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Strapped to my bag was a large blue hard-hat. On the hard-hat is a label that says "Liam", as if it were my name, and a large sticker that says "Safety first in 2001!". I had been wearing the hat this past weekend at a party. I stepped on to the R train, a line that crosses much of midtown en route to my connection at Times Square, and as such, generally sees a good selection of passengers, mostly mid-towners, tourists, and people returning from shopping in Chinatown.
A painfully-hip looking girl sat down next to me, immediately glancing at the hat on which my fingers were rhythmically tapping, in time to my headphone music. She was saying something. I quickly pressed pause on the disc player, catching the last half of her sentence, which went something like "...construction, huh?"
I said, in an unintentionally dead-pan monotone, "I'm not a construction worker", and turned the music back on. She spoke again, I paused again, and caught "...Liam?" as the music faded. Abruptly, I said, "and my name's not Liam, believe it or not" before stepping off that train and across the platform to catch the 3, leaving her utterly confused.
That era of the City has long since passed, and only now and then do echos of it make it through the constant day to day hum of development, rebuilding, and general modernity now blanketing the City. Often are the days I look through the train windows while in tunnels, covering the edges of my face with my hand to block the glare and light, staring out at the huge old murals that pass, in the dark depths of the tunnels, in the crevices that no one bothered to buff.
This weekend I saw something rare, indeed. As my train pulled into the station, I saw before me a large graffiti mural on the tile wall. I dashed from the train to snap a photo of this Sunday afternoon marvel, before Monday morning's pending cleaners could wash it down the drain.
People loitered around its base, gazing up at its larger-than-life height, crazy spray-art workmanship that edged into the brink of illegible. The photo-op was irresistible. Unfortunately, my digicam was battery-drained and my lomo was out of film.
With no photo to show, I knew I'd end up writing about it in place of showing it. So, I stared long and hard at the mural, realizing that I had stepped off the train, forced to wait for the next on a slow weekend schedule, just to look at a modern jumble of aerosol art, taking home no photo to preserve what would surely quickly be buffed off.
This article has been viewed 15200 times in the last 11 years
Peter: 15th Apr 2008 - 02:53 GMT
I wasn't at all interested in any of the possible aesthetic qualities of graffiti, just transfixed by the look of a city that couldn't afford to clean itself up
i like that phrase. god, i vaguely remember writing this. it seems like a lifetime-and-a-half ago. over 6 years now. 20% of my life.
i wish i had have been able to get a pic of that graf. cause i cant, for the life of me, remember what the tag was.
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