When listing off UofC dorms, Breckinridge Hall (closed, re-opened, located next to International House) is easy to overlook. From a graffiti perspective, however, it’s a stand-out. As far as I know, no other dorm has spawned a cryptic graffiti meme (Who is Davin Reed was all the rage in the Reg around 2007; here’s the photo set on Flickr).
The Breck connection to graffiti goes deeper than an outbreak of vandalism a few years ago. During winter quarter finals week, Louis Wasserman tipped me off to the graffiti in the Breck study room– packed tightly into the nook between the shelf and study desks, and quite possibly not painted over by facilities since the building re-opened in 2004.
The study room has more than a few gems, and a survey of the contents deserves its own blog post, but one aspect that had me intrigued was watching the possible birth of another legend.
Davin Reed was a Breckinridge first-year, a long time ago, save that after Orientation Week, he decided that the UofC wasn’t right for him. He disappeared shortly thereafter, but mail kept showing up for him. Eventually, the front desk people who take the mail began asking, “Who is Davin Reed?” Thus, Breckinridge legend was born. Our Scav team was named after Davin Reed ['Sophonisba1 Does Gary: The Davin Reed Experience2'] all the way back in 2004.
I knew that the Davin Reed meme was related to Scav Hunt, but only because I was in college at UofC “all the way back in 2004″. Still, I had no idea about what the story was with the namesake. Walking into the Breck study room as an outsider– much as any first-year might– I came across a number of pieces of graffiti that called to mind the Davin Reed meme.
It’s common enough to refer to people by name in graffiti (“Good morning, Nate sucks“, “Allen R. Sanderson = genius“, “I spanked Sonia on her bottom“), but coming across four pieces about the same individual in the same study room leaves a different impression– particularly when they’re pretty positive, as graffiti goes.
I asked Leann Pace, the Resident Head who kindly showed me to the study room, if this “Bruno” character was, in fact, a real person. I figured there was maybe a 33% chance “Bruno” was someone totally imaginary (maybe the students gave a name to a favorite gargoyle on a nearby parapet), a 33% chance “Bruno” was a real, familiar, but non-human figure (a Resident Head pet cat, perhaps?), and a 33% chance that a human “Bruno” existed, most likely at some vague, distant time in the past. Maybe he was Davin Reed’s roommate? In fact, Leann assured me that not only is “Bruno” a real human, he’s also a current resident.
If the Chicago Maroon correctly identifies him as a third year, it’ll be Scav Hunt 2015 before the actual presence of “the Bruno” in Breckinridge is attested only through the graffiti record– assuming Facilities doesn’t paint it over between now and then, causing this budding legendary figure to vanish from the collective dorm memory.
I’ll have to check back in spring 2015 to see if Breck is fielding a “Sophonsiba <3 Bruno" Scav Hunt team.
1 Sophonsiba Breckinridge, namesake of the dorm/house, is a fascinating character. Check out this essay about her life and work.
2 The 2009 Scav Hunt also included the Breck team “Davin Reed is People!” For more past team names, check out the increasingly-outdated official Scav Hunt results page. Blast-from-the-past highlights include the Salisbury House “Mad Cows” in 1996, and Burton-Judson’s “Viagra Falls” in 1998.