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Post Paris Graffiti
Created by John Eipper on 05/31/14 11:38 AM

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Paris Graffiti (Randy Black, USA, 05/31/14 11:38 am)

In her post of 30 May, Carmen Negrín disputed my contention that Paris is being destroyed by ethic graffiti.

She said, "I don't know what graffiti Randy Black is referring to, but either we haven't been in the same Paris or he mistook the Le Pen propaganda for Arab graffiti!"

Apparently, Carmen's high end Avenue Foch district is not impacted by graffiti to the extent that those less fortunates living in Montmartre and elsewhere around France.

In fact, that arrondissement's hallowed Basilique de Sacrè-Coeur was attacked about the time I was in the City of Lights. It's not an Arab-sourced defacement to my knowledge, but is certainly representative to what is happening to Paris.

Moreover, during my walkabout in Paris on my second, beautiful March morning, I strolled along Boulevard Montmartre from approximately Rue de Faubourg-Montmartre (home of my favorite Paris restaurant, Boullion Chartier, established 1896), where it changes from Bd. Montmartre to Bd. Poissonniere and then to Bd. Saint-Denis and the area around Porte Saint-Denis. Along Bd. Poissonnière and further east, there was rarely a building, shop, window, street sign or monument that did not have graffiti that was Arabic in nature. Banks, retail shops, cafes, apartments and office buildings were not immune.

At the monument at Porte Saint-Denis, city workers were pressure-spraying Arabic slurs off the monument and the sidewalks.

Even the entrances to the metro stations such as Bonne Nouvelle and Grands Boulevards were covered, as are many metro train cars.

At Porte Saint-Denis, I turned right on Rue Saint-Martin and headed toward the river and Notre Dame.

The Arab graffiti continued about to the point where Saint-Denis crosses Rue de Turbigo and started tapering out by the Le Centre Pompidou, which has seen its better days and is badly in need of a de-rusting and paint. Plus it's just plain dirty. Today, it looks like an aging cruise ship ready for the scrap yards.

Just prior the Pompidou Center, I stopped in at a Subway Sandwich shop for a Coke and took a photo of a Beagle tied to a lamppost outside of a coffee shop and who was barking as Beagles will do for its master. The Subway is along Rue Saint-Martin just past the intersection with Rue Saint-Merri.

There was a group of American teenagers on Spring Break walking along the same street with their teachers, and they too commented on the graffiti. In fact, I followed them all the way to Notre Dame Cathedral. They were from Stillwater, Minnesota. There were 24 teen girls and one boy. I commented to the teacher, "I'll bet he's popular on this trip."

"It goes without saying," came the reply.

Can you tell I kept an electronic diary during my unscheduled strolls?

Paris Underpass:  Photo Randy Black


Graffiti-Covered Building, Paris, 2014.  Photo Randy Black

JE comments:  Graffiti "calligraphy" is supposed to be hard to read.  In Detroit we assume it's some kind of gang code, or perhaps it's merely intended to intimidate.

These Parisian images are definitely unsightly, but how can one tell the script is Arabic?

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  • Paris Graffiti: Translator Needed (Carmen Negrin, -France 06/01/14 8:24 AM)
    In reference to the Paris photos posted by Randy Black (31 May), can some Arab speaker translate?

    JE comments: Here's the link to the photos:


    Ed Jajko, can you help?  Shokran!
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    • Paris Graffiti (Edward Jajko, USA 06/02/14 3:19 AM)
      My increasingly poor eyesight may be a factor, but I can find no Arabic in the three images posted by Randy Black (31 May; see also Carmen Negrín, 1 June).

      For true Arab graffiti, simply google "arabic graffiti." Click on "For more images" at the top of the result and you will find a large number of photos of exceptional graffiti that take advantage of the capabilities of the Arabic script and the traditions of calligraphy, writ large. Standard Arabic graffiti of the Elect So and so, Down with So and so, Up with Ahli/other football team, Death to Israel/America/whatever, tend to be crudely spray-painted and without artistic merit.

      JE comments:  Following Ed Jajko's instructions, I found some "calligraffiti" from the Tunisian artist El Seed (like El/Le Cid).  This piece in Frankfurt is very colorful; I would even call it masterful.  The title:  "You Won't Convince":


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    • Paris Graffiti (Alan Levine, USA 06/02/14 3:35 AM)

      I don't see any Arabic writing in the graffiti pictured by Randy Black (31 May). It seems like the same stylized writing I see in many American cities. Along with the aggressiveness in certain rap music, this seems to be copied from American originals.

      JE comments:  As I have for the last several years, I'm spending the first week of June in Cincinnati, as a reader for the AP Examination in Spanish Literature.  During yesterday's southward drive on I-75, I saw the word "MEAS" painted large on an overpass.  In Spanish, this translates as "you piss/you pee."  It's not the command form of the verb, which would be "MEA" or "MEE"; it's a simple declarative statement.  Don't know what the artist's intention may have been, but subliminally it's not a helpful message at the end of a long car trip!

      Next up:  a further comment from Randy Black.

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