This book is simply a compilation of graffiti which I have found witty,
humorous, inspiring, serious, or just plain ridiculous. This collection
has been developed from a notebook of graffiti I have been keeping
for some time. I first started collecting graffiti for a book I was
writing on creativity. With all the barriers to creativity in our
society, many people find that the only place they get to be creative
is in writing graffiti anonymously on some wall in an alley or in
the washroom. To show how a lot of graffiti is very creative, I first
included four pages of it in my book The Joy of
Graffiti is Italian for scratchings. Evidence of graffiti or scratchings
goes as far back as the early Roman and Greek times. Modern graffiti
can take many forms and offers some interesting social insights. In
April 1997 as the trial began in Denver for Timothy J. McVeigh's alleged
role in the Oklahoma bombing, written on the side of a truck in Denver
were the words: @#*% THE TRIAL FOR McVEIGH. LET US HAVE HIM! The graffiti
about McVeigh I can easily comprehend.
I can't figure out a lot of the graffiti, however. For example,
on the side of a building on the trendiest street in my home town
of Edmonton "DE-ELECT THE JUG-EARED BAFFOON" is written in bold letters
(I suspect this is directed at the mayor of our city or the premier
of our province). Then there is the famous slogan found at Nantence
in Paris in 1968: "Je suis Marxiste - tendance Grocho." I had seen
this graffito in several books and had a pretty good idea of what
it means. It wasn't until I was working on this book that I learned
from a new source that it actually means "I am Marxist of the Groucho
One of the interesting aspects of any graffito is who wrote it and
why. Who are these unknown wise people who have written the graffiti?
It goes without saying that some of the graffiti is not original.
It has appeared as graffiti somewhere else and the graffiti writer
has rewritten it in a new place. It may be an original or modified
quotation from an obscure or famous author from whom the graffiti
writer has borrowed. For example, "It's alright MA I'm only bleedin'"
is written on the side of a building on Spadina Avenue in Toronto.
I believe that this is a passage from a song either by Bob Dylan or
John Lennon. Many of the graffiti scribblers seem to be in tune with
the French proverb which says: "If they haven't heard of it before,
No attempt has been made to cite the places where the graffiti in
this book was first spotted. Some graffiti I have personally seen
on buildings and in washroom walls. Other graffiti I have seen on
walls as well as in one book or even several. It would be too difficult
or impossible to determine the first place where many of the items
A number of people have contributed graffiti which they had at some
time spotted and found humorous or interesting. A few of the items
people have remembered and reconstructed from over twenty years ago.
Many items come from the recent past. My contributors have been both
men and women. To differentiate the contents somewhat, I have put
it into six categories: general graffiti, graffiti found in women's
washrooms, graffiti found in men's washrooms, graffiti related to
the workplace, graffiti related to universities and colleges, and
the gems. The gems are my favorites.
Do I write graffiti? Yes, as a matter of fact about 100 of the over
800 items in this book are my originals which I have written here
and there over the years. For example, in 1997, I wrote "I Just Want
To Be Me - Signed Anonymous" in the men's washroom of the Bistro Praha
Restaurant in my home town. A month later, I checked to see if it
was still there. It was - someone had added "Sammy Davis Jr.?" After
revealing this here, I hope the owner of one of my favorite restaurants
allows me back.
What is the purpose of this book? I have subtitled this book Graffiti
for the Soul because I believe that humor is important for the soul.
The majority of the graffiti in this book is chosen because of its
wit or humor. Some items may also have an inspiring or serious message.
I hope that in some special way this book entertains you. In fact,
I hope it motivates you to respond by sending me the most humorous,
ridiculous, or inspiring piece of graffito you have ever read. My
address is at the back of the book.