Editor’s Note: Events may not open as fast as they have within the last weeks due to a possible threat of a relapse of cases of the COVID-19 virus reported in the state of California and the Los Angeles region.
However, we are keeping an eye of things when the moment arrives towards the sense of so-called “normalcy”.
Until then, we will continue to publish the articles that were written long before all current events took hold, such as the article below.
In the previous issue, this humble writer composed an article on a book of etiquette that I obtained from a long forgotten relative.
When I pulled that book from the bookshelf it was placed on, I found another book that I had also obtained through the years. It wasn’t a book that I inherited from my family estate, it was a book I grabbed from a long forgotten garage sale. But it’s not really a book per se. It’s a thin 8” x 5” softcover booklet that one could mistake as an owners manual for a electronic device or appliance. However, it’s indeed a curio that speaks about an expression that people used to get a point or two across.
The book itself is entitled Graffiti: Selected Scrawls from Bathroom Walls, published in 1967 by Parallax Publishing, that was part of Simon & Schuster at the time. The book itself consists of graffiti and various writings that were found on the walls of rest rooms as collected by Robert Reisner, a journalist that worked on the jazz music beat for The Village Voice. Each writing prose compiled was categorized by its subject matter such as “Sarcasm and Cynicism”, “Politics”, “Inspiration”, “Homosexual Billets-Doux”, (graffiti written by those in the homosexual/gay community),“Wishes, Yearnings, and Desires”, and other topics of distinction. Many of these writing are rather humorous, while others are explicit (for the era anyway), and rightly honest for what they appear, since most (if not all) of these musing scribbled down were not meant to be recorded in any means of form. They would only last on the walls as long as the ink from the pens didn’t fade out, or they were cleansed off, painted over, or perhaps the walls the writings once appeared were removed from its former spaces.
To give various samples of what Mr. Reisner collected, these are some of the quotes that were compiled that made the final edition of this book(let). These bits of graffiti were mostly found in the men’s room as discovered in public places located within the Manhattan New York areas in the middle 1960‘s, based on the thoughts and opinions of men who would normally patronize the clubs, bars, restaurants, and related locations as the book notes. However, there were some writing of graffiti found in rest rooms located in public schools, drive-ins, retailers such as Woolworth’s, and even stuff written in the ladies rooms! The latter fact assumes that women during this era would even take the time to write anything on the walls where they “did their business”. (And for the record, men would even do “real” business in the men’s room, such as cutting a business deal, signing a contract, or to do outside of what was the usual bathroom duties i.e. doing a “number one” or a “number two!”)
For instance, in the category of Sarcasm and Cynicism, Reisner jotted down such prose as Asian flu for Asians only, Stamp out mental health, Stamp out reality, Stamp out Bert Parks, The graffiti in the men’s room Is better (found on the wall of the ladies room at Lion’s Head, located at 59 Christopher Street), and a musing that had Do Not Write On Walls stenciled by the management of the Forum Coffee House located on Avenue “A”. Below somebody added You want we should type maybe?
In keep with being philosophical, there were a number of lines that speak a truth, such as There are no answers, only mysteries, Obey good laws, break bad ones, When in doubt, worry, The pen is mightier than the pencil, and, Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may be radioactive.
Politics were in high fashion that spoke about what was going on in the nation expressing political leaders such as All the way with L.B.J., L.B.J. either way, Half the way with L.B. J., L.B.J. for ex-President, L.B.J. takes trips, F-ck the great society, and Impeach Johnson. Below that line somebody added We already tried it stupid, in the 19th century!
Urinals also had their fair shake (pun?) as well! A number of instruction were given on how close one should stand to the urinal, such as We aim to please, you aim too, please, Puritan with short muskets step up to the firing line, Pilots with short engine mounts-please taxi up close, Men with short bats stand close to the plate, Stand up close. The next man might have holes in his shoes, If you can read this you are not aiming in the right direction, and If you are reading this you are probably pissing in your left shoe. Below that line somebody wrote No, my right shoe I’m cross-eyed.
When it came to religion, that topic was not spared. Perhaps something to note were reaction from the infamous Time Magazine cover of the issue dated April 8, 1966 that has the headline Is God Dead? on its cover. The reaction to that headline as expressed on the restroom wall went as God isn’t dead-he just doesn’t want to get involved, God ain’t dead, he’s just playing possum, and a few of these variations:
God Is Dead-Time
Time Is Dead-God
God Is Not Dead-Billy Graham
Who’s Billy Graham?-God
God Is Dead-Time
Time is Dead-God
God and Time are dead-Billy Graham
God is Time-Dead
And to follow up- Billy Graham is the religious editor of Time.
These above entries, as extracted from this book now long out of print, gives an idea to whose bit of prose survived time and tide. It was a way where one could state what they wanted on any topic, no matter how offensive and taboo the subject really was.
Although restroom graffiti still exists, there are other places where the public at large can say their piece, and that place of course is online. Twitter is perhaps the modern day equivalent of graffiti where anyone with a Twitter account can “tweet” their way to happiness for the entire world to see, not just limited to somebody who stumbles upon those scribbles found on a wall in a rest room set within some hole-in-the-wall joint.
It would be nearly impossible to collect such Twitters for a collection of such “wit”. That is, unless one limited themselves to a specific person. The current king of the USA has much of his tweets already collected. (Comedy Central recently hosted a traveling “gallery” show consisting of art pieces consisting of framed quotes extracted from The Donald’s amusing commentary as posted through this Twitter account featuring the best of his so-called “wit”!) But again, that is for a person of public interest rather than another John or Jane Q. Public that may be out there or not!
But if one holds the hankering (and if local rules apply), just whip out that ol’ Sharpie and write what ‘cha feel! Just make sure it’s amusing enough! After all, if you gotta go…
NEWS AND REVIEWS
We recently received word that Pat Taylor, a fellow theater reviewer and a good friend of AOL-L, passed away last June 18th of natural causes at the age of 76.
Yours truly would occasionally see her at the many theaters that dotted the Los Angeles region. Her “beat” was the eastern San Fernando Valley area (Burbank, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, etc.) where she was one of the staff writers for local/community theater for The Toluca Times.
As of this writing, services are pending. More details can be found through her obit at
Next week, ALO-L’s annual “State Of The Union” address!
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