Enrique Vicente Olivera was standing on the catwalk of a highway sign in Miami early this morning spray-painting the sign, when he fell off the catwalk and onto the highway.
He was then promptly run over by a pickup truck and killed...if the fall didn't kill him.
I know this reads like an episode of My Name is Earl, but I can't crack jokes about Olivera. He's dead.
And I couldn't be happy about that unless he was also a murderous child molester or bin Laden or that A-hole three doors down from me who blasts Free Bird every night when he gets home from work.
I can rag on Olivera's art and priorities though. In local TV interviews, at least one of Olivera's friends said he was really talented. So why risk talent, and life and limb - well, after life, limb doesn't really matter - to paint a few numbers on a highway sign?
If I'm talented like that, I'm saving my paint cans for the frickin' side of an office tower or something.
You realize though that this is all just rhetoric, 'cause I would never paint an office tower or a freeway sign or anything else I don't own, 'cause while I'm not a curmudgeon I am just old school enough to think the kind of painting Olivera was doing when he died - obscuring a street sign - was a nuisance.
Back when I was a crime writer, I used to make fun of my cop friends who'd gripe about finding fresh graffiti, until one of 'em told me how much it was sprayed on private property and how each time it had to be scrubbed off a highway sign some of the glare-killing shine is rubbed off the sign making it more difficult for some drivers to see.
I admit when I was a kid I used to think graffiti artists were cool. The warehouse walls they brought to life in my hometown were bananas - the colors, the shapes, the slang.
Nowadays, the romance is gone. Seeing fantastical graffiti doesn't make my heart flutter. On the contrary, I own a home, and if I see a public building in my 'hood tagged it makes my heart flutter 'cause it could negatively impact property values. Yeah, I'm getting oldER! So what!
In fact, if I caught you spraying any of my personal stuff, I wouldn't start an impromptu dance routine with you in the middle of the street like we're auditioning for Fame or one of the Breakin' movies. I'd probably try to feed you that can of paint the reverse-South Park way (look it up).
All dark humor aside though, what a way to go.
Without disrespecting the dead over their loss of life, we have to stop glorifying death by stupidity. I defy even one of Olivera's friends to say with a straight face something like "He died doing what he loved."
So he didn't have any family, or a girlfriend, or wife, or children, or a job even that he loved more than risking his life with a 20 oz. can of Krylon 30 feet above speeding traffic? Not a favorite food, or sex? Seriously, living for one or more of those things held less value than the short thrill of tagging a highway sign?