Long before first light, this eradicator of property defacement begins his hunt through the Quarter, determined to scour graffiti and stickers from public property.
- by Dar Wolnik
photos by Ellis Anderson
Two Empire staffers cover the graffiti removal circuit seven days a week: Carlos Bueso and his weekend counterpart, Lawrence Jackson. Bueso works Monday through Friday, 4 a.m. to 1 p.m., removing graffiti and stickers from any and all city property: trash cans, drain covers, street signs, bike racks, cell phone towers and benches.
While tourists are sleeping off the night before and the Quarter is quiet, Bueso begins his day by picking up the golf cart that holds his ladder, his cleaning supplies and 35 gallons of water for rinsing. He refills the tank three or four times a day, sometimes more.
“I don’t stop too much,” he says.
The French Quarter Business Association (FQBA), along with other prominent French Quarter groups implemented the Vieux Carre Graffiti Abatement Program (VC-GAP) in the summer of 2010. VCGAP hosts volunteer graffiti cleanups and sends courtesy notifications to French Quarter property owners whose properties have been vandalized.
For its part, Empire would like to make that initiative obsolete.
Project Coordinator Jennifer Garin says, “Our hope is that the Vieux Carré associations don't have to continue to have (graffiti removal) events because there would be no graffiti for them to remove. That way they can focus their resources on other items that need attention in our French Quarter.”