From the field office, comes this weird one, as if many of you hadn’t already seen S. Fred Simmons’ most recent defacement.
What’s different this time is the vandal’s literacy. Supplanting the anarchy symbol and goofy, tagger-style lettering of the preceding spray-painting is a quote from Ayn Rand’s more obscure philosophical ramblings: “The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it too.” I suspect the vandal chose this quote because it sounds like something a bad sport would say to someone he or she had defeated in, say, a local election – or dodge ball.
Read in context, however, this cryptic quote means next to nothing unless you’re a member of the rarified, crusty, Randian faithful (Alan Greenspan is in this group, if that tells you anything). Some say it has tangential ties to Aristotle, but a cursory, meaningless Internet search for the nature of the great philosopher’s connection to this cursory, meaningless quote turned up little.
The thing that has us a bit puzzled on this one is, it takes some real moxie to climb up and deface a billboard that’s out in the open on Route 40, and has been tagged at least three times before. I’m picturing a middle-aged person, pulling his or her car over to the side of the road, and just going for it – or a young punk reading off a cheat sheet some middle-aged person gave him along with a $20 bill to carry out the misdemeanor.
At any rate, this detail comes to The Dagger from a local journalist, a friend of ours who notes, “The workman who was getting ready to cover up the latest mess told me it was the fourth time he’s replaced the billboard, so the State Farm ad was going to be moved to a higher billboard up in Churchville and a public service announcement put in its place.”
His nameplate removed from the dais, his big black truck no longer parked outside city hall, his 15-foot head no longer greeting travelers from the north, and his Wetlands annexation ally, Sam Smedley, arrested on gun charges, it seems that – for the moment – the only indelible mark Simmons has left on the city from his two years as mayor is the large bell hanging in the council chambers.