Earphones and chopsticks! Remote control! Weirdness grips city as scrawler stalks Dupont Circle! "It makes me nervous," says Bette Leigh, receptionist at Chase photographic studios on 19th Street.
"I was going to park here Saturday night but I changed my mind" says a woman at the law firm on Jefferson Place.
Sunderland Place, 19th Street, 20th Street, alley after alley south of the circle: The graffiti have all appeared in the last few weeks, spray-painted in letters nearly a foot high. Clearly, the old Smash The State/Eat The rich stuff is outmoded.
"STOP DIRTY CHOP STICKBALL RAILOADS" reads the sidewalk in front of 1824 Jefferson Place.
"I've been trying to figure them out," says meter maid Shirley Brown.
"EAPHONES MIND AND BODY HELL FOR CLASS DIRTY BETRAY OF US ALL," says the wall in the alley back of Burger chef, where two men chatting over a half-pint of Gordon's gin say: "you're gonna have to ask the younger fellas about that stuff. They know what it means."
No cause for alarm, no doubt, though the onlooker has to be impressed with the slogan painted in red on N St: "THE TERROR OF FALLING ONLY A FER INCHES TRU REMOTE CONTROL VIOLENCE."
A few inches... the thing is that this one is sprayed on the wall 11 feet in the air.
"Wellcome to Washington," says one Jefferson Place lawyer.
Another one figures it's somebody from the nearby Federal Communications Commission, "all that remote control stuff."
At the Mental Health Law Project on 19th Street, a staffer walks away shouting "Slander! Defamation!" when questioned about the graffiti. A back room conference produces a statement from accountant Judy Schlosser: "Really, we have no idea. It could be anyone."
Anyone? Would anyone paint EARPHONE and FASCIST CONTROL on the pillar over the subway station?
Subways...of course...they built the Washington subway so that you can't get at the walls, New York-style, to blazon your identity in balloon cursive for the world see: LI'L SNIFF OF 92D ST, and so on in the guerrilla literature Norman Mailer celebrated in "The Faith of Graffiti."
Maybe the scraw had been stashing spray cans for all the years the subway was promised, and one trip down the escalator and his mind snapped like a celery stalk. Of course! Suddenly a dour gleam of sense lurks in STOP REVERSING HUMAN FEELINGS BY REMOTE CONTROL FOR CLASS RIPOFFS. Never mind that REVERSING also gets rendered as REVERING, particularly on 20tn Street.
The pen in mightier than the sword, you know that don't you?" says Officer A. D. McNally between handing out jaywalking tickets. "How long you been in this area? You got any idea what a police officer goes through in this city? Somebody fills out a PD 99 complaint form, you spend all day exonerating yourself..."
A woman from Albany rescues the listener by corssint N Street against the light, Officer McNally raps the clicker of his ballpoint pen against his ticket book. It diesn't catch. "Can I borrow your pen?" he asks, and decides to let the woman from Albany off with a warning. Cops have better things to do than worry about graffiti artists, even one who, conceivebly, is 11 feet tall.
"Nah, h* walked on top of parked cars is all," says McNally.
Usually, says a building manager on 19th Street, "it's the obscenities. I can't relate to this stuff."
They keep saying that they don't understand it, what does it means, this SHRINKS SOCIETIES RICH PYRMID POLICE?
AS IF THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND IT, INTELLECTUAL INSECURITY BEING THE CHIEF LEGACY OF ACANT-GARDE ART AND LITERATURE.
THINK OF IT AS THE EQUIVALENT OF A PEKING WALL POSTER, IN THIS AGE OF THE POLITICS OF EHT EGO. OR, IF PENS HAVEN'T BEING DOING THAT WELL AGAINST SWORDS LATELY, SPRAY CANS OF PAINT (THE SCRAWLER FAVORS ORANGE AND BLUE) MAY BE THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP. AND WHO, AFTER ALL, CAN DENY "THE TERROR OF FALLING ONLY A FEW INCHES TRU REMOTE CONTROL VIOLENCE?"