The opposite is true at Ali Baba's, the popular Middle Eastern eatery just off the DDA grid at Packard and Hill, where two street-level tags--side-by-side duplicate white inscriptions--are so neatly positioned they might've been added as decoration by the restaurant. They weren't. The building is tagged with such unrelenting frequency, says co-owner Karam Dari, he's given up covering it. "I got sick of painting," he says. "And painting and painting and painting."
For Ann Arbor-based Artrain, paint-overs are as futile as they are costly. As viewed from the river path, the nonprofit's Pullman is a carload of mostly bubble-style graffiti. Located on leased tracks alongside its NEW Center offices and currently under renovation, the Artrain's easterly exterior doesn't, as you might expect it would, intentionally represent the traveling art outreach organization that owns it.
"It's vandalism," says Artrain, Inc., CEO Debra Polich, but removing it would cost close to $2,000, and the graffiti at least provides a buffer against further tagging. It's also an irony of ironies, allows Polich, for a group that in the late 1980s held a controversial competition in which graffiti artists around the country painted actual rail cars. (The Ann Arbor car, in place since 1993, wasn't one of them.)