A strange place… for graffiti?
On Saturday my wife and I took a stroll through Tilden Park in Berkeley. Just off Lake Anza we came across a small trail that led into Wildcat Gorge, shrouded by trees and cutting deep into the earth. It was a fairly isolated trail, far removed from any sounds of civilization. We even came across a dragon emerging from the dense undergrowth:
Its gaping maw threatened to devour us but we quickly escaped. It looks a lot scarier in real life!
Further down the path we came across a small stream, and saw the following sign:
I was boggled. Growing up in downtown Los Angeles and now living in Berkeley, both very urban areas, I’m used to seeing graffiti on walls, signs, even mailboxes. It’s a natural part of the linguistic landscape in urban areas, practically banal in nature. Yet here I am with my wife, on a trail that runs along a gorge deep within a 2,000-acre park, and I come across a piece of urban text, an utterance that declares “I am not a part of the establishment,” a visible sign of individuality within a conformist society (presumably).
Except that I take a closer look at the graffiti, and notice what it says: NERD.
Nerd? Nero? Neko? It looks like NERD to me. Now I’m intrigued. Who comes miles into a park, into a trail that only a handful of people walk through daily, with the intent of writing “NERD” on a sign? I can just imagine the conversation: “hey guys, let’s drive to Tilden Park, go deep into the park where that gorge is, and graffiti up a sign.” yeah, right.
So now I ponder the meaning of “NERD.” Am I the nerd? Is the writer the nerd? Or are we all nerds, bound by the activity of hiking through park trails? Has Tilden park spawned some soft of graffiti nerd, thick marker in hand, running (I mean hiking) around writing “NERD” on signs? That sounds absurd.
Probably not too absurd for Berkeley, though.