No Regrets.

Several years ago on a water tower that stands over downtown Nashville someone spray painted the words “DEFY MEDEOCRITY”. It wasn’t the most impressive graffiti I’ve ever seen. It was large and obviously someone had put a lot of work into it, but the letters were made with simple white lines so aesthetically it wasn’t that impressive. And then there was the obvious misspelling. And it always bothers me that some word processing programs insist that misspelling is spelled with one ‘s’, although the Oxford English Dictionary insists that it’s spelled with two and I’ll take that as the authoritative source even I refuse to accept the editors of the OED getting rid of the Oxford comma, but that’s another story.

I always wondered if the person who spray-painted that message realized they’d made a mistake and regretted it. Or maybe it was intentional. Maybe their way of defying mediocrity was challenging the arbitrary standards of spelling.

Anyway I look at the graffiti above and wonder the same thing. It’s in a cramped stairwell so it’s really hard to get a good picture, but here’s the door where the ‘T’ would have gone:

Clearly there was a lot of work and thought put into this—it really is some seriously impressive graffiti—so I wonder, was this intentional? Maybe the artist purposely left this unfinished to make a statement of really being unrepentant about making something great.

14 Comments

  1. Kristine @MumRevised

    No regerts.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I thought about that commercial because it is pretty funny, but don’t want to advertise if they’re not paying me. Also you just reminded me that I knew a guy who was dating a girl named Linda and she insisted he get a tattoo of her name. So he drew up one that said “Love Is Not a Dying Art”, in case he had any regerts.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    You defy mediocrity with every post, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I look forward to your comments because I know they’ll always be well above average.

      Reply
  3. Red

    My first thought on “Defy medeocrity” was that it must be an ironic statement. But if it was several years ago, was it popular to be ironic yet? Or maybe someone was being ironic before it was trendy. I hate accidentally being trendy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      This was the late ’90’s which I think of as the height of the ironic period, so this could have been someone being deliberately trendy. I think it’s more likely though that they just didn’t want to tote a dictionary up the water tower.

      Reply
  4. Tom Cummings

    Are you sure he wasn’t writing “reopen” as in “reopen this door in 20xx” and by the time he got to the door he realized he forgot the “o” and just said “fck it” and left, purposely skipping the u?

    Which reminds of the time that my boss hired someone to paint appliance names on our front windows and when he was done we were selling “washers”,”dryers”, and “diswashers” for a while.*

    Which in turn reminds me of that old commercial for Southwest where Kansas City had the fella painting the end zone and when he was done the fella who commissioned the artwork said, “that’s great, but who are the ‘chefs’?”

    But that’s another story.

    Happy Saturday, Chris. Have an amazing weekend. 🙂

    *Oxford comma used with no regrets. 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Now you’ve reminded me of the Daffy Duck cartoon where Elmer Fudd is about to hack Daffy open with an axe but then sees “Do not open until Xmas” printed on Daffy’s stomach, which seems like a great idea for a life-saving tattoo. And you definitely need something to wash your dis once in a while.

      Reply
  5. giacmc

    did he not derive medeocrity from a masculine manifestation of medea?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      A masculine manifestation of Medea would be a truly frightening thing, although you’ve reminded me that I once saw a woman perform Medea as a solo show, and her interpretation was anything but mediocre.

      Reply
  6. mydangblog

    Plan ahea…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes I’m amazed at the skilled works graffiti artists can produce with apparently little or no planning.

      Reply
  7. Jay

    I think you give graffiti artists a little bit more credit than I do.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      In this particular case the artist who wrote REPEN really made something impressive, so I’m willing to give them a lot of credit, but this is more likely a case of graffitus interruptus.

      Reply

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