Thursday, May 23, 2024

It is sad to see the death of Porter Square’s famed Long Funeral Service. It never failed to raise a smile, funeral home though it was, and for the attentive served as a great appetizer or dessert (depending on which direction you were walking) to “Gas With a Smile.”

What will replace it is a mystery (one likely to be answered “condominium”), because the site is surrounded by plywood while construction workers toil inside. Fortunately, passers-by are using the plywood as a place for concern, debate and, um, wit, which is interesting to read on the way down Massachusetts Avenue. And, unlike “Long Funeral Service,” it changes.

Step one: After days or even weeks of blankness, the plywood is finally defaced. In two lines of blue spray paint, someone insists we “Stop rape.”

Step two: More days or even weeks pass, then a wag with a large, black felt-tip pen alters the spray paint by placing an ampersand before the word “rape,” and drawing a stylized traffic light to the right. It looks like a Stop & Shop grocery store sign, but invites us to “Stop & Rape.”

Step three: Fliers appear along the plywood, one per plank, which puts one over the grafitti. The fliers, about Isaac the handyman and Isaac the teacher of languages, disappear quickly, only a few of their stubs torn away by interested consumers. “Stop & Rape” can stay, but post no bills, please.

Step four: A short period of days or weeks pass — certainly no more than two weeks — and someone with a second large, black felt-tip pen rebukes the previous artist: “The person who vandalized this vandalism: You are a horrible person who has no respect for women!”

Step five: The level of discourse plunges. In amateurish balloon letters, someone replies, “Fuck U!” and, after a bit of incomprehensible wild-style writing, “Suck my cock [more unreadable text] bitch bitch!”

Step six: Someone, perhaps a worker from inside the site or someone from one of the nearby churches, takes it upon him or herself to cover almost all of this with thick brown spray paint. Aside from some of the unintelligible writing, all that’s left unbrowned is “Stop” and, below it, all but the letter “e” at the end of “rape.”

Whatever “Stop e” means, it is so far the end of the conversation. No commerce allowed on this wall. No cursing. No dialogue. Just stilolalia.