Saturday, March 05, 2005

Canadian Graffiti

Another thing I scored at Goodwill was a copy of a 1983 book entitled René Lévesque Buys Canada Savings Bonds, and Other Great Canadian Graffiti, by veteran Canadiana collector John Robert Columbo, with great '70s/early'80s-style illustrations by David Shaw. Much of the graffiti anthologized in it isn't very good or original -- there are a lot of one-liners that Columbo apparently failed to recognize as Saturday Night Live quotes or the taglines of famous comedians. And much of the bathroom graffiti is ancient and universal; I doubt very much that the world's first appearance of "Here I sit, broken-hearted..." was in a Toronto washroom in 1970.

Some of the graffiti, though, is hilarious, and highly specific to its time and place. The best bits are often the exchanges -- graffiti with responses added by subsequent readers. Herewith, a small, Ontariocentric selection of mostly-Trudeau-era specimens:

EVERYTHING IS SLIGHTLY HIGHER IN CANADA
- Rochdale College, Toronto, 1967 (Even truer today!)

You gave me a place to stand
And a place to go
So I'll call this land
Ontario
- Men's washroom wall, Ovens Campsite, Nova Scotia, 1970 (If you don't get this, ask someone who grew up in Ontario)

-MY MOTHER MADE ME A HOMOSEXUAL
-If I gave her the material, could she make me one too?
- Carleton University, 1971

(This one is especially for Ward:)
WHAT CANADA NEEDS NOW IS A NORTHROP FRYE COLOURING BOOK
- Toronto, 1973

-McLUHAN READS BOOKS!
-No he doesn't.
-Yes he does -- comic books.
-I read neither books nor graffiti -M.M.
- Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1973

There is no plural for grilled cheese.
- Carleton University, 1975

2 Comments:

Anonymous ward said...

Canada does need a Northrop Frye Colouring Book. Also, a Northrop Frye Cartoon series, a Northrop Frye fashion line (jackets: brown; ties: brown; shoes: brown), and a line of Northrop Frye stationery products, campus wear, coffee mugs, and book bags. Why Victoria College doesn't do all of these is beyond me.

1:57 PM, March 08, 2005  
Anonymous ward said...

Oh, I forgot, and Northrop Frye watches and daytimers, complete with holographic Frye software that wakes you up each morning with the great man's head spinning round and saying, "The Bible is the Great Code of Art. Get up, lazibones, it's 8:45!"

2:00 PM, March 08, 2005  

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