August 21, 2009

I have seen a lot of memorable graffiti pieces by established street artists like Buda, Joker, Seven, New and ESP. Created for self gratification and indirectly enjoyed by most of the masses.

This piece is not about street art. It’s about slogans. Sometimes the most memorable and visceral.

One is a political statement turned into a goof and the other three are inside jokes. Three are located in Washington County and two of these are on opposite side of the same bridge. One in Allegheny.

Sadly they’re all gone.

ROUTE 51 begins seemingly in the west end of Pittsburgh and runs along the south edges of neighborhoods that include Mt.Washington and continue past Mt.Oliver and into the South East suburbs. Going through Large and Perryopolis all the way to Uniontown. On the base of a railway overpass about a mile past the Liberty Tubes, a supporter of Lyndon La Roche spray painted a popular slogan of the 80’s vernacular:


It sat in white stark silence for several years visable to anyone headed toward West Mifflin. I’m not sure when I noticed it, but a briliant vandal made it so much better;


I alway suspected that Joe Small had done this. You might have noticed the giant dinosaur sillouettes that he has hung all over the city especially toward the west end of Carson Street.

HOUSTON is known for it’s Pumpkin Festival.  It’s typical of most Western Pennsylvania festivals: over priced (but delicious) hot peppers and sausages presented roach coach style. A craft row that still features Geese clothing for the big plastic decoys that no one puts in their yards anymore as well as  those tacky, hand painted pieces of plywood silhouettes of people bent over exposing ass cracks.

After 2003, it was also known for entire neighborhoods flooded by Chartiers Creek, swollen over it’s banks post Hurricane Ivan.

On 519, to your left,  just before you cross tracks and make your way across the bridge spanning the Chartiers Crick to pass into Houston borough, sitts a vacant series of garages with equipment like graters and backhoes. Each year more rusted and more decay as the paint peeled from the building and all of the windows disappeared. Probably children with rocks for kicks. Doors kicked in, presumably by thieves to steal cooper and brass  to buy beer, LSD and grass. The garage doors eventually crumpled into heaps under the weight of rot eventually becoming piles of dirt and dust. But the slogan sprayed in a looping hand remained and for some reason made me laugh all of the time:


It was one of my koans that I used to feel like minded people out, “Poo Poo Chappa!” The look, smirk or laugh meant that the satori was experienced or passed off over their head. Years would pass, and like the rest of the grounds, even Poo Poo Chappa! would succumb to the elements and only appear faintly like the letters on an unmaintained Mail Pouch barn.  Jason Vehar, who I had meet through Rich Franks, was small in stature and had a huge nose that was framed by long hair.  He wore emo cut tight jeans when they first appeared in fashion circles during the mid-eighties metal hayday and tucked into white ACICS wrestling shoes. He wasn’t a wrestler but he did play bass.

“I did that man!”

Me – “Get the fuck out of here!

“I swear man – I crawled up on the roof of a pickup – I was like 13”

“Dude – what the fuck is Poo Poo Chappa?”

“You know man – POO POO CHOPPA!”

“Yeah. What the fuck is Poo Poo Choppa?” This was followed by laughing and to this day I’m not sure if it’s weed or pussy.

AROUND the same time, I noticed another cryptic statement on a railroad overpass that crosses route 70 applied for travelers headed toward Claysville and West Virginia: In Yellow paint perfectly applied for maximum legibility:


On the other side of the bridge another message for travelers headed through Canton Township and toward Canonsburg.


Both of these made me laugh and I would recite them in my head as we passed them on the way to Franklin Mall.

It would be years later when I found out the meaning of the Kinko Country message. I was discussing the Melvins with a fellow Washpa native, Dave Kuzy. For a frame of reference, he sort of looks like Ian Williams. Google him. Anyway, Dave was living with Graham Small in Greenfield at a house known as the Penis house because of the huge silo topped with a turret that looked vaguely like an erect cock. If you know Graham, than you know that it’s so perfect that he picked this place to rent.

ANYWAY, we all worked together at Chatham Center Parking Garage. Both Dave and Graham were managers and I worked as a valet and on the lonely sixth floor which had like zero work and provided ample time for me to make prank calls to Lynn Cullen and Doug Hoerth, driving them fucking batty. Well, on this particular Saturday, Graham had decided to work a half day, Dave was off and Graham yanked me out of my booth to go to his house and get drunk at 3:30 PM while still on the clock.

Dave was making felafel, which at that point, maybe 1993, I had never tasted. I remember Dave’s shock – “Dude, they’re like Middle Eastern hamburgers, but made of beans…”

We started eating and the Melvin’s talk turned to a discussion of the ReSearch classic, Pranks! The obvious segway to that was funny graffiti and the first thing I mentioned was Kinko Country.

“You like that?” Dave said with a smirk crossing his face. “Yeah,” I said. “It cracks me up for some reason.” Dave smiled wider, “Mr. Kinko is a teacher at Trinity.” Obliviously I asked, “How do you know?”

“Because I did it when I was in 7th grade.”


3 Responses to “WELCOME WHITE TRASH!”

  1. Dave BLAST Says:

    I know where the “Welcome White Trash” came from.

    Right by that bridge is a really chill spot we would go to paint, drink 40 oz and eat pizza. It was like a little painting club house for us.

    Anyhow… The first time we went down there we were just geeked out a little drunk and high off paint fumes and we were running around exploring everything we could and writing our names all over shit.

    We finished the night and the last of our paint off hanging out on that bridge watching cars. My boy Dan “Buck 20” was hanging off that side of the bridge laughing and painting something and refused to tell anyone what he was doing until it was done.

    The wall was so porous that it must have taken him an entire can of flat black and twenty minutes to get the thing done.

    We had waited so long for him to tell us what marvelous revelation he was writing on the other side of that wall. He turns around finished beckoning us to look. He shined his flashlight on it and like a proud parent proclaims “Welcome White Trash” grinning ear to ear. We almost died with laughter.

  2. ronica craig-bioni Says:

    omg…i cannot belive it! thats a riot and i loved the whole article…great. you have to read the note from tate he moved to california about 20 years ago. funny that this Kinko country stuck out in his mind all these years later. I also loved the welcome white trash cause growing up we were haters of canon-mac. we found it so fitting being from mcguffey and loving our wrestling team.

  3. Chris Says:

    I travel 70 quite a bit for work, and stopped on the highway one time to take a picture of “welcome white trash” with a disposable camera. I still have the picture somewhere. I was sad to see that someone had painted over it, not with a new piece, but deliberately masked it so that it could not be read…

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