Strange Attractions: The Loathsome Tag

The loathsome tag: the hastily sprayed graffito marring some public place--bridge, phone both, mail box, trucks, wall, window--that says, "I marred this because I can."

The loathsome tag undermines urban renewal. It kills off our hope that we can have anything nice. It tells the company our children don't know how to behave.

There are tags all over the gentrified section of South Norwalk, Connecticut--formerly a run-down and dangerous section of a run-down harbor side town on the Boston Post Road and Interstate 95. As a kid, I knew Norwalk as a place to put the boat in the Sound. In the 1970s it was old and seedy, a thing to get through to get to the water. The ancient wooden buildings that housed variety stores selling everything from beer to bait on the little byways that led to the harbor ebbed and flowed with the heave of 100 frosts. The place looked ready to gasp its last breath.

On the other side of the drawbridge near the harbor were the brick buildings where long ago fish was processed and employees lost fingers and arms in the name of profit and progress. We never went there.

Now, though, it's the only place to be in South Norwalk if you arrive like an alien with weekend dollars in your pocket (more)


  1. I left a comment about gentrification of bridges in Bridgeport, factories in Stratford, and myself. About how structures seem to age down to a certain level, and then stay there for a while.

    Blogger apparently disagreed, and so deleted it.

    Perhaps Blogger is gentrifying...

  2. Greg:
    I had your comment in the Gmail notification. I'm not tolerating any gentrification on this site.

    Here it is:

    Gentrified neighborhoods seem to go downhill rapidly, but as I saw in Chicago and in Stratford, they sometimes seem to reach a low point and plateau there without much more degradation. I think of some of the old steel bridges in Bridgeport, and the old factories contaminated with lead and asbestos which are still boarded up there.

    I hope that also applies to gentrifying people, like me...

    You know, I think the problem with the fancy-shmancy is that the middle guys get left out. Redevelopers appeal to those fickle dollars when they build these vulnerable boutiques and the like. I guess it just doesn't pay to build pretty for the middle guy!

  3. Thanks for finding the lost post! Gentrification at work...

    You're right about the glitzy. A lot of modern stuff won't age nicely, it will just sublime into rot.

  4. "Sublime into rot" got me right in the gut. I hope we never do that--fading out will be enough!


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