Cal State Long Beach's Daily 49er student newspaper has a wicked piece about a little-known area within the art department that feeds the souls of young Picassos--if the fumes don't kill them first. It's a room of lockers that students do not stuff freshmen in but instead rent out for $1 a semester each and cover with bright, provocative and at times profane graffiti and drawings.
Writer Julio Salgado leads readers on a tour that includes stops at the "Alien Locker," CSULB Art Locker No. 285, which illustration major Paul Zappia gussied up with two strange, little baby aliens. The "Ryan Gosling Locker" (No. 655) is named in honor of the movie star allegedly having had sex against it, or at least that's what a scrawled message informs. The "Defenders of Wildlife Locker" (No. 407) is affixed with stickers from various animal-lover groups.
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Salgado dutifully includes disclosures about how defacing university property is against the rules and the lockers' very presence has drawn taggers from off campus who would not know an enrollment form from a toilet tissue. And then there's College of the Arts chairman David A. Hadlock noting that paint fumes from such a confined area can create "a serious health hazard" for students and staff.
But that comes off like so much of the "Wah-wah wot wah-wah" you hear from Charlie Brown's teacher amid vivid descriptions of locker art that range from the crudely kindergarten to the borderline pornographic. Heck, it might even be a subtle recruiting tool.
"I think this room is a landmark in our school," Zappia tells Salgado. "I can say to anybody that doesn't come to this school that I'm an art student here and our locker room is so cool."