Who is Jeff Holman and why did La Jolla graffiti call him a kook?
La Jolla man offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of taggers who targeted him.
Residents in La Jolla’s Windansea Beach area were greeted by the words “Jeff Holman is a kook” painted in blue recently on neighborhood utility boxes and the beach pump house.
But who is Jeff Holman? And why is he a “kook”?
Turns out, he is a passerby who alerted city officials in late June to a snarl of blue graffiti along the wall of a public path to the beach and, two days later, to a tag scribbled on the Windansea pump house instructing Zonies to stay out.
The 42-year-old investment banker and body surfer took photos and used the city’s Get It Done app to report the tagging. A city cleanup crew immediately painted over the unsightly messages.
On June 26, Holman used the Nextdoor website that serves his neighborhood to thank the city for its prompt action.
Then things got uglier. It appears the disgruntled vandal or vandals may have read his thank-you post, which included his name, and embarked on a new graffiti spree — this time targeting him.
The new round of tagging came to Holman’s attention Sept. 8 as he and his 6-year-old son headed to the beach on their “walk and talk.” Suddenly his son exclaimed, “Dad, look at that,” and pointed to the words “Jeff Holman is a kook” spray-painted across the pump house. “That’s your name,” the boy noted, “but you can’t cook.”
Holman good-naturedly gave his son an impromptu spelling lesson. Then he relayed the tagging incident to Chris Cott, who is well-known in the neighborhood for his mission of painting out graffiti, and got a big surprise.
“You haven’t seen the others?” Cott asked. “I’ve actually wondered, ‘Who is Jeff Holman?’”
Cott said he had painted over the same phrase neatly stenciled in blue on city utility boxes. He sent Holman photos.
Cott, 62, an airbrush artist by trade, said he paints out graffiti every day. “One less makes the world a little better,” he said. He coordinates with local police and Enhance La Jolla and carries a supply of colored paints in his van.
“I look like a tagger. I have black for crossings, silver and white for the backs of signs, three colors of red for the curbs [depending on the fade factor],” he said. He also has tans and light greens for public utility boxes and retaining walls.
When he sees a tag, he pulls over and paints it out if he has the time. If not, he returns later.
He already had repainted three “Jeff Holman is a kook” utility box messages before Holman contacted him.
The more Holman thought about the attack on him, the more incensed he became. He viewed the tagging as retaliation against a well-meaning citizen trying to keep the neighborhood clean and attractive.
So Holman decided to go on the offensive. He notified police that he was being targeted. He also returned to Nextdoor and posted a photo of the tag and answered the question “Who is Jeff Holman?”
“He’s a La Jolla resident who lives here with his family and views tagging his name as an attempt to intimidate him and/or his family. He’s also someone who doesn’t take kindly to intimidation. So he’s the person offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the successful arrest of the vandals responsible for this graffiti.”
Holman announced that anyone interested could contact him through Nextdoor’s messaging link or San Diego police Officer Scott Holden, whom he had consulted about the problem, at email@example.com.
“Even if you don’t really care about graffiti, you should feel a bit uncomfortable that someone trying to do the right thing and keep our neighborhood beautiful is targeted for retribution by criminals reading Nextdoor,” Holman posted. “Even if he is a kook!”
He added that he is willing to “call off the dogs” if the perpetrator messages him, apologizes and promises not to tag again.
An avalanche of neighborhood responders gave him attaboys, virtual back pats and pledges of support. Someone even sent an old photo of the pump house defaced with the message “Tom Wolfe is a dork,” adding, “At least you are a level above Tom Wolfe, reviled author of ‘The Pump House Gang’” (1968).
“All part of the cancel culture,” a Mount Soledad resident commented. “If they don’t like what you stand for, they try to intimidate you. Keep standing up for what is right!”
Another commented: “I’m going to write in Jeff Holman for mayor. Get some yard signs going.”
La Jolla resident Dr. Francis (Skip) Stanton noted that sympathy is nice but real action is needed. He is offering to add $1,000 to the reward. If other pledges come in exceeding $1,000, he’ll match them up to $3,000, he said.
“This man has been cruelly victimized for doing the right thing,” he said. ◆
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