Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Slash That Shit"

This poem is spillover from the September 3, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] bairnsidhe and conversations with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "Graffiti or Spray Paint" square in my 9-1-19 card for the Arts and Crafts Festival Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Slash That Shit"

[Thursday, August 6, 2015]

Shiv led his little team of artists
toward the first of their targets.

When they reached the billboard
on the side of a building, he said,
"All right, Climaco, you're up."

The Hispanic boy pulled out
a can of spray paint and began
modifying the large poster.

In the midst of It's not racist
to impose limitations on immigration,

he wrote, Yes it is u racists.

Another fellow wrote Racists
above the word Conservative.

Shiv carefully modified the bottom line
to read Are you thinking that we're stinking?

Several people were staring at them,
but Shiv just smiled and waved,
then went back to work.

Doing art in public still
made him nervous, but he
was determined to get over it.

Besides, this time he had
an ace up his sleeve.

"That's a wrap," Shiv said.
"Move on to the next spot."

"Okay, boss," they chorused.

Shiv was still getting used to that.
Having other people look up to him
was weird, but he had to admit
that it had certain advantages.

The walk took a while, but
Shiv used the time to watch
for future opportunities.

The next target was
actually overhead.

Shiv always had liked
painting heaven.

"One at a time, just
like we practiced," he said,
beckoning to Climaco.

Carefully the boy wrapped
an arm around Shiv and
levitated him up to the ledge
that gave workers access
to the billboard to change it.

They'd change it, all right.

Soon everyone was in place,
snapped to the safety lines
that the company left there.

Briskly they shook their cans
and got to work painting.

Then they heard the woop-woop
of a police siren from below.

"Get down from there!" a cop yelled.

Shiv just grinned. "Climaco, go down
and show the nice officer our paperwork."

It was hilarious to watch the hapless man
stare at the pages, scratch his head,
and make a call on his radio.

"They WHAT?" he said.
"SERIOUSLY?!"

Shiv burst out laughing.

"Yeah, we totally rented
a billboard just to fuck it up,"
he hollered. "Best $300
that I ever spent!"

The cop threw his hands
in the air and stormed off.

Shiv couldn't resist snapping
a picture of him as he left.

When Climaco returned,
Shiv said, "Good job. We're
almost done here. We have
one more to hit today."

Shiv had been thinking
about graffiti as art and
activism ever since Dr. G
had taken him to that festival.

It was only much later, though,
in a workshop about the business
of art, when Shiv learned that
anyone could rent a billboard.

Since he had always loved
adbusting, and now had
a lot more money than
most graffiti writers, he
came up with the idea
for Slash That Shit.

Find a poster you hate,
wait until the rental runs out,
and offer to take care of it
so the billboard company
wouldn't have to do it.

Shiv had actually gotten
a discount for that, as long
as he promised to take down
the poster at the end of the month.

If they could get it off in one piece,
they could even sell the thing.

He'd made some good money
selling graffiti done on some drywall
that Boss White had lying around
in a warehouse left over from
the acquisition of a lumberyard.

So Shiv had pooled that with
contributions from other guys,
rented three billboards for
a month, bought some paint,
and set out to paint the town.

"Hey, Climaco, here comes
Neighborhood Improvement!"
one of the other boys shouted.

Climaco went down to deal with
the old lady waving an umbrella.

Shiv just chuckled and opened
a fresh can of spray paint,
delighted with his purchase.

It was a cunning way
to turn the system on itself.

The cops, who hated graffiti
the way dogs hated cats,
would now have to protect it,
just because Shiv had paid for
the use of the billboards.

The citizens, who saw it as
a blight on the neighborhood,
would get in trouble themselves
if they climbed up and tore it down.

If they then got into a bidding war
over the billboards or the posters
in an attempt to block the project,
so much the better: it would make
the owners fond of the graffiti writers
who started the whole escapade.

Plus there was one more secret trap.

"How long do think this will run?"
Climaco said when he returned.

"Doesn't matter," Shiv said with
a smirk. "If someone wrecks it, that
just drives up the value of the others.
Scarce art becomes expensive art."

He'd use the money to rent more billboards.

* * *

Notes:

Shiv (Egon Harrison) -- He has fair skin and silver eyes. His blond hair is straight and silky, worn long on top so that it that flops over his face. His head is a long triangle ending in a narrow chin. He has a lot of small scars from fights, but he heals well, having survived several injuries that could easily have proven fatal. Shiv is currently 20 years old. Sometimes he goes by the name Hugo.
He likes dark flavors -- coffee, cigarettes, dark chocolate. He loves fish, especially tuna and fried catfish, and anchovies on pizza. Pistachio ice cream is another favorite. He's fond of exotic sodas, whether for flavor or medicinal effect; he discovered strawberry-mint as a child and several people have been sharing others recently.
His superpower is a narrow form of telekinesis. It lets him create knives out of almost any nearby material, or take control of small bladed weapons from anyone else. He can't manage anything larger than a machete, though. He can sculpt most rigid materials, although it's still easier for his superpower to grip an edge or a point than a round surface.
Origin: While in Juvenile Hall, he was stabbed by another inmate. Shortly thereafter, Egon developed his superpower. He believes that there was something on the knife -- or in the material itself -- which caused this to happen.
Uniform: Street clothes, but with several bandoliers of throwing knives.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Fast, Good (+2) Ambidexterity, Good (+2) Artist, Good (+2) Crafty, Good (+2) Hoodlum, Good (+2) Recovering from Injuries, Good (+2) Streetwise
Poor (-2) Personality Shear
Powers: Expert (+4) Control Sharp Things, Average (0) Super-Immunity
Motivation: Puncture ALL the egos!

Climaco (Fabian Araujo) -- He has tinted skin, black eyes, and short black hair. He wears earrings in both ears. He is 15 years old. Climaco is an aspiring graffiti artist who looks up to Shiv.
Origin: Fabian and his family fled to America in order to escape druglords south of the border. They were almost caught, but his superpower manifested and he managed to levitate them to safety.
Uniform: Climaco wears urban grunge so he can move easily.
Qualities: Good (+2) Skateboarder, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Immigrant
Powers: Average (0) Levitation
Motivation: Survival.

CLÍMACO m Spanish
Spanish form of Climacus, derived from Greek κλιμαξ (klimax) "ladder". The 7th-century monk Saint John Climacus (also known as John of the Ladder) acquired this name because he wrote a book called 'The Ladder of Divine Ascent'.

* * *

Graffiti gives voice to the voiceless. It can be a form of activism or a way of claiming space by force, Here are some reasons to love street art for what it is.

Adbusting – Or Subvertising is the practice of altering and making satirical interventions on public, corporate or political advertisements. It’s marked by humor, satire and often sharp criticism of certain societal issues, most often consumerism.

Culture jamming – The act of subverting media culture and mainstream cultural marketing according to the principles of anti-consumerist social movements. A form of subvertising or adbusting, usually with a distinctively political purpose.

Deface / Cap / Go over – To ruin another artist’s piece. A writer named “Cap” would rudely make throw ups over existing graffiti, giving a name to this infamous practice.
Going over a piece is the ultimate sign of disrespect and represents a declaration of graffiti war. Still, there is a hierarchy of styles in which case going over can be tolerated. Usually, it means that low quality work is OK to be painted over with something better. The other way around is generally unacceptable
.

Slash – To cross-out or to tag over a piece of another writer. A serious insult – same as Cap.

Toy – A word describing either poor work or a painter without skill, sometimes a newbie. “To toy” someone else’s graffiti means to go over it. An acronym meaning “tag over your shit”, often placed on top of bad, or “toy” work.

Legal wall – A piece that is made legalley, with permission from the wall owner or the authorities. Only a testified illegal writers can get respect for legal walls.

Note that in Terramagne-America, graffiti artists can be legal or illegal, and both may earn some respect, albeit different types. So working on a permission wall or other legal surface does not exclude a graffiti artist from respect. By this point in time, Shiv has done a considerable amount of both illegal and legal work. Legal displays which are subversive form a bridge between the two branches of the graffiti community.

Run – Time that a graffiti piece spends on a surface without being removed, duration of a piece. “It run for a year” can be said.

Billboard Rates in Omaha

Bulletins (Large Billboards)
• Great for building brand and name recognition.
• Located in heavy traffic areas for maximum exposure.
• 48'W X 14'H
$1,500-$5,000 Average per Ad / Month

Posters (Medium Billboards)
• Perfect for new product launches, promotions and events.
• Available across markets in the areas most effective at reaching your target customer.
• 22'8"W X 10'5"H
$700-$3,000 Average per Ad / Month

Junior Posters (Small Billboards)
• Cost effective for small businesses and for short term advertisements.
• Ideal for targeting communities and neighborhoods.
• 11'W X 5'H
$300-$800 Average per Ad / Month
Tags: activism, art, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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