Graffiti (Frankie Anthology – 2016)
Throughout the ages man has felt an insatiable desire to self publish. The origins of blog and zine culture can be traced back to the Stone Age. It was here that early man first became aware of his own genitals and was able to draw them on a cave wall (a cromagnadoodle).
This is the art world’s equivalent of inventing the wheel. Man then got in touch with his own ego (“grong woz ere 10000 b.c.”), and published a primitive rant piece (“mamoth sux.”) These incidents would also provide the well-tagged cornerstone for modern-day graffiti, which has itself evolved from “for a good time call” booty texts to pseudo-academic philosophies and grammar-defying blather.
My first memory of graffiti was in my hometown of Burnie where someone had spray-painted ‘BAD DUES’ on the swimming-pool wall. They were obviously such bad dudes they didn’t need all the letters. Other haikus included “RAP MUSIC”, “Karissa is a mole”, and a super-smiley, out-of- proportion woman about to rendezvous with a finger. When I was 10 I took time out from a pleasant family BBQ to use a public toilet, only to read some explicit scrawls about pleasuring a clitoris. There was no internet ‘safe search’ or shrink-wrap plastic to protect me from this self-published smut. Who were these profane prophets, putting the amen in amenities?
Stepping into a cussed-up cubicle is like being inside a not-so beautiful mind. Similar to the scene where Russell Crowe’s maths theories sprawl out like vines, in the uriney toilet it’s more of a spidery throwback to The Shining. The manic, the frustrated, the crestfallen and the bemused, their all-work-no-play primal screams tattooed in hexed texta. After a couple of breath-defying sessions in ‘they smell how I feel’ unisex booths, I’ve identified the five main genres of faffiti as:
ANGRY: ”fuckin shoeless punx homos the lot of em.” Burnt-out teacher-turned-pot-dealer who’s ran out of papers and missed out on the open mic blackboard.
POLITICAL: “You tosser…it’s getting weird everywhere. We’re so lucky here. Ever imagined Stalin’s USSR or Nazi Germany, or the Chinese cultural revolution? Get your head out of your own ass you tragic person.” Political Science student coked out on No-Doz in the ninth trimester of his PhD riffing with a Kerry O’Brien hallucination.
PHILOSOPHICAL: “Always keep a diamond in your mind.” Drifter hippy girl big on spirituality and getting smashed – full of love, unreliability and Tom Waits lyrics.
POETIC: “By the flickering stars with my legs around his hips. The currency of love is being cremated.” Scholarly goth hip-gypsy calamity girl with long legs and dark eyes. A walking Nick Cave song who’s constantly “burning off” and “workshopping.”
FUNNY: “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?” Youth worker slash amateur comedian, spends a lot of time with teenagers – communicates in Simpsons quotes and sees toilet wall as platform for positive change.
I have an admiration for anyone who takes the time to write a letter to the editor in God’s pool room. Being a democracy, other users have the right of reply. The silver pen statement “LOVE EVERYONE” was met with “(except you).” The incongruous “I am in the ladies” was backed up with “fair play to u brother.” While my favourite was “playing banjo is the key to happiness all your problems”. On the bottom of the door was this quivering sonnet:
“all I had to do
was hold onto you
when the world spins so fast
and our grips cannot last
the force that holds us here
finally disappears. Xox.”
I felt a pang of sadness and took out my pen to reply, but found that I’d been beaten to the punch. “LIFE SUCKS DICKHEAD.” Sometimes words are enough.