Back to Top

Graffiti Wars: Government-Punks Without Sneakers

December 2, 2008

A passage from Return to the Same City by my favorite detective novelist and radical historian Paco Ignacio Taibo II:
“I’m involved in ideological warfare.”
“Against whom?”
“Against a gang of juveniles. A bunch of guys from my neighborhood who spraypaint.”
“What do they paint?”
“Bullshit,” Carlos said, lighting a new cigarette. “Sex Punks, Wild Border-” meaningless phrases like that, numbers, incomprehensible clues to mark their territory. It’s like dog piss. Wherever I piss is my space and nobody can come in.”
“And what do you do?”
“I paint on top of their paintings. I go out at night with my spray can and paint over theirs. It’s a war.”
“But what do you paint?”
Punks are Strawberries, Long Live Enver Hoxha, or Che Guevara Lives, He’s a Living Ghost, Be Careful Assholes, He Lives in the Neighborhood, or Sex Punks Were Born With a Silver Spoon in Their Mouths, or If a Dog Falls in the Water, Kick Him Until He Dies. Some come out too long, they’re not effective, but I hadn’t painted in a long time; my da Vinci profusion is in arrears. I’ve got them screwed. It’s not just ideological warfare; it’s generational warfare, too. Obviously it’s a professional war and, in that, my painting technique dominates. Those sucklings are going to teach me how to paint walls…? My most successful one was Government-Punks Without Sneakers, and the second most successful, celebrated to the hilt by the dry cleaner guy downstairs, had to do with a discount chain of stores. It was: Paint Me a Blue Egg and Woolworth Will Buy It, but the Woolworth logo didn’t come out that well.”
Héctor raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry, it’s not insanity, it’s just to keep me in shape until I find a new little place in the class war. Besides, sometimes I agree with the punks and we restore universal harmony. The other day I was painting one that said If the PRI wants to govern, why don’t they start by winning the elections, and the gang came along and instead of destroying it, they wrote Yes, that’s true below it, six feet tall.”
“And where is that painting?”
“Two blocks away. Want to go look at it?”
Héctor agreed. The morning was improving.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posts by Molly Fair

More By Molly Fair