in a residential area with not a lot of foot traffic, so it might actually lose points for poor placement.

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