On smoking, sperm, and spray paint: a mural behind the Reg

Life goes onI’ve got to hand it to Facilities: painting over the graffiti in the Regenstein Library at the end of last school year has done wonders for keeping the stacks pristine all summer and into the start of this school year. In fact, even now there seems to be only one piece of new graffiti on the 5th floor; if anyone has an idea of what it’s supposed to be, I’d love to hear it.

Meanwhile this summer, I’ve tracked down graffiti at Brown, Arizona State, University of Colorado, and McGill (where they love to deface the “don’t eat or drink in the library” signs– photos still pending.) I’ve seen cows offering themselves up as meals in Lithuania, a disturbing conflation of Internet Explorer with the internet in Albania, and graffiti ranging from your standard-issue penis to political commentary in a verb conjugation chart in Kosovo.

Graffiti wallBut the Reg– the library that started this whole project– has remained devoid of graffiti… until last week, when it cropped up somewhere I’ve never seen it before.

I received an anonymous tip that someone had spray-painted something of a mural on one of the concrete walls between the Reg and the Max Palevsky dorm. Spray paint? A whole mural? This I had to see.

It’s in a hidden-away corner that could have perhaps escaped notice for quite some time, were it not for the fact that it’s partly visible from the north-facing windows of the Reg.

Smoke between his lipsMotifs of smoking and sperm with faces seem to join the scenes on the north and east concrete walls; between the two stands a Triforce. The north wall begins with JWOWW, before moving to a sperm-with-face that looks like he’s been staying up too late studying or something. The major work on the north wall is some kind of genie (or perhaps Nietzschean superman) with smoke pouring out from between his lips.

On the other side of the triforce on the east wall, the mural picks up with three sperm-with-faces: one in a baseball cap, one confused and badly in need of a dentist, and one that appears to have picked up the cold that’s going around.

Overenthusiastic alienFrom there, the mural gets increasingly bizarre, featuring an overenthusiastic smoking alien that appears to be falling in love with a human with an early 90′s haircut, who can only think of “Yo” to say in response. It’s a little hard to tell where the mural goes from there, beyond some bright, colorful shapes reminiscent of 70′s cartoons, but there’s plenty of hearts so maybe things end well for the alien-human couple.

I’m no art history scholar, nor particularly literate in pop culture, so I welcome any explanation of what Jersey Shore, sperm-with-faces, smoking, aliens, 90′s hairstyles, 70′s cartoons, and the Legend of Zelda have to do with each other. If you want to see the full mural, you can check it out behind the Reg while it lasts, or in the photo set.

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