Tag Archives: Graffiti

The writing on the wall

dsc04513My guide, Mustafa, was incredibly helpful. In addition to keeping me from getting hopelessly lost, he was able to explain the subtleties of Marrakech to me. I saw what looked like rather organized graffiti and asked the obvious question: “What does it mean?”

Apparently, it’s political. And, it’s not really graffiti.

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Shithead and the Job-Hunter

This is from another wall on that same corner where the retailer is setting up shop. Apparently, it’s fertile ground for graffiti. Sexy, Hungry and the True Believer have two other friends: Shithead and the Job-Hunter.

I don’t know what Shithead’s story is, but the message is blunt. She is a shithead. It says so right on her, so it must be true. I saw it in person, and you’re reading it on the internet. What’s not to believe?

Job-Hunter’s situation is a bit more complex. It’s hard to see the writing on the picture in the blog posting, but you can get a closer look by clicking on the image. The young lady uses her forehead to tell us, “This is just a job.” How true …

But, for a different passer-by, this wasn’t good enough. So, he wrote, “Get one if you don’t like it.” I suppose that means, “Get a job if you don’t like starving yourself and giving everyone who walks by a complex.”

I do wonder if the models in any of these pictures ever cruise through the Upper West Side and see themselves defaced. If they do, they have my sympathy. After all, once you have worked hard for a living, it must be difficult to see your efforts defaced and in an extremely personal way.

However you cut it, though, it was thought-provoking. But, I always stop and read graffiti anyway.

Sexy, Hungry and the True Believer

I saw some cool graffiti in my neighborhood today. There’s some new retail joint going into the buildingon the northwest corner of W 71st St and Columbus Ave. It used to be a Penang (restaurant), but the restaurant moved around the corner to W 72nd St between Columbus and Amsterdam. But, that’s not really the point here. The point is that I saw some interesting graffiti.

As you know, I am fascinated with graffiti. I don’t like it as art. In fact, I think “graffiti art” is bullshit. But, I like graffiti that makes you think. I won’t bore you with all this again, so if you haven’t read my other piece on this, check out this post first.

Well, on the corner of W 71st and Columbus, some disgruntled wanderer defaced the advertisement that is supposed to keep you satisfied until you actually get to shop at the store that is coming in. While this stuff is mean-spirited, truly, it also does make you think. The sheer brutality of the “commentary” was enough to stop me in my tracks. Then, when I thought about it, I realized that I had to do some blogging.

Let me tell you about Sexy, Hungry and the True Believer.

Sexy really is. You take a look at the thigh on which the label is written, and it doesn’t take much to see that she lives up to it. Her face being marred is probably an attempt to counteract her apparent sexiness, a rejection of her implict claim (made explicit by the tagger).

“I’m so sexy,” now comes across as conceited and damaged, thanks to the work of an angry person who probably doesn’t live in my neighborhood. After all, we’re all nice people here.

But, it would be a shame simply to focus all my efforts on Sexy. You know, Hungry deserves some attention, too. Her story even has a bit of depth to it, which I bet surprises the shit out of you.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but a crude word bubble is coming from blondie’s mouth, “I’m so hungry.” Hell, I bet she is. I’d be hungry all the time, too, if I had to live like she does. I’m much happier eatng than not, so I’ll never be able to understand Hungry’s lifestyle.

 As I mentioned, Hungry has some depth. “Look” is written right across her chest. Normally, I would be happy to do so, but without the lettering, there is no reason to turn your gaze there. Hey, the chick doesn’t eat. She’s a fucking model. That means she has no body fat, and her chest reflects this reality. Nonetheless, she’s tagged as a sex object, and the word “Look” drives the point home. You are participating in objectification, and it’s all the tagger’s fault!

And, finally, we get to the True Believer.

She has “Love” tattooed across her forehead and a longing look on her face. She doesn’t reveal much of her body and is at the bottom of the image.

How did she get off so easy?

I guess the tagger couldn’t fit “Desperate” or “Lonely” across her face. Or, maybe there’s some latent optimism fighting to get out. Either way, this chick got lucky compared to the others.

There’s some guy in the picture (which you can see back at the top of the article). I don’t know why he didn’t get any abuse. Maybe, it’s because he’s a retard or simply is not important because everyone’s looking at the ladies. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure makes sense to me.

Some of my favorite graffiti displays

I like graffiti that sends a message. There’s one wall decoration that I still wish I’d captured, but I never got around to it. I used to go to the Peace Club, a dive bar outside Camp Casey in South Korea– back when we still had troops that far north. In the bathroom, they had a piss-trough instead of urinals. I remember it well. The wall over the trough was littered with graffiti; there was barely room for anything new. After all the time I spent there, removing consumed beer from my body, I read most of it. One “exchange” is still crystal clear.

“I used to believe in the common decency of man”

“I still do”

They were written by two people, the second below the first. After a while, I used to pick the spot at the trough that would put these two lines at eye-level. In some ways, I still miss that wall and these two comments. I doubt it’s there any more. Last I heard, the Peace Club was no more. I do hope that management kept that wall intact.

Ever since then, I’ve been extremely interested in graffiti. The first, up top, is from a small covered walkway in Old Quebec. Yeah, some people still aren’t crazy about being French-speakers in an English-speaking country.

Iceland is such a sanitary country, but they are developing a graffiti problem. This wall just struck me as the antithesis of what one expects to see in Iceland.

Tallin, Estonia had some good material as well. The tagger below, it seems, was hungry. I guess he (or she) likes Italian.

The next one, though, is my favorite from Estonia. It sends a pretty powerful political message, and indicates the importance of open dialogue in a free society.

There was clearly a taggers’ debate going on here. First, someone wrote “Fuck Fascism!” I happen to concur. Next, someone put “anti” in front. Since I’m not a fascist, “Fuck AntiFascism!” doesn’t exactly resonate. But, a third person joined the conversation and crossed out “anti,” and then a fourth person crossed out “Fuck”. So, we wind up with the message, “Fascism!” Of course, I could have the order of events a bit screwed up, but we can see clearly where the discussion ends. Such a shame.

Also political was a bit of graffiti I saw in  Paris metro station. This was during the Sarkozy/Segoline election, which got pretty nasty.

Wow, I guess this guy doesn’t watch Fox News!

Icelandic Graffiti

Without the benefit of Harrison Ford, this country has its own “public art.” I always figured that this wolrd leader in puffin-kissing and tree-hugging would be clear all around. I hadn’t realized that they have scumbags defacing public and private property. It’s so bad that the cover story on the English-language Reykjavik Grapevine shows a building covered in graffiti and talks about vacancies. I haven’t read the article yet, but I think I have the gist, especially given the imminent real estate price drop in this city.

While I sound ready to condemn Icelandic graffiti, I am restrained by a sad fact: though not visually appealing, it is the best artwork in Reykjavik. I asked my walking tour guide about the Icelandic art scene. He replied, “Eh.” A trip to the local galleries made his statement seem optimistic. Reykjavik’s galleries had more snowy landscapes and ocean paintings than those in Quebec. It was awful.

The Einar Jonsson Museum Sculpture Garden wasn’t bad. Jonsson, I guess, is Iceland’s most famous sculptor. He’s dead now. The stuff I saw … not bad. I’d take the work of New Yorker Julio Aguilera over Jonsson any day, though.

Bonus if you can see me in the picture