Vandals spray-painted the historical home of Hamilton Mack Laing, known as Shakesides, this week with what appears to be a lame version of tagging.

Squiggles of red paint were carelessly sprayed on three sides of the building, and a circle with an upside down ’Y’ was painted on plywood covering the building’s front window.

This doesn’t look like the work of any young graffiti artist. Not a serious one, anyway. They would not spray meaningless scribbles at a fast walk around a building and then produce a 50-year-old peace sign.

No, this seems like the work of somebody without spray-painting skills attempting to inflict maximum damage in the shortest amount of time.

Who would do such a thing? I don’t know, maybe someone angry about something? A jerk?

The front stairway into Shakesides

But it is interesting that no other sign, bridge, post or even tree was spray-painted. That creates the impression this was about something else, possibly the political and legal battle over preservation of Laing’s home.

Maybe it was an attempt to show that a building in a secluded location is vulnerable to defacing by graffiti. But that logic doesn’t hold. It doesn’t explain the worldwide tagging of downtown buildings, railway cars, subway walls, etc.

The whole point of graffiti is to be publicly viewed.

Mayor Paul Ives told me the town will remove the scrawls. They pretty much have to after last year ordering parks staff to remove good-looking murals painted on the window boards by turning the plywood panels around.

Unwanted graffiti is a nuisance and the bane of every property owner. Except that, in this case, the murals made the building look better.

But the town hasn’t always been so keen. Someone painted the word FUCK on the front of Shakesides two years ago and the town just ignored it. A citizen eventually painted over the obscenity.

And the town has ignored other graffiti previously sprayed on parts of the Mack Laing Nature Park.

When a person or organization wants to tear down a heritage building, they employ a variety of tricks to gain public support.

The type of graffiti a young graffiti artist might do, from a building in Olympia, WA.

The most commonly used trick is to let the building fall into disrepair. Spend as little as possible to repair rot or leaks, don’t make improvements and board up the windows quickly. Make it look as bad as possible.

The Town of Comox has used this strategy on Shakesides for 35 years.

Maybe the person or persons who committed this recent act of vandalism wanted to help the town along in its plan to demolish the house. Who knows? Sometimes, people just do dumb stuff.


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