Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Graffiti and Coffee

I noticed on Saturday that several graffiti painters were redecorating the walls of the basketball court at a nearby housing estate. The walls have been covered with graffiti for years -- I think it's permitted there, although I'm not sure of the terms -- and they were tagged and re-tagged and were looking pretty ratty overall. So the painters gave the wall a new coat of pink paint and put up some new pieces.

I went back yesterday to photograph them, but the gates to the court were locked. (The court is closed because of the coronavirus.) I saw the estate's maintenance man working nearby and asked him if he could open them so I could take some pictures.

"No, if I did that, I'd be sacked!" he said.

Well, we wouldn't want that. So I just took pictures through the fence.

Above is a memorial to three graffiti writers who were killed by a train a couple of years ago while painting along some railroad tracks in South London. It used to look like this, but now it's been freshened up. Trip, K-Bag and Lover were the tags the three used, and now those tags run all the way around the court.

I stuck my iPhone through the fence for a pano shot. Anyway, you get the idea!

I don't mind graffiti in this context -- it brightens up the urban environment. I think it's an asset, more properly termed street art, I suppose.

I'm reading a book called "The Devil's Cup," a sort of travelogue about the history of coffee. As an enthusiastic coffee consumer myself, I'm enjoying tracing its gradual rise from the wilds of Africa through the Arabian peninsula and into Europe. I'm struck by how much alcohol Europeans drank in the 16th and 17th centuries -- the book says beer thickened with eggs and poured over bread was a common breakfast, and there were beer breaks throughout the day, too (beer being much safer to drink than dirty water). "The average Northern European, including women and children, drank three liters of beer a day," the book says. When coffee made an appearance, Europe began to sober up -- and look what happened! The Enlightenment!

All hail caffeine.

For Dave's birthday, I went out yesterday afternoon to a local bakery and bought a couple of big slices of cake -- salted caramel and red velvet -- and some birthday candles, which I deployed after dinner to my own appalling musical accompaniment. I also got him an extra present at the florist -- a canna lily, which we often see touted on gardening shows and will make a nice addition to the garden. We'll put it in a pot so we can move it to a protected location in the winter.


  1. I've read so many historic novels where beer is part of a "healthy" breakfast or recovery meal. I know some people who would like that.

    I agree with you about the graffiti. In some places, like there, I do appreciate it as street art. In other places, I find it offensive. I was stunned the last time I was in Amsterdam in the '90s to see it (looking mostly like tagging) covering exterior garden walls and private homes -- and not with permission. Sevilla has retaining walls along the river with incredible art. I love it there.

    The City of Fuengirola planted canna lilies, along with other plantings, on our beaches when they installed new open showers. Beautiful.

  2. I So Agree With Ya - We Have A New Artist That Has Been Painting The Bridge Pillars Black, Then Creating Masterpieces - Very Dimensional Artwork - One In Particular Is A Floating City In Space - Another One Is A Point Perspective Of Sewer Drains Spilling Into A Creek, Only Using Two Colors, Yellow And Greens - Amazing Amount Of Depth - Anyway, Thanx For Sharing And Enjoy The Week

    P.S. Is Olga Satisfied??

  3. Graffiti or street art- it doesn't please my sensibilities. I really am an old fogey on that one. I have no idea why.
    I"m glad you got to make a little birthday celebration for Dave. Such weird times to have birthdays and holidays.

  4. Love the graffiti! It makes an otherwise humdrum space pop.

    I wish I liked coffee, but I guess I'll stick with my diet Sundrop for my caffeine fix :)

    Canna lilies were my wedding flowers! An odd choice for a December wedding, but I thought they looked elegant.

  5. Happy belated Birthday to Dave! Cake slices and a Calla lily sound like a nice celebration!

    I like the graffiti, too.

  6. Devil's cup sounds like a good read. I've heard that alcohol was common because of safety but have not red anything major.I thought the devil's cup contained wine rather than beer so I'm surprised.

  7. That breakfast you described from the book sounds horrible. However, that big slice of cake sounds pretty darn good. I don't have any cake so I guess I'll have a V-8.

  8. The whole history of coffee fascinates me. How these beans roasted became the "fuel" that drives a lot of us.

  9. I didn't realize that coffee had such an interesting history. I agree, that graffiti is awesome! I hope Dave had a super birthday. That cake sounds delicious. Show us a photo of the new calla lily when it blooms. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. What! You mean we don't get to hear you sing Happy Birthday to Dave? Disappointed.

  11. Some street art definitely brightens up the otherwise dull spaces. Interesting info about coffee and beer. I had no idea. Makes me wonder about wine. Really glad you got some cake and sang Happy Birthday to Dave. Sweet in every way!

  12. We read a number of British historical novels awhile back, and there was definitely a huge consumption of beer and mead. If I drank even lightly alcoholic beverages that much, I'd be comatose!

    I like much of the street art I see. It has even filtered down to our little town. I wish it could be changed now and then, though. I get tired of seeing the same thing on the way to work every day.

  13. P. S. Wishing Dave a belated happy birthday! Those cake slices sound delish.

  14. Was one of the ingredients of the red velvet cake red velvet mites? I wonder how many are used per cake. Maybe next year you will have a go ate baking Dave's birthday cake. That would be a lovely surprise for him.

  15. A happy birthday to Dave. Cannas absolutely thrive here. I suppose the colour improves a dull area but a nice mural might have been better.

  16. Cheerful painted cement! An improvement for sure. Now I want cake, and a wall to paint. Hope the Birthday was ever so festive- as festive as in possible with tow guys and a dog... did Olga get cake?

  17. We have huge buildings here that are open to the Graffiti artists. They even set up places that people can vote on the best art and the kids and adults as well win certain prizes. Usually more paints and things that they use. It keeps the main buildings from being damaged by the Graffiti so I approve. I think that your shots are really good and I am glad that you were able to get them.
    Have a great day.

  18. Mitchell: I just cannot imagine drinking beer in the morning. I remember seeing men in Spain having a beer with breakfast when I visited (26 years ago!) and it blew my mind.

    VRP: He says thanks!

    Padre: Well-done street art is definitely a sight to behold.

    Ms Moon: I think it's because you live in a more rural area. Street art in Lloyd would look pretty strange! For some reason, it works better in a concrete environment.

    Bug: Were they canna lilies or calla lilies? Callas are often used in bridal bouquets.

    Jennifer: It was a nice celebration! Dave says thanks.

    Red: Maybe "devil's cup" was a reference to any kind of mood-altering drink!

    Sharon: Yeah, something about the phrase "thickened with egg" just makes me gag a little bit.

    Michael: That's exactly why I read the book! And it WAS fascinating. Apparently people used to chew coffee beans unroasted (ugh!), and it's interesting to see how we gradually developed and refined the drink we have today.

    Edna: Glad you like the graffiti! And yes, your morning cup of coffee, it turns out, is the product of many centuries and cultures.

    Catalyst: You should count yourself lucky. I didn't even want Dave to hear it!

    Robin: Yeah, the book mentioned wine too, which obviously played a role in everyone's perpetual drunkenness -- but I guess beer was the go-to beverage for everyday drinking. Grain was probably more easily available than grapes.

    Jenny-O: It kind of explains why everyone was always fighting back then. A little too much alcohol-fueled swagger!

    YP: LOL! That would be a LOT of mites. Ugh.

    Andrew: I guess the tags are meant to function as a mural, but I know what you mean -- a more representational image would have been interesting. You asked yesterday how long Dave and I have been together -- we met 11 years ago, and got civil-unioned ten years ago.

    Linda Sue: Maybe you could graffiti your house? I'm sure your neighbors wouldn't mind. Olga did not get cake, as it had chocolate in it. Poor thing.

    Beth: Excellent! I think when the community engages with the graffiti or street art in that way, it makes things more interesting and rewarding for everyone.

  19. You are right - calla lilies. All day yesterday I kept thinking, that's not right is it? And then in the wee hours of this morning when I was having trouble falling back asleep I remembered the real name. Ha! I always called canna lilies Greatnanny flowers because she grew them every year. She was a little bitty lady, and her cannas would grow almost as tall as her. I have a great image of her in her gardening hat amongst her flowers.

  20. I love street art as long as it's artful and not just tagging. that was one of the thing that struck me about Lisbon was all the tagging and graffiti (not artful most of it) everywhere with no effort to remove it.

    I don't care for cannas. there was a big patch of the common yellow/orange ones here when we bought this place and I took them all out. they get leaf rollers here.