Obey Or Else

Several months ago I noticed an assortment of Shephard Fairey “OBEY” stickers plastered on the bike rack and other surfaces near the train station in my town.

I thought to myself, it only took a couple decades for that graffiti to ripple out to the western suburbs. Of course, now you can buy clothing, bags, mugs, mousepads, toasters, jello molds, etc. of that OBEY image. The person who placed the stickers didn’t make those stickers — they bought them.

Seeing those stickers makes me think about a lot of things. I think about how counterculture can be easily packaged and sold and completely defanged. I think about how the original graffiti that has been turned into a commodity was not particularly countercultural, or dangerous, or interesting in the first place. I think about how the artist Shepherd Fairey appropriates images for his own use and makes a profit on them, while simultaneously zealously protecting his own work when other people attempt to appropriate it. He’s kind of a dick, probably.

All these thoughts really don’t have much bearing on the real world, I suppose. I’m not thinking about war, or peace, or hunger, or how people should be nice to each other. They are the thoughts that a white guy with a comfortable life can think as he prepares to board a comfortable train to take him to his well-paying-but-not-too-particularly-stressful job.

Anyways, I saw something interesting today. Someone added accompanying graffiti to some of the stickers near the train station.

What did the person who wrote “OR ELSE” mean? Was it ironic? Was it brilliant? Was it redundant? Why did they feel compelled to write that? Isn’t the “OR ELSE” already implied?

I walked around the other side of the pole and noticed another Fairey sticker, and more graffiti.

Ohhhhhh. That’s nice.

So, now, more questions. Was “NIGGER LOVER” written at the same time as “OR ELSE”? Or was it written at a different time? Was it written by a different person? Note that the “L” in “LOVER” and the “L” in “ELSE” are different.

Did someone feel spontaneously compelled to write “NIGGER LOVER” on a pole, or was it in response to the André the Giant sticker? If it was in response to the sticker, did the person who wrote the graffiti think André the Giant as depicted in the sticker was black?

What do you think?

BONUS PICTURE:

I accidentally took a picture of my foot when I was taking the graffiti pictures. Enjoy!

An Incitement To Negative Graffiti


Last week, my mom sent me this nice little article from the LA Times about pro-Obama street-art. She had sent it to me because she was wondering if some graffiti in Chicago referred to in passing was the same graffiti I had blogged about last November (I think it was).

This article got me thinking about the cumulative effect of pro-Obama graffiti. Personally, I think it’s really positive, but I don’t know if it’s enough. I think that anti-McCain graffiti might be a necessary step for graffiti artists who hope to see Obama win the 2008 Presidency.

I don’t really discuss my political leanings too much (well, apart from that Go Away, Bush thingie on my right sidebar), but I do not want John McCain to win.

I feel kinda weird about writing a post that attempts to inspire others to attack another person. Well, I’m not so much asking people to attack McCain, but discuss his policies, and why he would be a terrible President. Still, maybe I shouldn’t? Am I just being a wishy-washy liberal (yeah, probably)? I just wanted to say that in this incitement for negative graffiti, I *have* thought about it, and after thinking about it I still think negative graffiti is required to defeat John McCain, and that its use is appropriate.

Earlier this year, I found a post on Bold Lentil, following a linkback from my Obama post.

The author had created a John McCain stencil as a tool for any interested parties in spreading McCain “fever”, and said people were free to reuse, change the text, etc. He was essentially doing what I’m trying to do now, but wasn’t being emphatic about it.

Okay. This is the emphatic part.

Graffiti artists. Street artists. People who just like slapping stickers on shit in public spaces. LISTEN TO ME. YOU NEED TO GET GOING. YOU NEED TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT JOHN MCCAIN. For every pro-Obama sticker you put up, put up an anti-McCain sticker. Get it?

Regarding the stencil above, I personally don’t think the “BEAT IRAQ” message would be terribly effective. I’m thinking “PRO-WAR” — “PRO-RICH” — feel free to add your own succinct slogan in the comments.

As I was walking to work from the train today, I saw a somber, black oval sticker on a NO TURN ON RED sign. It had small white letters that read “John McCain ’08”. Any doubt I had about this incitement to negative graffiti immediately evaporated.

So what are you waiting for? GET GOING.

Graffiti For Obama

A couple weeks ago I noticed a nifty bit of stencilwork on a crappy old building near where I work.

I really dig graffiti, especially when it’s something other than a poorly-made half-assed gang sign.

Years ago when I was visiting my brother in Atlanta, I saw many instances of stenciled graffiti of André the Giant, which I really loved.

Graffiti-by-stencil is obviously not the same thing as freeform graffiti, but it really pops out at me when I see it, and often resonates really powerfully for me.

I decided to drag my camera to work today to take some pictures of Barack Obama, his microphone, and the USA. I have seen this graffiti one other place, near the old stockyards on South Halsted Street. The instance near where I work is a little cooler in my opinion, in that the stencil is actually on two sides of a corner rather than on a flat piece of wall.

Enjoy.

Obama addressing South Clinton Street

A little closer

Stencil on the corner. I might be interpreting the graffiti incorrectly, but I think it’s intended to be supportive of Obama. Was it made by an inspired graffiti artist? A covert Obama campaign tactic? I have no idea.

The United States is bleeding a bit, which reflects a little negatively on the graffiti

Even in silhouette, Obama is a fine-looking fellow

Some posters for the Rambo movie coming out pasted on the same building as the Obama graffiti. The posters have not been altered. They should have gotten the Obama graffiti guy to do Stallone’s stencil, eh?

UPDATE:

I see that someone has posted a question regarding the artist of this graffiti on Craigslist.

a35mmlife commented on this post as to the artist’s identity, but I guess it’s still not that obvious as his/her ID is not in the body of the post.

So… the artist goes by the name CRO, and has a website, Go Tell Mama! I’m For Obama.