Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Party's Over" - Return of a Familiar Friend?

"ARM TEH POOR," Graffiti in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, April 2012 (photo by me)

In the 1980s, a striking graffiti logo appeared all over the streets of lower east side Manhattan. The scene of an extended conflict over gentrification and how New York City would evolve, the LES was home to tenant activists, counter-culture punks, pioneering queers, artists, and the struggling Puerto Rican working class people who took the neighborhood over from the immigrant Jewish community who had, as it were, moved on up. The graffiti was an abstract depiction of an upturned cocktail, and was said to symbolize "The Party's Over." The graffiti was ubiquitous and mysterious, though it turns out it was completely the creation of a local musician and activist, Peter Missing. You can see an original here.

"OWS 2012" Graffiti in Union Square, March 2012 (photo by me)
Is the iconic "Party's Over" logo making a little comeback? I first noticed the upturned-cocktail in chalk at the Occupy Wall Street Union Square encampment in March. But then I noticed it on a lamp-post in Brooklyn, along with the inscription "ARM TEH POOR" ("teh" being the ironic/hipster misspelling of "the," of course) and a hammer and sickle.

It's got an almost apocalyptic resonance, this logo: Which isn't that far off, since the 1980s in which it first arrived was a massive cultural and political turning point both for the city and the world. It does seem appropriate that the symbol return with OWS, who reminds us that we are complaisant with today's challenges at our own risk.

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