Art restoration

his is one for you art lovers out there. My roommate from my USC days recently took part in the special pre-demolition reception for former inmates of the Honeycombs. He will remain nameless for now — all I will say is that he was an art major, and that is him at the bottom of the above image.

As you see him, he has just restored a graffiti work from his early Gonzo-minimalist period — or restored it as well as he could, working in a hurried fashion before the university authorities could notice he had slipped away from the group.

By the way, my roommate was the responsible one in our duo — he kept his side of the room spotless, with all his art supplies neatly stacked and categorized, his clothes put away in the closet. He was the one with the short, conservative hair. I think he even used to make his bed.

My side looked like a waste dump, featuring pots with week-old food cooked on with my contraband hotplate, sloppily-hung posters and dirty clothes. The finishing touch was my mountain of State newspapers, not one of which I ever tossed, constantly spilling over to his side, and earning me the sobriquet "Ratso Rizzo" (we had both seen "Midnight Cowboy" over at the Russell House). He still calls me that, even though I’ve cut my hair and shaved.

Connoisseurs of early-1970s, 4th-floor Snowden culture will recognize the above hastily-penned reproduction as only dimly evocative of the original, once-thought-to-be-immortal work that was scratched deeply into the paint that coated the concrete-block wall. It was located over the elevator immediately across from our room, and was still there when I took my bride by there on our honeymoon three years later. I was proud to play the docent and explain to her the history behind this treasure. She was suitably impressed, I think — she was speechless.

Unfortunately, the original was lost to a later renovation of the building — probably about the time they put those sissy dividers in to make separate shower stalls in the floor’s one bathroom.

But all is not lost! My roommate and I are planning a guerrilla revisit to the site in the next few days, and hope to restore the original to its rightful place, so that the building’s boisterous spirits will lie at rest when the Big Crash comes. If you would like to help in bringing about this once-in-a-lifetime testament to the (adolescent) human spirit, your cash gifts can be sent to this blog.

15 thoughts on “Art restoration

  1. Dave

    Ratso Rizzo – Dustin Hoffman’s best role ever. Somehow we all wanted to be on that bus heading to sunshine and happier times. Absolutely one of my favorite all time songs –
    Everybody’s talkin bout me,
    I dont hear a word their saying,
    only the echoes in my mind,
    I’m goin where the sun keeps shinin,
    through the pourin rain,
    goin where the weather suits my soul, etc. etc.

  2. bill

    Dave,all I had to do was read those lyrics to get goosebumps running up my arms.I listen to that somg at least twice a month usually on repeat.As the jazz musician,Albert Ayler once said:Music is the healing force of the universe.
    Brad,sounds like you’re into “art concrete”.
    Wish I could patronize your work,but I’m also a starving artist.Maybe you can get a grant from the NEA.
    ps Dave,the line is,”going where the weather suits my clothes”

  3. Captain Worley

    Brad, was your room Crest blue-green, or Colgate white? Those who used the toothpaste spackle will know what I’m getting at.

  4. Tim

    Snowden people always were a little suspect.
    I’ll never forget the day I moved into Laborde in August, 1983. I’d barely ever been to Columbia and had no idea that the 103 degree temperature that day was actually some of the more pleasant weather one can expect during that month in our fair city.
    To make matters worse, the elevator was busted, so my dad and I were humping all my crap up the stairs. To make a short story long, while other incoming freshman were enduring tearful farewells with distraught mothers and dads, my Pop plopped my trunk in the middle of the room, said, “I gotta get some air conditioning,” and hightailed it back to the Upstate in about six minutes.

  5. Capital A

    Douglas Hall, 6th floor, all the way, baby!
    They never could get that human feces smear/smell completely off the bathroom walls after our Biggest Turd Challenge.
    A few 40 ounces plus cheesey-food catering by the Bates West cafeteria made that quite the contest. Yes, we were the future of America.
    I think Yarrick, a tennis-playing exchange student from Romania, summed it up best as the elevator doors opened up on the final day of classes. He was moving out of Douglas over to the Honors College while taking summer classes.
    “How kin ewe stand theese…HAIL-HOLEUH?!?!”

  6. Dave

    Bill, Nilson was one of those one hit wonders. The only way I know the actual words to songs is if someone writes them all out. Gracie Slick was one who I could never understand what she was singing, i.e. mumbling.

  7. Stinkbug

    Ratso’s formerly insane roomie here.
    CW, in the early 70’s, all those rooms and the hallways were painted “Wonderfully Mindnumbing Pale Yellowish Beige.” After a while, you didn’t notice it. Glossy. If you get a chance to visit, take a pocket knife and you can probably get a look at it if you dig down a few layers.
    The doors and the cabinetry just inside the doors (and the built-in desks by the sliding doors) were in a light stain with gloss varnish.
    I dunno why they’d ever go to the funky green that’s on the doors now… and paint the cabinetry the same color as the walls. I’m guessing maybe the green paint was on sale, and people were getting tired of looking at all the stuff the students carved… uh… into the doors, desks, and cabinetry… you know, like initials and hearts and stuff.
    Which I would never do. Wood is kinda sacred for me.
    Cinderblocks, not so much.
    The hallways weren’t carpeted back then, either. Lots easier to clean up when some novice drinker blew his cookies in the hall. Also lots better for playing hockey with an empty tuna can and some brooms. Real noisy.
    Oh yeah, speaking of novice drinking, reaching the age of 17 qualified you to buy beer and wine during those days… scary, huh? 21 for the hard stuff.
    I’d like to say I don’t remember having a conservative haircut, but Brad’s hair *was* longer than mine… and I also don’t remember making my bed.
    Oh yeah… Brad’s constant playing of his collection of Beatles and Leon Russell LP’s ended up driving me insane… the effect was probably much like when U.S. Special Ops blasted Manuel Noriega’s compound with “Stranglehold” by The Nuge to scramble his brain during Operation Just Cause.
    He did let me play some of my stuff too, however… thanks Ratso. Heh heh.
    I’ve already loaded the Beatles CDs and folding chairs in the car for Saturday, but you never did tell me what kind of beer you want me to bring.
    Remember, you’re in charge of rounding up the CD boombox.
    Goooooooo Cocks

  8. Capital A

    BW’s own best bud posts under a pen name. Does he take him to task over that? Does he raise a stink? Ah, the irony…
    Lick ’em, cocks! Free BM now!

  9. Stinkbug

    We restored the “artwork” and had a great time reminiscing on Saturday.
    Looking across towards Moore, we noticed that large portions of the veilblock over there were different in shape/configuration and slightly different in color.
    He had brought his daughter with him, and before we left, she took us over to Moore and showed us some fairly impressive “pop art” on a porch on the 4th floor there. Brad should be posting photos of that any second now… especially since he posed in front of The Beatles portion of it.
    While we were there, we got an upclose look at the reason for the differet veilblock… apparently, the veilblock had begun to separate from the rest of the building at some point… probably causing concern that it could fall away, and vertical reinforcing steel beams had been added on some porches with metal straps tying them to the new blocks.
    Anybody here know anything more about this?

  10. Stinkbug

    If this works, you’ll see an artist’s impression” of what is planned to go in place of the Towers… this was on an easel on the day of the Towers reception.
    I don’t know if us regular people have photo posting privileges here.
    Ratso, I know you’ve been busy, but we’d all love to see the photo of you in front of that Beatles artwork.
    And the restored “artwork” too, of course.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *