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Portland, Oregon, United States

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Graffiti Discussion continues

Since most people probably don't check back that far, I'm gonna copy and paste some comments on my older post about Ben's article in the CPJ.

Anonymous said...

It's the fault of the fucking system, the management, that the minimum wage workers have to clean the graffiti. Why can't they leave it?

And what makes it a "mockery"? You do, because you assign the word to it. I don't think it's a mockery, I think it's just someone expressing their feelings on wall, with a marker.

When people say it isn't art is what upsets me the most because I don't think it's anyone's job to criticize another person's art. It's totally dada and it's fine and shouldn't be removed by anyone.

What happened to free speech? anti-censorship?

December 18, 2007 2:27 PM

Ben Jammin said...

For my Anonymous poster.
I noticed you commented with some questions about my article. After reading your comments, I thought over my article and came up with a few things I wanted you to respond to.

I divided your comment into about 5 sections and I am going to go one at a time so I can keep my thoughts separated.

1.)“It's the fault of the fucking system, the management, that the minimum wage workers have to clean the graffiti. Why can't they leave it?”
I suspect that many building owners don’t want ideas represented on their buildings that were not discussed or agreed upon by the people who work or live in there. I imagine it is a bit like waking up with “balls” written on your face. You don’t want somebody else speaking for you on your buildings, any more than you want someone writing something you had no part in making and signing your name to it.

2.) “And what makes it a "mockery"? You do, because you assign the word to it. I don't think it's a mockery, I think it's just someone expressing their feelings on wall, with a marker.”
I decided the key things/questions here are:
“Why is graffiti a mockery of social change?” and “Is graffiti self expression?”

Graffiti mocks social change by presenting messages of change, in a form that undermines that purpose. “The violence, the crime, repetition of the old and worn-out, all of these things are outputs of our social system. Far from opposing the things wrong with our society this graffiti amplifies and glorifies the wrong by repackaging it as “rebellion”(or social change).” –I know it is dumb to quote yourself but it seemed like the correct thing to write.

There is also a chance that what you meant was that I personally have changed graffiti into a mockery and that I should knock it off. I would say that Is a very flattering thing to say but the damage is done. Now that I have seen the flaws in graffiti as social change I will not be able to shut my eyes to them. I will also say that since I have changed graffiti in to a mockery, the people doing it need to change their tactics so that they will no longer make a mockery of the things they want. I look forward to what they can create.

3.)“When people say it isn't art is what upsets me the most…
I think for this part I would need from you a definition of art. For me art is something that serves a social function. If a composition (drawing, music, etc…) does not propose something new it can very often serve to reinforce current climates. Those things I that do not propose something new would be closer to crafts then art. Using this definition, the graffiti is merely a craft displayed as a sad reflection of a struggling social system.

4.) “…because I don't think it's anyone's job to criticize another person's art. “
This is perhaps the key argument to your comment and for me it is, honestly, the most frightening.

Criticizing* is to look at what someone says, weigh its consequences, and respond. Thinking about what someone says is what gives thought and expression it’s power. If people are saying things, but no one is thinking about it, or criticizing it, and working to find the holes and fix them, speech might as well be white noise. It is criticism that gives art and thought its capacity to enact change.

When taught that questioning what someone believes is wrong or rude, we repress our ability to be skeptical. Ideas are left untested and unrefined because we are instructed to tolerate their flaws. Argument is all but completely devalued if we accept conflicting views instead of challenging them. All that is left after this kind of tolerance is comparison between alike and dislike. Conversation becomes a means of recording thought without examining its ramifications.
We become trapped in a sea of unrefined and thoughts because we are too afraid of seeming impolite or intolerant.

“What happened to free speech? Anti-censorship?”
Tolerance is what has happened to free speech. It is a censor that operates by allowing thoughts to be spoken and then immediately sinking them into irrelevance, devaluing what someone has to say by allowing it to exist, and at the same time, depriving it of meaning and all capacity to enact change.
More deadly still, tolerance can be applied to ones self. There is little point in discovering new and better ideas when we are too afraid to implement them. Tolerating flaws in your own thinking put a hold on your ability to progress into better things. Tolerance hides beneath something seemingly polite and turns it into a graveyard for progress in yourself and others.
I fear I am being unclear. Please take this example. -The discussion that ends with the polite agreement to disagree.-
To agree that you will both remain set and stubborn in your thinking until the end of time. It is an ending to let you leave a conversation without coming to a conclusion and both parties having ideas with flaws unchallenged.
If I have found fault in the graffiti and the creator continues to use it, the creator is no better than the system he is a part of.
If you are anti-censorship I would ask you to please try and respond and criticize all the things you see that are wrong in life and in art. This repressive and “benign” tolerance is frightening when it is unseen. Please fight to find problems and push until they have been repaired. Don’t settle for “at least they are trying”.

Please write back, I would like, and need to be criticized. ; )

*(according to the Merriam- Webster online dictionary)
To Criticize: 1 : to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly
2 : to find fault with : point out the faults of

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fainting goats are too cute

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Sorry I haven't been blogging much. Not a lot has been going on. I've still been baking but got tired of posting the recipes, and figured you felt the same. I made a custardy apple pie from Witch in the Kitchen and it was tasty. Made another soup. Discovered that a clove of garlic does wonders for a grilled cheese sandwich. Last night I cleaned most of the apartment.
Ben left for Spokane last night. I am visiting him from Wednesday the 19th through Monday the 24th and am excited and nervous. I am going to Aloha today, my dad's picking me up in a couple of hours. After visiting Ben, I'll be in the Tron at least through New Year's, so that should be cool You should hella hang out with me. That's about it! <3 Star

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Smoky Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes from the book Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson. I just made it tonight and it tastes amazing :-D

- 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil (I used butter)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small to medium carrot, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
- 1/2 cup well-scrubbed sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 cup chopped raw pumpkin) (I couldn't obtain a pumpkin, so I used canned pumpkin)
- 1 slice oat bread, torn into pieces (this adds body and oaty nourishment. If oat bread is unavailable, substitute whole wheat and add 1 tablespoon rolled oats)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
- 1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half (vegans may substitute soy milk or 2 tablespoons cashew or almond butter for a creamy texture) (I used half-and-half)
- 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated (this is what gives the soup its delightfully smoky flavor; vegans may use a few drops of natural smoke flavoring instead)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Suggested toppings (optional):
-Dollop of sour cream, whipped cream, or creme fraiche
-Small mound of grated smoked gouda
-Grating of fresh nutmeg or a pinch of dried sage or thyme
-Sprinkling of cayenne, for those who love heat
- Spoonful of pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted.

In a large soup pot, heat the butter on medium. When the butter is melted, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and sweet potato. Saute the vegetables, stirring to coat with butter, for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, oat bread, thyme, and sage. Stir to mix thoroughly, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the sweet potato is tender, about 30 minutes.
Add the light cream/half-and-half, cheese, and parsley. Stir to mix and continue to simmer (do not boil) until the cheese is melted.
Puree in batches in your blender or food processor, adding more cream to thin, if needed.
Serve warm in individual bowls with a combination of any of the suggested toppings.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

I am continuing to bake, and the other day I made Double Chocolate Mint Cookies, again from allrecipes.com http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Double-Chocolate-Mint-Cookies/Detail.aspx
I modified the recipe based on suggestions in the reviews. They turned out deliciously and I didn't take any pictures and now they're all et up. Oh well. So here's the recipe I used, and that you should use too because they are delicious:


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together, butter, sugar and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Blend well.
  3. Drop by teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 8-9 minutes. Cookies will be soft. Cool about 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.