Who the hell is Syms?

OK, is this a real tag name or is this a silly marketing ploy by the off-market clothes retailer? Though my camera didn't quite capture the whole thing, it is pretty clear that someone tagged the retaining wall in Savin Hill that keeps an entire neighborhood from sliding onto the Southeast Distressway just south of the Boston Globe's newsroom. The wall has to be at least 20 feet high and somehow it is now tagged with the word "SYMS" in unbelievable fashion.

That wall towers over four active lanes of travel. The only way Syms could have spraypainted that was to dangle by a rope and spray each letter. It had to be done in one installment because it just showed up one day. And it's not the only one. There's a SYMS tag on the unused railroad trestle over the northbound lanes of Route 128 in Needham near Channel 5's studios. It is visible to the southbound traffic, and painted in that same color beige. In fact, it contrasts so much with the maroon and rust color of the trestle that is very distracting. It also was painted in such a way that it looked like 54M5, instead of SYMS. It wasn't until I saw the one in DOT that I decoded the one in Needham.

Then, last week, I saw another one. This one was facing the Leverett Connector traffic between Route 93 and Storrow Drive. It was painted on the side of the upper deck of Route 93. This time it was in the letter format (font?) similar to urban tagging.

In each case, it appears Syms is not only looking to mark his widespread turf, but also trying to make a statement by tagging the untaggable. He seems almost like that French dude who scales skyscrapers. They both do it partly for the thrill and partly for the recognition.

Regardless of why, it is defacing public property, and I'm upset about it. There's a lot of graffiti out there that actually makes things look better. This doesn't. This is just about ego, and Syms should be ashamed rather than proud.


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