I am an independent scholar with a wide variety of interests. I have many projects in process or merely in contemplation, more than I can possibly complete. Graffiti was not on my intellectual agenda when, in October of 2006, I was walking about my Jersey City neighborhood and noticed things and stuff that prompted me to take pictures. Not remarkable or beautiful things, just ordinary things on the streets. So I got out my Canon point-and-shoot and began walking the streets taking pictures.
I won the raffle at a party thrown by a job agency a while back, and one of the prizes was a gift certificate from Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee; a single glass of Coke at dinner is enough to move my sleep time back an hour or more. But Starbucks sells other stuff, so I had a cup of hot chocolate and bought the Dylan No Direction Home CD.
The PBS special on Dylan was directed by Scorsese, and covered Dylan’s career up to the point where he had his motorcycle accident. It feels important, somehow, that Dylan survived the accident, that he didn’t follow the “good career move” that got so many of the other 60s icons. Dylan was always the Trickster, so it also feels appropriate, and besides, living is better than dying. I don’t care how many mediocre albums he’s made since then, how many unmemorable songs. He’s alive; good for him.
One of the things that was very obvious, and left very unmentioned, in No Direction Home was how thoroughly ripped he was for much of the time.
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New blog banner by longtime friend of the Minister of Justice, Serafin.
About two weeks ago (I’m writing this on 23 July 2007) I was checking my Flickr account to see if anyone had commented on any of my photos. I hit paydirt. One PLASMA SLuGS (red ribbon for WAR} (yeah, all of it, including the little twiddly brace at the end) had made the following comment about one of my graffiti photographs: “please if u dont mind tell me where n how to get here.” Bingo!
As some of you party loyalists may know, I’ve been photographing local graffiti since last Fall. The visage of our fine and noble 3Tops is, in fact, one of the grafs I’d found, not to mention other WAAGNFNP notables, such as Toothy. Grafs, however, are generally illegal, and the people who paint them don’t leave contact information on them. Thus, while I now have hundreds, thousands even, of photographs of grafs within a mile or so of my apartment, I don’t know who painted them. And, since I have no roots in the area, I’ve got no social network through which I can track them down.
That’s one of the reason I’d started posting my photos to Flickr. I figured that some of the writers (a term of art) would see them and perhaps, one day, one of them would contact me about them. SLuGS is the first.
Of course, I told him where the picture was taken - in Jersey City, about a mile in from the Holland Tunnel near the old Bergen Tunnel. I also offered to take him on a tour of the local grafs. He took me up on my offer and showed up that Sunday afternoon with his wife, a backpack full of spray paint, and a Canon single-lens reflex camera. I revved up Google Earth and showed them where we were, where the grafs were, and off we went, with the intention of going into the Erie Cut.
On the way there SLuGS did a little painting, with both his wife and I snapping pictures:
That’s the SLuG, the identifying mark that he uses instead of the nickname that most writers use. It’s painted on the base of one of the columns supporting I78 as it comes down off the Jersey Heights (or the Jersey Palisades) and feeds into the Holland Tunnel. He’s done thousands of these here and there, mostly I’d guess in the New York City area, but other places as well. He’s been to Amsterdam and he’s made cooperative arrangements to get the PLASMA SLuG up all over.
Here’s an action shot:
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