In late November, West Side Rag (a nominee for a Village Voice “best neighborhood blog” award!) pointed out that someone had been papering the empty storefronts of the Upper West Side with stickers that read “This Is Neighborhood Rot,” “This Is Neighborhood Decay,” “This Is a Neighborhood Eyesore,” and so on. The identity of the sticker bandit was a mystery, though — and still is, except now, he or she has a website. And, kind of, a movement. So 2011!
Yesterday West Side Rag noted the new site, in which the sticker bandit, who identifies himself as such, includes his “Sticker Bandit Manifesto,” some excerpts of which follow:
I live in a nice neighborhood that is going to hell. At least it looks that way from the stretches of retail space that have been closed for more than a year. Entire blocks have become papered-over eyesores that are constant reminders of the shitty economy….
There seem to be easy solutions: quit extorting rent and allow the people who want to work to succeed. In the meantime, why not invigorate the artistic community by having storefronts painted or decorated even while in disuse — anything but the dusty old brown paper that makes things Depression-era depressing.
I’m starting with New York’s Upper West Side, stickering the long-vacant spaces with reminders of the blight, because even worse than their being ugly is their being invisible, If the same thing is happening around you, order a set of stickers [firstname.lastname@example.org] and start putting the message up where people can see it. If you are tired of seeing declining quality of life with no neighborhood street foot traffic, empty dirty abandoned storefronts gathering nothing but garbage and becoming home to rats?
If you see something, STICK something. The question, of course: Do stickers proclaiming rot mean there is less rot, or more? I’ll leave that for you to discuss amongst yourselves. Stick on, brothers and sisters.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 2011