Wordy Wednesday: Wheat Paste and Posters

Back in the late 90’s I move back to the area of Maine where I grew up. After 4 years of college I felt stifled by small town life. During that time I started publishing my ‘zine “To Avoid Suffocation” and bought my first desktop computer. It opened a world up that just would not have been accessible to me otherwise. While I was in school a friend introduced me to the bulletin board system and the magicial world of listserv. Oh my.

I started designing fliers for feminist and lesbian groups. The fliers were specifically made to be cheaply reproduced in halftone on a photocopier to look spectacularly shitty. Think punk posters drawn with sharpies and graphic ripped off of websites, manipulated in paint and stuck together in the magic of some forgotten lotus program. They were saved as bitmaps and distributed via the listserv, email, and zines everywhere. I must’ve made a good 50 or so designs and put them all out there under a pseudonym. I have a few hard copies of some of the designs and frankly they are terrible. Horrible stuff, but effective in their messaging. Which, is, I suppose the purpose of all posters.

While visiting my ex at her University I would manage to make a hundred copies of the posters, which at regular letter size fit easily into a regular bag. A spaghetti sauce jar of wheat paste and a cheap brush allowed me to quickly and easily slap all hundred copies up in a short period of time, and dispose of the evidence. I pasted them up alone and without my ex’s knowledge. While I waited for her to get out of class I’d flier bomb the restroom of whatever building she was in, the nearest dormitory, or the library. I wasn’t picky but I had a goal of putting up 100+ fliers each time I visited and I did. I realize now that I single handedly caused thousands of dollars in cleanup* effort, I kept the maintenance men very busy for a semester.

I was never caught. My disguise was that I looked like a student and I routinely was carrying some of my Ex’s books about so the look was complete.

I look back and wonder at my fervor at getting my message across. I suppose it’s the same passion that drives me to maintain this blog, though the messages are vastly different the drive is the same. I’ve got thoughts I need to put onto the screen, for whatever reason I do this and I enjoy it.

I should scan in some of the least offensive and terrible posters and put them up. Though, what is the statute of limitations for damage to public property?**

*I was a conscientious gluer, I chose spots that my fliers were not likely to cause much damage and would cause minimal

** It would be hard to pin any particular flier bombing campaign onto me as they fliers were used state and nationwide by a large amount of people. Of all the stuff I’ve made, the fliers are the most widely distributed.