There is something about a pure white “no.” that will stop you in your tracks. Gang graffiti, works of art, and clever phrases are usually what you see on the side of a rain gutter or handrail or train, not a “no.”
Why is it there? Who wrote it? Does it mean anything? A gang scrawl doesn’t have to mean anything to you for you to know that it’s a gang scrawl. Your brain neatly files the DJ spinning a record spray painted on the subway platform wall into whatever compartment you choose to label street art. But a “no.” is something different. It’s something definite and concrete, with firm and stable period placed after the word, and yet what is the meaning in its concreteness? Is it rebelling against something or someone? Is it a command? An observation? A puzzle?
I found the no. Series while I was attending college in San Marcos, Texas. I never found out who did them or why, but I have always loved them. I’ve gone back to the campus and found some still there, some disappeared, some new ones created. I wonder if the person who created the first one knows that he is being copied.