Back Bay neighborhood group declares all-out war on graffiti, ad flyers

Matt considers a new effort by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay to combat scrawls, stencils and band promotions, doesn't much think of trying to curb the flyers:

If you see an old flyer, tear it down and throw it away. If someone you know regularly puts up flyers and leaves the old ones up underneath, tell them to take them down and stop being a jerk. But don't call the cops on them. Don't take $300 out of a 23-year-old kid in a band, out of a broke comic, out of a struggling theater company, or out of a man with a van. These streets are for all of us, and so are these [poles]. Taking all the flyers down all the time makes it impossible for the really little guys to promote, and while it might make your streets a little cleaner, it also makes them more sleepy. You live in a city. There's stuff going on in a city. Instead of trying to stop people from finding out about it, maybe try going to it. ... on the nights that you don't have Back Bay Association meetings, of course.



    Free tagging: 


    litter is litter is litter

    why cant we scribble on everything?
    mommy and my teachers told me i'm special,
    so i should be able to do what ever i want.
    i am so tired of these selfish brats thinking its ok to inflict their infantile ideas and visual litter all over our lives. there are plenty of other and better ways to communicate your needs than graffiti or flyers that you have no plans to clean up,
    trust me.

    Social networking?

    Why aren't these bands using social networking to advertise? Seems as though you can reach many more people with social networking. How many people actually read notices on telephones poles, and how many people will read someone's Facebook wall? Seems like many more people are reached using the Internet than they are by using a piece of paper.

    Also, colleges tend to have corkboards setup in many student centers. The Curry Center at Northeastern has a really large one for such notices. I'm certain other colleges and universities have something similar.

    You think they're not using

    You think they're not using social media? It's called 360 marketing. You don't just market in one media format. I'm sure they have fliers in the student centers as well, but that only gets seen by students and people that walk through the centers.

    When I'm waiting for a walk signal, I read what's on the pole.

    Most bands probably do both.

    Most bands probably do both. Personally, I keep my eyes open for interesting flyers when I'm visiting a new city. I usually seek out interesting neighborhoods that have cafes, shopping, etc, and use flyers as a guide to my nightlife options. When I'm not at home, I'm not linked in to the right networks to know what's happening on any given night. Yes, there are listings in local newspapers and online, but seeing a flyer that catches my eye has more than once brought me to excellent new music.

    I too am surprised

    I too am surprised that in this day and age local bands and other artists resort to this retro way of advertising, charming, in a way, though it is.

    I recall that before South Station was redone in the late 80s, there were large wooden billboard type things in front, for people to post things on. They can be seen in the 1982 movie classic "The Verdict", filmed in Boston. Paul Newman makes a call from a pay phone (remember pay phones?) outside South Station, and there they are.

    And remember those curved structures that used to be along Mass. Ave. in Cambridge between Central and Harvard that were for the specific purpose of posting notices? I just assumed technology rendered them obsolete.

    Ads belong where ads belong

    You are welcome to provide a bulletin board, or encourage advertisers to post flyers on your property, or to lobby for your government to provide bulletin board space on public property. But sticking flyers on property you don't own, is simply theft of advertising space and vandalism.

    bitter is bitter is bitter

    waaaah, waaaah
    I want everything to be exactly the way I want it to be.
    I hate seeing anything that's different from me, or young dumb kids doing things that seem fun and excited to them. It's irritating to ME and so I have to make sure I'm a gigantic rigid, unyielding, narrow-minded wet blanket.

    Seriously, relax. Other people (including young, entitled hipsters) irritate me too; sometimes a lot. But when you live in a city, you share it with all kinds. That's pretty much the whole appeal of living in a city. If you don't like it, move to Newton. (No offense to Newton; I'd actually love to live there.)

    Try smoking in Newton Center

    Try smoking in Newton Center (or is that Centre); everyone glares at you like you've got two heads... unlike Boston. I was afraid to throw away the butt... they may have ticketed me for littering.

    At least

    "Selfish brats" and "infantile ideas"? Come on, now. Sure, the Back Bay NIMBYers are annoying, but must you resort to name calling?

    Sarcasm aside... I think you're assuming that the people posting these signs and "visual litter" are not Back Bay residents. Maybe they are? Are you? If not, you probably don't deserve to say anything at all on the matter.

    This is a classic line "It’s

    This is a classic line "It’s no surprise that putting up flyers is technically illegal".... as opposed to doing stuff that is non-technically illegal or just plain illegal.
    I now think I'll appeal my parking ticket after all. I'll explain to the clerk that my car was only technically illegally parked.


    What does "technically" illegal mean anyway? It's either legal or it isn't.

    "Technically" illegal is simply a way for a person to excuse their own behavior.

    If you're going to hang flyers illegally, simply admit that what you're doing is illegal, but that you don't care or think the law is dumb.

    When I drive 75 MPH on the Mass Pike, I'm not "technically" speeding, I'm speeding. It's illegal, and I risk getting a ticket.


    Maybe that it is illegal, but it's been seen as too low on the totem pole of issues to bother with and has rightly not been enforced because the cops have better things to do; you know, like catching murders in other areas of the city.

    Seriously, occasional graffiti and paper fliers are not a problem in Boston. If a citizen group wants to combat it fine, but they better not be petitioning the mayors office for police enforcement while other areas of the city are seeing people robbed steps from precinct stations.

    How about installing a few

    How about installing a few community message boards around the neighborhood for posting things like they do in parts of Europe. Fine everyone else that posts flyers illegally or defaces with graffiti heavily to pay for the installation, maintenance, and upkeep of the public boards.

    If you see an old flyer, tear

    If you see an old flyer, tear it down and throw it away. If someone you know regularly puts up flyers and leaves the old ones up underneath, tell them to take them down and stop being a jerk.

    I agree with this.

    But don't call the cops on them. Don't take $300 out of a 23-year-old kid in a band, out of a broke comic, out of a struggling theater company, or out of a man with a van. These streets are for all of us, and so are these [poles].

    I disagree with this.

    Littering by taping your advertisements on someone's property is a public blight. For that small number of "23 year-olds" who for some reason don't understand this, perhaps a small financial incentive would help them get the message. Your art doesn't justify your littering.

    I agree that this could be a potential hardship, so I would be amenable to $300 worth of community service such as 50 hours of removing graffiti, handbills, picking up trash and painting public bridges, trashcans etc.

    Taking all the flyers down all the time makes it impossible for the really little guys to promote, and while it might make your streets a little cleaner, it also makes them more sleepy. You live in a city.

    There's clearly no dearth of "little guys" trying to find an audience for their art. Those of us who like to sleep after we've walked home on clean streets - might suggest that the "little guys" might want to move forward from their high school garage bands to the next part of their life.

    Already left, actually, so

    Already left, actually, so your critique is more than fair. I got tired of the dreadfully boring stay-at-home culture and the death-like embrace of stasis. I spent nearly all of my 20s in Boston and realized that I'd made a youth-wasting mistake so I left for someplace that's a bit less cranky, a bit more exciting, and a bit more forward looking. Like an awful lot of people, the many thousands of whom I am sure you're all glad to see go. I miss my friends but I don't really miss the quaint little unchanging museum that is Boston.

    Pushing 30?

    Pushing 30? Try pushing 65. You should see the bands in local clubs. So many are middle aged (and older) men who were in bands in 1980.

    Giving other neighborhood ass's a bad name

    I'm a founding member of a neighborhood association in another Massachusetts City - the downtown part of it. What the Back Bay Neighborhood Association doesn't want, we would gladly accept. Give us your businesses, nightlife, flyers looking for drummers, and even random stencil art - because that's better than illegible scribbles from gangs. If you see any of these things trying to pop up in your neighborhood, please tell them to come to Lynn. We like stores. We like newspaper boxes. We like having people here - so remember that when you tell folks to get off your stoops.

    Out light poles are not designed to handle flyers very well - they're too narrow. So, we're actually thinking of having kiosks built (like in Allston) for people to post on.

    While taping a flyer to a light pole can cross the line into littering, it's clearly the sign of a vibrant neighborhood with stuff going on, and vibrant neighborhoods with stuff going on is why most people choose to live in cities. Unless, of course, it's the Back Bay part of Boston.

    Ah, the collective "we"....

    Boston is a vibrant enough city without needing a myriad of flyers stuck on light poles, buildings, bannisters, and the like.

    The internet is always on (don't have a computer, check out your local library!) and there are plenty of local "what's happening in the Hub" type of publications, many free, where any person can find something to occupy his/her time without having to walk or run (or skateboard) up to a flyer encrusted pole to check out the Friday night party scene.


    So lets keep it that way.

    There is an obvious push for the suburbanization of Boston from new, wealthy residents moving in. They won't be here forever, but the civic damage they do will linger.


    Although in my case it was the Bad Brains at the Living Room in Providence in '88 or '89.

    I flunked a semester of Hebrew because of shows I learned about from flyers. Well, that and I suck with languages.

    That's right

    We residents of the Back Bay should live in a noisy, dirty, rat infested, flyer festooned neighborhood that's ensconced in shadows 24/7 with endless gridlock. And shame on us for ever trying to make it better because there are other more pressing things for the city to worry about. That way the neighborhood can slowly fall apart like it did in the middle of the last century and we can have all the problems of other parts of the city.

    Yes we live in the city and we like the easy access to the T, library, cultural institutions restaurants and shops. And one of the main reasons it is as wonderful as it is is thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers whom I've caught scraping these signs off with razor blades, helping to wash graffiti off of walls and literally personally spending a Sunday afternoon gluing on replacement pieces of statues that have been vandalized.

    We didn't sign up to live with the pigs in the sty who do this, urinate in the alleys, throw their empty bottles and burger wrappers in my front yard etc. Grow up kids and behave like the adults you supposedly are. We have to share the environment and this is selfish behavior. Damaging public property is not cool, or hip or a demonstration that something interesting is happening. It's vandalism and somebody has to clean up after you because your mommy doesn't live here and if she did she'd smack your hand hard with a tricornered ruler like the nunnies for doing that kind of thing (if she were a good mommy).

    These "artist" are so

    These "artist" are so creative, I'm sure they can create a new idea on promoting their "art" stop ruining other people's property and forcing your messages on everyone. We all deserve to live in a clean city and neighborhood

    You missed the obvious reference...

    ...To all the other quality of life issues that downtown residents get criticized for when they ask for help with a problem. If you are the same Matt who wrote the original post, you also seem completely ignorant of the organizational structure of the neighborhood equating the Neighborhood Association with the Back Bay Assn (and seem to ignore the Newbury Street League altogether).

    This was not just the residents - it was a collaboration of the resident group (NABB), the organization that primarily represents the larger corporate presence in the area south of Boylston (the BBA) and the organization representing primarily the merchants on Newbury Street (NSL). Like other parts of Boston, we and our business counterparts like our neighborhood and we want it kept clean. All we are asking is that you behave properly. Sadly there are people out on this board that feel that vandalism disguised as promotion of the arts is appropriate behavior, an argument reasonable people find laughable.

    ...tightasses, stupid, in a snit?

    dvdoff, you're a class act. God forbid residents get together to try to keep their neighborhood a little bit cleaner. Why don't you let everyone know where you live so those with spray paint cans can vandalize your property, your neighbors' property and your local businesses if you're such a fan?


    I live in Belmont, where the extent of flyers are those posted by those scumbag vandals looking for a lost pet or to advertise a yard sale. You know, neighborhood things. Yet I don't see any bullshit neighborhood associations springing up to try and enforce an aesthetic that is unreasonable in any urban setting.

    In "a" Belmont?

    As Larry Sanders once said; "What are you , Italian?"

    Also, I haven't cared about anything in the Back Bay since Buddies, JC Hillary's, the Cheese Shop, the Paris,Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop closed. Places that would not be allowed to open today, thanks to the buttinsky's in those "neighborhood associations".

    Great places!

    "Also, I haven't cared about anything in the Back Bay since Buddies, JC Hillary's, the Cheese Shop, the Paris,Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop closed."

    Great places, all! Man, that was the day when Boylston Street had a unique BOSTON flavor. A sophisticated (not to be confused with "upscale")vibe. Everything is so generic and upscale now. Despite what rich Mideastern and Euro royalty heir students might tell you, upscale is not always the best. A lot of fun was had in those funky old places.

    Maybe you don't.

    Sure, some people don't see putting flyers on utility poles as vandalism. And other people see it as legitimate art to spraypaint graffiti on other people's property. Still others see it as entirely justified to murder one's daughter for dating outside her ethnic group. And others still see it as entirely reasonable to respond to someone bumping into them accidentally on the sidewalk by shooting them.

    Boy, I'll tell you..

    some people just don't want to admit that a flyer on a pole as a method of communication is a tradition that dates back to the Romans.
    If you don't like it in the Back Bay, move to Weston. If you don't like a flyer, tear it down. The drawback being you'll spend the rest of your life tearing them down.

    ...wait, but you said you

    ...wait, but you said you DON'T like it in the Back Bay and DON'T even live in the city of Boston, but in a lovely upscale suburb, aka Belmont. Honestly, I'm sure the residents of Back Bay don't need you to tell them who should or should not live in the neighborhood. If you feel so strongly that flyers should be posted wherever one pleases, then move to the Back Bay and make it your mission.