On the weekend, while travelling to Continuum, I spent some time looking at the ubiquitous tagging and graffiti that covers the train routes from and to the city. I searched for some piece of writing that was witty, intelligent or at least mildly amusing. Mostly I saw illegible scrawls, tags in letters 5 feet high but barely readable. Scribbles on top, and often another layer over that. And it's all about 'me'. My name, my tag, my identity.
I remember the same trip 25 to 30 years ago. Not as much graffiti, but what there was often included a good dose of social commentary. Or at least a laugh.
One that I recall enjoying (and seeing for many years afterwards) was around the time of the International Year of Peace. Someone had painted the peace symbol and written "International Year of the Steering Wheel" underneath.
The famous (or infamous) "Real Punks Can't Spell Cappuccino" has led to a number of imitators and varying claims of origin. I don't know if the Melbourne one was the first, but it was the one that I saw and laughed at. Years later I read a column by Mike Gibson where he wrote of a punk he'd seen with braces in her mouth, and how the reality didn't match the rebellious image.
"Yum, Yum, Worms for Tea" was a surreal moment for many years. I never quite understood it, I just enjoyed it.
But perhaps my favourite was the deliciously unintentional truth of the mis-punctuated "I'ts Only Rock 'N' Roll".
And that was exactly what Rock 'N' Roll was about before bands like Air Supply defanged it.