When I was a teenager and had my own bedroom I would put posters up on the walls. These were usually maps of amusement parks like Magic Mountain or Disneyland, or “funny” posters such as the “Instructions to patrons on premises in case of nuclear bomb attack” one which had these last steps:
7. Immediately upon seeing the brilliant flash of nuclear explosion, bend over and place your head firmly between your legs.
8. Then kiss your ass goodbye.
This poster would have gone up around 1980 so the advice was actually pretty spot-on given global politics at the time.
As an adult I’ve never put up posters or any kind of art on the walls and I’m not entirely sure why. I obviously wqouldn’t put up maps of amusements parks and I’d stay away from “humorous” posters, too, but surely there must be something I’d like to have hanging on the wall besides errant spider webs.
And now there is.
Last year I bought a 13 x 19 inch poster and a few weeks ago finally got a frame for it and it now hangs resplendently in the computer nook:
A few days ago during The Rains I trod to the Sapperton SkyTrain station to begin my morning commute and I discovered this message finger-painted onto the glass near where I usually stand on the platform.
One might quibble about the lack of proper punctuation but the message is nonetheless unambiguous. What I find most intriguing is what would prompt someone to:
Feel this angry while standing on the platform of a commuter train very early in the morning (before 6:30 a.m.)
Be moved to transfer the anger into a message written via finger on a rain-slicked sheet of glass
This leads to other questions, such as:
What did the person feel later, when they were presumably on the train. Remorse? Regret? Catharsis? Ongoing anger?
Would I be able to pick this person out if I suddenly found myself on the car on which the angry scribe was riding?
Has this person written similar messages before?
Is this act usually a one-off or just one in a series?
Is the person–almost certainly a guy (sorry, guys, you know we’re mostly jerks) an otherwise nice fellow, entirely reasonable, and just found himself in a foul mood due perhaps to an unexpected and unpleasant event?
I am slightly sad I will never know the answers to these questions, though I’m not sure what I would do with the answers, anyway. Maybe one day I’ll make the answers up and turn it into a story called “The Messenger.”
As I waited for a train to trundle by at the crossing at Government Street in Burnaby, I snapped a picture of this bit of wisdom someone had spray-painted onto the sidewalk (the train isn’t invisible, it’s on the second track which is not visible in my photo):
Is it a coincidence that this was put down at a train crossing? But not only a train crossing, one with double tracks and at an intersection, which is a perfect combo for some sort of horrible accident–er, I mean a place where something might be observed to be “coming apart.” Also of note, a short distance down the road is where a 150+ car train derailed a few years ago.
Or maybe it’s an observation about people, like “I really understood Uncle Festus after that day he totally came unglued.” Or maybe it just means “take lots of pictures when you dismantle the engine on your lawn mower, otherwise you’ll end up putting it back together, then find six vital engine pieces sitting behind you.”
It was time to test out the scanner of the new multi-function Brother MFC-9130CW or as I like to call it, the heavy thing that sits on the corner of the desk behind me, so I grabbed a collection of Mac and Tosh comics I made when I was a wee one. As you will see below, my sense of humor was already suitably dark, albeit somewhat unsophisticated. The bleed-through is an accurate reflection of the thin and worn paper, hence I’ve made no attempt to fix it.
I dated some of my earliest comics but not this series. There are several important clues, though. The lowercase “a” is written the “normal” way and I switched to the “fancy” version around the age of 10 or 11. The appalling spelling (“heavan” and “hear we come”) also indicates the period before I suddenly developed an internal spelling checker. I’m going to say I was around 8 or 9 years old at the time this epic was penned.
Speaking of penned, I bravely inked the comic without drawing it in pencil first. Note the very first word was a mistake that I crossed out and corrected. Perhaps white-out did not exist back then. You can also see the classic “make a balloon then scrunch the words to fit inside it” technique favored by many budding comic strip auteurs.
Sadly, Parts 1 and 2 seem to have gone missing. One can only imagine the tense build up leading to the eventual catastrophic demise of the characters.
Also, I can’t recall which was Mac and which was Tosh. Their names are directly ripped off of the Goofy Gophers featured in Warner Brothers cartoons, of which I was (and remain) a big fan. At the time I probably thought of it as an homage. At least I didn’t also make them gophers. Their explosive deaths could have been inspired by one of many Warner Brothers cartoons but most likely something from the Roadrunner series. I like how either Mac or Tosh looks on the bright side even as they let slip their mortal coils.
The last three panels are scratched in with pencil and I have no idea what the cryptic “TERRI DID THE” message refers to (Terri is one of my sisters). I also have no idea what the circle, #, square and 61 are references to or why they are repeated twice. It’s like clues to a murder mystery, but the only deaths I know of are in the panels above these would-be clues.
Anyway, I’m going to recreate these strips to see how they’d look from an adult perspective. My guess is sad, but in a different and less-cute way.
Is this a new trend in Vancouver? Recently I have come across two depictions of male genitalia etched or sprayed onto a sidewalk in the local neighborhood. What compels someone to memorialize such a thing for all to see? I cannot say.
The first one is on Glen Drive, along the route I take to China Creek Park for my runs. It was carefully created before the fresh concrete had a chance to set. At first I thought it might have been the start of a brontosaurus or some other similar dinosaur since the scrotum looks more like a pair of legs. I hope this was not a self-study.
The second one appeared recently on the sidewalk beside a boarded house where Knight Street turns into Clark. By coincidence the house was being torn down today when I took the picture, so it is possible this particular piece of art may not last much longer. There is little ambiguity as to what the artist is depicting here in bold, vibrant strokes. I wonder if this spot was chosen because it was next to an abandoned property. I suspect so. It suggests a certain thoughtfulness one wouldn’t necessarily expect from someone spraypainting a penis onto a sidewalk.