The Gum Giant's Blog
The scourge of gum and graffiti on our buildings and sidewalks grows every day. But that doesn't mean humanity is doomed to a sticky, minty existence, covered in obnoxious scrawls. While I solve your property maintenance problems, enjoy some of these blog postings...


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Blog Entry 020: July 04, 2015

The Fourth of July!

I am always excited about the 4th of July. not only is it the celebration of our independence from monarchical rule, but it is an excuse to do FIREWORKS. I love fireworks and all things pyrotechnic. Since consumer fireworks are legal in Michigan, I have a mixed bag from various dealers. I am excited to try some of the new 1.4 500 gram cakes, which are fuse linked assemblies of shells, mines and the like. I have 2 to go with my finale this year, Popo Magnet and Christmas in July, both from Phantom Fireworks. Phantom is one of the bigger regional players in fireworks, but they are kind of overpriced. The guys in the Ann Arbor store are enthusiastic and they show you videos to inform your purchase. Only shop there when it is BOGO or BOG2 and even then you have to check the prices carefully. I assume I will be flouting the law by displaying these in a city park or schoolyard, but who doesn't?

It's ridiculous that the State of Michigan allows the purchase and limited use of fireworks, but does not allow them to be used in the safe location in a neighborhood, like schoolyards and parks. Their use is restricted to private property, which amounts to a basic ban for most of us. Who has enough safe open space on their private property to display consumer fireworks?


And now, some amazing fireworks on video - be safe!



Blog Entry 019: June 28, 2015

More anti-graffiti efforts, this time in my own neighborhood/

I did another paintout and mural for Ms. Arrands. This time it was at the Northside Grill, a local institution. I took some time to myself to do a little test tree around the back. Rebecca and I don't always agree about everything from an artistic or procedural viewpoint, but I heard later that city council candidate Will Leaf liked the pear tree I did. I hope Will does well in his bid for the council seat currently held by Sabra Briere. We could use some fresh blood in that chair, and I hope that his running gets some new and younger voters involved. If he doesn't make it, feel free to write in Jeff Hayner!

Here is the Northside Grill job paintout, mural, and a little secret mural I did in back for fun:


Blog Entry 018: June 20, 2015

Speaking of Murals...

There are a handful of large murals going up around Ann Arbor this week. Two are on 5th on the sides of the old Ann Arbor Theater, now occupied by various concerns, and another is going up on the side of the McKinley headquarters on Main Street, facing south. As you might imagine, I am less than thrilled about the depiction of graffiti on this McKinley Mural seen underneath the train track. More examples of how Ann Arbor enables and encourages taggers.

Visit this website: for a gander at some intense, large scale murals in the public market building. For those of you who don't speak Dutch, here is an article from the U.K. Guardian.


Blog Entry 017: June 12, 2015

Did another "Tagging Solution" paint out and stencil mural.

Ms. Arrends called me again and asked me to help her do some more murals. She needs help prepping the surface and also painting out large areas, which I do all the time in my maintenance biz, so I decided to help. She explained her solution to the problem of repeat tagging in greater detail. She says she is putting it all up on a website. I will post a link when it's ready. Since this is for a class project of hers, I hope she gets and "A". Its a lot of field work. While we were there I painted out the rest of the building, which has the misfortune of being along an inner-city rail corridor. This makes it a natural target. I bid on many jobs along rail lines. I leave any hobo signs I find.

This job was fun too, and I took my son with me to help. Here's some pics of the work and the results:



Blog Entry 016: June 1, 2015

Got the strangest call - A new take on graffiti prevention, and some freebies.

I got a message from a woman named Rebecca Arends, and she wanted to interview me about graffiti in Ann Arbor. She had seen my name in one of the MLive articles preciously mentioned. So I googled her, and found this article about her own efforts at graffiti prevention. After speaking with her on the phone we decided to meet and she told me about a project she was doing for her term paper, to test a hypothesis about a method to curb graffiti. Since In am on the warpath against graffiti vandalism I decided to help her. We met at Ali Baba's at Hill and Packard where she had a wall to paint. Here is a picture of the mini-mural I helped her apply:

It's not really my style, but I still kind of like it. She tells me that a simple mural like this is a deterrent to graffiti. I know that this wall gets hit often, I think mostly due to it's proximity to an alley, party store, etc. It took a few hours to get it set up and painted and it was fun to see the wall change. We got some compliments from passers-by. I was glad I could help.




Blog Entry 015: May 16, 2015

Here is some food for thought: Wealth inequality leads to trouble, and we have plenty of both right here in River City.

The comic and it's extended version, the graphic novel, has a way of distilling and presenting information that really gets to the heart of a matter. Here is one about wealth inequality. Ann Arbor is in the middle of it's biggest push ever to court the wealthy, and drive out the middle class and poor. Our taxes and fees are up, and our services are down. The sidewalks are dirty, the roads are crumbling, and there has never been more graffiti. I believe it has a lot to do with the entitled mentality I often witness in this town. There is a lot of greed, and "more for us" displayed in all aspects of the city - from 4 colleagues each running for mayor, to pro-development planning policies, to the efforts of City Council to grab as much state and federal funding as they can for community development projects- never mind that almost every city in the state needs it more - Ann Arbor has an entitlement mentality that is second to none. And yet, it looks like the city doesn't care about it's public spaces. The trash cans and light posts are covered with graffiti. This wealthy town is a blank, unkempt canvas for vandals to enjoy. Now, I hope you enjoy this:




Blog Entry 014: April 12, 2015

Bad Boy Euro Graffitist "KIDULT" strikes fear in hearts of Luxury Goods Sellers.

I suspect the transformation from extreme vandal to Street Art Hero was motivated by his attorneys advice. "KIDULT" is working a new form of extreme social protest in the wealth centers of Europe. Check out this video below and ask yourself, is this a legitimate form of protest or senseless destruction? I am sympathetic with some street artist's causes, and frankly, most of what passes for Corporate signs are pretty ugly here in the States. But I cannot help but think KIDULT is going a little too far. Especially when I see the beautiful historic woodwork and ironwork ruined. It takes a few seconds to do damage that takes days or weeks to clean up. Have some respect for the historic property, if not the tenant, I say. It has impact, but is it ART?


Check out this video and decide for yourself - I have to admit it is a new style...





Blog Entry 013: March 15, 2015

City of Ann Arbor - blind or willful ignorance?

So as most writers know there are many places around town that have become so derelict that they are open for graffiti 24/7. Why the city has not condemned these sites and had them demo'd is beyond me. Is it because they don't know about them? Or is it because they simply don't care? My guess is a mix of both. Maybe it is because they are not (some would have you believe) in the precious "vibrant downtown" so there is no money to be made. Take for example the old Car Wash on Federal Ave. Because this is near the closest thing we have to "the Projects" in the city, it is not very likely that anyone in City Hall knows or even cares what happens here. This location has been abandoned for some time now, and it shows. See for yourself:






Condemn this eyesore and tear it down, and send the absentee property owner the bill.


Blog Entry 012: March 14, 2015 - 3.14.15

PI Day brings out the naive, the villians, and The Gum Giant.

This article in the Ann Arbor Snooze got a few laughs around these parts. The DDA is giving their largest grant ever towards fighting graffiti in Ann Arbor - a whopping 1/10,000th of 1% of their annual budget, or $3500. DDA Board Member Sandi Smith says: "A gallon of paint can cover and cover and cover a relatively small area for a while..." and "..she doesn't think it should be the DDA's mission to rid every inch of downtown of graffiti." In other words, despite the DDA skimming millions in tax dollars for the sole purpose of maintaining the downtown, we are on our own. Also, she "...doesn't think graffiti in the downtown is as much of a problem as it has been in past years" LMFAO! This shows how disconnected the DDA is from the needs of downtown business owners. Graffiti is at an all time high. The DDA doesn't care, and the city can't keep up, mostly because so much money is given to the DDA to spend - and the City is more than the Downtown -graffiti is everywhere in the neighborhoods, too.


Oh, and there is this tidbit: "There's a certain grittiness that comes with any sort of urban life, and I don't think you can wipe it all clean, and I'm not sure you want to wipe it all clean," she said." Get your head out of the sand, Sandi. Your* downtown is a wreck, the streets are crumbling, and graffiti is rampant. The DDA is an expensive failure at this point. They have outlived their usefulness, whatever that was.

Which brings me to the vandals: This happened to a downtown building between 4 a.m. and noon today. Could it have something to do with the DDA-maintained streetlights being out for the last 5 days? Gritty enough for you, Ms. Smith? Fortunately The Gum Giant is on call - and I removed the tags before the nightclub - photo on left - and Chinese restaurant - photo on right - opened for business. Villians is a new tag to the streets - which shows you how important it is to nip this in the bud before anyone else thinks it's ok to deface private property.

villians on Liberty villians on Liberty

Look how nice and clean that wall looks, I would say that tag is gone. That type of tag - a "throwie" or throw-up goes up so fast it is hard to catch someone in the act. This one was possibly caught on camera and the building owner is reviewing the tapes after filing a police report.


Now, if only the city or the DDA would do something about their property - look at the throwie on that Public Parking sign. To be fair, the sign is pretty ugly, too!

* This is a reference to DDA Board member Smith's outburst at the Aut Fest in 2013 when she cornered me by the beer tent and started yelling at me "This is my downtown! I live downtown! This is my downtown and I'll do whatever I want with it!" Thank goodness the Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners came by at that very moment and I was able to duck away to speak with him. You saved me that time Yousef, I owe you one!


Blog Entry 011: March 13, 2015

Gang Signs or just Life in the Big City?

The bigger and more urban Ann Arbor gets, the more big-city troubles we seem to have. See for yourself - this is all new in the last few months.

Gang Signs?

Life in the City

Hey - that's life in the big city, right? Looks like any other walkable, vibrant alleyway. Maybe Gov. Snyder can chip in for the cleanup - this is right up the street from his multi million-dollar pad.



Blog Entry 010: March 11, 2015

Big Walls!


The Gum Giant is filling a large contract for removal of tags on MTC in Downtown Ann Arbor. I wanted to post some pictures of the process here so you can share in my satisfaction of removing obnoxious vandalism. Nothing like a clean wall! Of course, one must use the right tools and chemistry or permanent damage can occur to the surface. Underneath this graffiti was the remnants of older graffiti, and also the remnants and damage of improper removal, either by sand blasting or pressure washing using too much pressure. I generally do not need to go above 2000 psi, my wash is basically a rinse to neutralize the chemistry (bio-safe), remove it from the surface, and prep the surface for applications of sealers and anti-graffit sacrificial coatings.


NOEM soon to be gone

SUN here...

I almost hate to remove these colorful tags, but they are on private property, and a nuisance in that they encourage others to vandalize the property. Much damage results from taggers climbing electrical poles and other service connections to gain access to the rooftops. We have several places in Ann Arbor where this is allowed - like "The Rock" or "Graffiti Alley" on Liberty - perhaps the DDA could peel off a few grand to build a wall at the Skate park - an artistic Wave Wall about 4 feet high and 20 feet long to provide an outlet for the" artists" among us. The rest of tags are simply obnoxious - and some have been identified as actual gang marks by regional law enforcement. It pays to know the difference.

SUN  bye bye


Sunset...comes early ... haha - - more on this building here.



Blog Entry 009: February 19, 2015

What an .... -


A week later, and look at this slam - there must be some kind of targeting going on here. Shows you how easy it is for these losers to throw-up when there are no cops downtown. Got a callback to clean another one - do these people have nothing better to do? Obviously they have no decency or sense of ownership in the community. As far as many people in Ann Arbor are concerned, graffiti punks should be caught and caned. They are giving legit graffiti art a bad name. The good news? - Eventually you will be caught, and will be made to pay for your crimes. Read more about it here.

VFW losers tag nbuilding a second time

Warren Road Crew- We Rack Cans - Know-Em? haha


Blog Entry 008: February 11, 2015

Super-loser tagging of active building in downtown Ann Arbor.

Some serious loser tagged the front of the active remodel of Jerusalem Garden last night. I got the call and acted quickly - The Gum Giant believes in the Broken Windows Policing theory, as it applies to property destruction, it's original intent. Not so cool on the profiling that went along with it. If there was a profile of an Ann Arbor graffiti punk, it would probably be "bored teen with skateboard whose parents don't spend enough time with them because they are too busy being rich". If the AAPD profiled based on that 3/4 of the high schools would be empty. Check out the Before and After - when the weather breaks I will be back to finish the staining in the limestone and the mortar. What kind of a person desecrates the cornerstone of a VFW building?


VFW BeforeThat's one of the lamest tags I have ever seen - get a life!

VFW after


Blog Entry 007: November 11, 2014

Things are heating up in the alleys of Ann Arbor, even as the first snow flies.

I got a call today to remove this graffiti, which was no doubt inspired by the recent police shooting (and subsequent death) of a woman armed with a kitchen knife, in the hallway of here own home, following a domestic dispute call. Seems some people are not happy about this, and why should they be? There is very little reason in my mind for a LEO to use deadly force. We will see what the fall out is, in the meantime, The Gum Giant is back at work! I will post an "after" photo, since I took this "before" photo:

Cop-killer Graffitit about to be removed in Ann Arbor


Blog Entry 006: April 21, 2014

Without irony, I spoke before City Council asking them to consider amending a proposed smoking ordinance to include a fine for littering cigarette butts, and a ban on chewing gum. A copy of my remarks:

"I am here tonight to ask council to consider modifying the ban on smoking in light of a similar problem our downtown faces - that of discarded chewing gum.

Gum is an anti-social problem on a scale much larger than smoking. Look down next time you are walking in our downtown. What do you think all those dark spots are? It's gum that miscreants have spit on the sidewalk. Down there with the cigarette butts is a spotted sea of biohazards; discarded, saliva-filled chewing gum. It's not a problem unique to Ann Arbor. In downtowns and city centers around the world discarded chewing gum is found at the rate of 2-20 pieces per square foot, easily outnumbering cigarette butts. What is to be done about this world problem when there is no ban?

In Great Britain, the Government spends $230 million annually to remove an average of 7,000 tons of chewing gum from their streets. The 2010 Chewing Gum Campaign instituted laws where individuals caught littering their used gum risked a $125 fine. In the run-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics, over $1.4 Billion was spent on gum and graffiti removal by the City of London and the Greater London Regions.

Would a chewing gum ban be compatible with the proposed smoking ban? Who would have the authority to prosecute, and what would the penalties be? Let's look for an example of a country that has successfully banned chewing gum, as inspiration for our modified smoking ban.

The streets of Singapore are free of gum residue.

In Singapore, the Control of Manufacture Act, passed in 1992, restricted the use, distribution and trade of chewing gum. With minor medical exceptions, owning or using gum is not permitted in Singapore. Tourists are allowed to bring in just two packs or risk smuggling fines of up to $3000 and 2 months in jail. People that are caught leaving chewing gum remains in the public space can be charged with a monetary fine, community service, or public beating with a bamboo stick.

Surely the zeal with which our ban on smoking is being pursued could be extended to a ban on chewing gum, which presents a similar, and perhaps more costly, public nuisance. The Main Street BIZ Association has proposed over $60,000 be budgeted for sidewalk cleaning for next year alone. The gutters are full of cigarette butts. And have you ever looked under a bus seat? Discarded gum is stuck everywhere! I assure you I am uniquely qualified to testify to this scourge - I own Ann Arbor's premier Gum and Graffiti removal service, The Gum Giant. It's a good business to be in these days. And while you would think I would be passing out packs of DoubleMint like the candy at the Jaycees 4th of July parade, all I really want is clean streets in our downtown and entertainment districts. Therefore I ask city council to amend the smoking ordinance to include a penalty for littering your cigarette butts and a ban on chewing gum."


My remarks got me roundly panned by the haters on Twitter feed #a2council, which shows, as I tweeted:

"Hateful twitter comments reveal an ignorance of the real problems downtown businesses face."

Haters gonna hate. They aren't the ones kicking out the homeless people in the morning from the alleys behind business, and making sure that the downtown buildings are safe and properly maintained.



Blog Entry 005: April 6, 2014

I had to share this - since I have no other blog you all get to see it. While touring a school on a gum cleaning estimation run, I came across this - something only a middle schooler could have come up with - :P


8 Mile Baby!


Blog Entry 004: April 2, 2014

I came across this site which has all the things a gum remover would want to see.

Visit the site, and notice how in most pictures the sidewalk remains filled with disgusting gum spots? The one on the windowsill may be the star, but the ones below are like little quarters wanting to go in my pocket. Would somebody please ask David Letterman to call The Gum Giant?
I have friends in NYC - I will come out there and do your sidewalks- I dare you you call!

CelebriGum: Online or follow them on Twitter #CelebriGum




Blog Entry 003: March 2, 2014

It occurs to me that I have not yet shared links to this: my raison d'ĂȘtre - gum manufacturers. Remember, the more you know about gum, they more you will want to get some, enjoy it, and spit it out on the sidewalk.
No, please dispose of your gum properly, by enclosing it in a wrapper or small piece of paper and putting it in the trash.

The wiki on gum:

Wrigley Brands - with over 1/3 of the market share, the undisputed big boy.
Years ago, a complete set of bound Stars & Stripes from WW1 and WW2 passed through my collection. For the WW1 issues, all the chewing gum ads belonged to Adams. But by WW2, there had been a change - all the ads belonged to Wrigley. According to Wikipedia, Wrigley dedicated their entire output of gum to the soldiers serving in WW2, no doubt cementing their loyalty when they returned home to have their little gum-chewing baby boom. The Wrigley building in Chicago is a marvel of riverfront stone work.

I think I have chewed more Wrigley than any other brand. Winterfresh, which is getting increasingly hard to find, is one of the few mint gums available that does not contain artificial sweeteners.



Blog Entry 002: January 2, 2014

This New York Magazine article is here to help- a taste test of some of the new and classic gum flavors.

When we are removing gum there is a brief magical moment right between the dissolving of the gum and it's last earthly appearance, before it gets sucked into my hepa wet-vac for disposal. The dying gum breathes it's last, and gives off a little wisp of soul - a whiff of mint or juicy-fruit or cinnamon is released to the delight of the operator...


Spoiler alert! Adams - One of America's oldest and most respected gum brands - wins the fruit flavor category with Adams Sour Cherry "The balance between sugar level and acidity was perfect" said one of the tasters.


Blog Entry 001: December 12, 2013

Who can forget this one:

Calvin and Hobbs


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