Ron Kammeyer is redefining the word “audacity.”
He’s the guy suing the Army Corps of Engineering for $200,000 in damages if they remove the graffiti he helped design in 1976 that is painted on the Prado Dam on the Santa Ana River near Chino Hills in Southern California.
Of course, Kammeyer doesn’t think of his defacing federal property as graffiti. To him its art work.
The massive graffiti that Kammeyer and his supporters refer to as “the world’s largest mural” was painted in 1976 by Corona High students to mark the nation’s bicentennial. The graffiti reads, “200 Years of Freedom: 1776-1976.”
He’s miffed when the Corps refused not only to keep the defacing he helped engineer in place but also because they declined to bless his attorney’s effort to get the federal agency to allow Kammeyer to repair the graffiti.
The Corps, which is planning a $2.3 billion modernization project to reconfigure the 74-year-old dam originally built for only flood control purposes so that it can store water for urban use, determined the graffiti was done in lead paint so it had to go.
Anyone who has ventured to a reservoir where drinking water and such is taken from knows the severe restrictions against bodily contact and motorized craft coming into contact with the water. Getting rid of graffiti that used lead paint should be a no-brainer even for graffiti vandals.
First, Krammeyer and his buddies defaced property they did not own. It doesn’t matter whether it has a patriotic theme. It isn’t their property.
They are no better than the vandals that tag railroad box cars, walls, and buildings that don’t belong to them as well.
If anyone should sue for damages, it should be the federal taxpayers. The Army Corps should go after Krammeyer for making it clear he was principal instigator of the massive graffiti and make him reimburse the federal government for the cost of removing the lead paint.
Krammeyer, though, is a saint compared to the 2014 Narcissist of the Year — Casey Nocket of New York.
The Twenty-Something woman took a trip out West where she visited 10 national parks from Yosemite and Death Valley to Zion — where she defaced the works of nature with acrylic paintings that she then snapped photos and placed on social media. In a number of them she took selfies with her graffiti.
In Death Valley, she painted rock on the small summit of Telescope Peak at 11,043 feet where there are commanding views of the infamous valley as well as the Great Basin and Mt. Whitney and the Sierra. Not that it mattered what part of the summit she defaced, but she did it on the highest and most prominent point.
Perhaps 400 or so people a year summit the quad busting Telescope Peak that rises above ancient bristlecone pines and fragile desert environmentalists. They do so without leaving a trace. In fact, if hikers see debris that isn’t theirs they will pack it out.
She also defaced the Mist Trail in Yosemite and a prominent overlook of Crater Lake to name a few.
She was caught as most narcissists are caught — by her own vanity.
Nocket uploaded images of her damage to social media to show the entire world how artistic that she is.
Once caught and arrested, she expressed extreme remorse for what she had done.
Remorse? She deliberately planned a trip to 10 national parks taking her weapons with her to mar millions of years of nature’s painstaking handiwork.
If everybody defaces national parks and government property, they would look like hell in a matter of months.
Nocket needs to pay for every penny it takes to painstakingly remove her graffiti. Jail time should be taken off the table. Instead she should be required to spend a month helping restore one of the parks she defaced.
True artists, by the way, respect the works of other artists. Mother Nature — by any standards — is the ultimate artist.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.