When I first came to Cleveland, the only writing I cared about was street signs and anything that pointed explicitly towards CWRU. I was pretty much limited to figuring out where stuff was, particularly my classes and establishments that sold food. Later on, as my knowledge of the above increased, I began to pay attention to the other types of writing I saw around me. Specifically there was the sidewalk chalk and graffiti, which has always interested me. Walking to class there are all sorts of messages written on the ground I trod on. Things like upcoming events, imploring my vote for homecoming king/queen, trying to get freshmen to rush certain fraternities, and political candidates. All of these things are mildly interesting, if nothing else they keep me informed about what’s going on here around campus.
Taking the rapid to get around is a must for me, since I am a car-less freshman. It is a great time, from the crazy homeless persons trying to sell me roses and praise God, to the wonderful rocking sensation all the time, all this to by topped off by terrible smell. Aside from that, it really is a great time. But, by going on the rapid, I can see some of the most fantastic graffiti lining the tracks. I don’t really know anything about it, just what stereotypes that they teach in public school.
The only billboard that I know of is the billboard outside of Thwing, which is really much more of giant graffiti wall. On it are all sorts of messages, ranging from swing club to the mens soccer games. A recent event that happened there was the desecration of a Jewish star of David. This resulted in “prints for peace” covering a large swath of billboard space, showing how this University does not allow racism to take place on it’s campus.
As far as bathroom conversations, CWRU has shown itself to be relatively minor in comparison to what I’m used to. At OSU for example, there would be all sorts of things being written about, from the latest football game to the critique of a lecture. But here, I’ve only found one building with a significant accumulation of bathroom writing. That would be the Rockefeller building, where there are actual graph charts and polls sketched into the walls. For me this is most entertaining, and I’ve probably spent more time than is prudent reading the many chain debates that adorn the stalls.
Anyways, the portions of Cleveland that I know of is composed mostly with informal writing. On the walls and streets this writing is usually short and to the point, being done by youth to get the attention of any random passerby. This writing shows the voice of the underpriveledged and angry, and is without any purpose other than getting attention.