2008-04-29

Ottawa's looming graffiti crisis

Lately I've been reading overheated media coverage of Ottawa's graffiti problem. You know, Krylon Invasion, city councillors buying business constituents high pressure washers to zap offending spraybombage - like that. I've been ambivalent. I know a lot of it defaces private property, but we coyotes like certain graffiti. Some of it is really beautiful, and when I see it, it makes me happy. I speak of the true public artists. Taggers? Not so much. May their sooty black aerosol cans explode in their sweaty little mitts. I digress.

Saturday, though, I sprayed a mouthful of my customary breakfast (Piping hot crumpets, cat marmalade, steaming mug of fresh-brewed vitriol) all over my morning Petfinder. Patrick Curran, OC Transpo's business development manager, was floating a trial balloon about selling transit station names to the highest-bidding corporate sponsors. Some city councillors and the usual suspects on the editorial page seemed to like it.

The argument is that Transpo needs the money, and there's no more space for ads on the buses. Seems to me that maybe the city should just fund the service properly. But dreaming up billion dollar tunnels and harebrained 'innovations' is way more fun than making sure the existing bus system works well in the most basic ways.

Mr. Curran rather disingenuously notes that St. Laurent transit station already is named for the attached mall, and argues that opens the door to more of the same. Nice try at historical revisionism to support a thin-end-of-the-wedge propaganda technique, but, ummm, no. The mall is labelled for the rather prominent nearby boulevard that the mall promoters swiped its name from.

Ottawa is a town where, when a boneheaded fuckwit has a idea that shrieks out for rapid trashing, then tries to smoke it past us by self-diagnosing it as 'innovative', a buncha other boneheaded fuckwits will nod sagely and murmur, "Mmmm... innovative!" It's how decisions are made. But non-sequitur-ish corporate sponsorship isn't innovative. It's already been inflicted elsewhere. Yoohoo! Senators Coliseum? Which became the Corel Centre? An asshatted monument to momentary corporate hubris - and sanctioned graffiti, really. Now it's ScotiaBank Place...

Transit is about moving people efficiently. Renaming transit stations - all of which now (very handily) key on nearby geographical features - is not. We already let businesses deface the cityscape by smearing it with their kind of graffiti. We just call them 'logos', 'signs' and 'advertising'. Why let 'em further confuse a bus ride, too?

13 comments:

zoom said...

I love this piece (especially the bits about the fuckwits) but just a small correction: The Corel Centre is now known as Scotiabank Place, which further makes your point.

coyote said...

Ah, well. I'm a very out-of-fashion kinda coyote... guess I'd better fix that. Thanks!

Aggie said...

"Fucktard" might be another term you could apply. But I think fuckwit fits.

Wandering Coyote said...

I agree wholeheartedly - invest in the service!

My question throughout reading this was: why does OC Transpo need the money this badly?

It may seem like a ridiculous question, but it's the obvious one the right people don't seem to be askin.

I took transit there for 7 years and it was a shitty service. If I could have afforded a car I would have gotten one, and good riddance to the Mighty #1 et al.

YES - invest in creating a great service people want to use, rather than overcharging the low-income/broke/average-joe for a monthly pass for a service that sucks!

I don't know...But the ads currently on the buses are already put there by corporate sponsors.

4th Dwarf said...

Coyote, Coyote, chill-ax, it's not so bad and it is a big score.

You'll get used to the new names in no time.

Besides there's money to be made in this by an enterprising type such as myself.

I've got several deals in the works.

Carlington: Do you know where the western end of the #14 route is? Of course not, probably people who live at Carlington don't know that's where they are. So nobody will mind when the name of the stop changes to "Inches". Meanwhile one company is willing to pay big $$$ to see "14 Inches" on the front of buses.

Baseline Station has a business ready to buy the rights and it will be really cheap for the City because we'll only have to change one letter in the name to get the sponsorship.

Trim: Have you ever found yourself getting on an eastbound #95 and hoping that this is not the closest you'll get to Trim all week? I propose taking up a collection to have Hurdman renamed Trim so that even more buses get you there.

coyote said...

Aggie: Or 'marketing specialist'. They're all kinda synonymous...

Other Coyote: Yes, the bus ads are from corporate sponsors, but individually they pay peanuts. It takes a bunch to make many bucks. Perhaps this guy dreams of that one easy big score. Which could be why he thinks his idea is so innovative...

Short Guy: You working some kinda psychic scam here? Answering my comment before I make 'em? Looks shady to me...

4th Dwarf said...

Am I psychic, or have you not figured out how to use the preview feature instead of publishing, deleting, publishing, deleting and then publishing your comments?

coyote said...

I'm a Luddite kind of coyote - and proud of it.

Bandobras said...

You fuzzy headed liberal twits don't get it do you. Canada will only be a good place to live when al services, physical assets, and social programmes are owned and operated for the benefit of big business.
As such selling station names is just one more step towards little Stevie's attempt to be just like big Georgie.
Either get with the programme or get off the bus.
Haven't you ever noticed that bus is one of the key syllables in business.
I rest my case.

coyote said...

Did I mention that we coyotes are also fuzzyheaded, and proud of it...?

coyote said...

P.S. I like your bus analogy, though. Wasn't it Ken Kesey that first used it in a big way? Bidnessmen may have 'jacked it, but I bet most of 'em don't know where it came from... heh.

zoom said...

I could probably adjust to the bus stations all being named things that have no relationship to where they are, but I don't think I could adjust to their names changing constantly, as they no doubt would.

Asteroidea Press said...

Back when I was taking the 95 on a regular basis, I always felt like it was a good omen when I caught the Trim.