In case you haven't noticed the latest menace haunting Houston's streets, someone keeps spray-painting the word "goat" on stuff along Washington Avenue and in a couple other areas around the city. This week they hit Kung Foo Saloon and the corner store by Blue Moose.
This is annoying for a lot of reasons. First, it's covering a lot more area than normal tags. City workers are running all over town trying to wash off the paint and keep Houston in (relatively) clean condition, although they don't help out with vandalized private property.
Second, it's not good. Unlike the warped, out-of-another-universe graffiti on Elgin and Crawford, this goat stuff looks like mindlessly lazy work. Marco Torres, a photographer who knows the graffiti scene, used the word "toy," which Urban Dictionary defines as "a graffiti artist's term for a novice," as in "that fuckin' toy threw up some shitty tag all over my graf."
But Gregory J. Snyder, a professor of sociology at CUNY who studies graffiti and graffiti writing, said he saw some potential in one of the goat tags. No need to crush the tagger's artistic aspirations, I guess, just direct him to the nearest canvas and away from other people's property.
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"I'm a big fan of the arts. But I don't want people to use my building. I'd appreciate it," said Virgil Cox, who's dealt with his share of vandalism as the owner of Cox Hardware.
Back in 2000, LL Cool J came out with an album called "G.O.A.T.," which stands for "Greatest of All Time." No one knows if that's what the tagger means, or if it's just a name he picked up, though everyone I talked to agreed it isn't gang-related.
Taggers like this usually don't get caught by police, and the four-letter word allows whoever it is to finish the strokes quickly. The best the city can do is paint over the tags fast and remove the fame aspect that taggers look for.