Oct 10, 2008

Gang Slang & Grain Trains



A train passes through town.
I see a dozen pass by daily.
The elevator where I work is butted right up against the tracks.
I see boxcar after boxcar after boxcar.
Hell, sometimes I fill them full of grain.
Other people put new cars in them.
Some people paint them.

I never realized the amount of graffiti on commercial train cars, but it's endless.
I've fallen in love with it. It's often unintelligible but I don't really care, that's not the point.
Most the employees despise it. They sneer every chance they get.
I find myself cheering out loud at the really good stuff. I even find the bad stuff to be tolerable; I know with time and practice the armature spray-paintist is going to send something impressive my way.

I wonder about the people who duck low in dark shadows to dodge the police, or the ones who blatantly shake and spray in the daylight.
I wonder about the guy who's been tagging for years and how he got his start.
I wonder who "TooTIE" and "MICE" are, or in what city the "KINGZ" claim their stopping ground?
I wonder about the guy who's thrilled just to have a moving canvas.

It's like traveling art. Like a new exhibition comes through town everyday.
Tolono doesn't have a gallery and most likely never will.
In a town lacking such resources it's nice to see new art so often.
We have little more than trains and grain.
It's the most fluorescent color and sub-cultural flare available to a place defined by neutrals.

For a date I'm going to take a girl to see the trains.

What if there was a public area or after school program where people could go and freely express themselves all over the sides of boxcars?
I suppose then it would become a bit exploited and lackluster. It would lose all it's edginess and purpose.
The trains would look awesome but I'd like this thing to remain "guerrilla style" and randomly unsung.

I've got a box of spray paint in my closet.
Before I leave this tiny town I'm gonna tag a train - "Midwest Kid". Keep your eyes out.

Here's a few more.
(NOTE: All these were taken with my cell phone, but you can rest assured, when I have the proper tools I will write a coffee-table book on the matter.)


4 comments:

tif said...

i'd give anything to be that girl.

Misc said...

I've always loved the graffiti on trains and would wonder much like you who those people were and/or where they were from.

Another great post, Jim.

Shannon said...

this is one of my favorite passed times...

i like to get suck at the tracks or have lunch at the branch and hope a train goes by

p.s. happy b day ^_^

shannoniganz said...

yea that's right! suck at the tracks.....