Saturday, 21 March 2015

History of Graffiti: Kilroy Was Here

Do you remember Kilroy? It is the first graffiti I remember.   Long ago in Morgantown, West Virginia, while walking with my mother, I saw Kilroy for the first time.  

Kilroy is mentioned in the Dictionary of American Slang,  Langensheidt © 1975, as a nonentity that originated with US troops in WW1.  I've not seen Kilroy mentioned in other print dictionaries nor online versions.  Oxford holds no entry, Larousse, none, the Winston Dictionary neither.  It's typical to ignore graffiti but The World is Our Canvas is a graffers moto and Kilroy Was Here proves it.  Kilroy is history.

There are several websites dedicated to the urban legend, Kilroy was here-- how it may have originated. That website hosts personal testimonies. Much evidence suggests Kilroy originated with US troops but one of the legends talks of ancient Irish Lore : “Kilroy, son of here”.  

Here is the poem by Peter Viereck:

Also Ulysses once--that other war
(Is it because we find his scrawl
Today on every privy door
That we forget his ancient role?)
Also was there--he did it for the wages--
When a Cathay-drunk Genoese set sail.
Whenever "longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,"
Kilroy is there;
he tells the Miller's Tale.
At times he seems a paranoiac king
Who stamps his crest on walls and says, "My own!"
But in the end he fades like a lost tune,
Tossed here and there, whom all the breezes sing.
"Kilroy was here"; these words sound wanly gay,
Haughty yet tired with long marching.
He is Orestes--guilty of what crime?--
For whom the Furies still are searching;
When they arrive they find their prey
(leaving his name to mock them) went away.
Sometimes he does not flee from them in time:
"Kilroy was--"
(with his blood a dying man
Wrote half the phrase out in Bataan.)
Kilroy, beware. "HOME" is the final trap
That lurks for you in many a wily shape:
In pipe-and-slippers plus a Loyal Hound
Or fooling around, just fooling around.
Kind to the old (their warm Penelope)
But fierce to boys,
thus "home" becomes the sea,
Horribly disguised, where you were always drowned,--
(How could suburban Crete condone
The yarns you would have V-mailed from the sun?)--
And folksy fishes sip Icarian tea.
One stab of hopeless wings imprinted your
Exultant Kilroy-signature
Upon sheer sky for all the world to stare:
"I was there! I was there! I was there!"
God is like Kilroy; He, too, sees it all;
That's how He knows of every sparrow's fall;
That's why we prayed each time the tightropes cracked
On which our loveliest clowns contrived their act
The G. I. Faustus who was everywhere
Strolled home again, "What was it like outside?"
Asked Can't, with his good neighbors Ought and But
And pale Perhaps and grave-eyed Better Not;
For "Kilroy" means: the world is very wide.
He was there, he was there, he was there!
And in the suburbs Can't sat down and cried.

The English version of the Wikipedia article Kilroy was here states that the graffito's origins are debatable.  It mentions the names Kilroy has throughout the world:  Chad, Some, Clem, Moita, Foo was here, Sapo.

The French version of the Wikipedia article Kilroy was Here suggest only that the graffito originated with the US troops in Normandy. There is a detailed list of uses in popular culture.  The French version states that during the conference of Potsdam, Stalin asked his assistant “Who is Kilroy?”  Noteworthy uses in popular culture for 'Kilroy Was Here' are: Isaac Asimov’s “The Message” (1955), Elia Kazan’s film A Street Car Named Desire (1951), and in the Manga Prophecy de Tetsuya Tsutsui.  See the article for a full list.

The Italian version of the Wikipedia article Kilroy Was Here also states that the origins are debatable.  The etymologyst David Wilton published an article stating that Chad, the English version and Kilroy the U.S. version fused during the war.  It doesn’t say which war.  The Italian version also reports that Stalin asked the famous question and that Hitler thought Kilroy was an American super-spy.  The Italian links to other mentions in popular culture that the French article doesn’t state.

The Straight Dope article about Kilroy is worth reading.  It mentions that the New York Times published an article about Kilroy in 1946. 

All of the articles say that the significance of the graffito, Kilroy, is not the illustration itself but its ubiquitous appearances. 
Edited 5 April, 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Op-ed Cartoon for Janet Reid's blog

If you follow awesome lit agent Janet Reid's blog, this is for you.

 This was fun, more to come.  I may need help with captions.  The drawing is the easy part.

Friday, 13 March 2015

graffiti Throw-Up on the Seine

A Throw-Up is also called a throwie.  It's a graffiti piece quick to paint, usually block lettering or rounded lettering with shadows. Usually they are one step to the right and one to the left.  Train cars and delivery trucks are covered with them.  Here, the writer risked falling two stories or more onto the stone banks of the Seine.  This peice is located close to the Pont Notre-Dame just accros from the Marché au Fleurs on la Cité.

This is currently one of my favorite throwies in Paris. It can be seen from far. It's up on the back of a bouquiniste -- those book vendors lining the Seine's banks.

See how high the wall is?  I took this photo on a different day.  Paris is beautiful, n'est-ce pas?

Graffiti is one of the four creative mediums  in the hip hop movement.  Music, especially rap and turntablism are also part of it.  I wonder if the graffer was thinking of Jason Derulo when he/she wrote BUBLE BUTT.

Here's the song.  How many moblie phones use that whistle?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Paris Today

This is not Paris today, this is Paris everday, the highway A6.  Luckily it is not my everyday ride.  I hate driving, I don’t even own a car and if someone gave me one I’d sell it.   But sometimes you just have to drive one on a highway, out of town to get what you need.

I didn't have a truck like this one parked on Boulevard Richard Lenoir close to scene of the recent terrorist attack on Paris.

Here’s the car I wanted to take.  I'd drive that anywhere.  Even if someone smashed it in the parking lot, it's still hot. Note: two reasons to avoid automobile ownership in Paris: Damage by others and undesired nightime visits.

The A6 is one of the tarmac belts winding around the city of lights.   It won’t take you to the Hotel de Ville or the Pont Neuf but it will take you to IKEA, Orly and beyond. It may never be on Ricks  Steeves's off-the-beaten path but it is a scenic drive if you're into grafitti.  It's a an extra-urban gallery viewable on a flyby.  The taggers risk their lives.  If you've read my posts about the taggers who die to graff, you know.

funny gifs

Climbing to a heaven spot over speeding traffic, probably at the heart of the night, to bomb the back of a traffic sign has to be risky.  I can't imagine the thrill.  It doesn't inspire me.  But I love the work these anonymous artist do to decorate the A6, an otherwise ugly strip of cement.

 The taggers most likely don't have ladders to climb up to those heaven spots.

funny gifs

I wonder how they access these places and to what extremes they are willing to go.  The A6, or any highway, is an extremely dangerous place to stroll along and spray paint.  The anti-sound barrier is covered wall-to-wall in throw-ups,  kilometers of paint.

Even the cement pylons in the meridian between the lanes are bombed.  Graffers  have to cross one of the lanes to get there, I doubt there is an underground passage.

Why do these people risk their lives to graff these ugly places?  I don't know. I've been researching this for over a year.  Graffiti in Paris struck me when I moved here.  I wasn't used to it.  I doubt I ever will be. What makes graffers tick.  I've come to beleive that it is freedom of expression at its extreme. 

Just entering Paris there is a ribbon of tiles that is there to beautify.  It was surely funded by public money.  Taggers left their mark and paste-ups publicize concerts.  When it's gridlock drivers have the time to read the small type.

Even the underpasses burn with graffiti.

This really is Paris.  Can you see the Eiffel tower?  That's avenue d' Ivry.

Is there a highway near you that is covered in graffiti?  Send me photos and tell me where they are.  I'll post them here.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Paris today.

Self-irony is not an art, any one is capable.  

We are all humans careening on the planet earth in a big black hole called the universe.  

We, earthlings, are exploding together towards some unknown meteorite called death.  

We are connected by our feet to a sphere of minerals,  stuck by a force called by gravity that no scientist or religion can define.  The same ball. 

All our heads in the same atmosphere, in the clouds. 

 There is only NOW.   

THIS is our paradise. 

Why do we have to take ourselves so seriously?  

We are all mortals, fornicating, birthing, educating and dying over and over.


 Freedom of speech is our right as humans, anywhere, everywhere, anytime.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Je suis Charlie - #JeSuisCharlie

Vive la liberté d'expression!
Vive l'ironie!