I was gone for a few days–no, not mentally, that’s everyday–I mean literally out of town. The kids and I went with my husband to a work conference. We went to San Luis Obispo a few hours south of us. My sister and her kids drove up a couple of hours and stayed at the same hotel.
Monday morning we decided to walk around the metropolis of SLO and check out the sights. On our list of things to do was to visit Bubblegum Alley. Years, ago some people started to put chewed bubblegum on this wall downtown. At first it was protested by some, but more people kept adding their addition until it became a “sight” on the visitor’s brochure.
So we got out our map (SLO is small, we shouldn’t have needed a map but we did) and tried to find this wall of art. After walking for a bit, we decided to ask a serious little man who was walking by for directions. He told us where to find the wall, and remarked how incredibly disgusting that part of San Luis Obispo history was to him. I thought he was being rather narrow-minded–I looked forward to seeing this community art.
Now, I need to explain something here. I know it was a wall filled with chewed gum, but I was thinking that the city had added some coloful rocks and maybe finished it off with some high-gloss paint. I thought that a local artist had maybe used it as a beginning canvas and creatively finished the art. I was so wrong. The Bubblegum Alley was a boring ugly wall covered in chewed gum. Not even colorful gum! Most of it was just the grey variety. It was rather repulsive and disappointing. I stayed 20 yards away from the wall at all times, but my sister decided to make the best of it. She made her kids pose in front of the wall as they protested. She thought it would be a good Christmas picture.
As they protested my sister reminded them that she was just exposing them to some culture to which my astute niece replied, “No wonder Europeans laugh at Americans — we call this culture.”
We continued on our search for culture by visiting the mission, which was closed, and trying to visit the children’s museum which was being renovated until December. We settled for window shopping and tasting the local cuisine. All in all it was a nice day — only nothing could ever compare to the breathtaking view of the saliva mural.
By the way, the picture is deceptive–it doesn’t even look half this good in person. And no, I couldn’t bring myself to add to the wall even though my piece of green gum would have given it some needed color. My sister added her piece of pink gum and it brightened the wall so much.