Who Watches the Watchmen Garbage Men?
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Who Watches the Watchmen Garbage Men?


“Nothing ever ends,” the bright blue Doctor Manhattan tells Adrian Veidt towards the end of Watchmen, the seminal graphic novel about costumed heroes. Consistently emotionally unaffected, Doctor Manhattan thinks in purely logical terms, and Veidt, the world’s smartest man, has (spoiler alert!) just killed millions in an elaborate plot intended to rescue a deteriorating world. For the first time, though, Veidt seems in some small way insecure about whether that end justified the means, and asks Doctor Manhattan if he “did the right thing,” because “It all worked out in the end.” “‘In the end’?” Doctor Manhattan replies, “Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”
The city workers’ strike has led to no mass murder, and of yet no big-budget film adaptation (we can dream!), but what’s certain is that whenever it does finish, and whatever its result, its effects—political, economic, and otherwise—will linger on long after for all those involved, just as that pang of uncertainty over whether it was all worth it will for all those responsible. We like to think that all that was somehow in the head of whoever scrawled “WHO WATCHES THE GARBAGE MEN?” in Doctor Manhattan blue on the wall of 1116 King Street West, the City-owned Transportation Services building, a facility responsible in part for “road sweeping,” “grass cutting,” and “pothole and crack repair.” The spray-painted phrase is a play on “WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?”, which derives from a Roman poem warning of unchecked power and which is spray-painted on walls throughout Watchmen. Rita Sarker discovered it on the street-facing wall of the City building yesterday; according to her, it’s “probably been there for four or five days now.”

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