Crescat Graffiti goes to a Slavic conference

What's the word for 'to finish'?Last week, right before I left for one of the big national Slavic conventions (where I was giving a Digital Humanities style talk contrasting data models and standards used by two Old Church Slavonic dictionaries), my t-shirts arrived, so I figured I’d take them to Boston for the conference.

To celebrate Russian at the University of Chicago, I wore my “One exam and one essay and I happened [supposed to be 'and I'm done']” (that would be me in the photo, with my dramatization of the Confused Russian Student). No one appears to have really noticed– or, if so, certainly not said anything. The person who I showed the original graffiti too didn’t even pick up on the mistake; there, I suppose, is part of the beauty of it.

Go to ItalyMeanwhile, David Birnbaum kindly wore a button around, perhaps subtly suggesting the possibility of pursuing a different career for Slavists dissatisfied with the state of funding in the Humanities. (David, of course, also wins the distinction of being the first person to pre-order a copy of the book.) And today, for the last day, I pulled out my ‘Go to Italy’ shirt too. I wonder whether I’ll get any remarks at airport security; my inclination towards weird t-shirts sometimes leaves me doing more explaining than I’d like.

It's SuperFishAnd finally, my father, recipient of the first copy of the book, proudly showed up to lunch in Fish Eats Brain, which apparently he wears around Keene, NH.


 Kate Enjoys "Crescat Graffiti"A 20-lb box containing 50 copies of Crescat Graffiti is waiting for me back in Chicago. Tomorrow I’ll have have signed sale in person and via PayPal ($12 + shipping and envelope costs, as low as $3).

In the meantime, though, a couple firsts. The first copy of the book– the final proof, as poorly modeled by my less compliant cat– I gave to my father and his wonderful fiancee Kate as an early wedding present.

DavidDavid Birnbaum, perhaps the world’s finest Medieval Slavic Techie, has the honor of being the first person to pre-order the book. (Perhaps the only person to pre-order the book, assuming nobody gives me cash between now and when I get my hands on that giant box of copies tonight.)

Lost and Found

Left in a cornerA lot has happened in the last week in the Regenstein stacks. New doodles, new replies– more on those later this week. Today, for the first time, I risked an observer effect by leaving a button on two study desks with a high incidence of graffiti: our poor T.S. Eliot (see previous blog post) and the ever-growing discussion over O-chem.

I wonder who will find them. If it’s someone planning to write another response, will the response be more civil? Or maybe they’ll end up in the pockets of the students who reshelve books, though in the year and a half I had that job I never noticed the graffiti.

If you came across this site through a button, leave me a note in the comments; I’d love to hear abut it.


Buttons!Upon getting back from a 4-day trip, I found the buttons I ordered last week crammed in my mailbox. This round of buttons (there may be more, we shall see) features the much-loved “Go to Italy, be a cobbler”.

So how do you get a button? I’ve set aside one for each of the books I’m ordering in a batch to sell myself, so if you order a book through it’ll come with a button (along with being signed!) I’ve set aside a couple more handfuls for promotional stuff in case the book can find its way into any local bookstores. This leaves another handful or two for general purposes. If you ask me in person and I have some on me, I’ll give you one.

In other news, the package that I suspect is the second proof of the book was safely locked away in the apartment manager’s office, which won’t open until after I leave for work tomorrow. With any luck, though, I’ll be able to place the batch book order tomorrow night.

T.S. Eliot and his detractors

New commentaryIt’s been a rough couple weeks for T.S. Eliot in the Regenstein Library stacks. To recap: on June 9th, I discovered the first stanza of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on a wall, boldly written in sharpie. By July 1st, someone felt compelled to express how unimpressed they were.

And so the poem remained for months, until a week or two ago when Facilities appears to have stepped in to play literary critic, abridging the poem and getting rid of the commentary. (Why didn’t they paint over the whole thing? And why paint over the tiny commentary in pen? Was the painter fond of the poem? Did he like it better without the second half of the first stanza?)

Facilities may have spared the beginning of the poem, but the blank space they left behind was soon filled with the most vitriolic piece of graffiti I’ve ever seen in the library:

Fucking imbecile. With this bullshit, it’s no surprise you’re a liberal arts major. Enjoy living in poverty after college, asshole.

Less-than-polite retorts are nothing new. Pride in economically beneficial majors is nothing new. But I’ve never seen anything like this– and directed towards someone who copied poetry onto a wall! Did the writer fail the unit on poetry in junior high English? More than with most graffiti, I really wonder what was going on in the writer’s head on this one.


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