Saturday, May 21, 2011

Round Robin Challenge: 55 MPH Graffiti Hunt

It was nearly 6 PM on a Friday, six hours before I was scheduled to post my entry for the Round Robin Challenge: Graffiti, as suggested by Gattina of Keyhole Pictures. I wasn't remotely ready, of course. I had worked about 54 hours this week already, and knew I'd be working again on Saturday. When was there time to go hunt down some good graffiti? Yes, okay, I have a few things in my archives, but it would be nice to have something fresh, even if it wasn't especially artistic.

So as I drove east along Aviation Highway probably a little in excess of the 55 miles per hour speed limit, I glanced off to the right, where train tracks run parallel to the road. Railroad cars are prime targets for graffiti, providing a large, canvas for taggers. Sneak into the railroad yard with your spray cans, avoid getting caught, and soon your self-aggrandizing bit of word art is rolling along next to I-10 and other major routes, displaying your handiwork for all to see and, um, admire. Or not.

Driving home at 55 MPH isn't exactly a suitable opportunity for staring at railroad cars. So I pulled out my camera, turned it on, rolled down the passenger side window and pointed my camera at the continuous line of railroad cars, snapping away every few seconds while keeping my eyes firmly on the road. Well, mostly. I had no way of knowing until how many of the six shots would show evidence of graffiti, how well I'd aimed the camera in the right direction or at the right angle, nor whether any illicitly painted lettering would be legible if photographed at 55 MPS. I wasn't even sure whether the trains themselves were moving, not that it mattered much under the circumstances. Still, I lucked out with a few halfway decent photos, as seen above. My favorite is the "Echo Tango Charlie" one. It was a challenge to read it, and I'm intrigued by the use of that letter code, the "police alphabet" as one site calls it. There's also someone on Flickr with that handle, and their photostream is almost all graffiti or graffiti-inspired. Hoe or she does not appear to be my tagger, however.

Last September, I did a Weekend Assignment entry about the writing on bathroom walls at my local Safeway. I posted several really interesting specimens in that, whole written conversations among strangers as well as random comments. Here's one shot I didn't post originally:

It's a little hard to read, but displayed here are two opposing opinions, "God is LOVE" and "God is FAKE."

The mini-argument about God is not the only religious expression in my graffiti collection. A couple of years ago I took a long walk just east of downtown, literally on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. There I saw some truly impressive art on the side of an abandoned railroad car, or truck trailer, or whatever it was. I frankly find most outdoor graffiti to be ugly and pointless, just some kid making the world uglier just to assert his presence in it. But this particular piece beautifies and uplifts the world, just a little tiny bit, as you walk past it.

Now let's go see everyone else's pictures of graffiti:

Linking List
as of Saturday, 5/21/11, 12:30 AM

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Day One

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Shutterly Happy

Erin - Posted!
Worth A Thousand Words

And if this is May 21st, it's not too later to join in yourself! Or May 22nd. Or any time before the 28th. How about it?



Erin said...

I never thought about bathroom stalls! I've seen some great graffiti there - well played!

Scrabblequeen said...

Great shots...especially at speed! This is exactly the reason I didn't get to post to this challenge: the only graffiti I could find in town (we have very tought laws that force businesses to re-paint very quickly) was on the trains...which were not where i could stop to shoot them. I DID find some awesome wall-art though.

Monica said...

The last two photographs show some beautiful artwork. The others, not so much and I wish they'd find them and make them clean it up. There is a place for everything.

Jama said...

Some of the graffiti are really good, so colourful and simply make one go 'wow'. Our trains here are free from graffiti, because it's an offense and no one dare to do it but someone did last year. But he's not a local, he spray painted our clean train! eventually he was caught , as there's CCTV. Jailed, fined and he was deported.

Gattina said...

Some are real nice, but mostly they are awful !
BTW I also liked the little graffiti on our sidewalk, unfortunately tonight the rain washed it away !