Monday, April 18, 2011

Neighbor versus neighbor’s tarp

I thought of entitling the piece “Spy vs. spy”. So much more catchy.  Alas, nothing to do with the topic, but regular readers know that rarely deters me. In my humble hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, we have exactly one daily newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News.  I receive said paper on a daily basis and peruse it with mild interest.  Not so this Sunday afternoon.

Copy of tarpsagain 012bbbb

No doubt most garden bloggers are writing about spring.  Sensible, and most welcome after a long winter.  Since my spring news consists of the latest triangulations for measuring snow cover, counts on moist doggy land mines (I’m up to six, but there is still plenty of snow….), and tracking the dust storms from the winter road gravel, I figured I wouldn’t bore you all with my unsavory spring details.  I can thank my local paper for a more compelling topic.

Finally, after long neglect, the topic of blue tarps appeared in print in a newspaper with the largest circulation in Alaska.  (Yes, even I am impressed, at least thirty other people must have read that article, too!)  Dirty secret or just uninteresting, I’m not sure why it hasn’t been written about before.  Of course, not one to bypass obscure and meaningless topics, I have written about blue tarps, it being an integral part of living in this state, and I being intrigued by certain blights, warts, and general weirdness associated with Alaska.

Check out my salutary shot on the subject here, and for my jolly Christmas card on the subject, click here.  And now experts have determined what we all knew: blue tarps bring down property values, tick off neighbors, and are only slightly less conspicuous than the sun at midday, Donald Trump’s hair, and a train wreck.  I feel like the cat that got the cream.  You don’t have to take my word for it, read the opinion of long-time residential real estate brokers, Barbara and Clair Ramsey in full here.

Their article “Home next door can affect ability to sell your house”  to which I would add the subtitle “No, duh!”, contains some hard truths, readily apparent to 99% of the population in general, and to approximately 75% of Alaskans. Some people cannot fathom this simple truth, as captured so aptly by the columnists, that “the vibrant blue telegraphs this bold statement: “I will be the first thing you see when you look out your window!  Not the mountains, not the view, not the trees…just ME and only ME!” 

tarpsagain 014

Perhaps only Alaskans can truly witness all the horrors possible with this medium, but I have included two humble examples, for a taste of what we live with every day.  Surely, you are pleased neither one is your neighbor!  Two more exquisite extracts, rife with vindication for me: “not quite certain why blue tarps have become so popular as a universal outdoor cover” and “the appearance of a blue tarp is never a positive selling point.” 

I’m thinking of running off a few copies and mailing them to especially egregious cases as a favor to the city, neighbors of “blue tarpers”, and humanity in general.  One bright spot: I have noticed increasing numbers of people flipping the blue tarp over and using the gray side instead, for as the Ramsey’s rightly note “some color choices blend more easily into the surrounding scenery” and “tarp color choices include white, green, silver, brown, clear, mesh,and camouflage.”  I eagerly await my first camo tarp sighting.  But perhaps that’s the point.  I might have seen one and not known it.  What a radical thought…. 


Will buyers be negatively influenced by one of your neighbors?  Or are you the naughty/colorblind neighbor?


  1. I remember reading about the blue tarps here months ago!!!! Do they REALLY make them in camo????? That would be cool & a must have around here to!!hahahaha

  2. @JesterSo far camo is an urban legend as I have never seen one. I'd like to believe, I really would....


  3. I have a brown one (silver on the back side!) that I cover my woodpile with in winter. It does blend better with the surroundings, but it's still a big sheet of plastic.

  4. Thanks for a much-needed giggle. My friend, Sandy's, neighbor owns the biggest ass SUV I've ever seen - neatly wrapped up in a dirty blue tarp. I think of you every time I drive over there to visit her... I recently told her to find your blog and commiserate! :D

  5. I was having just a crummy day today. I read your blue tarp rant with sympathy. Then I went to your Christmas version of blue tarp world. I laughed so hard. Thank you! I needed that. It was well done. Yes, there is a camo tarp. When the winter winds invaded our dog kennel my husband proudly came home with one to protect Ella. Thank goodness, it wasn't blue!

  6. @Alan,
    You are a prince among peasants, or you would be if you lived up here. Brown tarps are the cream of the crop!

    Well, at least it's dirty. There's nothing quite as eye-catching as a brand new big blue.

    @Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms,
    Glad to hear the camo tarp is in fact real. Your husband needs to train mine in tarp selection. We have mostly blue ones...all residents of the garage thankfully.


  7. Oh to be a good neighbor and flip. Not so sure I would be that appreciative though. Still a horrid eyesore.

  8. As I was reading this I was thinking "don't they make other less offensive colors". Then you answered my question. Only after a tornado would I use one of these. UGH...

  9. Great post, as usual, Christine. Hooray for all of you fine souls for getting the word out about these ghastly eyesores.

  10. I am patiently waiting for the camo tarp sighting.

  11. Tarps appear in Arkansas, as well. Although they have a tendency to linger in more rural areas than in the city. I've seen them covering boats, wood piles and garden fountains. But the most ingenious use I have seen them put to is as the liner used to convert a pickup truck bed into a temporary swimming pool.

  12. That's so funny that it was published in the newspaper. I actually thought of you as I flew into New Jersey the other week. As we passed over a neighborhood, I was like, oh my god!! I can see all the tarps of New Jersey!!! That was pretty cool to get the birds eye view. ha ha!

  13. @gwgt,
    I suppose there are worse eyesores...the municipal dump, perhaps?

    I've actually seen a more offensive color: bright orange. Well, a tie maybe.

    If I could just get a Hollywood actor to take up the cause.

    I think they deserve mythical status along with unicorns and honest politicians.

    Boat covers and woodpile tents are two very common uses here as well. But roofs for homes and cocoons for convertibles are also fashionable.

    An air sighting in Jersey, love it! I should be ambitious and get a sighting map going....


  14. I recently sold my home which resided next to the home of an amateur airplance builder. He often had wings, engine parts and seating on his front lawn. Not sure how that quite affected my property value...


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