Article Image
Columbia Spectator Staff

Dear Blueberry Bloke,

If you are reading please do not think this account of mine rude and accusatory—my intention is quite to the contrary. I only wish to pay homage to your audacious athleticism.

Your admirer,
Marti Brooks

I made a new acquaintance recently—new acquaintances, to be precise. The first Blueberry Bloke I met turned out to be a clone of a dozen others scattered haphazardly across campus. We first met in a bathroom stall. I was hunched over, minding my own business when his face appeared in front of me. It was stenciled to the side of the cubicle and, suffice it to say, I took full note of his graffiti grimace. Next we ran into each other on the underside of a classroom desk, though what I was doing at that particular vantage point I refuse to confess. I have seen him in the upper echelons of a desolate corridor, as an emblem on a frisbee, on a flyer, projected from a lamppost in shadow form, on the ass of a statue—to mention only a handful of Blueberry Bloke's unexpected hiding places. I would provide an accompanying image but that shit got trademarked months ago—supposedly the artist is totalitarian when it comes to image rights.

Perhaps you have seen Blueberry Bloke yourself? A smirk with a tuft of hair, a plump body, and a name sprayed below in Helvetica. Whilst those particulars stay the same, each marking—dare I say art piece—differs slightly: The color scheme changes, the tilt varies, the smudges and scratches are unique. But irrespective of Blueberry Bloke's idiosyncrasies, Blueberry Bloke is always Blueberry Bloke. An icon somewhere between carton smoothie logo and Smurf.

As the encounters piled up, I began to wonder which Blueberry was the "original" Bloke. It's impossible to tell which one came first just from looking—believe me, I have tried. (INSERT: metaphysical commentary on the replication of Blueberry Bloke.) Naturally, my attention turned to the blueberry creator—creators? A collaboration, perhaps? I have a few questions for the spunky individual(s) concerned:

Who or what are you? Are you a group of angsty anarchists or an apathetic stoner with an abundance of time on your hands? If the former, what are the political motivations behind the mass replication of this minute fruit? If the latter, who is the muse of your intoxicated stencils? Why precisely a blueberry? If it has to do with a fruit fetish, why not a clique of cranberries, a gang of gallivanting grapefruits, or a pomegranate posse? Is this a social commentary on skin color, an advocacy for Avatars and other beings of the color blue? Is the snarling face a lighthearted joke, or have I been privy to a satirical attack, a commentary on the calamitous state of dining hall muffins? Or am I just trapped in the waffling of academia and cannot take these innocuous blueberries for what they really are, a harmless set of stencils?

If this were an interview, those would be my preliminary run-of-the-mill questions, the type I'd expect to offer at your first press release—and while I'm on the subject, if you're looking for an agent, I'm your guy.

However, I'm more interested in the inner Blueberry Bloke, the seeds of the creator, so to speak. I've seen the exterior projection of your persona on countless surfaces, but I feel no closer to knowing the hand behind the can of paint. Are you bold and brash, or more of the silent type? When on one of your artistic marauders, do your hands quiver with excitement or rattle with hesitancy? Do you graffiti alone, or are you prone to midnight melancholy and make sure to bring a second pair of eyes? Do you don special shoes for the operation? Are you into camouflage, or do you keep it simple with a black hoodie? In the daytime, do you sport paint-stained pants as a badge of honor, or are you keen to keep the whole affair a secret? Are you a visual arts major, or is there deceptively little skill involved? Do you have grander schemes in mind for Blueberry Bloke? Do you dream of dumping gigantic blowup replicas in the library, spamming the listserv, or orchestrating a campus-wide fruit fight? Or were you never in it for the glory and consider yourself the quiet, retiring sort of artist? Have you given up the game already?

I bet you haven't quit your little habit just yet. I bet you're still kicking it in the low light with a can of silver in your hand. I bet you hang the lunar cycles on your wall and wait for the dimmest night of the month. I bet you're reading this right now and feeling misrepresented. If so, I suggest you cut the snarl, Blueberry Bloke, because we both know you could use the publicity. I mean, isn't that the point of all your climbing, crawling, sneakier-than-sneaky mischief? 

Richard Whiddington is a Columbia College junior majoring in East Asian languages and cultures. Whiddy Banter runs alternate Thursdays. 

To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed,

graffiti Pineapple Man marti brooks