STAFF PICK: We were initially enthusiastic about the sound premise of giving the non-descript, stucco exterior of this downtown commercial plaza a new paint job. But who could have predicted the abomination unleashed this summer on an unsuspecting public? La Placita's garish facelift is like a paint-splattered Rorschach test that -- to any emotionally stable, intelligent mind -- screams "Lawsuit!" The schizoid color scheme is a nauseating collision of ultra-bright turquoise, orange, primary yellow, hot pink, purple and red-brown, which in various places bleeds into the next wall and the unsuspecting shrubbery with sloppy overspray. In our shock and horror, we mumbled out-loud to no one in particular that they could have spent a few extra dollars and hired an artist. A passing inmate, walking briskly (one presumes) to escape the pulsating spectacle as quickly as possible, answered that the Village's new owners had indeed employed an artist-consultant to realize their vision, in hopes of attracting new residents. Just when we thought they'd stopped the insanity, a second wave of yellow and agent-orange assault has in recent weeks assailed the Church Avenue pedestrian bridge. We fear the hulking parking garage on the east side of the street may be next. And then what, rainbow-festooned City Hall?
To further add insult to injury, billboards have been springing up in parts of downtown -- parts in which the view of La Placita is mercifully blocked by buildings newly appreciated for their comforting brick, marble and glass facades. The message: "La Placita: A Brilliant Idea!" We wait, trembling, to see what manner of like-minded tenant this maniacal trolling will snare.