We are here to mourn the death of a historic 101 landmark (no, I am not referring to that stupid, awful house on the Cahuenga Pass).
I am referring to the mural L.A. Freeway Kids on the 101 by the Los Angeles and Main overpasses. The other day, I drove down the 101 and noticed the sterile gray covering what used to be vibrant colors and moving children. Or rather, sterile gray covering graffiti covering vibrant colors and moving children.
I’ll be the first to admit: I like graffiti. I know plenty of graff artists both here and in the bay. I’ve been known to dabble in it myself, just enough to give me street cred, not enough to make me legit. But I hate tagging, which is not the creative transformation of a blank wall or a railroad car. I hate the sharpie-scrawled urinations of a dog marking its territory, announcing little more than “Kilroy was here.” Today, I hate it even more.
I always saw the 101 murals as symbols of my childhood. I was 3 years old when most of them were painted. 1984 was a big year for LA. The city tried to make itself presentable to our international visitors. I still have my stuffed “Sam the Eagle” mascot at my parent’s house. When my parents started taking my brother and I to Universal Studios, this meant a drive up the 101. LA Freeway Kids was not my favorite. My favorite was what I called the “Greeks in Space” mural. This too has been defaced over the years, and I swear to you it is not an exaggeration to say that my heart is heavy with grief at the thought that it too will soon be buried in gray.