The Artful Dodger: Just Try to Ignore the Talking Pavement
"You know this isn't wrong." The pavement near the edge of the 6600 block of Pasado Road told me so.
If I'm not mistaken, this mysterious message of reassurance became part of the Isla Vista landscape when some pro-war local spray-painted it on the street in response to anti-war protests last spring. Substitute "the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Hussein's regime" for "this" and the message makes a whole lot more sense.
However, after skating over these words every time I visit I.V. Theater or the Bagel Cafe, I've realized they represent the worst kind of graffiti: the ambiguous kind. Passing months have shuffled news of American involvement in Iraq off the top of the news page, thus rendering the graffiti completely meaningless. Really, to what could "You know this isn't wrong" refer? Cannibalism? The vandalism itself?
"You know this isn't wrong" poses a worse threat to I.V. residents than mere confusion, however. Taken out of its political context, the graffiti blindly grants permission to all manner of wrongdoing. The casual passerby considering the innate morality of, for instance, skipping class or stealing a bagel, could easily let that smooth-talking Pasado Road goad them into a life of crime. And hooky and bagel filching are the least of the pavement graffiti's evil temptations.
You know it isn't wrong to sniff glue and drive a forklift.
You know it isn't wrong to get drunk and go down on your roommate.
You know it isn't wrong to steal babies and sell them to barren couples.
You know it isn't wrong to feed the body to the fish in the Storke Plaza pond.
You know it isn't wrong to unplug that machine that's been keeping your aunt alive.
And really, who could blame these potential wrongdoers? The odds of meeting a talking road are small enough that the odds of meeting a talking, lying road are nearly nil.
Granted, the people poised to decide whether to unplug the machine or where to hide the body should maybe incorporate the council of other sources into their decision, but if ever any town needed graffiti against sinful indulgences, it's this den of debauchery called I.V.
Perhaps a stern warning against such no-nos could better serve residents. Imagine how "What would your mother think?" scrawled where Del Playa Drive meets the UCSB campus could deter an unwary freshmen girl from dressing like a midsummer night's hooker when it's midwinter weather out. A shrewdly placed "Get that out of your mouth - you don't know where it's been" could preemptively halt much drunken I.V. sex. And "You're gonna be sick tomorrow morning" could convince a strolling reveler to maybe forgo that last red cup of Natty Lite.
Nonetheless, Pasado Road continues to give a bug thumbs-up to anybody with an ethical dilemma. Until some wholesome-minded individual replaces "You know this isn't wrong," we must continue to ponder its implications.
Pasado's misinformation will continue unabated.
"You know this isn't wrong" — Flagstaff really is the capital of Arizona. "You know this isn't wrong" — gnomes really do cause earthquakes. "You know this isn't wrong" — I.V.'s roads really do talk and dispense advice.
Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Drew wishes to extend a heartfelt apology to UCSB facilities management for his irresponsible use of their forklift.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Props to Cory for the tagline.