Statue of limitations

—Pex Sistol

A: Mr. Sistol, some things are easier said than done. Take, for example, your illustrious Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clark. These bold explorers indeed went where no white man had gone before, but had it not been for the aid of their faithful guide Sacagawea, they wouldn’t have gotten so far (although Ace bets you a beaver skin they still would have talked a big game). Likewise, while our fair City has expressed its good intentions of cleaning the statue, it has yet to deliver.

 The anarchy symbol, a capital “A” inscribed inside a circle to represent the anti-hierarchy philosophy, first appeared on the front base of the statue facing Main Street sometime early last fall (Ace could unearth no specific date). The City has since tried numerous times to clean it off, and while such attempts have dimmed the symbol, they have hardly caused it to disappear.

 John Mann, City parks and landscape manager, is in charge of the project. And man, what a project it is. “What we normally clean with did not do the job,” says Mann, referring to various solvents used to clean off grease and paint, but which he declined to specifically name for fear of incurring the wrath of fuming manufacturers (Ace intends the pun!).

 Thus Mann is “looking for recommendations from other cities,” meaning bigger cities—like Philadelphia—that deal with graffiti situations on a more regular basis than sleepy ol’ Charlottesville does. He has already tried two suggested solvents; they both failed.

 Mann and his men are currently investigating a last-ditch effort of a “baking soda compound with a power washing and the solvents,” he says. If that fails, then they’ll turn to the real professionals, meaning a curator of some kind, in hopes of having the order restored to the statue by winter. If, when and who that will be remains to be seen, leaving the cost of this little clean-up still up in the air.

 The real problem, according to Mann, is that the stone of the statue is not sealed. It’s made from unpolished, porous granite and the paint has weaseled its way into the statue and made itself at home. Moreover, the lettering etched into the surface means that blasting away the graffiti might also blast away the history lesson underneath, which, depending on who you ask (maybe the anarchists!), could use some revising anyway.

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