If you've ever had the intense pleasure of sitting down in a public restroom you're likely accustomed to the crude, awful, lewd, stupid, and sometimes funny things scribbled on bathroom walls. Who knows, you might even find something meaningful? This is distinctly different from tagging which is the simplest form of graffiti. Unique to the UC Davis Campus is the large amount of conversational vandalism that takes place in stalls: people carry out entire arguments, back and forth, scribbled across the walls.
One comment was spotted in the top floor bathroom of Wellman Hall... In huge red pen was written, "Is Aggie Columnist Anna Ritner really as hot as she claims she is?" This was pretty amusing.
In the woman's bathroom on the second floor of Olson Hall there is a Doctor who conversation stall with many quotes and "roses are red..." poems.
Aggie columnists sometimes talk about bathroom-wall writing. UC Davis graduate Keith Foster even wrote a book called The Grout Society containing nothing but photos and commentary of bathroom stall writing. Most of the photos in the book were from the UCD Bathrooms.
This page is dedicated to all that language that keeps your mind occupied while you're on the john. Feel free to add interesting bathroom-wall conversations. You probably won't be surprised to know that such scribbles often result in Memorable Quotes.
See also conversations on traffic signs.
Tag This, by Michael Giardina
The following is an unpublished column that was intended for June 4's page two column in The California Aggie. Unfortunately, it was rejected because another columnist beat me to the topic idea. Nonetheless, it's still a good read.
I should think that graffiti is bad, but it just so happens that most of you witty, sharpy-carrying, paint-spraying connoisseurs are artists and word worshippers just like I am. Somewhere deep down, I guess I have a little respect for your kind.
See, I'm not all that impressed by your squiggly acronyms scrawled quickly on the bathroom walls and I don't support defacing other people's property.
On the other hand, there is a certain respect given to graffiti artists. Just as there are artists who use different mediums, we have sub-categories for graffiti artists: Taggers, Chalkers, Stencilers, Grouters, etc. I especially love that wise group of bathroom monks who play word games on bathroom stalls. We all spend our "idle" catharsis-time doing something.
One website, graffiti.org, catalogues thousands of graffiti-images from all over the world. Some of these works of art are astonishing and make our renaissance artists look like Blue's Clues. Not only are they astounding, but the majority are created with a spray can. When I pick up a spray can, I am lucky to get anything better than a sticky, smelly, mess.
What I enjoy the most, is the word-play that goes around the bathroom stalls. In essence, all of us—the smart, the bored, the constipated, the revolutionaries—are gathered in this one cubicle for a few minutes every day. We communicate. We express ourselves. We are traversing multicultural boundaries.
I have seen some great bathroom scribbling. I saw one that read, "This is where Napolean tore his boneapart." It's just so witty. I also like one where a student wrote "drive carefully, don't kill a child," and somebody scribbled underneath it, "yeah, just wait for a teacher."
Some tags simple proclamations that are never challenged. They are living legends of the campus stall. For example, this one tag, "death is hereditary," or this one, "A man's best friend is his dogma" never got crossed out or added to. On one stall I saw, "If we learn from our mistakes, then I am getting a fantastic education." The poor fellow's angst just tugs on your heart strings. You just know that he was relieving himself five minutes before his test in eighteenth-century British literature.
I bet teachers partake in this art. In Wellman Hall, I saw a poem written in perfect iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets. This ode to bathroom etiquette was clearly planned out; however, I noticed that somebody decided to correct the grammar: each agreement error, logical inconsistency, and tense error was marked in red. I can just imagine an English professor sitting there, cringing to himself and fishing around his suitcase for a marker that can write on walls.
The careful eye will even look to tile grout for wit. In tiny little letters, I have seen: Groutcho Marx, Alexander the Grout, Grout Gatsby, grout balls of fire, grout damn spot, the grouts of wrath, and it's grout to be here. What is this graffiti phenomenon all a grout? Even the Friends Urging Campus Kindness slate has developed an innovative tagging technique. They design stencils and spray-paint their own shirts. In essence, they tag themselves. Instead of begging Millers Outpost to produce your new shirt-design, just grab a white wife-beater at your local garage sale and let your artistic nature fruit.
Since there is a site dedicated to graffiti, it is no surprise that there is a website dedicated to ridding the world of graffiti. Ironically enough, nograffiti.com is probably the most poorly designed website, aesthetically speaking. It looks like a kindergartner with ambition started splattering the website with nonsense.
To merge the illegal practice with aesthetic creations, I propose a giant wall be built in the quad that is dedicated to this art. The rules would be simple: anyone can post, spray, draw, or otherwise write anything that they want to. The only other rule is that anybody can remove anything as well. It would be an evolving structure, developing and expressing the feelings of the campus community. Then again, I have a feeling too much controversy would develop and quickly at that. It's unfortunate, but maybe someday. I'm just planting seeds.
2006-09-20 16:40:16 For awhile the second story of Wellman had a stall with "Free Cowboy hats" written next to the toilet seat covers. I giggle everytime I see those things now. —AmyGoogenspa
- the most righthand side stall in the westside men's bathroom in young hall has "or cowboy hats?" written below the metal lettering of "toilet seat cover". sounds like we have a group of pranksters —FredChen
2009-10-12 19:55:56 nobody loves you when your down and grout —StevenDaubert