As a kid growing up in Iowa, I found it easy to fasten nearly every disappointment and frustration on my geographic location. The solution to every problem was always "If I wasn't in this stupid town, everything would be different!" And so, once my friends and I reached the age in which we could drive, we discovered the momentary relief that came with distance. We could just drive. We could leave, even just for a few hours the confines of our neighborhood, the confines of a place you know every nook and cranny of by heart and explore something else. Sadly, I've found that this euphonic sensation really only works when you're a teenager and your problems seem anchored to the place that you live. When you get older and you assume control over the life you have, they follow you around. Money troubles, career troubles, love life troubles, none of them drift away quite as easy as when I was 17 and all it took was a tank of gas and an Elliott Smith cassette. I made this poster to recall that sensation and perhaps to commiserate with those who can relate to the simple joy of gliding through the night with the windows down and the stereo up.
As I posted this a man who looked to be in his late 50s approached. He was wearing your typical "upper middle class suburban white guy" summer outfit, complete with ironed polo. In his hands were three or four library books, one of which was written by Dean Koontz. I couldn't see the title but I liked to think it was "Demon Seed" and that he was in the middle of it and really excited to know where it was headed. The man asked me "Do you know what you're doing is illegal?" My usual course of action when I get a passive aggressive question like this is to do my best to behave courteously and say as little as possible to fuel the self righteous rant that is headed my way. "Oh, don't worry about it, this temp wall is covered with posters on the other side" I replied. The man squinted his eyes a bit
"It IS illegal" he sneered condescendingly. "How do you feel about that?"
It would have been nice if this question began a balanced, intellectual debate. I would have liked to explain why I do what I do, the positive messages I try to bring into the community and how I make a real effort to only post on wooden construction walls, power boxes, boarded up buildings and other easily buffed or painted over spots. I would have liked to discuss the notion of how if I had been gluing up an advertisement, he may not have even given me a second look and the psychological implications of that phenomenon. We could discuss why my message was offensive to him. Was it really because of his sense of civic pride? Was it his abhorrence to even small laws being broken? Was he just tired of young people like me imposing their 'bohemian' ideas of public expression onto his periphery? All interesting things to discuss... but I knew that this guy was not likely to hear me out. An assumption verified when all I could get out was
"Well, this is temporary-" before he shook his head and abruptly huffed off, muttering "unbelievable" under his breath. I can't say I blame the guy, I mean- he had much better things to do than hear me out. Those library books would be due in only two weeks and if he was to experience the thrilling conclusion of "Demon Seed" he had some reading to do.